This Storm Sunday we look at three awesome images by three awesome artists! First up, we have Olivier Coipel (who also drew an amazing gatefold image for the House of M series). This commission from this year’s Toronto convention is simply stunning! Storm does look a lot younger than I am accustomed to seeing her portrayed and she is supermodel runway thin, but I think it all works. Love the white highlights depicting lighting (lightning?). I looked for a definitive website for this superstar artist, but didn’t come across anything substantial (even his Wikipedia entry needs massive updating). I enjoyed his early work on Legion Lost and his most recent run on Thor.
Bob McLeod is no stranger to comics, having worked on a number of projects since the early 1970s. I learned about him from his work on the New Mutants graphic novel and first three issues of the ongoing series. His version of Storm (above) is classic curvy Ororo (a la John Byrne).
Marko Djurdjević has been creating covers for Marvel for years after gaining recognition and notoriety for his redesigns of the X-Men. Now he is known for creating definitive X-Men images like the giant poster above (click on it for a much larger view).
In 2009, he published a book detailing his Marvel art. Comic Should Be Good has some great examples of Djurdjević’s pencils and painted work. Djurdjević has drawing videos on YouTube and his art DVD, Character Ideation, is now available as a download. I love his Warlock redesign.
X-23 #1 came out this past week and thanks to its super cartoony cover, I had very low expectations about the content (Yes, sometimes I *do* judge a book by its cover). However, I was pleasantly surprised by the writing of Marjorie Liu and found myself actually rooting for the murderous female clone of Wolverine. I have never been interested in the character before because comics are already inundated with traumatized assassin women. I find no appeal in their lack of personality thanks to whatever secret brainwashing cult/government agency did to them. Given the choice between Elektra, Spider-Woman or Psylocke, I’ll take Black Widow thank you very much.
That said, after reading her first issue, I am now into X-23. Did she suddenly become interesting? Is she exhibiting personality traits? Well, not exactly. X-23 is still the same morose automaton walking around in a numb haze (when she’s not in a killing frenzy). However, Marjorie Liu has quite cleverly embraced X-23′s banality and made it engaging. She does this by contrasting X-23 with the more established, well-rounded personality of Storm.
However, I did not realize that the woman in the garden was Storm. Apologies to Will Conrad, but due to the washed out coloring and the Disney Princess outfit, I thought the woman was Emma Frost. The photograph with the woman and Nightcrawler was strange because I didn’t recognize the tiara and thought maybe it was supposed to be Amanda Sefton. I had to reread the page a couple of times to realize it was Storm.
In the page above, X-23 happens upon Storm talking aloud to recently departed teammate Nightcrawler. Liu’s keen dialogue between the two characters does a great job at outlining their similarities and differences. Suddenly, I was seeing both characters with new eyes. Storm has always been a compassionate character, and she does have a motherly way about her. It felt like X-23 was surprised that Storm was talking to her and perhaps she was stunned by her regal composure and congeniality. Regardless, she stuck around to talk to Storm and even began to play chess with her. I was intrigued. When Wolverine arrives and scares Laura away, I was angry at Logan because I felt that Storm had been gently unearthing the girl beneath the assassin. And then I realized that Liu had masterfully played me. She took a character that I adore and used her character continuity to reveal what I thought to be a stock character and showed her in a new light. Not too shabby.
The X-Men used to operate in a school and yet they haven’t taught a real class in ages. Everything these days is geared to being a paramilitary faction. I miss the “learn how to use your powers and work with humans” angle of the X-Men, so reading the above page and seeing Storm akin to a school counselor was awesome. This is the kind of storytelling that I want out of my main X-Men titles and it’s taking place in a Wolverine spin-off title.
I get the feeling that Storm doesn’t quite grasp the entirety of Laura’s situation, but I like that she’s trying to relate to the girl. Liu does bring up some good correlations between the character’s pasts. Storm’s storytelling is a great contrast to Laura’s staccato responses and speaks volumes to the difference in their different modes of expression. Perhaps because Storm has been so many things (child thief, tribal goddess, powerless leader, African queen) in her lifetime, she can more easily believe that Laura can have a different life as well.
Wolverine is so infuriating! Storm was finally getting somewhere with the girl and big bad daddy has to ruin it all. Now it’s no more Laura and back to being X-23, as she walks away. To see the two pages following this (in which Storm and Wolverine discuss X-23′s involvement in X-Force) and more awesome interaction between Emma Frost and Cyclops (as they also argue about X-23′s future) tune in to this week’s White Queen Wednesday with Ken Kneisel!
