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Comic-Book Legend, Denny O’Neil Passes Away At Age 81

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It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of legendary comic-book writer, Dennis O’Neil who died of natural causes at his home on June 11.

Denny was best known for his iconic runs on DC Comics’ Batman, Green Arrow and Green Lantern, and was also the editor for DC’s entire range of Batman comics from 1986 to 2000. Though Denny gave us many wonderful tales of heroism over his formidable career, he is most fondly remembered as the author (alongside his mainstay artist, the fantastic Neil Adams) who ushered in Batman’s return to the dark side in the early seventies, following on from over a decade of camp silliness.

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Throughout his triumphant tenure on Batman, Denny also created some of the Dark Knight’s most memorable nemeses including such icons as Ra’s Al Ghul and his daughter Talia, and avenging angel – Azrael.

He was also responsible for revitalising DC’s foremost emerald dynamic duo (again alongside the great Neil Adams)  Green Lantern and Green Arrow of whom he teamed up to become one of comic’s first ever social justice warriors as they roamed the planet fighting inequality and societal ignorance.

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Denny also taught at the Manhattan School of Visual Arts, and wrote the didactic tome – The DC Guide To Writing Comics plus many, many other achievements too numerous to mention. In 2019, the city of Phoenix named May 25 “Denny O’Neil Day” in acknowledgement of his influence on the comic-book industry and his contribution to furthering the fight against unjust causes. Denny was a legend on and off the page, and we mourn his passing. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time.

Classic Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman #179

(DC Comics, !941-2015)

(DC Comics, 1941-2015)

Welcome back once more, my Amazon loving friends to another instalment of Classic Wonder Woman, as we continue to delve into the Amazonian archives, in our weekly comic cover countdown to the 75th anniversary of the Themysciran princess.

This week we present you with, Wonder Woman #179, written by the legendary Denny O’Neil, with cover and interior art by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano, released in December 1968.

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The late 1960’s marked an interesting (though ultimately unpopular with the fans) turning point for our Greek heroine, with the popularity of television characters like Emma Peel (from English TV show, The Avengers) Wonder Woman underwent a dramatic transformation under the guidance of new writer Denny O’Neil. The tale enclosed in this startling comic entitled ‘Wonder Woman’s Last Battle’, begins with Diana being summoned back to Themyscira by Queen Hippolyta, who tells her that the magic of the amazons has been exhausted after their 10,000 years stay on Earth, and they must leave for another dimension to recuperate their powers. Wonder Woman refuses to leave and thus gives up her costume and performs the Amazon rite of renunciation, removing her powers. Returning to the world of men as Diana Prince, she would continue to fight crime relying only on her martial prowess and Amazon ingenuity.

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This change in direction proved unpopular with the fanbase at large, and lasted only around two years before the return of the classic character. Wonder Woman was originally created by William Marston to be faster, stronger and more capable than the men around her, she was a female character of empowerment, the original proponent of women’s liberation and with her powers removed she had lost that edge. Looking back on that era now, writer Denny O’Neil said her change wasn’t necessarily a mistake, but was definitely badly implemented at the time.

Join us again in a weeks time for another classic WW cover, my adventurous Amazonian associates!