Neal Adams, Batman artist and comic book legend, dies at 80

Neal Adams, the famous comic book creator who worked on titles like Batman, The X-Men and The Avengers, has died at 80.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the sad news, with Adams’ wife, Marilyn, confirming that he had died of complications from sepsis.

Image credit: Rick Kern and Getty Images/DC

After an early career in comics and commercials, Adams became a major name at Marvel and DC in the late 1960s. Adams was notable for bringing a very different storytelling sensibility to the comics, one that put the emphasis on dynamic angles and detailed anatomy and facial expressions. Alongside contemporaries like Jim Aparo, Adams helped redefine the look of Batman, presenting a Dark Knight who was lean and limber like a gymnast rather than the burly brawler of earlier Golden and Silver Age stories.

Adams is probably best known for his work on the monthly books Detective Comics and Batman, where he helped bring the franchise back to its darker roots after the 1966 TV series was canceled. Frequently working with writer Denny O’ Neil, Adams introduced new key villains like Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, and Man-Bat and revamped existing villains like Joker and Two-Face. 1973’s Batman #251, titled “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge”, is widely credited with transforming the Clown Prince of Crime from comic antagonist into Batman’s deadliest enemy. IGN previously ranked Adams second on its list of the ten greatest Batman artists.

Adams and O’Neil also collaborated on the hugely influential Green Lantern/Green Arrow, which paired the two philosophically opposed heroes in a series of adventures steeped in real-world politics and conflict (very rare in superhero comics). -heroes at the time). It was the series in which Hal Jordan was criticized for ignoring the plight of African Americans, as well as the shocking revelation that Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy was addicted to heroin.

Adams’ resume also includes the seminal Avengers storyline “The Kree Skrull War,” Deadman-focused Weird Adventures, and the special Superman vs. Muhammad Ali crossover. He’s remained quite prolific even in recent years, publishing books like Batman: Odyssey and The Coming of the Superman at DC and The First X-Men at Marvel.

In addition to his work on Marvel and DC, Adams has been an early voice in the battle for increased creator rights in comic books. He helped run an early comics syndicate called the Comics Creators Guild and formed an artist studio called Coniniuity Associates (which also led to the creation of an independent publisher called Continuity Comics). Adams was instrumental in public pressure against DC to give official credit and financial compensation to Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, especially as the 1978 release of Superman: The Movie brought new attention. on the financial difficulties of Siegel and Shuster.

Neal Adams DC Variant Covers

Adams certainly belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Batman creators, but his influence and impact on the industry extends far beyond Gotham City.

Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by follow @jschedeen on Twitter.

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