The late, great John Buscema for this fan is the definitive Avengers artist. Jack Kirby may have launched the series and co-created many of the characters but Buscema's tenures on the title left an indelible impression on me. John made his debut with Avengers #41 (June 1967) and continued on the title as the main artist until #85 (February 1971). He made guest appearances on the title between 1971 and 1976, his last issue before his second long term commitment to the title was #153 (November 1976). Fans had to wait nine years before our prayers were answered and John returned with #255 in May 1985. We then experienced his greatness through to #300 (February 1989). John's contribution to the Marvel style is often overlooked these days but after Kirby, Ditko and possibly John Romita, Snr, he was probably the most important artist Marvel had in the Silver and Bronze Ages.
John is deservedly best known for his outstanding work on Conan (main artist on Conan The Barbarian 1973 - 1987 and Savage Sword of Conan 1974 - 1984) and he is reported as preferring adventure strips over super heroics.
|Tribute to John Buscema by Benito Gallego|
However, Big John's contribution to Avengers' lore is immense. So many tales illustrated by the great man were listed by me in my Avengers: Greatest Stories Ever Told post that I felt compelled to write this one.
|Avengers #58, November 1968 Pencil art: John Buscema, inks by George Klein|
|Avengers Poster by John Buscema|
|Splash page from Avengers #57 (October 1968) Pencil art by John Buscema, Inks:George Klein, Script by Roy Thomas|
Almost twenty years later John's work on The Avengers was still highly memorable as demonstrated in this scene set in the debris of the demolished Avengers Mansion after the epic battle with the Masters of Evil as chronicled by Roger Stern, John Buscema and Tom Palmer in Avengers #273 - #277 (November 1986 - March 1987):
|Final page from Avengers #277 (March 1987) Pencil art by John Buscema, Inks: Tom Palmer, Script by Roger Stern|
One of the defining moments in the characterisation of Captain America and, apart from the Olympus War, #281 - #285, (July 1987 - November 1987), Big John's last highpoint as Avengers penciler. He continued to lend his talents to Marvel and eventually DC right up to his death in 2002, a true giant of the industry who is sadly missed.