Saturday, August 13, 2011
Spotlight On: John Byrne
Doug: A couple of weeks ago, regular reader J.A. Morris made a comment on our Joe Sinnott spotlight that prompted this post. He remarked how different the work of John Byrne was during his tenure as writer/artist on the Fantastic Four, as compared with his first stint when he was a co-creator and inked by Joe Sinnott. That got me to thinking about just how truly different those two runs were; to see the later issues, it's quite possible that a non-observant reader might not have associated the artists as one and the same. Of course, we could also discuss here Byrne's credits as the primary plotter and scribe during his long run into the 1980's -- some have compared it to the phenomenal, seminal work of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on the FF during the Silver Age.
Doug: And then we get to Superman over at DC Comics. Controversial? You bet. And Byrne just seemed to relish that role. It's funny to think now about how that franchise was just stood on its ear. Much as Frank Miller had returned Batman to his Golden Age roots, Byrne did likewise for Clark Kent in the Man of Steel limited series. No longer possessing god-like power, this updated (or backdated) Superman was barely able to leap a tall building in a single bound. Legal issues crept into the stories, though, that were perhaps not executed in fine fashion -- the reintroduction of the matrix Supergirl comes to mind here. Just because the copyright had to be protected...
Doug: So what do you think about Mr. Byrne? Is he better left to his own devices? That didn't seem to work out too well for our pal the Vision. Or, is he a better collaborator, instilling his ideas to meld with those of capable writers like Chris Claremont or Jim Shooter? And of his work, what's your favorite, and what didn't you care too much for?