Storm Arcana

Relationship & Intimacy Coach

Month: September 2008 (Page 1 of 2)

My Favorite Dead Marvel Characters: Darkstar

One of my favorite series is The Champions. Yeah, it didn’t last very long (17 issues), but it had the most eclectic lineup! I mean, Ghost Rider, Black Widow, Angel, Iceman and Hercules! How many other comics had a demi-god, a Russian spy, a supernatural biker and two mutants? None. This lineup is replaced as my favorite much later by The New Defenders which had Angel and Iceman plus Beast, Valkyrie, Moondragon, Gargoyle and Cloud (as well as appearances by Hellcat and Son of Satan). You can Google all of those peeps on your own, dear reader, but here’s two amazing covers by Kevin Nowlan to whet your appetite.The above image is by John Byrne and George Tuska. If you scroll on down, you can see the full page that it’s taken from. You gotta love how Darkstar is just tossing the clothes to the ground while she changes in mid-air. Um, girl, your powers are summoning palpable darkness, remember? You don’t have to do that. You could summon a disk of darkforce and toss your clothes in the Darkforce Dimension or teleport there yourself and come back in costume. I bet Laynia’s just flustered by Ghost Rider’s rudeness. She’s certainly internalizing in this panel.

Darkstar first appeared in The Champions #7 (written by Tony Isabella & drawn by George Tuska) along with a task force from the USSR (consisting of her brother Vanguard and Ursa Major) to bring Black Widow back to their homeland. Instead, she turned her back on the Soviet Super Soldiers and joined the Champions. From the moment I first saw her wield her darkforce powers I fell in love with her just like Iceman did. Things didn’t work out for Laynia and Bobby, but astute readers already know about Iceman’s difficulties in sustaining a meaningful relationship (see Judy Harmon from his first appearance, Zelda, Lorna Dane, Opal, and recently Mystique).

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about Darkstar. Why do I love her? Well, first of all, there’s her power set. Her mutant connection to the Darkforce allows her to create energy, to make that energy solid, to teleport and to fly. She’s like a Green Lantern without the ring and Nightcrawler without the stench. Second, I love the tiara. Darkstar joins the list of tiara wearing characters that are near and dear to me such as Snowbird, Storm, Scarlet Witch and the Enchantress. Third, her relationship with her brother Vanguard is intriguing. I liked to think about what it would be like if I was able to be a superhero with my sister. Their relationship seemed really solid to me. Fourth, the color of hair is unique. I used to draw with Prismacolor pencils and the closest color I could find when I drew Darkstar was called ecru. Not white, not blond, but something else altogether. It’s even more fascinating when you realize her brother has red hair. Fifth, the costume. It’s clean, simple and elegant. The star design is classic. They really messed it up when they made it all bubbly later on (with the white color instead of the ecru that matches her hair).     

I wish I could find some scans of Darkstar as drawn by Marc Silvestri from The X-Men Vs. The Avengers mini-series. That was a great mini until Silvestri was taken off of issue 4 to work on Uncanny X-Men. No offense to the artist that pencilled that last issue, but I had fallen in love with those pencils and it hurt my adolescent heart a little to see him go. He just made Darkstar look so, what’s the word, witchy. I like it when energy directing characters have really interesting Dr. Strange-ish spell-casting hands and Silvestri does that really well (He would go on to refine what I’m talking about with Storm, Dazzler and Madelyne Pryor, especially in Inferno).
Well, the title of this post says the most important thing about Laynia that really sucks. She’s dead. For years I’ve made sure I picked up any comic book that Darkstar and her Soviet friends made an appearance in and I was so excited to hear that she was going to be a member in the X-Corporation and written by Grant Morrison, no less. And then in some really murky artwork, she’s possessed by an entity and killed by a pompous French assassin named Fantomex. Seriously. I mean, I couldn’t even tell what was happening in those pages. And they buried her in Paris! I know that’s the division of X-Corporation that she was working for, but why wasn’t her body sent to Russia? Where was her brother?
Someday I will have to search out this Contest of Champions limited series and and see how Darkstar fares against her opponent. Anyone got any reading copies they don’t want anymore, let me know. Oh look, there’s the back of Israel’s champion, Sabra (she’s the one that looks like she’s a mass of blue quills). This cover’s composition is not the best. Of all the perspectives that could have been drawn, we have to look over the shoulder of the robed figure (Death?)

So here we learn that Ghost Rider might have Asperger’s Syndrome. I love how Angel is making excuses for him. It was interactions like these that made reading The Champions fun.