Alas, poor Kurt, I knew him, Ororo.
Apologies to the Bard, whose original words are quoted below. I feel that they are appropriate for this somber celebration of the uncanny mutant known as Nightcrawler:
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that.
Click on the character design sheet and notes above by the legendary Dave Cockrum (who also created Storm and Colossus, among many others). Unfortunately, Dave passed away in 2006. All artwork in this post is by Cockrum.
You can read about Nightcrawler’s creation in Dave’s on words here and here. Newsarama has a nice tribute for Kurt in their Dial H for History series that is helpful if you aren’t familiar with the character’s background. Above, an awesome sketch of the fuzzy elf done for a fan at a convention.
Nightcrawler assisting the All-New, All-Different X-Men in Giant Size X-Men #1. Kurt was paired with the antagonistic Sunfire who did not treat Kurt with respect or kindness (but then, Sunfire wasn’t known for his sweetness). Kurt’s appearance was constantly a battle for him as it did not match the gentleness within his heart.
Nightcrawler teleports and almost drowns in Uncanny X-Men #147, page 3. The character’s derring-do was an elemental aspect of the character. The dichotomy of a brave man who just happens to look demonic was not lost on X-Men readers and Kurt quickly became a fan favorite.
Nightcrawler reminisces about his recent adventures with his team in Uncanny X-Men #147, page 5. Cockrum’s amazing design sense is evidenced by his unique panels to catch the reader up on as much information as possible in a short amount of space.
Artwork from the first issue of the Nightcrawler mini-series (page 18). Errol Flynn was revealed to be one of Kurt’s heroes and his swashbuckling ways here totally represent his interest in one of Hollywood’s most adventurous (and sexy) leading men. When Kurt disguised himself with the image inducer(scroll down to read a great summary of its uses by Kurt as well as the image inducer’s complete history), he chose to look like Errol Flynn.
Nightcrawler encounters a Bamf, a smaller version of himself! “Welcome to Bamf Island, Daddy!” Indeed!
A lovely pencil illustration, presumably another convention sketch. A fantastic somber moment.
Nightcrawler and Wolverine developed a close friendship over the course of the new X-Men’s adventures. They were frequently seen sparring in a friendly game of “tag” with the loser buying the beer. The two men were close confidants and compadres. Check out this fan’s reaction to their friendship and Nightcrawler’s subsequent death.
In Uncanny X-Men #105 (page 27) Nightcrawler tries to rescue Lilandra without success. I love the first panel showing his acrobatic skills.
Nightcrawler makes up for not being to keep Erik the Red from taking Lilandra by rescuing her in Uncanny X-Men #107 (page 15). The first time I read this scene I was totally freaked out by the Soul-Drinker.
Uncanny X-Men #153 depicts the first appearance of the Bamfs when Kitty tells a fairy tale to Illyana (little sister of Colossus).
“Kitty’s Fairy Tale” starred the X-Men in more archetypal characterizations of themselves and proved to be a rather fun flight of fancy for a book that had been dealing with cosmic soap opera and death. Much of that sense of delight comes from Cockrum’s fantastic sense of play with the characters and his quirky iterations of them.
An early depiction of Nightcrawler and the all new team from Uncanny X-Men #98. Nightcrawler shows compassion for Cyclops’ well-being and of course, Scott summarily dismisses his concerns. I get sad when I look at this page and realize that Kurt is not the only dead X-Man on the page (RIP Banshee, Jean Grey, and Moira MacTaggert).
More goodness from the Nightcrawler limited series. I chose to include this image last because of the words that Dave Cockrum wrote at the bottom of the page, “Nightcrawler is me. The Bamf is my libido.” Interesting words from a man who truly understood where creator and creation intersected. Telling, perhaps, of the fiery energy required of a creator and the commitment necessary to explore a character. Where did Nightcrawler begin and Dave Cockrum end? Hard to say as we know longer have the man with us to ask these questions. It is sufficient to say that we are all the richer for the creator and the character having touched our lives. Perhaps there is no longer room in the X-Men books these days for the compassion of Kurt Wagner (and let’s be honest, in years past the X-titles have ignored and/or misused the character’s charisma and charm for some time) but we will always have these amazing stories to remind us of the brilliance of the past.
