How Playing Roblox Helped Me Appreciate the Legacy of George Pérez
George Pérez would have turned 68 on June 9th had he not sadly passed away last month. For that reason, DC is paying tribute to George in all of its comics this month. Here’s a little secret, though—every month is George Pérez Month. His legacy is celebrated across DC media on a regular basis, even when we don’t realize it. And all this came to me while I was playing a video game called Roblox.
I promise, it’ll all make sense. Just bear with me a moment.
Most of us remember December 7th, 2021, when George revealed his pancreatic cancer diagnosis to the world. I was saddened, and I couldn’t stop thinking about what a pillar he was to the DC Universe. I spent the rest of the day thinking about George Pérez’s work and legacy, and I know I wasn’t the only one. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Pérez was hands down one of the most consequential creators in the DCU.
When I’m not writing about DC, I work with kids and the child I was assigned to that day was playing Roblox. If you’re a parent, then there’s a good chance you know what Roblox is. For those who don’t, Roblox is an online gaming hub where players can customize their own minigames. The child I was caring for that day had chosen a game modeled after Teen Titans Go!
As we played the game together, I remarked, “Oh, that’s Mammoth! He was co-created by George Pérez.” That was followed by something like, “Oh look, it’s Raven! She was also co-created by George Pérez.”
This kept on happening throughout the game, until the child finally asked me, “How many of these characters did George Pérez create?” I went on to tell him that George Pérez was responsible for most of the characters in the game and for the ones that he hadn’t helped co-create, he had still written some of their most iconic stories. As we continued playing, I told him about many of the great George Pérez comics I had read growing up.
The gaming experience helped me feel better, and it shifted my perspective. I was still saddened by George’s illness, but I was also finding myself contemplating the legacy of his career. Without realizing it, we come across characters and concepts created by George Pérez every day. His legacy can be found in almost every major piece of DC media released within the past few years.
Let’s start with television. I don’t think I need to explain how important George Pérez is to HBO Max’s Titans. In addition to co-creating characters like Starfire, Raven, Deathstroke and Blackfire, the series takes heavy inspiration from Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s New Teen Titans run. The second season used many elements from their iconic “The Judas Contract” storyline.
But that’s just the start. Were you one of the millions of DC fans who fell in love with Peacemaker earlier this year? Peacemaker’s second-best friend Vigilante was co-created by George Pérez. In fact, the HBO Max series faithfully adapted the costume Pérez designed for the character.
Victor Stone and his father Silas, two Pérez creations, are major players in Doom Patrol. The CW’s The Flash has also utilized Pérez characters, like Magenta and the Kimiyo Hoshi version of Doctor Light. Some of you might even recall a major television crossover event called Crisis on Infinite Earths, which encompassed all of The CW’s DCTV programming. That event was based off of the game-changing maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, written by Marv Wolfman and penciled by—that’s right—George Pérez.
Moving over to film, much of Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984 builds off of the foundation from George Pérez’s 1986 reinvention of the character. In fact, director Patty Jenkins has frequently credited Pérez as a major influence for her films. Cyborg’s complicated relationship with his father Silas Stone played a huge role in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and needless to say, George Pérez’s creations are all over the animated film Teen Titans GO! to the Movies.
You can find George Pérez’s concepts and creations all over various DC animated projects. Jade Cheshire, Slade Wilson, Tara Markov and many others play important roles in Young Justice. Cheshire was also seen in the animated film Catwoman: Hunted. The long-running Teen Titans Go! animated series not only uses various heroes and villains Pérez created, it also features the legendary artist voicing himself in two hilarious episodes. The episode “Marv Wolfman and George Pérez” features the iconic creative team brainstorming new ideas for a Teen Titans comic. “Creative Geniuses” has Marv and George meet the Titans and have a little bit of fun teasing them. Both appearances are hilarious, and I recommend you track them down.
In the end, it all comes back to comics, the medium that made George Pérez a legend. While we may never see a new George Pérez-drawn series again, every month DC publishes a comic that the artist indirectly had a hand in. For example, the “Shadow War” crossover event recently wrapped up and Deathstroke was a major player all throughout it. “Dark Crisis” is DC’s latest blockbuster event, and it takes many cues from Crisis on Infinite Earths, including the return of the Pariah—another George Pérez character!
Did you read Justice League #75? The scene where the Justice League dies is a beautiful homage to Barry Allen’s death from Crisis on Infinite Earths #8—yep, drawn by George Pérez! Speaking of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the cover to issue #7, featuring Superman cradling Supergirl’s dead body, is one of the most famous comic covers in the world. There are many homages to it, including Superman: The Man of Steel #10, 2003’s Supergirl #79, and 2006’s Firestorm #21.
Every time someone draws Titans Tower, that’s the legacy of George Pérez living on. Anytime we see Deathstroke, the power of Pérez continues. George Pérez is everywhere, whether we realize it or not. I could spend hours writing about every George Pérez reference found in a single month of DC comic books and I wouldn’t even scratch the surface. The man has changed the DNA of the DC Universe.
Sometimes a gardener plants some seeds and they aren’t always around to see the fruits of their labor. The gardener is gone, but their garden continues to grow. George Pérez was a gardener, DC was his garden, and his creations were the plants. There will be stories told with characters like Starfire and Deathstroke for generations to come, and George Pérez won’t be around to see them. But he planted those seeds, leaving us beauty that will continue to grow for generations to come. George Pérez, thank you for reshaping our universe.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and writes our monthly Batman column, “Gotham Gazette.” Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
We’ll always be happy to write about George Pérez and his work, but we also think his work speaks for itself, as this tribute to his skill at drawing group shots attests.