Featuring Storm as you’ve never seen her before in this special super-sized, weekly story arc! How will this warrior fare when she is forced to endure the brutal combat of the gladiator ring? Guest-starring Yukio and Callisto.
Storm and Callisto fight together in various Arena matches, winning each bout, taking down numerous champions from other Arenas around the world. They travel the world as part of a tour of Arenas, with Masque enjoying the financial rewards and Storm being tortured after every fight. After each match, Storm and Callisto party with the rich fans. At one such party, Masque meets with Tullamore Voge, a previous enemy that the X-Men have faced and who has a personal vendetta against Storm. He offers to buy Storm from Masque. Masque agrees to the sale after another tour of Arena matches from which she can become even richer. In preparation to hand Storm over to Tullamore Voge, Storm endures more torture sessions with Pleasure and Purge. However, when Storm and Callisto are left alone chained in a dungeon, it is revealed that Storm has been faking and is in her right state of mind. Having been watching the entire series of events through his spycams from the safety of Lila Cheney’s AI house, Koga devises a plan to free Storm and Callisto. He surmises this plan after being threatened by Strong Guy and Yukio. Continuing fighting in the Arena matches, Storm’s electricity keeps Masque and her crew from hearing conversations between Storm and Callisto. Storm reveals the usefulness of the Arenas as a sanctuary for mutants and a future training ground for X-men. On the day Masque is ready to deliver Storm to Tullamore Voge, Koga and crew reveal themselves to Masque. Koga offers Lila Cheney’s AI House to Masque in return for safe treatment of the Tokyo Arena fighters. Masque agrees, but only if Storm kills Yukio. Storm stabs Yukio in the throat and leaves with Callisto, Masque, and Pleasure. Yukio reveals that she is not dead and that Storm stabbed her enough to make a mess, but not kill her. Yukio and the Tokyo fighters defeat Posterboy and Purge. Meanwhile, Storm and Callisto reveal that they have been feigning obedience to Masque. Storm knocks out Pleasure and is ready to battle Masque, when Masque gets all the Arena fighters. The fighters attack and are easily defeated by Storm and Callisto. They defeat Masque and send her in Storm’s place to Tullamore Voge. Storm, Callisto, Yukio and the Tokyo fighters celebrate their freedom and relax in a hot tub discussing the future of the Arenas.
The final cover of the Arena arc is a sexy pose of Storm in the night surrounded by swirls of wind, showing how sexy and powerful the weather goddess is.
It was a relief to this reader to see that Storm was feigning her enjoyment of the bloodthirsty Arena fights and was always planning in the back of her mind how to utilize the Arenas for the good of mutantkind. And after the previous issue’s torture and beatdown, it was very satisfying to see the weather goddess defeat Masque.
Overall Masque, despite the sudden gender switch, was a great foil for Storm. I would love to see this female Masque become a nemesis for the weather goddess.
Overall a great conclusion to a story arc highlighting Storm! Claremont succeeded overall with this storyline.
Also, of the random fighters in the Arena, I liked the look of Dervish, who has a cool spinning power and his overall look with the glowing tattoos was very cool. It might be interesting to see him again, which we probably never will.
And a funny little moment: in the final battle between Storm, Callisto and the Arena fighters, many of the Arena fighters are in underwear or night clothes as they had been sleeping before Masque awoke them for the battle. At one point, Storm blows the boxers off the blob0looking mutant. That was funny!
Overall, there was really nothing bad in the issue, other than once again seeing Storm being tortured.
Also, there were many generic characters thrown into this issue. Claremont does a good job of giving a brief description of them and Kordey does a good job with some of the visuals, but again, Kordey’s art was mediocre and there were many crowd scenes where detail is lost due to the sheer number of characters in panels.
The final hot tub scene with Storm, Callisto, and Yukio relaxing in the hot tub is an odd setting for their chat about the future of mutantkind, especially with Callisto’s tentacles wrapped around the bathing beauties. This is an odd scene and only further fan speculation that these women share a sexual nature.
Overall a fun storyline, but again, I could do without the S&M theme of this storyline, even though it fit with the underground nature of the Arena and Tokyo’s night scene.
I’m giving this issue a 4/5. The Arena storyline also deserves a 4/5. One of Storm’s better solo stories! A must for her fans!
Review by Joe