Oh the 80s, how I love thee! The above image of Dazzler, Rogue, Psylocke and Storm by John Allison certainly celebrates an awesome era in X-Men history, as well as bringing attention to their simple yet elegant costume design. Everyone had their signature colors as well. This is the version of Psylocke that I prefer. Check out this solo Rogue drawing, also by John Allison.
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I just received my copy of the The Art of Jaime Hernandez : The Secrets of Life and Death and let’s just say that this is my new favorite tome. It’s simply amazing! Chock full of illustrations, commentary and comics! The introduction is written by Alison Bechdel of Fun Home fame! This is a must have for any fan of sequential art!
Above, the Black Widow paints on her costume! I knew it! To get that sleek catsuit look, one must use the liquid latex!
Lots of folks know that Cyclops isn’t exactly one of my favorite characters. He’s not someone I would want to know in real life as his personality is more about being stoic, tactical and taciturn. However, those traits are exactly why I love him in the X-Men. He makes Wolverine and Storm more interesting by comparison. In a team book, his perspective creates complexity and his interaction with other teammates makes for good stories.
It was really cool to find the above image by Alan Davis in which Cyclops argues for his existence. At the time this was drawn by Davis, Marvel editorial was about to kill of Cyke and merge him with big bad Apocalypse. Davis was not a fan of this idea and drew this artwork to argue his point. I find it to be a definitive understanding of the character and I agree with everything it says. To me, it’s not about whether Cyclops or Storm is the better leader. It’s about what kind of leader would I rather follow if I were an X-Man. I prefer Storm because I would rather have an empathic ally than a stern taskmaster. However, Cyclops represents the patriarch, and like Wolverine, we must learn from and rebel against his authority if we are to become our own leader. Cyclops serves a very important function in the X-Men. He represents the life lessons of The Emperor tarot card and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Welcome once again to White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. This week I will discuss a few of those who have died at Emma’s hands. I’m sure there are others I’m overlooking, but these are some of Emma’s most notable fatalities. Her greatest hits, if you will.
Emma’s life is surrounded by and infused with death on many different levels. She herself has died or at least been declared dead on multiple occasions and the death of her students from the Hellions to the Genosha class and beyond was her primary motivation to reform and join up with Xavier and his X-Men in the first place. But this is superhero comics where many characters have died and been reborn many times over and are motivated by the deaths of loved ones for which they feel personally responsible. One aspect of Emma’s relationship with death that differs from most other superheroes out there is her willingness to use deadly force when she deems necessary. While she is by no means some bloodthirsty maniac on a kill-crazed murder spree, Emma has absolutely no compunctions whatsoever about killing her adversaries when she feels the situation demands it. This is an aspect of her character that has carried over from her time as the villainous White Queen of the Hellfire Club to her present day affiliation with the X-Men.
I already covered Emma’s cruelest kill several weeks ago. If you don’t recall, that was when she telepathically murdered young Firestar’s beloved pony Butter Rum and caused the girl to believe that she had killed the horse herself in order to brainwash Angelica into becoming Emma’s personal assassin and bodyguard.
But one of Emma’s very first fatalities is easily my favorite, when she originally assisted Sebastian Shaw in overthrowing the old order of the Hellfire Club to create their own Inner Circle and take up the titles of White Queen and Black King respectively. Although Emma used fatal force to accomplish this goal back when she was still a villain, the even more despicable nature of her opponents left me cheering for the bad guys in this instance. By pitting Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, who readers had previously only known as adversaries of the X-Men up to this point, against anti-mutant bigots and mutant-hunting robot Sentinels, both of which are enemies of all mutants everywhere, Emma and Sebastian were forced into the role of protagonists and the audience is invited to sympathize with them even if just a little bit.
Edward “Ned” Buckman and Paris Seville were the former White King and White Queen of the Hellfire Club, lording over their Council of the Chosen. But when Emma learned of Ned’s plan to ally himself with Stephen Lang and Project Armageddon’s Sentinel program to bring about the total eradication of mutantkind, the sting of Buckman’s betrayal would backfire on him horribly. Emma brutally dispatched the former White Queen Paris Seville, the Hellfire Club’s Council of the Chosen and all of Ned Buckman’s lieutenants without lifting a finger by using her telepathic talents to manipulate Buckman himself into doing all the dirty work for her. She mentally compelled Ned to take up a Hellfire Club guard’s handgun and shoot all the guards, the ruling Council of the Chosen and finally his White Queen and lover Paris Seville before turning the gun on himself. However Sebastian Shaw saved the pleasure of snapping Ned’s neck for himself, but their grisly demise is still one of Emma’s most hardcore moments.
