Storm Arcana

Intuitive Visionary Coach & Founder of Arcana Academy

Tag: Astonishing X-Men Page 1 of 2

White Queen Wednesday: La Belle et la Bête

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.

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Storm Sunday: Simone Bianchi, Part III

Astonishing X-Men 29 (pencil)

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!

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I Can’t Wait For These Marvel Comics!

The-Heroic-Age-Childrens-Crusade-000dRegular readers of this blog know that Avengers: The Children’s Crusade is one of my current favorite titles.  I am loving the story by Allan Heinberg and the pencils by Jim Cheung.  I must admit that I am a bit annoyed at Wolverine hogging the cover for the second issue.  Doesn’t he have enough titles to star in?  Isn’t being an X-Man and an Avenger enough?  As beautiful as Cheung draws him, I was hoping for another Young Avenger to step into the spotlight like Wiccan did last issue.

The solicit reads: “The race is on as the Avengers, the Young Avengers, and the X-Men compete to be the first to find the Scarlet Witch. When the Young Avengers discover the secret of Wanda Maximoff’s disappearance, the Avengers attempt to neutralize the Scarlet Witch before the Young Avengers can find her. But their efforts soon lead to an all-out war between the Avengers and the X-Men that only the Young Avengers can stop.”

Okay, well that ought to put Wolverine into a sticky situation.  That’s what he gets for being on two teams.  Hopefully, Heinberg will mine the heck out of the drama.  I love it when the Avengers and the X-Men don’t get along.

4_ASTONISHING_X_MEN__XENOGENESIS_5 Oh yes!  More Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis goodness by Warren Ellis and Kaare Andrews!  Watch out X-Men!  Those mutate babies don’t look so friendly!
89_SECRET_AVENGERS_6_VAMPIRE_VARIANT_Are you reading Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato’s Secret Avengers?  It’s been great fun so far with the team going to Mars on their first mission (complete with space suits that match their superhero costumes–Moon Knight in space gear? Too cool).  This cover of the Black Widow and a zombie version of the incorrigible Ant-Man (or whatever he’s called) by Amanda Conner is super sweet.
91_SECRET_AVENGERS_6_WOMEN_OF_MARVEL_VARIANT_There is another variant of Secret Avengers #6 featuring Valkyrie, one of my favorite characters.  Chris Bachalo does a great rendition of her.  His chunky style suits her and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone give Valkyrie thick hoop earrings before, but I really like it.  That sword is awesome too.  I really really want this cover.
ULTIMATE-COMICS-THOR-2Normally, I don’t mention the Ultimate Comics line (I try to adhere to an “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” policy) but this cover is awesome and Thor looks a bit like the images I have seen flying around the internet of the upcoming Thor movie.

I can’t wait for these Marvel comics!

Are you excited about any of these comics?  Do you have a favorite that you wish I’d mentioned?

White Queen Wednesday: English Accent

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel


Good afternoon, gentle reader. It’s White Queen Wednesday, and today I will focus on Emma’s vaguely English sounding manner of speaking. There is a lot about Emma that is artificial, from her dyed blonde hair to the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cosmetic surgery she has sunk into her appearance. While it’s usually Emma herself who broaches those normally touchy subjects with a Joan Rivers-like candor, her affected British accent has only been mentioned by other characters a couple of times now.

The scene above is actually one of my favorite Emma Frost moments from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, when Emma patronizingly disregards the cab driver’s question about her perceived English accent. I just love the way she carries herself in this scene.


Later in Warren Ellis’s Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis, Cyclops describes Emma as “a white woman of indeterminate ancestry who speaks with a fake English accent” so it’s not just that cab driver who noticed.

It should be noted that Emma Frost was born and raised in Boston Massachusetts, not the UK. Perhaps she assumed her accent because she didn’t want to sound like everyone else back home in Boston, or maybe more specifically she just didn’t want to sound like the family she walked out on.

