Every day in April we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!
Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).
Today’s list is the Greatest John Buscema Stories Ever Told!
10. “24 Hours” Wolverine #10
In this memorably disturbing tale by Chris Claremont, Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz, Wolverine celebrates his birthday and recalls a birthday years ago where he first fought Sabretooth after Sabretooth killed Logan’s girlfriend, Silver Fox. In the past, Sabretooth is kicking his ass but Logan ends the fight in dramatic fashion. In the present day, Wolverine (in his “Patch” identity) fights off a bunch of bad guys but after they almost kill him (they set him on fire and he has to throw himself into the water to survive), he discovers their dead bodies with a note. As it turns out, Sabretooth killed them, stating in his note that only HE is allowed to kill Wolverine.
9. “Battle of the Behemoths” Fantastic Four #111-112
Ben Grimm had recently gained the ability to turn back and forth between his human self and his Thing self but as it turns out, this had caused a mental imbalance in Ben that turned him eeeeeeeevil. He goes nuts and Reed calls in the Hulk to take care of Ben. This leads to an issue long battle between the two that ends only when Alicia Masters (Ben’s girlfriend) is accidentally struck by debris from the battle. This distracts Ben long enough for Hulk to knock him out, allowing Reed to cure him of his ailment (not before Ben seemingly dies from the blow, of course). Stan Lee wrote it and Buscema and Joe Sinnott drew it.
8. “The Jewels of Opar” Tarzan #1-6, 8, 10-11
It is hard to fully grasp how much of a major influence Hal Foster was on pretty much every comic book artist of the Golden Age. Foster was basically what Jack Kirby is to modern comic book artists, perhaps even more so. One way to realize the influence is to see the great enthusiasm artists of that generation had for drawing Tarzan. Joe Kubert jumped at the opportunity when DC got the rights to the character and Buscema similarly did so when Marvel got the rights to the character in 1977. Roy Thomas and Buscema used the first eleven issues of the series (less #7 and #9, oddly enough) to adapt the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan novel Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, which has Tarzan trying to discover the lost treasure of Atlantis but suffering amnesia along the way, which keeps him from coming to his wife Jane’s aid when she is kidnapped by some bad guys who are ALSO looking for the treasure. Tony DeZuniga inked the first six issues and a variety of inkers inked the last three parts of the story.
7. “The Power and the Prize” Silver Surfer #3
This issue introduced the demonic Mephisto as we get a chance to see the soul of the Surfer tested. It is a poignant story of pain and resolve. Stan Lee wrote it and Buscema and Joe Sinnott drew it.
6. “Black Colossus” Savage Sword of Conan #2
Roy Thomas, Buscema and Alfredo Alcala adapt this Robert E. Howard Conan tale where Conan lucks into defending a kingdom against an attack by a powerful wizard awoken after three thousand years of sleep. This one was so well-regarded that Marvel later reprinted it in a Treasury Edition in full color.
The top five is on the next page!
5. “The Origin of the Silver Surfer” Silver Surfer #1
Stan Lee, John Buscema and Joe Sinnott combined for the heartwrenching origin of the Silver Surfer, in this tale of tragedy and sheer, unbridled heroism. Buscema’s depiction of the Surfer’s home planet was outstanding.
4. “Under Siege” Avengers #273-277
This Avengers storyline was a brilliant example of sub-plots simmering to the point of boling over in an explosive succession of issues. For a number of issues, Baron Zemo was secretly putting together a team of super-villains specifically designed to defeat the Avengers. Studying and planning, Zemo eventually put together such a large and powerful team of villains that his Masters of Evil were able to basically just bumrush the Avengers Mansion and take it over. For days, they tortured their captive Avengers, beating Hercules within an inch of his life and making Captain America and Black Knight watch as the brutalized Jarvis, the Avengers’ faithful butler. This being the Avengers, though, they were able to make a comeback, with the only Avenger to evade capture, team leader Wasp, putting together a makeshift team of heroes to save the captive Avengers (who were doing their best to free themselves). Written by Roger Stern, it was drawn by Buscema and Tom Palmer.
3. “Queen of the Black Coast” Conan the Barbarian #58-63, 65-68, 70-77, 84-86, 88-91, 93-100
The story of the pirate queen Bêlit is one of Robert E. Howard’s most acclaimed Conan tales, and Roy Thomas and John Buscema adapted the story “Queen of the Black Coast” and expanded it like crazy, making Bêlit’s adventures with Conan last until #100. Buscema was inked by a few people along the way, but most notably Ernie Chan.
2. “Behold, the Vision!”/”Even an Android Can Cry” Avengers #57-58
These two issues are a master class on comic book storytelling, as first we meet the mysterious Vision, then see him fight the Avengers, then see him betray his master, Ultron, and save the Avengers. This then leads to the classic story “Even an Android Can Cry” where the Avengers consider the artificial being for membership in the team. His reaction to the news confirms the title of the story. Roy Thomas did the story and Buscema and George Klein did the art (plus a little work from Marie Severin). This is the story that has the classic “Ozymandias” ending with Ultron’s head that blew the minds of many a young comic book reader at the time.
1. “The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny” Silver Surfer #4
Loki manipulates the Silver Surfer into battle with Thor in one of the most monumental superhero fights of all-time. The issue was brought to us by Stan Lee, Buscema and his younger brother, Sal. Buscema was extremely proud of this issue at the time. It is nice to know that people remember it as fondly as Buscema himself did.
That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let us know!