Review - Icons: The DC Comics and Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee


Icons: The DC Comics and Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee, is a 296 page hardcover art book that features over 500 colour illustrations by Jim Lee, along with countless pieces of pencileld and inked artwork, and numerous concept sketches. The book was published by Titan Books, on October 29th, 2010, and retails for a recommended price of $39.95.

The book is assembled, annotated, and edited by Bill Baker, whose previous work includes a number of interview books with famous creators, such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, George Perez, Micheal Avon Oeming, and many more.

Now, I should mention, and I know it sounds silly, that if you are not a fan of the artwork of Jim Lee, then this is probably not the book for you. In fact, why are you even reading this review? Luckily, I am a fan of Lee’s work, so I found the book highly enjoyable.

Whether or not you like the artwork of Jim Lee, it’s pretty hard to deny the fact that he is one of the defining superhero comic artists of this generation. Since he first entered the comic industry, back in 1989, he has depicted nearly ever character in the Marvel Universe, the DC Universe, the Wildstorm Universe, and many more. In just 21 years, he has risen from being a new penciller at Marvel Comics, to being the Co-Publisher of DC! That’s a pretty astonishing achievement!

Icons can be considered a visual representation of how Lee achieved this stunning feat, a graphic career retrospective, which covers the majority of Lee’s work from 1992 to 2010; that is, from the time he left Marvel Comics to found Image Comics with Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino, and Marc Silvestri.

The book is divided up into a number of chapters, each of which focus on different period is Lee’s career, the chapters are:, Batman, Batman: Hush, Batman: Black & White, All Star Batman & Robin, Batman Family, Superman, Superman; For Tomorrow, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Trinity, DC Heroes, Wildstorm, WildC.A.T.S., Gen13, Divine Right, Deathblow, StormWatch, Wildstorm Heroes, Vertigo, DC Universe Online, DC Logo, Gallery, Legion of Superheroes.

Each of these sections contains pieces of artwork from the respective series, lavishly reprinted on high gloss paper, and in many cases enlarged from the original artwork, due to the book’s 304 x 228mm format. In total, the book contains over 500 colour illustrations, as well a numerous pieces of both pencilled and inked artwork, as well as dozens of concept art sketches.

Every section contains a brief introduction by Bill Baker, who also writes a short paragraph explaining each illustration that has been chosen. Baker’s commentary throughout the book is always interesting, and often provides insightful observations about Lee’s work. His notes are never dry or dull, and it feels like he has a real interest and passion for the subject.

Along with its hundreds of pieces of beautifully reproduced artwork, the book also contains an exclusive interview with Jim Lee, by Baker, as well as as guided tour of Lee’s studio. However, the piece de resistance of the collection is undoubtedly the exclusive Legion of Superheroes story that appears towards the end of the book. With artwork by Lee, and a story by Paul Levitz -  it’s an fun little story, with a fantastic Fourth Wall breaking twist!

I should also note that the cover of this collection features an all-new illustration by Jim Lee, of DC’s Trinity - that is, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. It’s a striking illustration, and really makes the book jump out at you from the shelf. The coolest thing, and something that is not at first apparent, is that if you remove the dust jacket, and look at the book’s actual cover, you will be treated to Jim Lee’s pencilled version of the cover image. It’s a nice treat for fans, and really shows how much effort Titan have put into assembling this amazing collection

Icons is a fabulous celebration of Jim Lee’s meteoric rise to fame. Containing hundred of pieces of astonishing artwork from across Lee’s career, insightful commentary on many of Lee’s projects, new interview material, and an exclusive comic story, this is an indispensable tome for any fan of Jim Lee’s work. This collection will make a lovely coffee table book for any fan of either Lee’s work, or DC comics in general, and you will no doubt come back to look at this gorgeous collection again and again.

Buy the book for $21.52 from, or for $38.17/£24.47 with free worldwide shipping from

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