Storm Arcana

Heroic Tarot & Arcana Academy

Month: December 2009

“A Love Story”, Starring Jean Grey & Scott Summers

Oh My Goddess! I am so excited and proud to tell you that this blog is two years old! When I look back to posting that first image of Storm by John Bolton and then think about how many Storm Sundays there have been, in addition to the Stormwatch posts, Book Reviews and best of all, getting to share my Princess Witch Boy mini-comic process with you, I get super elated!   Thanks to all of you, dear readers, for taking the time to read and especially comment on stormantic!  One never knows how the future will turn out, but I look forward to sharing it with you!

One might wonder why I am choosing to share a Jean Grey story with you all on the anniversary of a blog mostly about Storm, but if you think back to the Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and John Byrne days, you will recollect that Jean was Ororo’s first real friend!  She showed our Weather Witch how to make it in the city and around the rakish attention of men (I’m looking at you, Wolverine!).  And in honor of that friendship I wanted to share this story about Jean and Scott!  Besides, I started this blog with John Bolton artwork and I can’t help but post more!  Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

The following story was originally published as a backup in Classic X-Men #6.  It is truly a masterpiece written by Chris Claremont and rendered beautifully by John Bolton.  Although the story has no words, I think you will find it steeped in emotional gravitas. In addition, I was lucky to find the whole story in its original pages where you can see all of the human touches that grace each page (especially how the sound effects were glued on).  Enjoy!

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Storm Sunday: Ride the Lightning

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I tend to admire artists who can create the illusion that a character can actually fly.  It’s not like they can ask someone to model for them, right?  Depicting a flier is a bit more than outstretched arms and feet pointing to the earth.  There needs to be a sense of suspended movement that invokes wonder.  We’re a long way from the times of Superman when a character who could fly impresses a reader.  These days, a character has to have an arsenal that includes flight, strength, some level of invulnerability and perhaps a healing factor just to get in the superhero consciousness.  So, when I see an image of a character in flight I tend to analyze it.  I look for a solid form existing within an environment of the fantastic.  I want a merging of the real with the surreal.  I think the above image by Thomas Frisano accomplishes these prerequisites and allows the viewer to enjoy Storm in all of her elemental glory.  Her tiara is a bit too small for my tastes but everything else is fantastic!   Besides, those shoes? To die for!  Check out Frisano’s version Giant Size X-Men at Comic Art Fans!  Click on any of the images in this post to see them larger.Campbell_Storm

Check out the pencils of J. Scott Campbell’s cover for  X-Men: Worlds Apart. It’s interesting how that title doesn’t have Storm’s name in it even though it is her mini-series.   Actually, I would say it is the best Storm story in a very long time.  If you want to see Storm in all of her glorious aspects check it out!  This image is pretty amazing in spite of it’s overwhelming cheesecake attributes because one gets that sense of suspended movement I talked about earlier.  Storm’s cloak billows taut in an updraft and her hair roils upward in its path. Gorgeous!

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This art was credited to an R. Green and is apparently the cover art from a Reign of Apocalypse video game cover.  If you know differently, let me know and I will correct it.  This image is competent enough but lacks the glory of the previous art pieces.  Perhaps it’s the chunky style, but Storm’s big hands and face don’t leave me breathless.  The extreme black and whites aren’t doing it for me either.  I wonder how it would feel if the artist had chosen to have Storm look at the viewer instead of looking off the page.

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Salvador Larroca knows his way around drawing Ororo Munroe–he did it for quite a while as regular penciller on X-Treme X-Men!  This character design sheet not only shows Storm in her element, it details all of the intricacies of her costume and hair!  Amazing!

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These images of Beast, Storm, Colossus and Rogue are from a 1990 trading card set. I do not know who the artist is.  Storm’s posture depicts her in the action of controlling the weather just as her teammates are captured in poses reminiscent of their powers and personality.  I have all of but the Beast card from this series.  It’s a great trading card set from a time when super-hero trading cards were still a fresh idea.

Storm Sunday: Steve Lightle

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Today we appreciate the slick lines of Steve Lightle on a few covers of Classic X-Men (later renamed X-Men Classic).  Lightle was cover artist for this title during 1989 and 1990.  He worked on a run on Legion of Super-Heroes and Doom Patrol, but he is primarily known for his cover work.  There’s an interesting interview with him here.  Click on images to see them larger.  Above, Classic X-Men #40.

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Wolverine gets a free flight courtesy of the Black Queen.  Another Mistress of Darkness drawn by Steve Lightle is Umbra, shown here.  Above, Frontispiece for Classic X-Men #40. 