Today we continue our exploration of the X-Men artwork of legendary artist Paul Smith! This post contains 15 scans of original covers and interior pages ranging from Uncanny X-Men #166 (above) to #175. Smith’s X-Men run started on #165 and lasted until #175 (except for #171). These issues are collected in Essential X-Men, Volume 4. I highly recommend Smith’s X-Men/Alpha Flight mini-series (written by Chris Claremont) and the Kitty Pryde: Shadow and Flame limited series (written by Akira Yoshida). Also consider checking out The Golden Age and Leave It to Chance (both written by James Robinson).
Colossus is the main focus in the dynamic composition above as the X-Men (with Shi’ar Empress Lilandra Neramani) battle the Brood on their homeworld. In the upper left corner, the X-Men come crashing out of the character box and onto the title. I miss those little touches on comics these days.
This cover of Uncanny X-Men #169 is missing the title overlay, and one can see the brush strokes of the black areas. A wonderfully dramatic image, full of pathos. Maybe I say that in part because Angel is my second favorite X-Men member. Still, this is a great composition with a sense of immediate danger. Are the X-Men too late to save Angel?
In the same issue, on page 7, the X-Men attempt to stop Callisto (leader of an underground group of mutants known as the Morlocks) from making Angel into her boy toy. The bottom panel is especially awesome as Nightcrawler frees Colossus to do what he does best–turn to organic steel and smash stuff!
The X-Men return to the X-Mansion and attack the New Mutants on pages 2 and 3 of Uncanny X-Men #172. Everything has a concrete feel in this double page splash. From the soda pop can to the chunks of wall flying across the room, everything looks quite realistic. Smith grounds the fantastic strangeness of Nightcrawler teleporting within the mundane environment of the living room (even as it gets destroyed). Smith makes the X-Men’s costumes work while also depicting the regular clothes of the younger students. There is a strong sense of draftsmanship within the context of the surreal.
On page 24 of Uncanny X-Men #172, the effect of Storm’s increasingly uncontrollable powers come to a head as she absorbs lightning bolts back into herself, creating a kind of disastrous short circuit. Luckily, she is with the thief Yukio who saves her from drowning.
Page 26 of Uncanny X-Men #172 has Storm explaining how she is out of harmony with the world and therefore with her powers. She tells Yukio, “I envy your madness. It is a luxury denied me ever since my powers first appeared.” She has been losing her inner peace within. To make matters more complicated, the fiery bird effect confuses Storm and makes her wonder if the Phoenix has returned.
Page 5 of Uncanny X-Men #173 sees Yukio and Storm having to fight street thugs. Storm starts to throw caution to the wind and embrace her new wilder side thanks to Yukio’s influence. The effects of these moments would have long lasting repercussions for Storm’s character.
Page 22 of Uncanny X-Men #174 speaks for itself. But has the Pheonix truly returned or is something more sinister at work? I’m not going to spoil the storyline, but I will comment on how I love the way Phoenix’s curly hair mirrors the wispy spirals of the energy she wields. All of those bright action lines surrounding her bring to mind the light around a saint on a votive candle. She is maleficent but also divine ( Check out the cute Lockheed drawing at the bottom next to Paul Smith’s signature).
Everyone is battling Phoenix on this cover to Uncanny X-Men #175, but no one is making any difference in the final outcome. This cover is one of my favorites of Smith’s run because it is so full of elemental destruction. The ground is erupting, the skies are on fire and the X-Men are forced to run around pell-mell, trying to win a struggle in which they are simply outclassed.
The whole team is accounted for on page 5 of Uncanny X-Men #175 as Professor X attempts to locate the Phoenix via Cerebro, his mutant detecting computer. What happens next is not beneficent for the good Professor.
The X-Men fight Phoenix but fall quickly to her might on page 9 of Uncanny X-Men #175. This page sees Phoenix reflecting Storm’s powers back upon her and then she telekinetically crumples Colossus into a ball. Love the look on her face in panel four.
Cyclops (who appears to the X-Men as Phoenix) fights for his life against his team on page 21 of Uncanny X-Men #175. Storm takes the apparent threat seriously and Nightcrawler takes a chance using the Danger Room’s holographic systems.
