web stats

CSBG Archive

The Greatest Jim Lee Stories Ever Told!

1 2
Next »

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!

Enjoy!

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

jimleegreatest7

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!

1 2
Next »

56 Comments

There’s a very old trade called Crossroads that collects Uncanny #273-277.

Stephen Conway

April 3, 2013 at 5:25 am

I’m not the biggest Lee fan in the world, but this is certainly a strong collection of stories. I’m particularly fond of that Black and White story with Warren Ellis, as it is somewhat outside of Lee’s usual style and is a great explanation of Batman’s sometimes arcane wealth of knowledge.

Hush looked great, and this is a Jim Lee list, but it was such an unremarkable story, it seems strange that it placed so well. Congratulations to everyone who can view and judge it for Lee’s art alone.

Crossroads was great. 275 was the first X-Men I had bought since 254 and I lived it (like I do that first Muir Island story). I sort of wish the X-Men still wore those costumes.

Would have liked to have seen Superman: For tomorrow make the cut. It wasn’t without it’s flaws and I don’t think it’s canon, but the story stood on it’s own really well. Plus, without Jim’s artwork no one would probably even remember it.

Pretty interested- but I have to disagree with Madripoor Knights. TBH- I blame that more on Claremont than Lee. Madripoor always reeked of British post-colonial fantasies. Usually I am huge Claremont fan.

All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder was robbed! It’s better than any of these!

Which, of course, is damning with VERY FAINT praise. Jim Lee shoud choose better the stuff he draws…

Some good X-Men stuff in here. It’s a shame that Jim Lee’s success would lead to the death of the title for me. I’m glad to see Hush in here, because while the story is meh, it’s just enough to keep me paging through to look at that lovely art.

Why leave out the X-Tinction Agenda issues from “The Crossroads”? If memory serves, that’s where the X-Men, after the Australia disintegration, actually reunite for the first time.

The X-Men stuff on this list is all pretty solid.

Crossroads is my personal favorite Jim Lee work :D I’m glad to see it on here.

wow, was To Become a Bat a direct rip-off of Sin City or what

Man, most of these were really…not good.

I always enjoy Jim Lee’s work, but this list has made me realize that I have not actually read very much of it! Now I have some recommended runs to seek out. Thanks!!

I liked Jim Lee in the very beginning, when he was paired with Claremont, and he also did some Punisher stories.

But I find that Jim Lee is like a movie by Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich. It is awesome in the beginning, but eventually it gets tiresome.

Pete Woodhouse

April 3, 2013 at 9:04 am

I simply have not read enough Lee (I bailed out of comics during the Image and post-Image era) so I decided not to vote. The fact that I’ve never read half of the stuff that appears in the top 10 probably vindicates my decision.
I recently bought some X-Men back issues so it’ll be interesting to see how that stuff bears up.

Have yet to read crossroads, but I loved his Psylocke arc and the first seven issues of X-Men vol. 2. I’ve never understood either why more of his run wasn’t collected in trade. I know Marvel had the recent Claremont and Lee Omnibuses, but those are kind of ridiculous since they’re each like 800 pages. It seems like a Crossroads trade would be the perfect thing right now – an “new” X-Men trade with Jim Lee art that they could charge like $20 bucks for, especially since he’s really popular right now. The same could be said for the last four issues of his run, plus the Ghost Rider issues. Plus it fits in with their publishing plan of collecting every X-Men arc/issue in trade.

I liked Jim Lee in the very beginning, when he was paired with Claremont, and he also did some Punisher stories.

I didn’t vote, but if I had, Punisher War Journal #17-19 would have been my #1. If for nothing else, Frank in a Hawaiian shirt and renting a jet ski.

Hush wasnt an AMAZING story, just like a lot of movies, but it was a LOAD of fun, and very enjoyable for that. Glad it made the top, it would have made the top for me as well, it was pivotal in my interest in visual story telling.

Barf! Justice League is the turdest piece of turd ever turded. People are insane.

redmeanmachine

April 3, 2013 at 9:43 am

Cool list, but you are missing “African Saga”, “Acts of Vengeance” storyline with Bushwacker (for him to draw that kind of art at that time, is mind-blowing!)

no FOR TOMMOROW???no ALL STAR BATMAN???
BLASPHEMY

are you kidding? For Tomorrow was awful, and All-Star Batman was nothing but Miller taking a piss.

