X-Men: Schism #3 – Cho variant
Northstar and Aurora appear on the variant cover by Frank Cho, the third part of a five-part interlocking image released for the five-issue X-Men: Schism series, and then re-released later as a set of “X-Print” variants, which were uncolored sketch variants of the same. They appear as regular members of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508 (Northstar) and X-Men: Secret Invasion #2 (Aurora).
It’s really a shame that they didn’t appear inside, as this was the best of the five books in X-Men: Schism, and one of the best comics released by Marvel in 2011 without “Alpha Flight” in the title. Daniel Acuña’s detailed painted style was just so perfect in this issue – so much so that I actually read the entire thing even though no one from Alpha Flight was in it.
The original pencils for this five-part poster was released as promotional image in early April 2011. Not everyone fell in love with the image, which does have its flaws. It does show the twins with pointy ears, so that’s a big plus, but I doubt Frank Cho got the memo that Northstar and Aurora are related as brother and sister because that pose is just wrong.
If you click on the image, you can see the full-sized pencils, which have tick marks along the top and bottom edges to show the breaks between the issues, and unfortunately, Northstar and Aurora are bisected by one of the breaks.
Here is what you’d expect to see if the tick marks were used strictly as a guide, with issue #2 shaded in dark red and issue #3 unshaded. At the time, fans didn’t know where the actual borders would be between the two issues, and just fraction of an inch (that’s 1-2 millimeters for you metric folk) would make a difference.
The official Marvel solicit for this issue offered in May 2011 (for August 2011) was accompanied by an image of the central panel offset to the right so as to include Northstar and Aurora completely.
It was a strange offering in the first place because we knew it would not be the regular cover. Daniel Acuña had been announced as the artist for this issue long back and we knew this was the variant cover and not the actual cover. It was also strange because it’s very clear that Frank Cho intended for Colossus to be in the dead center, so whoever put out this asymmetrical image purposefully shifted it to include the twins. It’s not uncommon for the images released with solicits to differ from the actual cover art so we just had to wait. An inset from the asymmetrical solicit shows almost both of them with the exception of Northstar’s right shoulder, but just about a complete image.
Unfortunately, when the Cho variant for X-Men: Schism #2 was released in July 2011, we only got Northstar’s right arm, part of his head (including his ear) and Aurora’s right forearm on the extreme right edge as predicted by those tick marks on the original pencils, so we knew the variant for issue #3 would show the bisected remainder.
|X-Men: Schism #3 – X Printing variant|
When the X-Print variants were released in November of 2011, we got a bit of a break. The cover images were letterboxed, compressing the image vertically with black borders on top and bottom. This new aspect ratio was just enough to sneak more of Northstar’s face onto the very left edge. A side-by side comparison of insets taken from the Cho variant (left) and the X-Printing (right) shows this a bit better.
But look closer. You know where to look. If you still can’t see it, try comparing the original pencils of Aurora (left) to the X-Print version of Aurora (right) and you’ll see the difference.
The bizarre gigantic nipple on Jeanne-Marie’s right boob has been removed. Call it an improvement or not, whichever you prefer, but in any case, these things do not go unnoticed on Alpha Flight Collector!