Neal Adams, George Perez remembered

Comics fans mourned the loss of two of the most noted artists in the field in recent days. 

Neal Adams, 80, and George Perez, 67, were both among comics’ best-known and best-loved artists. Adams was known for revitalizing Batman and being an activist for creators; Perez revamped Wonder Woman and was known for his personal connection to fans. Losing both has devastated many in comics fandom. 

DC Comics editor Chris Conroy shared his thoughts on the impact on Twitter. 

“Here’s what losing Neal Adams and George Perez over the course of eight days is, culturally: imagine Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg dying in the same week.”

Adams died April 28; his art brought realism and gravitas to comics in the 1970s. 

In the 1960s, Adams worked at Archie Comics; in advertising; and gained prominence for both covers and interiors for Marvel and DC on titles including “The Spectre,” “X-Men” and “Avengers.” 

In 1970, Adams was paired with writer Denny O’Neil to revamp the “Green Lantern” title, which saw the avenging archer Green Arrow brought in as a partner. This only lasted 13 issues but became an oft-reprinted fan favorite as years went by.

Around the same time, the duo was asked to revamp Batman. 

After the cancellation of the “Batman” TV series, DC needed a new take on the character. O’Neil and Adams delivered a Batman with realistic, dynamic drawing that helped redefine Batman as a shadowy figure of the night.

During the O’Neil-Adams run, they created Ra’s Al Ghul, the eternal assassin who seeks to rebalance the world’s environment. His daughter, Talia, is perhaps Batman’s greatest love.

O’Neil and Adams also updated the Joker in “Batman” #251, creating a darker version that would inspire future versions of the character.

In 1978, O’Neil and Adams paired again on the oversized comic “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali.” 

Adams fought to return the byline of “Superman” creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to the “Superman” comics, in addition to numerous other creator-advocacy stands he took over his career. 

In recent years, he continued to work on comics featuring some of the industry’s best-known characters, including Superman, Batman and the Fantastic Four.  

Perez, who died May 6, is known for drawing some of the biggest hits in comics’ history, including “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and “The New Teen Titans” from DC Comics and “The Avengers” and “The Infinity Gauntlet” from Marvel Comics. 

His “New Teen Titans,” with writer Marv Wolfman for DC Comics in the early 1980s, topped sales charts and competed with Marvel’s wildly successful “Uncanny X-Men.”

Also with Wolfman, Perez created the “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” the universe-spanning crossover that revamped the entire DC Comics publishing line.

As a writer/artist, he revamped Wonder Woman to be closer to her mythological origins in a late-1980s revamp. 

“Wonder Woman” star Lynda Carter reflected on Perez’s impact in a Twitter post. 

“He was a true visionary who took Wonder Woman to new heights… RIP George Perez. We will miss you.” 

In the early 1990s, Perez was responsible for the art on the first half of Marvel’s “Infinity Gauntlet” with writer Jim Starlin, which reintroduced Thanos to the 1990s comic-book audience and eventually inspired aspects of the Marvel films. He continued to draw comics, many best-sellers, until his announced retirement in 2019.

Matthew Price, matthew@matthewLprice.com, has written about the comics industry for more than two decades. He is the co-owner of Speeding Bullet Comics in Norman.

A version of this column ran in the May 13, 2022, edition of The Oklahoman.

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