Marc Silvestri was among the half-dozen or so artists who broke away from the mainstream to form Image Comics in 1992. In many ways, this move was one of the many factors that led to the comic book industry "Jumping the shark" in the mid-90s. Hot artists became the rage and soon the stories became secondary. Fans clamored for heroes with bigger muscles and women with disproportionately large boobs, and Image was a hit. The biggest loss, however, wasn't Todd McFarlane, the coattail-riding Erik Larsen, or the insipid Rob Liefeld, it was instead two other artists who were not quite as well-known at the time, Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri.
Early on in their Image runs Lee and Silvestri developed super team titles (WildC.A.T.S & Cyberforce) that while not particularly outstanding, showcased artistic talent that was beyond the rest of their partners. Under the Top Cow Imprint, Silvestri co-created one of the most popular and long-running characters outside of Marvel and DC, Witchblade in 1995. A year later, he created another stalwart Top Cow character, The Darkness.
Top Cow has released the Art of Marc Silvestri, a 96 page, over-sized hardcover showcasing his art throughout different periods of twenty year career in comics. The first chapter is simply titled "The Icons" and focuses on his Top Cow characters. Most of the pieces in the book provide side-by-side comparisons between the penciled and finished versions of the illustration. The design of the Witchblade "costume" remains one of the more ingenious in history.
Next up is the "Classic Covers" chapter and includes several of Marc's most famous cover art illustrations including the Wolverine crucifixion from X-Men #251 and the cross-overs between Batman and the Darkness and the JLA/Cyberfoce team-up.
The book rounds out with selected works from Dynamite Entertainment, Image Comics, and recent Top Cow work. These include illustrations of Red Sonja, Aphrodite IX, Hunter-Killer, and Wanted. One of the more intriguing illustrations is actually the last one in the book. A commissioned pencil drawing not of a superhero or one of Silvestri's well-known characters, but rather a portrait of a middle-ages or Renaissance-era woman.
It's a welcome change to see Marc doing a classical piece of illustration and it's extraordinary. It's the kind of work that could be considered on the same par with illustrators such as Roy Krenkel, J. Allen St. John, or Burne Hogarth. I think fans would love to see more of this kind of work from Silvestri as it displays his pure talent and shows that he is much more than just a comic book artist.
The $29.95 price tag seems a bit steep considering the book is just 96 pages and, as mentioned, you are getting quite a few comparison pages between the penciled and finished product so the number of different pieces if fewer than the page count. That said, it's great to see Silvestri get a dedicated collection of his work.