For that matter, i’m surprised Justice League made the cut, i’ve heard nothing good about it (aside from the art) And the first arc of WildCATS was pretty rough, both the writing and art by Lee was much better on the second arc.

I think the missing Punisher War Zone material is far better than a lot of what’s on here… (and is that in trade anywhere???)

Not sure if any other artist has as good of a list as this. And it goes beyond 10 with “For Tomorrow”, “Divine Right”, “PWJ”….

Justice League is pretty terrible, but again, the trick in a Greatest Jim Lee Stories list is trying to pick the least terrible stories he worked on. It’s inherently going to be pretty faint praise.

And I’m not really slagging Lee when I say that. Usually it’s not his art that’s the problem. He just has lousy taste in projects.

Butler, I disagree. His art seems to lend itself best to brainless stories. All flash, no substance.

McFarlane's Green Hulk

April 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm

The first 6 issues of the FF “Heroes Reborn” are really underrated. Those were very good issues…
I still hold his X-Men work in high regard, especially “Mutant Genesis”.
“Hush”…meh. It’s Loeb rehashing his mystery gimmick for the billionth time…

Lee must have done terrible work if Justice League made top 5. It was an atrocious book on every level. Some dubious selections:
http://imgur.com/a/O4AOa#0

By the last issue, he had 10 inkers so the arc could ship on time.

I was surprised to be able to come up with ten when I compiled my list. I love Jim Lee’s style but there haven’t been a lot of great stories for him to do. One of the things I noticed was that Lee has never done more than 12 consecutive issues of any comic and usually not without some delay. (WildC.A.T.s doesn’t count since it was really two series sharing consecutive numbering).

Gonna be a lot of fun when Brian does Greatest Rob Liefeld Stories Ever Told

All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder was robbed! It’s better than any of these!

I guess the list was for “The Greatest Complete Jim Lee Stories Ever Told”. Since that one’s still not done…

Pretty solid list. For me, the biggest omission was, probably, DIVINE RIGHT. That’s a series I enjoyed quite a bit.

From the comments it looks like there is some question as to this being a list of the best stories done in collaboration with Lee or the best Lee art in comics.

Going with the second (and having several hours to get over it) I can see Hush placing well.

For Tomorrow I regard as bad all around; Lee never gets Superman ‘right’ (and the small pre-Crisis ‘S’ does not help).

All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder is as done as it’s ever going to be.

Though I do appreciate that X-Men #1 foldout cover, I have never really understood the composition. Is Magneto supposed to be facing the X-Men or the reader? Are they attacking him from behind? The side? Are they even attacking him at all? Are they supposed to be interacting? It’s a puzzling 90s cover.

Buttler, that av is awesome.

I’m pleasantly surprised by this list, and I really do think it’s pretty right on. I haven’t read the Batman B&W story, and I agree that Justice League is pretty but also pretty awful. I would have picked a different WildCATs story (I voted for the Claremont-written arc in 10-13), but overall the list is pretty spot on.

I think the only egregious omission is the WildCATs/X-Men: The Silver Age one-shot he did with Scott Lobdell, which is quite purty. I voted for Stormwatch #47, X-Men #10-11, and X-Tinction Agenda, but have no gripes with them not being here. It seems right that For Tomorrow is missing, as it’s a readable but very flawed story. And I LOVE that the worst comic ever made (ASBAR) isn’t here. I thought it would be top ten for sure and I’d want to throw up in my mouth, but I’m so pleased with the taste of the interwebs. Good job everyone!

And I’m very pleased that Crossroads and the Omega Red story made it. Those were my top two votes, but I was worried people would forget about them in favor of the more obvious Mutant Genesis. Crossroads is in my top ten favorite Claremont X-Men stories, because it’s all about the kind of adventure that I associate with the X-Men. Great art, great characters written well, fun, high stakes, exotic locations, and in the middle of it all, a “hanging around the mansion” issue.