So, now that Laynia has been replaced by a redhead, the likelihood of seeing the original Darkstar return from her unceremonious death is close to nil. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this week’s Wolverine: First Class (#7) has a tale featuring Darkstar and her brother Vanguard in part one of a two part story! So, thank you Fred Van Lente!

It still sucks that any stories about Laynia will have to be set in the past though. I guess I’ll have to go reread her old adventures. Anyone got a complete run of The Champions?

Storm Sunday: Craig Hamilton

I remember picking up an issue of Marvel Fanfare simply because it had Angel on the cover and being pleasantly surprised to discover that the second story starred Storm! The first story was written by Ann Nocenti and drawn by David Mazzucchelli and the second one was written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Craig Hamilton. It featured a punk rock mohawk Storm meeting with Mystique to discuss Rogue’s future. The story took place before Storm was hit with the neutralizer that stripped her of her powers (which was meant for Rogue). In fact, we learn that Mystique (through the help of her partner Destiny) knew that whoever tried to help Rogue (who had run away to Mississippi) would suffer the fate meant for her. Mystique, of course, did not reveal this to her hated enemy Storm. I remembered loving the art and wished I could find more than just pinups (like this one of Scarlet Witch & Vision) in the back of future Marvel Fanfare issues. My online searches did not come across much online presence for Craig besides this Art Gallery and this YouTube video interview.

The above drawing is unique because it’s a marker sketch and it shows Storm in an evening gown with opera sleeves like you’d expect from the Black Queen. The addition of the punk bracelets is a nice touch because it adds an edgy element to the elegance of the fashion. I also like how Craig chose to title it “Ororo” instead of “Storm,” making this drawing more of a character study than superhero portrait.

Storm Sunday: Marvel Universe

This Sunday I invite you to play a little “Where’s Waldo” and not only find our revered Weather Goddess in these images, but also see how many of your favorite Marvel Universe characters you can name! The above image is by the masterful Michael Golden and it was a poster in the late 80s. Golden knows how to make heroes look super-heroic! I mean, everyone looks larger than life, practically exuding demi-god powers. This poster makes the Marvel Universe a place I wish I could really visit! And this is one of the best Storm renderings ever.

In a bit of serendipity or maybe file this one in the “great minds think alike” department, while searching for more Michael Golden artwork, I discovered that Brian Cronin from Comic Book Resources just posted this exact image on his blog, Comics Should Be Good, this past Wednesday! Which is really cool, ’cause Michael Golden deserves lots and lots of new fans! Check out this post on CBR for some more art by Golden and some more links to his art!

Newsarama has an interview with Golden here (It’s from January of 2007, but it reveals a lot about his personality and work–you know he co-created Rogue, right?).
This image is also by Michael Golden. Thanks to Comic Book Resources for alerting me to googum’s blog where I found it along with some pretty funny action figure comics–check them out!
I’ve been informed that the artist of this piece is John Byrne. It’s really compact compared to the first image for today, varying the sizes of the characters gives it a collage look. Ooh! Look! There’s Valkyrie!

Storm Sunday: Jerome, Gray & Anime


This piece just sizzles with kinetic flair! I love the use of the cape as a dark visual element and the wave on top of her hair as well as her thin fingers. She looks powerful and cute thanks to the dramatic use of lines and the cartoon style of her face. I also really like how he’s depicted her classic costume and tiara. I would love to see more of this artist, but all I have is the signature to go by. So if you know this artist’s first name, please drop me a line! I’d love to promote their work!

I remember seeing this piece published in Wizard magazine alongside an article about the X-Men movies, but I don’t know the artist’s full name. I like this alternate reality where the X-Men could actually win an Oscar!

And finally, because I love this image, but have nothing else to go with it, I thought I’d share one of my favorite eras of Marvel’s Merry Mutants from the Marvel versus Capcom video game. This is not my favorite outfit of Rogue’s (I prefer the all black bodysuit with green thong and torn t-shirt top), but this is classic Gambit and a very nice version of the Jim Lee Storm costume (except those shoulder pads are outrageous. I like how her hair is reminiscent of the cloud-like form John Byrne used to draw her with.

The Uncanny X-Men by Michael Cho

I came across this super cool image of the first five X-Men (plus the Professor, natch!) a while back and had to share! You can see it colored in red on Michael Cho’s blog here.

Preview Art for Storm: Worlds Apart, Part II

More beautiful art from the upcomig Chris Yost penned Storm mini-series, thanks to Myspace Comicbooks! Be sure to check out Part I of this special preview of Storm: Worlds Apart! The interior artist wasn’t identified in the preview, so I am unable to credit them at this time. Can’t wait until we get some dialogue for the scenes between Storm and Cyclops! And check out that break-taking double spread! Gorgeous!






