Jim Starlin was heavily influenced by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. His acclaimed work has made him just as influential to many writers.
He worked as an artist on Iron Man, where he introduced Thanos. The character is at times considered an homage or competition to Jack Kirby's Darkseid, yet the character's passion are unique unto itself. Starlin has been called the "grim reaper" by his own colleagues in the comic industry, having done such work as the first Marvel Graphic Novel "The Death of Captain Marvel" in 1982, and Batman: "A Death in the Family" with Jim Aparo on art in DC. Death being the consistent motif', excluding his early work on Captain Marvel, revolutionizing the "Marvel Cosmic" Genre.
He was given the job to plot Captain Marvel, in which he took the struggling character into new directions and fleshed out his supporting cast of characters.
As of Captain Marvel #17, Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, re-invented the character with a new look and style. Jim Starlin recognised the potential in this, and took over the book starting with issue #25. With him, he brought Drax the Destroyer and, of course, Thanos, from his brief work on Iron Man. Many consider Starlin's work on the Mar-Vell and Thanos to be his greatest contribution to comic books.
In this run, Captain Marvel #29, the "Metamorphisis" issue, is of particular note. This is the issue that would introduce "Cosmic Awareness" to the comic book medium and change the Mar-Vell character even more than the Roy Thomas/ Gil Kane alterations. Starlin's run would end with Captain Marvel #36. After this, the title lapsed into poor sales. While Doug Moench and Pat Broderick's work late in the series was critically acclaimed, it was not selling well.
Marvel had made the decision to launch their new graphic novel series with an event. This event was the death of Captain Marvel. Jim Starlin returned for this book, as story which has been said to be influenced by Starlin's father, a veteran. This storyline saw Mar-vell falling to cancer, and has become one of the classic Marvel stories from the 1980's.
Starlin created an elaborate mythology for the remainder of the Marvel Universe. The characters and themes, as well as epic struggles between Titans provide a rich backdrop for cosmic storylines in the Marvel Universe to this day.
Later on he went to do the Adam Warlock series, exploring complex themes such as religion, destiny, death and the meaning of life. Adam Warlock has become so tied to Jim Starlin that it is widely speculated that Starlin's falling out with Marvel comics in recent years was the main reason that Adam Warlock was strangely absent during the first "Annihilation" crossover.
He then worked on Thanos, expanding on his origin and motivations. His work made Thanos a cosmic powerhouse. He wrote The Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, and The End of the Marvel Universe starring primarily Thanos.
In addition to his early Marvel work, Starlin was also a prominent writer/artist and an early producer of creator-owned work. His Dreadstar series started at Marvel (as a part of the Epic line), and was published there for some time before moving to First Comics (another early home of creator-owned books). While Starlin originally both wrote and drew (or painted) Dreadstar, eventually he began just writing the book, and eventually turned the book over to Peter David and Angel Medina. When First Comics went bankrupt, Dreadstar disappeared with it. However, a new series, written and drawn by Starlin was published by the Bravura imprint of Malibu in the mid 90's.
In 2006 he revamped DC's Captain Comet alongside artist Shane Davis in the Mystery in Space miniseries. By 2013, he was asked to revamp Stormwatch into a cosmic title.
Characters Created by Jim Starlin