We have to admit, we never thought we'd see legendary comic artist Jim Lee doing his thing on the back of a Kia. But that was before we hit up Comic Con 2013, where Kia and its partners at DC Entertainment joined forces and made our expectations go POW!

As part of a select group of journalists at this year's Con, we got up close and personal with no fewer than seven Kia models decked out in individual DC Comics themes, including the Green Lantern Soul and the Superman Optima. But the main event was when the great Mr. Lee himself unveiled the eighth and final model: the Justice League Sorento crossover SUV. In an unforgettable scene for any comic-book fan, Lee whipped out his artist tools right there on the stage and put the finishing touches on the Sorento's tailgate.

We then learned that the Justice League Sorento would be auctioned off for charity on eBay, along with numerous pieces of related artwork and paraphernalia, with the proceeds going to DC's "We Can Be Heroes" African giving campaign. Ten days later, the one-of-a-kind Sorento sold for $37,100, adding to the $2.3 million already invested by DC in helping more than five million residents of the Horn of Africa. Thousands more dollars flowed in via the other auction items, which were highlighted by "Batman: Justice," an original Jim Lee canvas painting featuring an Africa-inspired yellow, green, red and black color palette.

The Sorento made for a fitting Comic Con finale to the DC/Kia vehicle campaign, as its Justice League theme encompasses all seven of the League's superheroes. In addition to the Green Lantern and Superman, the Sorento hosts DC legends Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. While Lee's live work on the tailgate added a priceless personal touch, the rest of the Justice League Sorento's graphics were applied by hand by the wizards at West Coast Customs, who used a custom air-brushing technique. The interior is likewise festooned with colorful, impeccably rendered Justice League scenes.

For Kia, the joint venture with DC was the latest step in the company's efforts to combine pop-culture savviness with charitable giving. Through its deals with hip, charity-minded partners such as DC and the National Basketball Association, the up-and-coming Korean automaker has made an impression on legions of young fans as both a cool car company and a force for the greater good. Given Kia's relentless progress these days in both vehicle quality and sales performance, this trend should only continue in the months and years ahead. And if Kia wants to keep bringing Jim Lee along for live artistic performances, our inner children certainly won't complain.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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