Sunday, December 11, 2016

John Buscema´s Top Four Avengers covers

I know it´s an odd number but since we only managed to cover one of the remaining five covers I picked from John Buscema´s glorious second run on the AVENGERS in this series´ last post I´m trying to keep it real here.

Now as usual it has been a while since my last post and while I already announced that there would be no new posts before Monday even I could not foresee how long it would take to clean up the laptop of all the stuff that has accumulated while making the last month´s worth of posts.

Way back when I had my old computer I put all the material I used for the posts in one folder but that was mostly pictures and they were relatively small. But not only has the number of posts increased in a big way during the last years, the pictures have also become way bigger not to mention all the animated GIFs. I used to go through those files but since I got my laptop I hadn´t done that and when I was putting things in order I realized there really is no need to have all of that stuff on my laptop. As long as I have a back up of it. Now after getting rid of all those files I may not be able to find them again but at least I can work again and my laptop does not explode. The downside to that is that there may be some art in the new posts I already used - since I don´t always have the time to go back and check old posts - but that´s a small price to pay. And for the most part I have all the art needed for the posts already assembled in advance.

There are of course those unannounced posts which I have to do from time to time like the one I tried to get on the blog since Monday. Which was supposed to be a post celebrating Erik Larsen´s 54th birthday this Thursday - or rather Thorsday. Longtime readers know that I´m not only a big fan of his SAVAGE DRAGON book but that it is also one of the four books that will always be on my pull list no matter what else happens.

And speaking of my pull list, to celebrate in style I wanted to read all the new SAVAGE DRAGON issues in one sitting which of course meant making the long and exhausting trek to the Sammlerecke in Esslingen to get them.

Which was an adventure in itself but I won´t get into that because that´s the topic for said post. Suffice it to say that what I planned for Monday dragged out until Thursday and since it took me all day the post - that had gone from being another post about SAVAGE DRAGON to being one about Thor and then back again ( which I will explain at length when I finally get to write that post ) - wasn´t written. On Friday I had to do the paperwork for the job agency but because I was still so tired from the long travels I did the day before I couldn´t make it and I tried to get it done ever since. There were a few problems - in fact more than a few problems including the internet not working - along the road and I have finally managed to do it all so I can hand in the papers on Monday. Which means not going to sleep tonight so I can do that first in the morning but once that´s done there are only a dozen things I have to do before the 15th this month.

But that´s enough information for the moment as to why there have been no new posts lately. The genesis of this one is simply that while I was pondering the question if I should write the Erik Larsen THORSDAY birthday post retroactively or if should just turn it into a SAVAGE DRAGON SUNDAY WITH ERIK LARSEN post I checked my usual internet sources and found out that Today is John Buscema´s birthday. I thought I had just done a John Buscema post about CONAN but that was a post for Ernie Chan´s birthday and since I don´t like to repeat myself I decided to continue with this series that has languished for more than one year. 

And since our last post was all about everyone´s favorite mystic Avenger - Doctor Druid - let us continue with the cover to AVENGERS 294 which is the start of his final fall from grace that disassembled the Avengers team.

It may sound strange to Today´s crowd of hip, social media users but back when the story came out it was not used to restart the entire AVENGERS franchise, there also was not a heavy death toll among the Avengers roster a la Brian Michael Bendis, in fact the only ones who knew that the current Avengers team came to an end ( which I don´t consider to be a spoiler since the story is 28 years old ) were the people actually reading the AVENGERS issues as they came out. There was a house ad in the comics but apart from that there was no big media circus hammering it down readers throats how important and world changing it was like nowadays.

The older readers may remember those halycon days when not everything the Avengers did on a regular basis was used to build up a big media hype with a disappointing pay off. As I already explained in previous posts, the Avengers used to be NOW and ALL NEW every dozen or so issues because the only constant on that team was change. And when I´m talking about change I mean real change. Not the kind of change we get from those moneygrubbing illiterates at Disney which is change for change´s sake or to pander to whatever " minority group " they feel the need to cater to ( and I put minority group in exclamation marks because when you have enough political pull to influence the media, let´s face it, you are not a minority any more ) but story driven change. A change to drive the story, evolve the characters in a logical direction according to their history and not to appease a mandate to suddenly throw more than two decades of continuity overboard and make characters suddenly realize they were gay.

