Storm Arcana

Relationship Coach & Founder of Arcana Academy

Tag: Moira MacTaggert

Spotlight on Jim Lee

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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.

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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.

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Cyclops gets shot by an Acolyte while fighting Magneto!

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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.
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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).
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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!

Storm Sunday: Paul Smith, Part II

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Paul Smith is a god. There, I said it.  Seriously, his lines are clean, his characters solid and his style has a fluidity perhaps only seen in Cliff Chiang today.  Smith’s Uncanny X-Men run illustrated some great Chris Claremont stories and is fondly remembered by fans and critics alike.  Today we take a look at some of his classic images of Marvel’s mutants.

Above, the whole gang is comin’ atcha with Wolverine (naturally) leading the charge.  Smith left his mark on some of these characters, especially the female X-Men.  Smith had the challenge of softening Rogue’s look while still maintaining her rough edges (she was in transition between bad girl to hero), while conversely he had to harden Storm while still retaining her feminine mystique (who was leaving some of her earth mother behind to become a better leader).  Also, Kitty was growing up a bit as an X-Man and Smith designed costumes for her that spoke to her spunky spitfire personality as well as her playful sensibility.  And Lockheed the dragon, well, no one draws him better than Paul Smith (although Art Adams comes close).

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That’s not to say that Smith didn’t lend his amazing talents to the male characters of the team as well as well.  Smith’s Colossus was quite the gentle giant, Wolverine looked like a scrapper with the outfits to  match, and one could actually believe that Cyclops was once nicknamed “Slim” due to the narrow athletic build Smith gave him.  The above sketch to a lucky Leo conveys the individuality of each X-Men member to which I am referring.  Facial shapes and structures are unique to each character (not just hair and costumes).  No one even has the same eyebrows!  I love this image because it reminds me of the family dynamic the X-Men once had.  Paul Smith took the Cockrum and Byrne illustration styles and made them his own.
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I believe this above image was a commission for a fan and if so, what a great piece to have in one’s collection!  Just as Paul Smith made the X-Men his own, his work on Doctor Strange is classic!  In this image, Colossus asks Doctor Strange for assistance in finding his little sister, the New Mutant Magik!
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A sweet sketch of lovebirds Kitty and Piotr.  I love this costume for Kitty, probably because the V’s look nice with her curves and I have always loved billowy sleeves on her. I think they give her phasing abilities a pleasing visual.
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This X-Men Unlimited cover told the story of Kitty coping with the death of Colossus (don’t worry, he got better).  Who better than Paul Smith to provide the cover?  His run on the X-Men depicted the struggles of their once new relationship and Kitty’s challenges at becoming an X-Man despite the naivete of her youth.

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Ah, the infamous mohawk!  This look still polarizes fans of Storm and although it too, passed into obscurity for quite some time.  Recent art from Kaare Andrews’ Astonishing X-Men has depicted Storm rockin’ the ‘hawk once again.  However, no where else in Storm’s appearances does she have the ‘hawk, so it remains to be seen if this is in continuity or whether Marvel simply is ignoring it altogether.

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I chose to include this image because I love how Smith drew Storm in reverse mode.  Storm is technically bodiless in this part of the story and is learning the story of the outer space dwelling Acanti, so drawing her in a more ethereal mode certainly works here.

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Storm feels a bit shut out of Kitty’s life in this page from Uncanny X-Men #167. The Kitty/Ororo dynamic would eventually change even more as their daughter/mother relationship shifted as both women transformed into warrior versions of themselves.  Check out panel two with Sikorsky speaking like Yoda and Moira MacTaggert calmly informing the X-Men that they are going to transplant Xavier’s mind into a cloned body of himself.  Too bad they didn’t do the same for her when she contracted the Legacy Virus (a disease that was only supposed to plague mutants and Moria is a human). *shakes head*

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Smith covers Uncanny X-Men years later, featuring Storm with Rachel Grey/Summers (Marvel Girl/Phoenix) and Tessa/Sage.

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A sketch of Rogue and Storm (who appears to be wearing an amalgam of a few different versions of her costumes).

Next week, Storm Sunday will look at more Paul Smith X-Men goodness!

Storm Sunday: John Byrne, Part II


After Dave Cockrum, John Byrne is the artist who really shaped the way the X-Men looked in their All-New, All Different incarnation! He started on issue #108 in 1977 and worked his magic for many years. In fact, John Byrne’s influence can still be felt from his runs on The Fantastic Four, Captain America, The Avengers. So, what better way to celebrate the man and his legacy than the above image which combines all of the just mentioned titles into one happy Marvel “photo op” ?

