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Storm Sunday: Dave Cockrum, Part III

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It is time once again to reminisce about dearly departed Dave Cockrum, creator of Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus (in addition to designing countless costumes for many other characters including Phoenix, Ms. Marvel and The Legion of Super-Heroes).  I will always have a special place in my heart for Dave’s artwork.  His contribution to the comics world is staggering and continues to influence the characters he worked on to this day.  Today we will celebrate a slew of his original artwork relating to the X-Men, but featuring Storm in particular.

The above artwork by Dave Cockrum is from the cover of FOOM #10 which was published in June 1975.  This image predates X-Men #94 (August ’75) by a few months to be the second published New X-men cover.  I am quite fond of the composition of this artwork.  I like how Cyclops ties the new and original X-Men together and also how Nightcrawler and Beast (the most agile of the teams of X-Men) ground the panels with their fancy foot work.

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This is a scan of the FOOM magazine which has endured some wear and tear.  The colors are rather nice, considering how limited the palette is.  Of course, I have no idea how faded this copy has become since its first printing.

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There’s nothing as cool as looking at original artwork.  I love to pore over the notes in the margins, obsess over the glued on titles and word balloons, and examine where whiteout was used.  I find the textures fascinating, the linework inspiring.  These are true artifacts from another time, before programs like photoshop changed the way we create comic art.  I have always enjoyed a good Spider-Man and X-Men team-up and this one looks promising.  I don’t think I have actually read this issue, I think I would remember that strange looking robot if I had.  The menace of the robot’s claw about to snip Spider-Man in half is visually arresting and I am really digging the abundance of Kirby krackles!

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In X-Men #101, another X-Men aircraft bites the dust in a gorgeous 2 page spread!  The X-Men have a history of having their transit crafts destroyed.  Whether it was a bumpy landing after reentry from space (as in above) or Magneto taking apart another one of their models of the Lockheed Blackbird SR-71, it seemed that the All-New, All-Different X-Men were always falling!  Of course, thanks to the X-Men, I learned about strategic reconnaissance aircraft at an early age.  I certainly wouldn’t have come across such a thing anywhere else in my other adolescent interests.

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Phoenix collapses on page 8 of X-Men #101 (after her fiery first appearance a page before) and the X-Men scurry away to avoid blame after destroying parts of the John F. Kennedy International Airport.  I especially like Storm’s sudden explanation of how she changes her costume into civilian clothes.  “I, too, shall change,” she says, “A simple enough matter to use my powers to re-polarize the unstable molecules of my costume into a Starcore uniform.”  We don’t hear much about the composition of X-Men uniforms these days.  I suppose one could assume that unstable molecules are still the main composition of super-hero costumes in the Marvel Universe.

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In Uncanny X-Men #158, the X-Men combat Mystique and a misguided Rogue.  Mystique takes Storm’s appearance to confuse the recently depowered Carol Danvers, but the shaper-changer is no match for the former Ms. Marvel.  Concurrently, the true Storm sweeps Rogue away so the X-Men can run away, discretion being the better part of valor and all that (a phrase I learned by reading X-Men comics).

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This is one of my favorite Cockrum X-Men pages ever!  The energy all around Storm emanating from her power is simply breathtaking and I love how the lightning lancing from her fingertips breaks the panel borders, leading to a worthy sound effect breaking the border!  Polaris’ contorted body and scream break the panels on the second tier in a similar fashion and Havok’s closeup in the fifth panel parallel’s Storm’s face in the first panel.  This is a masterful composition!  However, on a story level, I have never understood how Storm could defeat Polaris when she never could hurt Magneto this way.  Is it because Lorna is possessed and Ororo is not?  Or is it because Lorna is treating combat as a game which makes her less focused on the results, while Storm is in it to win it?  Regardless, this is one of Storm’s finest moments from her early X-Men history.

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Storm’s cape has always fascinated me.  From the small “W” on the back to the elliptical “wings,” all the way to the high collared choker, this is a truly original design.  I’m a bit saddened when I see Storm without it.  I like that Storm’s original costume covered up her throat, chest and shoulders, but exposed the sides of her midriff and thighs.  It was a combination of chaste and sexy that I found (and still find) appealing.  The way Cockrum used her cape as a design element (as in this cover to X-Men #103 in which Storm’s body arc outlines the curved castle turret) has not been paralleled as capably since.

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Storm and Cyclops enjoy a sparring session with each other as shown on page 2 of X-Men #152.  I enjoy Scott and Ororo when they are written as friends who happen to have a healthy competitive streak.  At this point in their histories, Storm was growing by leaps and bounds as an X-Man and a leader, in large part due to Scott’s leadership and training.

Storm dressed as Emma frost

This sketch references the storyline in which the White Queen switches bodies with Storm.  I thought it would be amusing to include it in this post for our new White Queen Wednesday fanbase (I’m looking at you, Ken Kneisel).

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I’ve included this page from X-Men #102 because it shows Storm having a rather debilitating claustrophobic attack (the first time we learn about her fears from being buried alive as a child with her parents–who did not survive like she did) and it features the first Reverse Fastball Special!  As longtime X-Men readers know, usually Colossus throws Wolverine at enemies on a regular basis.  Here, before they could cement that unique attack, Wolverine shows Colossus how it’s done!

