Storm Arcana

Heroic Tarot & Arcana Academy

Month: August 2010 (Page 2 of 2)

My Favorite Dead Marvel Characters: Nightcrawler

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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.

Dave Cockrum Nightcrawler

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.

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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.

X-Men 147 page 3 Nightcrawler Cockrum

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.

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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.

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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.

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Nightcrawler encounters a Bamf, a smaller version of himself! “Welcome to Bamf Island, Daddy!” Indeed!

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A lovely pencil illustration, presumably another convention sketch.  A fantastic somber moment.

Dave Cockrum Bob Layton Uncanny X-Men 150 p28

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.

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In Uncanny X-Men #105 (page 27) Nightcrawler tries to rescue Lilandra without success.  I love the first panel showing his acrobatic skills.

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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.

Dave Cockrum Uncanny X-Men 153 p17

Uncanny X-Men #153 depicts the first appearance of the Bamfs when Kitty tells a fairy tale to Illyana (little sister of Colossus).

Dave Cockrum Uncanny X-Men 153 p 27

“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.

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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).

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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.

Storm Sunday: Michael McDaniel

Storm by Michael McDaniel
While scouring the web looking for images of the X-Men’s resident weather witch, I stumbled upon the artwork of Michael McDaniel.  I did not find any personal information about this artist, and it doesn’t appear that he has any published comics work to his credit.  He seems to be primarily making a name for himself as a pinup artist.  The above image of Storm is definitely a more classic look for her, but with a touch more muscle than I am used to seeing Ororo portrayed (at least before she went punk rock).  I like the expansiveness of the pose and the way McDaniel illustrated her hair and tiara.  I do think the cape is a bit too small, but we can blame that on unstable molecules.  For another version of Storm by McDaniel check out SwanShadow’s blog.

Johnny Storm by Michael McDaniel
Here’s a whole ‘nother kind of Storm in the form the Fantastic Four’s resident hothead, Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch (as portrayed by Chris Evans).  I like the art board that McDaniel uses.  The texture gives his work a rough edge which is nicely contrasted with the smooth lines.  The design element of the yellow rectangle gives this image an advertisement vibe.
Shang Chi by Michael McDaniel
More beefcake is on the menu as McDaniel draws his version of Shang Chi, Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu!  Again, I really enjoy the pencil gradations.
Michael McDaniel Zatanna
DC’s Zatanna, Mistress of Magic is casting a spell on you in this sassy pinup.  McDaniel certainly has saucier versions if you are interested.
Superman B&W Pencil
Superman doesn’t seem to be in much of hurry to get into his full costume, does he?  Caught in mid-transformation, this image of Clark Kent is really all about the musculature (and maybe the pin stripes of his shirt).  I’m getting a definite 80s Nagel fashion illustration influence here.
Isis Pencil by Michael McDaniel
Oh, Mighty Isis!  McDaniel gets into depicting the intricate jewelry of this DC Comics’ heroine.  She looks resolute as she flies powerfully through the sky.
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One last slab of beefcake in the form of this Brandon Routh inspired Superboy.  Apparently, it’s very important that you check out his superhuman six pack!  If you are into good/bad girl/boy artwork, then check out more McDaniel artwork here.    Cheers!

White Queen Wednesday Extra: Bryan Lee O’Malley

Bryan Lee O Malley White Queen

Check out this awesome drawing of Emma Frost by Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley!  Thanks to Comic Book Resources and Douglas Wolk for sharing this with the world!

Make sure to go see Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World in theaters this weekend!  I caught a preview screening and am delighted to report that this movie is solid entertainment!  There’s some fun animated shorts on Adult Swim, too!  And of course, I recommend the 6 super fun-filled Scott Pilgrim graphic novels.  You may not know that your life needs Canadian manga goodness, but let me tell you wholeheartedly, it so totally does!

White Queen Wednesday: Selene

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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Good afternoon, gentle reader. Today I direct your attention to “The Sport of Queens”, a short story from X-Men Unlimited #33 written by Will Pfeifer and illustrated by the legendary Esteban Maroto who I am primarily familiar with for having previously drawn a lot of Vampirella comics back in the Seventies. This story stars Emma Frost during her time as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club and her rival Black Queen, the immortal sorceress and psionic vampire Selene.

