Top 10 Worst John Byrne Comics

Danger Room and masochism go hand in hand in this ranking of John Byrne’s worst works

The essence of decadence

Decadence doesn’t happen by itself, it has to be done, and John Byrne has done it bravely over two decades in which he published, or worse, had a series of works published with a more than questionable quality. It is possibly one of the most notorious and public cases of artistic decline that have occurred in the North American comic industry. In most cases, scriptwriters and cartoonists have a period of professional success that can span between 10 and 20 years. The most usual path (but not the only one) is as follows: after gaining experience in small publishers and minor collections, the authors move on to the most cutting-edge collections of Marvel and DC and then gradually fade into independent publishers or their own projects of greater or lesser success. even, on many occasions, looking for other artistic fields or dedicating himself to making commissions almost exclusively. The same thing usually happens in the field of the script. There we have Brian Bendis, who has gone from being the main screenwriter at Marvel to one more at DC, being more focused on his projects at Dark Horse right now. Almost always it is a controlled decadence and outside the mainstream spotlight, something that did not occur in Byrne, who watered Marvel and, above all, DC in the 90s and part of the 2000s, from the worst of his production. It was like watching an accident in slow motion. The following list presents the works that marked the decline of a John Byrne who was the most in the 70s and 80s. Do not pay much attention to order, because who is capable of bringing order to hell?

10.Genesis (1997)

DC commissioned Byrne for his great 1997 crossover, structured around a 4-issue miniseries with drawings by Ron Wagner and covers by Alan Davis (the only thing salvageable) along with 23 more issues of the various collections. The story is about a “Divine Wave” that in its first pass through the universe created the gods, in the second demi-gods and metahumans and in the third it eliminates or affects the powers of the heroes. They could not miss Darkseid and his desire to control the powers of the Wave. Definitely, a Squire Crisis that intended to modify the canon of the DC Universe, which ended with Darkseid being part, again, of the Source Wall and that everyone forgot as soon as it was published.

9. The Star Trek fotonovelas (2014-2018)

Byrne has been a fan of Star Trek ever since he watched the original series as a teenager, and his Fantastic Four owes much to this love, which has later borne fruit in the form of fotonovelas for IDW with original stories made from stills from the original series who Photoshops without any shame or expertise. You have to see them to believe them.

8. Babe (1995)

babe was one of the works that Byrne made for Dark Horse within his label Legendand it was still an attempt to resume the success and charisma of Sensational She-Hulk, without getting neither one nor the other, even if I try from the cover. Babe tells the story of a stunning amnesiac superwoman who only knows how to say “Babe” and who ends up being the amalgamation of five different women who suffer an accident on an airplane. It is not that the script has no head or tail, but that artistically it leaves much to be desired, with pages that are floating talking heads or in which the characters are black silhouettes. As guests appear the Abe Sapiens from Hellboy or the Musarañoide, that is, the Mole Man from Monkey Man & O’Brien.


7. Doom Patrol Vol 4 (2004-2006)

Byrne took advantage of his saga in JLA with Chris Claremont (that existed, see below) to present his new version of the Doom Patrol, which, to no one’s surprise, was the original from the end of the 60s to which he added some characters nondescript created for the occasion called Vortex, Nudge, Grunt and Faith and that no one returned to pick up after 18 issues of this boring series. Byrne, unsurprisingly, avoided and contradicted as much as he could and more of the earlier versions of the Patrol, especially Grant Morrison’s.and we suspect that he tried to make all of the above remain as a dream.


6. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World (1997-1998)

We all know that Byrne has proclaimed himself the sole figurehead of Kirbyan essences and he has never shown it more than in this masthead, which claims to be that of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World in which Byrne writes, draws, inks and labels each and every one of the issues, although, in his modesty, he leaves the covers to Walt Simonson. Despite the fact that there are signs of the great cartoonist Byrne, the series is still a mess that keeps going around the Kirbyan mythologies without getting anywhere. The affront is that between 2000 and 2002 Simonson himself made a wonderful series called Orion (plain) that did manage to green up the world and the characters of Kirby. Byrne drew a number, by the way.


5. JLA 94-99 (2004)

DC achieved the unthinkable when they reunited Chris Claremont and John Byrne 24 years after The X-Men for a six-issue saga that pitted the JLA against a conclave of vampires. Server hates that “any past time was better” because it’s a lie… almost always. The script, half done, and the drawing, inked by a not too inspired Jerry Ordway, are terriblehighlighting the abusive use of the pictorial in the composition of the vignettes, something that, as Carlos Pacheco explained to me, is the best way to avoid drawing backgrounds, since it is enough to draw floors.


