|EISNER AWARD WINNER |
(Writer/Artist - Superman; JSA; Green Lantern; Wonder Woman; Crisis on Infinite Earths; Spider-Man; Hulk; JLA; The Avengers)
|Pérez’s family moved from Puerto Rico in the 1940s. Like many of the immigrants from Puerto Rico, they were poor and settled in the Bronx, where there was and is a large Puerto Rican community (barrio). Pérez’s parents became factory workers. Eventually, they moved to Flushing, Queens, New York. Pérez often visited a comic book store called “Mike’s Comic Hut” there. He became fascinated with comic books and their illustrations.|
Pérez’s early work included Sons of the Tiger (a serialized action-adventure strip published in Marvel’s long-running Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine and authored by prolific comics writer Bill Mantlo. He and Mantlo co-created the White Tiger, a character that soon appeared in Marvel’s color comics, most notably, the Spider-Man titles. Pérez came to prominence when he started illustrating The Avengers for Marvel Comics, starting with vol. 1 #141. His early style seemed very much influenced by Jack Kirby, one of Marvel’s leading creators from the 1960s, albeit with more realistic anatomy and a penchant for making his worlds seem bright and beautiful. In the 1970s, Pérez illustrated several other Marvel books, including Fantastic Four, where he began working with Marv Wolfman, and Creatures on the Loose featuring the Man-Wolf.
The New Teen Titans
In 1980, while still drawing The Avengers for Marvel, Pérez began for working for their rival DC Comics. Offered the art chores for the launch of The New Teen Titans, written by Wolfman, Pérez’s real incentive was the opportunity to draw Justice League of America (an ambition of Perez’s which “seemed like a natural progress from the Avengers”). Long-time Justice League artist Dick Dillin died right around that time, providing the perfect opportunity for Pérez to step in as regular artist. While Pérez’s stint on the JLA was popular with fans, his career took off with the new Teen Titans book. This incarnation of the Titans was intended to be DC’s answer to Marvel’s increasingly-popular X-Men comic, and Wolfman and Pérez indeed struck gold. Moreover, Pérez’s facility with layouts, details, and faces improved enormously during his four years on the book, making him one of the most popular artists in comics.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Wolfman and Pérez followed this with DC’s 1985 50th-anniversary event, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which purportedly featured every single character DC owned in a story which radically restructured the DC universe’s continuity. Pérez was inked on the book by two of the best inkers in comics at the time: Dick Giordano and Jerry Ordway. After Crisis, Perez inked the final issue of Superman (issue #423) in September 1986, over Curt Swan’s pencils for Part 1 of the 2-part story Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? by writer Alan Moore.
Following Crisis, Pérez and Greg Potter were responsible for relaunching Wonder Woman, tying her more closely to the Greek gods and jettisoning many of the extraneous elements of her history. Pérez at first worked with Len Wein on the stories, but eventually took over the full scripting chores. While not as popular as either Titans or Crisis, the book was a very successful relaunch of one of DC’s flagship characters, and many fans agree that his run on Wonder Woman is one of the finest moments in his career, a stint that would last five years from 1987-1992. Among the signs of his tenure’s influence is that the Wonder Woman animated film borrows much of its plot from Pérez’s first major story with the character, “Gods and Mortals”.
The New Titans
Pérez returned as co-plotter/penciller with the New Teen Titans with issue #50 (Dec. 1988), the series again being renamed, this time to The New Titans, as some of the characters were no longer teenagers. Issue #50 tells a new origin story for Wonder Girl, her link to Wonder Woman having been severed due to retcons in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Pérez remained as penciller with the book through to issue #55, 57 and 60, while only providing layouts for issues 58-59, and 61, with artist Tom Grummett finishing pencils and Bob McLeod as inker (Pérez plotted issue #56 only, as well as providing cover art). Perez remained as inker for the cover art to issues 62-67 (and co-plotting the stories for 66-67) before departing from the Titans book once again. He would later on return to the series’ final issue with #130 (Feb. 1996) providing cover art.
Perez would be involved with Superman in various times over his career. In Action Comics #544 (June 1983), he designed Superman villain Lex Luthor’s trademark battlesuit, — a heavily-armored, flight-capable suit with kryptonite fixtures embedded in its gauntlets. These new designs for the villain were featured as part of the DC Comics licensed action figure toyline the Super Powers Collection as well in 1984 (Luthor’s armor battlesuit would remain in use in today’s DC Comics continuity). He pencilled DC Comics Presents #61 (Sept. 1983) which featured Superman teamed up with OMAC. Perez provided inks/finishes for the lead story in Action Comics #600 in 1988, over John Byrne’s pencils which featured Superman and Wonder Woman teaming-up. From 1989-1990, Pérez later had a stint working on Superman, writing & pencilling Action Comics (and providing cover art for every issue he worked on). Pérez had first worked on the second annual issue of Action Comics (published in 1989) before taking over that title when it was brought back as a regular monthly series with issue #643 (July 1989). His work duties on Action Comics would change from writer/penciller, to co-writer/breakdowns, and towards the end restricted to providing breakdowns, with writer Roger Stern scripting stories. Artists Brett Breeding and Kerry Gammill provided finishing art from Pérez’ breakdowns (Issue #646 was the only issue during his run where he was not involved with interior work of any sort, except for doing the cover art). Pérez managed to provide pencils & inks for an 8-page sequence for issue #650 (Feb. 1990). Pérez also had a short stint working on another Superman title, writing Adventures of Superman, providing plots for issues #457-459 (Aug. 1989-Oct. 1989), and inks for issue #461 (Dec. 1989). Due to an already heavy workload while doing both Wonder Woman and Superman at the same time, Pérez left Action Comics with issue #652 (April 1990) being his last.
