Last year ended on a sad note for comic fans with Stan “The Man” Lee’s passing. The early months of 2019 continued that doom gloom feeling with George Perez’s announcement that he’s retiring from comics … or to be exact, “the business of creating new comic stories”.
Perez’s (inevitable) announcement came last month (via his official Facebook account). He wrote: “With respect to future published work in comics and such … while I know it’s been no secret that I’ve been dealing with a myriad number of health issues (diabetes, heart ailments, vision issues), they have indeed have forced me to, for all intents and purposes, formally retire from the business of creating new comic stories.”
Perez was instrumental in rebuilding and destroying so many multiverses. It is difficult to accept that his creativity has been curtailed by common ailments associated with “mere mortals”.
We owe Perez for conceptualising many key moments and milestones in comics, including Thanos holding the Infinity Gauntlet (Infinity Gauntlet #1) , Supergirl’s death (Crisis On Infinite Earths #7), Superman lifting Mjolnir (JLA/Avengers #4), the JLA and Avengers co-existing in the same book (JLA/Avengers miniseries), Superman and Wonder Woman’s first kiss (Action Comics #600) and all the mesmerising “strike-a-pose” images featuring the JLA, Avengers and the Fantastic Four.
In case you have never heard of the man (which is unthinkable if you’re a true comics fan), Perez was born in the South Bronx, New York City, on June 9, 1954 and got his first breakthrough in comics as Rich Buckler’s (a Marvel artist) assistant in 1973. A year later, his first solo work saw print in the form of a two-page satire in the pages of Astonishing Tales #25. This led to more opportunities such as Sons Of The Tiger, Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu, Logan’s Run before hitting bigger names like the Fantastic Four and Avengers. It was through these team books that Perez’s uncanny talent in illustrating group shots shone, making him the go-to artist for team-ups and events!
Having read comics for the last four decades, I can’t think of a more complete artist than Perez, who always goes the extra mile/ dimension in delivering his work. His output has always been pace-setting and pulsating as evident by the high level of detail … to the extent that even rubble has that distinctive “Perez trademark”.
For someone who has transformed fantasy into reality, at least on paper, he certainly deserves a loud shout out and hopefully medical advancements will help him regain the ability to contribute to the comics industry, albeit on a smaller scale.
His parting words on Facebook were: “Long story short, I will be just fine. I’ve had a wonderfully good run doing exactly what I have wanted to do since I was a child. Now I can sit back and watch the stuff I helped create entertain whole new generations. That’s a pretty nice legacy to look back on. And so much of that is thanks to all of you, the GREATEST fans in the world. I am humbled and forever grateful.” Thank you, George! As a tribute to your legacy, here’s our pick of your 10 finest works:
Crisis On Infinite Earths (1985)
Perez was the main architect in the biggest reconstruction in comic book history. Till today, I can’t think of any event that matches the cataclysmic level of Crisis, as well as the body count. By today’s standards, Crisis would have required a team of artists to deliver … just to meet the monthly schedule! Perez, in his prime (then) set the unthinkable and unsurpassed benchmark of remodelling comics’ (then) most coagulated universe with remarkable grace!
Infinity Gauntlet (1991)
Despite not finishing this six-parter, Perez laid down the foundation to this epic Marvel milestone – which consequently inspired several key scenes in last year’s movie. Josh Brolin would have never held the gauntlet in such majestic fashion … without seeing Perez’s cover to Infinity Gauntlet #1.
History Of The DC Universe (1986)
If there is a reason why history can be interesting … it’s Perez! This Crisis-spinoff is often overlooked but those who have seen Perez’s splash pages can vouch on the masterpieces.
The 24-year wait was worth it, as Perez proved why a JLA-Avengers team up is necessary. Ironically, Perez was also the artist in the aborted 1979 DC-Marvel collaboration, but his bottled up enthusiasm was still potent in delivering the highest profile team-up between the Big Two. The sight of Superman lifting Mjolnir, Flash racing with Quicksilver and every character (then) who have been a JLA member or an Avengers is simply … breathtaking!
New Teen Titans (1980)
Thanks to Perez (and Marv Wolfman) , the “JLA Jrs” finally come of age and even outshine the JLA and (then) top team, the X-Men.
Future Imperfect (1992)
This futuristic two-parter on the Hulk and his future version will eradicate all images of purple stretchy pants in your head!
Logan’s Run (1976)
Not related to Wolverine. Perez’s earliest stand-out work took place in this Marvel TV adaptation.
Avengers (Vol. 3) (1998)
Unlike Perez’s 1970s work on Earth Mightiest Heroes, this was his act of redemption after a string of incomplete projects due to various personal and professional reasons. Perez’s 30+ issues (#1-15, #18–25, #27–34) offer the perfect team-illustration template for all aspiring team book artists. This stint also served as the perfect “warm up” for Perez before his JLA/Avengers foray.
Wonder Woman (1987)
Before Crisis, Wonder Woman was just the “third wheel” in DC’s Trinity. Thanks to Perez, Diana and her adventures were worthy titles to collect. This series also marks Perez’s foray into writing.
Final Crisis: Legion Of Three Worlds (2008)
This series marks Perez’s 35th anniversary as a comic artist and he shows no sign of rust with this epic Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes collaboration.