It's hard to nail down what George Pérez is best known for.
He's the definitive Teen Titans artist. He's also the definitive Wonder Woman artist. The definitive Avengers artist. He can do solo books, but he also set the standard for huge cosmic event comics at both Marvel and DC. His work is explosively action-packed, emotive, and joyful, with a keener sense for layout and design than pretty much any other artist in comics.
It's impossible to narrow down his incredible artistic achievements, but there is one thing we can tell you for sure: Today is his birthday. The legendary artist of celebrated runs on everything from Fantastic Four to Justice League of America was born on this day in 1954 ... and his work is just as vibrant and influential today as it has ever been.
Pérez got his start at Marvel in 1973 working on smaller anthology titles like Astonishing Tales and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu before moving on to illustrate The Avengers, Inhumans, and numerous other series before moving to DC in 1980. His work revamping DC's sidekick characters in the pages of New Teen Titans was a massive hit with fans, and he had a lengthy run both drawing and writing that title.
Pérez jumped back and forth between the Big Two throughout his career and was regarded by both as one of their best artists, drawing both Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinity Gauntlet ... and eventually the biggest event of them all, JLA/Avengers.
Outside of the cosmic bombast of teams and event books, however, Pérez’s most lasting — and newly relevant — work was co-writing and drawing a character-defining run on Wonder Woman. He streamlined and revitalized the character and brought her back to her mythological roots in stories that have been cited as heavy influences on the recently released and highly successful film. Sounds like a pretty good birthday present!
George has had many more hits over the years and has continued his career into the modern era, recently developing his own series Sirens at BOOM! Studios. Fans were crushed to hear of his health scare earlier this year, but thankfully, from the sounds of his recent interview with Syfy Wire, he's recovering and won't let anything stop him from continuing to be legendary.
In honor of Pérez's birthday, we've gathered — in no particular order, and with 100% Sy-entific accuracy — his 17 greatest covers of all time. And let me tell you, it wasn't easy. He's whipped out some of the most iconic covers in the history of the medium, so narrowing it down was no small task.
I'm sure I've left off a couple of big ones, so be sure to let us know your Pérez favorites — and wish him a happy birthday — in the comments below!
WONDER WOMAN, VOL. 2 ANNUAL #1
There are some artists who are just inexplicably perfect fits for particular characters, and George Pérez is that artist for Wonder Woman. He took the Golden Age aesthetic and pumped it full of mythological regality and feminine strength and created what is probably still the defining aesthetic for the character. This annual cover from 1988 is a prime example, showing off all of that and a beautiful symmetrical composition.
NEW TEEN TITANS, VOL. 1 #1
This cover was an instant classic, with an intriguing new incarnation of the team pretty much leaping out of the cover at the reader in a style reminiscent of Kirby's Avengers #4 cover. This would be most readers' first introduction to now well-known icons Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire, all of whom Pérez co-created with Marv Wolfman in a prologue story in DC Comics Presents.
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #7
Easily one of the most homaged comic book covers ever, this cover is a gut punch. It's a common joke that Pérez likes to cram as many characters as possible into an image, but this is probably his most impressive use of it. This isn't just another "find your favorite hero" cover; it's a scene that holds nearly mythic weight, reinforced by everything from its framing to its color scheme.
AVENGERS VOL. 1 #167
This cover was a special request from fellow Syfy Wire writer and confirmed George Pérez fan Mike Avila, and I'm more than happy to oblige. Here, Pérez shows off his knack for clean and dynamic action as he manages to fit 13 characters onto a cover without any of them feeling like an afterthought. The Avengers have one of their most iconic lineups here, and they all look great under Pérez’s pencil.
AVENGERS VOL. 1 #171
A few issues later, Pérez gets another chance to show off his "pack a bunch of characters in" talent with this trippy cover. It's an impressive piece of line work, and the layout tells a story by leading the eye from Ultron to Scarlet Witch to the furniture in the background. Pérez seemed to have a particular love of Wanda and imbued a lot of the same strength into her that he later would with Wonder Woman.
WONDER WOMAN VOL. 2 #1
If you get a chance to draw Wonder Woman #1, you go all out, and Pérez definitely went all out on this one, packing an incredible amount of detail and story into this gorgeous wraparound cover. My favorite detail is Hermes' speedlines separating the top quarter of the cover from the rest to highlight the villain and the logo.
INFINITY GAUNTLET #1
Infinity Gauntlet and Crisis on Infinite Earths are both filled with so many monumental moments for their universes, it's easy to forget that they were both drawn by the same guy. But they were, and he crushed them both! Dividing up the cover into different panels using lens flare is also brilliant. Eat your heart out, J.J. Abrams.
BATMAN VOL. 1 #437
This is such an interesting study of contrasts, with Dick Grayson tumbling through the darkness into the light and his smile in between the solemn looks of Batman and Alfred. The V-shaped motif throughout this cover is masterful, from the arc of his jump and the spotlight to Dick's poses to the bats and even the stalactites.
WONDER WOMAN VOL. 2 #10
This gatefold cover is astonishing and makes you wonder how he ever got these covers out monthly, let alone entire comics. Look at how many perfectly proportioned hands he drew reaching up at Wonder Woman! The man's an artistic maniac.
WONDER WOMAN VOL. 2 #14
Nothing beats the sheer joy expressed by this cover. There's something to be said for covers that aren't the hero in dire straits but instead just images of them being inspiring. Plus this cover makes Themiscyra look like a super fun place to hang out. Lots of spontaneous flute and harp jam sessions.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VOL. 1 #200
Pérez loves a good wraparound cover, and this is one of his most fun ones. The rainbow of backgrounds is a great touch, and the way the action zigzags across the image seems effortlessly smooth. This cover almost feels like a warm-up to the much more crowded wraparound cover that Pérez would do for Avengers/JLA #2 many years later.
AVENGERS VOL. 3 #1
The Avengers' return to the Marvel Universe was also marked by the return of one of the team's most celebrated artists: none other than George Pérez! While there are more than a few questionable '90s-era costumes on this cover, Pérez still makes them look like they belong among the ranks of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Even D Man!
GREEN LANTERN VOL. 2 #132
No one pulls off cosmic starscapes and Kirby crackle like Pérez, so it's a shame he's never gotten a run on Green Lantern, but he did draw a handful of covers for the character. This one is an effective, striking image, proving that even as a master of tiny details, Pérez knows when to keep it simple.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 3 #2
Another powerful cover featuring Green Lantern, but this one is from 27 years later and shows how Pérez was still improving and experimenting, even this far into his career. There are a mind-boggling number of patterns dancing across this cover, yet it isn't overwhelming or confusing but rather something that you want the lose yourself in.
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS HARDCOVER
To commemorate the hardcover edition of Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC hired George Pérez and superstar painter Alex Ross to create a dust jacket for it. Pérez penciled it, fitting over 500 characters — every one that had appeared in the series — on to the cover, which was then painted over by Ross. This is a piece of comic book art that I really, really hope is hanging in a museum somewhere.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMAZONS #1
We already know that George Pérez knows how to draw beautiful women that look like they can absolutely kick all of the butts, and for this cover he gave us a whole Justice League full of them! This was part of a weird Justice League event that also released one-shots for Justice League Atlantis, Justice League Arkham, and Justice League Aliens, among others.
In the realm of superhero comics, the gravity of this image can't really be overstated. This is Superman wielding Thor and Captain America's weapons as their two universes collide in the background — from an actual official comic book that was really released. I doubt anyone else will ever draw an image like this again. And when you need a comic book that fits that description, both Marvel and DC knew there was only one artist to call: George Pérez.