Before nabbing to post on your own tumblr, maybe check out mine first and reblog: danieldoodles.tumblr.com or magniflorious.tumblr.com
It's really no secret at all that I'm a huge fan of the '80s era X-Men, the Outback era in particular. There was just something special about that line-up and it was one that just clicked for me. It could be that it featured such strong female characters or it could have been the art, but to me this will always be one of the greatest rosters the X-Men have ever had. I've been dying to see a return to this and have contemplated doing my own update on the team, but anything I could have created would have paled in comparison to what you've created here. Each member here is portrayed so fiercely that you instantly get a sense of who they are. The characterization is so strong and I'm in absolute love with it all here. As such, I hope you won't mind me doing a little rundown for each.
COLOSSUS: He's probably my favourite male member of the team, which is no doubt coloured by my own preference for imagining him as a gay character (thanks Ultimate Universe!). It could also be that he's Russian and artistic too. I've never actually mentioned it before, but your take on the character from way back in '11 still stands as my all-time favourite take on him. You've re-jigged that look for him a bit here. He's got a full beard and the red X looks like paint drips. If that was intentional, that's a freaking brilliant way to reference his artistic talent. Bravo.
ROGUE: Another non-secret of mine is that I really don't like her much. I have a love-hate relationship with Rogue due to her rabid fanbase and my overall sense that she gets more love than she deserves (over more deserving heroines). However, I can appreciate a good design of her when I see one. I think Rogue has been turned into a glamazon and your take on her returns her to the more butch appearance she had way back before Silvestri got his hands on her. I like that. This is a tougher looking Rogue and it's something I can really get behind. I love the hooded shrug you have her in and the details on the legs are fab. The boots really suit her too.
WOLVERINE: Incredible. I like that you really acknowledge Wolverine's appeal to the gay community in your art and I really see that here. Perhaps it wasn't intentional, but he looks real slick and sexy. The musculature is really on-point and you've drawn him with a really stunning face. This is perhaps one of the strongest male faces you've done to date actually. The decision to make him clean-cut works actually, in part because Colossus appears so rugged. On top of that, the design of his costume is so great. The pants really reference the lumberjack/biker aspect to his character and the overall colour scheme takes me back to his (underrated) orange and brown ensemble.
DAZZLER: All hail the Queen! I always love when you draw Kylie -- err -- Ali. Your love for the character is infectious and I always really feed off of it, making me love her even more. Your takes on her always inspire me personally. Your design here, for those who obsessively pour over your art, is quite similar to what you had going with your Angry Dazzler Variant piece. The boots are different and the blue is a little lighter, but it's more or less the same. What I like about it is that it references her '80s look quite well, while also putting your own spin on it. I really love the hair in particular, there's something very Demi Lovato about it and it brings me back to the gay-tastic "Really Don't Care" video of hers. That said, I have to be the one who points out that this still isn't as strong as your go-to Dazzler look. That look is still the damn fiercest thing I've ever seen a human being design for a superhero.
STORM: I don't know about you, but I find Storm impossible to design for. I think my love for the character really interferes with that, but I always find everything I do seems subpar to what has been done in the comics. I think that's really my roundabout way of asking how you go about designing for her and if you could offer any suggestions… since this is awesome! Everything about this look is amazing, from the hair to her boots. I adore the high pony for her and it's a nice way to reference the mohawk without going full throttle. The neck of the costume is a cute little reference to her first look, while the white and gold pays homage to the seminal Jim Lee look. I'm really digging the cape too, especially how it attaches to the costume. The opera-length gloves are a nice touch too, especially since I'm a sucker for those. Overall, it's a simple yet effective look for her. I'd love to see this done officially.
LONGSHOT: Of all the members from the Outback era, Longshot was always my least favourite. I'll admit a big part of that had to do with his appearance, but lately it's been coloured by his portrayal in X-Factor. He just came across as a borderline rapist, which really didn't go over well in my book. Factor in my general sense that his relationship with Dazzler completely derailed her ascent to A-list status and you have some major resentment on my part. This design here though is possibly enough to make me reconsider my feelings on him. I love the white and the overall bodysuit is just so darn chic. The gloves are great, the padding's super cool and the pockets on the legs for the knives are a really nice touch. Beyond that, you've given him a modern hairstyle that really works for his character and transforms him into someone who is visually much more interesting.
PSYLOCKE: For me, Psylocke and Storm really duke it out for who I think looks best here. The design you've given her is perfection. Everything. The colours, the sleeves, the hair, the soles on her feet… amazing. I'm always someone who is dying to do a modern revamp of Psylocke incorporating her Pre-Outback costume and you just did that here flawlessly. I adore the lavender parts on the side and the sleeves are just giving me everything. She just looks so poised and regal. Love it.
HAVOK: Okay… Hate to be that person but… You kind of fumbled with Havok. I only say that because I feel like you went with a colour scheme that confused his character. When I clicked on this piece, my eyes ventured over and I wondered why Pyro was in this piece. That's when I realized it was Havok. That said, that's literally the only nitpick I have and that's a really small thing. Had he been black, white and silver, I'd have been all about this look. Of course, I do have to give you props. Havok is ALWAYS in white and black, so trying something different is worthy of praise too. A part of me thinks that the colour scheme you gave him works, since it references his powers more accurately than the traditional look. Still, the Pyro-ish of it is a bit like the elephant in the room.