The next most prominent of Emma’s fatalities occurred after she had reformed and reopened her Massachusetts Academy as a subsidiary of Professor Xavier’s school but before she actually joined the X-Men proper. Emma’s resentful older sister Adrienne threatened Emma’s students at the Massachusetts Academy, going so far as to kill one named Synch, and tormented Emma with a holographic replay of the death of her Hellions. This ultimately proved to be a fatal mistake when Emma finally became fed up with her sister’s deadly games and, because Adrienne was unaffected by Emma’s telepathy since mutant siblings are often immune to each other’s powers, Emma shot her own sister point blank in cold blood and used her telepathy on the investigating police officers to cover up her crime.
I had intended to talk a little bit about the occasion when Emma arrived just in the nick of time to pitilessly snap Cassanda Nova’s neck without a moment’s hesitation or an ounce of remorse, although she claimed to have returned to retrieve the Louis Vuitton handbag she had left behind and not to rescue the X-Men. But upon further reflection, that situation was somewhat more complicated than it initially appeared so I will hold off on discussing it in too much more detail until I get around to exploring Emma’s interactions with Cassandra Nova in her own installment of White Queen Wednesday.
When the reality-altering mutant Avenger Wanda Maximoff AKA Scarlet Witch went mad, her out of control reality warps left several Avengers dead and the venerable Avengers Mansion in ruins. Professor Xavier convened a meeting of all the Avengers and the X-Men to decide Wanda’s fate. Emma was the first to offer a solution. “Put her down.” The Avengers and several X-Men balked at the suggestion, but Wolverine agreed. Among the assembled heroes of the Avengers and X-Men, only Emma Frost and Wolverine seriously entertained the idea of killing Wanda Maximoff in order to contain any further reality warps. The other heroes decided to investigate the situation firsthand which led to the alternate reality House of M and ultimate loss of many mutant’s powers. Was sparing Wanda’s life worth the cost of all those lost mutant powers? I cannot say. That is a question for the philosophers to decide, and such thorny ethical dilemmas are not my area of expertise.
The moral of the story is quite simple. If Emma perceives you to be a danger to mutantkind in general or specifically her students, she will not hesitate to finish things permanently so that you will never again threaten her or hers. It doesn’t matter how powerful or well-connected you are or who you are related to, and not even pet ponies are safe from Emma’s wrath. Another valuable lesson to be taken from this installment of White Queen Wednesday is that guns don’t kill people, Emma kills people.
So ends this bloody edition of White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I hope you join me again next week for more about Emma Frost!
I met Mark Brooks for the first time at Wonder Con in 2008. He was super friendly and we had a great conversation about the X-Men and Storm and he showed me some of his X-Men art, including this piece which depicted everyone in the X-Books from 2006. He also had a great Rogue piece that he had enlarged as a banner for his booth. At the time, Storm wasn’t really in any X-Books and we talked about how we wished that wasn’t the case. Mark drew me a cool Spider-Man sketch and I promised to stalk him on MySpace. Above: Mark Brooks sketch of X-Treme X-Men Storm from 2005.
I kept in touch with Mark and his lovely wife Lisa on MySpace and they both remembered me when I saw them in San Diego for Wonder Con 2008. Mark graciously drew mohawk Storm in my sketchbook (his personal favorite version of Storm). Above, a gorgeous mohawk Storm sketch by Mark from 2007.
Mark drew the cover for the first issue of Ororo: Before the Storm, a four issue mini-series depicting Storm’s early childhood years as a thief in Cairo.
Here’s some awesome preliminary sketches for the cover for Ororo: Before the Storm #1.
Here’s two more! Click on any image to see them larger.
Among his many and varied assignments (including statue design), Mark has worked on Ultimate X-Men, Cable & Deadpool, Araña and New X-Men. Recently, Mark drew the covers for Deadpool: Origins, a Cloak and Dagger one-shot (in which Storm plays a supporting role) and Uncanny X-Men #522 (the return of Kitty Pryde). His cover for X-Men Annual #1 is stunning. I’m particularly fond of the cover to Dark Reign: Young Avengers #4 (featuring Wiccan).
Keep up with Mark Brooks on his Deviant Art account, Facebook, and on Twitter. He also has a beautiful art book available for sale while supplies last. Order instructions are on his Deviant Art site on the left hand scroll bar.
Bonus: I simply had to share this lovely Polaris sketch by Mark even though this is a Storm Sunday post. This is how I think Lorna Dane should look (a little demure and fragile, but also possessing inner strength) and the costume in which I like her best (there’s something about the headplate and skull that just works for me). White Queen fans might consider checking out this lovely image.
Praise the Bright Lady! SF Weekly named me Best X-Men Tarot Card Reader in their Best of San Francisco 2010 Awards! I found out Wednesday morning on Twitter, thanks to my eagle-eyed friends who closely follow San Francisco trends! This morning I was excited to find out that Rich Johnston wrote an article about my tarot readings on Bleeding Cool and Comic Book Resources listed the SF Weekly article in a Comics A.M. post on Robot 6!