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Phoenix knocks out Professor X while the team looks on in horror.  Another amazing team shot by Lightle is here.  Above, Classic X-Men #42 

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Above, X-Men Classic #48.  Looks like another fun time in Man-Thing’s Nexus of All Realities.  Amazing wallpaper of Cyclops by Steve Lightle here.  The site says it is art by John Byrne, but that is incorrect.  It’s totally Steve Lightle.  And so is this cover for X-Men Adventures!

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This comic came out after the success of the 90s X-Men cartoon!  I hope you’ve seen enough art to appreciate Lightle’s smooth lines and extreme shadowing.  His dynamic use of blacks and whites makes him a superb choice for covers.  He’s definitely an artist worth looking into!

What I’m Reading Right Now: The Witch Of Portobello by Paulo Coelho

 

Paulo Coelho first came to my attention when a friend let me borrow her copy of “The Alchemist.”  It was not what I expected it to be.  It was much more.  I’ve read a lot of books about following your path, listening to your dreams and redefining your goals. Not many of them were better than a retelling of JosephCampbell‘s Hero’s Myth mixed with a dash of New Age self help chatter.  They came across didactic.  They never touched my soul.  Then I read “The Alchemist.”  It had heart.  I never felt that it was trying to instruct me on how to live, I simply followed the young man in the story and learned from his example.  “The Alchemist” gave me a new system of thinking because it gave me symbols that I could use to apply to my life.  It did this by paring down language to its most evocative.  It told a simple story in a vibrant way.

Imagine my delight when another friend lent me a second book by Coelho, “The Witch of Portabello”.  The inside book jacket sleeve says: “How can find the courage to always be true to ourselves–even if we are unsure of who we are?”  The book explores that question by telling the story of an amazing woman named Athena through the many people who knew (and did not know) her.  Each chapter has different characters narrating the story, leaving the reader to piece the narrative together.  It tends to keep one on their toes and creates a vivid portrait of Athena.

Athena channels a higher beimg  named Hagia Sophia,  who is simply another aspect of herself, during monthly group meetings.  In these time of divine transcendance, she teaches many moral imperatives such as:

“You are what you believe yourself to be.”

“Don’t be like those people who believe in ‘positive thinking’ and tell themselves that they’re loved and strong and capable.  You don’t need to do that, because you know it already.  And when you doubt it…just laugh.  Laugh at your worries and insecurities.  View your anxieties with humor.  It will be difficult at first, but you’ll gradually get used to it.” (152)

This is no New Age parable.  This is real counsel, completely applicable to anyone’s life.  It takes the ephemeral and makes it tangible.  The topic of breaking off the chains of self doubt is visisted many times throughout Athena’s story.  She is not willing to live another’s idea of her destiny. 

“We all have a duty to love and to allow love to manifest in the way it thinks best.  We cannot and must not be frightened when the powers of darkness want to make themselves heard, thos same powers that introduced the word sin merely to control our hearts and minds.”

Athena uses the story of Jesus as propenent of unconditional love and quotes many instances from the Bible when he uses compassion instead of guilt or shame to help his followers.

“What is sin?  It is a sin to prevent Love from showing itself.  And the Mother is Love.  We are entering a new world in which we can choose to follow our own steps, not those that society forces us to take.  If necessary, we will confront the forces of darkness again…But but no one will silence our voice or our heart.”  (229)

Love is often the subject of her talks. 

“The man before me suffers for something he believes he has never received–my love.  But the man beyond your self understands that all pain, anxiety, and feelings of abandonement are unnecessary and childish.  I love you.  Not in the way that your human side wants, but in the way that the divine spark wants.  We inhabit the same tent, which was placed on our oath by her.  There we understand we are not the slaves of our feelings, but their masters.  We serve and are served, we open the doors of our rooms and we embrace.  Perhaps we kiss too, because everything that happens very intensely on earth will have its counterpart on the invisible plain.  And you know that I’m not trying to provoke you, that I’m not toying with your feelings when I say that.'”

Her follower, Philemon asks:

“‘What is love then?'”

And she responds:

“‘The soul, blood, and body of the Great Mother.  I love you as exiled souls love each other when they meet in the middle of the desert.  There will never be anything physical between us, but no passion is in vain, no love is ever wasted.  If the Mother awoke that love in your heart, she awoke it in mine too, although your heart perhaps feels it more readily.  The energy of love can never be lost–it is more powerful than anything and shows itself in many ways.'”      (256)

It is definitely worth your while to pick up “The Alchemist” or “The Witch of Portobello” and glean from the stories their divine human wisdom.  The world is richer for having Paulo Coelho in it!

