Thursday, June 10, 2010

Episode #129: George Perez On Action Comics!

Comic Book artist George Perez is probably most famous for his work on The New Teen Titans and Wonder Woman. (Pardon me for not putting the hyphen above the first "e", but I don't know the keystroke shortcut for it.) Superman fans from the late 1980's and early 1990's will probably remember his short but great run as writer, plotter and artist on Action Comics. He has done some great work for Marvel, including runs on The Avengers and Fantastic Four.

George's first DC work was as penciller for the Firestorm backup story for Flash #289, September 1980, Firestorm Is Back In Town written by Gerry Conway. Perez's famous collaboration on The New Teen Titans with writer and co-plotter Marv Wolfman began with the November 1980 issue #1 - #91, July 1988. George's re-imagining of Wonder Woman after Crisis On Infinite Earths began with a new #1, cover dated February 1987 and continued through issue #62, February 1992. He served as plotter/writer/penciller for the first 24 issues, but gave up art duties for the remainder of his run on the title. Wonder Woman's first editor was now Vertigo chief editor Karen Berger.

Before his short run on Action Comics, George had limited experience with Superman. His first artwork for the Man of Steel was for Action Comics #300, February 1984, as one of the contributors of the 40 page story A Tale Of Two Worlds. He also was the inker over Curt Swan's pencils to Superman #423, part one of the two part story, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow. This was the story that ended 50 years of Superman continuity. His next Superman art was for Action Comics Annual #2, as recounted in Episode #103: Superman In Exile Part IV: Action Comics Annual #2, 1989!

Beyond his work on Action Comics, George also served as plotter to Adventures Of Superman from issues 457, August 1989, through 461, December 1989. His only break during his Action Comics issues came with issue 646, when Keith Giffen took care of the art duties. As he explained in an article in the back of Action Comics Annual 1989 (and recounted in episode #103) George was looking for a unique angle on which to base his Superman stories. Using the classic Superman introduction from radio and TV, he considered Roger Stern on Superman as emphasizing the superhero part of the Man of Steel. According to George, Jerry Ordway explored Superman's human side in Adventures Of Superman. So that left George to emphasize Superman's Kryptonian side as "strange visitor from another world." Perez certainly did a great job of doing just that.

His first regular issue was as writer and penciller for Action Comics #643, July 1989, pubkished on June 8, 1989. George's first Action Comics cover was an homage to Superman co-creator Joe Shuster's cover to Superman #1. On the cover George wrote "In homage to Joe Shuster." This issue wrapped up the Superman In Exile and Intergang stories and set up future stories involving the Eradicator and Jimmy Olsen. Morgan Edge link to Intergang was exposed.

The next issue, Action Comics 644, August 1989, published on July 6, 1989, was co-written with Roger Stern. This issue wrapped up the Matrix Supergirl storyline, which began with John byrne's last Superman story. As I mentioned in episode 116, MegaCon 2010,, I had George autograph both of these first two issues of his run on Action Comics. While he signed this issue, i told him that the black and white Superman costume on the cover reminded me of the 1950's Superman TV show. He told me that the TV show was his inspiration for the cover.

Roger Stern would write the remaining issues that George Perez drew. Issue 645, September 1989, August 8, 1989, introduced Maxima, who came from an alien world in search of a worthy warrior as a mate. she had her sights set on Superman.

Action Comics 646 was the fill-in issue drawn by Keith Giffen.

Issues 647 - 649, November 1989 - January 1990 told the Brainiac trilogy. This story wrapped up the Lex Luthor storyline begun during the Superman In Exile story, where Luthor attempted to control Brainiac. Lex's plans backfired, as Brainiac was able to break Luthor's control and escape.

George Perez's last three issues, 650 - 652, February - April 1990, were part of the Krypton Man story. Issue #650 was an oversized issue, involving the entire Superman creative team, where Draaga began his journey to Earth. He wanted a rematch with Superman in order to regain his honor with a battle to the death against the Man of Steel. Draaga hired the driver K'raamdyn to transport him to Earth. K'raamdyn was an homage to Jackie Gleason's character on the 1950's TV show the Honeymooners. George drew the Justice League flashback sequence, about their first meeting with Superman.

Issue #651 was a rematch of Superman against Maxima, as the Man of Steel became deeper and deeper under the control of the Eradicator.

Issue #652 concluded the Krypton Man story, as Ma and Pa Kent helped Clark reclaim his human heritage.

George's run on Action Comics was short but great. He did a great job of exploring Superman's role as an alien on Earth, through his conflicts with alien threats, from Brainiac to Maxima and the Eradicator. Superman's conflict with the Eradicator once again revealed what made Superman superman, his humanity.

The reason I did not elaborate on the plots of these issues was that the podcast From Crisis To Crisis is exploring these months of Superman comics at this time. For a more detailed and entertaining exploration of these issues listen to the episodes covering the Superman comics cover dated December 1989 to April 1990. You can find the episodes at the Superman Homepage:, or The Fortress Of Baileytude: Episodes are also available at iTunes.

Next Episode: Happy Birthday, Ross Andru!

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