Storm Arcana

Relationship & Intimacy Coach

Month: July 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

White Queen Wednesday: English Accent

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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Good afternoon, gentle reader. It’s White Queen Wednesday, and today I will focus on Emma’s vaguely English sounding manner of speaking. There is a lot about Emma that is artificial, from her dyed blonde hair to the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cosmetic surgery she has sunk into her appearance. While it’s usually Emma herself who broaches those normally touchy subjects with a Joan Rivers-like candor, her affected British accent has only been mentioned by other characters a couple of times now.

The scene above is actually one of my favorite Emma Frost moments from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, when Emma patronizingly disregards the cab driver’s question about her perceived English accent. I just love the way she carries herself in this scene.

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Later in Warren Ellis’s Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis, Cyclops describes Emma as “a white woman of indeterminate ancestry who speaks with a fake English accent” so it’s not just that cab driver who noticed.

It should be noted that Emma Frost was born and raised in Boston Massachusetts, not the UK. Perhaps she assumed her accent because she didn’t want to sound like everyone else back home in Boston, or maybe more specifically she just didn’t want to sound like the family she walked out on.

Or perhaps Emma adopted this pretentious Madonna-ish affectation simply to confer upon herself a regal air of royalty and sophistication.

Either way, I like how Storm teases Cyclops about it here. Her gentle ribbing about his girlfriend’s curious character tic comes off as affectionate teasing between close friends.

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That wraps up this White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I’ll meet you here again next week to talk a little bit more about Miss Emma Frost.

Storm Sunday: Paul Smith, Part II

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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).

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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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*

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Smith covers Uncanny X-Men years later, featuring Storm with Rachel Grey/Summers (Marvel Girl/Phoenix) and Tessa/Sage.

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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!

White Queen Wednesday: JJ Kirby

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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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.

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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.

Storm Sunday Extra: X-Men Second Coming #2

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Last week X-Men Second Coming #2 came out, bringing to a close the most recent X-Men crossover/event.  There are four different stories in this issue.  Chapter 1 is written by Zeb Wells who is the writer of New Mutants.  Chapter 2 is told by Mike Carey, writer of X-Men: Legacy.  Chapter 3 is written by X-Force scribes Craig Kyle and Chris Yost.  Chapter 4 is told by Matt Fraction.  It is satisfying to read the respective X-writers tying up the storylines relating to their titles.  The chapter I found most satisfying was Chapter 3 by Kyle and Yost.  These gentlemen have a gift for writing X-characters in a manner that is infused by their history.  The voices simply ring true to me.  This is not to say that Kyle and Yost rest on their laurels regarding plot or character development.  Somehow, there is a sense that every sentence and action is moving the characters forward.  There is reverence for continuity, but also an awareness of looking to the future.  There is momentum in every story they write and that has made them one of my favorite writing teams.

In Chapter 3 of X-Men Second Coming #2, Wolverine is sitting on the floor of recently departed X-Men member Nightcrawler’s room drinking a lot of beers.  Storm enters the room.  The following is a transcript of their dialogue for the first two pages of this chapter.

WOLVERINE:  Leave me alone.

STORM:  I can’t do that….What are you doing, Logan?

WOLVERINE:  I came down here, all lit up.  Had it in my head that people were going to come take his stuff.  Nearly killed one of the students, thinking they were taking something, like a damn souvenir.  They were leaving a candle, making a shrine.  I keep saying he was the  only one that treated me like I wasn’t some kind of animal, but he died…he died knowing that’s exactly what I am.

STORM:  Was he wrong?

WOLVERINE:  No.

STORM:  I spoke with Scott about X-Force.  He said he ordered you to do it.  He took full responsibility.  I laughed at him.  I laughed at the thought of someone making you do something.  Even Scott.

(STORM picks up a framed photo from the All-New, All-Different era.  CYCLOPS, NIGHTCRAWLER, STORM, JEAN GREY and WOLVERINE are laughing and smiling.)

STORM:  Goddess help me.  I feel old, Logan.  Every time I feel like I’ve cried all the tears I have to cry…there he is again. I am taking this picture.  You may try and kill me if you like.  Isn’t that what you do now?

WOLVERINE:  ‘Ro…

STORM:  You hunt down our enemies and murder them before they can act against us.  That is what your X-Force does, correct?  Because right now, the only thing that’s separating you from our enemies is semantics.  Tell me I’m wrong, Logan.

WOLVERINE:  You’re not wrong.  But you weren’t exactly there, were you?  You want to judge us from up on your throne?  Go ahead, but X-Force was out there trying to prevent all this.  Trying to prevent genocide, any way we could.  If that makes us the bad guys, I’ll take the heat for that.

