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James Shooter started his lengthy career in 1966 while still underage. He was hired as a writer by DC comics, helping revitalize the "Legion of Super-Heroes" series and also working on Superman. His notable creations included Karate Kid, Ferro Lad, Princess Projectra and the Parassite. He retired for a while and returned to the series in the mid-1970s.
He moved to Marvel Comics shortly after, working as a writer and assistant editor. As a writer for the period, his best-remembered work is the Korvac Saga at the Avengers title. In 1978, Shooter became Marvel editor-in-chief,
largely in charge of the creative decision-making. He held the position to 1987.
Marvel had been pagued through the 1970s with a rotating-door at the seat of editor-in-chief. While veteran writers and artists had been appointed to the job, they struggled to place some control over the ever-increasing creative staff and number of titles published. Shooter prooved the right man for the job in pressing for deadines to be met, certain requirements for the writing and art delivered. However the constant pressure and strict editorial control caused resentment among the Marvel staff towards him.
Marvel was sufficiently revitalized in the 1980s with several titles at their commercial and critical best. Shooter's efforts as a writer though remain controversial. His run in Avengers featured cast mainstays such as Beast, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Wonder Man leaving, a spousal abuse storyline featuring Hank Pym and the Wasp, Moondragon effectively raping Thor, etc. His earlier writing off of Ms. Marvel by having her raped and impregnated was particularly poorly received.
By the late 1980s, Shooter's "near-constant conflict with many of the company's top writers and artists" had forced several of them to leave the company and seek employement elsewhere. They included (among others) John Byrne, Dave Cockrum, Gene Colan, Steve Gerber, Doug Moench, George Perez, Roy Thomas and Marv Wolfman. The new owners of the company effectively fired Shooter in 1987. He was replaced by Tom DeFalco.
By 1989, Shooter gathered enough investors to launch his own company, Valiant Comics. He managed to hire several well-known creators like Bob Layton, Don Perlin and Barry Windsor-Smith. The company licensed several of Gold Key's adventure heroes (Doctor Solar, Magnus Robot Fighter, Turok Son of Stone) and launched new titles. With X-O Manowar arguably the most enduring one. However, arguments with his business partners had Shooter ousted in 1993.
Shooter and a number of former Valiant personel helped him launch the short-lived Defiant Comics. He managed to attract veterans such as Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. Unfortunately, the first title launched was "Plasm". Regardless of its content, Marvel Comics deemed the name too similar to its own "Plasmer" and filed a lawsuit. The legal battle quickly depleted Defiant's capital. The company only lasted thirteen months before having to close. Only seven series were published.
Shooter next founded Broadway Comics in 1995. It was a division of the larger Broadway Video Entertainment. Shooter created a new character called "Fatale" and wrote her series, Jim Starlin handled "Shadow State" and other three titles were ongoing. Unfortunately the corporate owners of Broadway Video Entertainment, Golden Books Family Entertainment went bankrupt in 1996-1997. Forcing it to cease publications.
Shooter was hired as a writer by Acclaim Comics, the renamed Valiant, in 1999. He was apparently expected to revitalize its flagging comics titles. But he only had time time to write three issues before Acclaim pulled the plug on all its titles, focusing instead on its video game properties.
Shooter spend much of the 2000s off the spotlight. He resurfaced in 2007 with DC hiring him to write the Legion of Super-Heroes once again. In 2009, Dark Horse announced it weould launch titles based on the old Gold Key characters. With Shooter the expert on them, he was immediately considered as editor.