Monday, October 26, 2015

John Buscema´s Top Ten Die Rächer covers

I have often commented on how some posts lead to other posts so it shouldn´t surprise you that the origin of this post is a post from STEVE DOES COMICS about John Buscema´s all - time Top Ten Avengers covers.

Making these posts takes more time than people realize so it is that I get to finally read most of the links I put up in my posts many days later. I posted a link from DAVE DOES COMICS in my last post but it was only Yesterday when I really had a chance to start going through that blog.

And I said " start " because going through all of the posts on that blog would take months - at least. Anyway, due to another case of severe stomach cramps ( I swear, ninety percent of the posts here are due to insomnia, stomach pain or other health problems ) I spent last night going through the posts and listening to Peret videos on YouTube.

Anyway, while I´m a huge John Buscema fan I can´t concur one hundred percent with Dave´s selection. Some of the covers he picked don´t look that noteworthy to me while some of my favorite covers are not in his top ten list. So I decided to come up with my own top ten list. Which was not as easy as it sounds because even if I could narrow it down to a double digit number John Buscema did two runs on the Avengers. So I decided to split it up into two posts : one with the top ten classic Avengers covers and one with the top ten new Avengers covers. I also decided to add another wrinkle to it by posting the covers from Williams Verlag´s DIE RUHMREICHEN RÄCHER which is how I read all of these issues so these are the covers which are more familiar to me. Except the one .... oh, but that would be telling. Another reason why I decided to post the german covers is that my readers have probably seen all the original covers.

By now you are probably asking yourself how I picked out ten covers. Well, the first thing I took into account is the design. Some covers Dave picked look good but when you look strictly at the design of it they are lacking. Others may have a brilliant layout but are just not memorable enough. 

Because to me that also is quintessential in a great cover - especially in a cover that is ranked among the ten best - that it sticks in your mind.

A good test for that - and I may have borrowed this from one of my favorite tv shows THE MENTALIST - is to close your eyes and think about John Buscema´s Avengers run. Which are the first covers that come to mind ? Memorize them and compare them to other top ten lists. Okay, but aside from that mental exercise another factor I took into consideration is how well the cover tells a story - or at least conveys a certain mood.

This thought process might be alien to Today´s comic reading audience but back when I bought my daily dose of Williams comics at the local Mom and Pop store - together with digestible paper and Rubbelbilder - covers were made to sell comics. Not to be part of a certain variant cover of the month theme, not to look good as a poster on the wall or to express the crying inner child of the artist. So most of the covers told you what was going on inside the comic that month something that most of Today´s " hot " cover artists can´t do or at least don´t want to be bothered with.

Okay, in some cases the cover artists are working too far in advance to know what is going on in the comic they are doing the cover for and in other cases the writers are so late that by the time they are finished writing the comic it doesn´t fit what was supposed to happen in the comic. Be that as it may I gave higher marks for covers that tell an actual story and especially when there are word balloons on the cover. If there are word balloons on a cover you know that you are in for a good read.

With that said I think I should say which covers that Dave chose I did not put in my top ten and why. You will see the ones we agree on soon enough.

AVENGERS 45 just does not have a strong design in my opinion. The idea of a villain menacing the tiny heroes is much better done in a cover that is in my countdown and the Super - Adaptoid is not that frightening to begin with. AVENGERS 59 has a much stronger design and is a really iconic cover on the other side. But because it will probably be part of an DEATH IN COMICS post - and I can´t get over the fact that I don´t know what the Avengers are standing on - I did not include it in my top ten. AVENGERS 60 will be in that same post - even if it has a much better design and does tell a story - so it is also excluded. As is AVENGERS 56. It is a somewhat unusual design and it really does not stand out as being memorable. The same goes for AVENGERS 61. The heroes are just too small and it looks like one big mess to me. And last but not least, while AVENGERS 54 is great from a design point my main beef with it is that we only see the backs of the heroes. There is another one with the villains and the heroes in my top ten that works much better in my opinion.