Worlds Apart

Preview Art for Storm: Worlds Apart, Part I

I am super-psyched for the upcomig Chris Yost penned Storm mini-series! Thanks to Myspace Comicbooks, I have some artwork to share with you, dear reader! Be sure to check out Part II of this special preview of Storm: Worlds Apart! The first three images are cover images (I recognize the first is by J. Scott Campbell & the third one is by Mike Deodato, Jr., but I’m not sure about the second one. Also, the interior artist wasn’t identified in the preview, so I am unable to credit them at this time.).




Preview Art: Magik & X-Men Ex Infernus

The next big X-Men event will feature former New Mutant and fan favorite Magik, aka Illyana Rasputin, aka the Darkchylde. The teleporting Russian sorceress/ruler of demonic dimension Limbo (and little sister of X-Man Colossus) will star in her own mini-series titled “Ex Infernus.” On MySpace Comicbooks, writer C. B. Cebulski announced that artist Giuseppe “Cammo” Camuncoli will be drawing the series (covers will be drawn by David Finch). Below are the sketches he posted for the sequel to 1989’s fondly remembered crossover, Inferno. Comic Book Resources has a great interview with C. B. Cebulski here.
Magik’s got a lot goin’ on here. She looks a bit Red Sonia and Conan with some Dungeons & Dragons thrown in. Which is to say, I love it! The really large tail is the only thing I’m not really into. I prefer Illyana with a thinner demon tail, the thick one reminds me too much of tail-slinging Whiplash from He-Man.
Illyana in her demure form, just trying to be a regular girl. I like the wistfulness conveyed in her expression and her uncertain stance. The skirt portion of the classic New Mutant costume gives it a bit more sword & sorcery aspect. This design debuted in Magik’s issue of the Mystic Arcana mini-series and I’m glad to see it continued here.
Following in the tradition of Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, and Armor, Pixie brings a youthful optimism and a gutsy can do attitude to the X-Men. Cebulski says Pixie has a large part to play in “Ex Infernus.”
Cebulski calls Nightcrawler, Colossus and Wolverine the X-Men’s “trinity” and promises that they all play a large part in the mini-series. This image really gets their personalities across. I especially like Nightcrawler’s crossed arms. I’m really looking forward to this mini-series!

Asexuality: Not Just for Amoebas Anymore

I found this article about one person’s experience as an asexual interesting. Asexuality as a lifestyle (for lack of a better term) intrigues me. I mean, I claimed to be asexual too once upon a time. Like when I was in high school and I knew that coming out as gay would not be looked upon favorably. Using Morrissey (he was still in The Smiths at the time) as my role model, I submerged thoughts about sex deep into my subconscious. I’m not saying that’s what the asexuality movement (is that what it is?) is about, because asexuality is defined as an individual who doesn’t experience sexual attraction at all. Regardless of my environment, that description has never applied to me. I just played a clever game of pretend (not so clever really, because the only person I wasn’t really out to was myself).

At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss asexuals as people who just aren’t in touch with their sexual selves. It’s probably more complicated than that. Or maybe some people just aren’t born with a sexual drive to get it on.

My Solar Return!

Today the sun has returned to the position it was in when I was born! What better way to celebrate this day of new beginnings than with this amazing solar-powered image of Promethea drawn by J. H. Williams III! If you haven’t checked out Promethea by Alan Moore & J. H. Williams III, you are missing out on a wonderful adventure in magic and imagination! Promethea is perhaps my favorite finite series of all time! Alan Moore’s writing is full of wit and wisdom and the characters are easy to fall in love with. And J. H. Williams’ artwork will blow you away!

Astro.com says that one’s birthday is when you receive “a new impulse from the energy center within you, as symbolized by the Sun. Therefore any new venture that you start at this time will ride the crest of this new energy and will very likely come to an acceptable conclusion. Whatever you do or begin today will bear the stamp of your individuality more than anything else. This is the day to assert yourself anew!” Now that’s a great reason to celebrate one’s birthday!

 

I’ve never understood people who don’t like to acknowledge their birthdays. To me, it’s a time to bask in the amazing unique creature that is you. It’s time to affirm your connection to the world and the people with whom your surround yourself. It’s time to give thanks for the blessings in your life and time to reflect on the last year and make plans for the next. It’s a personal high holy day!

 

For really cool horoscopes on a weekly basis as well as planetary transits, check out astrobarry.com! His blog is full of fun and insightful posts.

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