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 Parasite. 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 until 1987.
Marvel had been plagued 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 proved the right man for the job in pressing for deadlines 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. However Shooter is also personally responsible for creating the first company-wide crossover ever to happen in American comics, in 1984. The reason was to promote a new line of Marvel toys in association with Mattel. The mini-series launched was named Marvel Super heroes secret wars. Shooter wrote and edited the whole series with Mike Zeck and Bob Layton providing most of the art. The series went on to become one of the best selling marvel comics of all times and opened a new window to large character crossovers that are still dominant in the American comics industry. Shooter is also reportedly responsible for making the decision of killing off the Jean Grey character in the "Dark Phoenix Saga's" ending despite the fact writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne wanted to keep the character alive,
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 employment elsewhere. They included (among others) John Byrne, Dave Cockrum, Gene Colan, Steve Gerber, Doug Moench, George Perez, Roy Thomas and Marv Wolfman. In 1986, the year Marvel officially celebrated it's 25th anniversary, Shooter tried to establish a new line of books called "New Universe". It was supposed to be a separate universe without any connection to the main one, where realism would prevail and no super-heroes or magical and divine entities would exist. Marvel published several new titles for the Ne Universe including Justice, psi-force, D.P.7 and Star Brand. Shooter took the responsibility of editing the whole line of the books. Unfortunately, sales were really poor and that combined with Shooter clashing with the company's ownership led to his resignation and subsequent replacement 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 personnel 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 2008 with DC hiring him to write the Legion of Super-Heroes once again. He started writing the book with issue 37 and ended his run with issue 49, a month before the title was effectively cancelled. In 2010, Dark Horse announced it would launch titles based on the old Gold Key characters. With Shooter the expert on them, he was immediately considered as editor. The company did in fact launch several titles featuring the Gold Key characters such as Turok: Son Of Stone, Doctor Solar :Man Of The Atom and Magnus robot fighter. But a year later Dark horse cancelled the whole Gold Key line of books supposedly due to poor sales and artistic interference from Classic Media who owns the character's rights and respectively fired Jim Shooter.