In conclusion, this is pretty much my dream come true. You've essentially done what I've always dreamed of seeing and I honestly cannot thank you enough. Hell, this piece makes me want to draw these eight exactly as you've drawn them for myself (but I wouldn't do so without your permission, of course). Just wow. All of this is perfect.
This was the team when I really started paying attention to comics beyond the pretty arts, so that alone makes them special to me, but it's just one of the many reasons. I've found that almost everyone I've interacted with who holds such fondness for this group tend to be of very like minds. Geniuses, really. Ultimately, I wanted to convey what a cool, sexy, edgy but polished team this is. Most of the costumes would come across darker on film or in a book but i was playing with a simpler, softer color palette here.
COLOSSUS: Also my fave fella and first comic crush. I wanted to combine his artistic side with his farm boy roots and there I think I've succeeded. The paint drip X is worn by all of them - some understandably harder to see - and meant to mix up the basic X logo with something that reflects their more "outlaw" status. However, I think it would look better on film (or done by a better artist) than it does here. Also, I see no need for him in a shirt. Ever.
ROGUE: We're on the same page with her, too. Loved the rough and tumble river rat who was (so very understandably) jealous of Dazz. After they made nice, I always wanted to see an affectionate/contentious sisterly relationship develop with them, but alas. I grew to almost hate 90s Rogue because I could never understand her astronomical popularity but have come back around some in the last few years. Somewhat. I wanted her outfit to take her back to her bruiser days and black and green was the only option for me. I felt like the short hair made sense for this look as well.
WOLVERINE: Sorry straight comic dudes, but a 5'3" furball with questionable social skills and the occasional feral bloodlust is gonna need to be a LOT better looking to land the quality women he's gotten... and the flared hair is done. Enough with the Wolverwings. However, I must admit he came out a bit prettier than intended, but I stuck with it because I was proud of the face so extra thanks for singling it out. I also regret not adding the arm hair and stubble, but it was a stylistic choice.
DAZZLER: There were a few influences on Ali's side buzz, not one of which was Demi Lovato. Gotta say, I sort of like you a little less now that I've googled the video, but I guess she looked cute. lol When I clipped Ali's hair to the side in my Fabulous X-Men shot: lightengale.deviantart.com/art… I almost shaved it but felt it too severe for the overall look. Her first go at this look was for a CBR Jam right before the Kris Anka design was revealed but I did it in blue/gold: danielmcnea.tumblr.com/post/91… I kept most of the design but the gold looked tacky to me and it's just slowly evolved since. I'm most pleased with the current phase as it marries her first two eras while being a good update for this team. I like her edgier for X-Men, more glam as a solo act or Avenger.
STORM: She is tough to design for but, similarly to Dazz, I think it's easier once you settle on which Storm you're working with, if that makes sense. The cape and white and gold give easy indication that this is our powerful leader, but detach the cape and the suit looks a bit more contemporary, younger, particularly with her hair. Hard to tell but the sides are buzzed with most of the length being loose dreads and twists. I'm over mohawk.
LONGSHOT: He is my least fave as well, but I judge him less harshly when he is nowhere near Dazz. I really like the lighter colors for him, which were a last minute change, but I can't take credit for the hair. I almost kept his shaggy 'do from X-Factor but saw this in his recent mini-series. It's one of those looks that might not work IRL but does in comic form.
PSYLOCKE: I don't care what anyone says, puffy sleeves forever! It's about a union of styles and I think they lend an air of femininity to an otherwise functional and sensible costume. Girl wore a thong for 20 years, almost everything is an improvement, but I don't think she should be in some plain, formless bodysuit.
HAVOK: I absolutely get how the color scheme throws people, but knowing the team should be enough for anyone to deduce who it is. That and it still has the piping and chest circle he's worn for years, just in a different color. I tried a gradient with black/grey/white but was determined to do something different that – as you mentioned – represented his actual power set. It's definitely my least favorite and I would likely go with black if I ever did another team shot.
Thank you soooo much for your feedback. I always appreciate your taking the time to offer compliments and critiques so I wanted to reply in kind, hence the delay. If you're ever inspired to use my designs in a drawing, by all means do so. I'd be honored!
Rogue's popularity, as far as I'm concerned, can be boiled down to two things. One, she's Caucasian. Two, she had a loud and aggressive personality. Combine those two things and you have a character who appeals to the widest possible audience. Of course, her relationship to Gambit gave us pre-show of the Bella/Edward mess with Twilight audiences and her whole "I can't touch anyone" was as much a fetish for young boys as it was relatable for alienated girls who felt they could relate to her. I'm not trying to diminish the impact she's had on the franchise either, I just think that she's vastly overrated and is easily the most inconsistently written female under the X umbrella. I get into a lot of hot water for my opinions about Rogue and am consistently met with the internet equivalent of a child plugging their ears and going "lalalala - can't hear you!"
Like I said, I'm extremely impressed by your art here and am truly contemplating eventually doing some fanart of your designs. Of course, I selfishly wish there were even more redesigns in your gallery so I could draw more than just the Outback line-up.