As the story starts, Selene has grown bored with the obscene wealth and privilege associated with Hellfire Club membership when Emma espies a brutal brawny Hellfire Club guard on the monitor screen who captures both her and Selene’s attention.

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Emma proposes a gentlewomanly wager to cure Selene’s boredom. Emma bets Selene that she can’t compel the guard to declare his love for her before Emma. The ground rules are set, no magic and no mutant powers are to be used, and the game is on!

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Emma and Selene both ask Chet, the burly Hellfire Club guard, out to dinner and take him to fancy restaurants that he could never afford. They also show him Hellfire Club secrets and give him access to some of the extraordinary conspiracies that the Club has a hand in.

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When they both discover that their competitor is playing dirty, they swear that the gloves are off and they will each do whatever it takes to win.

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Naturally this means that Selene and Emma both cheat and break the ground rules by using their sorcery and mutant telepathic powers respectively on poor unsuspecting Chet.

I love Emma’s dramatic gown in this panel, with it’s personalized crowned E and WQ logos which stand for Emma and White Queen of course.

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Speaking of lovely and dramatic gowns, I also love the formal evening wear sported by Emma and Selene in these next few panels with their matching but not identical dresses and Selene’s long black feather cape complimenting Emma’s sweeping white fur. It really gives a sense of the debauched decadence of Emma’s old Hellfire Club days.

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Emma and Selene’s rivalry has a definite Betty and Veronica kind of vibe in this story with their petty squabbling over a boy’s affection. Although I don’t recall any Betty and Veronica stories that ended with Archie’s head exploding from combined magical and telepathic backlash.

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As our tale ends, Emma cleverly asserts that she won the wager since the bet was that Selene could not convince Chet to declare his love for her first and he won’t be declaring anything to anyone in his present state. I like how Selene is at first infuriated by Emma’s temerity but that quickly gives way to a grudging respect and camaraderie between the two villainesses.

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Well that’s all for this White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I hope you enjoyed this look back at one of the ways Emma kept herself entertained during her tenure with the Hellfire Club. Until next week…

I Can’t Wait For These Marvel Comics!

The-Heroic-Age-Childrens-Crusade-000dRegular readers of this blog know that Avengers: The Children’s Crusade is one of my current favorite titles.  I am loving the story by Allan Heinberg and the pencils by Jim Cheung.  I must admit that I am a bit annoyed at Wolverine hogging the cover for the second issue.  Doesn’t he have enough titles to star in?  Isn’t being an X-Man and an Avenger enough?  As beautiful as Cheung draws him, I was hoping for another Young Avenger to step into the spotlight like Wiccan did last issue.

The solicit reads: “The race is on as the Avengers, the Young Avengers, and the X-Men compete to be the first to find the Scarlet Witch. When the Young Avengers discover the secret of Wanda Maximoff’s disappearance, the Avengers attempt to neutralize the Scarlet Witch before the Young Avengers can find her. But their efforts soon lead to an all-out war between the Avengers and the X-Men that only the Young Avengers can stop.”

Okay, well that ought to put Wolverine into a sticky situation.  That’s what he gets for being on two teams.  Hopefully, Heinberg will mine the heck out of the drama.  I love it when the Avengers and the X-Men don’t get along.

4_ASTONISHING_X_MEN__XENOGENESIS_5 Oh yes!  More Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis goodness by Warren Ellis and Kaare Andrews!  Watch out X-Men!  Those mutate babies don’t look so friendly!
89_SECRET_AVENGERS_6_VAMPIRE_VARIANT_Are you reading Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato’s Secret Avengers?  It’s been great fun so far with the team going to Mars on their first mission (complete with space suits that match their superhero costumes–Moon Knight in space gear? Too cool).  This cover of the Black Widow and a zombie version of the incorrigible Ant-Man (or whatever he’s called) by Amanda Conner is super sweet.
91_SECRET_AVENGERS_6_WOMEN_OF_MARVEL_VARIANT_There is another variant of Secret Avengers #6 featuring Valkyrie, one of my favorite characters.  Chris Bachalo does a great rendition of her.  His chunky style suits her and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone give Valkyrie thick hoop earrings before, but I really like it.  That sword is awesome too.  I really really want this cover.
ULTIMATE-COMICS-THOR-2Normally, I don’t mention the Ultimate Comics line (I try to adhere to an “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” policy) but this cover is awesome and Thor looks a bit like the images I have seen flying around the internet of the upcoming Thor movie.

