Storm Arcana

Heroic Tarot & Arcana Academy

Month: September 2010 (Page 2 of 4)

Cosmic Boy by Mike Grell

Cosmic Boy by Mike Grell

Cosmic Boy is one of the three founding members of the Legion of Super-Heroes and has the power of magnetism.  He debuted wearing pink and then more pink and then debuted in the infamous corset look.  Above, Mike Grell recreates the signature look in a commission.  I will always have a special place in my heart for this costume.  Check out out these fun reader-designed costumes for the Legion!

White Queen Wednesday Extra: Superheroes

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

Superheroes Emma Frost file
Hello again, gentle reader. For this edition of White Queen Wednesday Extra, I would like to spotlight Emma’s file card from last week’s Heroic Age: Superheroes. Composed by former Captain America Steve Rogers in a peyote-induced haze, this represents the view of the current “top cop” of the Marvel Universe and director of all things Avengers on Emma Frost and her place as a hero in the Marvel Universe.

In marked contrast to some of the unkind things Steve said in this issue about other heroes (and heroines in particular), his profile of Emma is surprisingly flattering. I’m really glad that he didn’t dwell on her history as a villain when she was the White Queen of the Hellfire Club. That seems to be something many of her fellow X-Men have had a hard time getting past, although perhaps it isn’t as much of an issue for Steve Rogers since he never faced her in battle when she was with the Hellfire Club as far as I am aware.

In fact, Steve goes so far as to suggest that Emma might have a future as an Avenger. This is intriguing, although not entirely without precedent since Emma has assisted the New Avengers on a couple of noteworthy occasions, once when the leading minds of the Marvel Universe had no idea how to resolve the Sentry/Void situation and again when they were at a loss as for what to do with Wanda Maximoff during House of M.

Her power grid ratings are also noticeably high, with especially strong showings in the categories of wisdom, courage, determination and free will. I have no argument with this.

However, I must take issue with the way Steve characterizes Emma’s loyalty to mutants as a drawback. There is a troubling whiff of underlying racism to that statement, the perception that minorities will always stick together no matter what and at the expense of any other concerns. While Emma is fiercely protective of her mutant students and teammates, I do not believe that this must be seen as a negative trait or in any way suggest that she does not think humans are equally worthy of her protection.

Although sometimes puzzling, like the seemingly arbitrary power grid rankings which are entirely open to interpretation, Heroic Age: Superheroes is definitely entertaining. What could have been a collection of dry handbook entries is livened up by Steve’s opinionated drug-fueled rambling, often saying more about Steve and his frequently outdated attitudes towards certain topics than they do about his subjects.

I hope you enjoyed this glance at Emma’s place in the larger Marvel Universe, gentle reader. Until next week…

White Queen Wednesday: X-23

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

X-23 #1 Page 12

Greetings, gentle reader. Today I continue the thread that STORM began, discussing Ororo and Emma’s powerful roles in last week’s debut issue of X-23’s new ongoing series. I like the way Storm and Emma’s dialogue seamlessly dovetails on this page. Just as Storm chides Wolverine for being complicit in helping foster X-23’s considerable issues surrounding her self-image as an emotionless killer, Emma chastises Cyclops for his role in recruiting X-23 for his secret black ops X-Force killing squad.

X-23 #1 Page 13

It is interesting to see Emma playing the good cop to Scott’s bad cop on this page, when popular perception of both characters would have those roles reversed. Whereas Scott and Logan seem to believe that X-23 is what she is, little more than a mindless murder machine to be pointed at their problems, Emma and Ororo take a more maternal stance and wish to see X-23 have something more like a normal childhood. But is that what X-23 herself really wants? I suppose time will tell.

I also like the callback to Emma’s primary motivation to become a hero and join up with Xavier and his X-Men, the tragic slaughter of her Hellions. Although she isn’t beating herself up over it, simply reminding Scott that she is intimately familiar with the issues they’re discussing as they relate to X-23’s current condition.