STORM:  X-Men don’t kill, we always said.  Yes, that line has blurred over the years, but what you and Scott did here…and involving Rahne and James and Laura…

WOLVERINE:  I didn’t want that.  I didn’t even want Summers involved.  The thought of him killing people like that?  That’s not him.  That’s me.  And you know what?  If I had to do it all over again, I’d kill more of them.  Because maybe if I had killed more of them, Kurt would still be alive.

STORM:  I’m sorry to hear that.  Because that means this could very well be the last drink we will ever share together.

End scene.

This conversation about X-Force’s secret wetworks missions has been a long time in coming.  I thought Logan and Ororo’s voices were very much in character  (Well, as much as a characters who appear in multiple comics and are written by a number of writers can be.  Incidentally, I also enjoy Warren Ellis’ take on these two X-Men in the Astonishing title).  The hallmarks of Kyle and Yost’s writing style that I mentioned are evident.  The past is referenced to contrast with the current situation which is influencing the future relationships of the characters.  Brilliant!

However, as fascinating as this conversation was to me, my favorite moment came a few pages later, when Cyclops is talking to Wolverine and says:

CYCLOPS:  They all came and talked to me, individually.  The old crew, Storm, Colossus, Iceman…Professor Xavier…he could see it in my thoughts that I didn’t regret anything we did.  And he looked at me like he was seeing a stranger.  Storm…it was weird.  She laughed, and asked me what I thought Jean would think about X-Force.  And Hank…he’s not coming back.

Wow.  It’s interesting to me that the writers chose to tell the reader about this moment twice instead of showing it.  Hearing Storm and Cyclop’s perspectives separately gives the scene a Rashomon effect.  I really enjoyed this issue.  I found it to be a quite capstone on a crossover that was epic in its action and casualties.  I’m still not a fan of Hope and didn’t really expect this storyline to make me interested in her as she’s still primarily depicted as an object rather than a person, but I’m interested to see how this event changes the X-Men for better or worse.  I’m rather joyous that (SPOILER ALERT) Cable bit the dust, but bitter about Nightcrawler’s death.  And Rogue totally got shafted by Cyclops in the end for a decision that she made that any of us in her position would have made.  (END SPOILER ALERT)

This crossover is definitely worth a read.  It has plenty of pathos and just enough human elements to keep you interested in Marvel’s (not so merry these days) mutants.

Storm Sunday: Josh Ellingson

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Storm Sunday is proud to present the original artwork of San Francisco illustrator Josh Ellingson!  Josh contributes artwork and writing to galleries, publications, and websites worldwide.  He has worked with clients ranging from toy makers to tequila companies.  Josh also contributes writing and reviews to publications and websites such as Laughing Squid and Hi-Fructose Magazine.

Regarding his work, he says, “I’m influenced by popular culture, particularly television and movies, and I’ve also always been a fan of comic books and collectible toys. I’m enamored with science and scientific advancements and lately, astronomy has had a big impact on my work. There’s something about the scale of the cosmic level that makes my brain buzz.”

Josh was very gracious to create an original work of art for this Storm Sunday after I asked him if would like to contribute to my Ororo Munroe obsession.  When he sent me the final image, I immediately fell in love with his interpretation of our Weather Witch.  This portrait pays respect to the depth of Storm’s character.  She looks cool, calm and collected, but somehow Josh gave her a consciousness that is difficult to do with a character that doesn’t always have pupils.  It’s awesome that Josh chose to pay homage to Storm’s Dave Cockrum designed outfit complete with tiara and ruby.  I don’t even mind his artistic license with the lines of her collar and cape.  I think his iteration is streamlined and classy.  Her eyes are drawn in a more cat-like fashion as per her original appearances and her eyebrows have a unique lightning bolt shape to them (I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone draw them this way before).  Her hair is animated in wispy tendrils and the background weather patterns are a beautiful contrast to the colors in her hair.  Josh has a great sense of composition as well as mad skills with color.  Check out his original black and white drawing and then compare it to the image above.

In addition to his illustrations, Josh has animation, case studies, and an amazing Flickr archive of his work available for your perusal.  I found his answers to frequently asked questions to be insightful about his artistic motivation and process.  Josh strikes me as an artist who takes his art seriously.  His intention is focused and his designs are concise and robust, but his art is also humorous, whimsical and joyful.  What more could you want in an illustrator?

Contact Josh about creating art for you!  Follow him on Twitter.

White Queen Wednesday: X-Women

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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Welcome to White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. Can we talk for a minute about how much I love X-Women? This special one-shot by veteran X-Men writer Chris Claremont and Italian artist Milo Manara was years in the making. True to the title, there is nary a male mutant in sight and Cyclops or Wolverine’s names aren’t so much as uttered even once.

