Comics, especially superhero comics, are a big business. Superhero comics have inspired some of the biggest, highest grossing films of all times; there are childrens cartoons, live action television series, video games, toys, merchandise of all sorts filling shops. It’s hard to imagine a time when comics weren’t the juggernaut that they are today. And whilst today companies like Marvel and DC put out dozens of titles every single week, employing a host of amazing writers and artists, that wasn’t always the case, and during the 1960s and 70s there were fewer books on the shelves, and fewer people involved in putting them out.
Whilst today it might be surprising to see an artist working on more than one title at a time, in the Silver Age it wasn’t unusual to see the same artist popping up all across a company’s output. And one artist whose work seemed to be everywhere, and who helped to really define how comics should look, was John Buscema. If asked to name famous comic artists people will probably give you names like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and John Romita Sr. It can be easy to forget artists like Buscema, who worked on some of the biggest titles Marvel Comics had to offer, and whose work you’ll have absolutely have seen even if you’re not aware of it.
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John Buscema’s Marvel Heroes – Artist’s Edition aims to remind readers of some of the fantastic work Buscema did during this period; work that many have called some of the ‘best looking of that period’. This new hardcover collection brings together several issues from the series that Buscema worked on, including various covers, and presents them to you in the rawest form it can; in black and white, where the art stands out on the page in all its glory.
Featured in this new collection are three complete issues: Avengers #51, Sub-Mariner #24, and Thor #197. These three issues, of three of Buscema’s more well known titles, allow the reader to see how he put together a full issue, how he translated the story across the pages and built dynamic action that would flow from scene to scene. These issues are a lot of fun to read, and really demonstrate what comics of this era were like. The writing really packs the story in, cramming a lot into the pages to the point where they feel twice as long as modern comics at times.
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The book also brings together a selection of iconic covers from across his body of work, featuring characters such as the Fantastic Four, Vision, Black Panther, Thor, and Hulk. As well as this we get a selection of interior pages from a myriad of issues of Avengers, Fantastic Four, Sub-Mariner, and Thor. These pages are selected pretty much at random, though probably displaying some of the best work in these issues, and whilst they’re great for getting a look at Buscema’s art you can forget about following any kind of story with them.
John Buscema’s Marvel Heroes – Artist’s Edition is a great way of taking an in-depth look at the work of one of the bigger contributors to Marvel Comics. And if you’re looking to spend time poring over artwork of this era to immerse yourself in it this is a good book to do so with. However, if you’re looking to read the stories of the Silver Age, to see some of these big events given the space to play out for you to experience over again, this book is not what you’re looking for, as this is less a collection of stories, and more of a historical reference piece. Whilst this book may not be for everyone, and it’s probably not going to have mass market appeal, to those who love comic history this will be a fine addition to any collection.
John Buscema’s Marvel Heroes – Artist’s Edition is out now from IDW Publishing.