Marvel Masters: The Art of Jim Lee

Marvel Masters: The Art of Jim Lee 

By various & Jim Lee

(Marvel/Panini UK)  ISBN 1-905239-41-6


Since Jim Lee launched himself into the comics arena a lot has changed – and he’s been responsible for a large part of it. So a retrospective volume makes sense for any publisher which owns a large portion of his output. This thick tome contains some of his earliest work for Marvel (Alpha Flight issues #58-60, written by Bill Mantlo and inked by Al Milgrom) wherein he learned the trick to drawing huge casts of characters, and his first real successes (Punisher War Journal #6-7, written by Carl Potts), a visceral team-up of the Punisher and Wolverine, before concentrating on the X-Men runs that made his name and prompted his bid for independence.

From Uncanny X-Men #256-258 (scripted by Chris Claremont) comes a hi-octane, turbulent and perhaps over-blown battle with arch “Yellow Peril” stereotype The Mandarin, whose part in a super-villain pact has him attempt to destroy the misunderstood mutants as part of the “Acts of Vengeance” comic event. Don’t worry about it. There’s lots of semi-naked, exotic women, ninjas, big guns and shouting and hitting – just what every fan at the end of the 1980s demanded. And there’s plenty more where that came from in the last story-arc, reprinting X-Men #4-7, scripted by John Byrne and Scott Lobdell from Lee’s plots. This one features a glimpse into Wolverine’s past as a spy and the menace of Omega Red, a commie mutant whose touch can kill. Have no fear, though, the levels of angsty, hyper-tense testosterone remain at critical levels through-out.

Jim Lee’s work at Marvel shaped a generation of artists and his popularity directly led to the artist breakaway that resulted in Image Comics and a revolution in the industry. Although the work is a little unrelenting in tone, these stories are important and should be seen by a newer, wider audience. They’re quite well drawn, after all.

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