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John Byrne is one of the definitive comic book writers and artists out there, having created some of the most iconic runs in Marvel and DC, constantly developing iconic, established characters while staying true to their core values.
But if you are a new reader and want to know about one of the most important creators in all of comics, and which comics are best to read… Well, we have made our list of five John Byrne comics that you should definitely check out.
Let’s do this!
5. Namor the Sub-Mariner
The early 90s were a very underrated period of Byrne’s career and I personally think that his input on revitalizing Namor has often been placed under the radar for new comic book readers.
The reality is that the Sub-Mariner, one of Marvel’s characters and arguably the first-ever antihero, was struggling by the time we reached the late 80s, and Byrne, a longtime fan of the character, managed to bring him back to his best with quite possibly the last great run with the King of Atlantis as the main character.
One of Byrne’s main creative decisions was to turn Namor into a more heroic character defending the environment through a company he was running while fighting villains and surrounding him with a vast cast of characters as the writer/artist thought that the Sub-Mariner works a lot better with other people to bounce back and forth with.
Exciting, refreshing (pun intended), and holding up quite well after thirty years, this is probably one of the most underrated runs of Byrne’s career and you should definitely check it out.
Byrne wrote She-Hulk twice and I personally recommend both runs, and the good news is that Marvel a few months ago released an omnibus with all of the man’s work on everybody’s favorite emerald warrior!
Despite the perceptions that she has nowadays, back when she was created, the character of She-Hulk was viewed as a bit too derivative from her cousin, Bruce Banner, also known as the Incredible Hulk. This is when Byrne stepped on him and managed to give Jennifer her own character, with a lot of self-deprecating humor, breaking the fourth wall (way before Deadpool made it popular) and overall adding layers to She-Hulk at a time when she was not taken very seriously.
You can’t understand Jen without John Byrne’s input and you should definitely check out his runs to get a real glimpse of the She-Hulk at her best.
3. Man of Steel and his Superman run.
Right after DC Comics rebooted their whole comic book universe with Crisis on Infinite Earths, John Byrne was hired to modernize the character of Superman in the mid-80s. And his first miniseries, Man of Steel, was a triumphant return to form for the character and the subsequent run was equally amazing.
Byrne had a very clear idea and we can see it from the very first issue of the miniseries: to make this version of Superman less powerful, more emphasis on being raised as a human, and a lot more charismatic in his everyday life as Clark Kent. And he succeeds at that, delivering a version of Superman that has become a bit of a fan favorite and constant inspiration for a lot of different adaptations over the years.
And while the miniseries usually gets the spotlight, the actual run is just as good and you can enjoy the Man of Steel going through different adventures and challenges that perhaps have become a bit underrated in recent years.
Definitely, a key acquisition if you want to complete your Superman collection.
2. Fantastic Four.
There is something you need to know about John Byrne: he really likes the Fantastic Four and he really likes Jack Kirby’s art and Stan Lee’s writing. So you can imagine how much he loves that 60s Fantastic Four run by Jack and Stan. And when he took over the title in the early 80s after Marvel’s first family struggled in the seventies, he decided to bring them back to their best, and that he did with gusto!
One of the key aspects of Byrne’s run that is often ignored is that he read all the issues of the Fantastic Four when he took over. Every. Single. Issue. That gave him a great understanding of the history of the characters and helped them when moving the series forward while staying true to the core values of what Jack and Stan did in the 60s.
This is something that cemented this run as one of the finest in Marvel history: the rich depth of the characters, Byrne’s art reaching spectacular heights, and the obvious letter that lead to the best times of the Fantastic Four while developing them even further.
Simply put, one of the best runs in comics out there and you should do yourself a favor and check it out!
1. Uncanny X-Men.
Come on, you actually thought there was going to be another one in the first place?
John Byrne’s time as the artist of the Uncanny X-Men alongside legendary writer Chris Claremont is one of the great moments of comic book history and together they cemented this title as the finest run in the medium at the time, which kick-started an X-Men revolution in the following decade.
Both Claremont and Byrne were two of the finest creators that the medium has ever seen and together they developed a set of storylines that have become all-time classics, with the Dark Phoenix Saga obviously being their creative zenith. Moving, epic, thrilling, with a lot of character development, this run has everything you are looking for.
One of the greatest creative peaks in comics. Get it!
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Now that we’ve recommended these 5 comics to you let us know which ones are your favorites by leaving a comment below. If you are a reader that is more versed in the comics, then feel free to provide recommendations below for new readers.