4. Superman True Brit (2004)

What better idea than adding a British cartoonist to the parody of Superman made by the mythical John Cleese of Monty Python, together with the writer and biographer of the group of comedians, Kim Johnson? That is the only explanation we can think of for Byrne’s inclusion in this unfunny concoction that we suspect Cleese’s intervention was having tea with Johnson, which focuses on English topics that were already old in the 60s and advanced by the left by series such as the contemporary Little Britain, and in which Byrne shows contempt for anatomy and proportions that had been his hallmark for a few years . And he looks that it hurts me, that there is nothing that I like more than a good parody. Especially if it’s intentional.


3. Wonder Woman (1995-1998)

In his second stage at DC, a Byrne still sure of his talent to give new luster to classic characters had in his hands the Wonder Woman series, of which he made numbers 101 to 136 after the end of the appreciable stage of William Messner-Loeb and Mike Deodato Jr. However, the fact that the first saga was starred by characters from the Fourth World and that the villain of the second saga was Demon’s enemy Morgana makes us suspect that what he wanted was to get his hands on Kirby’s characters, which, we have already seen, he achieved a few years later, and using Princess Diana was an excuse to tell stories that didn’t have much to do with her. His was also the fireman’s idea to have Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, take her daughter’s place as Wonder Woman, both in the past as a member of the JSA and in the present, creating even more continuity chaos in the complicated Post-Crisis DC story. Special mention deserves Wonder Woman’s headband, which hints at a mile-long forehead and that she never had the worst drawn hair. At least this stage gave us the character of Cassie Sandsmark, the new Wonder Girl, who is Byrne’s creation.


2. The X Patrol: The Lost Years (1999-2001)

A bit of editorial context: the original X-Men series was canceled in issue #66 despite the strenuous efforts of Roy Thomas and Neal Adams, and through issue #93 the collection continued through reprints of the original material, featuring from issue #94 the new Second Genesis version of Wein, Claremont and Cockrum. In that interval the characters were appearing in different collections, but their adventures as a group did not appear anywhere, something that Byrne decided to remedy with this collection of the “lost years” whose plan was to publish the 28 issues “disappeared” in the 70s As we have already seen, and will see, Byrne’s end of the century had as its leitmotif the recovery of the comics of his adolescence, implying how little connected he was with what was published in those last 90. The result in this case was disastrous, with a lot of boring adventures and, worse, for someone who wanted to present himself as a guardian of the essences, doing silly things like putting the original Patrol to interact with a Teenage Storm, destroying the continuity of the character. Although Byrne boasted of having ideas for 100 issues that would link with the mutant Second Genesis, the revolution of Jemas and Quesada left the collection in 21 issues to the anger of a Byrne who never collaborated with Marvel again,… to the joy of Quesada.


1.Spiderman: Chapter One (1998)

So lost was Spiderman after the nonsense of the Clone Saga that Bob Harras decided that a new and fresh beginning of the character was needed, recounting his origins and bringing him closer to the end-of-the-century reader. The point is that Spiderman had no problem with his origin, one of the most perfect in the history of the genre, nor did the readers have the slightest complaint about how old the details of his origin could have remained because the essence of it it is universal and timeless. However, Harras thought otherwise and decided to entrust it to the so-called “essence expert”, yes, he was in the 80s, but that was another time and the new century called for other things. Byrne dedicated himself to telling the origin of Spiderman as if it had happened in the 80s and, where his uncles gave him a microscope, in this version they gave him a personal computer. This detail exemplifies what was wrong with this version, the fact that include details so conjunctural that ten years later they would be outdated again and that, in this example, they replaced a microscope with a nondescript computer that does say a lot about Peter’s scientific character.


Byrne stayed in the superficial details and ignored the essence. If to that we add some horrible character redesigns and a drawing in which the proportions left a lot to be desired, where the Green Goblin looks like a Funko (Íñigo Rodríguez dixit), this work deserves to be in the depths of John Byrne’s production. Two details: Byrne joined forces with Howard Mackie (another one who dances) in a new series of the wall-crawler that followed in the infamous wake of this 13-issue maxiseries and of which he made 18 issues. To add insult to injury, the year 2000 was the year of Ultimate Spider-Man, where Bendis and Bagley met the note where Byrne had crashed miserably, presenting a revamped Spider-Man for the 21st century.


Can the work of the artist be separated? It can. Can the work of an artist be separated into good and bad work? I already think it can. Can you love an artist for his good work while feeling sorry for his bad? Not only can, but must, and that is what we have done in the two articles that we have dedicated to the work of John Byrne, the first of which you can find here.

Top 10 Worst John Byrne Comics – Danger Room