Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wonder Wednesday - Props! - Phil Jimenez

Today, I wanted to pay my respect to another of my favorite creators in comics, super star illustrator Phil Jimenez!
Jimenez's hyper detailed line work, without a doubt makes him the heir-apparent to George Perez, whom Jimenez is unabashedly inspired by. Like me, Perez's New Teen Titans run was a huge influence.
One of Perez's most legendary runs as a creator was on Wonder Woman, and like his idol, Jimenez also enjoyed a celebrated run on that title. (More on that later...)
And also like me, Jimenez is actually an even bigger fan of Donna Troy, originally Wonder Girl, and has shepherded her through many of her recent travails at DC, including returning her to life after she was unceremoniously killed off in a Teen Titans miniseries.
He redesigned her costume, melding the lines of her old Wonder Girl costume with the "space"/"stars" motif she'd worn in more recent years, in her identity as Troia. As a fan of hers, it makes me happy that she has such a champion in comics looking out for her.
This is one of his earliest published works for DC, a pinup from the 80s miniseries War of the Gods, depicting Wonder Woman, Troia and Captain Marvel, the three biggest name heroes to derive their powers from the gods of legend.
It was, however, another former sidekick/Teen Titan, that helped Phil make one of his earliest big splashes, Aqualad.
In 1986, DC exec Neal Pozner wrote a miniseries starring Aquaman, in which, he ditched his classic orange and green suit for a mostly blue "underwater camouflage" costume. Despite the audacity, the look was embraced by fans and the miniseries sold well enough that a sequel was developed but due to editorial shifts, was ultimately scrapped. As beautifully rendered as the camouflage suit was, by Craig Hamilton in the miniseries, it was too complicated for most artists, and in his subsequent appearances, Aquaman reverted to his classic costume.
Phil Jimenez and Neal Pozner were romantically involved until Pozner's death in 1994. Jimenez dedicated the miniseries Tempest to his memory. By this point, many of the original Teen Titans had grown up. Robin became Nightwing. The Flash died and Kid Flash adopted his mentor's role and as previously stated, Wonder Girl became Troia (and lost all connection to Wonder Woman, due to continuity conflicts). Now, Aqualad became Tempest and gained vast magical powers, differentiating him from his mentor. His new suit, though, is an obvious homage to the blue camouflage suit worn by Aquaman in Pozner's miniseries.
His intricate art style continued attracting fans, despite it not fitting the normal exaggerated art style popular during the 90s. He achieved a career high drawing the massive Justice League vs. Titans miniseries that found two generations of heroes battling it out, with either the fate of the world OR Titan Cyborg's life on the line.
The above image is an homage to Perez's original illustration for Justice League versus Avengers from the 80s, before the project was scrapped. That image however had been reprinted often over the years. I think George would've been proud.
As I said, a crowning moment came when Jimenez took over both writing and drawing Wonder Woman, after a lackluster run in the late 90s. His love for the Amazon Princess was obvious on the page as he lovingly rendered her and her cast, drawing on characters from throughout her history, including of course, Perez's run.
In one cool move, he redesigned Themyscira into this magical fantasy locale, not just an island in the ocean.
While his run was respectable and vastly superior to the run before it, it had its problems. One was that during an important storyline, he was forced to suddenly deviate from his plot to tie into a company-wide crossover featuring The Joker. That was out of his hands, really, but even so, one thing that may have hampered him was his sheer love and respect for Wonder Woman, which sadly came across as him making her his "darling," completely flawless and yet uninteresting. It's a matter of taste, I suppose. A lot of fans seemed to hate how curly he drew her hair, calling it "mall hair." I... I mean, I've seen worse and it's not like it was all poofed in front! It was just curly band long!
In another Perez-like move, Jimenez drew Infinite Crisis, the sequel to Perez's 1984-85 history-changing Crisis on Infinite Earths. Possibly the most controversial moment from the story (which actually occurred BEFORE the series began) was Wonder Woman killing criminal mastermind Maxwell Lord on live television. The move haunted Wonder Woman for years and soured many in the public's perception of her. Then she started wearing pants and I think this all went away... maybe?
His most recent work was on Legion Academy, a Legion of Super Heroes tie-in, featuring the homolicious Power Boy and Gravity Kid.
Once again, JUST LIKE ME, Storm is his favorite X-Man, so when he became the artist on one of their 27,000 books, he reintroduced her as part of the team, after she'd been absent for several years.
In this image, he pays tribute to one of John Byrne's legendary classic X-Men covers... although why the fuck is Iron Man on there?!
He also took a stab at the X-Men's Canadian counterparts, Alpha Flight.
Phil Jimenez is one of the most skillful and respected illustrators out there. His work isn't flashy or stylized, it's hyper detailed and realistic. I think sadly, though, that because his work is so similar to Perez's fans haven't quite embraced or recognized the quality of his work, because they see him still as a student to the master.

But regardless, he IS a master on his own and I will continue to look forward to whatever work he puts out!


  1. great write-up on a great glaring omission for me, however, is his work on Grant Morrison's New X-Men. His cover for New X-Men #139 ( is LITERALLY the thing that got me to pick up comic books again when it caught my eye at an airport since always been a big Emma fan, and he draws her beautifully.

    he also did the Planet X arc, in which he did INCREDIBLE work from start to finish.

  2. Thanks for the feedback! I got pretty X-Men'ed out at a certain point and stopped reading all of those books, so I missed out. I might try and grab the trades of those stories.