The thing about Jim Lee’s art is, having him on your book is like getting a 50 million dollar CGI budget on a movie. When someone hands you a 50 million dollar CGI budget, you don’t use it to make Amour. You use it to make Life of Pi. Life of Pi was a great movie, but it’s no secret that a huge percentage of CGI heavy movies are awful, just as it makes sense that a lot of Jim Lee comics are awful. But that’s not Jim Lee’s fault, just like it’s not the CGI’s fault that John Carter was awful. When you’re trying to make something to appeal to the masses, you use the best tools at your disposal, and Jim Lee is the best tool for a comic to appeal to the masses. And just like CGI movies, some are great, and others are terrible. Just don’t blame the CGI. And Jim Lee is the best CGI in comics. People have been feverishly imitating him for 23 years and he’s still the best there is at what he does. Unfortunately because of writers like Johns, what Jim Lee does sometimes isn’t very nice.

Travis Pelkie

April 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I would have voted for the story from Flinch 1, where Jim Lee does more of a Moebius type style (I think it was his first DC work, and his first work in a while).

ASBAR would work better either without Lee completely, or with a scratchier inker. Jim Lee inked by Billy the Sink would be so damn out there it’d be crazyfun. Have some lemonade, chum!

But my favorite Jim Lee story is the time when the guys from Wizard magazine stole his bathrobe at the San Diego ComicCon. Hee hee

Wow, a lot of folks seem to hate ASBAR because they can’t tell that it’s supposed to be a PARODY. Batman and Robin painted themselves yellow to beat GL! c’mon, people!! Several will argue that Lee’s highly-detailed art doesn’t lend itself well to parody, but it IS because the art and writing SEEMS so serious is why it’s funny. Personally, I think ASBAR is art-wise the best-looking book Jim Lee has ever done so I’m a little disappointed it didn’t make it here.

I though For Tomorrow was pretty great.

Third man you are wrong about allstar Bats!

Lee’s art was stellar on it as well, he brought his a-game, unlike Justice League

The comments in this thread are entertaining as heck

Third Man is also wrong about John Carter! That was an awesome, fun, and extremely under-appreciated movie!

No complaints about the list from me, the ones I didn’t vote for still have great art despite my not liking them as much.

I have always liked Jim Lee. Most of the early Image guys are mostly nostalgia acts for me, but Lee is still relevant in a way that his cohorts just aren’t.

I feel a little badly that I didn’t read more his WildC.A.T.S. stuff. It seems under-represented, but I cannot say what is missing exactly.

I’m glad Justice League Origin was included. That’s a good one.

This isn’t a list of the best Jim Lee stories, just a list of the most read. Clearly a lot of people have never read PWJ or Divine Right (also they seem to vote for the characters rather than the stories)

Great picks, but should include some of his Punisher War Journal work. Either the Wolverine team up, or the Hawaiian Adventure.

I don’t think anyone ever read Divine Brown (sorry, Divine Right) and PWJ is probably forgotten, like most of pre-Ennis Punisher. I had forgotten it myself, although in retrospect it’s probably the best monthly title Jim Lee ever drew.

But is it the best work Jim Lee himself did? Probably not. If you judge his works by art alone, the list above makes more sense.

He will probably be mostly forgotten in a few decades, I don’t see much of his work lasting for the ages like, say, Eisner or Kirby’s. He may be remembered for the record-breaking X-Men work, but the only comic he did I can see being remembered by its content is ASBAR…

The thing about pre-Ennis Punisher is that so much of it is mediocre that people now aren’t willing to wade through it to find the quality stories. Dixon’s work on the title was legit better than Ennis’ Marvel Knights ongoing (but not Welcome Back, Frank), even if it still got trounced by the MAX series.

Of course Jim Lee didn’t work on any of that, so the point is kind of moot.

I haven’t read a good bit of these, and that’s okay. I will say that the front end of Lee’s Fantastic Four run would have made for some pretty decent movies.

@ Dean hacker

IDK, I’d say Marc Silvestri’s UXM and Hama Wolverine issues hold up much better than anything Lee drew back in the day, at least from the standpoint of comics being a fusion of writing and art, where I’d say the issues he drew on those books were significantly better written than the ones Lee drew, at least when comparing UXM, Claremont started to lose his mojo slightly near the end. I’d also argue he was slightly better at drawing than Jim; what he lacked in slickness he more than made up for in page layouts, dynamism, and character emoting. I’d say he’s also held up better as an artist; I liked his New X-Men and Hulk art much better than I did Jim’s very rushed looking work on JL.