Storm Sunday: Bad Romance

Yes, dear reader, the title of this week’s Storm Sunday is lifted from the new “Fame Monster” album by pop goddess Lady Gaga!  If it is within your personal tastes, you might wish to listen to this song while you read this post.  Why?  Because today we’re going to take a look at one of the most important X-Men relationships in comics:  Storm and Forge.  (Click on images for larger versions)

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You can read all about Forge and Storm’s relationship here, here, here, here and here, but here’s my take on the story:

Native American inventor (whose mutant power is to create any technological invention he can conceive of) works for the United States government to make a gun that will strip a mutant of their powers.  The gun is used against Storm, mutant weather wielder and leader of the X-Men,  instead for whom it was designed (Rogue, who had a criminal record).  Storm falls out of the sky and Forge rescues her and hides her in his penthouse from the government.  When she awakens powerless and despondent, Forge tries to help her count her blessings.  Forge gets a phone call and Storm eavesdrops on the conversation and learns Forge is the inventor of the gun that took her powers.  She runs away with Forge following after.  They exchange heated words as Storm says she cannot believe she trusted him and Forge says he’s sorry and has feelings for her.  Storm says that she was falling for him too, but that it doesn’t matter.  She punches him and leaves even though Forge says he thinks he can reverse the damage.

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(Artwork by Barry Windsor Smith)

Forge also has a talent in sorcery that he doesn’t embrace because one time in Viet Nam he cast a spell that used the souls of his troop to summon demons to kill the Viet Cong.  We don’t learn this until much later except that this past is alluded to in holographic projections that Storm runs through as she escapes Forge’s home.  Much later, the X-Men are fighting evil aliens known as the Dire Wraiths and Forge and Storm’s paths collide.  Forge reveals he’s still crushing on Ororo and Storm is not impressed.  “We will meet again,” she says, “but you may well wish we had not.”

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(Artwork by Kerry Gammill)

During the Asgardian Wars, the God of Mischief Loki totally fixates on Storm.  I should also mention that way before this, Doctor Doom put the moves on Storm, too.  Oh yeah, and before Storm loses her powers she has a relationship with the thief Yukio that some interpret as intimate.

Later, Forge tried to right the wrongs he made in Viet Nam and this fiasco included his old mentor Nazé, who was really dead by this point and possessed by an evil entity known as the Adversary.  So, when Storm swallowed her pride to ask Forge to help her get her powers back, she was accompanied by Nazé who tricks her into believing that Forge was evil.  When she finally finds Forge her mind is dead set against him and thinking he is creating a rift in space, she stabs in the heart without a second thought (Storm is really good at doing this.  See Callisto and Marrow).  The Adversary then traps Storm and Forge on an alternate Earth without any other people on it.  They both admit they have feelings for each other and even though they could presumably live happily ever after on their pseudo-earth decide to save the real one.   So, a year passes on pseudo-earth and Forge creates inventions from his artificial leg and hand to 1. return Storm’s powers to her and 2. create a gateway back home.  They fight the Adversary but in order to defeat him nine souls have to be sacrificed because that was the number Forge used in Nam on his buddies.  Forge cannot be one of the souls because he has to cast the spell.  Storm and the X-Men agree to spell and then “die”.  The Goddess Roma brings them back but with all this weird stuff that gets retconned anyway (some stuff about their images unable to be seen by technological equipment, yadda yadda).   Storm decides that the X-Men for all intents and purposes should keep up appearances of being dead to strike at their enemies.  Forge is not privy to their resurrection and goes home and has to fight Magik, Colossus’ little sister.

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(Artwork by Marc Silvestri)

Later, Storm is reduced to a much younger version of herself.  Forge has a psychic fight with the Shadow King and barely wins, but learns that Storm is alive.  When they reunite, Storm is an adolescent thanks to the villain known as Nanny.  Awkward.  Much later, there’s some bad business on Genosha and Storm is kidnapped by the baddies to be turned into a slave.  However, the procedure turns Storm back to her adult self.  There is a fight with the Shadow King and all return to the X-Mansion.  Forge works there as the mechanic fixing the Danger Room, Professor X’s wheelchair and the Blackbird.  He asks Storm to marry him and when she appears to tell him no, Forge accuses of her of having no life outside of the X-Men and stomps off.  Jean Grey tries to tell Forge that Storm does care about him but when he finds out that Mystique is going crazy, he leaves the X-Men to help her.  Also, it seems for a minute that Storm and Bishop were flirting.  Storm breaks down as she would have said yes.

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(Artwork by Whilce Portacio)


Forge runs off to lead X-Factor and make out a lot with Mystique (!) while Storm stays with the X-Men.  Forge eventually realizes that Mystique is faking her mental problems and asks Storm out again.  She agrees to go out with him and they both feel that they can make it work.  Lots of adventures later, Storm tells Forge that she sees no long term relationship working out and during her mini-series (in which she has a slight flirtation with Cable), Storm completely cuts it off with Forge.  Forge stays with X-Factor until that team runs into the ground.  Sabretooth almost killed everyone on the team and Mystique ran away, leaving Forge to nurse his heart.  After this, Forge tries to resume his studies in shamanism but quits.  Thanks to Professor X, Forge and Mystique cross paths again and Charles has Forge create inventions for Mystique while she works for the Professor as his Black Ops agent.  Forge’s feelings for Mystique are not returned although they go out on a date together.  Mystique escapes Professor and leaves Forge disheartened.

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(Artwork by Whilce Portacio)


Around this point, Storm visits the Black Panther and helps him out on a mission.  They act in the manner that good friends would with one another.  Storm accuses T’Challa of going down the same slippery slope of Magneto in regards to his leadership of  Wakanda.  They share one kiss.

Storm ends up flirting with Davis Cameron (Slipstream) during her tenure as leader of X-Treme X-Men and is hit on by wannabe conquerer Shaitan.

Now here’s where things get screwy for Forge.  He encounters Nimrod, a time travelling robot who makes him invent some stuff for him or else he will teleport to Wakanda and kill Storm (who is about to marry the Black Panther).  Forge gets help from the New X-Men and la la la.  Forge obsesses over time travel and when Bishop comes calling, Forge is shot and dealt serious head trauma by the former X-Man.  After Forge recovers, he gets even more consumed by time travel and moves to Wundagore Mountain (home of the High Evolutionary).  Forge’s new scheme on how to deal with M-Day (a day when almost all of the mutants lost their powers0 is to inject synthetic DNA into  several humans.  He discovers there are other creatures from another dimension who are set on invading Earth with their “Ghost Boxes” and he sends his creatures (whom he dubs the “New Mutants”) against them.  The X-Men get involved and discover a stark raving mad Forge.  Before everything blows up, Storm asks him to leave with the X-Men.  Forge refuses, seemingly upset at her having married the Black Panther.  He apparently gets blown up while the X-Men escape.

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(Artwork by Whilce Portacio)


It’s important to note that Storm has had quite a few dalliances throughout her life.  She met the Black Panther when she was a child and they had a “thing” with him depending if you rely on the few pages of their time together in Marvel Teamup #100 or the retcon crazy Storm mini-series leading up to her marriage.  She fell in love with the warrior Arkon while on a mission with the X-Men, likening her feelings to what she thought Jean and Scott had, but her duty to the team kept her from being with him (sound familiar?).  She’s had flirtations with Wolverine and Nightcrawler as well.

So what have we learned?  This romance was doomed from the start.

Deception, guilt and shame are the major players here.  As well as pride.  A lot of pride.  Forge was a lapdog for the government who turned his back on his Native heritage which led to the death of his supposed friends in the military.  Storm was a woman with extraordinary powers who instead of having peers all of her life, was worshiped by her tribe and haunted by the death of her parents.  Neither one had what could be considered a healthy relationship with their family or themselves.  Forge was an escapist living in denial, while Storm had delusions of grandeur (although if one had her powers it might seem logical that you would as well).  Still, Storm did grow up on the streets of Cairo as a thief, so she had to know that there were other lives she could be living.

Storm fell in love with Forge under the worst circumstances.  She was completely powerless, suicidal and trapped.  Perhaps it’s a bit rash to liken this situation to Stockholm Syndrome, but it certainly reminds me of it.  Forge’s feelings for Ororo surfaced while she was his captive.  The guilt he felt for destroying her life were always mixed up his love for her.  Not a great way to start a relationship.

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(Artwork by Jan Duursema)

Think about the relationships Storm had before she met Forge.  Oh, that’s right.  There’s nothing there but an adolescent dalliance with a prince that borders on fantasy roleplaying and a series of flirtations.  It makes sense in an odd way that Storm would keep going back to Forge when she knew next to nothing about anything else.  (However, it doesn’t mean she should return to her first love from her childhood and marry him either, but that’s a whole other post.)  We aren’t privy to what Forge’s life was romantically before Storm, but I find it hard to believe that a women in her right mind and proper sense of self would fall in love with a man who denied his heritage and worked for a questionable government agency.  That kind of man is not boyfriend material.