But I am a bit befuddled by Emma’s sartorial choices here. It looks as if she wrapped a bedsheet around her waist and is wearing another sheet as some kind of makeshift tube top. And what is going on with those hippy dippy sandals? I’m sorry, but I have a hard time imaging Emma in anything but her signature stiletto heels or platform boots.

Overall I really enjoyed this first issue of X-23’s new series, particularly Emma and Ororo speaking up for the girl, and I hope to see more of that in subsequent issues. That’s all for this week, gentle reader. I will join you again next White Queen Wednesday.

Steve Ditko’s Happy Ending

Ghostly Tales About a month ago I at Community Thrift (my favorite thrift store in San Francisco) and I came across a box of comics next to the register.  Inside, mylar bags contained 5 or 6 comics stuffed into them and you could only judge the lot based on the covers.  Once I saw the cover shown above I was smitten.  The idea of the devil foreclosing on a spell was hilarious.  I simply had to read the story with such an idea.  I decided that this comic was worth the five dollars and I didn’t even care what other comics were in the bag.   Heck, I didn’t even care if the story inside this comic lived up to the cover.  I was entertained plenty already.  And thus, I became the proud owner of Ghostly Tales #139 by Charlton Comics (1979).

HE 1

Once I exited the store, I ripped open the mylar sleeve and rummaged through the comic to find the story with Lucifer and the blonde lady who hadn’t paid her magical mortgage.  Imagine my exultant surprise when I realized that the story in question was actually about a brunette, and that it was drawn by the incomparable artist Steve Ditko! Now I present to you, dear reader, writer Joe Gill and artist Steve Ditko’s “Happy Ending”!

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“The Most Important Panel This Year”

Avengers #5 comes out this week and thanks to Tom Brevoort and Comic Book Resources, the world got a sneak peak at what is being heralded as “the most important panel this year” from Marvel Comics.

Brevoort says, “It’s a chart that Old Tony from the future shows to his present-day self, warning him about what is to come. We’ve fat-packed it with hints and portents of future events, so it ought to provide plenty of fodder for fan speculation-at least that’s the hope! And here it is:”

The Most Important Panel This Year

Brevoort said that this panel is proof that Marvel has “got something of a master plan mapped out for the next few years.”  Sounds good to me.  I’m already excited to see which Avengers Academy member turns traitor.  The downside is that I’ve been sitting here at my desk and screaming “INFINITE FUTURES!!!” to no one in particular just because I like the sound of it.

Storm Sunday Extra: Superheroes

Superheroes Storm file

This week saw the release of The Heroic Age: Superheroes which contains file cards about every notable Marvel super-hero as written by Steve (no longer Captain America, just call me Super Soldier, ma’am) Rogers.  Ron Richards of iFanboy has a fun article about the title and speaks about Steve’s rather sexist, nationalist and mutantphobic attitudes, but for this blog’s purposes we are only going to look at Storm’s file.

It appears that Steve thinks rather highly of Storm and her husband, the Black Panther.  I suppose he doesn’t remember that at their wedding, he almost ruined it by fighting with Iron Man, but hey, he’s like super old and maybe he has super selective memories.  I don’t understand why he’s obsessed with Thor and Storm “turning their weather powers against one another.”  Since Civil War, does he sit around daydreaming about all of his friends fighting each other?

However, it is cool that he lists Storm as a “team-player” and a “formidable leader.”  I am so glad that under “Cons” he does not list claustrophobia as that is a state that Storm has totally worked out of her system (as recent stories have shown time and time again).

I don’t know what to make of these arbitrary so-called “power” ratings.  Too weird.  What is meant by “Power”?  “Free Will”?  I have to say, I don’t get it.