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Here’s the cover that started it all!  Gil Kane drew this legendary image and Dave Cockrum inked it.  I was so happy to have stumbled across this scan of the original artwork after years of lusting after the issue itself.  Many covers since then have created homages to this image, including many subsequent X-Men issues.

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This Marvel Comics house ad for the Uncanny X-Men was drawn by Dave Cockrum and while it reverently depicts the original X-Men, drawing them in their original togs creates a schism between them and the All-New, All-Different team.  It seems the intention of this ad is tie the characters to the history of the title, while simultaneously moving forward in a bold new direction.  The reader cannot help but compare Jean Grey and Cyclops to their younger selves and find the new identities they have assumed to be more interesting by contrast.

Storm by Dave Cockrum

And now I leave you with this sketch of Storm, dear reader.  Gorgeous, statuesque and regal.  Just the way her creator intended.

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4 Comments

  1. Ingonyama

    Wow! You sure brought back Storm Sunday in a big way! Props!

    No one else can draw Storm’s original costume quite as well as Cockrum and Byrne. Everyone suffers from the temptation to make it “sexier” and reveal more of Storm’s ass, or cut away parts of the cape to reveal more skin. I understand Storm had a penchant for nudity, but even she only disrobed during “down time.” The attempt to “sexify” it takes away from its style, IMHO.

    For the record, Cockrum’s green-and-gold Phoenix costume remains my favorite Jean Grey look to this day. I thought the feathered Farrah ‘do was really a brilliant hairstyle choice…made her hair look like flames even when she wasn’t Phoenixed up, and did wonders for her presence. It’s amazing how much the little touches of appearance can make a character into someone completely different.

    I loved the Storm-Polaris fight in that issue. I think a big part of Storm’s victory in there is that, though Lorna had the same powers as Magneto at this point, she had much, much less experience with them…to the point where being mind-controlled was the first time she ever a) used the name Polaris, and b) flew using her magnetic powers. Her powers being that woefully underdeveloped by comparison to Storm’s is a big reason for the loss. These days, both Ororo and Lorna are much more experienced and far stronger power-wise. I’d love to see them in a (friendly!) one-on-one today…though not as much as I’d like to see Storm take on Magneto again and hold her own, if not outright triumph.

    Storm and Scott have always been an intriguing pair, to me. Parallels of each other, with opposite character arcs: Scott starts off as the harsh, rigid Team Leader and softens up over time (if only a little), while Storm is the gentle “earth mother” archetype who becomes a more hardened warrior through trial and experience.

    Dave Cockrum and John Byrne kind of blend together into one long era of artistic excellence for me…certainly two of, if not the most memorable collaborators Claremont ever worked with on his long, awesome run. Cockrum’s legacy in particular, as the creator of these fantastic beings, will live forever. ^_^

    • Thank you, Ingonyama! I felt that it was time to get back to the roots of what this blog began as…which was a celebration of the classic Storm, the Ororo that affected me as a child. I dearly love Cockrum’s artwork and wish I could’ve met the man before he passed on.

      So cool to learn that you are in San Francisco as well! Perhaps our paths will cross one day! ‘Til then, thanks so much for your thoughtful replies on here!

      Cheers!
      ~S

  2. Kirk Cekada

    Found this page by googling Cockrum and Storm. Have long been a fan of Dave — since his debut issue on a Legion of Super-Heroes backup series in Superboy (before it became Superboy & the LSH).

    As a kid, I ordered Foom 10 from an ad that appeared in Marvel Comics (can’t recall the name of the retailer), but they sold out before I could get it. Found it years later, but was a little disappointed it wasn’t in full color. Of course, nothing could be that two-page spread from Uncanny X-Men 100 where the “old” and new teams go at each other.

    Finally, I agree that the conclusion of the Storm/Polaris duel never felt true. I think it’s mostly a case of the writer (Claremont) wanting to show that the new team was edgier than the old. But only a few issues earlier, Lorna took the full brunt of Storm’s power and channeled it to cut through the lines of gravity beneath Krakoa. I think your guess that she’s under Erik the Red’s influence has a lot to do with her being unprepared — but I also like Ingo’s theory that this is the first time Polaris was flying (though wouldn’t that have made her even less succeptible to Ororo’s lightning?).

    It is interesting that even after being blasted, Polaris floats like a feather to the ground (apparaently not as hurt as it appeared). Perhaps, deep down, she was fighting against the mind-control — and this was the best way to end the madness.

    Finally, I have to agree about that page. Pure Cocrkum genius! Dave’s early run, though marred uneven embellishers, still holds up today for its storytelling and creativity. The bi-monthly format suited him. When he returned to do the series monthly in 1981, though a joy for me, it wasn’t quite as good as his first run.

    • Thank you, Kirk, for sharing your reflections and thoughts about this issue and about Dave Cockrum. I really appreciate you taking the time to do so. I will always have a special place in my heart for Cockrum’s art and his design genius. As I write this copies of Classic X-Men are stacked on my end table as I have been re-reading those stories you just commented on. Cheers!

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