On the next page (22), Cyclops systematically takes out Kitty and Kurt as he fights for his life against his teammates. Gaining control of the Danger Room shifts the odds in his favor. Once again, Wolverine and Colossus find themselves falling from the sky.
The following page (23) ends with Cyclops still trying to find a way to dispel the illusion his teammates are under. I love these two top panels with Rogue and Storm carrying Colossus and Wolverine. They show the women using their powers with such grace and power. Also, the men look solid and imposing even when being whisked aloft. Paul Smith’s storytelling is so successful to me because his art always has a sense of place, his characterization is consistent and his panels show great design sense. His linework is strong and uncluttered and he excels in depicting the mundane and the magical, creating a unique synergy of the two. His X-Men run will always remain a source of inspiration to artists across space and time.
Paul Smith is a god. There, I said it. Seriously, his lines are clean, his characters solid and his style has a fluidity perhaps only seen in Cliff Chiang today. Smith’s Uncanny X-Men run illustrated some great Chris Claremont stories and is fondly remembered by fans and critics alike. Today we take a look at some of his classic images of Marvel’s mutants.
Above, the whole gang is comin’ atcha with Wolverine (naturally) leading the charge. Smith left his mark on some of these characters, especially the female X-Men. Smith had the challenge of softening Rogue’s look while still maintaining her rough edges (she was in transition between bad girl to hero), while conversely he had to harden Storm while still retaining her feminine mystique (who was leaving some of her earth mother behind to become a better leader). Also, Kitty was growing up a bit as an X-Man and Smith designed costumes for her that spoke to her spunky spitfire personality as well as her playful sensibility. And Lockheed the dragon, well, no one draws him better than Paul Smith (although Art Adams comes close).
That’s not to say that Smith didn’t lend his amazing talents to the male characters of the team as well as well. Smith’s Colossus was quite the gentle giant, Wolverine looked like a scrapper with the outfits to match, and one could actually believe that Cyclops was once nicknamed “Slim” due to the narrow athletic build Smith gave him. The above sketch to a lucky Leo conveys the individuality of each X-Men member to which I am referring. Facial shapes and structures are unique to each character (not just hair and costumes). No one even has the same eyebrows! I love this image because it reminds me of the family dynamic the X-Men once had. Paul Smith took the Cockrum and Byrne illustration styles and made them his own.
I believe this above image was a commission for a fan and if so, what a great piece to have in one’s collection! Just as Paul Smith made the X-Men his own, his work on Doctor Strange is classic! In this image, Colossus asks Doctor Strange for assistance in finding his little sister, the New Mutant Magik!
A sweet sketch of lovebirds Kitty and Piotr. I love this costume for Kitty, probably because the V’s look nice with her curves and I have always loved billowy sleeves on her. I think they give her phasing abilities a pleasing visual.
This X-Men Unlimited cover told the story of Kitty coping with the death of Colossus (don’t worry, he got better). Who better than Paul Smith to provide the cover? His run on the X-Men depicted the struggles of their once new relationship and Kitty’s challenges at becoming an X-Man despite the naivete of her youth.
Ah, the infamous mohawk! This look still polarizes fans of Storm and although it too, passed into obscurity for quite some time. Recent art from Kaare Andrews’ Astonishing X-Men has depicted Storm rockin’ the ‘hawk once again. However, no where else in Storm’s appearances does she have the ‘hawk, so it remains to be seen if this is in continuity or whether Marvel simply is ignoring it altogether.
I chose to include this image because I love how Smith drew Storm in reverse mode. Storm is technically bodiless in this part of the story and is learning the story of the outer space dwelling Acanti, so drawing her in a more ethereal mode certainly works here.
Storm feels a bit shut out of Kitty’s life in this page from Uncanny X-Men #167. The Kitty/Ororo dynamic would eventually change even more as their daughter/mother relationship shifted as both women transformed into warrior versions of themselves. Check out panel two with Sikorsky speaking like Yoda and Moira MacTaggert calmly informing the X-Men that they are going to transplant Xavier’s mind into a cloned body of himself. Too bad they didn’t do the same for her when she contracted the Legacy Virus (a disease that was only supposed to plague mutants and Moria is a human). *shakes head*
Smith covers Uncanny X-Men years later, featuring Storm with Rachel Grey/Summers (Marvel Girl/Phoenix) and Tessa/Sage.
A sketch of Rogue and Storm (who appears to be wearing an amalgam of a few different versions of her costumes).