Oh, and if Steve really is worried about whether Storm’s roles as queen of Wakanda and as member of the X-Men are going to come into conflict, he needs to read X-Men: Worlds Apart by Chris Yost.  She is quite capable of handling all aspects of her life.  Besides, she’s not really queen anymore.  The ruler of Wakanda is Shuri, who is T’Challa’s sister and the current Black Panther.  Good going, super-cop.

Storm Sunday: X-23

X-23 #1 Page 8

X-23 #1 came out this past week and thanks to its super cartoony cover, I had very low expectations about the content (Yes, sometimes I *do* judge a book by its cover).  However, I was pleasantly surprised by the writing of Marjorie Liu and found myself actually rooting for the murderous female clone of Wolverine.   I have never been interested in the character before because comics are already inundated with traumatized assassin women.  I find no appeal in their lack of personality thanks to whatever secret brainwashing cult/government agency did to them.  Given the choice between Elektra, Spider-Woman or Psylocke, I’ll take Black Widow thank you very much.

That said, after reading her first issue, I am now into X-23.  Did she suddenly become interesting?  Is she exhibiting personality traits?  Well, not exactly.  X-23 is still the same morose automaton walking around in a numb haze (when she’s not in a killing frenzy).  However, Marjorie Liu has quite cleverly embraced X-23’s banality and made it engaging.  She does this by contrasting X-23 with the more established, well-rounded personality of Storm.

However, I did not realize that the woman in the garden was Storm.  Apologies to Will Conrad, but due to the washed out coloring and the Disney Princess outfit, I thought the woman was Emma Frost.  The photograph with the woman and Nightcrawler was strange because I didn’t recognize the tiara and thought maybe it was supposed to be Amanda Sefton.  I had to reread the page a couple of times to realize it was Storm.

In the page above, X-23 happens upon Storm talking aloud to recently departed teammate Nightcrawler.  Liu’s keen dialogue between the two characters does a great job at outlining their similarities and differences.  Suddenly, I was seeing both characters with new eyes.  Storm has always been a compassionate character, and she does have a motherly way about her.  It felt like X-23 was surprised that Storm was talking to her and perhaps she was stunned by her regal composure and congeniality.  Regardless, she stuck around to talk to Storm and even began to play chess with her.  I was intrigued.  When Wolverine arrives and scares Laura away, I was angry at Logan because I felt that Storm had been gently unearthing the girl beneath the assassin.  And then I realized that Liu had masterfully played me.  She took a character that I adore and used her character continuity to reveal what I thought to be a stock character and showed her in a new light.  Not too shabby.

X-23 #1 Page9

The X-Men used to operate in a school and yet they haven’t taught a real class in ages.  Everything these days is geared to being a paramilitary faction.  I miss the “learn how to use your powers and work with humans” angle of the X-Men, so reading the above page and seeing Storm akin to a school counselor was awesome.  This is the kind of storytelling that I want out of my main X-Men titles and it’s taking place in a Wolverine spin-off title.

X-23 #1 Page 10

I get the feeling that Storm doesn’t quite grasp the entirety of Laura’s situation, but I like that she’s trying to relate to the girl.  Liu does bring up some good correlations between the character’s pasts.  Storm’s storytelling is a great contrast to Laura’s staccato responses and speaks volumes to the difference in their different modes of expression.  Perhaps because Storm has been so many things (child thief, tribal goddess, powerless leader, African queen) in her lifetime, she can more easily believe that Laura can have a different life as well.

X-23 #1 Page 11

Wolverine is so infuriating!  Storm was finally getting somewhere with the girl and big bad daddy has to ruin it all.  Now it’s no more Laura and back to being X-23, as she walks away.  To see the two pages following this (in which Storm and Wolverine discuss X-23’s involvement in X-Force) and more awesome interaction between Emma Frost and Cyclops (as they also argue about X-23’s future) tune in to this week’s White Queen Wednesday with Ken Kneisel!

