Recently, famed artist George Pérez announced his terminal cancer diagnosis in a heartfelt letter to fans and co-creators alike. And while the news is particularly devastating, given that Pérez’s decades-long career at both DC and Marvel changed the game, there was one upside: the accompanying outpouring of love and support. Folks in and out of the industry took the time to celebrate Pérez as he’d intended, while he was still around the enjoy the connection, which seemed very much in line with the mostly communal nature of his career.
So, in that very same spirit, several members of the AIPT staff have come up with their own such celebration, breaking down their favorite covers and panels from a man who either invented or reworked so much of what is modern comics. It’s a small homage at best, but we hope it’s one that will show just how important Pérez’s life and work is for millions worldwide.
– Chris Coplan, AIPT Comics Editor
The Infinity Gauntlet #1 (Cover)
As much as I can praise the amazing detail that Pérez puts into his interior art, from the cosmic scale to the number of characters he can put on a single page, the front cover for The Infinity Gauntlet #1 is legendary. With Thanos’ face and his eponymous gauntlet at the center, the cover sets up the villain and conflict, and with the colored lines of light coming out of the Infinity Gems, it creates small panels featuring other Marvel characters who will play a part in the story. Often with event titles that are there to change the status quo, the results can be hit-and-miss, but from this cover alone – with a circled caption that says, “THE ENDS BEGINS HERE” – it feels like we’re about to read the start of an exciting climax.
– Rory Wilding
The Infinity Gauntlet #1 (Pages 27 and 28)
The moments that I’m specifically talking about are a series of panels that lead to Thanos erasing half of all life in the universe. Again rebuffed by mistress Death, Thanos is pitching a fit until Mephisto gets into his ear and reminds him of the vow he once made to his would-be paramour. At first Thanos is apologetic to Death, leading to my favorite individual panel in the series, wherein the Mad Titan flexes the Infinity gauntlet in the foreground, cloaked in shadow with a mad glow in his eye, stating that “A lover should always follow through on a vow given.” Thanos then warms up his hand for a few panels to marinate in the gravity of the moment — with even Mephisto incredulous at what his newfound master intends to do — before strolling to the edge of his stronghold and casually snapping his fingers in what is one of the single most iconic comic panels of all time. Pérez kills it in the entire series, but this moment in particular always stuck with me upon my first read as a kid.
– Jason Segarra
Batman #436 (Cover)
When I started getting into collecting comics, it was always a treat to get out of town and see the comic shops in the bigger cities. I was collecting Batman back issues and I was really into the short stories that were happening, and I saw that storyline title of “Year Three,” which was in issues #436 to #439. I was able to get all four issues, and it was such a treat to read, but the big question is, how was George Pérez involved? He illustrated the covers, and they were just so powerful with endless emotion, especially as they were updating Dick Grayson’s origin at the time. I remember spending hours looking at those covers and picking up so much from them. My favorite, though, is #436 — I love how it showcases the death of the Flying Graysons, and you can feel the pain Dick is going through. I also enjoyed how the shadows let us know the present time is dark and there is a great distance between Batman and his family. The ’80s created some dark stories, but Pérez and writer Marv Wolfman started healing the divide between Batman and his family. I highly recommend this story arc and its “sequel” called “A Lonely Place of Dying,” which Pérez worked on as well.
– Christopher Franey
The New Teen Titans #1 (Cover)
I can recall seeing this cover as a youngster in the mid-90s and having the entirety of my brain blown out the exterior of my skull. Some years later, and that corresponding sense of head-smashing wonderment remains just as strong as ever. This cover is the clearest example of Pérez’s skills (with an assist on inks from Dick Giordano) when it comes to moment-defining imagery. This book and this lineup would go on to become iconic, and their depiction here feels like the best of the Titans captured in glorious, slightly bizarre majesty. It’s a cover that feels both hopeful and unnerving, emotional and action-packed, and silly and yet still deeply serious. That’s sort of Pérez’s magic to a tee, and the man understands the raw power of comics like few others. Whether it’s Beast Boy’s pre-Animorphs-style transformation, the goth craziness of Raven, or Kid Flash’s sick momentum lines, it’s a cover that always reminds of what comics are and what they’re capable of. Which is to say, the purest and best kind of magic and joy.
– Chris Coplan
JLA/Avengers #4 (Pages 16 and 17)
JLA/Avengers could have been a disaster — the fact that it wasn’t has so much to do with Pérez’s own efforts. Two companies marrying their respective IP could have been marred by weird, intrusive decisions, and even when things went mostly right behind-the-scenes, you still had the issue of “marrying” the JLA and Avengers. What Pérez did is effortlessly mix these two dense canons, respecting the imagery and motifs of these teams while also creating a kind of common ground between the super squads. (That’s best represented in the clearly genius decision to parallel/connect Martian Manhunter and Captain America.) There’s tons of great art from this entire story/series, but this page specifically feels like the best instance of how Pérez played these icons off one another to create something super nerdy, hugely entertaining, and genuinely compelling. For a man who did so much truly important work at both DC and Marvel, this project feels like an actual watershed moment in profound comics storytelling.
– Chris Coplan
Who’s Who in the DC Universe #17 (Wraparound Cover)
George Pérez was a big deal to me before I even knew comic book artists by name. Even at a young age, I could tell that the same artist blowing my mind in my hand-me-down copies of New Teen Titans (thanks for those, Dad!) was the same fella who drew those exquisite wraparound covers for Who’s Who in the DC Universe. I always loved how the disparate characters kind of acknowledged one another on these covers, making each one feel like the craziest club meet in the universe. The Who’s Who cover that always stood out to me was #17, primarily because of the image of Nightwing bounding off of Penguin’s rainbow-colored umbrella. But flipping it over revealed some excellent vignettes among the various characters, from the Patchwork Man placing a gentle hand on Nocturna’s arm to Nuklon being hassled by Brat from the Nuclear Family. In what could easily have felt like an overcrowded page, Pérez granted so much personality to each individual character.
– Nathan Simmons
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