Denny O’Neil

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 3 (March 1983)

22335There’s not a single woman in this issue; it helps O’Neil’s writing immensely.

The plot itself isn’t too bad. Indiana Jones saves a kid from getting lynched, then discovers the kid is really (or attests to be) 200 years old and his grandfather has the secret of immortality. Indy fights with the older one and there are a lot action set pieces. O’Neil really packs the issue with action scenes, can’t complain about him there.

But he sets the issue somewhere in the United States. Indy’s fighting Deliverance rednecks on one side and warmongering U.S. Army goes on the other. And O’Neil never reveals the location, even though Indy asks someone. Probably trying to cover a dumb answer.

O’Neil’s narration for Indy shows his continued disinterest in the comic; I’m being polite, he’s either disinterested or incompetent.

The multiple artists do decent work.

For period adventure, it’s nearly passable.


The Devil’s Cradle; writer, Denny O’Neil; pencillers, Gene Day and Richard Howell; inkers, Mel Candido and Danny Bulanadi; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, Janice Chiang; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 2 (February 1983)

22334Denny O’Neil takes over scripting from Byrne, who sticks around to pencil, and adds xenophobia and misogyny. Not to mention Indy talking for the first half of the issue in expository paragraphs.

Ever wanted to see Indiana Jones gleefully kill members of a bronze age tribe? Here’s your comic. Or to see him buddy up with Nazi sailors? Again, this comic’s the one for you.

O’Neil seems entirely ignorant of archeology, so ignorant it’s as though he didn’t even see Raiders of the Lost Ark, which isn’t exactly real archeology but it’s better than what O’Neil writes about here.

He also seems disinterested in the time period. His writing read like a resentful employee’s contractual obligation.

Bryne’s panel compositions are interesting. He goes for cinematic. It doesn’t always work, but at least he’s trying.

Also interesting is Indy’s face. Everyone else has Byrne face; not Indy. Maybe Austin drew it.


22-Karat Doom!; writer, Denny O’Neil; pencillers, John Byrne and Terry Austin; inker, Austin; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, Janice Chiang; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Batman 259 (November-December 1974)

So this crappy story is dedicated to the memory of Bill Finger. I guess it’s best to have a crappy story dedicated to your memory rather than you, since if you’re still alive, you might have to read it.

This second team-up between Batman and the Shadow is amusingly weak (but better than the first, which was so awful I never even got around to mentioning the Shadow in my response). Novick and Giordano are very strong on the art–better doing real people than Batman, actually. There’s a jewelry store robbery at the beginning and it’s just fantastic.

O’Neil’s writing is lousy. My favorite is Batman almost getting beat up by a fit ex-con–because Batman isn’t very fit. Not as fit as this fit ex-con, anyway.

Bad dialogue, stupid revelations of Batman’s psychosis.

But at least O’Neil didn’t plagiarize any Oscar winning movies this time.


The Night of the Shadow!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Irv Novick; inker, Dick Giordano; editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 253 (November 1973)

What an awful comic book.

Not the art, the art is absolutely fantastic, making something of an Irv Novick convert out of me… but the writing is just hideous.

O’Neil writes Batman as a thuggish cross between Spencer Tracy and a beach movie surfer–the Spencer Tracy imitation makes sense, since O’Neil “pays homage” to multiple set pieces from Bad Day in Black Rock, but the surfer speak is… to make Batman seem cool?

The comic’s from 1973 and there’s no Robin in it so I’d assume it’s not being done to fit in line with the TV show version… so there’s got to be some other explanation for the godawful dialogue. What’s initially stunning is the use of exclamation points. It’s the standard for the era, but O’Neil doesn’t seem to understand how silly all of his bad, but quiet dialogue looks with them.

It’s a truly awful read.


Who Knows What Evil?; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Irv Novick; inker, Dick Giordano; editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 242 (September 1971)

The Pseudo-Superman story comes to its close with Superman choosing to be de-powered. It’s a strange move, since he’s still really, really powerful. Maybe not Silver Age powerful, but he hadn’t really been doing those feats during the rest of the issues… it’s a little confusing. It’s an effective scene, but it doesn’t hold up under much scrutiny.

Similarly, Superman’s decision to fight Pseudo-Superman to the death… again, shouldn’t he have tried to work something out with him.

It’s a good close though. O’Neil fits tons of story in–most of the issue focuses on these two bums slash crooks who “kidnap” an inter-dimensional being and use it to beat up Superman and terrorize the world in general. Some great art on those pages.

The beating up Superman scene is particularly rough to read, since it’s all so vicious.

The final scene’s a little anticlimactic though.