The lack of hard continuity markers lends a feeling of timelessness to this tale, but the clandestine globe trotting nature of this “gal-pals only” adventure pleasantly calls to mind that late 80s Australian Outback X-Men era I loved so much as a child. Not just because Milo Manara’s gaggle of mutant girlfriends are equally as lovely as Marc Silvestri’s X-Women ever were, but when I read the part where the girls all pull Storm up onstage to sing Proud Mary I was reminded of a similar scene from Uncanny X-Men #244 where the X-Ladies took a night out on the town and wound up dragging Storm onstage to dance with a male stripper at a Chippendales or something. Which made me realize that we’re dealing with almost the exact same cast from that issue and era if only you swap out Kitty Pryde for Dazzler. But otherwise Storm, Rogue and Psylocke are all here.

While the other girls have fun in the sun on an invite only vacation to Rogue’s inherited villa on the Greek island of Kirinos, Emma spends the majority of this issue bound to a chair and locked in a bootleg Cerebra helmet, out of sight and only visible by Kitty Pryde through her mental rapport with Rachel Grey.

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Although Emma does not show up in a speaking role until the last few pages of the story, her presence weighs heavily over this conversation between the X-Ladies once Kitty Pryde begins piecing together the plot.

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Speaking candidly among close friends, Rogue and Kitty hold a little Emma Frost hate parade and Rogue even drops the B-word. But the situation is somewhat defused when Storm points out that whatever other issues the girls might have with Emma, she IS an X-Man now.

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It really makes me smile to see Storm sticking up for her brand new bestie Emma Frost like that!

I’m also glad that Rogue only seems to have a problem with Emma’s well documented attitude and didn’t stress the fact that Emma used to be a villain, because I was so ready to get all in Rogue’s face and remind her who started out as a straight up terrorist. (That would be Rogue.)

After being bound and blindfolded for so much of the story, Emma unleashes a little pent up aggression on her captor. Baroness Krieg is flash frozen thanks to Storm’s weather manipulating powers, which is when Emma takes her cheap shot.

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Unnecessary perhaps, but oh so satisfying.

When Emma notices that the sucker punch broke one of her immaculately manicured fingernails, she mercilessly kicks her opponent while she is down.

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While Emma only has a handful of lines in this issue, I feel they succinctly convey the essence of modern Emma Frost.

Two pages later, Emma is still enraged over her broken nail.

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It’s nice to see Rogue has come around and finally been won over by Emma as well.

Having been rescued and accepted by her once doubting female teammates, Emma and the girls party it up and make the most of the rest of their vacation.

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This issue also answers the question of which X-Woman ever wears underwear, in case you were wondering. Of course it’s SPOILER ALERT! Kitty Pryde. Sometimes. Like maybe one time.

Until next week, gentle reader.

Living the Lyrics: “Rules for Living” by Blondie

Oh, Debbie Harry.  I keep finding new reasons to love you.  This song has been haunting me ever since I learned about it (full disclosure insists I must reveal that this was only last month).  I love the parts about “maybe we believed there was anger in the storm” and her “dream of Egypt.”  Those parts really spoke to me, but the whole song speaks to a natural cycle of life and love, of god-like immortality and human expression.  Brilliantly poetic pagan witchcraft.  You’ve been here before and you’ll be here again.  Play this on repeat.  You’ll thank me later.

Rules for Living

In another life
When the gods were crazy
And the measurement of time
Were the ending seasons
And maybe we believed
There was anger in the storm

Sometimes the sky reminds me

And if you think that’s wild
There’s my dream of Egypt
And the colour of the Nile
You’re a Roman Soldier
It’s small world after all
But it’s older than you think

Sometimes your eyes remind me
Don’t know why
I’ll wait a lifetime ’til you find me
There are times

Mmmm I’ve been this way before
Mmmm and I’ll come this way again
So many things remind me
So many things inside me

Sometimes your eyes remind me
Don’t know why
I’ll wait a lifetime till you find me
There are times

Mmmm I’ve been this way before
Mmmm and I’ll come this way again
So many things remind me
So many things inside me

In another life
When the gods were crazy
And complaining all the time
And the people look at me
The volcano wants a bribe
And I’m still afraid of fire

Sometimes your eyes remind me
Don’t know why
I’ll wait a lifetime till you find me
There are times

Mmmm I’ve been this way before
Mmmm and I’ll come this way again
So many things remind me
So many things inside me

Mmmm I’ve been this way before
Mmmm I’ll come this way again
So many things remind me
So many things inside me

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.

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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.