But I don´t want to open that particular can of worms - again - especially since I already covered this topic extensively so let´s get back to John Buscema´s brilliant cover for AVENGERS 294. It´s another one with people standing around and once again he managed to tell the entire story. We have Doctor Druid striking a grandiose pose in the foreground who in the story manages to weasel his way into Avengers leadership. He´s the big guy, the macho man, the leader of the pack. The rest of the Avengers are in the background not knowing what to do even a big shot like Thor.  

On Doctor Druid´s left side we have Kang Nebula, seemingly submissive but if you take a closer look you will see that she is in the foreground pushing Doctor Druid back. She only acts like the helpless female waiting for her knight in shining armor to come to her rescue all the while waiting for the best moment to dump him without even a moment´s hesitation.

Which actually happened in the story. Now as I have mentioned a few times the story in AVENGERS 294 to 298 are the final days of this team of Avengers ( which for me was THE definite Avengers team ) and as great as the story is Uncle Walt was one heck of a sneaky devil because it was only the prologue to a story he would do during his run on FANTASTIC FOUR - which has been collected in the Epic Collection INTO THE TIME STREAM.  

Now since the last post of this series I have added quite a few trades to my collection because one of the things you realize writing these posts is that you are putting too much stuff on the back burner and you are not getting any younger. I finally got THE LEGACY OF THANOS since I don´t have most of the issues from the start of Roger Stern´s run on the book.

Again - I have mentioned this a few times - I started reading the original american issues of the AVENGERS during my military service in Munich and apart from issue 227 ( which I got at the newsstand at the old Rathaus bus station in Ludwigsburg ) my first issue was 260 which had a cover by none other than John Byrne and it also was a crossover with SECRET WARS II.

Which may be one of the reasons why I´m so fond of that 80s crossover event. In any case, I had bought both, the UNDER SIEGE and ASSAULT ON OLYMPUS hardcovers but apart from that I hadn´t put much effort into closing the gaps in that part of my AVENGERS collection. At least where back issues were concerned. Because the printing process back in those days was not very good and I do prefer the trades where they cleaned up the old pages and the color is fresh and new. I had AVENGERS 267 to 269 as part of the KANG - TIME AND TIME AGAIN trade paperback which are also in the new THE ONCE AND FUTURE KANG trade. Initially I thought about selling KANG - TIME AND TIME AGAIN but it also includes AVENGERS 69 to 71 and the paper quality is much higher than in all the following trades.

It´s not as good in HEAVY METAL - which beside that story includes the storyline about Marinna right before issue 294 - and it´s not as good in THE LEGACY OF THANOS. Now besides these two I couldn´t help myself and bought the Epic Collection of UNDER SIEGE although I already had the trade AND the hardcover. So I have some of the stories in this in a few other collections - like the Kang story from issues 267 to 269 - but it´s just such a great package and one of the best Epic Collections out there. It´s a big chunk of Roger Stern / John Buscema / Tom Palmer goodness and you can enjoy it from the first page to the last. Marvel really made the right decision when they chose to open this with issue 264 - which is the first appearance of the female and villainous Yellowjacket - and close it with issue 277, the big wrap up to one of THE best AVENGERS stories EVER.

I´m not so sure about including the annuals but since I don´t have them in my collection it´s not that big of a deal. Now there is the Epic Collection AVENGERS - JUDGEMENT DAY but that´s basically just the ASSAULT ON OLYMPUS story with annuals, mini series and graphic novels for padding and 20 bucks ( amazon price ) is too much for that. So all in all I think I have most of the AVENGERS issues from that run covered since a lot of them appear in other collections like the FANTASTIC FOUR VISIONARIES - JOHN BYRNE trades which includes AVENGERS 263 or the SECRET WARS II and INFERNO CROSSOVER omnibus ( I already wrote about issue 298 in this post and made two attempts before I finally covered issue 300 whose cover is also included in the final three candidates from this countdown ).

