To me... the 80s was the decade of John Byrne.
Yes in a decade that gave us "Crisis on infinite Earths", "Dark Knight Returns" and "Watchmen", I still see the 80s as the decade where John Byrne was at the top of the pyramid??
I first saw his work in the Fantastic Four... no not when he was writting/drawing the book.... before that. When he worked on it as a penciller and was beautifully inked by Joe Sinnott. As usual, the FF at the time was consistently great. It was month after month "the worlds greatest comic magazine" thanks to Joe Sinnott keeping the book consistantly great for more then a decade no matter who the penciller was.
Then I saw his work in Captain America. Each issues inked by Joe Rubenstien was pure gold. I would have said that it was the best work of John's carrer... but came to realise that a big part of it was because of Joe's inking. The two of them together made something infinitely better then the sum of their parts.... or something like that. ;)
Then John was back on the FF as a one man orchestra doing the story and the artwork. It took me a few issues to get used to that new style (at the time.... little did I know that I had already seen John's work a couple of times). But it gave us the best FF run in recorded history... after Stan and Jack's run of course. ;)
And some of the best Dr Doom stories... "Terror in tiny town" and "This land is mine" were good on so many levels.... I can't find the words to describe it.
Although his work was awesome.... I was not to crazy at the time (and even today) of when he was using high contrast photos (AKA photostats) for his backgrounds. I can understand the reason why... but it always bothers me when he (or anyone else for that matter) does that.
We even got part of the run with Jerry Ordway inking the book. As with Joe Rubenstein, the combo Byrne/Ordway was pure magic. Their combined effort was better then anything they could do each on their own. And their version of Daredevil was like seeing Wallace Wood drawing the character once more.
Damn that was good.
Then I saw his work in the X-men.
How... How can this be???
Well..... I live on Earth 2 (or something like that ;) ). And here.... comics were sometimes published out of order. Or sometimes not at all.
For example.... We never read the Jack Kirby or the neal Adams X-Men over here. We started getting an X-Men comic the summer of 1980. It was a bi-monthly comic called "Marvel 3 in 1" starring the X-Men by Dave Cockrum, then the Defenders, and finishing with Nova.
So I first saw the Byrne X-Men around the summer/fall of 1983.
Then I saw his work in the Avengers.
Then I got to see his work in Marvel team-up.
And to end the decade with a bang..... we saw his work in "Legends", "Man of Steel", "Superman" and "Action Comics".
So you can see why I say that the 80s was to me the decade of John Byrne since I got to read pretty much most of what he had done in the 70s and the 80s as if it had all been done in the 80s.
So althougth "Crisis on infinite Earths" is a titanesque feat that no one was able to match to this date. Or that "Watchmen" or "Dark Knight" are still selling more today then most modern comics do.
The 80s to me were rich with tales by John Byrne.
"Captain America for President"
"This Land is Mine"
"The Fall of Galactus"
"The Dark Phoenix saga"
"Man of Steel"
... and countless others.
And there was also his "Hulk" run. His "Alpha Flight". His "Marvel 2 in 1" that I got in the "Project Pegasus" trade. And surely various others that I fail to mention.
John was one of the biggest influence on my work. His work was a mixture of Kirby, Neal Adams, Jim Aparo, and something else that I can't quite put my finger on.... yet.
Even now I still try to capture the magic that was in those "Captain America" pages he did with Joe Rubenstein. Or the "Legend" mini with Karl Kesel.
There was a lot of power in that pencil.
If I can just channel a fraction of that power.... I will be a happy guy. ;)
Until next time.