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Neal Adams, Comic Book Legend, Dead at 80

RIP to the renowned artist who helped transform Batman into the superstar he is today.

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Neal Adams smiles at the camera with a mural of DC superheroes behind him.
Neal Adams in his Continuity Studios office in New York City in 2008.
Photo: Nicholas Roberts/AFP

Neal Adams, the legendary artist who brought Batman, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Brave and the Bold, and many more to life in his storied career passed away yesterday due to complications from sepsis, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 80.

To call Adams’ career in comic books storied is to make an understatement. He worked on some of the biggest titles at both Marvel and DC. He co-created characters like the Green Lantern John Stewart—forever iconic to a generation who would grow up with the character as their Green Lantern in the Justice League animated series—the Batman villains Ra’s al Ghul and Man-Bat, Marvel’s Mockingbird, and many more. He illustrated Marvel’s Kree-Skrull War saga and the immensely popular Superman Vs. Muhammed Ali. He pioneered “relevant” comics like Green Lantern/Green Arrow, in which superheroes faced real-world problems like drug addiction instead of just colorful supervillains. He fought for creators’ rights, causing Marvel and DC to begin the practice of returning art to artists. His art influenced comic creators around the world.

But what he will likely be most remembered for helping to turn Batman into the pop culture juggernaut he is today, and helping transform the entire medium in the process. By the tail end of the Bronze Age of comics in the ‘70s, Batman had become a joke informed by Adam West’s hokey performance in the 1966 Batman TV series. Working with writer Dennis O’Neil, Adams transformed Batman into the Dark Knight, turned his villains from goofballs into real threats (especially the Joker), and created the grittier tone that pervades the character’s stories to this day. Without Adams, the Batman movies as we know them simply wouldn’t exist. Again, his influence cannot be overstated.

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Adams will be missed, but his legacy and his work will live on. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.


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