Storm Arcana

Intuitive Visionary Coach & Founder of Arcana Academy

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The Heroic Age: X-Men

Wolverine Heroic Age Profile

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…

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White Queen Wednesday: Heroic Age X-Men

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

Emma Frost Heroic Age Profile

Welcome to White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. This week we turn our attention to Emma Frost’s latest evaluation by former Captain America and current head of all things Avengers, Steve Rogers. Having previously scrutinized the entire super-powered community of the Marvel Universe at length, heroes and villains alike, Steve has now decided to specifically size up the remaining mutants among the X-Men and their affiliates and enemies. However, his new profile of Emma Frost leaves something to be desired.

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White Queen Wednesday: Giving Thanks

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

I appreciate you joining me for this Thanksgiving edition of White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I had already written about an entirely different subject when I remembered this Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float from the late 1980s which included Emma Frost as the White Queen, and decided it would be fun to share this vintage video footage with you instead.


It is interesting to see Emma represented alongside other more established and recognizable Marvel Comics characters like Spider-Man and Captain America, considering at the time she hadn’t really made all that many appearances in the comic books themselves. Perhaps this can be seen as foreshadowing her recent rise to prominence as a major player in the modern Marvel Universe.

In fact, the only other X-Men characters I see on that float are Wolverine and Magneto. So Emma stands among a select few representatives of Marvel’s mutant contingent.

Although that one announcer clearly doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I’m willing to give her a pass on Dr Strange’s “explosive underground lab”, although I’ve personally never heard of any such thing in reference to the Sorcerer Supreme’s Sanctum Sanctorum. But Metropolis and Wonder Woman belong to the DC Comics stable of concepts and characters, not Marvel. Willard Scott seems to be aware of this fact when he jokes back “Hulk and Wonder Woman. Who knew?”

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Storm Sunday: Clever, Classy & Cute

Age of X

What’s coming up for Marvel’s mutants?  Something called the “Age of X.”  Writer Mike Carey spoke with Comic Book Resources a little bit about the roster and what the crossover (running through X-Men: Legacy and New Mutants) might or might not be.  Details were hard to come by, and the creators were especially coy, but this information is interesting:

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Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade


It is my assertion that Young Avengers is the best written super-hero team comic book on the market right now.  Fans of the title have had to wait quite a bit for the creators to return (and even now the current title is only a mini-series lasting 9 issues published bi-monthly) but Allan Heinberg has proven he is worth the wait (At least Marvel thinks so).  When a title is drawn and written well, I would rather wait as long as it takes than be disappointed by an inferior result.  Fortunately, artist Jim Cheung always brings the goods.  His collaboration with Heinberg is the modern day equivalent of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and worthy enough to stand on the shoulders of the legacy they maintain.  Young Avengers builds on the tapestry of yesteryear with solid stories featuring interesting characters looking toward the future.

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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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Captain America, Han Solo & Batman with Bear

Chris Evans as Captain America

The Super Soldier Serum makes a man out of Chris Evans.

I am super excited about the upcoming Captain America movie!  I am a big fan of Chris Evans (I used to have a huge Fantastic Four movie poster of him adorning my wall–a buddy of mine got it for me from the theater he worked at) and can hardly believe how bulked up he’s become to play super soldier Steve Rogers.  I snagged the above image from Bleeding Cool (there’s more images at the link) who apparently nicked images from Entertainment Weekly.  Aside from the obvious beefcake factor, this movie looks to be incredibly dedicated to creating a believable environment and character.  I have goosebumps from some of the sets alone!

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Spotlight on Jim Lee


Jim Lee‘s 1990s X-Men had such an impact on me that I am still poring over his original art from that era.  I recently came across a large cache of his work complete with issue # and page # notes.  These pages are drawn by Lee and inked by Scott Williams.

Above we have the adjectiveless X-Men team (also known as the Blue team), not be confused with the Uncanny X-Men team (also known as the Gold team).    Cyclops led this team with Psylocke, Wolverine, Beast, Jubilee, Gambit and Rogue.  Storm led the other team with Jean Grey, Colossus, Archangel, Bishop andIceman.  There is still quite a debate on the merits of splitting the X-Men in two teams this way and about which one was more interesting.  Writer Chris Claremont has spoken about what his plans would have been for the two teams if he had been allowed to stay on the title.

williams.xmen 2

The Blue team got to fight Magneto right away, but quickly became his pawns and had to fight the Gold team.  So many great stories starring the X-Men deal with them battling each other.


Cyclops gets shot by an Acolyte while fighting Magneto!


Magneto has a bone to pick with Moira MacTaggert after it is revealed she  altered his DNA.  Feeling his redemption to be a lie, he goes on a rampage attacking her and the X-Men.  I always thought this storyline didn’t ring true.  So many stories had focused on Magneto’s reformation.  He even took over the school for Professor X and watched over the New Mutants.  Saying that his genetics were why he had changed was a cop out.  Was this story saying that character growth is nature and not nuture?  This development amounted to a flimsy excuse for things to return to a status quo for the marketing department.

jim lee x-men claremont last issue Breathtaking splash page by Jim Lee.  The blurb saying, “Stan Lee Proudly Presents Chris Claremont’s Final Issue of the X-Men!” is a hard pill to swallow. I hated seeing Chris leave, thus effectively ending the tenure of the man responsible for molding the title into a sales and pop culture juggernaut.  Here’s one fan’s re-examination of the Claremont run.