And then you have Dale Keown, the guy I see as the unofficail 8th Image founder. HIm and Peter David were simply amazing on Hulk, and Pitt was actually pretty decent besides the fact that it had pretty art. He’s also just as good as he used to be, although he seems to only be drawing covers besides the one issue of A+X he did (which really only counts as half an issue). Still, the little bit of Keown’s modern work looks significantly better than anything I’ve seen from Lee in the past two years.

….why no Superman: For Tomorrow? In terms of Jim Lee’s art, it’s probably his best work, especially with the deliberate use of dynamic light and shadow to illustrate the characters’ states of mind.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by this list, and I really do think it’s pretty right on. I haven’t read the Batman B&W story, and I agree that Justice League is pretty but also pretty awful. I would have picked a different WildCATs story (I voted for the Claremont-written arc in 10-13), but overall the list is pretty spot on.

I think the only egregious omission is the WildCATs/X-Men: The Silver Age one-shot he did with Scott Lobdell, which is quite purty. I voted for Stormwatch #47, X-Men #10-11, and X-Tinction Agenda, but have no gripes with them not being here. It seems right that For Tomorrow is missing, as it’s a readable but very flawed story. And I LOVE that the worst comic ever made (ASBAR) isn’t here. I thought it would be top ten for sure and I’d want to throw up in my mouth, but I’m so pleased with the taste of the interwebs. Good job everyone!

And I’m very pleased that Crossroads and the Omega Red story made it. Those were my top two votes, but I was worried people would forget about them in favor of the more obvious Mutant Genesis. Crossroads is in my top ten favorite Claremont X-Men stories, because it’s all about the kind of adventure that I associate with the X-Men. Great art, great characters written well, fun, high stakes, exotic locations, and in the middle of it all, a “hanging around the mansion” issue.

The thing about Jim Lee’s art is, having him on your book is like getting a 50 million dollar CGI budget on a movie. When someone hands you a 50 million dollar CGI budget, you don’t use it to make Amour. You use it to make Life of Pi. Life of Pi was a great movie, but it’s no secret that a huge percentage of CGI heavy movies are awful, just as it makes sense that a lot of Jim Lee comics are awful. But that’s not Jim Lee’s fault, just like it’s not the CGI’s fault that John Carter was awful. When you’re trying to make something to appeal to the masses, you use the best tools at your disposal, and Jim Lee is the best tool for a comic to appeal to the masses. And just like CGI movies, some are great, and others are terrible. Just don’t blame the CGI. And Jim Lee is the best CGI in comics. People have been feverishly imitating him for 23 years and he’s still the best there is at what he does. Unfortunately because of writers like Johns, what Jim Lee does sometimes isn’t very nice.”

Quoted for truth!! I also LOVED Crossroads, and was disappointed that WildC.A.T.S./X-Men Silver Age isn’t here, but glad to see it getting some love on the boards. And speaking only for myself, I did read Jim Lee’s Punisher War Journal and thought it was pretty poor- weak stories and Jim’s art was rough sketches compared to what he did later on. The Punisher/Wolverine Savage Land story was horrible.

Brian, any chance you can tell us how close Superman: For Tomorrow came to making the list? 11? 15? I was surprised not to see it…

I was initially surprised as to how few WildStorm titles there were on the list but then I realised that the list was mainly XMen which does not need an explanation.

I miss For Tomorrow on the list. The second half was a bit meh, but the first 6 issues were really great!
Oh and I don’t get what Justice League Origins is doing up there. Its is the of the worst JLA story a team this talented has ever done. Zero story, characters who are completely different from their single series counterparts, humor for the facebook generation and not even Lees best art. Wow, do I hate that arc. Villains Journey was slightly better, but not by much. What a letdown.

“Its one of the worst” I wanted to type. Stupid Ipad.

If Justice League Origin, made his top five, I’m not all that interested in checking out the others.

I need to stop worrying that my favorite stories in these categories wont be the #1 pick. Man I love Hush!

Great list, I think a lot of these people are so snobbish when they talk about jim lee’s art. It’s almost like pop music, because it’s “popular” it can’t be cool. Me personally always loved jim lee work since I was a kid! Every artist has his/her own style but jim lee is my favorite artist when you read a book his illustration fit the story perfectly.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives