John Byrne has been a part of some of the most popular story lines of all time including: The Dark Phoenix story arc and Days of Future Past from the X-Men. He also had a memorable run on the Fantastic Four which included the trial of Reed Richards after he saved the life of Galactus. In the 90's he also had a memorable stint where he revitalized DC's flagship character, Superman.
John Byrne was born on July 6, 1950 in Walsall, England where he got his first taste of American superheroes through television programs (The Adventures of Superman). At the age of 8 he, along with his parents Frank and Elsie, moved to Canada where he continued his schooling. Byrne admits that he was not gifted in the academic world.
For 15 years he was married to actress/photographer Andrea Braun, whose son from a previous marriage is comic book artist Kieron Dwyer.
In 1962, John Byrne read Stan Lee's and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four #5, his first Marvel comic, and in his opinion "the book had an 'edge' like nothing DC was putting out at the time." It was only later that Kirby's work would have its full effect on Byrne, who would end up working with many of the characters Kirby helped to create. Another heavy influence to Byrne was comic book artist Neal Adams.
In 1970, John Byrne joined the Alberta College of Art and Design, which was located in Calgary. At the school his comic book career began, At first it was when he created Gay Guy (a character meant to parody superheroes and the stereotypical homosexual art student) for the college newspaper. This comic is remembered more, however, for the appearance of a prototype of Snowbird, a character Byrne would create years later. He also had his first published comic book work while attending the school, it was in the first issue of a comic book called ACA Comix and it featured The Death's Head Knight. Byrne left the college in 1973, without actually graduating.
In August 1974, he began his real work in comics when he illustrated a two-page black-and-white short story for Skywald Publications' Nightmare #20. He eventually became a freelance artist for Charlton Comics, for whom he created his first colored comic, Rog-2000 (a back-up story in the E-Man series). While working for Charlton, Byrne also did work on series like Emergency!, Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch and Space: 1999. He also co-created Doomsday 1, with Joe Gill, a science fiction series that took place in a post-apocalyptic world.
This is a list of some of the comics he has worked on and how he made an impact on them:
Alpha Flight: Alpha Flight was a team and series that Byrne reluctantly created when Marvel convinced him to create a Canadian superhero team. Originally Alpha Flight was "...to survive a fight with the X-Men," but the book became really popular and sold more than 500,000 issues. Byrne, however, never really enjoyed working on the book and thought of the characters as "flat." One of Byrne's biggest impacts on the comic book universe, through Alpha Flight, was the creation of the homosexual superhero Northstar, even though the character's sexuality was only hinted at while Byrne worked on the series.
Avengers West Coast: While working on Avengers West Coast (from issues 42-57) Byrne took the story of the Vision into his own hands and changed several things about him. Byrne wrote that the Vision's creation, as told by Ultron, was a lie. The character was changed so that he would no longer have human emotions. It was also revealed that the Vision's and Wanda's children were simply pieces of Mephisto's soul. Also, in this short run, Byrne created the Great Lakes Avengers, one of comic's oddest superhero teams.
Captain America: John Byrne once worked on Captain America for nine issues alongside Roger Stern and during this time, in issue #250, Captain America was nominated to become President of the United States.
Fantastic Four: One of John Byrne's major works was the Fantastic Four, in which he brought forth what many believe to be a second Golden Age. He went all the way back to the beginning but this time there were some huge changes. He soon had the She-Hulk replace the Thing as a member of the team while Byrne wrote the Thing's solo comic. Alicia Masters was no longer with Ben Grimm and instead became romantically involved with Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. The Baxter Building was demolished and in its place was Four Freedoms Plaza, the new headquarters for the Fantastic Four. One of the biggest changes was changing the name of the Invisible Girl to the Invisible Woman, the most powerful member of the team.
Eventually, Byrne left the book allegedly because "it simply started to get old," but it has also been mentioned that "internal office politics" were part of the reason.
Iron Man: During a short stint, John Byrne wrote 20 issues of Iron Man (#258-277). In that time he featured the super villain Fin Fang Foom, returned the Mandarin to his status as a major Iron Man villain and started a second Armor Wars story arc.
Namor the Sub-Mariner: John Byrne created this series and in it he displayed a different side to Namor, showing him as a business man and the head of Oracle Inc., a company on the surface world. For twenty-five issues Byrne wrote and drew the series, but when artist Jae Lee came on board with issue #26, he utterly transformed the mood and plot line of the book. Byrne quit writing the series in the middle of a story line after thirty-two issues.
