9 Classic Comics That Made George Perez a Titan - IGN

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2022 Jun 14

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9 Classic Comics That Made George Perez a Titan

Celebrating a career that spanned the full scope of the Marvel and DC Universes and beyond.

Comic book fans have been hit with some grim news, asartist George Prez recently passed awayfollowing a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Its no exaggeration to describe Prez as one of the most influential comic book artists of all time, with acclaimed runs on titles like The Avengers and New Teen Titans, as well as acclaimed limited series likeCrisis on Infinite Earthsand The Infinity Gauntlet. Were it not for Prezs contributions, the Arrowverse and the MCU as we know them simply wouldnt exist.

To celebrate Prezs life, IGN is breaking down the nine comics that defined his career and cemented his storytelling legacy.

Martial arts comics were all the rage in the 1970s, thanks to hit movies like Enter the Dragon and TV series like Kung-Fu. Some of Prezs earliest Marvel work appeared in the anthology series Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, and its there he was able to achieve his first major creative milestone.

Alongside writer Bill Mantlo, Prez created the character White Tiger in 1975s Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu 19. Powered by a mystical amulet, Bronx native Hector Ayala set about defending his neighborhood from street gangs and low-level supervillains, teaming up with the likes of Spider-Man and Iron Fist in the process.

White Tiger is notable for being Marvels first Hispanic superhero, and Prez drew from his own background and family history in bringing the character to life. Nowadays fans may be more familiar with Hectors successors Angela Del Toro and Ava Ayala, but theres no denying he was a critical contribution to the Marvel Universe.

Prez quickly worked his way up to Marvels flagship Avengers series, including drawing part of the seminal Korvac Saga storyline. Prez co-created two major characters during his time on the series, government bureaucrat Henry Peter Gyrich and the elite assassinTaskmaster.

Prez would later return to the series for a second and arguably even more influential run in the late 90s. With the dust of the controversial Heroes Reborn storyline settling, Prez and writer Kurt Busiek returned the series to its roots, focusing on a wide ensemble cast and larger-than-life conflicts. Their lengthy run is now collected in a series of Avengers Assemble graphic novels.

Prez really rocketed to comic book stardom in the 80s, as he and writer Marv Wolfman began their now-legendary collaboration on The New Teen Titans. DC aimed to revamp the team as a direct competitor to Uncanny X-Men, and Wolfman and Prez proved more than up to the challenge.

Much like how Giant-Size X-Men reinvigorated that particular franchise with a revamped and more diverse cast, and a stronger emphasis on interpersonal drama, New Teen Titans gave this team a brand new lease on life in 1980. Wolfman and Prez introduced a number of now-iconic characters like Raven, Starfire, Cyborg and Deathstroke and transformed Dick Grayson from Robin to Nightwing.

Even decades later, the Wolfman/Prez run is widely regarded as the gold standard for the franchise, heavily influencing TV adaptations like the 2003 Teen Titans animated series and HBO Maxs Titans.

Prez eventually went on hiatus from Teen Titans to tackle an even bigger DC project with Wolfman - Crisis on Infinite Earths. With the entire comic book industry pivoting toward more dramatic, adult-oriented stories, DC greenlit Crisis as a way of streamlining its convoluted superhero universe and revamping some of its biggest franchises.

Crisis certainly made a big impact over the course of its 12 issues. The series thrusts the Justice league into the greatest battle of their existence and features the deaths of both Supergirl and The Flash and the destruction of the entire DC multiverse. Few DC stories can rival Crisis in terms of scope. Its thanks in large part to Prezs detailed, orderly artwork that this sprawling crossover doesnt come apart at the seams.

The impact of the original Crisis continues to be felt even decades later. DC has published multiple sequels that further toy with the structure of the multiverse, and the Arrowverse tackled its own version of the story back in 2019. Is the DCEU next?

While some characters like Batman werent significantly impacted by the fallout of Crisis on Infinite Earths, others were essentially rewritten from the ground up to fit DCs new, streamlined continuity. Wonder Woman was in that latter group, and DC turned to Prez to revamp one of its longest-running titles.

