by George Carmona III and Ricardo Serrano Denis
George Perez is retiring.
Why is this important? The man’s work has been an inspiration to generations of artists and writers, influencing their style in storytelling and illustration. If we reverse butterfly effect his contributions outside of comics, there wouldn’t be a Titans TV show or an Infinity War movie. Yes, the movie and show don’t fully follow the source material, but that’s just it, he was an integral part of that source material.
So while the man is still here to be acknowledged, we would say thank you.
Here are ten of the most impressive Marvel and DC comic book covers illustrated by the GOAT himself, George Pérez, each one iconic and timeless.
The New Teen Titans #1
DC needed something to match the success of Marvel’s X-Men and the team of Wolfman and Perez gave it to them with this. Perez’s art for the premiere issue is a textbook example of how you craft a cover for a new team, full roster showcasing their powers and abilities while charging into battle.
Tales of the Teen Titans Annual
This annual wraps up the critically acclaimed Judas Contract. Briefly, Deathstroke goes after the Titans from the inside by planting a spy to uncover all of their secrets. It’s that betrayal that Changeling/Beast Boy is expressing as he discovers that the girl he was romantically involved with was literally sleeping with the enemy. The way he breaks down this cover is genius, again positioning the entire roster on one side with Terra in the middle but leaving us wondering, has she really turned. The broken ground representing the broken foundation of teamwork that the Titans are standing on.
Crisis on Infinite Earths #12
This was the final issue of the epic maxi-series, everything was on the line for our heroes and in a final all-out battle featuring the forces of good, going full on against the big baddie, the Anti-Monitor, Perez’s cover gave us that epic confrontation. He found a way to include as many of the heroes as possible, but not just for eye candy, he works out the intricate details of each character into the battle as naturally as possible in this chaotic free for all.
Wonder Woman #1, vol. 2
Following the events of Crisis, DC decided to revamp the Amazon Princess and luckily for us Perez was the one to do it. He reimagines her origin, power set, relationship with the Greek Pantheon and place in the Post-Crisis DCU. While this cover doesn’t age as well with the depiction of Hercules subjugating and rapping Hippolyta, or the hypersexualized femme fatale behind Ares, the draftsmanship and conceptualization of the wraparound cover is still one of the best jumping-off points for a new and improved Wonder Woman.
Crisis on Infinite Earths #7
Like the summer blockbuster, this series, along with Secret Wars was the beginning of Comic Events, and if this isn’t the most iconic pose in comics, I don’t know what is. Cosplayers ban together to photographically recreate this cover at cons or get-togethers. And to be clear this composition has been used before in comics, but this was a momentous event in comic history and this was issue 7. Of all the Crisis covers that he did this is probably the one most people associate with this series. It conveys the tragic loss Supergirl as she sacrificed her life to save the DC multiverse.
Infinity Gauntlet #4
Perhaps one of the most menacing covers I’ve ever seen, Pérez’s cover for Infinity Gauntlet #4 bathes Thanos in pure cosmic terror. The Mad Titans comes across as an arrogant monster that knows that whatever’s coming for him has sentenced itself to death. The cover is an exercise in careful composition and how it can make all the difference. The speech bubble set over Thanos’ head doesn’t detract from the overall effect, but I would argue it doesn’t need it. Pérez mastered the fine details of body language, and it’s in full display here. Still one of the best representations of Thanos’ malice in the history of Marvel Comics.
The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect, parts 1-2
Pérez’s mirror covers for the two-parter Hulk story do an excellent job of not only establishing hero and villain, but also of establishing how volatile Hulk’s morality can be. It frames each version of the Hulk as a god of anger that can either save the world or rule it. Pérez shows once more just how important visual composition is to a comic book cover. It says all it needs to say about the story and it sells the promise of a rumble like no other.
Avengers #19, vol. 3
Another exercise in menace, Pérez’s take on Ultron for this Avengers cover takes the villain’s face and turns it into a symbol of pure evil. It imbues the genocidal robot with a sense of unwavering villainy, with little room for nuance as to its motivations. The black surrounding Ultron’s features concentrates all of the cover’s energy on the coming threat. It gives the story itself an event-like quality that can only result in an epic clash of super beings.
Avengers #2, vol. 3
Pérez excels in bringing whole casts of superheroes together. In this cover he does so for an ultimate show of strength that, while loud, never feels muddled. Here we have an army of Marvel heroes clad in medieval armor, bursting with detail. Each character is intricately designed without ever compromising the visibility of each Avenger on the cover. Makes you want to see more of this part of the Marvel universe, especially since Pérez manages to tell a story for each character through the new costume designs. A feat most impressive.
Avengers #20, vol. 3
What impresses about this cover is how it invites the reader to closely inspect each of the Ultron bots in it. Each one is different, based either on a previous version of the villain or tweaked specifically for the Ultron Unlimited story. In essence, the cover provides a kind of history of Ultron, with the very first iteration engaged in combat with Wonder Man while newer versions go after Scarlet Witch and Vision. It’s like seeing the evolutionary scale of a major Marvel supervillain. Also, the cover was somewhat replicated in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, in the final battle sequence. This speaks to the influence George Pérez’s art has had not just on the comics page, but in comics media in general.
Special Mention: JLA/Avengers #4
This cover feels like a coming together of all the grand elements that make Pérez’s art so iconic. It’s a showcase of superhero fantasy, infused with raw energy. Both DC and Marvel are weaved seamlessly into the fabric of what is, in essence, a celebration of superhero comics. This cover is an event in and of itself. A powerful clash of symbols representative of Pérez’s unique artistic vision.
As Puerto Ricans ourselves, words fail to express just how proud we are of George Pérez. He’s not just an example of how people like us can make it in comics. He’s an example of how people like us can go beyond just making it. He’s proof that we can be great. Looking up to Pérez as we dove into comics, we saw a superhero come to life. Our superhero. We are eternally grateful.