Comics legend and longtime Batman editor Denny O'Neil dies at 81
Dennis "Denny" O'Neil, the legendary comic book writer and editor known for revitalizing Batman during his career at DC Comics, has died. He was 81.
O'Neil got his start with a brief stint at Marvel Comics before joining DC in 1968. He quickly made his mark at the company with an acclaimed Green Arrow/Green Lantern run that saw the heroes traveling the country and grappling with real-world social issues. It was one of the first mainstream comic books to tackle such topics head-on.
"Through his editing and writing, Denny was one of the earliest writers whose work and focus on social issues pushed comics to wider respectability & acceptance as an artform. Through his work & mentorship, he influenced generations of writers & artists," DC Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee wrote on Twitter, calling O'Neil "one of [the] visionary architects of DC Comics."
O'Neil was perhaps best known, however, for his tenure as a writer and editor on Batman. He is credited with helping return the Caped Crusader to his darker roots in the wake of the campy 1960s Adam West TV series, creating the character Ra's al Ghul, and revitalizing such iconic villains as Two-Face and the Joker, often in collaboration with artist Neal Adams. In the 1980s, O'Neil became editor of DC's various Batman titles, a role he held until 2000, overseeing such iconic story arcs as Knightfall and Frank Miller's Batman: Year One.
"Most of the things we take for granted as it relates to Batman now come from Denny - the noir mixed with a tinge of the supernatural, the 'Sherlock Holmes' at night tone, and the shift from the '60s Day-Glo sensibilities to something darker and more ethereal," writer Alex Segura said in a lengthy Twitter thread paying tribute to O'Neil.
O'Neil's body of work also included runs on Iron Man (during which he created Obadiah Stane, played by Jeff Bridges in the 2008 film), Daredevil, and DC's The Question. He also wrote episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and G.I. Joe.
Many other prominent figures in the comics industry paid homage to O'Neil on social media. "He gave me my first regular inking gig (Master of Kung Fu) way before I had any idea what I was doing. Sorry to see him go," Hellboy creator Mike Mignola wrote on Twitter.
"Rest In Peace Denny O'Neil. I first became aware of him reading the Batman comics he made with Neil Adams. These stories opened up the wider world of classic adventure for me," Miller wrote.
You can see more tributes to O'Neil below.