On the sliding scale of comic-book cool — the one that starts with Hägar The Horrible at the bottom — DC Comics superheroes Superman and Batman stand proud at the peak.
Since 2003, the premier artist for those characters has been Jim Lee. Recently promoted to DC co-publisher, he’s collected a selection of his rough layouts, pencil drawings and finished pages for a book called Icons. It includes artwork of other characters in the DC stable such as the Green Lantern. There are also storyboards from Superman Returns and Batman Begins and his designs for other products such as limited-edition Converse.
But perhaps most enticing is a reproduction of the gift Lee gave Heath Ledger months before the actor died. It’s a watercolour of The Joker, inscribed with: “For Heath – happy birthday – go nuts! – ha ha Jim Lee 2007.”
And that’s something you definitely don’t get with a Hägar The Horrible book.
Icons: The DC Comics And Wildstorm Art Of Jim Lee is out on 29 October, £24.99