Which brings us to my picks. I tried to do a ranking but it´s impossible for me to choose one cover over the other. That may work in some cases but because it would take me too long to come up with a definite order for these brilliant covers I have to ask you to see the numbers just as that and not as any kind of evaluation. So here are my top ten covers :

This is the only cover where I don´t have a german version. And I´m not entirely sure if there is one. Even without that it´s neat to see the new line up of Avengers going up against the originals. John Buscema was not the first one to do such a " versus " cover but he surely got the most out of these kind of covers. He did something similar on AVENGERS 53

and during his second run on AVENGERS on the cover of issue 271.

There are dozens of similar covers and I think it´s some kind of rule that you can´t have a top ten without including at least one of them. But that´s too long to go into and will be explored at length in one - or more - upcoming DEJA VUE post that are so popular. Here´s our next cover :

As a white man reading comics made by white men I was probably not the target audience for this but Black Panther has always been the Avengers version of Shaft. Although to say the truth back then I had no idea who Shaft was. I still thought the Black Panther was the coolest cat and any issue that focused on his story was tops in my book. Together with the brilliant alliteration of the cover John Buscema captured the essences of the two antagonists seemingly effortlessly : on one side you have the big brute Man - Ape with raised fists, ready to pound poor T´Challa into a big pile of mush. Opposite him stands - or better clings - the Black Panther, poised, waiting but ready to strike with the speed of a wild jungle cat.

Was there ever a cover that screamed " AVENGERS ASSEMBLE ! " more than this one ? My only quip with it is that there are no female members on the cover. I know that the Scarlet Witch was not in the story but where is the wasp ? She could been somewhere - she doesn´t need much space.

Unlike her hubby who looks like he´s gonna burst out of this cover at any moment. And Hank Pym looks absolutely menacing on this cover.

Speaking about people bursting out of covers that´s exactly what the Grim Reaper does on AVENGERS 52. I can´t believe Steve neglected this great cover where he´s breaking the fourth wall by slashing the cover up - although in the german version the logo is just partially damaged. Maybe they thought that otherwise kids would not recognize it and not buy it.

There´s not much chance of that happening with out next cover since it scores on all important points : the Avengers almost defeated, the evil of the Enchantress and Thor has just been felled by the always up to no good loudmouth Arkon. Has he ever appeared in a comic and not behaved like a total dickhead ?  I don´t think that´s in his character. Anyway, this cover tells a story AND  has a word balloon so it MUST be good. Right ?

Ditto for this cover which is the better version of AVENGERS 54 I mentioned earlier. The villains are much more menacing and you can actually see the panic, fear and terror on the face of the captured Avengers. Now this is not the only cover with heroes in an hourglass.

It´s just too brilliant from a design standpoint not to use it again and it goes back all the way to ALL STAR COMICS 35 starring the Justice Society.

Strangely enough it also brings us back to AVENGERS ANNUAL 2 in which the Avengers land smack dab in an alternate timeline and have to go up against themselves. It´s one of the stories I remember fondly , not only because it was a timey wimey parallel earth sort of thing but also because the villain of the story was the Scarlet Centurion, a guy who was totally cool . until he turned out to be just another incarnation of Kang. I swear, if there is a time traveling guy involved in the Marvel universe in fifty percent of the cases it´s Kang. Anyway, in the story ( which was just reprinted in Germany by Hachette ) there was this great splash page.

Some guy at Marvel must have thought that it was too good to waste on the inside of a comic so he decided to put it on the front of the mag MARVEL SUPER ACTION starring THE AVENGERS for the british market.

And - to bring us full circle - the splash page above was also used in this composite cover with ALL STAR COMICS 35 for a crossover between the Avengers and the Justice Society of America that never happened.

But back to the top ten John Buscema AVENGERS covers. We have seven covers down which means there are only three left to go and now you are probably asking yourself which ones are left. Our first one introduced one of the Avengers who for me has always been a mainstay of the title.