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

Stormwatch: Variants, Vampires & Origins

X-Men Coipel Variant
I was all agog when Comic Book Resources unveiled this gorgeous Olivier Coipel variant for the first issue of the upcoming X-Men series.  Storm looks like her old supermodel self, while it is nice to see Jubilee on a cover again (even if she is most likely doomed to become a vampire).  Emma looks positively joyous which is an interesting contrast to Pixie’s apparent bewilderment.  I could really take or leave Wolverine and Cyclops (in this image and in general).  I would love to see more of Coipel’s X-Men and I hope that Storm is as featured within the pages of this issue as she is on the cover.
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The cover to The Origins of Marvel Comics: X-Men #1 is hella aggro.  Magneto, Wolverine and Cyclops look out for blood, while Storm just looks like she’s troubled about something.  That said, at least she is on the frickin’ cover.  Seems that Marvel only puts Magneto, Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Namor on the covers these days. This is a nice respite.
X-Men: Curse of the Mutants

This, however, is a prime example of Be Careful What You Wish For.  When I said I wanted more Storm on the covers of my comics, this is not what I was imagining.  I’m glad that Marvel is referencing Storm’s past involvement with Dracula, but this cover doesn’t make me want to open the issue.  Don’t worry, I will.  And I will let you know what I think about it.

White Queen Wednesday: Raising Hellions

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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Welcome once again to White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. This subject, the Hellions, has been a long time coming. Let this be an introduction to the team if you have never heard of them before, and if you have then this will act as a refresher course. Between their debut and tragic wholesale slaughter at the hands of Trevor Fitzroy and his Sentinels, the Hellions made precious few appearances in a comparative handful of stories. But today we celebrate the brief lives of Emma’s gang of menacing young punks.

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It’s interesting to note that, while Emma’s Hellions and their opposite numbers among Professor X’s New Mutants were undoubtedly rivals, they also shared a lot in common as teenage mutant misfits and frequently socialized at least as much as they engaged in battle. Emma often threw school dances or parties and invited the New Mutants to fraternize with her Hellions. These interactions produced a few lasting friendships and even loves.

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By contrast with Professor X’s more peaceful exhortations, Emma taught her Hellions how to dominate their would be human oppressors and exploit their individual mutant talents for their own personal gain. As the White Queen, Emma sometimes gave lip service to the concept of the Hellions as mutant pawns or merely assets of the Hellfire Club. But, in her own arbitrarily mindblasting way, Emma truly was devoted to her students and seemed to want to teach them how to not just survive but thrive in a world that hated and feared them. If Emma Frost is Lady Gaga, the Hellions were her beloved Little Monsters.

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Catseye was disarmingly cute and had a particular childlike manner of speaking which might have made her seem a little slow, although she had a photographic memory and was probably one of the brightest Hellions. Emma found her as an orphaned alley kitten in the streets of New England and taught her that she was a mutant girl who could transform into a cat and not the other way around. She was probably my favorite Hellion if only for her striking pastel purple visual. I just love her look and I always wanted a little Catseye doll so I could brush her flowing violet mane like a My Little Pony.

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Empath was Emma’s emotion manipulating protege, frighteningly sadistic and vindictive. His name might have been Empath but he wasn’t terribly empathetic. He could control the emotions of others, a power which he recklessly abused to often terrifying effect. Emma and Empath had a pretty screwed up relationship. It seemed that he was her prize pupil but at the same time he also harbored a treacherous streak so that Emma had to watch her back around him.

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Roulette was the blonde bad girl of the Hellions. Her luck changing disks provided her target with a temporary dose of good luck or bad luck, but more often than not she chose to use her bad luck disks to cause mischief just for the sake of it. She was also not opposed to using her bad luck disks on her own teammates when she was bored simply to start trouble.

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Jetstream was exceedingly proud and arrogant, always eager to test his human rocket powers against those of his rival New Mutant Cannonball. Cannonball might have been the faster of the two, but Jetstream achieved more precision thanks to his cybernetic enhancements.

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Tarot was able to physically manifest images from her tarot deck for use in combat. She was also able to use her tarot cards to divine the future and seemed to base her decisions around them, which sometimes made Emma wary as it threw Tarot’s true loyalties into question.

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Thunderbird II joined the Hellions to take revenge on Charles Xavier because he blamed Professor X for the death of his older brother John Proudstar AKA Thunderbird I. Like Emma, James eventually reformed and joined up with X-Force and the X-Men. I will talk a little bit more about him in his own installment of White Queen Wednesday.

We were also introduced to two brand new Hellions just before the team’s demise. Beef and Bevatron had super strength and electricity generating powers respectively, but not a lot of personality between them.

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I really loved the Hellions. It must also be said that I always felt like the Hellions uniform was more than a little gay, pink and purple with a low cut V-neck and little triangle motif. I liked that too.

Thank you for joining me for this examination of the lives of Emma’s original class of mutant students, gentle reader. Do you have a favorite Hellion? If so then I would love to know what you liked about them and why, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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