So, even though it makes perverse sense that Forge would fall in love with a woman as beautiful and deeply emotional as Storm, and that Storm without her normal defenses would take a risk at love, in this instance the overall combination is rife with failure.  When Forge asked Storm to marry him and didn’t get his answer immediately, he left like a spoiled child.  Although Storm says she would’ve married him, her hesitancy betrays her emotions.  It seems that she was fooling herself, perhaps thinking she would never get another chance at love.

There’s also the Mystique factor.  What kind of low self-esteem does one have to have to go back to the man who broke your heart by going out with your arch-nemesis?  Twice!  Or flip that around.  What kind of low self-esteem does one have to have to continuously go out with a woman who is the complete opposite (and therefore enemy) of the woman you are really in love with?  It really is hard to wrap that one around my mind.

When I think of romance, I think of emotional honesty.  I think of a partnership of like-minded individuals looking to learn more about themselves and each other and, through that partnership, the world.  Romance starts with loving your self so that you can better love your partner.   I believe romance is about being mirrors for one another so you can move beyond the ego and unconscious projections.   Storm and Forge may have deluded themselves (and many a reader, myself one of them) when they spent time together that day in Dallas.  However, in spite of all of their good intentions, theirs was a bad romance.

OMG PWN!ES: AbraKaZebra!

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When Kaebel Hashitani invited me to participate in his new art show at Sequential Art Gallery entitled OMG PWN!ES I immediately accepted!   When I was a child I loved to play with my sister’s My Little Ponies. I especially liked the Pegasus named Medley.  The combination of pony with wings plus aqua coloring with music notes on her behind just had me at first sight.  So Kaebel said we could use ponies that they had already and that the artists could do whatever they wanted to modify them for the art show.  I demanded a pegasus pony and Kaebel sent me thiversion of a modern pony called Star Catcher.  I hated it.  Seriously, what was with the flimsy fabric wings?  I also was not into the raised ornamentation–all the curlicues and dots seemed unnecessary to me.  Star Catcher was reissued later with molded wings and although I think they are ridiculously small and strangely positioned, it’s definitely a step up from the thin fabric ones.

So I was stuck with a pony I  really didn’t like aside from the traditional My Little Pony head sculpt.  So what did I do?  I ripped out the wings and twisted off the head.  I took the pony home and ripped the head and hands off of a Star Trek 12″ doll (Chekov) and used epoxy to attach them to the doll.  I also added a “little” something of my own creation.  Then I painted the entire pony man white.  Then the hooves and around the eyes were painted black.  I went through my fabric and inspired by a zebra print to paint black striped on the body and then sewed the zebra fabric to t he joints where the fabric was more likely to flake away.  I found some fur that picked up the pastel colors of the pony’s hair and added them.  Black fur trim around the boots was the final touch.  You can see more pictures of my modified My Little Pony (whom I named AbraKaZebra) at my flickr account.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEQUENTIAL ART GALLERY DECEMBER 2009: OMG PWN!ES

PORTLAND, OREGON – For Sequential Art Gallery’s second annual group show, artists from a range of backgrounds have submitted My Little Ponies (and a few very special “fakies”) that have been painted, carved, sculpted, bejeweled, and–well, you’ll see…

With a predominantly female bill of artists, both local and out-of-state, we are excited to bring you these reinterpretations of the popular childhood toy. Artists have had complete freedom in how they modify their pony because this show has absolutely no affiliation with the Hasbro corporation. And yes, we have been accepting “NSFW” submissions. Welcome, fans of all that is cute and twisted!

The show will open during First Thursday on December 3, 6-10p. “OMG PWN!ES” was conceived via Twitter and is being co-curated by Kaebel JK Hashitani of Sequential Art Gallery and Indigo Kelleigh of Lunarbistro.com.

Sequential Art Gallery + Studio is located in Old Town Chinatown at the Everett Station Lofts, 328 NW Broadway #113. Open for regular gallery hours and gaming every Saturday (11am-5pm) through December 19th or by appointment, with extended holiday hours TBA. The gallery showcases local artists who explore the concept of sequential art, which is loosely defined as using consecutive images to tell a story. Curated by Kaebel JK Hashitani and Merrick Monroe.
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Kaebel JK Hashitani + Merrick Monroe, curators
Sequential Art Gallery + Studio
328 NW Broadway #113 • PDX OR 97209
503-916-9293 • www.sequentialartgallery.com

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Storm Sunday: Cameron Stewart

Thanks to Robot6@ComicBookResources.com for posting the link to Cameron Stewart’s blog in which he shares some sketches he drew for fans during his Eurotour 2009!  His rendition of Storm is super-amazing!  He totally captures her punk attitude and fashion perfectly! 

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Compare the above image with the version he drew for me at San Diego in 2008:

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