A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE: Technically more than 13. You’ll see what we mean…
By PETER BOSCH
John Broome, who was born 110 years ago on May 4, 1913, wrote for science-fiction pulps prior to venturing over to Fawcett Comics, where he would write for a few years, and then to DC through friend and agent Julius Schwartz. His original work at DC came in the second half of the 1940s and he was assigned several of the company’s heroes, including the original Hawkman, Flash and Green Lantern, as well as the Justice Society of America and Dr. Mid-Nite.
However, it was just a few years later when superheroes were on the outs. Still, Broome wrote two stories during that time that would have resonance in the coming Silver Age:
— In the final issue of Flash Comics #104, February 1949, Broome wrote a story where Jay Garrick encountered a new Flash.
— He would also write the final adventure of the JSA during the Golden Age in All-Star Comics #57, February-March 1951.
Broome continued to work for DC following this, applying his writing to Superman, Batman, Westerns, science-fiction, adventure and mystery stories during the Fifties. In addition, he would co-create Captain Comet, the Phantom Stranger, and Detective Chimp.
However, his greatest work would begin with Showcase #4 (Sept.-Oct. 1956). While he did not write the origin story of the new Flash, he did write the second story there… as well the majority of Silver Age Flash stories that would follow. Along the way, he introduced characters into the Flash canon, including co-creating (with artist Carmine Infantino) an incredible collection of villains.
If that weren’t enough, in Showcase #22 (Sept.-Oct. 1959) he would introduce the Silver Age Green Lantern, which he co-created with Gil Kane (with significant input from editor Schwartz), as well as the Guardians of the Universe, the Green Lantern Corps and, of course, another great rogues gallery.
You’d think those would be enough accomplishments for any one writer, but when Schwartz took over editing the Bat-titles, he had Broome do the first story of Batman’s “New Look” (Detective Comics #327, May 1964), as well as several issues after that.
During this time, Broome was living in Europe (including Paris). He had left the U.S. in 1962 but would return to New York for a month or two every year to get new assignments and then head back to write the stories from abroad and mail them in. He finally retired from comic book writing around 1970.
In 1999, John Broome died at the age of 85.
To fully appreciate the man’s imagination and contribution to comic books, here are 13 CLASSIC DC COMICS CHARACTERS CO-CREATED BY JOHN BROOME (and then some):
1. All of these villains in the Flash’s rogues gallery. Yes, all of them.
2. Wally West/Kid Flash.
3. Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny) and Sue Dibny.
4. Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Carol Ferris (Star Sapphire).
5. Guardians of the Universe and Abin Sur.
6. The Green Lantern Corps. Several members in this great group originated with Broome.
7. Guy Gardner and GL’s bad guys. All originated in stories written by Broome.
8. These three Golden Age villains.
9. The Phantom Stranger.
10. Captain Comet.
11. The Atomic Knights.
12. Detective Chimp.
13. Star Hawkins and Ilda the Robot.
— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite JOHN BROOME FLASH Stories. Click here.
— STRANGE SPORTS STORIES: A 60th Anniversary Salute. Click here.
13th Dimension contributor-at-large PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Page, has just been published by TwoMorrows. He has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. Peter lives in Hollywood.
May 4, 2023
Wow, an incredible legacy of characters created by Mr Broome!