It is my assertion that Young Avengers is the best written super-hero team comic book on the market right now. Fans of the title have had to wait quite a bit for the creators to return (and even now the current title is only a mini-series lasting 9 issues published bi-monthly) but Allan Heinberg has proven he is worth the wait (At least Marvel thinks so). When a title is drawn and written well, I would rather wait as long as it takes than be disappointed by an inferior result. Fortunately, artist Jim Cheung always brings the goods. His collaboration with Heinberg is the modern day equivalent of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and worthy enough to stand on the shoulders of the legacy they maintain. Young Avengers builds on the tapestry of yesteryear with solid stories featuring interesting characters looking toward the future.
Paul Smith was the artist on Uncanny X-Men from 1982-1983 and his clean lines and sharp design sense have endeared him to many comic fans. Today we celebrate his rendition of many amazing characters from Marvel and DC Comics!
Above, we have a scan of an original Wolverine drawing from the ol’ Canucklehead’s entry in The Official Handbook of the Marve Universe!
Here’s a lovely Doctor Strange image, also from TOHOTMU. I know I cannot be the only person who loves seeing art on the original drawing pages. There’s something authentic and beautiful about art before the days of Photoshop. Smith’s Doctor Strange is a lesson on how to depict such a visually complex character with ingenuous economy.
Shape-shifitng bad girl Mystique is up next, reminding us what a simple yet elegant costume she used to have. I prefer this version of Raven Darkholme to her running around naked.
This action packed commission features Spider-Man fending off Wolverine, Kitty Pryde and Lockheed the dragon! Good luck with that, Spidey!
The Holy Trinity of DC Comics gets the Paul Smith treatment! I love his versions of Wonder Woman (nice costume!), Batman (really looks like a detective) and Superman (who is a bit older looking than I normally think of him, but it works). I can totally see this moment being taken from an awesome Elseworlds tale.
Batman discovers Catwoman in the middle of a heist! Selina is certainly holding that drill with an air of authority (You gotta love a woman with power tools)! Who knew that she brought kitties with her on her escapades! I certainly admire Smith’s take on this classic era, but my eyes keep going back to the safe door and how wonderfully designed it is. So awesome!
The Watchmen! I think Dave Gibbons would be honored to see this version of the iconic characters of his and Alan Moore’s seminal work!
I’ve always loved it when the Justice League of America is presented as a gathering of friends as well as a team of crime-fighters. This image nails both aspects of the JLA perfectly!
Cyclops is seriously smashing stuff so hard that it doesn’t even exist anymore! Smith’s illustration of Scott Summer’s Jim Lee designed costume is aces!
Gambit,as featured on the cover of X-Men Universe #6, looks rough, tough and ready to tumble! One of my favorite aspects of Smith’s art is his presentation of hair. Gambit looks like he’s been running some product through those locks to get that bad boy look.
The Vision has the abilities to be solid as diamond or as intangible as a ghost. Both powers are inherent in this amazing character study. Spooky closeup of the android as the shadows play across his face.
Savage Land jungle lord Ka-Zar and his loyal sabretooth tiger Zabu pose for a peaceful moment while on patrol.
Great character studies of Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and (my personal favorite) Alan Scott.
I hope you have enjoyed these beautiful pieces of artwork by Paul Smith! For more by this legendary artist, check out Leave it to Chance and Kitty Pride: Shadow and Flame. Cliff Chiang has an amazing homage to Paul Smith’s era of the X-Men on his blog (definitely peruse it for some jaw-dropping art).
Craig Hamilton knows characters. His portraits of superheroes pare down each character to their most classic elements. Take Dark Phoenix for instance. The dramatic arrangement of her arms is perfect for a character of her tumultuous history. The weight of her power bears down heavily on her as her fiery aureole majestically engulfs her. This is a woman consumed by her own intensity.
Click on any of the images to view them larger! Then you can better enjoy Hamilton’s amazing linework!
Nightcrawler is a charming man despite his unusual appearance. He channels his hero Errol Flynn in this image with a swashbuckler bent to his body language (The hoop earring is also a nice touch). I love the added detail of the fading smoke from his recent teleportation.
The Scarlet Witch and the Vision used to be quite the power couple before a few dismantlements (him) and mental breakdowns (her) left their relationship in shambles. I prefer to think of these characters in their classic forms from this time. Wanda is looking confident but contemplative (a far cry from her recent depictions) and the Vision stares with glowing eyes that reveal his android nature. I love that Hamilton chose to emphasize the etherealness of both characters by having Wanda floating and the Vision phasing.
Hamilton’s version of Cloak and Dagger is stunning, truly representing the core essences of Tandy and Tyrone’s struggle with their respective super-powered polarities.
Lockheed hovers above the intangible Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat). Kitty has always struggled with a costume that works for her and most people do not refer to her by her Shadowcat codename since she has gone through so many, so it seems appropriate to have her depicted in regular clothes for her portrait.
Colossus shows off his organic steel muscle definition in a rare display of exhibitionism. Usually, Piotr is quiet and reserved, slow to anger but a powerhouse when tested. Colossus (alongside Nightcrawler and Storm) are among the most unique and iconic of the All-New, All-Different character designs.
Ka-Zar, Shanna the She-Devil and Zabu relax in their Savage Land home. There’s a little something for everyone in this amazing illustration. Ka-Zar isn’t usually depicted so beefy, but I have no complaints. Everything about this piece from character to composition works for me.
I saved my favorite for last because it showcases everything I love about Craig Hamilton’s work. Not only is he true to the characters’ designs and histories, he creates the most beautiful arrangements in which to place them. The multiple layers of setting (rain on the window, the windowpanes, the figures,the fabric & the smoke from the incense burner) give the artwork depth and density which an esoteric character like Doctor Strange really needs. Also, Hamilton excels at presenting the natures of the relationships of characters to one another. Clea is Doctor Strange’s disciple, but she is also his lover. Even if this is your first time viewing these characters you can tell that they have something very special together.
The spotlight shines on another amazing artist on next week’s Marvel Fanfare Monday!
I remember picking up an issue of Marvel Fanfare simply because it had Angel on the cover and being pleasantly surprised to discover that the second story starred Storm! The first story was written by Ann Nocenti and drawn by David Mazzucchelli and the second one was written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Craig Hamilton. It featured a punk rock mohawk Storm meeting with Mystique to discuss Rogue’s future. The story took place before Storm was hit with the neutralizer that stripped her of her powers (which was meant for Rogue). In fact, we learn that Mystique (through the help of her partner Destiny) knew that whoever tried to help Rogue (who had run away to Mississippi) would suffer the fate meant for her. Mystique, of course, did not reveal this to her hated enemy Storm. I remembered loving the art and wished I could find more than just pinups (like this one of Scarlet Witch & Vision) in the back of future Marvel Fanfare issues. My online searches did not come across much online presence for Craig besides this Art Gallery and this YouTube video interview.