Cary Bates
Born1948 (age 75–76)
Pennsylvania, U.S.
Notable works
Action Comics
Captain Atom
The Flash

Cary Bates (born 1948)[1] is an American comic book, animation, television and film writer. He is best known for his work on The Flash, Superman, Superboy, the Legion of Superheroes and Captain Atom. Bates is the longest-serving Superman writer, at twenty years.[2]


Early career

Bates began submitting ideas for comic book covers to DC Comics at the age of 13, and a number of them were bought and published, the first as the cover to Superman #167 (Feb. 1964).[3][4] Bates began to sell stories to DC when he was 17.[5][6]

Bates is best known for his work for DC Comics on such titles as Action Comics, Captain Atom, The Flash, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Superman. He began working for the publisher in 1963 and continued to do so until the early 1990s. Among his contributions to the Superman mythos, he and artist Curt Swan co-created the supervillains Terra-Man[7] and the 1970s version of the Toyman[8] as well as the superhero Vartox.[9] In November 1972, Bates and artist Art Saaf launched the first Supergirl series.[10] Bates wrote two stories which featured a superhero wedding. In Superboy Starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #200 (Feb. 1974), the characters Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel were married[11] and Justice League of America #121 (Aug. 1975) featured the marriage of Adam Strange and the character's longstanding love interest Alanna.[12] Superman #300 (June 1976) featured an out-of-continuity story by Bates and Elliot S. Maggin which imagined the infant Superman landing on Earth in 1976 and becoming a superhero in 2001. The tale was an inspiration for Mark Millar's Superman: Red Son limited series published in 2003.[13] Bates would end the marriage of another character when he wrote The Flash #275 (July 1979) wherein the title character's wife, Iris West Allen was killed.[14]

Bates appeared in his own comics as himself several times, alongside superheroes such as the Silver Age version of the Flash[15] and the Justice League of America.[4][16][17]


Bates and artist Kurt Schaffenberger were the creative team for The New Adventures of Superboy, a series debuting in January 1980, which took the character out of the Legion of Super-Heroes and back into solo adventures.[18] He and artist Carmine Infantino crafted a Batman backup story for Detective Comics #500 (March 1981).[19][20] Infantino returned to The Flash title with issue #296 (April 1981) and he and Bates collaborated on the series, including issue #300 (Aug. 1981) which was in the Dollar Comics format,[21] until its cancellation with issue #350 (October 1985). A major shakeup occurred when The Flash would inadvertently kill his wife's murderer, the Reverse-Flash, in The Flash #324 (Aug. 1983).[22] This led to an extended storyline titled "The Trial of the Flash" in which the hero must face the repercussions of his actions. Bates became the editor as well as the writer of The Flash title during this time and oversaw it until its cancellation in 1985.[23] "The Trial of the Flash" was collected in a volume of the Showcase Presents series in 2011.[24]

His final Superman stories were "Trapped in IMP-TV" in Superman #421 and "Superman for a Day" in Action Comics #581 (both cover dated July 1986).[3] Bates was one of the contributors to the DC Challenge limited series in 1986.[25] In 1987 and 1988, he wrote some stories for Marvel Comics' New Universe line and created the Video Jack series at Epic Comics with Keith Giffen.[3] His post-Superman work for DC included a Captain Atom series with Pat Broderick[26] and the Silverblade limited series with Gene Colan.[3][4]

Later career and other work

His other work includes the comic strips The Lone Ranger (1980–1983),[27] and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1981–1983).

Cary Bates was head scriptwriter on the 1988–1992 live action Superboy television series,[4] and co-wrote (with Mario Puzo and John Briley) the 1992 film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, produced by Superman: The Movie producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind.[28] He also wrote for Disney's Gargoyles during the 1990s.

In 2008 he returned after a 20-year absence to Marvel and wrote True Believers, a limited series about a team trying to uncover secrets in the Marvel Universe.[29]

Bates made a return to writing Superman, this time as an Elseworlds story titled Superman: The Last Family of Krypton, published in August 2010.[3] Bates worked on the DC Comics nostalgic event DC Retroactive writing stories for the one-shot specials DC Retroactive: Flash - The '70s (with art by Benito Gallego and Sal Buscema), and DC Retroactive: JLA - The '70s (drawn by Gordon Purcell and Andy Smith), both released with September 2011 cover dates.[30]

In 2017, Bates returned to the character Captain Atom and wrote The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #1–6 together with co-writer Greg Weisman who had also worked with him on many issues of the 1980s Captain Atom series.

In 2023, Bates was interviewed about his career by writer Mark Millar for his YouTube series about comic book creators.