Next week, Storm Sunday will look at more Paul Smith X-Men goodness!
An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Welcome to White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. Today I would like to spotlight this ebullient X-Babies commission drawn by Juvaun “JJ” Kirby featuring Emma Frost and lots of other mutants besides.
Even as a cute little moppet, Emma still has attitude to spare. I love her self-satisfied smirk.
Everything about this amazing commission is just adorable. From the wind-up Nimrod toy to Nightcrawler perched atop Colossus’s shoulder to pouty emo Rogue, even those disgusting space roaches the Brood manage to look downright cuddly!
Here is a comparison between the original black and white linework and finished color art.
Juvaun “JJ” Kirby is actually one of my very favorite artists, although he hasn’t drawn an awful lot of comics. He drew a couple of X-Babies one-shots for Marvel called Murderama and X-Babies Reborn, along with some Backlash and DV8 back in the 90s and more recently the New Dynamix miniseries for Wildstorm. His artwork is incredibly dynamic and expressive and I hope to see him draw more comics someday!
Thank you for joining me for this fun little lighthearted edition of White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I will be back next week with more to discuss.
Jubilation Lee, or Jubilee as she is more commonly known, was quite the X-Men member back in the 90s. Created by Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri, she debuted in Uncanny X-Men #244 and quickly became an unofficial sidekick to Wolverine. Her pyrotechnic fireworks powers combined with her brash mall rat attitude made her an unforgettable addition to the team. She became the youngest X-Men member at the time (continuing the tradition that Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde created). Jim Lee’s kinetic depictions of Jubilee secured her place in X-history. She may be depowered in current continuity (thanks to the the Scarlet Witch’s “No More Mutants” spell), but she’s still a character near and dear to many X-Men readers’ hearts. Above image of Jubilee is by Jim Lee from his 1992 Impel X-Men Trading Card Series. Here’s an awesome Jim Lee sketch rendering Jubilee down to her most basic design. Jubes is definitely a product of her time, with her large glasses (which were more often than not used more as a headband than shades), her large earrings (with her codename printed across the bar) and her bright yellow trench coat. A page of Jim Lee artwork from Uncanny X-Men #271 depicting Jubilee kicking major butt and still getting a lecture from Wolverine. Jubilee has the habit of trash talking most of the time. A trait that endeared her to some fans and repelled others. I happen to enjoy her motormouth tendencies, especially if she’s popping bubblegum while doing it. More Jim Lee artwork, this time from Uncanny X-Men #275. You gotta love that Jubes is willing to chase down the deadly Deathbird even after getting blasted and seeing the evil woman stab Wolverine in the back. Classic Jubilee never backs down from a fight, even if she’s not really too excited about it. Jim Lee’s cover of X-Men #4 features Jubilee with Wolverine and fellow trench coat wearing teammate Gambit as they combat Omega Red. Check out Jubilee’s super arched eyebrow and gritted teeth. That’s attitude! Jubilee’s success in the comics definitely influenced the awesome 90s X-Men cartoon. Instead of answering in the affirmative, Jubilee would often ask, ”Does a mall babe eat chile fries?” Other times, she would whine about how unfair it was to be hunted by Sentinels. “I’m just a kid!” she’d cry (many many times). This animation cel and the ones below are taken from the wildly successful cartoon which led to many toys and merchandise. Check out this storybook in which you could pretend you were fighting alongside the X-Men. Marvel also published a comic based on the cartoon called X-Men Adventures. The cover of issue #1 by Steve Lightle is awesome! Animation cel of Jubilee losing a fight against a robotic tentacle. Jubilee was included in a made for television Generation X movie and was in all three X-Men movies for, like, a total of ten minutes combined. Did you know that Michael Chabon wrote a script for a proposed X-Men movie? It featured quite a lot of Jubilee! There’s a weird list of Jubilee and Gen X “cameos” here. Jubilee was also a minor character in the X-Men: Evolution cartoon. Animation cel featuring Wolverine, Jubilee, Beast and Cyclops. You can make your own Papercraft Jubilee here! Animation cel depicting Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Rogue and Jubilee. Animation cel depicting Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Rogue and Jubilee. Jubilee did a lot of running in the X-Men cartoon as this animation cel shows.
