Every day in April we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!
Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).
Today’s list is the Greatest Jim Lee Stories Ever Told!
10. “Heroes Reborn” Fantastic Four #1-6
Jim Lee penciled and co-wrote this reboot of the Fantastic Four with co-writer Brandon Choi and inker Scott Williams. Lee was clearly quite respectful of the original Lee and Kirby Fantastic Four and much of his new take on the Fantastic Four’s origin was adapted by the Ultimate Fantastic Four’s version of the Fantastic Four’s origin. In addition, Lee was ahead of the game when it came to tying in all of the various super scientists in each other’s origins, something that was a key element of the Ultimate Universe. As for the art, it was just what you would expect, Lee and Williams doing dynamic renditions of all of the Fantastic Four’s most popular friends and foes. Lee’s take on the Fantastic Four reborn is generally thought of as the best of all of the Heroes Reborn titles, and it is not surprising that for many years, it was the only one that Marvel reprinted.
9. “Resurrection Day” WildC.A.T.s #1-4
It seemed evident that one of the things Lee was most interested in in his first release from Image Comics was that he could come up with a lot of interesting new characters. Much of his early work at Image consisted of him and co-writer Brandon Choi introducing new characters. While the introduction of so many characters at once obviously ended up being hit or miss, Lee hit on enough of the characters that a number of the characters introduced in his first WildC.A.Ts storyline are still being used to this day by DC Comics (most notably Grifter and Voodoo). In addition, Lee and Choi provided a compelling set-up for the WildC.A.T.s, as we are introduced to a covert war being two warring alien races who are both hidden on Earth, one good and one evil (the evil aliens were also shapeshifters). The WildC.A.T.s represented the Kherubim, who waged their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Daemonites. The twist was that the Daemonites impersonated Vice President Dan Quayle, leading the WildC.A.T.s into conflict with Youngblood, in one of the first Image crossovers.
8. “Omega Red Trilogy” X-Men #5-7
In his first arc on X-Men without Chris Claremont, Jim Lee also showed off his character creation skills by introducing the villainous Omega Red as well as the mercenary Maverick, both of whom had connections to Wolverine’s then-mysterious past as an international special agent. X-Men #4 is a “breather” issue that leads directly into the story (as Wolverine is captured by Omega Red at the end of #4). Lee was joined by John Byrne as the scripter on the first part of the story with Scott Lobdell coming in to script the final two parts. Similarly, Lee’s inkers changed during the story, as well, with Scott Williams beginning the arc and Art Thibert finishing it. The story is filled with some dynamic artwork from Lee and some good character work with Wolverine and Sabretooth (who is working with Omega Red). There is a reason both Omega Red and Maverick continue to show up in comics to this day – they’re interesting characters, both visually and also background-wise.
7. “To Become a Bat” Batman: Gotham Knights #1
This was the first of a series of Batman: Black and White back-up stories in Batman: Gotham Knights #1-49, inspired by a 1996 anthology mini-series called Batman: Black and White (Lee did the cover for the first issue of that series, although he did not do an interior work), which was one of the many brilliant comic ideas by Mark Chiarello, who must have the greatest collection of great ideas of anyone working in comics today. Anyhow, this story was written by Warren Ellis with pencils and inks by Lee. It is a clever tale showing the background for every piece of knowledge Batman uses on a given case (the murder of the above woman). For instance, he sees her bullet wounds and we cut to a flashback of pre-Batman Bruce studying every different kind of gunshot wounds. We see pre-Batman Bruce with a case of every aftershave and cologne on the market so that he can identify certain aftershaves and colognes instantly. Stuff like that. It’s a strong tale.
6. “Psylocke Reborn!” Uncanny X-Men #256-258
This was Lee’s first extended stint on Uncanny X-Men, as he drew this three-parter that introduced the new Asian ninja version of Psylocke. Written by Chris Claremont with inks by Scott Williams, this was likely the arc that told Marvel that they had to get Jim Lee on this title on a regular basis STAT. It is a powerful story of Psylocke fighting the corruptive forces of the Mandarin. It also introduces the saying “focused totality of my psychic powers,” which is a classic turn of phrase!
The top five is on the next page!
5. “Origin” Justice League #1-6
Jim Lee helped re-launch the DC Universe with Justice League, which gave the new origin for how the Justice League first formed. Written by Geoff Johns and inked by Scott Williams, this action-packed storyline was infused with a good deal of humor by Johns as he gave us a new take on our familiar heroes. Johns smartly chose Darkseid as the bad guy, as Darkseid is just the kind of epic force that would force a group of disparate heroes to unite. I liked how Johns worked in Cyborg’s origin into the whole formation of the League/assault by Darkseid. Lee, meanwhile, was born to draw the high-octane adventures of the world’s greatest superheroes.