Prez and co-writer Greg Potter shifted Diana of Themyscira in a drastically different direction with their relaunched series. The new Wonder Woman ditched many of the campier elements of the franchise in favor of an approach that emphasized Greek mythology and Dianas connection to the Greek gods. Potter himself didnt remain on the book for long, and Prez wound up pulling double duty on many issues, proving he had a knack for scripting as well as drawing comics.

Even now, many fans point to Prezs post-Crisis Wonder Woman as the definitive take on the character, and even the DCEU version owes a clear debt to his work.

After devoting the majority of his artistic energies to the DC Universe during the 80s, Prez began to dabble with Marvels heroes again in the early 90s. This is the period that spawned the best-selling event comic The Infinity Gauntlet (obviously a massive influence on the MCU), but also one of the most critically acclaimed Hulk comics ever published.

The Hulk comic in question is The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect. This limited series paired Prez with writer Peter David, a creator who is essentially to Hulk what Chris Claremont is to the X-Men. Future Imperfect drags Bruce Banner to a dystopian future where Earths heroes have been wiped out by the Maestro, a version of Hulk whos even stronger and meaner than the regular one. Future Imperfect is a sobering look at what happens when Hulk truly becomes a monster, and its a series that really set the tone for so many futuristic Marvel tales that followed, like Earth X and Old Man Logan.

As much as Prezs name is synonymous with the Marvel and DC Universes, he also branched out and worked with a number of smaller publishers in the 90s and early 00s. He even briefly flirted with self-publishing in a time where that was nowhere near as simple (or potentially lucrative) as it is today.

The most notable project from this era is Solus, part of the short-lived CrossGen Entertainment line. Solus greatly fleshed out the mythology of CrossGens shared Sigilverse and proved Prez still had more than enough storytelling imagination to spare. Sadly, the series was cut short by CrossGens bankruptcy in 2004, and even now these issues remain out of print. Still, for the hardcore Prez fan, Solus is well worth hunting down.

Its hard to imagine in todays comic book climate, but there was a time when Marvel and DC actually collaborated on superhero crossovers. The 90s even gave us DC vs. Marvel, a limited series that allowed fans to vote on the outcome of major battles and spawned the hybrid Amalgam Universe.

But where DC vs. Marvel was a sales stunt first and a story second, 2004s JLA/Avengers gave fans the rousing epic they craved. This series features a massive cast of heroes from both universes and a massive conflict that does them justice. The fact that the series reunited Prez with Avengers writer Kurt Busiek certainly helped lend it some extra credibility.

Unfortunately, relations between Marvel and DC have only deteriorated since JLA/Avengers wrapped. Were not likely to see another crossover of this scope and quality anytime soon. The two companies did at least agree toallow the JLA/Avengers graphic novel to be reprintedto benefit the Prez family, though good luck finding a copy at retail price.

Prez not only delivered some of the best work of his long career on Crisis on Infinite Earths, he also has the distinction of contributing to all three chapters of the original Crisis trilogy. Prez was called on to provide fill-in art on 2005s Infinite Crisis when that series fell behind schedule. And for 2008s Final Crisis, Prez teamed with writer Geoff Johns for an ambitious revamp of the Legion of Super-Heroes franchise.

Dubbed Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, this offshoot of the main Final Crisis comic details Supermans whereabouts and explores how the cataclysmic war between the New Gods impacts the heroes of the 31st Century. Legion of Three Worlds aims to make sense of one of the most confusing and convoluted super-teams in the DCU, presenting three different incarnations of the Legion from three different universes. As with so much of Prezs work, the end result is an epic superhero adventure that holds together on the strength of his gorgeous visuals. Even at this late stage in his career, Prez showed fans he had lost none of his magic.

For more on Prezs lasting impact on the superhero world, check out IGNsfull review of The CWs Crisis on Infinite Earths crossoverand our picks forthe best Wonder Woman comics.

Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket byfollowing @jschedeen on Twitter.

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