I always liked the brief interactions that Jubilee and Storm had in the cartoon. Storm was very protective of Jubilee in a very mothering kind of way (much like she was to Kitty Pryde in the comics). In the storybooks based on the cartoon, Storm was the one who explained everything about the X-Men, the school and their credo. Another animation cel with Storm and Jubilee. Fan favorite Arthur Adams captures Jubilee’s sassy too cool for school demeanor in this sketch. Another amazing Jubilee by Art is here. Jim Mahfood illustrates a page from Jubilee’s Scrapbook in Generation X Underground. I haven’t included any Generation X images, but you can check out this cover gallery of that series. Just don’t go order this outfit. Joe Madureira‘s awesome cover to Uncanny X-Men #318. I like Jubilee’s more toned down outfit here, although the colorist was wise to keep her traditional costume colors. I did not choose to cover any costumes, storylines or art regarding Jubilee’s time as a New Warrior. Do so at your own discretion. After sitting on the sidelines, Jubilee may be making a comeback…as a vampire? It certainly looks that way. In these preview pages from this week’s upcoming X-Men #1, Jubes is hanging out with Pixie and some…stuff happens. Is Jubilee going to trade in her bubblegum for blood? Quite the opposite of what I want for Jubilee, but I shall wait and see what happens.
Remember that Black Panther cartoon that was supposed to air on BET? I don’t know exactly what happened to it, but Comic Book Resources has an article about the debut of the series! I thought it would be fun to share this image of Storm flanked by Cyclops, Nightcrawler (at least he’s alive somewhere!) and Wolverine. I am super excited to hear Jil Scott as the voice of Storm! What do you think about this series? Are you looking forward to it? Will you be watching it?
The Scarlet Witch is one of my favorite Marvel Super-Heroes and I am so excited about her return being written by the creator of the Young Avengers Allan Heinberg and drawn by Jim Cheung! I am in a highly excited state of anticipation for this story!
Wolfsbane returns to X-Factor! There’s gonna be drama! ‘Nuff said!
Wolverine must complete a task set forth in Nightcrawler’s will. I am curious at to what it might be. Ought to be interesting (RIP Kurt).
Uh oh. Are Emma and Namor gonna get together? It is a fascinating prospect and could shake up the X-Men leadership status quo.
Words cannot express how amped I am to read Milo Manara‘s adaptation of a Chris Claremont script featuring the women of the X.
I am loving the New Mutants title and am excited about what’s next on the horizon for Xavier’s gifted youngsters. Part nostalgia for sure, but also very fresh and current in relation to what’s going on in the X-titles. The X-Men are in it deep these days and the New Mutants are front and center. Good stuff.
The junior X-Men get their own Forever title! I am so excited about Selene being featured in this title! She’s my favorite Hellfire Club member and one of my favorite Marvel baddies! I look forward to her leadership of the New Mutants! This cover by Bill Sienkiewicz is amazing!
Another cover variant of New Mutants Forever #1 (by Al Rio).
What’s this? Spider-Man is not a mutant! So true, but I couldn’t pass up sharing this amazing cover from Amazing Spider-Man #641 with you, dear reader! What an inventive use of color and negative space!
The first issue of DoomWar, a new 6 issue Marvel Comics limited series, debuted February 17, 2010. It has quite the ensemble cast, featuring Black Panther (Shuri), T’Challa (the former Black Panther), the entire supporting cast of the Black Panther title, some of the Fantastic Four, a few X-Men and even (gag) Deadpool as they all team up to fight the tyrannical monarch Doctor Doom. The mini-series is written by Jonathan Maberry and drawn by Scot Eaton and takes the place of the Black Panther title which is on hiatus for the interim of DoomWar.
Jonathan Maberry spoke with Marvel.com about his plans for the title and one paragraph in particular made me very excited:
“Storm hasn’t been as heavily-used for reasons that will be explained in DOOMWAR. There are good reasons why we haven’t used Storm and there are good reasons why T’Challa hasn’t communicated with Storm and good reasons why Storm has been easily manipulated. Once we find out what they are and she gets free of the limitations, she’s going to kick some serious ass. Talk about payback being a bitch. I can’t wait to see what the artist is going to do with the pages that I’m scripting when Storm cuts loose. It’s going to be ugly and beautiful.”