Here’s what SF Weekly had to say:
Best X-Men Tarot Card Reader – 2010
“At first it may seem ridiculous to get your future told by a man whose Tarot deck features X-Men characters. But STORM is no ordinary X-Men aficionado: He has legally changed his name to that of one of the characters. The X-Men have been published at least once a month for more than four decades, giving the characters a mythic resonance and backstories all their own. STORM knows the cards, knows the characters, and draws connections to the psyche that would make Sigmund Freud start leafing through back issues to find out what he missed. The result feels suspiciously sacred.”
Thank you SF Weekly for such a clever and accurate write up! I especially like that they call the experience “suspiciously sacred.” Many clients are surprised that a reading with comic book characters can contain depth and discernment and I think this quote accurately describes the experience. Myths are sacred and modern pop culture myths are readily accessible for everyone. What comic myth narrative will speak to your path? Contact me at HeroicTarot (at) gmail (dot) com or call 415.932.6615 to make an appointment and find out! I am available on Fridays, by appointment, at Swankety Swank (289 Divisadero btw Haight & Page).
Update: Digital Spy has a ‘lil post up as well!
An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Thank you for joining me once again, gentle reader. This week’s White Queen Wednesday spotlights the artwork of Art Adams, a much-loved mainstay here on STORM’s blog who has been featured on more Storm Sundays than any other artist I can think of. Art Adams is not an artist normally associated with Emma Frost, and with good reason since this is the only published artwork of his which features Emma that I am aware of. In fact I’ve never even seen any Emma Frost commissions by Art Adams, not to say that none exist but I simply haven’t seen any of them and extensive internet searches turn up nothing at all.
I share STORM’s deep love for the artwork of Art Adams, particularly his X-Men art from the mid to late 80s. Going back and reading those comics now is like wrapping myself up in a big warm blanket made of fuzzy nostalgia. There’s a reason he’s so popular and is consistently named as an influence by many of the most celebrated artists in the field. His expressive faces and animated figures are just a delight to behold. Now let’s turn our attention to his depiction of the White Queen, shall we?
This cover is a stunning and memorable portrait of the evil White Queen. With her face almost entirely obscured by shadow but for a hauntingly wicked grin, a triumphant Emma holds the New Mutants in her thrall. She always coveted the team and wished to add their number to her own Hellions. She even temporarily succeeded in recruiting the New Mutants on a couple of occasions, this time in particular when they were mentally traumatized after having been killed and resurrected by the blithely omnipotent Beyonder during the Secret Wars II crossover.
Well that’s all I’ve got for you this White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I wish I had more lovely Emma Frost artwork by Art Adams to share with you, but as I said this is the only piece that exists. So we will simply have to appreciate it for the unique gem that it is. Until next week…
It may be a few more weeks before we get the final chapter of Astonishing X-Men as penned by Warren Ellis and drawn by Phil Jimenez. However, last week saw the release of a new Astonishing X-Men Xenogenesis title written by Warren Ellis and Kaare Andrews! I have been so excited about this title and after reading it, I have to say this book delivered the goods!
I was transfixed from the moment I saw the above image of the team. The use of black in the costumes is a classic look. It reminds me of Havok’s original costume, which had the habit of making his surroundings pop! Storm has got her 80’s groove back (scrunchy boots, double belts and mohawk), Wolvie is looking like truck stop trash with an art school twist (any time you wear black you give off an art opening vibe), Cyke’s wearing his ridiculous headgear (I like him best when his hair isn’t covered in his swim cap) but looks great in his black muscle shirt, Armor is actually dressed like the teenagers I see in the city, Emma has finally ditched that ridiculous sheet she wears as a cape, got herself a weave (I’m hoping she and Storm went shopping together), and opted for clunky earrings and chunky shoes, while Beast looks simply primitive (not so sure about those things on his shoulders though). I find these designs refreshing and am glad Marvel gave Kaare Andrews the freedom to visually redefine these characters. I’d love to see what he would do with the rest of the X-Men!
The issue begins with the X-Men having breakfast and there’s a lot of dialogue to set up the story. I love that Storm is just chillin’ in her towels. Too funny. Logan looks hungover and you couldn’t tell Emma’s daytime outfit from her nighttime outfit anyway, so who knows if she slept in that. Hisako is drawn too young here, methinks. Scott is presented front and center as befits his status and ego. Immediately, the reader is clued into a little bit of each character’s personality. This attention to character is why I think Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis is the best written X-title on the stands today. Ellis doesn’t let continuity trip up the story he wants to tell, but he doesn’t ignore it either. He uses it as a stepping stone to get where he wants the characters to go. In this instance, the story revolves around baby mutants being born in Africa, so the narrative focus shifts to Storm (thank the Bright Lady).
