Sunday, November 23, 2014

5 Reasons Why We Need to #SaveStorm

When I first heard Storm was getting her own solo comic, I was thrilled. As an X-fan from way back, I've always felt that Storm was a seriously overlooked character, with a lot of potential that had never been properly explored. It's only on Issue #5 currently, but already Greg Pak is doing an amazing job of writing everything I ever wanted to see from Storm - he's pulled out all the best, most interesting elements of her history, and thankfully discarded a lot of the nonsense.

Unfortunately, there are rumours circulating that Storm isn't selling that well, and Marvel are thinking of canning it. When I saw Black Girl Nerds (@BlackGirlNerds) on Twitter starting a campaign to help #SaveStorm, I knew I had to put my two cents into the mix. To that end, here are the five things I think that Storm brings to the comics universe that no other book is right now.

1. Storm is black.

It seems like a really freaking obvious point, but I think it's also a really important one. While the world of comics is evvver sooo slooowwwllly inching towards a more even spread of female and male characters, the racial diversity is still more or less nonexistent. I've been doing a series of pendants on my Etsy where I attempt to deconstruct the costumes of a whole bunch of super heroines and draw out the iconography, like is done so often for male characters like Batman or Superman. Because I like being inclusive, I looked over my ideas to see if there was enough diversity there, and realised I didn't have one hero of colour represented. I started working on a Storm design, but I couldn't think of any other superheroines of colour who were as widely recognised. And that is some BULLSHIT.

For all the reasons that we need more women in comics, we need more people of colour in comics too. Yes, yes, there ARE other super heroes of colour in both DC and Marvel. But there are not NEARLY enough. Every nerd (or blerd in this case) deserves to have at least one book where they can see themselves, or how they aspire to be. Every nerd deserves a book they feel like they "own". And I'm sure for a lot of women of colour, Storm is that book.

2. You don't have to be an X-fan to "get it"

Comics, and the X-Men in particular, are notoriously difficult to get a foothold in. When a set of characters has been around as long as the X-Men, it's understandable that the back story is going to be pretty extensive. Unfortunately, it's also ludicrously complex, with world building and breaking and alternate realities and time travel and reboots all over. Even as an X-Fan, I can absolutely understand why people look at that mess and say, "Uh, thanks but no thanks."
But I think Greg Pak has pulled off the ultimate comics magic trick of writing a Storm that is recognisable to long time fans, but also accessible to new ones. In the first issue, and at the start of each issue after that, they give you the important crib notes from her back story;

That pretty much sums it up. 
There is more detail in the actual issues obviously, but for someone who has never read anything of Storm before, I think it covers all the key points without being spoilery or getting bogged down in tedious detail only established fans really care about.

3. Storm explores her humanity

A problem I had with a lot of previous incarnations of Storm is that they went well out of their way to try and make her seem foreign and exotic, which somehow apparently translated to being cold and indifferent. This made for a somewhat tedious character. The thing is, she's done so many interesting things - she's been worshipped as a Goddess, she was Queen of a whole country for a while, she ran the Xavier School. But I don't feel like previous writers have really looked at how that would effect her as a person - I wanted to know more about what kind of person would end up in those situations, and how those situations shaped that person afterwards.

When someone she loves dies (spoiler alert, it's Wolverine), she mourns in a very human, familiar way. Compare to this to one of the more well known prior portrayals of Storm;

To be fair, this page is from a ludicrous old storyline where Carol Danvers and Rogue are unsuccessfully sharing the same body, so Dazzler decides to take them all shopping (comics everybody!), but I think it illustrates nicely the alien nature Storm used to have, in comparison to the warmth Greg Pak's writing has given her.

As someone who struggles with her temper due to a personality disorder. I found this sequence particularly touching;

It's true that I can't wreak physical havoc in the same way that someone with ultimate control over every aspect of the weather can, but when my emotions get out of control it can feel like I've destroyed my world. This sequence really touched me, in a way that X-Books don't usually.

4. It's pacing is unique

Some of my friends hate the pacing of the book currently, and that's fair enough. Different strokes, etc. But for me, I'm really enjoying how episodic, meditative and comparatively slow it is. I enjoy how it meanders around themes rather than a monster of the week, and I can't think of any other superhero comics currently being published that have that feel to them. But then I liked Ang Lee's Hulk as well, so my taste can be pretty unpopular.
I do think, however, that it's important to have diversity in superhero storytelling. Why bother picking up six books a month if they all feel the same?

5. Storm is so freaking badass

All my points so far have been relatively highbrow, which is fine for me, but what if you just want to see Storm kick some butt and be totally awesome? Luckily, this run of Storm has plenty of that too.

She does everything from save a village from a tsunami to take down an alien champion three times her size, and she does it all looking fantastic. I love that Victor Ibanez draws Storm as looking so strong and physically capable, especially in action sequences. Too many hero book artists take the opportunity with female heroes, especially flying ones, to jam the point of view right up their ass crack, and I HATE it. But Ibanez largely steers away from that particular icky trope.

I mean, just look at this iconic, heroic pose she's in here. It's a thing of beauty. And then when she turns on the light show...

BABOOM! I get so thrilled every time I see a female character taking people down in comics, because it still feels so new and subversive. And also because I would like to be able to fry people with my mind.

So those are my five reasons we should #SaveStorm. What do you think? Have you been reading Storm? Are you interested in getting into it? If you're reading it, are you an X-Fan, or an X-Virgin?

1 comment:

  1. We tradewait, and I have definitely been looking forward to this book which we did pre-order with our local comic shop. Love what I'm seeing of the art here in this post.