Greetings from the Odinson,
We all know the legendary names – Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Steve Ditko, Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster. These are the architects of modern day mythology. They are the fathers of our beloved heroes.
However, every now and then,someone comes along and takes the reins of a particular character and not only redefines him for a new generation of readers, but defines that character in such a profound way that henceforth it is his name that is most associated with that character.
4 Heroes that are Defined Now by Creators that did Not Create Them
Most of the tropes we have come to associate with the Dark Knight Detective where established pretty early on. He was a dark masked avenger of the night. Alfred Pennyworth, Wayne Manor, the Batcave, Robin,a colorful Rogues Gallery were all established and present almost from the beginning. From the Golden Age to the Modern Age, Batman has always reflected the times. In the 1940she was a patriot, in the 1950s he was a father figure, in the 1960s he was pop culture, and in the 1970s he was dark and sexy.
Enter: Frank Miller.
In 1986, writer/artist Frank Miller produced The Dark Knight Returns,a magnum opus that, for better or worse, completely defined the Caped Crusader for our times. So much so, that every single writer and artist that has worked on the character is, to this day,still trying to capture that magic in a bottle Miller corralled for this seminal tale.
Miller, inspired by Batman’s dark roots, built on everything that made the character great and threw out all the rest. Miller told the tale of a dark, brooding, paranoid, tortured soul that would do anything to save his city, anything except take a life, even when pushed to the limits of physical and mental endurance. He showed why Batman needs a Robin. And, with devilish joy, Miller took great pleasure in destroying the friendship between the World’s Finest, a rift that has only recently started to narrow in the last few years.
The tiresome argument that Batman can beat anybody, even Superman, comes from this story.
For over 30 years now, from1986 to 2018, from Tim Burton’s Batman to Batman Begins,from Batman: The Animated Series to Justice League Unlimited,and all the comic books in-between, 99% of the incarnations of this character draw inspiration from The Dark Knight Returns. Even the latest Big Screen incarnation in Batman v. Superman is heavily influenced by Miller’s work.
In the early days, these teen heroes suffered from what most super characters suffered from during that time,they were simply just cookie-cutter, one-note vanilla characters. The early Titans were just teen sidekicks with vanilla personalities and vanilla adventures. There was a moment in the 70s when these teens started to shine, but it was too little, too late.
Enter: Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
In 1980, fresh off their stellar stints at Marvel Comics (Wolfman on Tomb of Dracula and Perez on Avengers),these two legends of the industry breathed new life into what was at that point a dead franchise. They kept a core group of established teen heroes – Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash,and Beast Boy -and added to the mix a few creations of their own – Cyborg, Raven and Starfire. They brought the melodrama sensibilities of Marvel style storytelling, and they gave the teen heroes a formidable Rogues Gallery that included the Fearsome Five, Trigon, and Deathstroke the Terminator, a major DC villain to this very day.
The Wolfman/Perez take on these characters was so magnificent that not only is this one of the All-Time greatest runs in Comics History (easily a Top 2 for the Odinson), but the sales of the New Teen Titans actually rivaled and sometimes surpassed those of Marvel’s own juggernaut title at the time the X-Men!
From Geoff John’s Teen Titans to The New 52, from the Young Justice animated series to Teen Titans Go,and even the 2018 Titans TV show, they are all influenced and inspired by what Marv Wolfman and George Perez injected into the mythos.
In the beginning, Daredevil was more of a happy-go-lucky guy. He was a true daredevil that would leap out a window without looking, a carefree spirit that swung from rooftop-to-rooftop with all the joy and devil-may-care attitude of Errol Flynn. He was truly a Man without Fear. He had a pretty girl friend named Karen Page and an ear-to-ear grin seemingly permanently spread across his handsome face.
Enter: Frank Miller.
Miller took the reins of the character in the early to mid-80s and explored the dark, gritty elements of what it would be like to be a vigilante on the mean streets of New York City. He broke the character down to his bare elements until Matt Murdock was a man with nothing. Then, Miller built him back up and forged Daredevil into a true Marvel Legend.
Though characters like Bullseye and the Kingpin were already established in Marvel canon, it was because of Miller’s run that these two villains, to this day, became synonymous with the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Elektra, Stick,The Hand, DD’s rivalry with the Punisher are all Daredevil tropes whose origins can be traced back to Frank Miller. Miller was the first to expose DD’s secret identity to his arch foe, and Miller was the first to really drive home and explore Matt Murdock’s Catholicismand all the delicious drama that goes along with that.
Though Mark Waid recently did a run that revisited Matt Murdock’s more happy-go-lucky roots, it’s Frank Miller’s take on the character that defines him to this day. His influence and stamp on the character’s mythology is all over the fantastic Netflix Daredevil series.
There is really not much to be said about Wolverine in his earliest appearances. He was basically just a one-note, rough-n-tumble little character. To be honest, he was just kind of a jerk,very unlikable.
Enter: Chris Claremont.
Chris Claremont disliked the character so much that he almost killed him off very early on in his historic17-year run on the X-franchise. Instead,he did what a true master of his craft does, he created a legend. Almost every single thing you know and love about this character comes from Claremont’s stamp as he worked with a stable of some of the most legendary artists and storytellers in Comics History – John Byrne, Frank Miller, Art Adams, Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, just to name a few.
Wolverine’s name, Logan, his Adamantium-laced skeleton,his mysterious past, a berserker with the soul of a samurai, Mariko, the fact that Wolverine is much older than he appears, Madripoor, SNIKT, “Bub” and “I’m the best there is at what I do” are all tropes established under the brilliant watch of writer Chris Claremont.
Claremont took a one-note little jerk and turned him into the face of the X-franchise and one of the most complex and iconic heroes in the history of fiction.
Though these characters may have originally been created and envisioned by the great minds of the Golden and Silver Age Forefathers of our beloved medium, they were defined for our modern times by another.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell