The amazing sketches that I received over WonderCon 2010 keep on comin’! This week we celebrate the striking lines of artist Marley Zarcone! Marley’s projects include Forgetless (she has a back up running through the 5 issue mini-series) and an upcoming issue of Madame Xanadu! Marley drew this sketch in her hotel room while I read her tarot. We didn’t have any reference for Storm’s tiara (much to Marley’s chagrin) but I really love the jewelry she drew instead. Ororo truly looks like her authentic Kenyan princess self.
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An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Greetings, gentle reader! After last week I decided I would like to spotlight something a little more fun this time. So here’s a short clip of Emma’s appearance as the White Queen from an X-Men arcade game that some of you might remember. I certainly do.
I love her dialogue here. “The White Queen welcomes you to die!” So polite, our Emma. Then the evil husky cackle. I love it!
This side-scrolling Konami arcade game was based on the Pryde of the X-Men animated TV pilot that was released in the late 80s. I remember watching that cartoon and playing this video game over and over again in my teens.
If any of my San Francisco Bay Area buddies know of an arcade that still has this game, please let me know because I would love to play it with you sometime!
Well that’s it for this week’s White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader! Just something light and quick this time, but next week I promise to examine a meatier topic at length.
Ororo Munroe sketch by Colleen Doran.
One of my favorite creators is Colleen Doran (of A Distant Soil fame) and I was elated when I realized that her booth this year at WonderCon was near Writers Old Fashioned! The close proximity enabled me to take time to speak with her several times about her upcoming work on Girl Comics #4 and her artwork for Gone to Amerikay and Stealth Tribes (with Warren Ellis)! I missed her panel, but I did get one on one time with Colleen in which we exchanged stories and experiences. These moments are some of my favorites from that weekend.
Of course, I am elated to have a Colleen Doran sketch in my art collection! I love her lines. They have inherent grace and fluidity without compromising the realistic solidity of the character. She makes Ororo look glamorous, serene and yet still edgy.
Thank you, Colleen for being such a warm and personable creator and an overall inspiration in both personal and professional spheres. I look forward to the next time our paths cross.
Colleen Doran and STORM, WonderCon 2010.
An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Welcome back, gentle reader, to White Queen Wednesday. This week we turn our attention to Angelica Jones AKA Firestar. I bet you thought I was talking about Phoenix when I mentioned a fiery redhead last week! Well Jean Grey is not the only fiery redhead that Emma has crossed. I’ve been especially looking forward to this installment, since Emma’s interaction with Firestar produced her single most despicable act of villainy if you ask me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Most people are probably aware of Firestar from the popular early 80s cartoon Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. That was actually her first appearance, before she ever showed up in any comics. When she did appear in the comics, she was immediately recruited by the White Queen to attend her Massachusetts Academy and train with her Hellions. This was Emma at perhaps her most wicked, the cruel caricature of a storybook evil queen, tormenting young Angelica and mindblasting her Hellions over the slightest perceived offense. However, Emma had particular plans for Firestar. She instructed Angelica privately and attempted to brainwash her into becoming Emma’s personal bodyguard with designs on killing Emma’s rival Selene AKA the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. To this end, she committed that most vile and reprehensible act I mentioned earlier. There’s no easy way to say this so instead I will simply show you.
That’s right. In order to manipulate Firestar into becoming a cold-blooded killer, Emma telepathically murdered the young girl’s beloved pony Butter Rum and caused Angelica to believe that she had killed the horse herself with her burgeoning microwave powers. There is no possible way for me to justify or excuse this depraved act of villainy so I will not attempt to do so. However, I will highly recommend the Firestar miniseries which has been collected into a convenient digest format. This is required reading if you would like a good long look at what Emma was like during her days as the evil White Queen of the Hellfire Club or if you are at all interested in her Hellions.
Much later, after Angelica had long since left the Massachusetts Academy and the Hellions and joined up with a team of teenage heroes the New Warriors, Emma and her Hellions confronted the new team to retrieve Firestar. Of course, Angelica chose to stay with her friends in the New Warriors over the Hellions. Emma swore that one day Angelica would return to her school. But that day never came.
The next time Emma encountered Firestar was in the pages of Generation X. This was after Emma had reformed and allied herself with Professor Xavier, transforming her Massachusetts Academy into a subsidiary of his school, but before she officially joined the X-Men. Two of Emma’s young students were running loose in New York City and eventually found their way to Avengers Mansion where Emma was called to come pick them up. That was when she ran into Firestar who was a member of the Avengers at this point.
Firestar seemed startled by Emma’s shocking reformation but they talked it out and eventually came to terms. Angelica said that if Professor Xavier trusted Emma enough to put her in charge of his students then she would also give Emma the benefit of the doubt. But Firestar also swore that she would bring the Avengers down on Emma if she ever heard of her messing with another child’s head again. But that day also never came to pass and this would seem to be the extent of Emma’s interactions with Firestar as far as I’m aware.
Well thank you once again for joining me this White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I’m not fully sure exactly what I’ll be discussing next week, but after all this talk of telepathic horse murder I should think I would like to talk about something a little lighter instead.
Dear Reader, I am so excited to share my very own original Darwyn Cooke artwork with you! I am such a fan of Darwyn’s and having him draw Storm is a dream come true! I love the splashes of orange color! They remind me of how the world lights up when lightning flashes. My favorite aspect of this image is how Ororo’s hair is so charged with electricity that it blends in with the environment. A truly gorgeous piece of art!
An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Welcome, gentle reader. Thank you for joining me for another installment of White Queen Wednesday. This week I would like to discuss Emma’s history with our favorite friendly neighborhood weather goddess, Ororo Munroe AKA Storm.
It’s not surprising that Emma and Storm would initially butt heads and then become close friends when you stop to consider how truly similar they are. Similar yet not identical. They both left their families behind at an early age, Storm’s parents died in a tragic building collapse which left her with a claustrophobia that haunts her to this day and Emma having walked out on her father and family to make her own way in the world. They both began with next to nothing, Emma as a runaway rich girl determined to prove herself in the big city and Storm as an orphaned street urchin on the mean streets of Cairo. They both began their careers as self-made women in less than illustrious ways, Emma as an exotic dancer (to put it politely) at the Hellfire Club and Storm as a common thief. They both eventually found their way into positions of power, Emma as a corporate CEO in the world of big business and boardrooms and Storm as a tribal weather goddess. They both translated those talents for leadership into roles as leaders of men and mutants, Emma leading her Hellions and Storm leading the X-Men. And they are both seemingly allergic to clothes, with their original costumes consisting of little more than a few scraps of lacy lingerie in Emma’s case and a daring cutout bathing suit in Storm’s case along with some thigh high hooker boots and a billowing cape for them both; although for very different reasons, Storm normally gets nude to strengthen her connection with nature and for the sense of freedom it confers while Emma shows off to give her a tactical advantage by distracting her opponents and also because she seems to be something of an exhibitionist as well.
They first met when Emma kidnapped the X-Men, stripped them to their underwear and kept them locked up in cages when she wasn’t telepathically torturing them during the Dark Phoenix Saga. But Emma really left an impression on Storm when she later used a body-swapping gun she devised to trade minds with Storm in order to infiltrate the X-Men and enroll Kitty Pryde in her Massachusetts Academy. In a classic example of Chris Claremont’s frequent kinkiness, Emma seemed to take perverse delight in the violation of Storm’s body and mutant weather manipulating powers, rapturously lighting a cigarette after unleashing a violent tempest over the peaceful Massachusetts countryside. Of course Storm was not pleased with these proceedings and was driven into a murderous rage after she managed to take control of Emma’s telepathic abilities and switch their minds back into their rightful bodies. Ironically enough, it was the X-Men’s resident wild man Wolverine who talked Storm out of killing Emma on the spot for this outrage. Interestingly, when Kitty Pryde then asked Storm if she should call the police, Ororo replied “No, Kitten. We cannot expose the Hellfire Club without exposing ourselves. But neither can they expose us. In our mutual fear of discovery lies mutual… safety. Is that not so, Emma?” to which Emma vowed to keep silent about the X-Men. There’s a certain poignance in their mutual fear of being outed as mutants that gay readers especially might find familiar.
Much later, Emma invited Storm’s X-Men to the Hellfire Club in order to propose an alliance against their mutual enemy the Upstarts, whose murderous game threatened both organizations. This was not a magnanimous offer, but one born out of cynical self-preservation. However, it’s still interesting to note that it was Emma who initially offered the olive branch. Perhaps the seed of her eventual reformation can be traced back to this moment. But Emma was still not quite ready to join up with the team just yet. Her tactics were still much too brutal for the X-Men as Ororo objected to Emma’s cruel telepathic torture of this Upstart.
When next they met in the pages of X-Treme X-Men, Emma was no longer the villainous White Queen of the Hellfire Club. But she was still very much the conniving Bad Girl of the X-Men, and Storm was struggling to find a new purpose for her offshoot X-Treme team of X-Men. Again they clashed spectacularly while Emma was possessed by the evil Bogan, which allowed Ororo to unleash all of her pent up frustrations and remind Emma once more that she could easily kill her if she so chose. While this was by no means my favorite chapter in Emma and Storm’s storied history, I do appreciate the fact that it seems to have proven cathartic for Ororo to get all of those negative feelings out once and for all.
These days Emma and Storm enjoy a supportive friendship in the pages of Warren Ellis’s Astonishing X-Men. It began when Storm complained that she had grown bored with her glamorous new life of “guilt-free shopping and constant lovemaking” as the Queen of Wakanda with her King the Black Panther. Emma was surprised to hear someone else voice those sentiments, with which she obviously agreed, but also suggested that Storm had returned to the team to reconnect with everyone else and not her. Storm corrected her, explaining how much she had missed Emma’s catty remarks while ruling in Wakanda where none dared argue with her, and promised to “drink champagne with you and let you insult me until the sun grows dark”. I admire this new dynamic which is not beholden to ancient animosities but instead acknowledges them and then moves beyond them. Then in a later issue, Storm and Emma found themselves in the presence of some kind of power inhibitor which gradually robbed them both of their mutant abilities. Storm expressed concern for Emma and how she might cope without her telepathic powers and diamond form. Then Emma reassured Ororo when her creeping claustrophobia kicked in. It was all very sweet and I’m so happy these two queens finally get along!
Finally, I would like to spotlight this wonderful sketch which STORM was kind enough to draw for me on Free Comic Book Day at the Isotope Comic Book Lounge last year in which Storm and Emma have swapped costumes in a callback to that earlier story where they traded bodies. The caption “Scissor Sisters Forever” is also a reference to the cover of Uncanny X-Men #152. I love this sketch and it hangs in a place of honor on my bedroom wall.
Well that’s it for this week’s White Queen Wednesday! Come back next week when I examine Emma’s complicated relationship with a fiery redhead who Emma crossed long ago but who has since grudgingly forgiven our White Queen.
Artwork by Bruce Timm
After reading through the comments from yesterday’s Storm Sunday comments, I realized that a lot of people love Polaris! I’ve always loved this green haired beauty as well and felt that Lorna consistently received less than her due in the comics. Thankfully, Bruce Timm created this amazing artwork to celebrate our Mistress of Magnetism! Here’s hoping Polaris cuts loose soon and receives the accolades that are rightfully hers!
Artwork by Dave Cockrum & Sam Grainger (The Uncanny X-Men #96)
While I compose my recollections from last week’s amazing WonderCon weekend, I offer up these unrelated images of Storm for your perusal. I was rereading the issue from which the above image is taken and remembering the fight between Storm and Polaris. How come Ororo is able to defeat Lorna when her powers never stand a chance against Magneto? Is it because Lorna is mind-controlled? Is it the strength of Storm’s will? Or does it just depend on the writer? Don’t get me wrong, I want Storm to mop the floor with Polaris (who I also love very much), but something about it doesn’t make sense to me. Your opinion?
Artwork by Jo Chen (Girl Comics #3)
So far, I have only read issue #1 of Girl Comics, enjoyed what I read for the most part (the issue is worth it for Colleen Coover’s introduction alone) and am looking forward to more (if only to see if the contributions get better). I think many of these writers and artists deserve more exposure and if they happen to lump them all together because they’re female then so be it. Comic Book Resources has a review of the first issue.
Artwork by Ig Guara & Norman Lee (Marvel Adventures Avengers #28)
Thor and Storm sitting on the top of a building, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. Oh, how I wish! This comic is part of the Marvel Adventures line and therefore means nothing in terms of regular Marvel Universe continuity. Fortunately, that gives the writers license to explore different storylines for the characters that would not be possible in today’s 616 reality. Thor and Storm? Yes, please! After you read the above page, think about the conceit that each character’s lightning is different temperatures. It’s not something I’ve thought about before and for that reason alone I could almost imagine a Thororo couple working. It certainly seems more interesting to me considering how little has been done with Storm in the present Black Panther series (I choose to not cover the second issue of DoomWar because its depiction of Storm is disheartening and I find no joy in discussing it). Truth be told, I miss the days when Storm was a free woman and the possibilities of her dating anyone could be explored. The flirting with Nightcrawler, the chemistry with Wolverine, the randomness of Arkon, the despots who wanted her for their wife, and even the occasional blonde beach boy were welcome to me. Now, however, those moments are no longer possible. The unattainable goddess has been domesticated and her stories have lost a lot of their appeal. Thank goodness for pages like the one above who are still exploring other character possibilities.
I am so excited about this project! It looks like a lot of fun and frankly, I am looking forward to finally seeing a master of erotic art properly illustrate Claremont’s bondage obsessions (and other associated tropes). In related Claremont news, did you know that the x-scribe will be writing a new New Mutants Forever title?
An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Welcome, gentle reader, to the first installment of White Queen Wednesday. Well, technically not the very first. STORM already started this tradition in September of last year. That post was what inspired me to suggest to him that I might like to submit a whole series of articles detailing Emma’s complicated relationships with her teammates and highlighting several topics important to her character, as a companion to Storm Sunday. STORM graciously agreed to allow me a series of guest posts here on his blog, so this is the first installment written by me. I hope you find my humble submissions, and Emma herself, as interesting as I do.
While you might already be aware that I was the one who suggested to Grant Morrison that he use Emma Frost in his X-Men, you might not know that the idea originally came to me in a dream. Shortly after I had heard that Grant Morrison would be writing X-Men, I dreamed that I ran into him on a foggy San Francisco street corner under a lamp post. He was wearing a black trench coat and I was starstruck to meet him but he remained nonchalant. I told him “Ever since I heard you would be writing X-Men, I’ve been pissing myself wondering if you have any plans for Emma Frost!” at which point the dream dissipated. Not long after that I emailed him and told him what I had said in the dream, prettied up a bit and without mentioning the dream itself. He posted my email on his website and replied “I had no plans at all for Emma Frost but now that you mention it, man…” The rest, as they say, is X-History. So the story of Emma Frost is, for me, very literally a dream come true! I later met Grant Morrison in person at San Diego Comic-Con several years ago. I explained to him about the dream and he told me Emma was his “muse”. (He also told me she was my “karma” for what happened to Flex Mentallo, but that’s a story for another time, perhaps some Flex Mentallo Friday?) It sometimes amazes me when I stop to consider how very different the entire X-Men landscape, the entire Marvel UNIVERSE, would be had I not dreamed that dream or submitted that email. But enough about me. Let’s talk about Emma Frost!
White Queen Wednesday is whatever I want to talk about regarding Miss Emma Frost. I will be exploring a variety of topics including her complicated history with many other characters, friends and foes alike including lots of her fellow X-Men on both sides of that divide, several artists who have graced us with some of the most striking and memorable depictions of Emma over the years and various other topics of interest to me on the subject of Emma Frost. Her remarkable character evolution from one of the X-Men’s most despicable villains into one of the Marvel Universe’s staunchest heroes fascinates me. Like coal into diamond, she was transformed from the wicked White Queen of the decadently corrupt Hellfire Club into a good queen, the benevolent Auntie Emma. She is the Bad Girl Gone Good, in many ways the opposite of Dark Phoenix who was the Good Girl Gone Bad. It’s inspiring that someone so wicked and evil could transform her life and station in the world so completely.
But she was an unforgettable villain, exhilaratingly evil, as cruel and ruthless in the boardroom as she was in the classroom or that room where she kept the X-Men stripped down to their underwear in cages. She has also committed some truly heinous and reprehensible acts of villainy which I will not shy away from in exploring her past. She owns damn near every scene she is in with her sharp and sarcastic dry wit. She uses her sexuality like a weapon as coldly as she wields her mutant telepathic talents and brilliant mind. One thing that is often overlooked in examining Emma’s history is that she’s something of an electronics genius as well. She designed Multivac, a mutant locating computer not unlike Professor Xavier’s Cerebro, a mechanism that augmented Mastermind’s illusory powers to assist him in corrupting Jean Grey and the body-swapping gun she used to trade minds with Storm. (See next week’s White Queen Wednesday for more about that!)
And now, gentle reader, I bid you adieu. Until next week, when I will discuss Emma’s tumultuous history with STORM’s namesake and their eventual hard-fought friendship.