by Avi Green
It was recently reported that John Byrne, particularly famous for his 1979-86 run on Fantastic Four, and late-80s run on Superman, was contacted by C.B. Cebulski about possibly working again for Marvel after nearly 2 decades, when Byrne stomped out after Joe Quesada canceled X-Men: The Hidden Years in 2000 despite selling well:
“There was some discussion on my website: ‘What if you went back to Marvel?’ and it planted this itch in my brain,” Byrne replied. “I thought, what if I went back to Marvel? Could I go back to Marvel? Can I do that? I haven’t drawn like that in 20 years.”
To scratch that itch, Byrne illustrated a sample page featuring a battle between Wolverine and Sauron in the Savage Land.
“And then I did another one,” Byrne said. “And what the Hell, I’ll do another one. And suddenly, there were 20 pages. And then I got an email from [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] C.B. Cebulski saying, ‘Love it! Let’s talk about this!’ Oh, that’s unexpected. So yeah, it just happened as a fun thing. It’s still just a fun thing as far as I’m concerned.”
So far, some news sites are discussing this as if it’s a possibility, and maybe it is. Much like his X-Men co-writer Chris Claremont’s returned yet again, and reportedly is even introducing a new character. Maybe Byrne could even take up the writing on Fantastic Four again as in the past, because from what I know, Dan Slott’s revival is thudding in sales, proving audiences have woken up to just how bad his storytelling actually is.
But under the current conditions, who knows if Byrne would be able to turn things around?
The sad answer is basically no. Even the 4 dollar pricing has to be considered, because there’s less people today who want to spend that much for what could be just 20 pages of story content. In the past, when comics were just 20-30 cents, it would’ve been fine, but today’s expenses don’t make that easy. And Byrne’s had some questionable content in some of his books from the time he was more active in mainstream (I’m not forgetting that bizarre “Byrne-hold” by the neck that appeared in at least 3 of his Superman stories).
Obviously, Cebulski must want to rehire Byrne because he figures a veteran like him might present a better example than some of the radical leftists he still hasn’t shown the ability to get rid of. And maybe Byrne would be a better choice. But it’s all coming at a time when superhero comics are facing a collapse that’s going to happen sooner or later, and the chances Byrne would be able to turn around a dire situation, alas, are minimal. Too bad, of course, but that’s also the fault of publishers who vehemently refuse to make shifts in formats for comics from pamphlets to trade-only, and thus weaken their business structure.