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Greatest John Buscema Stories Ever Told!

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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!

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joe the poor speller

April 23, 2013 at 3:17 am

I expected to see ‘the tower of the elephant’ here. my favorite conan story.

It is a very well-regarded story, but I think people think of it mostly for the more famous Barry Windsor-Smith adaptation from Conan the Barbarian #4.

Five out of ten. I’m shocked at the number one. I thought Under Siege would get it. I’m also surprised the Silver Surfer graphic novel of his didn’t make it.

Funny, Buscema’s work is so consistently good I honestly don’t think anything stands out. 2,3 and 4 are exceptional, but as with Infantino, more for the stories that because it was head and shoulders above everything else (I mean this much more as a compliment than a criticism).
The little of his romance art I’ve seen indicates that’s first rate too.

For those that have never read it, may I recommend Astonishing Tales #12 “Terror Stalks the Everglades!” It features Ka-Zar, Barbara Morse, A.I.M., and the 2nd appearance of the Man-Thing. Consider the fact that this issue also has pages drawn by Neal Adams, this issue is a pure classic.

1- Silver Surfer #3 “The Power and the Price”

2- Silver Surfer #1 “The Origin of the Silver Surfer!”

3- Avengers #s73-74 “The Sting of the Serpent” and “Pursue the Panther!”

4- Silver Surfer #4 “The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny!”

5- Avengers #57-58 “Behold…The Vision!” and “Even an Android Can Cry!”

6- Avengers #s255-261 (Terminus/Nebula/Beyonder saga)

7- Avengers #s 270-271, 273-277 “Under Siege!”

8- Avengers #s 267-269 (Kang/Immortus war)

9- Astonishing Tales #12 “Terror Stalks the Everglades!”

10- Conan the Barbarian Movie Special #s1&2

That’s a great list of comics, despite the glaring omission of Punisher Meets Archie.

I will also mention his work on the Wizard of Oz treasury edition–according to Roy Thomas, Buscema drew the entire thing from memory, without any movie references to work with.

Am surprised and delighted that my #1 pick is the official #1 pick of the list. It’s a beautiful story!

That Conan saga with Belit was good, but I didn’t read enough of it to vote for it (chose “Brothers of the Blade” from that era).

I also voted for the Magik miniseries and Daredevil #219, the Frank Miller one-shot where DD isn’t in costume.

So much to choose from, but I’m especially glad that so much Silver Surfer made the list. That, to me, is Buscema at his best.

Also, when do we get a Sal Buscema poll?

Another one with an embarrassment of riches to choose from!


That Daredevil issue was great! I remember discovering it and feeling like I’d come across a lost treasure.

My choice for best Buscema comic not on this list is Howard the Duck 3. Steve Gerber wrote a story exploring the influence of violent media and the difference between screen violence and real violence. He ended it with a “quack-fu” fight, but the first half of the comic was poignant. Buscema drew the heck out of it to boot.

Buscema has such dynamism – the cover to Silver Surfer #4 there almost makes you wince from the force of the impact to come. Good, good stuff.

People probably don’t know it very well, but I’d suggest the Conan story in Marvel Comics Super Special #2 (1977). Here’s a sample page:



I didn’t realize that quack-fu Howard the Duck was by John B! It’s by far my favourite issue of the series.

Good call!

I always hated DD #219 and considered it to be the weakest Miller DD story by miles. The entire plot is ripped off shamelessly from High Plains Drifter. Buscema’s art was fine it though, but nothing about it was extraordinary.

Travis Stephens

April 25, 2013 at 8:43 am

Are their reprints of the SS and SSOC stories. I vaguely remember reading some of my brother’s SSOC back in the 90’s. Really great adaptations. Under Siege is classic. May end up in the Top 5 of multiple lists.

There’s an Essential Silver Surfer collecting those issues, as well as a Marvel Masterworks (more expensive, of course) edition. There’s also a Marvel Omnibus of the entire first volume of the Surfer series.

As for Savage Sword of Conan, you’re in better luck there, as Dark Horse has reprinted Savage Sword quite recently (and affordably) in Savage Sword of Conan Volume 1.

Would it be pointless at this juncture to mention the Good Old Days, and make some unfavorable comments about the art in many contemporary comics?

Probably. But, damn, Buscema’s stuff is nice to look at.

I’ve read a lot of John Buscema comics over the years (mostly Marvel superheroes I suppose but probably a few Conans too) and he is indeed one of the very best, but I would have been hard pressed to even try voting for anything specific. Too much goodness.

For anyone interested in finding those Silver Surfer stories cheaply, they were reprinted in the Fantasy Masterpiece series in the late 70’s with the same covers and same numbering. I found decent shape reader copies in dollar boxes at conventions, and I’ve seen them again a few times since. They seem pretty available.

I am surprised that only one Thomas/Buscema Avengers story made the list. That’s usually the first run I think of when I hear buscema’s name, and it’s the only run of his that made the Top 100 runs countdown.

Brian- Did any other stories from that run place highly?

And lastly, though I didn’t vote (I don’t like voting in polls where I don’t feel like I’ve read all of that creator’s canon), I’m sorry to see the first Wolverine storyline (roughly issues 1-3, or 1-8 depending how you look at it) didn’t make it. It set such a standard for how Wolverine’s solo adventures would be written for a long long time, and the Al Williamson inking fit Buscema’s art perfectly.

as a reader of lots of Marvel comics 10 does not seem enough for Big John Buscema

I could have easily voted for a top 50

The one s I did vote for included a few Conan stories (Beyond Black River, A witch shall be born, Return of the Conquerer, Conan of Aquilona)
One of Thor’s Ragnorok stories
and the first American comic I ever bought…
Four feathers of death

As someone who’s read a lot of Robert E. Howard, one thing that impresses me about Buscema’s Conan artwork is that he can take a generic monster description (Howard fell back on “toadlike” a lot of times) and create something hideous from it.


May 1, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Probably late enough that nobody will notice my comment but I have to say that the #1 choice here is my favorite cover of all time and I dont believe it is close.

Jonathon Riddle

May 21, 2013 at 1:36 am

Good to see a little attention given to his work on Wolverine. I treasure my black and white copy of Essential Wolverine vol 1. Buscema’s artwork on that title looks even better in black and white than it does in color.

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