Jim Lee’s dynamic style helped define the 1990s in comics. Now the co-publisher of DC Comics, Lee still draws “All-Star Batman and Robin,” which is written by Frank Miller. To celebrate Lee’s 46th birthday, here are my favorite comic-book runs by the influential artist.
1. Batman #608-619
With writer Jeph Loeb, the “Batman: Hush” storyline was a sales juggernaut that attracted both new and old Bat-fans. Reading as “Batman’s Greatest Hits,” Batman finds himself attempting to solve a mystery from his past while crossing paths with many of the best-known members of his rogues’ gallery. Check out a preview of the series via DC Comics.
2. Uncanny X-Men #248, 256–258, 267–277
Lee was arguably comics’ biggest superstar of the early 1990s, drawing “Uncanny X-Men” as written by Chris Claremont. Issue No. 268, featuring Wolverine’s first meeting with Captain America, is a particular highlight.
3. WildC.A.T.s #1-13
As one of the founders of Image Comics, Lee helped prove that creators of the early 1990s didn’t have to be working for Marvel or DC to sell a huge number of books. With an alien war spilling over onto earth, it’s up to the WildC.A.T.s to defend humanity. Lots of action and beautiful comic-book women make this a series very much of its time, but arguably the pinnacle of the 1990s style.
4. “X-Men” 1-11
“X-Men” No. 1, launched in 1991, is still the largest-selling comic book of all-time. At the height of the speculator boom, and bearing 5 variant covers, Lee and Claremont moved 7 million copies of the first issue. A year later, neither would be on the book. Claremont left after the third issue, and Lee left after issue No. 11, headed for the upstart Image Comics. Still, these issues introduced characters like Omega Red and Maverick, and are also very emblematic of 1990s style.
5. Punisher: War Journal #1–13, 17-19
Lee started as the inker of “War Journal” before becoming the penciller, where his art helped make Frank Castle a standout gritty anti-hero. Punisher has been popular both before and after Lee’s take on the character, but his is one of the best-remembered.
Honorable mentions: Lee’s revamp of “Fantastic Four” for “Heroes Reborn” is a fun modernization of the classic; “Alpha Flight” is worth a look to see the artist’s developing style; and “Divine Right” showcases Lee’s WildStorm style in the late 1990s. Another great way to see a lot of classic Jim Lee art is with the 1992 X-Men trading card set, with every card drawn by Jim Lee. That set remains one of the highlights of my card-collecting days.
- Matt Price