John 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 doing 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 lengthy stint where he revitalized DC's flagship character, Superman.
One of John's favorite things to do when he gets a hold of a series is to do some serious Ret-conning. Every comic he has worked on he has changed aspects of the characters origin or history. Sometimes it works for the better, most of the time it just creates controversy.
John Byrne was born 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, though Byrne admits that he was not gifted in the academic world. Also, for 15 years he was married to the actress/photographer Andrea Braun.
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 Jack Kirby's work would have its full effect on John Byrne who would end up working with many of the characters this man had helped create. Another influence to Byrne, though this time in art style was the comic book artist Neal Adams.
Eight years later, in 1970, John 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 more remembered however, as in it appeared a prototype for Snowbird, a character Byrne would create years later. He also had his first published comic book while attending the school, it was called ACA Comix #1 and featured The Death's Head Knight. However, John 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 in Skywald Publications' Nightmare #20. So it was that he eventually became a freelance artist for Charlton Comics, for whom he created his first colored comic, Rog-2000 (a back 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, it was a science fiction series that took place in a post-apocalyptic world.
Byrne is sometimes believed to possess the power to predict events in our world, when he does his comics, and of course these events are predominantly tragedies.
Some of the events and corresponding comics include:
-In Marvel Team-Up (1977) Byrne had a blackout in New York City, a blackout actually did occur the month the comic went on sale...Byrne had drawn it six months earlier
-Then, in Uncanny X-Men he made a story in which there was a massive earthquake in Japan, and again it happened the month the comic went on sale
-However, one of the biggest instances was an issue of Wonder Woman, for whose cover was a newspapers headlined "Princess Diana dies"...three days after the comic went on the shelves, Princess Diana of Britain died
This is a list of some of the comics he has worked on before 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 "merely to survive a fight with the X-Men" but the book became really popular and sold more than 500,000 first issues. Byrne however never really enjoyed working on the book and thought of the characters as being 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 this sexuality was simply 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 Vision into his own hands and utterly changed many things about him. First off it turned out that his creation as told by Ultron was a lie. Vision was then changed by Byrne so that he would no longer have emotion and it was revealed his 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 had a story where Captain America was nominated to become President of the United States.
Fantastic Four: However one of Byrne's major works was the Fantastic Four to which he brought forth a second Golden Age. He went all the way back to the beginning but this time around there were some huge changes. He had She-Hulk replace the Thing as a member of the team while Byrne wrote Thing's solo comic. Alicia Masters was no longer with Ben Grimm and instead hooked up with Johnny Storm. The Baxter Building was demolished and in its place was Four Freedoms Plaza, the new headquarters for the Fantastic Four. Yet, one of the biggest changes was transforming Invisible Girl into Invisible Woman, the most powerful member of the team. Eventually however 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 for about 20 issues of Iron Man. 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 bur when new artist Jae Lee came, he utterly transformed the mood and plot line of the book, Byrne quit writing the series after thirty-two issues.
Superman: For a time, Byrne took a break from working at Marvel Comics and instead was hired by DC to do a retcon of 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 himself 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 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 Super-boy (which he regrets as it ruins 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 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, when Byrne got a new editor, Renée Witterstaetter he returned to the series for issues thirty-one to fifty.
The Uncanny X-Men: In December of 1977, John Byrne began working on The X-Men (eventually becomes the Uncanny X-Men) with Chris Claremont. Because of their work together in the series, they have their claim to fame and the series becomes one of the best-selling series in comics. Yet eventually, Byrne and Claremont's relationship got in the way and the fact that Byrne was losing all joy in pursuing the project that he left at 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 and Chris Claremont 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 and Chris Claremont 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 and Chris Claremont.
5- Shaman was created by both Chris Claremont and John Byrne, appearing for the first time in Uncanny 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 and Chris Claremont.
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 the Guardian was created by both John Byrne and Chris Claremont, Vindicator.
10- Marrina was created by John Byrne for Alpha Flight, and made her first appearance in August 1983 for the team's debut issue.
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 alone, created the daughter of Shaman - Talisman- a character he and Claremont had created together a few years prior.
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 - makes 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 issue 282 alongside legendary Image co-founder, Whilce Portacio, they came up with the wildly popular character Bishop.
19- In 1992 his creator-owned creation the Next Men was first published by Dark Horse Comics.
A Full List of CHARACTERS CREATED BY JOHN BYRNE (Alphabetically)