Storm Arcana

Heroic Tarot & Arcana Academy

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X-Men Versus Vampires

X-Men You know what the world needs?  Another X-Men title.  Well, no, I really don’t think so.  However, someone at Marvel did and they’ve got a new adjectiveless title featuring Marvel’s mutants coming out in July by novelist Victor Gischler and artist Paco Medina.  The reason for the new title?  Vampires.
X-Men VampiresIn this image, the X-Men have all been turned into the vampiric undead.  Okay.  I’ll bite (pun intended).  What does this title have to offer me other than seeing my favorite characters turn evil?  Aren’t we supposed to be entering the Heroic Age?  Hasn’t this story already been told?
X-Men I am excited about the team of X-Men being featured here, however (Artwork by Adi Granov).  Okay, I’ll admit I’m mostly just excited to have Storm be featured in the title.  I do hope they throw us continuity queens a bone though and reference Ororo’s battle with vampirism.  It’s the least they could do.
X-Man & JubileeIt appears that X-Man is going to feature prominently in this storyline (fresh from his rebirth and torture at the hands of Norman Osborn in Dark X-Men. Poor powerless Jubilee is pictured here as a vampire.  That is not how I want to see dear Jubilation.  She’s the embodiment of light and joy (or at least she was before she lost her powers) and having her become a vampire is neither clever nor ironic.
Hope & BladeLet me be clear:  I despise Hope.  I know, I know, how can I hate a character that is basically a tabula rasa?  Why can’t I wait for some development before I judge her?  I’ve read every appearance of Hope (including those two years of Tom & Jerry issues of Cable) and she has yet to do or be anything.  Sometimes Marvel holds their cards too long and I grow uninterested.  I don’t care if she turns into the Phoenix Force itself at this point.  I’m bored with her.  Another character with guns?  No thanks.  As for Blade, I wish Paul Cornell was still writing him.  That was the most interesting he’s ever been.
Spider-Man & Psylocke Let’s pretend that these characters are actually going to team-up for a second and that Marvel just isn’t tossing pairs of super-heroes around willy-nilly.  The idea of Spider-Man and Psylocke fighting together just writes itself.  He makes some quips about her scantily clad outfit and she silently slices and dices.  I think the contrast in their personalities would be a fun story.
Magneto & Savage She-Hulk I wish Magneto had really died a long time ago and I wish this version of a Savage She-Hulk had never been created.  Neither character holds any appeal for me.  Magneto was played out when Chris Claremont killed him in X-Men #2 and I need no other She-Hulk besides Jennifer Walters.  I really don’t enjoy alternate reality characters.
Gambit & Elektra Now this is a pairing that might even have some sparks of romance.  Am I alone in thinking that Gambit and Elektra might make a good couple?  I can see Gambit immediately hitting on Marvel’s most celebrated assassin, and while getting emotion out of Elektra might be like trying to get blood out of a stone…I think that if she let her guard down, Ms. Natchios andy Mr. LeBeau might have some chemistry.

Well, this new X-Men promotional push for the new series certainly has me thinking about it, so kudos to Marvel’s marketing department.  I look forward to seeing where this whole vampire thing goes.

Hey!  Where’s Iceman and Cable in these team promos?!

The Cyclops by Bernie Wrightson

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Sometimes I see an amazing piece of art and just need to share it.  This is one of those times.  I’ve long been a fan of Bernie Wrightson‘s art and this image is so chilling.  Imagine being one of the sailors on that ship and looking up to find that Cyclops playing baseball with the forest above you.  Phew!  Bernie’s line work is gorgeous, choosing clean outlines for the ship, ocean and crags and then crosshatching and shading to bring your focus to the menace of the monster.  Beautiful.

Check out his website.

