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Icons: The DC Comics & Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee

Icons: The DC Comics & Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee

Release Date: 
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
# of Pages: 

The title will give a good idea what the book is about; Icons: The DC Comics and Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee, but the pages, the layout, the feel, and most importantly the artwork is what makes this book a true icon. Icons is about the artist Jim Lee who has had a great career in the comic industry making fans like myself into jabbering and sometimes yelling out loud fan-boys.  In this book it gives some brief information about the history and career that the artist Jim Lee has had over the years. From he helped form Wildstrom to working at DC an even when he worked with Stan Lee.

Inside this 296 page monster of a book the pages are full of the artwork that Jim Lee did on the iconic characters of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and many others. With each drawing, on every page, there is either a short description of when, where, and/or why that drawing was made to some having quotes from Jim Lee and other comic book talents. Icons is wrote by Bill Baker, who wrote a story about an artist giving just enough information and detail about the artist and his works without it turning into a biography.

Now I know I’ve said before that a certain item was tough or hard for me to write the review for but I think is the first time that I’ve had one being hard, easy, and one with multiple grades for it. There’s going to be one overall grade but being what this book is, about a comic book artist and his work, there are other aspects that make there a need for more than just one grade. As for why this is one the hardest and easiest reviews for me to write? Well, that one is easy to answer, it’s about comic book characters and has drawings in it.

Here’s the first grade, the main one that you get when first seeing this. A-. Why an A- and a solid A or even an A+? Ok, there are two sides to this grade. One is the up side where it’s about the art, the looks, the feel, and all that other stuff that makes a book a book. The flip side to it is the down side where it don’t include certain parts that I would have liked to have seen and read about.

Up side first is that the book is exceptional. Just from the first glance it’s an impressive book. On the front cover is a full image of Batman, Superman, and Woman Woman all standing together in a statuesque pose with this golden/red sunlight coming from behind them. If that image wasn’t enough to get your attention, it’s done is this high gloss that makes the cover literally shine with this essence that makes you want to reach out to touch it. What I liked a lot was that the insides were given this wonderful high end detail as well. With some books that have covers like this the insides will just be a low gloss photo on pages that feel flimsy. Not so with Icons. Though the pictures don’t have that glossy shine that the cover has, they do shine with each one being so beautifully shown that they look better than some photographs. There’s also the paper that it’s printed on, it’s this thick sturdy paper that gives the book some major weight and did not make me afraid to turn the page too quickly and ripping it.

Other reasons for the up side is that the book is jammed full of final drawings, sketches, unseen work, and some promotional drawings that Jim Lee did. I’ve had this book about two weeks now before I wrote this review and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just sat down flipping through it to just look at all the drawings. There’s just so many drawings of these characters that is done by a man that is one of the top comic artists around that it’s impossible to get too much of it. I liked the full page drawings the most but getting to see some of the unseen sketches that Jim Lee did when trying to design certain aspects of the characters is also amazing. Also at the end of the book there is a short, exclusive Legion of Super-Heroes ten page story in Icons. It’s a fast and really fun read even if you don’t know anything about the characters.

Now the down side to this grade is that there are some aspects missing that should have been in there. For me the most disappointing is the missing character of Harley Quinn. Anyone that knows me knows that I love the character of Harley Quinn but what a lot of people don’t know is that Jim Lee has done one of the best renditions of the character. He came along and changed the look of her just as much as he did so with the main characters and yet there are only a few times in Icons that Harley Quinn is brought up and it’s only her name because she was a small in the drawing that’s shown.

Ok, I know that sounds kind of lame for a reason for giving this an A- but there are a few other reasons as well, and well, that’s still when it comes to a book about an artist that’s changed icons and leaving one out is worth noting.

But another reason are that the information that’s given on the pages is sometimes too short and don’t include enough detail. I would have liked there to have been more information there telling about what exactly is happening in the drawing, why Jim Lee drew it the way he did, and maybe what lead up to it being that way. There are a lot that does have this information but there’s also a lot that there’s only given what page, comic, or cover that drawing appeared in and nothing else. This book is supposed to be about the characters that he changed and I want to know more about what made him do what he did and it wasn’t given here. So for that reason it don’t reach a higher grade than an A-.

Now for the other grades this book gets are as follows and will be short explanations because they don’t need to be detailed.

It gets a B- for the size of it. It’s huge and it’s heavy.Icons will make for a great coffee table book, one for the book shelf, and a instant conversation piece. However, for a book to sit down to read or when laying in bed to read or even just glance through at the artwork, it’s just way to heavy and big. It makes it awkward to hold and difficult to turn the pages when it’s in any other position than sitting on a flat surface. It also makes your arms tired after a little while if you’re holding it up while looking at it.

It also gets a B for the price. For some people when I told them the book cost $40 they thought it was expensive. Well, it kind of is on the verge but I think it’s reasonably priced for a book that’s as big as it is and as high quality that it is. Plus considering the content I’m more surprised that it wasn’t more expensive than it is.

Last of the multitude of grades is another B- for not having a larger amount of gallery drawings in it. There are a few in the back of the book and I know that after looking at a book that has had 200+ pages of artwork already in it why would I want more. Well, because those pages were also half filled other drawings, there were some that are smaller, and well the man is an exceptional artist and getting to see more of his work in full page color in a book like this where it has been given such wonderful paper and gloss would have been really cool.

Lee Roberts
Review by Lee Roberts
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