War of the Gods / Infinity Gauntlet
Unfortunately it was during this run in 1991 that Pérez hit a snag working with DC. Pérez has stated that since the storyline’s inception (which ran through the Wonder Woman comic and crossed over into others), he had trouble writing the War of the Gods storyline, mostly due to editorial problems. Pérez felt that DC wasn’t doing enough to celebrate Wonder Woman’s 50-year anniversary. To make matters worse in his eyes, DC didn’t place Wonder Woman in newsstand distribution, which meant that the comic book could only be found in comics specialty shops. Pérez had also built up a plot to marry the characters Steve Trevor and Etta Candy in his final issue. When he discovered that DC editors had decided to not only pass the Wonder Woman title’s writing to William Messner-Loebs but also have Messner-Loebs write the final wedding scene, Pérez quit the title and separated himself from DC for several years.
Also in 1991, Pérez signed on to pencil the six-issue limited series Infinity Gauntlet for Marvel Comics, which was written by Jim Starlin. However, due to the turbulence happening concurrently with War of the Gods, this was a very stressful personal period for Pérez, and he was not able to finish penciling the entire run of Infinity Gauntlet, leaving the project part way through issue #4. The Infinity Gauntlet editorial team decided to find a replacement artist to finish the miniseries, and Ron Lim was the artist chosen (although Pérez offered to remain on as the inker over Lim’s cover art for the remainder of the miniseries).
Because of the debacles over War of the Gods and Infinity Gauntlet, it was during this time that Pérez began to gain a reputation as a creator who could not finish projects as planned. Furthering that impression, he went on to work with independent comic book publishers Malibu Comics, drawing Break-Thru and Ultraforce (both titles were part of Malibu’s Ultraverse imprint), and then working at Tekno Comix drawing I-Bots. However, despite being paid well by both publishers, he had no enthusiasm drawing the characters, and lost interest in drawing the titles.
The 1990s and beyond
In the 1990s, Pérez left the spotlight, although he worked on several popular projects, most notably at Marvel Comics with Sachs and Violens and Hulk: Future Imperfect, both written by Peter David. Pérez first returned to DC Comics in fall 1996, returning to another incarnation of the Teen Titans. Teen Titans (vol. 2) was written & penciled by Dan Jurgens, with Pérez as inker for the first 15 issues (of its twenty four-issue run). The series debuted in October 1996, and ended in September 1998. Jurgens’ run was unpopular with readers due to the use of new characters that had no ties with previous incarnations of the team.
Pérez finally returned to a major ongoing title for the third series of The Avengers, written by Kurt Busiek, where he remained for nearly three years, again receiving critical and fan acclaim for his polished and dynamic art. After leaving the book, he and Busiek worked to produce the long-awaited JLA/Avengers inter-company crossover, which saw print in late 2003. This provided closure for Pérez, since a JLA/Avengers crossover was originally supposed to be published in the 1980s, but differences between DC and Marvel forced the comic to be canceled. As the artist on the story, Pérez had drawn approximately 21 pages of the crossover, which were not published until the 2004 hardcover edition of JLA/Avengers: The Collector’s Edition.
Perez has one creator-owned comic, the unfinished Crimson Plague. A science fiction story about an alien with ultra-toxic blood, the first (and for years, only) issue was published in the late Nineties by the now defunct Event Comics. In 2000, the original first issue was published by Image Comics (under the Gorilla imprint) with additional material and pages, with a follow up issue published soon after. Due to the extreme high costs of being a self publisher, which ended up being a financial burden (and putting himself in major debt), Perez ended Crimson Plague a second time. It is unknown if Perez intends to do anything else with the comic.
Also in the late Nineties, Perez provided artwork for various titles for CrossGen. Although he provided covers, pin-ups and pencils for various titles, his main project was penciling the interiors for Solus. Although intended to be an ongoing series, it only lasted for eight issues before it was canceled due to CrossGen’s bankruptcy.
In May 2006, Perez illustrated the cover art to one of the alternate covers to the Direct Market release of the annual Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (36th edition) featuring Wonder Woman. He recently came off a successful opening run on DC’s The Brave and the Bold (vol. 2, 2007-present) with writer Mark Waid. Perez also worked on Infinite Crisis, the follow up to Crisis on Infinite Earths, as a fill in artist. He is currently working on Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, meaning he has worked on every chapter of DC’s official Crisis trilogy. He is also working with Marv Wolfman on a direct-to-DVD movie adaptation of the “Judas Contract” story arc from Teen Titans. However work on this project has stalled.