Renowned Lobo And Justice League International Co-Creator Keith Giffen Passes Away At Age 70 Following Fatal Stroke
In yet another massive loss for his family, fans, and the comic book industry at large, legendary comic book creator Keith Giffen has sadly passed away at age 70 as the result of an untimely and fatal stroke.
This unfortunate passing of one of the medium’s greatest contributors was first made public on October 12th, courtesy of a post made to his official Facebook page by his family.
“I told them I was sick…Anything not to go to New York Comic Con”, the Giffen family playfully wrote.
Proceeding to channel the spirit of Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle and a character who was regularly placed under the creator’s care, they then signed off, “Thanx Keith Giffen 1952-2023 Bwah ha ha ha ha”.
As reported by Bleeding Cool‘s Rich Johnston, Giffen’s “suffered a stroke on Sunday, the 8th of October and died on Monday the 9th”.
Born in Queens New York in 1952, Giffen’s entered the comic book industry 23 years later, kicking off his career by providing the cover image for Edward S. Barkan and Bill Mantlo’s Sword in the Star short story in Marvel Preview Vol. 1 #4.
Incredibly, it would not take long for Giffen to leave his first major mark on the industry, as just three issues of Marvel Preview later, the artist would team with the aforementioned Mantlo to introduce a new character into the 616: a short, furry, genetically-altered weapons expert better known as Rocket Raccoon.
From there, Giffen would continue to find work as a Marvel Comics artist, most notably as the artist for Gerry Conway, David Kraft, and Roger Slifer’s run on The Defenders Vol. 1 #42-54.
However, his dedicated time at the House of Ideas (which at that time was actually deserving of that title) would soon come to an end, as in light of the few instances of freelance work he provided for the competing publisher on such titles as Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth Vol. 1 and Challengers of the Unknown Vol. 1, Giffen was tagged by DC to serve as the artist on Stever Gerber and Martin Pasko’s back-up tales in The Flash Vol. 1 #306-313.
Following his time with the Scarlet Speedster, Giffen would next work with Paul Levitz on The Legion of Super-Heroes, whose core books he would illustrate and eventually write of-and-on from 1982 to 1998.
During this roughly 16 year period, Giffen would also offer his talents to a number of DC’s other books, most notably 1987’s Justice League Vol. 1, wherein he and writer J.M. DeMatteis would team with artist Kevin Maguire to treat readers to a more light-hearted, yet still genuine take on the titular team.
The next year would then see the creator handed his first event, DC’s Invasion, for which he would provide both the plot and pencils for the main series.
In addition to providing such definitive runs for some of DC’s established characters, this 16-year period would also see Giffen co-create two original characters, one of whom would go on to find a healthy fanbase and the other who remains in relative obscurity to this day.
First up was the fourth-wall breaking Ambush Bug, who thanks to Giffen first began to pester the DCU in 1982’s DC Comics Presents Vol. 1 #52. A year later, he would and his former The Defenders partner Roger Slifer would introduce the world to the Main Man himself, Lobo, in Omega Men Vol. 1 #3.
Continuing to work at a steady pace as the century turned over, the 2000s would see Giffen expand his creative horizons.
In 2002, Giffen would head Tokyopop’s localizations of the Battle Royale and Ikki Tousen mangas, both of which saw significant changes made to their plots – and in the case of the latter, a title change to Battle Vixens – in an effort to make them more pliable to Western audiences.
Back in the world of Western comics, Giffen would branch out from under the Big Two, producing original works for numerous other publishers including Division 13 for Dark Horse, X-O Manowar for Valiant Comics, I Luv Halloween for Tokyopop, and Tabula Rasa for Image Comics’ Desperado Publishing imprint.
Picking back up where they had left off, this era also saw Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire revisit their incarnation of the Justice League in 2003’s fan-favorite Formerly Known as the Justice League miniseries.
For the former, he would provide breakdowns for their seminal weekly series 52, while the latter assigned him as the lead writer on their highly-lauded cosmic crossover Annhilation.
Further assisting DC in plotting out their post-Infinite Crisis direction, Giffen also served as the launch writer on their Blue Beetle Vol. 2 reboot, which tasked him with introducing the world to his newly-created Ted Kord successor, Jamie Reyes.
Still in the DC fold by the time The New 52 rolled around, Giffen partnered with then-company head Dan DiDio on OMAC Vol. 4, though the series was unfortunately cancelled after just eight issues.
Rolling with the punches, Giffen would continue to work with DC in the years to come, even reuniting with both DeMatteis in 2013 for Justice League 3000 Vol. 1 and DiDio in 2014 for Infinity Man and the Forever People Vol. 1
Adding to his resume as one of the industry’s leading ‘event’ directors, Giffen would team up with Brian Azzarelo, Dan Jurgens, and Jeff Lemire to provide the scripts for The New 52: Future’s End.
Ever dedicated to his craft, though his output would proceed to slow down in the years leading up to his unfortunate death, it did not come to a complete halt.
Between 2019 and 2021, Giffen would collaborate with Lemire on Inferior Five Vol. 2, which aside from the title shared no relation to the original series, instead trading in its previous comedic tone for a murder-mystery involving Peacemaker and the return of the alien Dominators.
Sadly, as time has now revealed, this book would end up being his last. However, it would not be his last overall creative venture.
In April 2023, Giffen took to hosting the unfortunately titled I’m Not Dead Yet!, a livestream where he would answer fan questions with the assistance of his son-in-law. In a now evident indicator of things to come, the show only lasted a total of three episodes before Giffen retired from public view.
Speaking to Johntson, DiDio said of his late friend, “Having a hard time finding the right words. All I know is that Keith would be annoyed by this whole thing, but if anyone truly deserved praise and appreciation from the comic industry. It would be Keith. I guess it’s a good thing he’s not here to hear it.”