The Ultimate Battle!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson. The Girl Who Didn’t Believe in Superman!; writer, Bill Finger; penciller, Wayne Boring; inker, Stan Kaye. The World’s Mightiest Weakling!; writer, Otto Binder; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bernard Sachs. Editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 241 (August 1971)

I guess Wonder Woman wasn’t much of a draw back in the early 1970s because her guest appearance is a surprise (there’s no mention on the cover) and she’s practically in the issue more than Superman.

Following up on Superman’s epiphany from the previous issue (he’d prefer to live a normal life), Wonder Woman’s Indian sidekick convinces him otherwise. It’s only a couple pages, but it’s effective, maybe because O’Neil’s dialogue for Superman is so desperate.

But then there’s the subsequent problem (where Wonder Woman takes over). Superman has super-brain damage and is acting like a (well-intentioned) goofball. It’s almost like they have him do Silver Age things, then deal with the “real world” consequences.

The sand double gets a solid explanation here, along with a goofy name: Pseudo-Superman.

The reprint back-ups are cute, but out of place for the serious–if humorously handled–feature story.


The Shape of Fear!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson. Superman’s Neighbors; writer, Bill Finger; penciller, Wayne Boring; inker, Stan Kaye. Superman’s Day of Truth!; writer, Leo Dorfman; penciller, Swan; inker, George Klein. Editors, E. Nelson Bridwell and Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 240 (July 1971)

Superman’s powers finally go this issue, burning out as he uses them more and more. It’s a very awkward issue, with Supes coming across almost like Spider-Man at times, he’s so depressed. He discovers, for example, average people don’t really care about him. Without his powers, he’s an object for their scorn.

Given the Pre-Crisis Superman is without an immediate support system, he’s basically on his own… until Wonder Woman’s pet sufi shows up to offer a cure. It’s such a small story–Clark Kent gets tailed by bad guys who go after an impaired (human) Superman–and O’Neil’s frequent references to Superman’s Silver Age planet juggling abilities make it feel unique.

The conclusion is, though somewhat hackneyed (human Superman versus thugs), very effective.

Lots has to do with Swan’s art. His figures in action are great, but he also goes for viscerally involving panel layouts.

Good stuff.


To Save a Superman; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Dick Giordano. The Man Who Cheated Time; writer, Cary Bates; artist, Michael Kaluta. Editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 238 (June 1971)

Superman finally decides he can’t go around on half-power–but there’s a great butt shot from Swan on the first page for the ladies when he’s leaping instead of flying–at the end of the issue. His sand-double has been sucking his powers away and worse, the sand-double isn’t willing to help as Superman has to save the planet.

It’s kind of a neat way to agitate a situation (it starts as a ransom demand, but then there’s the atom bomb being dropped into the earth’s core) and O’Neil’s of the crisis is excellent. His devices to distract from Superman when Superman’s off page getting his plan together… not so excellent. They’re okay, but basically just standard “Where is Superman?” scenes with the supporting cast.

The back-up Krypton story has nice art from Gray Morrow, but it’s a lame Adam and Eve as sci-fi story.


Menace at 1000 Degrees!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson. A Name Is Born; writer, Cary Bates; artist, Gray Morrow. Editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 237 (May 1971)

Here’s a packed issue. Superman even comments on it–he rescues a rocket, Lois crashes, there are killer ants, his sand-double is around, he’s a carrier of some strange space bug–it goes on and on. O’Neil fits it all in with barely any room for anything else. Only when Superman decides he’s going to leave Earth (it takes him a panel, not an interconnected eight issue story arc), does the story take a breather.

There’s a particular moment, with Superman sitting out in space, waiting, basically, for Lois to die. He’s sacrificing her for the greater good (fear of infecting the rest of the planet with the space bug). It’s a very strange moment, because Superman’s given up. The solution appears, deus ex machina, to Superman; he doesn’t even try to save Lois.

Add in Swan’s odd head shots (they all look taped on) and the issue’s problematic.


Enemy of Earth; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson; editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 235 (March 1971)

The issue ends with Superman in Metropolis Stadium attempting a heart-to-heart with his sand-double. It’s a really awkward moment, since the Colosseum’s full of people. O’Neil doesn’t get a single reaction shot in this sequence, after getting them in an opening action sequence at the Colosseum. It’s off. I mean, Lois should have a reaction, shouldn’t she?

There are other weak points to this issue–Morgan Edge being the J. Jonah Jameson of the DC Universe is problematic, regardless of if he’s just stooging for Darkseid–but there’s a lot of good stuff too, like Superman waving at a crowd of people to say hi to Lois. Or just O’Neil’s plotting, which allows for these nice action sequences without them taking over the entire issue before the big finale.

It’s solid, unspectacular.

O’Neil’s Superman seems way too nonplussed too, given the sand-double and losing his powers.


Sinister Scream of the Devil’s Harp!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson; editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

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