Superman: Byrne was hired by DC Comics to reboot the iconic superhero, Superman, which was needed after the Crisis of Infinite Earths storyline. This reworking of the superhero that is supposedly greater than any other in the eyes of the public got the media's attention and so articles were published everywhere including The New York Times. Byrne completely revamped Superman and he stated that, "I'm taking Superman back to the basics...it's basically Siegel and Shuster's Superman meets the Fleischer Superman in 1986." Kal-El's mighty power was drastically reduced from his Silver Age version, but he remained one of the mightiest beings in the DC Universe. Byrne changed the story so that the Kents were still alive and often the support of Superman in his adult years. However, Byrne got rid of Krypto, the Fortress of Solitude and the fact that Superman ever was Superboy (which he regretted as it ruined the very idea of the Legion of Super-Heroes). John Byrne also made Clark Kent a man who actually fit in with society and was more of an ordinary human, or at least wished to be one, in his youth believing Earth to be his true home. Finally, Byrne explained how Clark Kent kept his identity secret for both the snapping of photos and his frame. The first was explained as Clark using his super speed to move the molecules of his face at a rapid pace to make it blurry in photos and for the second he possessed a weight training set to make an excuse for his build. This Superman made his debut in The Man of Steel a six-issue miniseries describing his origins. Byrne did a lot of work on almost all of Superman's titles, especially in 1988 when it was The Last Son of Krypton's 50th anniversary. He continued this routine for approximately two years, but quit as he felt no support, especially since the line of Superman merchandise differed from the version he had remade for the comics.
The Sensational She-Hulk: When requested to do so by his editor, Mark Gruenwald, John Byrne began work on a new series in 1989, The Sensational She-Hulk which was supposed to be a huge change from her earlier series, The Savage She-Hulk. So Byrne made a comic that was meant to be humorous and often had She-Hulk break the "fourth wall." He was allegedly fired from the series after eight issues when his ideas were ignored and instead his editor, Bobbie Chase, was changing his stories so they would fit along with the She-Hulk: Ceremony graphic novel. However, not long after the Sensational She-Hulk series hired a new editor in Renée Witterstaetter, Byrne returned to the series with issue #31 and his last issue was #50.
The Uncanny X-Men: In 1977, John Byrne began working on The X-Men (eventually the title was changed to the Uncanny X-Men) with Chris Claremont. The series became one of the best-selling series in comics. Eventually, however, Byrne and Claremont's different ways of storytelling got in the way Byrne left after issue #143.
Creations and Co-Creations (partial list) (full list below)
John Byrne has created many characters for various companies, here is a chronological list of some of them:
1- In February of 1978, predating Alpha Flight, John Byrne created the character that would eventually lead the team, Guardian.
2- Byrne single-handedly created Alpha Flight, the Canadian super hero team he was assigned to make. The team's first appearance was in 1979, in the month of April.
3- Northstar and Aurora, both created by John Byrne, made their debut in April of 1979, as members of the new team, Alpha Flight.
4- Sasquatch was another character that debuted with Alpha Flight (April 1979) created by John Byrne.
5- Shaman was created by John Byrne, appearing for the first time in The X-Men #120 (April 1979).
6- Snowbird, a character whose prototype he had created much earlier made her first appearance in April 1979 and is credited to John Byrne.
7- Byrne co-created the Hellfire Club alongside Chris Claremont in January of 1980.
8- Byrne also created Sebastian Shaw, with Chris Claremont, when they made the Hellfire Club in January of 1980.
9- In November, 1980, the wife of Guardian, Heather McNeil Hudson, was created by John Byrne and Chris Claremont. The character would later call herself Vindicator.
10- Marrina was created by John Byrne for Alpha Flight, and made her first appearance in Alpha Flight #1 in August 1983.
11- Puck was also created by John Byrne for the same purpose as Marrina, making his first appearance in August of 1983, however the origin of the character that Byrne had planned for was not actually the one used in the comics.
12- In December of 1983, John Byrne created the daughter of Shaman, Elizabeth Twoyoungmen, Talisman, who debuted in Alpha Flight #5.
13- In July of 1989, John Byrne created the Great Lakes Avengers, who have since gone through numerous name changes and are now called the Great Lakes Initiative.
14- Mr. Immortal, the leader of the GLA and the pinnacle of evolution in the Marvel Universe was created by John Byrne and first appeared in July of 1989.
15- In West Coast Avengers Vol. 2 #46, Big Bertha - a character created by John Byrne - made her first appearance as a member of the GLA.
16- Flatman, another character created by John Byrne for the purpose of being a member of the Great Lakes Avengers, had his first appearance in July 1989.
17- In July of 1989, John Byrne created another character on his own, for the Avengers West Coast Series as a member of the GLA, Doorman.
18- In 1991 working on Uncanny X-men #282, alongside legendary Image co-founder, Whilce Portacio, they came up with the wildly popular character Bishop.
19- In 1992 his creator-owned series John Byrne's Next Men was first published by Dark Horse Comics.
A Full List of CHARACTERS CREATED BY JOHN BYRNE (Alphabetically)