I would say this book is as good as Mythology, his other art book featuring his paintings.
In this book, we see the groundwork he lays for those paintings. There are sketches storyboards and layouts, character designs, covers and hand scribbled notes. Many of the sketches, like various iterations for covers, are appearing from the first time. And it's not really all black and white, there are a few pieces painted quickly with colour for quick colour tests. I've to add that the scans are really good also, showing off the marvelous shading and grain.
You get to see the final pencil stage, before shadows and paint are added, as he focuses on the contours and surfaces. The usual powerhouse cast of DC characters are all in: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Black Canary, and many more. But it's not all character art. There are also design sketches for the Justice Batmobile, logo designs and concepts he did for a literacy campaign (which shows Batman hanging from a stone gargoyle from some skyscraper while reading a book).
The drawings look really quite different without the colours and I could barely recognise to compared with the original paintings from his previous book. But make no mistake, the same flair and realism is still there on every page. You can still see the intense attention paid to the detail of musculature, composition, lighting, facial expression, drapery and mood.
There's also commentary by Alex Ross himself, in addition to the hand scribbled notes. He talks about his designs, the creative process and on why some ideas just didn't make the cut.
Highly recommended to fans and comic artists.
5 out of 5 pencils.
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