When I got my first omnibus I was not sold on the bright colors but I have come to appreciate them more. And definitely the bigger format and the bigger letters especially now that my eyesight seems to be deteriorating. Also it doesn´t hurt to see art by the likes of John Buscema, John Romita Jr or John Byrne in the big format. For those of us that can´t afford the Artists Editions ( here in Germany they sell for 150 EUROS and up ) it´s the only way to see those artists in a bigger format. Which is yet another reason why the SECRET WARS II omnibus is one of the gems of my comic book collection and why I was willing to pay the full price for it. It´s the only omnibus for which I paid the full price. Admittedly, the main story is not that memorable and the art on that is capable - at best. But the tie in stories took the premise of the story and spun it to comic book gold. And it´s such a big slice of the best of the best of the 80s with John Buscema on AVENGERS, John Byrne on FANTASTIC FOUR and also on ALPHA FLIGHT, John Romita Jr on UNCANNY X - MEN, Bill Sienkiewiez on NEW MUTANTS, Ron Frenz on AMAZING SPIDER - MAN or Uncle Walt Simonson on THOR.

Which brings us finally back to what I like to call the Epic Collection of my discontent : FANTASTIC FOUR - INTO THE TIME STREAM. Because I really think this story and the one in AVENGERS 294 to 297 belong in the same trade. Now I can see that they try to keep the different comic book series in their respective collections but would it really have been that difficult to include four issues of AVENGERS when they have space to include the annuals which have nothing to do with the main story ? And it is not as if those issues have been reprinted elsewhere. I would understand if they were saving them for an upcoming Epic Collection but so far there has been no announcement and I fear that the issues will just be used with the INFERNO crossover issues to sell the not so stellar issues up to 304 as they put issues 305 to 318 in the AVENGERS BY JOHN BYRNE omnibus.

That is one terrific Christmas gift by the way and my clue to wrap things up for Today. We didn´t get to delve too far into the story of AVENGERS 294 as we got a bit sidetracked - as usual - so maybe we can elaborate a bit more on that when we continue with John Buscema´s Top Three Avengers covers OR in an upcoming THORSDAY post as this story also had ramifications on that series in regards to the fate of The Black Knight. 

As always a big thank you goes to the trustworthy SUPER MEGA MONKEY`S MARVEL CHRONOLOGY for providing much needed info about AVENGERS issues 291 to 294 , issues 295 to 297 and FANTASTIC FOUR issues 337 to 341 . Furthermore COMIC BOOK RESOURCES has an interview with Roger Stern by Rik Offenberger and The Greatest Roger Stern Stories Ever Told ! by Brian Cronin although that is an all Marvel list and Roger Stern did write some really great stories at DC. Today we have only a few birthday in our entertainment block starting with Peter Bagge who turns 59. He´s best known for his comics about the Bradleys and Hate and I liked the first one better. It was a revelation that all f - worded up families are the same.

I haven´t read his latest series but I´m planning to catch if I can find the trades at a good price. I don´t know if I told the story but Peter Bagge is part of the reason why I decided to spring the money for a new and bigger sketchbook for conventions. It was during one of my visits to the Comic Salon de Barcelona that I got a really ugly and small sketch from him after standing in line a few hours ( thankfully I had just bought Apocalypse Nerd which was new back then so I had something to read ). I think most of the sketches I got during that convention were pretty disappointing as the bigger part of the artists weren´t even trying to do a nice sketch in my small sketchbook. If only I had bought the bigger sketchbook before I got a sketch from Carlos Pacheco. It´s still one of my most cherished sketches but I´m still not giving up on getting a really great one from him when I see all the others post online. And a sketch of Power girl or She - Hulk in a bikini - or topless - who knows ? Like Snoop said you have to dream big.

The first in our Dearly Departed birthdays is Heinz Schenk, who was a constant of my youth with Zum Blauen Bock. My father once bought a bottle of Äpplwoi like they call apple wine down there and it was one of the most disgusting drinks I ever had. After that my respect for Heinz Schenk grew because he drank a lot of this stuff without batting an eye.