Now that I have read DoomWar #1, I can attest that the ugly is already quite obvious within the story thus far. I don’t want “good reasons” for why Storm isn’t a major player. I want her to be a major player. Storm is depicted in the entire issue as the typical “damsel in distress” (and that’s couching it lightly). All of those “good reasons” that Maberry says are forthcoming had better be amazing, because so far DoomWar has left me cold due to its weak portrayal of Ororo Munroe.
Black Panther has left Storm to face the new government alone. Their kangaroo court quickly resorts to torture. This is the first of two times that Ororo has to resort to cursing her enemies rather than show any personal power. As far as curses go, “Be damned” is an awkward and unseemly phrase for Storm. She’s better than that, in my opinion. At least the artist draw her with her head held high.
The next page shows Storm still bristling with indignation as the “court” proceeds to sentence her to death. While they continue to call her a witch (which seems rather ignorant to me since they know she is a mutant), Storm stands by her man. I’d like to think that she’s plotting her escape instead of waiting around for T’Challa like her dialogue suggests. And does T’Challa = Wakanda as Storm seems to think? Isn’t the idea of Wakanda bigger than that? However, if we accept this logic and remind ourselves that T’Challa is no longer Black Panther, wouldn’t Shuri = Wakanda instead?
T’Challa visits the X-Men and asks for help. When I read this, I kept wondering why no one invited Namor (Who is an X-Man now) to the discussion as he and T’Challa had come to an understanding during Hudlin’s Black Panther #21. I feel like he would be an obvious choice for assistance. Perhaps he’s too busy rebuilding New Atlantis beneath the X-Men’s floating island. Anyway, T’Challa breaks down his decision for the X-Men. He says he had to choose between Storm and Wakanda and he chose Wakanda. I want to believe there’s something else he’s not telling the X-Men. We shall see.
T’Challa then tells the X-Men about those insidious horrors of technology–nanites! Seriously? It’s 2010 and we’re still using nanites as a plot device? So, not only has Storm been a figure head with no power, she’s also been a spy without her knowledge. She hasn’t been an asset to Wakanda, she’s been a detriment. She’s been a “living camera” ever since Doom spiked her food with tech. She might as well be a doll for all the involvement she has in this story.
So, Storm escapes her cell only to be confronted by Doom. He reveals that he has chosen her to pick the final lock of the Wakanda vaults. To make her do it, he shoots a Wakandan prisoner. Okay, I might not be the biggest Doom fan, but this characterization doesn’t wash for me. I remember Victor having a code of honor that wouldn’t automatically resort to killing as an “incentive.” I understand Doom to be someone who doesn’t kill his foes because he wants to best them (Whether in sorcery, technology, or overall intelligence). Killing a random warrior to prove a point seems beneath him somehow. Storm does what he tells her but she threatens to kill him which at this point is just an empty threat. It would’ve been better if she hadn’t said anything to him in that moment. I don’t like Storm sputtering words without the power to back them up.
Storm curses Doom a second time (More empty threats) while Doom continues his “incentive program” and murders T’Challa’s uncle . This was too much for me. Why would Doom kill someone so close to T’Challa when he supposedly has everything going for him. He’s in control, right? Why kill a hostage when he’s so close to victory? And what if things go awry? Won’t it make T’Challa even more his enemy? Although ruthless, I always thought Doctor Doom had panache. In this instance, he’s nothing more than a bank robber thug.
Storm collapses in the corner while T’Challa’s mother holds her brother (?) in her arms. Then Doom pulls Storm by her hair (!) and tells her to “get back to work.” Sigh. I don’t see how Storm’s portrayal could get any worse. She’s been abandoned by her husband, arrested, tried by a false jury, sentenced for death, imprisoned and now knocked around as a hostage while her kidnapper kills people around her. How heavy handed does this story need to be? It’s all too much for me. What emotion is the art in that last panel supposed to convey exactly? It looks like she’s angry and confused. Or maybe she’s meant to be determined. I can’t tell. I don’t mean to place blame on the artist. I think the art is well done. It’s simply that after all of the hell that Storm endures in this comic, this is the last panel in which Storm appears and I am not sure how to feel about her duress. Looking at this panel, I’m not certain how she feels either. One more quibble: Storm’s eyes are white during the entire time of this story. It’s a fact that her eyes turn from blue to completely white when she accesses her powers. If she has them, why isn’t she using them? It’s probably just an artist mistake, but I find it problematic.
You know those “good reasons” Maberry spoke of in that interview with Marvel.com? They can’t come soon enough for me.
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