Storm Sunday: Hulk Storm

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This coming Wednesday sees the release of Hulk #22 featuring a bevy of Marvel Heroes “Hulked Out.”  Written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Ed McGuinness, the comic features a  Storm who looks a lot more Worldwide Wrestling Federation than any other versions we’ve seen before.  In these preview pages from Comic Book Resources, a Hulked Out Thor is about to layeth the smackdown on the Red Hulk, but Hulked Out Storm interrupts demanding she be recognized as the Goddess of Lightning.  I guess Hulked Out Heroes lose their common sense after transforming into blustering behemoths.
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That sure is one hell of a costume, eh?  I’m guessing that’s supposed to be clouds covering Storm’s lady parts, interspersed with lightning.  I do like how the artist has enlarged Storm’s tiara as part of her costume and that she retains her gem at her throat (although it is not connected to anything–perhaps she can hover items around her person due to all of the static electricity that she’s tossing around?) and her bracelets.  Regarding the upcoming brouhaha between her and Thor though, does anyone think that she’s really going to win that?  As much as Hulked Out Storm may demand she be feted as a Goddess, she isn’t.  I just don’t think this is going to end well.  However, it sure is nice to see Storm among the handful of heroes chosen to have this kind of exposure in a crossover that isn’t X-Men or Black Panther related.  Makes me feel that Storm is part of the Marvel Universe again.

White Queen Wednesday: Drink & Drugs

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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Welcome back, gentle reader, to White Queen Wednesday. This week I will touch on some of Emma’s experiences with drugs and alcohol, during her time with the Hellfire Club and as an X-Man. Emma is refreshingly honest about the subject and I feel it is an interesting topic worth exploring.

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First and foremost it should be noted that Emma is incredibly picky, in fact downright snobbish, about her champagne. Perhaps this is due to her having lived a life of such obscene wealth and privilege and her appreciation for the finest things in life, as well as her proclivity to splurge on such a decadent indulgence as expensive champagne.

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As the White Queen of the debauched Hellfire Club, essentially an exclusive S&M country club for the rich and kinky, every conceivable earthly indulgence was made available to Emma. And indulge she did. From her earliest appearances, Emma was frequently depicted with a flute of champagne or a cocktail or a goblet or snifter of hard brown liquor. But her drinking was never so much as mentioned, much less characterized as a problem.

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It’s interesting to me that Emma never completely abandoned alcohol, continuing to enjoy a drink in moderation to this day. This is in stark contrast to characters like Iron Man and Ms Marvel for whom their out of control drinking ultimately became an issue that threatened to destroy their private and professional lives, a powerful problem to be overcome. It simply doesn’t seem to be an issue at all for Emma.

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Substance use and abuse runs in her family, her mother was addicted to prescription tranquilizers and her gay brother Christian with whom she was quite close also used drugs before he tragically went insane. While she never specified exactly what drugs she used to do, I’m sure Emma sampled any number of narcotics at her own discretion during her time with the Hellfire Club. But I imagine she might have preferred cocaine, it just seems to fit her character best.

After Emma joined the X-Men and became a member of the faculty at Professor Xavier’s school, a new power enhancing drug called Kick swept the student population. Emma tried Kick, purely “in the interest of science”, in order to better understand what kind of a hold it had over her students. She described the experience as feeling “angelic and violently insane for five hours”. So she is still not above trying a new drug when it suits her.

I hope you enjoyed this examination of Emma’s attitudes towards drugs and alcohol, gentle reader, and I hope you join me next week for another White Queen Wednesday!

Storm Sunday: Marley Zarcone

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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.

White Queen Wednesday: X-Men Arcade Game

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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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.

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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.

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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.

Storm Sunday: Colleen Doran

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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 & STORM

Colleen Doran and STORM, WonderCon 2010.

White Queen Wednesday: Firestarter

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Storm Sunday: Darwyn Cooke

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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!

White Queen Wednesday: Storm Before The Calm

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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Art by Simone Bianchi. (Astonishing X-Men #29)

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.

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Art by Bob McLeod. (Uncanny X-Men #152)

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.

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Art by Bob McLeod. (Uncanny X-Men #152)

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.

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Art by Whilce Portacio. (Uncanny X-Men #281)

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!

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Art by STORM!

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.

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