It´s a great design and the Vision looks really powerful and superior. John Buscema just killed it with people standing ( which we will explore in detail in the second part of this ). Now one of the reasons why I decided to post the german covers is that this cover where the Vision is colored correctly. It´s not often that german colorists get it right and in this case the person responsible must have decided that the americans made a mistake when they colored the cover. I mean, the vision is all red but in the comic he is red and yellow. That can´t be right. Let´s fix that cover.

With only two spots left I HAVE to include AVENGERS 83 with the famous - or infamous depending on your personal taste - story COME ON IN THE REVOLUTION`S FINE starring the Valkyrie and her Lady Liberators. Okay, it turned out to be the Enchantress and not the real Valkyrie but any comic where you got John Buscema to draw the asgardian bombshell with the mother of all metal bikinis is a good comic. While the story was rather hamfisted in it´s attempt to include women´s lib in the Marvel universe ( anybody who read Marvel comics during the Bronze Age knows that this was the big exception to all other comics ) it was still years ahead of its times. Because it was only a few years ago when someone at Marvel remembered this story and introduced an all female Avengers team.

And the other one is my personal number 1, AVENGERS 81 which was the first comic with the Vision I read. Or rather looked at because it was the american original and I could not read it. I got it from an uncle who was a G.I. - together with a ton of CONAN issues by John Buscema which ruined me for life - and since the german issues were years behind the US issues I was completely blown away. Not only by this new super hero ( imagine my surprise when he appeared as a villain in his first issue ) who had these amazingly innovative powers but also by the art of John Buscema. Of course I read the german version from Williams as it came out and I also bought the volume of ESSENTIAL AVENGERS with the issue. When I re - read the issue I could still recall most of the pages even if it was in black and white. It´s a seminal issue for me and one of the MARVEL MASTERWORK volumes I still haven´t found at german comic shops.

Well, this was my Top Ten of classic John Buscema DIE RÄCHER covers and next up will be the Top Ten from his second run on the AVENGERS book.

Maybe after that I will do a black and white version which will not be a top ten - since I don´t have all the covers I would like in black and white - but there will also be one post for the classic stuff and one post for the newer stuff. I hope you like my list and if you agree or disagree drop me a line.

Now that I finally managed to do an Avengers post I can use some of the many Avengers videos that have accumulated over the years and the first ones are from comicbookgirl19. It´s probably safe to post her AGE OF ULTRON reviews but just to be on the safe side she made one spoiler free

and one full review which is full of spoilers. And because there might still be some people who haven´t seen the movie I´m posting both. But it still counts as one video. Anyway, in my opinion AGE OF ULTRON does not work as a comic adaption but is a very good movie especially for people who have seen the first one don´t know much about the Avengers comics.

And speaking about limited comic knowledge, time to get schooled about the REAL origin of the Vision. Which involves Hank Pym not Tony Stark.

Halloween is coming up and I have been posting videos that tie in with that in my last posts. One thing you must have at every good Halloween shinding is goth girls and who´s the quintessential goth girl if not EMILY THE STRANGE ? I have to admit that so far I have not gotten around to buy one of her books - I almost got the MYSTERY OF THE MISSING DAYS DIARY but when I came back to the bookstore to buy it it was gone - but I like this track CALLING ALL GUITARS. Is there a cartoon in the works ?

I mentioned Peret - the spanish Elvis of the Rumba - in this post and although the title EL MUERTO VIVO ( The Living Dead ) might suggest it it´s not a song about a zombie. Much rather it was based on a friend of Peret, Francisco Herrera, who was so surprised by actually getting paid by Peret that he took his salary and went on a drinking binge tour only to find out that he was declared dead when he returned home days later.

From time to time I find totally unexpected gold nuggets on YouTube. This is a live action Dick Tracy movie from 1946 called DICK TRACY vs CUEBALL. I had no idea that it existed and if you watch it on YouTube you will see that there are many more Dick Tracy black and white movies.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest / best of the best

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