Comics work includes:

Continuity Comics

DC Comics

Marvel Comics

Warren Publishing

Screenwriting credits




  1. ^ ""Batdance" to "Bateson," Reading Room Index to the Comic Art Collection". East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections. n.d. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016.
  2. ^ Tye, Larry (2013). Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero. Random House. p. 343. ISBN 978-0-8129-8077-6.
  3. ^ a b c d e Cary Bates at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ a b c d Eury, Michael, ed. (February 2013). "A Super Salute to Cary Bates". Back Issue! (62). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 18–19.
  5. ^ Cronin, Brian (June 3, 2005). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #1". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
  6. ^ Stroud, Bryan D. (October 14, 2011). "Cary Bates Interview". The Silver Age Sage. Archived from the original on August 29, 2012.
  7. ^ McAvennie, Michael (2010). "1970s". In Dolan, Hannah (ed.). DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Scripter Cary Bates and artist Curt Swan chose an inopportune time for Superman to meet Terra-Man, a Spaghetti Western-garbed menace who rode a winged horse and wielded lethal alien weaponry.
  8. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 158: "Writer Cary Bates and artist Curt Swan gave Superman all the 'fun' he could handle with the savvy new Toyman in Action Comics #432."
  9. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 161: "Fans of John Boorman's 1974 sci-fi film Zardoz, starring Sean Connery in revealing red spandex, could appreciate writer Cary Bates and artist Curt Swan's inspiration for Vartox of Valeron."
  10. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 153: "Following a decade of back-up action and three years headlining Adventure Comics, Supergirl finally starred in her own series. For the inaugural issue, Cary Bates and artist Art Saaf enrolled Linda Danvers in college."
  11. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 159: "Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel became the first Legionnaires to tie the knot. The wedding planners were writer Cary Bates and artist Dave Cockrum."
  12. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 165: "In August's Justice League of America #121, Adam Strange said 'I do' to his long-time love, Alanna, in a story by scripter Cary Bates and artist Dick Dillin."
  13. ^ Stroud, Bryan D. (December 2013). "Superman #300". Back Issue! (69). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 31–33.
  14. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 182: "Life for the Fastest Man Alive screeched to a halt after writer Cary Bates and artist Alex Saviuk played 'The Last Dance' for the Flash's wife, Iris West Allen."
  15. ^ Bates, Cary (w), Novick, Irv (p), Blaisdell, Tex (i). "The Day I Saved the Life of the Flash" The Flash, no. 228 (July–August 1974). DC Comics.
  16. ^ Bates, Cary; Maggin, Elliot S. (w), Dillin, Dick (p), McLaughlin, Frank (i). "Where on Earth Am I?" Justice League of America, no. 123 (October 1975). DC Comics.
  17. ^ Bates, Cary; Maggin, Elliot S. (w), Dillin, Dick (p), McLaughlin, Frank (i). "Avenging Ghosts of the Justice Society!" Justice League of America, no. 124 (November 1975). DC Comics.
  18. ^ Manning, Matthew K. "1980s" in Dolan, p. 186: "After recently departing the pages of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Superboy was free to pursue his own this premiere issue written by Cary Bates and illustrated by Kurt Schaffenberger."
  19. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 193
  20. ^ Greenberger, Robert (December 2013). "Memories of Detective Comics #500". Back Issue! (69). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 54–57.
  21. ^ Weiss, Brett (December 2013). "The Flash #300". Back Issue! (69). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 58–60.
  22. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 203: "Written by Cary Bates, with art by Flash legend Carmine Infantino, the story saw...[the Flash] accidentally break the Reverse-Flash's neck."
  23. ^ Cary Bates (editor) at the Grand Comics Database
  24. ^ Bates, Cary (2011). Showcase Presents: Trial of the Flash. DC Comics. p. 592. ISBN 978-1-4012-3182-8.
  25. ^ Greenberger, Robert (August 2017). "It Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time: A Look at the DC Challenge!". Back Issue! (98). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 42.
  26. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 229: "March [1987] debuted the new Captain Atom in his first DC series, by writer Cary Bates and penciler Pat Broderick."
  27. ^ "Bates and Heath Premiere Lone Ranger - NY Times Syndicate Revives Classic Comic Strip". Comics Feature (12/13). New Media Publishing: 21. September–October 1981.
  28. ^ Kempley, Rita (August 22, 1992). "'Christopher Columbus: The Discovery'". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
  29. ^ Richards, Dave (July 21, 2008). "Keep 'Em Honest: Bates on 'True Believers". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on October 2, 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  30. ^ Rogers, Vaneta (July 11, 2011). "Cary Bates Flash-es Back, Visits Retro Earth-Prime". Newsarama. Archived from the original on March 10, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2012.

Further reading

Preceded byLeo Dorfman Action Comics writer 1972–1980 Succeeded byMarv Wolfman Preceded byRobert Kanigher The Flash writer 1971–1985 Succeeded byMike Baron(The Flash vol.2) Preceded byElliot S! Maggin Superman writer 1974–1976 Succeeded byGerry Conway Preceded byDennis O'Neil Justice League of America writer 1975 Succeeded byElliot S! Maggin Preceded byGerry Conway Superman writer 1980–1984 Succeeded byElliot S! Maggin andBob Rozakis Preceded byn/a Captain Atom writer 1987–1991 Succeeded byKelly Puckett