Ellis’ X-Men are all in character. If you like your Beast super-smart and analytical, you got him. Scott Summers is in charge, but also willing to consult with his team members when he needs more information. Wolverine is still the rebel, but willing to toe the line when it counts. Emma is her delightfully snarky and precocious self. Hisako (Armor) still doesn’t have a personality (aside from talking junk to Wolvie) and Storm seems to have the spotlight to explore the facets of her complicated selves (Goddess, Queen, punk rock rebel). I think Ellis is doing his best to reconcile the married Ororo with the free spirited former X-Men leader.
In the above scene, Ellis reminds readers that Scott and Ororo used to be friends, something folks who constantly fight over who is the better leader seem to have forgotten. I like that Ororo feels she can joke with Scott, even so much as teasing him. This is the two most prominent X-leaders at their best. I would like to see this aspect of Cyclops and Storm’s relationship continued.
“Ohmigod, she’s barefoot!” screams the internet. Well, I was surprised by her sudden lack of footwear, but it’s not like there isn’t any precedent for Storm to not wear shoes. In her first appearance she’s only wearing a loincloth. However, she’s come a long way since then. It’s one thing to be barefoot while hanging out on the roof of the X-Mansion with Gambit and another to not wear shoes while on a mission, but I’m okay with it either way.
Recent X-books have been about a sequestered cast who can’t leave an artificial island off the coast of Marin while every resurrected enemy attacks them. There’s something really claustrophobic about those kinds of stories, and like Storm, I’m not into closed spaces. Here’s hoping that Ellis’ stories can expand the narrow scope of recent X-storylines and delve into what makes the X-Men great–their character.
An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Welcome back to White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. This week I am celebrating Emma’s appearance in the new Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis miniseries, the first issue of which is scheduled to be released today and should be available for sale in finer funnybook stores everywhere even as you read this! All artwork presented here is by the amazing Kaare Andrews.
This miniseries represents a radical visual departure from the team’s current design, although in rebelling against their most recent looks many of the team have simply reverted back to their roots. Emma in particular is simply rocking a slightly more covered up version of her Frank Quitely designed latex cutout club kid stripper ensemble complete with sky high platform boots. If she had to trade in her trademark stiletto high heels for something, I’m glad it was at least ridiculously impractical platforms and not boring flats or short pumps. I’m also thrilled that Emma finally ditched her matronly cape for a look that I feel is more befitting her playfully sexy personality.
While Storm seems to have adopted a look very reminiscent of that mid to late 80s era when I first discovered the X-Men and comic books in general and thus holds a special sense of nostalgia for me. From her punky mohawk and big hippie feather earrings to all those skinny belts and chunky boots over a black bodysuit, Storm is rocking that mid to late 80s look hard. Her outfit is strikingly similar to the styles sported by Storm herself along with Rogue and Shadowcat back then, particularly during the Mutant Massacre and Fall of the Mutants storylines, with their multiple crisscrossing skinny belts and chunky leg warmer looking boots.
I love this page from the preview for this first issue over at Comic Book Resources. You know better than that, Logan. Emma always wears what she likes no matter what the occasion!
I literally laughed out loud when Scott told Ororo that she’s been spending too much time with Emma. Hopefully sometime soon we will get to see some more of that time they are spending together. STORM and I both simply adore the way Warren Ellis handles this new friendlier dynamic between Storm and Emma. In fact if I recall correctly it was one of the first things we really bonded over, along with our general love of the X-Men, when I first met STORM at the Isotope a few years ago.
Emma doesn’t appear to be too thrilled with getting mutant baby vomit all over her decolletage on this cover of the second issue.
These paramilitary fatigue style uniforms, or at least something similar, were actually introduced in the very first issue of Warren Ellis’s Astonishing X-Men and worn for a few pages before being promptly discarded in favor of more traditional supersuits all around. So it’s interesting to see them returning to this look. Everyone but Emma, of course.
Now here’s a striking and eye-catching cover! There’s definitely something bizarrely kinky about this image, but that’s par for the course with Emma I suppose. The sultry way that Emma is eating those sticky syrupy pancakes is certainly suggestive. This cover just brings to mind so many questions. Why pancakes? Is Emma going to spank Scott or is she simply using him as a human chair? I guess we’ll find out in the third issue!
It is a little odd that this new miniseries is being released before the last arc drawn by Phil Jimenez, Exogenetic, has even finished. But such confusing scheduling snafus are to be expected these days.
I hope you’re as excited for Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis as I am, gentle reader! Go out and pick up a copy for yourself and share your thoughts about the first issue in the comments. I look forward to comparing our reactions!
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.
In 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?
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.
It 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.
Let 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.
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.
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.
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?!