I’m gonna say right off the bat that I’m not too familiar with X-men. I mean, I saw the movies and read about X-men, but never felt compelled to get my hands on any of the comics. So this is pretty much me inviting you to take what I say here with a grain of salt.
Storm’s always been an intriguing character for me because she defies a lot of the stereotypical representations of Black womanhood in most media. She’s nobody’s maid, nobody’s baby mama, nobody’s Keeping It Real mascot. For a long time, that alone made her quite progressive (then again, I have some . . . issues with how the comics handle Storm – like these issues). But as the Marvel Universe’s quintessential Strong Black Woman, there is a glaring limitation to her portrayal. While Storm gets to be respected, even admired, she doesn’t get to be a whole person. Without exploring the fears, doubts, frailties, and temptations that would face anyone in her position, Storm is ironically more powerful but less human.
Of course, where some people only see problems, I see opportunities. Take this, for example:
Embracing the idea of strength brings [...] a level of distinction. She becomes a capable person, someone who can reliably provide for others’ [...]needs. However, this virtue also leaves her with a set of irreconcilable oppositions out of which she must live her life: She cannot be both strong and have needs of her own; she cannot share what is going on “deep down inside” and retain the esteem of those around her; and she cannot take care of others and expect reciprocation. Such is the dilemma of strength— to choose appearances and remain unknown to other people, or to choose truth and risk being disregarded by them. [She] selects what many other Black women see as the lesser peril: She invests in the appearance of her invulnerability, other- directedness, and lack of needs, and hopes that despite being taken in by the per for mance, others will somehow “leave me the hell alone” and not make such demands of her.
So far, we seem to know more about Storm’s powers than her personhood (as opposed to, say, Charles Xavier or Wolverine). Developing a spin-off series that explores the idea in the above quote alone has a lot of potential to deeply enrich Storm’s character in ways unprecedented in most forms of mass media. While there are more Black women with speaking roles than ever, it is still comparatively rare to give their characters an inner life. If there are fictional Black women uniquely positioned to influence future writers and artists to start reversing that trend, Storm is near the top of that list.
Naturally, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about doing this. For instance . . .
- Exploring what Storm’s choices mean for her as a human being = the shit
- Digging into the unique temptations Storm faces as a woman defined by power = the shit
- Going beneath the facade to see more of who Ororo Monroe really is = the shit
- Exploring how the expectations heaped upon Storm (from herself, from friends and family, from community, and from Planet Earth itself) affects her psyche = the shit
- Storm breaking off with the X-men and starting her own organization geared toward using mutants to resolve global problems (and her examination of the cost of that decision to humans and mutants) = the shit
- Killing off her loved ones to give her something to angst about = the suck
- Taking away her powers to force weakness upon her = the suck
- Creating a Storm Outta Control plot where the other X-men have to get her back to “normal” (aka protecting the status quo) = the suck
- Storm getting raped = OH HELL NO!!!!
See, it really isn’t that hard. Just give her the same complexities given to the resident Marvel Sue, and you’ll be fine.