Our last birthday shoutout goes to the late Carlos Meglia who really would deserve a post of his own. He is best known for Cybersix written by the also late Carlos Trillo - at least in Europe and his home Argentina. It is one of the most important comics in the history of Argentina and Carlo Trillo is without any doubt one of the most important comic writers of Argentina.

During the early iMAGE years Carlos Meglia did a few fill - in issues of WildC.A.T.S. and a few of the readers called him a clone of Humberto Ramos while in truth it was the other way around. That was one of the more entertaining parts of the iMAGE comics : the letters pages where you could read such hilarious comments like " What is a Frazetta ? "

I read the spanish version of the comic but I don´t think there has been an english edition yet. So if you want to read more about the adventures of a leather clad buxom transvestite clone vampire super heroine COMIC VINE is the place to get more information and THE SUPER SATURDAY SHORT - LIVED SHOWCASE has an overview of the series in two parts as well as posts about every episode of the short lived cartoon. For my spanish speaking readers here is a video from Continuara about Cybersix which I may have posted previously. If so I could not find the corresponding post and it may have been deleted from YouTube in the meantime anyway.

Speaking of the cartoon I chose the english version of the first episodes but you can also easily find all the Cybersix episodes with the latin audio.

Since I didn´t get to write a lot about Avengers 294 in this post here is a video of the issue for those who have not read it and you can find more from Roger Stern, John Buscema and Tom Palmer´s Avengers on YouTube.

As there is no celebrity birthday that requires a music video I get to choose one from my video vault so I picked one to remind my readers of the warmer days of summer. And who better than latin sex symbol Thalia ?

So far I have not done a special post about Thalia but while looking for something else entirely I found a few new HQ videos of her. Of course I wanted to make a few animated GIFs but because it would have taken too long if I had made them all myself ( and then the last two posts would still be unfinished ) I made them directly from the video which is faster but the downside was that I could only do short ones. So I have more than a dozen of them which nixxes my plan to add them to a post and I have to put them in a separate post. Speaking about Thalia videos in good quality, the one I picked for Today is an older one called Sweat and while Thalia does look better now I definitely would have schtubbed her back then.

Apropos hot sexbombs I would hit, I have gotten a few complaints in the comment section because of the lack of Yaya Han GIFs in my latest posts which I wanted to address right away. There have also been a few very vocal requests for new Yaya Han GIFs and I can assure my readers there are plenty I haven´t posted yet. At the moment there is no new material as there still is no news about a second season of Heroes of Cosplay.

In any case, I wanted to post this new video of Yaya Han´s Scarlet Witch cosplay in the hopes that somebody out there can make a high quality GIF from it or any of the other videos I posted during the last few weeks ( there is one where the camera really zooms in on Yaya´s big 40D oppais ).

Daimn, I definitely can´t mention all the things I´d like to do to her here.

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

The most versatile substance on the planet and they used it to build a frisbee.


Anonymous said...

I love your site. I really enjoy your posts , so this a thank you.
Only change I'd like is to drop the 'babe of the day' kind of post. I'd suggest a seperate site for that content and would prefer this one to be pure comics and comic related.

SUBZERO said...

Well, I DID have a different site for that but for some reason I can only get access to one of the blogs as Google instantly blocks me from accessing the other. So I have decided to continue this blog as I have really put a lot of work into it.

I´m trying to keep the babe of the day to a minimum but when I don´t get to write many comic related posts they stick out more as a lot of them are reposts and quicker done. And sometimes I don´t really feel like talking about comics. That can be depressing too.

Speaking of which, on Monday the Alyssa Milano re - post will go online as I have already written that one in advance. So that can´t be stopped.

Anonymous said...

I only found your blog about 6 months ago and I think it's one of the best around, as nearly all the comics you're into interest me as well. It seems a real labour of love and I check in every few days. One thing I have picked up is you seem to be unwell sometimes, so sorry to hear that and hope you keep well. I'm sure there are lots of readers like me who really enjoy your blog,but rarely comment.