It’s hard to deny the force that was Jim Lee in the 1990s. For better or for worse he helped define a generation of artists and fans alike. Uncanny X-Men #275 was a gatefold cover showcasing the new iteration of the team and the reintroduction to the old Xavier Institute costumes. This issue was the middle of a 4 part story in space featuring the Shi’Ar that would sadly be one of the last stories longtime author Chris Claremont would pen for the series. I think you’ll agree that this cover highlights what Jim Lee does best.
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In the early 90’s during the Image Revolution I was that comic book company’s prime target audience. Translation: I was young and dumb with some extra money to spare and easily swayed by shiny holofoil covers. All I cared about were how cool the comic books looked. Any time I didn’t understand the story, I just chalked it up to being too young. While Mr. Liefeld made quite an impression on me, it was Jim Lee’s work that I couldn’t get enough of. Loving his art on X-Men, I was thrilled to pick up his new creator owned series WildC.A.T.S.
Full disclosure, I owned a lot of WildC.A.T.S. issues from the 90’s, but was always so disappointed that after about issue #13 or so Jim Lee stopped drawing it. I would pick up issues hoping these were just fill in artists until he came back, which of course never really happened. That didn’t stop me from buying action figures (that were way too tall to coexist with X-Men ones) and even loving the WildC.A.T.S. cartoon from the same era. Recently, I decided to take up the task of re-reading the first 4 issues just to see what the hell was going on back then.
We’ve been spending so much time this week focusing on the legendary art work of Mr. Liefeld, I thought we’d flip it and give some time to focus on his writing skills. Creating characters isn’t an easy thing to do, but you know what helps? A rad name. For better or worse Liefeld has been behind some enduring characters in the Marvel Universe, he’s given us Cable, Deadpool and…Domino I guess. Here’s the thing, those names aren’t terrible.
Let’s take a look at some names that are and in the creative process behind it, shall we?
Hey There True Believers
So, I’ve been a comics fan for my entire life but there was one point where I kinda gave it up cold turkey. It was 1996 and I can recall that I just finally was fed up with it. I was sick of chromium covers, or books that looked really cool on the cover but were shit on the inside, and in general the hype that comics had back then. The last book that I read was Onslaught: Marvel Universe and although I when I think back the story had a lot of promise, it was milked completely across the entire Marvel U and I bought into the “Gotta Catch Them All!” aspect of crossovers back then, way before Pokemon ever became a thing.
With that said, I missed out on a key piece of Comics History known as Heroes Reborn; a time when Marvel was hurting so damn much that they literally farmed their characters out to another studio with hopes that they could do something with them. The characters that I’m talking about were none other than the Avengers! Yeah the same ones you’re thinking of, Hulk, Iron Man, Cap, Thor and the rest. Also along for the ride were the Fantastic Four because to stop Onslaught in the 616 Universe, all the non-mutant heroes gave up their lives and sacrificed themselves only to be “reborn” in a pocket universe…On one hand it sounds kinda corny, but on another hand there is so much potential there. Anyway, Marvel sent the work to Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld’s studios. Jim got FF and Iron Man while Rob took over Captain America and the Avengers. I remember at the time that FF was doing okay at Marvel, just nowhere near X-Men numbers, but that the Avengers were basically a bunch’a Moon Knights so to say. At the time I never read the books and only glanced at them once when I saw them in a spinner rack at a book store and even then I thought they looked ridiculous and that I made a good choice with the comic book cold turkey.
Lucky for me, I still had that subscription to Wizard and about 5 years later was right back into the thick of the superhero goodness that we all know and love and have been loyal ever since. One of the books that got me back was in fact Ultimates, which as you know is a take on the Avengers. From there I started reading Cap and regular Avengers right about when Bendis got ahold of them and I was hooked. I’ve since found myself going back to old Avengers issues and realizing that Cap and his team had some great stories, but I never found myself wanting to visit the pocket universe, that is until now…All thanks the Liefeld Week.
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Liefeld Week, a never ending holiday of macho men, bad ass babes and weapons the world just isn’t ready for. We’ve discussed a great many things but there was nothing we were more excited for than to pick our top 5 favorite covers delivered from the master’s hand. It wasn’t easy to narrow it down, but somehow we did it.
Rob, we kid because we love! Here’s the thing, I don’t actually hate Liefeld’s art. I know it’s awful and he doesn’t have a child’s grasp on the anatomy of the human body, but I have some fun nostalgia from my childhood about it. With that said, I know it’s bad and I wouldn’t ever willingly buy anything he’s done. He’s already made a mint off me as a kid from trying to piece together the entire Extreme Studios line of comics he was behind for Image in the early 90’s. I’ll be showcasing here some of what Liefeld does best and other things that are considered the most Liefeldian.
5.) Youngblood #77 (March 2013)
This is the newest entry on my list (the only one that isn’t from his 90’s heyday) and a bit of a curveball. Believe it or not, I actually legitimately like this. I have no idea what’s going on though. Looks like Chapel is back from the dead (Again!) as a demon though this time? That minion behind him looks disturbing and menacing enough and dare I say that Badrock even seems to be slightly more proportionate?
Salutations, Evil Geeks! Liefeld Week is in full, heavily accented pectoral muscle, swing and today we’ve got a time traveling treat for you. The other day BloodKang and I were sitting around the Evil Lair and we came up with an idea we thought would be a hoot. People from the past are pretty stupid, right? So why don’t we go back in time and blow their minds with something from the future! Like all good scientists, we decided that there would be no better test subjects for this prank-speriment than ourselves. We spent the better part of a Saturday afternoon finishing off a case of beer and repairing the Evil Lair’s time machine; sure enough it started right up and we were off to the early 90’s to visit our past selves. We decided to head straight to November 1991, six months before Youngblood #1 would hit the shelves just to see what our newbie minds would think of such drivel. We were smart kids, surely they’d hate it right? Even inexperienced new comers such as ourselves would be smart enough to know poor artistry when they saw it, right? Right??? After gorging ourselves on Crystal Pepsi, Salsaria Doritos, and Chilitos at Taco Bell, we each went our separate ways, with the mission of tracking down our former selves to pry comic reviews out of them. It was right around then it occurred to me that we were putting a shitload of effort into an endeavor with not much a payoff, but it’s summertime and all the good shows are in reruns, so screw it; we’ve got nothing better to do.