Infinite Crisis: George Perez vs. Jim Lee
Infinite Crisis in 2005 got me back into collecting mainstream comics. As I've mentioned countless times, I love the concept of a multiverse and I was intrigued by the lead-in miniseries like Villains United. While the main series itself was uneven, I still enjoyed it a lot and I felt like I got my money's worth. Now each issue shipped with two covers, one drawn by Jim Lee and one drawn by George Perez. There was a 50/50 split, so I don't think either one counted as a "main" cover or a "variant" cover.
Now I'm me, so I got the Perez covers for every issue, since he's my favorite artist of all time and I really have never liked Jim Lee's work. But that's not what Cover Comparison is all about! Cover Comparison is all about asking two questions!
1.) Provided that I saw them in the shop at the exact same time when I was a kid (let's say when I was six for the sake of argument), with no context other than what I know of the characters through the general consciousness at the time, and I had never bought a comic before, which one of the two would I buy?
2.) From my current standpoint, setting aside all biases to the best of my ability, which cover do I think is better drawn?
So let's get started!
Which would I have bought as a kid? There is nothing about the Perez cover that doesn't work for me. It's a striking image that would have immediately caught my attention at a shop and it's got tons of people. And to add to that, the entire design just looks cool. Jim's is just a shot of the Trinity with guys I may or may not recognize in the background.
Which is better drawn? Superman looks like he needs to drop a deuce on Jim's cover, so Perez wins this one.
Which would I have bought as a kid? As a kid, Jim's cover would grab me on account of the two Superman figures. George's might win, if it caught my eye, but that's a close call so I'm giving it to Jim.
Which is better drawn? Aside from Power Girl, the rest of Jim's cover is pretty badly drawn. Superboy looks like a Superman who got shrunk (teenagers aren't little adults). Alex has the basic Jim Lee pose that I just don't get. Who stands like that? And Superman and Lois — I just think Jim has never been great at interacting figures, and that's an example of it. Meanwhile, there really isn't anything in Perez's cover that isn't well drawn. The only knock against it is it's not as eye-catching as Jim's, but even then, that particular gap isn't so wide as to not make up for the generally better draftsmanship.
Which would I have bought as a kid? Wonder Woman is fighting a bunch of random robot-looking things and getting overwhelmed. Jim's cover has Batman in cool shadows talking to an old Superman and an odd-looking Robin, and Catwoman's there too with some baby. Jim's wins.
Which is better drawn? Jim's cover concept is so strong that I actually almost bought that cover, but aside from Batman and maybe Superman (I hate that chest-out pose Jim goes to), I think it's a compositional mess. Are the background figures kneeling or something? Are there stairs there? It would have been just as strong an image if Batman were talking to Kal-L. Meanwhile, George's cover is an aesthetically pleasing, balanced, and well-composed image with a clear flow of action. So George wins this one.
Which would I have bought as a kid? The sheer chaos of George's cover would have gotten me to buy it, and there are actually supposed to be big hands surrounding the white area that would have added to it so that would have helped (I can't find a logo-free copy), if Jim's cover had anything other than Superboy fighting with a dude in a Superboy T-shirt, with Krypto on it, so Jim's.
Which is better drawn? Hey look, a Jim Lee cover where I can buy that the various elements are interacting and I can't really pick apart the composition and the anatomy. Good job! Jim's is a more eye-catching, more dynamic cover.
Which would I have bought as a kid? Is this a joke? George's.
Which is better drawn? George's would win this one even if all Jim's had were the foreground elements, which are actually drawn pretty well. But what kills Jim's cover is those two Wonder Women. I remember when this came out, and there was speculation as to who the other Wonder Woman was — and it was old Golden Age Wonder Woman. As in, old. She's supposed to look old. As it is, I have no clue which one of the two of them is supposed to be which Wonder Woman.
Which would I have bought as a kid? Perez's cover is certainly interesting, but it's that kind of cover where you probably need to kind of know what's going on before you settle on buying it. Jim's cover has a weird-looking Superman in some sort of armor and you know something's about to go down.
Which is better drawn? Here's a time a Jim Lee pose actually works for me, but what really does it is the shadow work and the lighting. Jim's.
Which would I have bought as a kid? This one would have been a tossup, because Jim's has a nice focal point with three Superman figures, but George's looks so chaotic, but the kind of chaos that made me fall in love with George in the first place, where you can follow everything that's going on easily. I guess George's cover wins, because that's the kind of thing that made me a fan in the first place.
Which is better drawn? This is also a tossup, since this is one of the best covers Jim's done, with the perspective and the focal point and everything, but I will have to give it to George because he's able to maintain that compositional balance anyway. One thing against Jim's, for me, is that when you put the big threat in the middle, well, the big threat becomes really tiny. George's here, by a hair, but this was the closest matchup on both ends.
And the Final Score Is...
Looks like Jim would have won young Cube over 4-3 back in the day, partly because his cover concepts are just stronger and appeal more to the casual fan demographic. Perez wins the technical superiority category 5-2, which isn't really a surprise because I think even Jim would admit he's the better artist. (George is one of Jim's main influences.)
One thing about these covers that came to mind is how different covers are now from when I was a kid. Because things are sold in comic shops and solicitations exist, you kind of know what's going on inside a comic before you ever see the comic, and a cover really just has to look cool. But back in the day, a cover had to catch your eye. Across the room, if you saw it, you had to notice it. It had to sell you on the comic, whereas today, a reader would see it ahead of time and make up his mind about whether or not to buy the comic. This change leads to a difference in how comics themselves are produced and how certain information is privileged on the covers.
It does seem though that they tried trading the more eye-catching cover concepts with each other, except maybe for the first and last issues. I like the last issue divide the more because there really are two main plotlines in there and they basically went "All right, you take this and I'll take this."
Got covers you'd like me to compare? Send 'em to firstname.lastname@example.org!
You can read Infinite Crisis by purchasing the collections: