“That’s the spirit.”
Once upon a time, Marvel and DC Comics used to play well together (or at least well enough to produce some amazing comics). One of the comics they made together showcased the X-Men and the Teen Titans in a crossover that made history! The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans was written by X-scribe Chris Claremont, drawn by Walt Simonson (a page of his excellent linework is above) and inked by Terry Austin. Both titles were in their prime, being very popular at the time due to their excellent scripting and artwork. The parallels between the two teams was amazing! Both teams had cool level-headed leaders (Cyclops and Robin), larger than life women with big hair (Storm and Starfire) and young naive members (Kitty Pryde and Changeling). The story combined the best that both comic companies had to offer and the stakes were high for both teams.
The plot consisted of Darkseid resurrecting Dark Phoenix for his own nefarioys power-hungry purposes and the team-up between comicdom’s most popular heroes (well, at least at the time) is a milestone for the ages. I love the panel between Storm and Cyclops in which Scott asks about Ororo’s claustrophobia. I loved it so much I made it today’s subject heading. The line speaks to me because I am seeing many people around me right now looking truly terrified (myself included) and yet, I see them working with their challenges as best as they can. This is a time to anticipate challenge rather than avoid it. It is a time for heroes and the universe is asking for nothing less than our best. This page celebrates the nature of Storm being able to move ahead in a strenuous time and rise above her fears. We can do no less.
Today we look at the original artwork of many artists, including Rick Leonardi, Leinil Francis Yu, Chris Bachalo, Salvador Larroca, Phil Jimenez, Sal Buscema and more!
Rick Leonardi drew a few issues of the Uncanny X-Men during their Australian Outback era (I am unsure of which issue this is). This is one of my favorite iterations of X-Men rosters, featuring Storm, Wolverine, Psylocke, Rogue, Dazzler, Longshot, Colossus, and Havok. The top panel of this page depicting the X-Men falling out of a teleportational portal is full of grace and action and the closeup of Wolverine’s face in panel two is striking as well, but in a more personable manner. Leonardi gives a great sense of place and character in this page. I like how quickly things happen in just four panels. Leonardi’s rounded style is sparse but contains the essential linework to convey the story.
Salvador Larroca’s tenure as artist on X-treme X-Men does not rank high on my list of favorite eras (through no fault of his own; it was Chris Claremont’s stories from this time that underwhelmed me), but I did enjoy his costume creations for Storm’s team. Here we see Rogue (doing goddess only knows what on the bed), Storm and Gambit (staring at the viewer). I don’t recollect where this image comes from, but it seems that our heroes are being targeted or some such of technological naughtiness is at work here. I love the fluidity of Storm’s ponytail and cape and I appreciate the details of the clothing.
Phil Jimenez’s cover to New X-Men #140 is a great lesson on how to make the faces of characters look unique. It seems that male characters usually have more differentiated looks than female ones, but Jimenez finds subtle ways to convey each character’s personality. The only character I cannot identify here is the woman to the upper right of Nightcrawler (and under Rogue). Anyone have a guess? UPDATE: Thanks to Christian for pointing out that the woman in question is Paige Guthrie, aka Husk.
Alan Kupperberg drew this farcical page (79) for Crazy #82. It’s a silly thing about how to write a comic, featuring the X-Men roster at the time (early 1980s). Storm looks a bit metallic to me and boy did Wolverine have a growth spurt or what? He’s as tall as Cyclops in that last panel! I enjoy the shades of grey used in this artwork, however, and Nightcrawler looks very Dave Cockrum influenced.
Leinil Francis Yu brings the double page spread with this issue of The Uncanny X-Men (again, I have no idea what issue #). Storm looks incredibly powerful and I enjoy Yu’s depiction of Gambit. It is nice to see Jean Grey fighting alongside Colossus, but seeing all the the heroes dog-piling on a giant Apocalypse head? Not especially inspiring IMHO.
Chris Bachalo brings some kinetic storytelling to The Uncanny X-Men #205 in which the X-Men fight Mr. Sinister’s Marauders. If you look carefully at the super-rendered page, you can see Storm in the lower right corner wielding a spear(!) against Mr. Sinister himself. Angel (upper right) looks simply stunning with his giant wingspan.
Bachalo also drew this double spread for X-Men #200. Although Storm does not appear in this part of the story, I find Bachalo’s interpretations of Iceman, Kitty Pryde, Rogue and Mystique to be especially inspiring.
Bachalo also did this image of Storm but it is not as recent as the two above. I had this image as a cardboard standup many years ago. Bachalo tends to give his heroines very youthful faces. I think his style has matured, but he still draws very immature female faces.
Brent Anderson drew this page from Storm’s time as a thrall of Dracula. In this page, Storm does not remember the details of her attack, and is trying to go about business as usual, utilizing her powers for renewal. Anderson’s realistic style serves to augment this human and haunting storyline.
Storm and Angel are my two favorite X-Men and Paco Diaz accentuates their superheroic anatomy on this page. Storm has the unfortunate fate to still be wearing her Simone Bianchi designed costume, and Angel’s wings look a bit stripped down, but I love the look of intensity that Diaz gives to both of their faces. The annoyed Emma Frost in the lower right corner is a nice touch as well.
John Bolton’s backup stories in Classic X-Men had a great influence on me as youngster. His versions of the X-Men are so clean, so fluid, and yet solid, simultaneously human and heroic. His layouts are beautiful in their simplicity, somehow making less is more look easy. A true master craftsman.
I leave you today with this first page of the first annual of Marvel Team Up starring Spider-Man and the X-Men. Drawn by Sal Buscema, this piece is pure nostalgia, depicting the All-New, All-Different X-Men in their original line-up and togs. I cannot help but crack up every time I look at this and see Phoenix running like the other non-flyers on the team. She should totally be in the sky with Storm and Banshee.
Thanks for checking out this eclectic mix of art with me today and I will see you next week for another Storm Sunday!