Dec 2, 2011

REVIEW| Icons: The DC Comics & Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee

Jim Lee & Bill Baker (authors), Titan Books, 2010

Watch out Stan Lee, Jim Lee is here to stay!

In the past ten years there has been a shift in media from comics to animated series to movies. These movies that have dominated the box office have become a major part of our culture today. However, while many people are watching the movies, an enormous amount of people are becoming interested in comics; not just the 'geeks' and 'nerds'. Among the unsung heroes who I believe should be credited for this rise to popularity in the masses is Jim Lee who has illustrated some of the most beautiful comics I have had the pleasure to read.
ICONS reveals the tremendous impact lee has had on the DC Comics universe...From roughs and storyboards to pencils and finished color art, ICONS showcases every stage of Jim Lee's creative process and spans his entire DC career, with exclusive commentary from the artist himself. It also reveals the breadth of media that feature Lee's art, going beyond comics and covers to model designs, merchandise, movies, and into the digital realm. This alongside his best art and rare and previously unseen pieces, bulled from his personal files will thrill Lee's many fans. --Bill Baker

Batman: From the Comic Hush
On nearly every page is a comic at its early stage accompanied by either the same or similar comic in color (how it was printed in the comic book). Captions litter the book in a good way. They explain who helped with the print, the materials used, what number the print is, what book it was a part of and sometimes a slight synopsis of the scene, a quote, or what Lee’s intentions were with the art. The book also shows unused designs that were never printed but are equally as great as the ones that were. Along with the printed pages, the book includes sculptures and figurines which were all designed by Jim Lee. With each of these sculptures and figurines are basic drawings detailing the scene Lee wanted to portray.

Half pencil, half colored print of Superman and Wonder Woman
While “reading” the book, I realized that I wasn’t actually reading a story line, just the captions. The whole book has a comic book type readability, and I lost myself in the details of the drawings. The pure size of the book (12.2’ x 9.4’) helped to enhance all 296 pages of the beautiful artwork. He has drawn plenty comics with notable characters such as: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, but has also drawn lesser known titles such as WildC.A.T.s, Divine Right, Death Blow, Storm Watch, and many more that were only given a page or two to display the best art from the comics.

Besides the art aspect of things, Lee has helped turn the comics/DC brand into something even more interactive by dipping his hand into the DC Universe Multiplayer Online Role-playing game. He also designed new “kicks” for Converse. He also created a Google Doodle (below) in 2009 to mark the opening of the annual San Diego Comic-Con International.
DC Google Doodle, Jim Lee, 2009

While Stan Lee created Marvel Comics and their main characters, Jim Lee has made it his mission to bring DC up to par with his amazing art. Although he hasn’t created the characters, I can clearly see that he has made an enormous change for the better in the comic industry which is growing at a very fast pace.
Icon’s: The DC Comics and WildStorm Art of Jim Lee is available for purchase on and at Barnes and Noble. The price seems kind of outrageous for the average college student and the regular Joe, but after taking a good long peek at the book in Barnes and Noble, I would buy the book in a second if I had the funds, it’s an incredible deal on the best works from one of the best comic artists today.

-- Jennifer Wright


  1. This is cool!! It is good to see that comics are still alive seeing as how the movies just seem to get worse and worse.

    -James Perkins

  2. His work is incredible! I love how big and buff he has made the characters look. They dont look like your average everyday people like super heros are sometimes portrayed. We all know super heroes arents average people. Here Jim Lee really makes them look like they can save the universe if needed.

    -Amye Patrick

  3. being a comic book geek I enjoyed your blog and appreciate that you chose to write about comics; as they have a big influence in contemporary art as a particular genre. The structure in which your blog is composed is excellent and clear.

    -Eddie Richmond

  4. Batman has come a long way since his creation by artist Bob Kane! Batman’s look has changed drastically over the years. Jim Lee’s version is strikingly beautiful, although I think he might have some competition. I love Tony Daniel’s current work with Batman.

    -Theresa Newton

  5. I have seen art books of his at hastings and barnes and noble before. It's nice too to finally have some comic art reviews in the blog. Its refreshing no doubt. Your blog was well done and does justice to Lee's work! Great job!

    - Erin Davis

  6. LOVE!! I am a huge comic book nerd, especially DC, and this is refreshing to see a review about comics. Jim Lee is an amazing artist and has truly taken comics to the next level. Him along with Alex Ross are the top artist now and make the comics look bloody good. Thank you for reviewing this book cause now it is going on my Christmas list. I really like the different pictures you used, they show the different things he has done with comics; the Google logo is priceless. Great job!

    -Miriah Borden

  7. I was drawn to this blog for many reasons, but mainly because i love comics. I have to disagree with one point made in your blog. DC comics in my opinion have surpassed Marvel comics long ago. Lee might have contributed to this, but writers before him in the 80's have successfully done this already. I beleive Vertigo(DC) has the most compelling graphic novels around. I wish you would have gave more of a history to back up some of the information in your blog.

    -Luke Cisneros

  8. Brilliant. Next to Alex Ross, Jim Lee is one of my all time favorite comic book artists (I definitely own 3 of his batman t-shirts) and in my personal opinion one of the best out there, and I had been wanting to read this book for a while and after reading your entry I can't wait to get my hands on it. This was a good effort on your part with the information but I would have liked to hear more about the art work and your take on his versions of these "icons." For me I have always felt that Jim Lee's style holds true to how superheroes should be and were depicted back in the golden age of comics (buff, muscular, and incredibly attractive).

    I also just wanted to make a point to agree with Luke Cisneros' comment about DC comics surpassing Marvel comments and I whole-heartedly agree that DC and Vertigo have put out some of the most momentous and significant graphic novels that are important not only in the comic book world but also in the art world. Although having originally worked for Marvel at the start of his career, I have always felt that Jim Lee has been one of the artists that has pushed the glory of DC comics forward with his amazing vision and talent.

    -Kealy Racca

  9. I must admire Jim Lee for including the in progress drawings. I believe many artist today feel threatened by the idea of another artist stealing or replicating their personal style or process of construction and/or creation.

    ~David Davis

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  11. extremely impressed by Jim Lee's work. i think not enough people give the artist credit, compared to the author of the comics themselves. I consider myself a huge fan of Batman , and i always will. His dark and gritty appeal attributes to the character. I thank Jim for this.

    -Stephen Durham