A Tribute to John Broome
by Michael Hutchison
and the writers and readers of Fanzing
John Broome passed away in March. As this happened overseas (Broome was an inveterate world traveler), it was only discovered and announced by DC in late April. I did a search in the online resource "Who's Whose in the DC Universe" (winner of this month's Best of Fandom award; look for the link on Fanzing's back cover) and was amazed at the volume of memorable characters this man created.
I must confess, I didn't really know Broome was still alive until I read his obituary. When discussing Ron Marz, I'd often used the phrase, "John Broome must be spinning in his grave." Oops. I guess that wasn't true before.
During the Golden Age of comics, Broome worked on All-Star Comics and other noteworthy titles, creating Detective Chimp, Sportmaster, Knodar and Per Degaton.
In 1951, he created Captain Comet, a forerunner of the sleeker Silver Age superhero characters. Comet was the first mutant in comic books, an evolutionary leap ahead of the humans around him. Around the same time, he invented the Atomic Knights and Star Hawkins.
Although he isn't generally credited as the creator of the Flash, he is (oddly enough) credited as the creator of Captain Cold who appeared in the same origin issue! He penned all of Flash's post-origin adventures and introduced the wild characters populating Flash, including Kid Flash, Elongated Man (originally intended as a villain), Gorilla City, The Flash Museum, and most everyone in Flash's Rogues Gallery (Abra Kadabra, Captain Boomerang, Dr. Alchemy/Mr. Element, Captain Cold, Gorilla Grodd, Heat Wave, Mirror Master, Pied Piper, Reverse Flash, Top, Trickster and Weather Wizard).
As the creator of the Silver Age Green Lantern, Broome introduced the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians of the Universe, Dr. Polaris, Baron Tyrano, Black Hand, Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire, Hector Hammond, Guy Gardner, Puppeteer, Shark, Sinestro, Sonar and most of the famous alien Green Lanterns (Tomar Re, Katma Tui, etc.).
Like Bob Kane and many other comic book legends who have died in the past decade, John's comic book contributions were long behind him and he'd moved on to have a long, satisfying life. John Broome is not so much to be mourned as he is to be celebrated.
Michael Hutchison, Fanzing editor
Our Favorite Hobby has suffered another loss of a great creator. John Broome, creator of the Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern passed away this week of a heart attack. Losing another great pioneer of comics saddens me greatly.
I have a fond memory of finding some very early Green Lantern comics at a used bookstore I used to frequent as a child. I bought them for ten cents apiece, and though most had tattered or missing covers, that wasn't a deterrent to my enjoyment of these classics.
As I get older I'm coming to appreciate the older books much more. Sadly the people who created
these great cornerstones of our industry are passing on before I'm able to shake their hands and say
thank-you. All I can say now is thank-you John Broome for some great characters.
Most people today do not know the state of the comic book business was in before the start of the silver age. Except for the big three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), the super hero comic was dying. Pioners like John Broome helped save the Bizz. By rebooting the Golden age Flash and his Rougues Gallery, Green lantern. With out him and others there would be no silver age. No Justice League or any of the other Silver Age heroes who are still, in one form or another, still with us. So let's hope that John is with the King and Bob Kane and both Siegel and Shuster. I bet they're going to put out one hell of a comic book.
For an industry that deals so much in icons, the fandom is largely (many of the exceptions are right here) forgetful of the creators who made them so. These people's hopes and dreams live on in us, but we forget sometimes that this is where they came from. People just like you, me, the person next door.
A lot of media attention has been paid recently to the WWII generation and the role they played in securing the freedom so many of us hold dear in the US and abroad. And rightly so.
But to my mind, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Bob Kane and Lee Falk, Martin Nodell and so many others served, also. They gave us hope. And the next generation, John Broome and Stan Lee and their peers, helped remind us of the ideals the previous generation had inspired.
We should remember them while they're still here. When a Chaos Comics writer gets deluged with fans at a convention while a Martin Nodell sits alone at his table, that's just blasphemous. Our thanks should be with them all, these makers of legends.
The world of comics has lost another great but his influence lives on through the ongoing popularity of many of the heroes he helped develop.
All characters are DC Comics
This column is © 1999 by .