Alex Ross Returns to Marvel — And I’m Not Sure If I Care Anymore

He’s one of the great artists of the last 20 years. But I don’t know …

Alex Ross has certainly drawn/painted/illustrated some of the most beautiful comic-book images since the ’90s. Kingdom Come was an achievement and I’ve loved so much of his Batman solo imagery.

This I love.

This I love.

But something happened in the last few years, and maybe it’s me. It just feels like his illustrations have a sameness to them now, a certain lack of dynamism. What was once unique now feels a little stale. I certainly don’t like that so many of his covers feature that washed-out lighting effect. It just deemphasizes the impact of the image and detracts from the grandeur he’s trying to project.

Marvel announced today that beginning in January, the company will commemorate its 75th anniversary (a celebration that given Timely/Atlas/Marvel’s spotty history seems slightly dubious to me but OK) with 12 Alex Ross covers on various books. Here’s the first of the variants: Avengers #25, scheduled for Jan. 15.

Alex_Ross_Avengers_25_Variant

This I don’t.

I dunno. Your call, I suppose.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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9 Comments

  1. There’s a couple of things I don’t like about it, but it’s pretty good. I do get what you’re saying, though. The age of, “woah, someone did a photoreal painting of some superheroes!!!” is over.

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  2. definitely not his best work! i don’t get tired of his work though.

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  3. I’m more a fan of Alex Ross’ DC work than Marvel work. Ross had me with “Justice”, more than “Kingdom Come”. “Marvels” is okay. I read that his Invaders/Avengers crossover brought the Invaders forward in time…I just could get into that…But, I kinda like this image. I don’t love it like his DC work, but I don’t hate it.

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  4. I see what he did there with the “A”. That’s just, yeah….

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  5. It’s beautiful work, but as a fellow comic book artist, the reason why it might be less than dynamic is that there are too many figures in it, so it’s not his art really, but the fact that too much is involved in one piece.

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  6. I dunno – I’ve been thinking Ross was the Norman Rockwell of comics for a while now.

    I think I’d like to re-read Justice. Marvels and Kingdom Come were amazing, but that has a lot to do with how well written those stories were, combined with the impact of his art. But as was stated earlier the wow factor and novelty have worn off. I’d say it was time for him to shake the tree and get out of the comfort zone that is making his work feel stale.

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  7. I think it’s really nice work. It’s just a shame that Marvel doesn’t have many of those visuals (or even the characters) around any more. I think this really illustrates well the fact that Marvel was far better in the Silver Age. The dynamic visuals, the classic characters, and the explosive fight scenes…all of that is missed. As Marvel threw characterizations and history out the window, they made me lose interest.

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  8. I wonder if it is possible that the reason Ross’s work has less impact now is that when he started producing these gorgeous books and covers, there were not yet such good film depictions of the characters (minus Donner’s Superman and perhaps Burton’s Batman).Therefore, Ross’s photo-realistic images were the first time we had really seen these characters as actual people and interacting with a realistic world. Just a thought.

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    • That’s an interesting theory, Ian. I think that’s a part of it, but I think it also has to do with the painters who came around since, whether they were influenced by Ross or not.

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