This page was a treat to find!  I love examining artist’s sketches, especially when there’s a mix of pencils and finished art.

UXM274P30s Jim Lee finds a way to make Deathbird interesting!  She used to look like this, but Lee and co. embellished her costume and poses to make her more appealing as a villain.
UXM268p6_LeeCaptain America and Logan meet for the first time!  I loved this issue (Uncanny X-Men #268) which featured Wolverine, Jubilee and Psylocke on their own mission.  Also notice that Wolverine is smoking (a no-no in today’s Joe Quesada-run Marvel).
lee xmen 268 10

Wolverine, Psylocke and Jubilee rescue the Black Widow!  This story revealed that everyone’s favorite Russian spy was much older than she looked.

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me!

Spotlight on Dave Cockrum

Today I was drawing the X-Men and I was looking at back issues for inspiration.   I kept returning to the issues drawn by the late great master Dave Cockrum. There’s just something fascinating about his linework!  I couldn’t ask for a better artist to emulate. Here’s some images that I found from his tribute website.  I encourage you check out more of his work.  Here’ some of my favorites below!
Cockrum X-Men
The whole gang is here in this classic look at the X-Men. Now that I think about it, I think my favorite X-Men from this era are the top three in this image.
Cockrum Avengers
Avengers Assemble! Well, at least three of them took the time to show up. Hawkeye, Goliath and Black Widow look positively dynamic in this piece. I’m not keen on the random shape behind them, but I’m sure Dave had his reasons.
Cockrum Mantis Swordsman
Once upon a time, Mantis and the Swordsman were newlyweds! Now Mantis is green (Does anyone know how that came about?) and a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Swordsman is no longer among the living. There’s that distracting shape in the background again. Grrr.
Cockrum Vision Captain America
The Vision and Captain America arrive late to my Avengers Assemble call. Better late than never as they say. I’m loving how haunted the Vision looks and Cap’s expression is priceless.  I think the circle works better here than the amputated triangles shown in the two images above.
Cockrum Knight
It’s a Knight! Of horses? Or maybe he’s the Rook! Could he be the Rook Knight? Does he have special chess powers? I don’t know. However, I really love the design of this character from his winged helmet to his science fiction boots. Cockrum knew how to design a costume, sometimes merging seemingly disparate elements into a cohesive whole!
Cockrum Nightcrawler
Cockrum’s creation, the amazing Nightcrawler, is having a bit of a hard time in this last image.   Dave obviously had a great sense of humor.  The inclusion of the vulture is simply too funny!

Thanks for checking out Dave’s art with me! I hope it inspires you like it has me!

Storm Sunday: Marvel Adventures Avengers

10 Reasons Why I Love Marvel Adventures Avengers:
1.   Since it is an All Ages title, I can give the comic to the kids I know.
2.   Captain America is Steve Rogers and not dead.
3.   Storm is finally an Avenger (!), still single and co-leads the team with Captain America (in a well-designed costume that stays true to all her past fashions).
4.   Writer Jeff Parker brings the funny.  Seriously.  
5.   Giant-Girl rocks! (You might know her as the Wasp in regular Marvel continuity.)
6.   The MODOC issue.  It was strange, unsettling and super entertaining!
7.   Spider-Man is angst free.
8.   Iron Man is not a fascist.
9.   Hulk is not a gladiator.
10. There have been no skrulls (yet).
 The first three covers I have shared with you, dear reader, are by Aaron Lopresti. The last two are by Leonard Kirk. They both have great styles and do a great job rendering all the different characters unique (dare I say Iconic) looks!  
Yeah, the storylines are sometimes rather silly and a little bit like a sitcom, but I find myself laughing out loud at many of the fun character interactions.  This is the Spider-Man I know and love quipping wisecracks with gruff Wolverine and irascible Hulk.  Where else can you see Hulk wearing giant headphones listening to a story cd so he doesn’t destroy the Quinjet in route to a bad guy confrontation?  Giant-Girl adds so much to the mix as a visible female presence on a very testosterone laden lineup. And with her bubbly personality, she’s a great contrast to Storm’s grounded regal presence (but even Storm is portrayed in a more likable fashion;  she’s more like a princess than a Queen).  I only wish they had added the Scarlet Witch to the mix or given us another female besides the two (Although I think I read somewhere that Jeff had to insist on getting Storm and Giant-Girl in the first place).

The heroes in Marvel Adventures Avengers are truly heroic.  There’s a real sense of camaraderie among them.  They aren’t embroiled in secret cabals (The Illuminati), divisive skirmishes (Civil War) or paranoid wars (Secret Invasion).  The stories are contained in one issue (sometimes there’s two stories) and are a satisfying read.  This title goes to the top of my comics pile each month.  

A bird’s eye view of our marketable heroes.
Giant-Girl looms large over our top tier heroes!  Vote for your favorite Marvel Adventures Avenger on my new poll!

[polldaddy poll=1019462]

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