From left to right, Kitty Pryde (perhaps around this time she was Ariel or Sprite) is being balanced by Beast, that’s the Human Torch flying above them, next to Beast is Captain America, Colossus, Cyclops, the Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel, Scarlet Witch with Nightcrawler in front, Storm, the Thing, Professor X is seated in front, behind him is the Vision and next to him is Wolverine and of course, that’s everyone’s friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man above them!
A lovely pencil sketch of Storm by Byrne. His rendition of the wind rider just bubbles over with circular design. From the curls of her hair to the oval cutouts in her boots, this Storm is one curvy woman and I love it! She looks healthy, sexy and powerful. I especially love how high Byrne drew her hair, like it’s almost made of clouds. And check out that profile! This should be the model sheet from which other artists draw inspiration!
 John Byrne drew a run of The Avengers (#181-191) while pencilling X-Men. Here we have the hex-casting Scarlet Witch with Storm! You gotta love those boots with the low heels, so late seventies!
 Hipalicious Storm in the clutches of energy stealing Sauron during one of the X-Men’s many visits to the Savage Land. Remember, Storm was fulfilling the token girl role on the team here and although her character was draw with a lot of sex appeal, she was still being portrayed as the naive “stranger in a strange land” character.
Storm talks to her plants in her attic apartment, a character trait that really endeared me to her. I was jealous that she got to make it rain inside. Check out Banshee an Moira being all lovey-dovey. *sigh* I love that couple.

My Favorite Dead Marvel Characters: Banshee

Lately I’ve been thinking about how many of my favorite Marvel characters are deceased. Now I’m not talking about A-list characters here, maybe not even B-list. Dunno how you determine that anyway. The point is, I really miss some of these guys and I wish they weren’t dead. At least when a character isn’t being used you have some hope that someone will dust them off and bring them back into the spotlight again. The worst is when that someone brings them back just to unceremoniously kill them in their storyline to give their story some punch (or prove their new villain is hardcore or just to be shocking or maybe it’s pointless).

Anyway, when I was introduced to the All-New Different X-Men, I really thought Banshee (aka Sean Cassidy) was cool. I didn’t understand why he used a codename that has always been mythologically associated with a female entity (The word “banshee” is from the Old Irish, baen “woman” + síde: “fairy, otherwordly.”), but I liked that he was Irish and he seemed older than the other characters. He was always going on about how he was too old to be superheroing and in spite of his reticence he hung in there and was an asset to the team.
When I learned that the character had been in older X-Men issues as a Factor Three villain (albeit brainwashed) and had been an Interpol agent, I really thought Banshee had some interesting dimensions as a character. And then there’s his history with his villainous cousin Black Tom (longtime partner of the Juggernaut) as they fought over women, the inheritance of Cassidy Keep (their ancestral land) and how their powers didn’t work on each other (you were always guaranteed some fisticuffs when they encountered each other; Marvel has a funny rule that if you are a mutant, then your powers don’t work on your relatives, see Havok and Cyclops for more ). Black Tom kept the existence of Banshee’s daughter, Siryn, from him until she was an adult.

Shortly after Banshee joined the X-men with Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, etc, he met Professor Xavier’s former love, geneticist Moira MacTaggert and fell in love. Their relationship lasted a long time (especially by comic book standards) and Banshee was there for Moira when she mourned her dead son Kevin, aka Proteus, (this was after Banshee lost his powers for a time after a battle with villain Moses Magnum). I loved Sean and Moira together. They made a lot of sense to me as a couple and I think it created some interesting tension between Professor X and Moira (he was in love with Lilandra at this time).

Banshee served as Headmaster of the Xavier Academy for a while with Emma Frost (see issues of Generation X). The tension between the two was really fun to read about and I liked Banshee’s strong father figure tendencies with the students, especially mouthy Jubilee and stuck up M.
After Moira was killed by Mystique, Banshee lost it, got all Tony Stark, er, I mean, alcoholic and then got all Iron Man, er, I mean, paramilitary and started X-Corp (even recruiting super-villains to his cause). Mystique slit his throat for his trouble, but didn’t kill him. That would be left to Ed Brubaker in the X-Men: Deadly Genesis mini-series in which Banshee fails to save a plane full of civilians when the plane crashes into him.
I distinctly remember scenes from an Uncanny X-Men story on Muir Isle (Moira’s research center) when Banshee (still sans powers) trains Dazzler, Rogue, Psylocke and Longshot. He smokes his pipe (a trademark of the character) and teaches them how to work together as a team. I liked him in the role of teacher. It suited him. I also remember how he and Forge had a tight friendship. Those two were always reliable supporting characters for the X-Men.
I forgot to mention the leprehauns. Yeah, Cassidy Keep is full of ’em. They helped out Nightcrawler once. And now that Banshee is dead, his daughter has inherited the Keep, leprechauns, pipe and all. In X-Factor, scribe Peter David wrote Siryn refusing to believe that her father was dead, citing all the X-Men who have died and returned. She has a point. In Marvel Comics, RIP might as well stand for “Return In Progress,” but will that hold true for Banshee? I dinna know, me boyos and lassies, but I hope so.

FYI:  The artists of the above images are Jim Lee (the top two), Lee Weeks, (I’m not sure who painted the Ultra Card) & Bryan Hitch.

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