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear (Or His Wife)

Black Panther by Simone Bianchi

Thanks to the recent events in Shadowland, Daredevil has gone crazy and it looks he might not last much longer as the protector of Hell’s Kitchen.  That means someone else needs to step in for him while he’s being “reborn,” so T’Challa of Wakanda, aka the Black Panther, is due for a return to the United States.  Above, Simone Bianchi draws the new “man without fear.”

Black Panther by Francesco Francavilla

And here’s Francesco Francavilla‘s cover for the new title, which is actually the old Daredevil title with the same numbering and a new header (much like Incredible Hulk became Incredible Hercules for a while).  If you haven’t checked out Francesco’s blogs you are missing out on some amazing storytelling!  I get lost on his site for hours at a time and I think I’ve unearthed only half of the amazing art on display there!  I’m glad he’s getting a high profile Marvel gig (he will be providing interiors for the series) and I hope it leads to many more for him.

As for Black Panther bouncing around the rooftops of New York City, I’m all for it.  What is the impetus behind this sudden change?  Series writer David Liss says:

“T’Challa is no longer the king of Wakanda, and he has no more vibranium,” says Liss, touching on recent changes to the life of his new leading man. “After the trials of DoomWar, he’s looking to figure out who he is; what it means to be T’Challa without all the roles, responsibilities and powers that have defined him for so long. When an opportunity arises to relocate to Hell’s Kitchen, it seems like exactly the kind of test he’s looking for.”

It appears that T’Challa’s wife Storm will be hanging with the X-Men while T’Challa does his soul searching.

“Storm is with the X-Men in Utopia,” reveals the writer. “[Her and T’Challa’s] relationship has not changed; they are still married, in love and committed to each other. At the same time, they have their own things they have to do. Storm not only accepts that T’Challa has to be alone right now, she insists on it because she understands that is what he needs. T’Challa is out to test his limits and see what he’s made of; that would be hard to do if every time he got in trouble Storm came flying in and zapped his enemies.”

Interesting.  I think this new role for T’Challa might be actually pretty good for him and Storm’s relationship.  He’s lost all of his toys and his playset, so he does need to regroup and reconfigure his identity.  A bit of back to basics might be good for him and I love the idea of T’Challa prowling around New York City.  X-Men fans are most likely happy to have Storm back full time for a while.  I hope we get some on panel time between the married couple as they deal with the strain of a long distance relationship, but if we don’t I can just pretend it happened off panel.  Hopefully, the time apart will build Ororo and T’Challa up, showing them as awesome individuals, so when they reunite fans of both characters will rejoice.

My Favorite Dead Marvel Characters: Banshee, Part II

xmen76cvr gil kane and sinnott

I have already talked a bit about why I wish Banshee weren’t dead in the current Marvel Universe, but I just reread a lot of Classic X-Men stories and I’m sad and nostalgic all over again.  I also keep coming across awesome art of the dearly departed Sean Cassidy and decided he deserved a second post.

Besides, I know I am not the only one who misses the X-Men’s most stalwart Irish member!  Comic Book Resources has a yearly event in which readers vote for their favorites and Banshee made it to number 28 this year.  Brian Cronin has written a hilarious bio for Banshee that is full of facts and half-truths (you may have to compare and contrast his Wikipedia entry to discover the differences).

Gil Kane and Joe Sinnott drew the above cover to X-Men #76 and although it is not Banshee’s first appearance, it is a great issue.  Banshee was created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Werner Roth, and first appeared in X-Men #28 (January 1967).

Roger Robinson Banshee pin up 082

Banshee is on full assault here in this piece by Roger Robinson.

Chris Bachalo Banshe433

Chris Bachalo drew Generation X, which he co-created with Scott Lobdell, for much of the series first three years.  Banshee shared headmaster duties with Emma Frost (who had made good after years of being a bad, bad girl).  I am a big fan of Bachalo’s Banshee due to his interpretation of his classic costume mixed with the Generation X uniforms.

