Seven years ago, we lost one of the great storytellers in the mediums of superhero comics and animated television, Dwayne McDuffie.
On February 21, 2011, one day after his 49th birthday, McDuffie passed away from complications from emergency heart surgery, and since then there's been a void that's been felt amongst his peers and adoring fans. Still, his work as a writer, editor, comics creator and TV producer remains much beloved and lives on as a reminder of his achievement as a storyteller. SYFY WIRE is celebrating his life and work with our original video, 7 Essential Dwayne McDuffie Stories.
For a body of work that is as large as McDuffie's, getting a list down to seven choices was not easy, but our essential picks are based on showcasing the three-time Eisner Award nominee's skills in creating worlds, showing new sides of characters we love, and writing teams of characters and juggling all of those personalities to find a balanced, memorable story.
McDuffie never stayed on one title too long, but a majority of his comics work was for Marvel and DC Comics. So our first two selections are his brief run on the Fantastic Four (#544-550) and Legends of the Dark Knight (#164-167). With the Fantastic Four, he took newlyweds Black Panther and Storm as Fantastic Four replacements while Reed and Sue Richards escaped for a second honeymoon. He told two stories that brought back the classic FF villains, The Frightful Four, who opened their membership to Ulysses Klaw.
McDuffie's run on Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight built on an earlier story he wrote where he teamed Batman with the blind Lee Hyland, "Blink," who can see through anyone's eyes by touching them. Hyland's special abilities are needed when Batman is on the trail of a black market for babies.
Our third and fourth choices pay respect to the work that McDuffie did in helping found the Milestone Comics imprint at DC Comics, featuring minority stories and heroes. Along with co-founders Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle, McDuffie gave marginalized comics readers a host of new stories to identify with, centering a universe of super-powered beings around the fictional midwestern town of Dakota. The imprint launched eight monthly series, four mini-series and three imprint-wide crossovers.
McDuffie wrote or helped helped launch five of the eight series and edited many of them with his longest runs on the titles Hardware and Icon. For our list, we chose his work on Static and his work to transition the character into Static Shock, an all-ages version which eventually made it into the Saturday morning Kids' WB! block of programming. McDuffie's unique take on the Superman mythos with Icon also made our list for the layered storytelling and social issues discussed.
Rounding out our list are three episodes of Justice League Unlimited. McDuffie took a break from comics as he helped make some of the best Justice League stories in animated form as a writer, producer and story editor on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, where he worked on 69 of the 91 episodes. McDuffie's work in animation continued in the popular Ben 10 franchise, writing, producing and story editing on Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. McDuffie's brilliance could also be found on several of the DC Animated direct-to-DVD films such as Justice League: Doom, All-Star Superman, and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg of McDuffie's work. He's written memorable stories for Justice League of America, Firestorm, Deathlike, The Demon, and Damage Control, to name just a few.
Do you have a favorite Dwayne McDuffie story that wasn't on our list? Be sure to add your favorite in the comments section after the video.