Or perhaps Emma adopted this pretentious Madonna-ish affectation simply to confer upon herself a regal air of royalty and sophistication.

Either way, I like how Storm teases Cyclops about it here. Her gentle ribbing about his girlfriend’s curious character tic comes off as affectionate teasing between close friends.


That wraps up this White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I’ll meet you here again next week to talk a little bit more about Miss Emma Frost.

Storm Sunday: Astonishing X-Men Xenogenesis

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!

astonish prv5124_pg3
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).
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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.
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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.
astonish prv5124_pg8

“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.

White Queen Wednesday: Xenogenesis

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!

Stormwatch: Xenogenesis, Part II


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!

Stormwatch: Xenogenesis


Oh, yes!  The mohawk is back, baby!  A three-issue Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis mini by Warren Ellis and artist Kaare Andrews debuts in May!  Read all about it on Comic Book Resources!

Stormwatch: Phil Jimenez to draw 5 issues of Astonishing X-Men!

phil jiminez xmen

Marvel has announced that superstar artist Phil Jimenez will be drawing Astonishing X-Men for five issues!  I am soooo excited!  If anyone loves Storm as much as I do it’s Phil Jimenez (If we’re going to split hairs about it, then yes, Patrick Fillion loves Ororo just as much, too)!  Just from that tiny promotional piece, I can tell that we’re in for a treat!  I love how Phil has streamlined much of Storm’s costume and given Hisako (Armor) a better hairstyle (“Cause that’s what’s really important, folks–superhero fashion)!  The overwrought tiara actually works.  I’m really surprised that I’m into it as it deviates so much from Dave Cockrum’s design, but I’m digging it.  Cannot wait for this arc!


And now for some Where’s Waldo fun!  Here’s the cover for X-Men: Legacy Annual #1 by writer Mike Carey and artist Daniel Acuña.  Where in San Francisco is Queen Ororo Iqadi T’Challa, née Munroe?

Storm Sunday: Simone Bianchi, Part II


If you’re a Marvel X-phile, you probably already know that artist Simone Bianchi is making his mark every month on Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men.  You might have seen his work in a couple of issues of Wolverine where Black Panther and Storm guest starred.  I have to admit I did not read these issues once I realized that Ororo and T’Challa played a peripheral part in the story.  Later, I found these images from Wolverine #53 and added them to my computer’s image gallery.  I really enjoy the rendering of Storm above.  She looks a bit like Naomi Campbell to me, but with more substance (sorry, Naomi, but Storm would never throw her cell phone at anyone).  

Storm’s hardly in this image, but I had to share it anyway because of the detail in the evolutionary charts and the technological interior.  I love how Bianchi manages to makes Wolverine look feral and noble.  His art infuses comics with a classical grandeur.  I almost wish his art was allowed to stay black and white.  I don’t think it needs color to detract from the elegance of the lines.

sketch_54_fullBianchi has amazing drawing skills.  This an artist who knows his anatomy.  Consider this sketch and compare it to the realized painting below.  

paintings2_18_full1I find the painting to be exquisite, but I almost prefer the sketch.  Perhaps it’s the revelation of the process that has me captivated.  Or maybe it’s because the sketch does not contain all of the intricate design work of the painting.  Still, the control and detail is amazing.  I am struck by how the subject is illuminated in all of its monochromatic glory.


More gorgeous pencils.  No space is wasted in this sketch.  Design elements inform the entire piece.  Best of all, this piece has mood.  It carries a feeling.

sketch_23_full1I love the implied kinetic action in this piece.  The fact that it hasn’t been colored in completely endears it to me all the more.  Bianchi draws kickass angels!


And to further illustrate my point about Bianchi’s understanding of anatomy, I chose this sketch to share with you, dear reader.  Bianchi is a modern master and as much as I enjoy his Astonishing X-Men every month, I would love to see what he would do with his own creator-owed work.  Please check out Simone Bianchi’s site for more amazing art.

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