Banshee_JJ kirby

J.J. Kirby’s lighthearted rendition of Banshee depicts him crooning into a microphone which is consistent with the character’s past.  It is in the Grand Ol’ Opry that Professor X asks Banshee to join the All-New, All-Different X-Men.

Banshee OHOTMU

A classic pose of Banshee, drawn by Dave Cockrum and inked by Joe Rubinstein, for the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.  Banshee without his pipe is like James Bond without his martinis, in my humble opinion.  It just fits the character.

Dave Cockrum X-Men #104 p23

Banshee takes on Magneto all by his lonesome in X-Men #104 (drawn by Dave Cockrum).  Even against impossible odds, he shows he’s got the courage to be an awesome hero.

Dead X-Men

This teaser showed up this week on Comic Book Resources’ Marvel T&A: The Event Debate.  It appears to be part of  the new Chaos War event spanning out of several Marvel titles.  Banshee showed up not too long ago as a resurrected shade of himself thanks to Selene’s Necrosha event but he was hardly more than a techno-organic zombie.  If he, Thunderbird, the Stepford Cuckoos and duplicates of Madrox the Multiple Man are going to appear again as the resurrected dead, there’s a chance they might be around to stay.

Spotlight on Jim Lee

jimleepromo

Jim Lee‘s 1990s X-Men had such an impact on me that I am still poring over his original art from that era.  I recently came across a large cache of his work complete with issue # and page # notes.  These pages are drawn by Lee and inked by Scott Williams.

Above we have the adjectiveless X-Men team (also known as the Blue team), not be confused with the Uncanny X-Men team (also known as the Gold team).    Cyclops led this team with Psylocke, Wolverine, Beast, Jubilee, Gambit and Rogue.  Storm led the other team with Jean Grey, Colossus, Archangel, Bishop andIceman.  There is still quite a debate on the merits of splitting the X-Men in two teams this way and about which one was more interesting.  Writer Chris Claremont has spoken about what his plans would have been for the two teams if he had been allowed to stay on the title.

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The Blue team got to fight Magneto right away, but quickly became his pawns and had to fight the Gold team.  So many great stories starring the X-Men deal with them battling each other.

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Cyclops gets shot by an Acolyte while fighting Magneto!

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Magneto has a bone to pick with Moira MacTaggert after it is revealed she  altered his DNA.  Feeling his redemption to be a lie, he goes on a rampage attacking her and the X-Men.  I always thought this storyline didn’t ring true.  So many stories had focused on Magneto’s reformation.  He even took over the school for Professor X and watched over the New Mutants.  Saying that his genetics were why he had changed was a cop out.  Was this story saying that character growth is nature and not nuture?  This development amounted to a flimsy excuse for things to return to a status quo for the marketing department.

jim lee x-men claremont last issue Breathtaking splash page by Jim Lee.  The blurb saying, “Stan Lee Proudly Presents Chris Claremont’s Final Issue of the X-Men!” is a hard pill to swallow. I hated seeing Chris leave, thus effectively ending the tenure of the man responsible for molding the title into a sales and pop culture juggernaut.  Here’s one fan’s re-examination of the Claremont run.
xmen1pinupad

This page was a treat to find!  I love examining artist’s sketches, especially when there’s a mix of pencils and finished art.

UXM274P30s Jim Lee finds a way to make Deathbird interesting!  She used to look like this, but Lee and co. embellished her costume and poses to make her more appealing as a villain.
UXM268p6_LeeCaptain America and Logan meet for the first time!  I loved this issue (Uncanny X-Men #268) which featured Wolverine, Jubilee and Psylocke on their own mission.  Also notice that Wolverine is smoking (a no-no in today’s Joe Quesada-run Marvel).
lee xmen 268 10

Wolverine, Psylocke and Jubilee rescue the Black Widow!  This story revealed that everyone’s favorite Russian spy was much older than she looked.

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me!

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