George Pérez is a titan in the realm of comics and pop culture. He is a kind and sweet man who has shared the gift of his art and creativity with the world through comic books and comic art. In early December he announced that he had inoperable cancer and a life expectancy of six months to a year. He also stated that he was forgoing medical treatment for a variety of reasons and that he wanted to spend what time he had left with his family, his friends and his fans. The outpouring of love and support has been tremendous and our humble group of bloggers and pod-casters decided that we also wanted to share in that. The group decided pretty quickly that we wanted to pay tribute to the man whose work we have all enjoyed over the years.
The SuperBlog TeamUp is a group of bloggers and podcasters who have a shared passion for comics and pop culture. Periodically we get together, decide on a theme, and then do our best to write and talk about that shared joy. This time we are doing a send up to George Pérez, a magnificent artist whose work many of us have enjoyed for most of our lives. Please join me as I discuss his work on the Justice League of America and the classic 200th issue. Once you have finished please see the links at the bottom of the page that will direct you to other wonderful writers and podcasts as they discuss The Teen Titans, The Brave and the Bold, Hulk: Future Imperfect and much more.
I first experienced George Pérez in the pages of my brother’s New Teen Titans, the Wolfman / Pérez powerhouse that rivaled Marvel’s Uncanny X-men. That was followed by the revolutionary Crisis on Infinite Earths. Soon I was buying the newly launched post-crisis Wonder Woman comic. I sure did love that book. And I cannot forget his work on Who’s Who in the DC Universe, still one of my top five favorite comic books of all time. The list of comics goes on and on but the point is that I love Pérez’s work and have since I was a young kid.
Pérez is the master of the flamboyant costumes and drawing team-ups. I believe I read somewhere that one of the reasons that he drew some of the characters the way he did, with the amazing amounts of detail he added, was because he didn’t want anyone else to try and draw them that way.
Crisis on Infinite Earths was the comic that defined the modern event book. It is my understanding that one of the things he wanted to do with his work on Crisis, and Who’s Who to a lesser extent, was draw every DC character. When DC and Marvel finally got it together to do the crossover that everyone wanted, JLA / Avengers, Pérez had to be the artist to draw it. In that series he drew every character who had ever been a member of either team. He and Kurt Busiek (writer) probably broke the mold with that series because there has not been a DC / Marvel crossover since.
One of the things all those comics from the eighties have in common is that they were books that my brother and I bought because we loved comics and were in the right place at the right time to discover the wonderful world of DC. Our first superhero book that we read and collected was All-Star Squadron. From there we quickly branched out to other popular DC titles like Teen Titans, the Legion of Super-Heroes and Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew. We read voraciously. In those early years we shared our books and read everything the other had chosen when we got comics from our local stationary store and the local comic shop. We’d eventually have diverging interests, I got into Daredevil and the Amazing Spider-Man, my brother read Blue Beetle, Firestorm, and Blue Devil. Despite all that, we always could go back to those early titles and relive that shared passion.
One book that I don’t remember reading early on was the Justice League of America. Pérez was on that book at the same time as he was doing Titans. I know we liked Superman, Batman and the rest of the team, but I don’t remember that book getting mixed in with our All-Star Squadron or Whitman comics. My brother would really get into it a few years later, but those early eighties issues were something we missed out on at the time. Fortunately I have rediscovered them as an adult. It is that act of discovery that makes reading so much fun.
Justice League of America #200
Writer – Gerry Conway
Art – George Pérez and Brett Breeding
Technical Advisor – Roy Thomas
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Carl Gafford
Editor Extraordinaire – Len Wein
Additional art from – Jim Aparo, Terry Austin, Brian Bolland, Pat Broderick, Frank Giacoia, Dick Giordano, Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, & Joe Kubert
One day I was listening to one of the podcasts over on the Fire and Water Network and host Rob Kelly mentioned that Justice League #200 was one of his favorite all-time comics. I was pretty surprised, but only because I was not familiar with the issue. I figured it was special because it was a milestone, but I had no idea. I eventually came across a copy at a show in New Hampshire. I was pumped to actually see the book in person and have it be something I could afford.
The cover grabbed me right away. It is a wrap around cover with a very frenetic image that really stands out with the bright blue, green and red colors. Depicted are the original Justice League members Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, etc. battling the newer members like Zantana, the Atom, and Firestorm. How could I, as a fan of all these characters, someone who grew up in the era when this originally came out, not want to read this comic? I eagerly gave the dealer my five dollars and was pumped to finally be able to read this possible masterpiece.
