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Comics 411: Thoughts on George Perez Following Cancer Diagnosis

December 8, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
George-Perez Wonder Woman Image Credit: DC Comics

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we discussed The Most Relevant Spider-Man Deaths Here’s what some of you had to say:

Ace3359: “Ned Leeds comes to mind. His death hit a lot of emotions, considering he had been the Hobgoblin (before it was retconned), and he was also a friend who had won the affections of Betty Brant, another (faint) love interest of Peter’s. He went down fighting, too, before finally getting garroted. When Peter found him bound to a chair, dead, it almost got him killed as well. The whole” he was actually brainwashed and not really the Hobgoblin” story takes some away from this, but at the time it was completely unexpected.”

Benjamin Kellog “Peter Parker himself has died a few times only to come back later on. The “Kraven’s Last Hunt” version has been mentioned already, but there’s definitely been some weirder ones past that point. In “The Other,” he goes into a cocoon and his human body seemingly perishes, only for him to emerge in another body and with organic webs! “Superior Spider-Man” starts with Doc Ock switching minds with Peter, leaving Ol’ Webhead’s consciousness stuck in Ock’s shockingly decayed corpse. Of course, that doesn’t last long, with Peter somehow inhabiting Ock-as-Peter’s brain as a sort of “conscience” for the rest of the run, making for an incredibly rich and dynamic relationship between the two. The Peter death that surely mattered most, though, was Ultimate Peter’s death at the hands of Green Goblin toward the end of that first amazing run of “Ultimate Spider-Man.” The revelation that Earth 1610’s most famous superhuman was so darn young gravely affected just about everyone on the planet at that time, and provided a bit of motivation for Miles Morales to follow in his sticky steps. However, it looks as if this death has been retconned as well, with the Ultimate universe being “rebooted” recently in one of Miles’ issues, and Peter being mentioned as somehow coming back to life.
BTW, I personally consider the closing moments of “One More Day” to be a Peter death of sorts, but time and knowledge of what went on behind the scenes at the time of its publication have certainly softened my opinion on that front. Heck, Nick Spencer practically all but retconned it this past year, with some future creative team sure to take it back all the way?”

Erick Rowan’s Beard: “If there’s one character death in Spider-Man that can be considered THE death, it’s got to be that of Ben Parker. Uncle Ben’s death is ultimately what started Peter Parker off in his career as a masked hero, it was almost like a twist of fate really. Peter wanted to use his new powers to make money, had a chance to stop a robber but didn’t and said robber turned out to be the same one who kills his Uncle Ben. The whole “With great power, comes great responsibility” creed was born from this and the guilt Parker feels over this still ultimately haunts him. I remember watching the 2002 Spider-Man film and was genuinely sad and pissed off when Ben Parker was killed as Cliff Robertson did a great job portraying him as this loving, grandfatherly, lovable old guy that was basically the grandfather that everyone wishes or hopes they can have.

Of course, he had no idea that not stopping the robber would ultimately lead to his uncle’s death but it led to some self-discovery on Parker’s part. After all, even if it hadn’t been his uncle, it probably would’ve been someone else, some other innocent person at some point and it helped Parker realize his calling.”

Cloud Strife: “What about Peter Parker himself in Ultimate Spider-Man? I LOVED the end of his run in Ultimate where Aunt May’s had become like a foster home where Peter, Gwen, Johnny Storm, and Bobby Drake were all living there and powered people keep popping up around them with Kitty Pryde going to their school (and dating Peter for a bit) and Liz getting powers. It was so much fun, and then they killed Peter and blew it all up to start anew with some brand new (and younger) Spider-Man named Miles Morales…and it somehow worked, and now Miles Morales is a beloved comics character himself.”

the ghost of Buddy Rogers: “Gwen Stacy’s death is why I stopped reading Marvel. Wasn’t looking for that sort of thing in my comics. I’d stopped reading DC about ten years earlier, just aged out of being a fan. For some reason, started reading Marvel when I was about twenty, and Gwen’s death turned me off about a year and a half later.”

Some awesome comments last time! Go and check out the rest, if you can. Thanks for the input and keep it coming!

This week we discuss the…

Update on George Perez
You’ll have to forgive me as this week isn’t much to debate. George Perez, the iconic artist known for such classics as DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths and Wonder Woman as well as runs on Marvel’s The Avengers and The Infinity Gauntlet, announced that he has been diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer.

In a Facebook post, Perez wrote that he received the diagnosis on November 27th and that the cancer is inoperable. Doctors have given Perez between six months to a year to live and he has opted not to undergo treatment.

“I have been given the option of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, but after weighing all the variables and assessing just how much of my remaining days would be eaten up by doctor visits, treatments, hospital stays and dealing with the often stressful and frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system, I’ve opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possible with my family, friends, and fans,” Perez wrote.

A career that started as an assistant to Rich Buckler in 1973 came to an end in 2019 and with the latest news I thought it would be fitting to pay tribute to his impressive career. Pérez’s professional debut came in Marvel Comics’ Astonishing Tales #25, drawing an untitled two-page satire of Buckler’s character Deathlok. It didn’t take long for Pérez to gain attention and he was soon the artist on a run of “Sons of the Tiger”, back up in the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. He and Bill Mantlo co-created the White Tiger, the first Puerto Rican superhero.

Over the years Pérez became famous for his runs on Justice League of America, New Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, Infinity Gauntlet, Avengers, Avengers Vs. JLA, and a number of others. I first was exposed to his artistry on the New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths. When it comes to Crisis, I can’t think of any other artist that could have pulled it off as expertly as he did.

“This is not a message I enjoyed writing, especially during the Holiday Season, but, oddly enough, I’m feeling the Christmas spirit more now than I have in many years,” Perez wrote in concluding his message. “Maybe it’s because it will likely be my last. Or maybe because I am enveloped in the loving arms of so many who love me as much as I love them. It’s quite uplifting to be told that you’ve led a good life, that you’ve brought joy to so many lives and that you’ll be leaving this world a better place because you were part of it.”

I can honestly say George Pérez is a big reason I’m a comic book fan today. His artwork marked a number of periods of my fandom and I’ll miss his distinct style gracing the newsstand. Pérez deserves every accolade he receives and more. 

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!