Suspended Animation Review
John Byrne appeared on the comics scene when he illustrated a two-page story which appeared in Nightmare #20, published by Skywald Publications. From Skywald, Byrne went to work for Charlton Comics in late 1974, where his co-creation, Rog 2000, saw publication in back-up features of E-Man. Byrne’s art was also seen in other Charlton books, such as Wheelie And The Chopper Bunch, Emergency!, and cult favorite, Doomsday +1.
Byrne’s rise to prominence, however, began at Marvel Comics. Providing art for books such as Iron Fist, The Champions and Marvel Team-Up (all subjects of childhood nostalgia for this columnist), gained the attention that landed him on X-Men. Along with writer Chris Claremont, and inker Terry Austin, Byrne helped push the book, which was already growing in popularity, to new heights. For many fans, his is still the definitive Wolverine.
While working with Marvel’s merry mutants, Byrne also penciled eleven issues of The Avengers, and nine issues of Captain America, both fan-favorite runs.
After X-Men, Byrne’s star rose even more when he began a 61-issue run on The Fantastic Four. Many fans, even today, declare his FF work second only to that of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
In 1986, Byrne began a considerable amount of work on DC Comics’ Superman. Beginning with the miniseries, The Man of Steel, the writer/artist scaled back the Kryptonian’s powers, and made him a more sympathetic character. Reworking Superman’s origin and history, he also successfully simplified things for fans, old and new alike. Many have remarked that his Superman bears a striking resemblance to Christopher Reeve.
John Byrne’s art has always been characterized by dynamism and realism. No surprise, as two of his self-proclaimed influences are Jack Kirby (known for his own dynamic style) and Neal Adams (known for realism). His is a style particularly suited for the superhero genre.
John Byrne’s work has also appeared in Marvel’s She-Hulk, Alpha Flight, Incredible Hulk, Star Brand, X-Men: The Hidden Years, DC Comics’ Wonder Woman, JLA, Action Comics, Doom Patrol, and many, many others. His self-published work of note includes Next Men, Babe and Danger Unlimited.
Not all of his work has met with critical and fan success, but the work of John Byrne in general has made quite an impact on the field of comics, and is highly recommended.