John Buscema

Howard the Duck 16 (September 1977)

Howard the Duck #16I don’t want to call this comic book strange. Instead of a regular, strange issue of Howard the Duck, it turns out Gerber was just too busy to break out an actual plot for Gene Colan so instead he did an issue in prose.

Howard the Duck #16. It’s Gerber making fun of himself well, which makes one think about how the comic is the same thing. It’s Gerber making fun of a comic book called Howard the Duck well. And how does one accomplish that task well? By being sincere. By going through the artifice of the series to the point of sincerity.

“Howard” even co-narrates, Gerber telling the reader’s Howard’s a voice in his head. True or not, it’s a direct communication between Gerber and the reader without illusion. Gerber still spins a good yarn to go with it. Because it’s how Howard works. Through narrative disruption.

CREDITS

Zen and the Art of Comic Book Writing: A Communique from Colorado; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; pencillers, Gene Colan, Alan Weiss, Ed Hannigan, Marie Severin, Dave Cockrum, Tom Palmer, Al Milgrom, John Buscema, Dick Giordano and Michael Netzer; inkers, Klaus Janson, Weiss, Hannigan, Severin, Cockrum, Palmer, Milgrom, Buscema, Giordano and Terry Austin; colorists, Janson and Doc Martin; letterers, Austin and Irving Watanabe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 3 (May 1976)

Howard the Duck #3What’s so great about Howard the Duck–or one of the great things, as I’m now discovering there are a lot of them in the comic–is how Gerber is able to use the absurdity of the concept to examine comic book reality. Howard and Beverly exist in a world with the fantastical nature of the Marvel Universe, but without any of the magic.

This issue has some of the magic spilling over in a kung fu master. It’s an entirely absurd, hilarious, beautifully drawn sequence but Gerber’s able to do it sincerely too. Howard, a blowhard closet intellectual, is a real character. He just looks like a duck and talks to Sam Spade. And Beverly’s already showing more depth than expected.

John Buscema does the art this issue. It works out well, though he doesn’t have the detail (or the Donald references) Brunner brings to Howard.

Another great comic.

CREDITS

Four Feathers of Death!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, John Buscema; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Annette Kawecki; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Marvel Super Special 18 (September 1981)

25135Adapting Raiders of the Lost Ark into a comic book ought to be a no-brainer, especially with a strong creative team. And Walt Simonson’s script does have occasional highlights–he tries hard to make the stunts seem reasonable, using a lot of interior monologue for the cast–but not as many as it should. More than anything else, actually, the comic shows how movie and comic action differs and why adapting one to the other isn’t simple.

Simonson includes includes a lot of action bad for comics (car chases?) but he also ignores characterizations. Indy’s a vaguely generic lead, Marion gets the same treatment… no one else makes any impression. A comic adaptation is a piece of marketing, sure, but it doesn’t have to be a bad piece of marketing.

John Buscema and Klaus Janson do okay on the art. Nothing special.

It’s disposable and pointless, but not terrible.

CREDITS

Raiders of the Lost Ark; writer, Walt Simonson; penciller, John Buscema; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Rick Parker; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Avengers 266 (April 1986)

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So, in this Secret Wars II epilogue, the Molecule Man finally gets a happy ending. And since Shooter isn’t writing it, Volcana’s just a dim bulb, instead of being the target of endless misogyny. There’s also an (early?) example of She-Hulk tramping around, picking up Hercules in the conclusion of the issue.

But the Silver Surfer frames the whole thing and I wondering if Stern realized how perfect it was to use him, an alien observing the possible end of the planet. Regardless, it’s a nice move. This issue might be better than every other Secret Wars II crossover issue–or close, anyway.

I’m a little perplexed how the Wasp managed to be a popular character for so long, since she’s such a vapid twit. And can anyone tell me if the Black Knight and Captain Marvel get together? They should, but I don’t care enough to read more.

CREDITS

“… And The War’s Desolation!”; writers, Roger Stern and Jim Shooter; penciller, John Buscema; inker, Tom Palmer; colorist, Christie Scheele; letterer, Jim Novak; editors, Howard Mackie and Mark Gruenwald; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Avengers 265 (March 1986)

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Wait, hillbillies don’t know who the Avengers are? The things I learn reading Secret Wars II crossovers….

This issue features–finally–the scene where the Beyonder reveals his body is just a modified copy of Steve Rogers’s body. Well worth reading thirty issues for that non-moment in comic history.

Otherwise, Stern seems to be doing his best not to emphasize the silliness of the crossover, which isn’t the same thing as the comic book good. Instead, there’s bickering between Hercules and Namor. It goes on for pages, actually, maybe the entire first half of the comic book.

Then the Avengers attack the Beyonder and they get beat up and he has a bunch of idiotic dialogue (did it hurt the more capable Marvel writers to write such drivel?), then the issue ends.

I like the Black Knight and Captain Marvel. They aren’t annoying like the rest of the cast.

CREDITS

Eve of Destruction; writer, Roger Stern; penciller, John Buscema; inker, Tom Palmer; colorist, Christie Scheele; letterer, Jim Novak; editors, Howard Mackie and Mark Gruenwald; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Avengers 261 (November 1985)

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This Secret Wars II tie-in is a regurgitation of all the other Secret Wars II tie-ins–well, maybe not all of them, but a lot of them. It’s the Beyonder trying to understand the human experience, this time playing with the Avengers.

It’s as lame as his costume on that front. And his costume is really lame. About half the issue is dedicated to the tie-in, with the other half concentrating on the Avengers themselves (was Captain Marvel the ostensible lead of the book at this time? She’s the only one who gets to go home and be off duty for a couple page).

There’s a page or two of politics, the Avengers losing their FAA privileges for the quinjets, which provides a nice monotony after the issue opens in deep space with the Skrulls.

Cap still does sound like Chicken Little warning everyone about the Beyonder.

CREDITS

Earth and Beyond!; writer, Roger Stern; penciller, John Buscema; inker, Tom Palmer; colorist, Christie Scheele; letterer, Jim Novak; editors, Howard Mackie and Mark Gruenwald; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Avengers 260 (October 1985)


I know people love The Avengers, but I never really got into them. I think I read West Coast as a kid, but I don’t know. Probably. I probably did.

Anyway, this issue reminds me more of Star Wars (one of the second two prequels mostly) than it seems like what an Avengers comic should be. It’s all very interstellar and, well, boring. The Wasp comes off badly, which I found interesting. I always thought she was supposed to be cool, but here there’s definitely something nasty about her.

But none of the Avengers are really the main characters in the issue. Firelord isn’t an Avenger and he opens the issue. Starfox is an Avenger? He has the next most to do, but only because he can tie in with the Skrulls and the space battle bad guy.

I am completely indifferent to it.

Funny outfit on the Beyonder though.

CREDITS

Assault On Sanctuary II; writer, Roger Stern; penciller, John Buscema; inker, Tom Palmer; colorist, Christie Scheele; letterer, Jim Novak; editors, Howard Mackie and Mark Gruenwald; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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