The celebrated Mr. K pays a birthday tribute to a longtime colleague…

Elliot S! Maggin was born 73 years ago, on Nov. 14, 1950. This year, he gets a twofer birthday salute — this piece by Paul Kupperberg and NEAL ADAMS CHRONICLES columnist Peter Stone’s personal tribute ELLIOT S! MAGGIN, THANK YOU FOR MY CAREER. Dig it! — Dan


Elliot S! Maggin walked in the door knowing how to write a comic book script. Knowing how to write a really good comic book script! Julie Schwartz, who bought the young Brandeis University student’s first story, remembered the sale in an interview published in 2010 in Back Issue. “I’ve been a comics editor for over 27 years and never… have I ever come across a ‘first-time’ script… that can come within a light-year of equaling What Can One Man Do? in professional slickness and comics know-how.”

As legend has it, the Green Arrow script—based on a term paper Elliot had written—made the rounds at DC, falling into the hands of Neal Adams who decided he wanted to draw it. And even before it could see print — in Green Lantern #87 — editor Schwartz was assigning the young writer stories for Superman, Action Comics, World’s Finest, Batman, Detective Comics, and Shazam!

It wasn’t supposed to work that way.

It was enough to make an even younger wannabe writer hate this guy who not only sold his first script on his first try to the best editor in comics, but whose first script was not only so damned good but had also been drawn by Neal Adams. But then I met him and found out you can’t hate Elliot. He’s way too nice and friendly a guy. And his writing, as I said, is so good. He quickly proved he wasn’t just a one-hit wonder with the work that followed on characters and features including Green Arrow, Batgirl and Robin, Atari Force, American Flagg (for First Comics), the Shadow, Justice League of America, and others. He also did a couple of years as an editor at DC, overseeing the licensed TSR line of comics and editing the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale Challengers of the Unknown miniseries.

Elliot has also written novels and animation, worked as a developmental learning consultant, and twice run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. (P.S. That, by the way, is what one man can do!)


Green Lantern #87 (December/January 1971). Oliver Queen confronts his conscience and asks himself “What Can One Man Do?” when the elders of Star City seek him out to run for mayor. Art by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano.

Superman #247 (January 1972). It’s the Man of Steel’s turn to question his role in the world when the Guardians of the Universe ask, “Must There be a Superman?” … or would the world be better off learning to fend for itself without his super-assistance? Art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

Superman #274 (April 1974). “Protectors of Earth, Inc.” had its fair share of 1970s-era Schwartzian story tropes, but Elliot brought it up a notch with his handling of Superman. Art by Swan and Vince Colletta.

Shazam! #19 (July/August 1975). I also liked how Elliot wrote Captain Marvel in Shazam! He understood the inherent childlike charm of the character and wasn’t embarrassed to go with it, as in, “Who Stole Billy Batson’s Thunder?” Also, art by Kurt Schaffenberger never hurt a story!

Justice League of America #123 (October 1975). When Elliot and co-writer Cary Bates got into the story they were writing, they really got into it! “Where on Earth am I?” featured art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.

The Joker #7 (May/June 1976). Of course, sometimes, things just got plain goofy, as in “Luthor—You’re Driving me Sane,” with art by Irv Novick and McLaughlin.

Welcome Back, Kotter #1 (November 1976). Proving you don’t have to be born in Brooklyn to write Welcome Back, Kotter. (And, no, the Bronx is not close… they wish!) “So Long, Kotter,” with art by Jack Sparling and Bob Oksner.

Unknown Soldier #219 (September 1978). This means war! “The Edge of History,” with art by Frank Miller and Danny Bulanadi.

Superman: Last Son of Krypton (Warner Books, 1978). I’ve always been grateful that contractual difficulties between screenwriter Mario Puzo and Warner Bros. prevented a direct adaptation of Superman: The Movie from being published, because it resulted instead in Elliot’s original novel, Last Son of Krypton. If you have never read this book, you owe yourself an apology, but you can make amends. Though the original edition is long out of print, Elliot has a self-published edition available on Amazon.

Superman: Miracle Monday (Warner Books, 1981). And the sequel!

Superman #400 (October 1984). The landmark 400th issue of Superman was celebrated with an all-star line-up of artists, including Joe Orlando, Al Williamson, Frank Miller, Marshall Rogers, and Steranko, to name a few… and script by Elliot, looking at the Man of Steel’s legacy across time and space.

Secret Origins #38 (March 1989). “The Kid That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” was a lovely father/child tale for Roy “Speedy” Harper as Elliot pulled together all the pre- and post-Crisis elements of the Green Arrow sidekick’s origin. Art by John Koch and John Nyberg.

Kingdom Come (Warner Aspect, 1998). If you liked the critically acclaimed Elseworlds miniseries by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, then you’re going to want to read Elliot’s novelization thereof. The Kingdom Come novel doesn’t merely retell the story from the comic but enhances it, taking you deeper into the hearts and minds of the major players.


— ELLIOT S! MAGGIN, Thank You For My Career, by PETER STONE. Click here.

— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite 1960s NICK CARDY Covers. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Holy Moly! I’d forgotten about the Mxyzptlk-esque Shazam! 19, but I know I read it! Big! Maggin! Fan! And all of these books are good!

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  2. As an 11 year old I got Last Son of Krypton before the film came out in teh UK. I was very disappointed in the film – I had expected Last Son…

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  3. I have “Last Son of Krypton” and “Miracle Monday.”

    Love Elliot’s work!!!!!

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  4. I love Elliot’s work!

    (Have “Last Son of Krypton” and “Miracle Monday.”)

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  5. About 25 years ago when the internet was new enough you could figure out someone’s email address easily I found Elliot Maggin’s email and sent him an actual honest to good fan letter telling him how much I loved Miracle Monday (I still think it’s the greatest Superman story ever and a brilliant novel to boot) and how much I loved his other comics work. Elliot sent me a lovely note back saying how flattered he was and he was dealing with some family crises and would get back. I didn’t hear from him again (in fairness my email address changed a few months later so that probably was me) but I’m so glad I told him that.

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