This is the fourth great cover I’ve featured from Marvel Comics‘ Sub-Mariner series. That’s a little weird, but I saw this cover and thought I’d give a little more love (I’ve given some to this artist before) to Sal Buscema.
Sal’s brother John gets most of the attention and it would be difficult to argue against that. John is one of the giants of comic book art. He’s up there with Gil Kane, Neal Adams, Wally Wood, Will Eisner, and the king Jack Kirby. Those were more or less contemporaries of John’s, but his work stacks up nicely with the following generation of artists including George Perez, Walt Simonson, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and John Byrne.
Ugh! There I go! Here I’m trying to cast a light of Sal Buscema’s work and I get into praising John. Sorry, Sal.
Sal’s work may not have had the same gracefulness as John’s (see that first Silver Surfer series and his first run on The Avengers, especially #57 which introduced the Vision), but it did have similar power. Sal had a strong sense of the melodramatic, which is what comic books are all about.
I have friends who have knocked Sal as being a little generic, but I think he definitely had a style. A look of his own. A style, incidentally, he completely changed in his later career when drawing The Spectacular Spider-Man. It shocked me to see he was the artist drawing those books. That drastic style change was something John never did. John’s work remained very good throughout his career with Marvel, but it felt a little stale in his later years.
This cover is from when Sal was drawing Prince Namor (yep, John was the first artist on the series). He was drawing both the covers and the stories within at the time. I’m not sure who inked the cover. The Grand Comics Database (where I get most my comic book information) isn’t sure if it was Frank Giacoia or Joe Giella.
What makes this cover great in my eyes is mostly due to the pose of Hercules and Namor in battle. Hercules seems like he should have the upper hand, but that pesky Huntsman in the background is zapping him with a magic wand or taser or something that shoots electricity. There’s a strong sense of motion in the pose. And I like the way the two figures dominate the page.
I also like how Hercules’ right leg is rendered. It’s solidly supporting the weight of our heroes (they are both heroes) doing battle with each other.. And I always dug how Sal drew fists. I love that exaggerated, right angle of the thumb rising from the wrist. And Sal Buscema was great at drawing maniacally crazy facial expressions. The Huntsman’s face is small in the drawing, but Sal and the inker are able to show some craziness with a raised eyebrow and a smile.
The cover also pops! I mean the action leaps off the page. It catches the eye. This pop is due to the pose of the characters and the yellow zap surrounded by that flat black background. This cover would make me stop and look more closely at it if I had seen it on the newsstand in 1970.
It’s a fun cover, which I think is great.
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Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.