I can’t wait for these Marvel comics!

Are you excited about any of these comics?  Do you have a favorite that you wish I’d mentioned?

Storm Sunday: 1982 X-Men Jam

X-men jam piece

Happy Storm Sunday to you, dear reader!  Today we feature an X-Men jam piece from 1982, featuring the artwork of many talented illustrators!  So many different artists representing some of the best of the early All-New, All-Different era of the X-Men!  On the left, we have a stocky rendition of Colossus by comics superstar George Pérez, a seriously serious Cyclops by Paul Smith, and a menacing Nightcrawler by his creator Dave Cockrum.  Next to Nightcrawler is an out for blood Wolverine by legendary Bill Siekiewicz, and joining him are a Sprite-ly Kitty Pryde by her creator John Byrne and a high-flying Storm by Bob Wiacek.

I love the idea of creating your own team of X-Men with different artists.  If I were to do such a thing today, I think I would want the X-Men Australian Outback era consisting of Storm, Dazzler, Rogue, Psylocke, Colossus, Wolverine, Havok and Longshot.  I’d want the team when they were fighting the Adversary at the end of Fall of the Mutants.  This was when Storm was dressed in her Native American gear by Marc Silvestri and I would have him draw her as he did then, with her hair super long and in that fringe dress.  I’d want Bill Sienkiewicz to draw Dazzler, Art Adams would be my first choice for Longshot (since he’s the lucky lad’s creator),  Rick Leonardi draws a perfect Colossus, Havok by Neal Adams , Rogue by Jim Lee, Wolverine by Simone Bianchi, and Psylocke by Alan Davis (only he could make the purple armor look bearable; I am a huge fan of her pink outfit with the big sleeves).

If you had the chance to recreate your own X-Men jam piece, which era of the X-Men would you choose and which artists would you want to draw them?

White Queen Wednesday: Iron Man

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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Good evening, gentle reader. This week’s White Queen Wednesday will focus on a page from last week’s Uncanny X-Men #526. In this scene, Emma Frost meets Tony Stark AKA Iron Man for dinner and to discuss topics unknown.

I wonder if Emma’s comment that Tony looks like a movie star might be a reference to the Iron Man films starring Robert Downey Jr. Her characterization of Cyclops and Wolverine’s “rad bromance” is definitely a reference to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.

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It has previously been suggested that Emma and Tony enjoyed a casual “friends with benefits” type relationship in the past, back when she was still the White Queen of the Hellfire Club. So the obvious inference in this dinner date is that Emma might be hooking up with Tony again. But I sincerely doubt that is truly the case here.

But if not that then what else could they possibly be discussing? Tony Stark’s suggestion that they “figure out which way we want the world to spin” indicates that their dinner conversation might center around the fact that they are two of the more influential movers and shakers of the Marvel Universe. Perhaps Tony is going to invite Emma to become a member of the Avengers? Emma has assisted the Avengers a couple of times in the past, most notably to help calm the Sentry’s mental imbalance.

What do you think Emma Frost and Tony Stark might be up to, gentle reader?

Recap! Avengers: The Children’s Crusade

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Perhaps you  missed out on the first issue of the Avengers: The Children’s Crusade mini-series by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung and you are contemplating waiting for the collected trade paperback.  In the immortal words of Thor, I say thee nay!  Do not wait for the trade, comics fans!  Instead, read the above recap and make sure to reserve your copy of the second issue at your local comics shop, and while you are at it–look for the second printing variant!  This is an amazing story and I would hate for you to miss out on it, dear reader!

Storm Sunday: Paul Smith, Part III

Paul Smith X-Men 166 cover

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.

xmen169coverThis 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?

Paul-Smith-X-Men170p7 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!

pmsxmen172pgs2-3The 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.

Paul Smith xmen172 p24 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.

Paul Smith xmen172 p26 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.

Smith X-Men 173.5.1 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.

X-men 174 page 22Page 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).

xmen175cvr 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.

Smith_XM175 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.

xmen175splashPhoenix reveals herself on page 8 of Uncanny X-Men #175 (to the most amazing typography in Storm’s word balloon), but what of the phantasmal body of Cyclops, falling to the floor?

xmen175pg09The 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.

xmen175pg21 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.

xmen175pg22On 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.

xmen175pg23 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.

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