The story begins with a history lesson involving the original Justice League team battling aliens that came to earth in meteors hoping to battle each other in order to determine who would rule their own world’s throne. Each hero encounters one of the aliens and is able to defeat them. Eventually they have to team up to defeat the last couple of aliens who are too powerful to take on single-handed. They are victorious. Afterwards, they disperse and hide the meteors the aliens came to earth in, all over the globe.
In the present, Firestorm is manning the Justice League satellite for his turn at monitor duty. He is attacked by the Martian Manhunter who is looking for Superman, Batman, or the Flash. The Manhunter has no idea who Firestorm is or why he is in the Justice League satellite. They fight and eventually the Manhunter defeats Firestorm leaving him unconscious. When Firestorm comes to, he calls the rest of the team, Hawkman, Red Tornado, Zatanna, Elongated Man, and the Black Canary, who is also joined by Oliver Queen aka The Green Arrow. Firestorm explains what happened and everyone except Ollie is baffled as to what made the Martian Manhunter go berserk.
The Green Arrow knows what’s up though, and he explains the history of the original team and their battles with the aliens that came to Earth in the meteors as described in the beginning of the story. Ollie thinks that, like the Manhunter, the rest of the original team might not have their heads on straight and are probably also looking for the meteors from their past. The team decides to split up and each head to the locations where the meteors were hidden years ago.
What follows is DCs top artists at the time each drawing a chapter of this epic adventure. Each modern hero meets up with a OG JLA member who has lost their mind and tries to stop them from gathering the meteors. Aquaman battles Red Tornado, Zatanna takes on Wonder Woman, Atom tussles with Green Lantern, the top detectives duke it out when Elongated Man tries to trip up the Flash, Black Canary & Green Arrow get surprised by Batman, and Hawkman fights Superman. Each new member is soundly beaten by the first JLA-ers and they lose the meteors.
Back in the old JLA mountain headquarters the first team members place the meteors together and low and behold the aliens are reborn before the team’s eyes. It is only then that Green Lantern and the rest of the team start to remember what happened years ago when the aliens first came to earth. There is some nice exposition as the reborn alien conquerors explain to each other how their present situation came about. Just as they are about to pick up where they left off, trying to determine who was the greatest among them the superheroes attack. Superman and the rest of the original team is dispatched almost as easily as they were all those years ago. The aliens take their leave, off to battle each other to determine once and for all the “Fate of an Empire”!
When Batman and company come too they find that the newest members of the team have found them at their old headquarters. They briefly discuss what happened and then head off as one big super Justice League team to take down the aliens one and for all. They divide up once again and working together they easily defeat the aliens. The story ends with Green Lantern and Red Tornado casting the remains of the aliens and meteors into the sun and the original Justice League members saying good-bye to the current team.
Justice League #200 is a milestone issue from an era when milestones were celebrated with much less frequency then today. This was an event book. This was a team up like the famous Justice League (Earth 1) / Justice Society (Earth 2) team ups. It is a special book, written and drawn by the best that DC had to offer. Reading this book for the first time I was able to relive the magic of those early events. I am lucky to have found a comic that I’d never read before, drawn by a guy who’s work I have loved for forty years! How many of us get a treat like that these days?
The story itself is a classic Justice League story where the team splits up to complete several tasks, struggle for a bit and then in the end good triumph’s. All the classic heroes are there, all drawn by some of their signature artists. Pat Broderick drawing Firestorm, Joe Kubert drawing Hawkman, Gil Kane drawing Green Lantern Hal Jordan. With Pérez getting the opportunity to draw them all. I could not ask for anything more from a single comic.
Us comic fans can be a pretty opinionated group of people. We’ve all got our favorite creators, heroes, villains, and stories. We can discuss and argue about them all until the cows come home, but one thing I think we can all agree on, especially all the folks that are part of the SuperBlog TeamUp, is that we were lucky to be able to read comics drawn by George Pérez.
With that being said please take some time to check the links below and read or listen to what the rest of our team has to say about the master, George Pérez.
The Superhero Satellite:
Between the Pages Blog: George Perez’s Uncanny X-Men
Source Material: Brave and the Bold #1-6
The Telltale Mind: Future Perfect – Hulk: Future Imperfect
In My Not So Humble Opinion: I-BOTS from Tekno Comix
Dave’s Comic Blog: George Perez’s Fantastic Titanic Firsts
*51: JLA/Avengers: It Had to be George
Radulich in Broadcasting Network Comic Stripped: Logan’s Run