4. “Crossroads” Uncanny X-Men #269, 273-277
I have decided to call this storyline “Crossroads.” I do not believe it was ever given a proper name (and for some reason, Marvel has never collected it into a trade paperback, which seems crazy, but at least they DID do a Jim Lee Visionaries collecting most of his Uncanny X-Men work. They, of course, let it go out of print, but at least they DID make one!) This storyline was interrupted by the X-Tinction Agenda crossover. But it really began in #269, when Rogue is finally split from her Ms. Marvel personality. Rogue teams up with Magneto in the Savage Land on a mission involving Nick Fury as they take on the evil Zaladane. Meanwhile, after a “breather” issue in Uncanny X-Men #273, the newly reunited X-Men are kidnapped into outer space where they get caught up in a Skrull plot against the Shi’ar Empire involving their former teacher, Professor X. Half of the team is captured and replaced by “Power Skrulls.” The remaining team members must stop the Skrull plot, save the Shi’ar Empire AND rescue their captured teammates. In Uncanny X-Men #275, we also see Magneto forced to choose whether he wants to be judged by standard human morality when it comes time to deal with Zaladane. These stories are a great encapsulation of how good writer Chris Claremont was at juggling various storylines, as he expertly mixes between the Shi’ar plot and the Magneto/Rogue plot without giving either story short shrift. Lee (inked by Scott Williams) meanwhile is outstanding with both the action sequences as well as the character-driven moments between Magneto and Rogue.
3. “Madripoor Knights” Uncanny X-Men #268
Jim Lee’s first issue as the regular penciler on Uncanny X-Men (he did the previous issue with Whilce Portacio, but I think this is his OFFICIAL start) is one of his most famous, as we see how Captain American and Wolverine first met each other during World War II. This story (written by Chris Claremont with inks by Scott Williams) has one of the most iconic images of Captain America ever, which tells you a little bit about how much of a big deal Jim Lee is, that fifty years after Captain America’s debut, Lee was still able to make his name on a depiction of Cap, and not even in Cap’s own title! The story mixes the past with a present day mission involving the Black Widow (who was a little girl in the past story, something that confused readers for years). This story is so memorable that Daniel Way even did a sequel to just this story in the pages of Wolverine: Origins.
2. “Mutant Genesis” X-Men #1-3
This storyline, which was the end of Chris Claremont’s initial tenure on the X-Men titles, reads like the ultimate X-Men movie screenplay, if budget was no object. After first introducing the newly reformed X-Men (having merged X-Factor and the X-Men into one massive team), the X-Men are forced into conflict against Magneto, who now has his own group of followers called the Acolytes. Magneto manages to capture the first team of X-Men sent after him and also brainwash them into becoming his followers. This leads to the remaining X-Men (the “Gold” team, because the “Less cool characters” team sounded less appealing) having to both take down their comrades while still managing to save them. This storyline also comes with a major revelation about Moira MacTaggert that lands her squarely in the realm of the “Charles Xavier school of messed up stuff that I didn’t want to tell you I did because it was so messed up.” Besides drawing a series of impressive and imaginative battles, Lee also re-designed most of the X-Men’s costumes which were all adapted by the X-Men: Animated Series, so soon became the definitive look for a number of the X-Men, including Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey and Rogue.
1. “Hush” Batman #608-619
Written by Jeph Loeb with inks by Scott Williams, “Hush” completely embraced the fact that it had Jim Lee drawing twelve consecutive issue of a comic book title by coming up with a storyline that made sure that every issue was basically a mini-epic. The storyline introduces a mysterious villain named Hush who is hunting Batman and also knows Batman’s secret identity! Every issue featured at least one classic member of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, and nearly every issue had a major event occur in them, from Batman fighting a possessed Superman, to Riddler revealing he solved the riddle of Batman’s identity, to the return of Jason Todd (but not really…but maybe!) to Batman and Catwoman finally getting together. It was a rollercoaster ride of all of the best aspects of Batman rolled into one epic tale and Hush imitators sprang up by the dozens in the years since. It revitalized sales on Batman and showed the power that a top artist like Jim Lee can bring to a comic book series.
That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let us know!
NOTE: Just like I mentioned in the voting, as a general rule for all of these polls, don’t be a jerk about the creator in question in the comments. No snarky comments about the creator. I’ll be deleting comments like that.