We’ve already looked at The Heroic Age: X-Men file cards of Storm and Emma Frost, and now we look at the rest of mutants who appear to be the official roster of the X-Men. These mini-dossiers are “written” by former Captain America Steve Rogers as he assesses every super-powered individual on the planet. Wolverine leads the pack. I find Steve’s worries about Wolverine to be similarly expressed in his writeup about Storm and her loyalties to the X-Men and the Black Panther. Hasn’t Steve been balancing his loyalties to S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers and his country all of these years? Surely he knows people can belong to more than one organization and still fulfill their duties. What I find rather hilarious (in a purely hypocritical way) is how the former Captain (and World War II veteran) professes to be against Wolverine’s killer ways (and acknowledges that having him on the Avengers is bad publicity) but he chooses to ignore it because he’s a “valuable resource.” I suppose it would take a mind smarter than Steve’s to reconcile the paradox that is Wolverine. Wolvie is just one of the eighteen heroes (counting Storm and Emma)–who are considered active X-Men–looked at through the eyes of a super-soldier…
An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Welcome to White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. Today I discuss Emma Frost’s fast friendship with Henry McCoy, the brilliant bouncing blue Beast. After so much discussion of Emma’s animosities with characters like Storm, Firestar and Jean Grey, it will make a nice change of pace to talk about her much more pleasant relationship with Beast. It’s really no surprise that they’re such good friends, considering they share such sparkling intellect and wry wit. Beast has been one of Emma’s staunchest and most vocal supporters from the moment she first joined the X-Men, helping her understand the secondary mutation to transform her body into living organic diamond which she had recently aquired.
We have looked at the artwork of Simone Bianchi once after his first issue of Astonishing X-Men hit the stands and again when he did a stint on Wolverine (and we looked at some of his older sketches and artwork). Today we look at more work from Bianchi’s time on Astonishing X-Men, spotlighting Storm, of course. Of the sixteen images (!) in this post, Storm is in all of them. Enjoy!
This Storm Sunday we look at three awesome images by three awesome artists! First up, we have Olivier Coipel (who also drew an amazing gatefold image for the House of M series). This commission from this year’s Toronto convention is simply stunning! Storm does look a lot younger than I am accustomed to seeing her portrayed and she is supermodel runway thin, but I think it all works. Love the white highlights depicting lighting (lightning?). I looked for a definitive website for this superstar artist, but didn’t come across anything substantial (even his Wikipedia entry needs massive updating). I enjoyed his early work on Legion Lost and his most recent run on Thor.
Bob McLeod is no stranger to comics, having worked on a number of projects since the early 1970s. I learned about him from his work on the New Mutants graphic novel and first three issues of the ongoing series. His version of Storm (above) is classic curvy Ororo (a la John Byrne).
Marko Djurdjević has been creating covers for Marvel for years after gaining recognition and notoriety for his redesigns of the X-Men. Now he is known for creating definitive X-Men images like the giant poster above (click on it for a much larger view).
In 2009, he published a book detailing his Marvel art. Comic Should Be Good has some great examples of Djurdjević’s pencils and painted work. Djurdjević has drawing videos on YouTube and his art DVD, Character Ideation, is now available as a download. I love his Warlock redesign.
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!
We interrupt this week’s celebration of Barry Windsor-Smith to relate this image of the upcoming cover of Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #2! It appears, that yes, the mohawk *is* back and that yes, Emma *has* undergone some, ahem, alterations. I think this iteration of the Astonishing crew is exciting, but there’s just one thing I cannot stomach and that is baseball caps on my heroes. It’s one thing to wear them off-duty when you are playing the sport, but to add them to the costume is a fashion offense I cannot abide. Super double ugh. Otherwise, I am so ready for this comic. Warren Ellis continues to write the X-Men in a consistent narrative voice and Kaare Andrews is obviously having fun with his part of the storytelling. Bring on the mutant babies!