From Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular, written by his son Larry O’Neil, art by Jorge Fornés, colors by Dave Stewart. Denny O’Neil passed away on June 11, 2020. On the anniversary of his passing, we’re looking back at his amazing career with the TOP 10 DENNY O’NEIL COMICS and the TOP 10 CHARACTERS he created.

This is a Marvelcentric site, so we’ll be looking only at his Marvel comics for his best stories. Lots has been written about his important work on Batman, of course, and you can go elsewhere for that. I will recognize his DC work in the top 10 of characters, though, because some of his creations were massively important.

Let’s start with the characters…


  1. Of course it’s Ra’s al Ghul
  2. Matches Malone–an alter ego of Bruce Wayne
  3. John Stewart–the first black Green Lantern
  4. Obadiah Stane, the “big bad” from Denny O’Neil’s epic Iron Man run with Luke McDonnell.
  5. Talia al Ghul–daughter of Ra’s, and she bumped uglies with Batman)
  6. Lady Deathstrike, X-Men character
  7. Batman and Superman of Earth Two
  8. Madame Web, Spider-Man’s psychic friend
  9. Micah Synn–a Daredevil foe who deserved a much longer story arc
  10. Hydro-Man–he’s like Sandman…Only water!
  11. Calypso, Kraven the Hunter’s ladyfriend who hypnotizes prey with her bongos


10. HIS FRANK MILLER COLAB: Amazing Spider-Man Annual #14 (1980)

In one of his earliest works for Marvel, O’Neil offers Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Doctor Doom.

9. MAN! MACHINE! MACHINE MAN!: Iron Man #168 (1985)

It’s a simple idea: The man inside the machine has succumbed to a very human failing. He fights a machine whose biggest weakness is his desire to be human, and Iron Man exploits that weakness–literally tearing Machine Man apart.

8. BRINGING BACK BULLSEYE: Daredevil #197-200 (1983).

It’s a fair criticism to say that these issues are far too similar to Wolverine–and in fact, Wolverine guest starred just a couple issues earlier. But in issue #200, we can forget the fact that he now has a psychic link with Daredevil, an adamantium spine, and links to the future Lady Deathstrike (who Daredevil sleeps with in this arc). We forget the weaknesses of these issues because Daredevil ends up nearly killing Bullseye in the same gym–on the same boxing ring floor–that Battlin’ Jack Murdock died. It’s a great way to bring back a fan-favorite villain, while developing and interweaving Daredevil’s backstory.

7. ZOMBIE MODOK: Iron Man #205 (1986)

MODOK is dead…And he’s still giving Iron Man a hard time!  That’s the tag line. MODOK is “robot-ized” by an AIM scientist, and hilarity ensues. Fun stuff.

6. SAVAGES: Daredevil #202-206; 210-214 (1984-1985)

Tarzan (in the form of new character Micah Synn) comes to New York and finds himself sideways with both Daredevil and Kingpin. A complex, epic story that rarely gets the love it deserves.

5. TONY STARK HAS A KID!: Iron Man #182 (1984)

During his period of alcoholism and homelessness, Tony Stark falls in with a street woman who dies giving birth to his child. I can’t understand why this never became a more important plot point.

4. PETER PARKER GOES TO JAIL: Amazing Spider-Man #219 (1981)

Denny brings Luke McDonnell over from Iron Man to tell a done-in-one about Peter Parker going to jail. It’s a terrific issue–the plot is twisty and surprising, the villains are underused (Jonas Harrow and Grey Gargoyle), and the resolution is heartwarming.

3. IRON MONGER: Iron Man #200 (1985)

With his bicentennial issue, Denny O’Neil ended the long-simmering storyline where Obadiah Stane hired a girl to get Tony so drunk that he lost his empire and Stane took over. First appearance of the Iron Monger armor…

…which appeared in the first Iron Man movie.

2. DENNY GETS PHILOSOPHICAL: Power Man and Iron Fist #88 (1982)

This is a personal favorite that I am fairly certain you won’t find on any other tribute to Denny O’Neil. But this is my web site, so I can do what I want. It’s great because he stops criminals from getting away by throwing a pole at their car. But it’s my favorite PM&IF story–and one of my favorite comics ever–because of a quiet little scene on a bridge where a suicidal DW Griffith–a side character from this series–is visited by a stranger…

…Who tells him to cherish his own depression because he may never feel that low again. Believe it or not, for a traumatized kid like me (I was 15 when this came out), these became words to live by. This comic got me to recognize my own feelings as valuable, even when they were painful.

Okay. That was some serious shit, huh? Let’s get back to Denny.

  1. JAMES RHODES BECOMES IRON MAN: Iron Man #169-170 (1983)

Simply iconic. We had a black Iron Man for several years, while we watched Tony Stark do a slow, messy, and much-more-realistic slide into alcoholism. It decompressed “Demon in the Bottle” and made it even better.

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