Why Storm needs her own spin-off

Lately my head’s been a soup of ideas swirling around the representation of Black women, especially when it comes to invoking or subverting the Strong Black Woman trope.

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.

3 thoughts on “Why Storm needs her own spin-off

  1. I can’t express how much I love reading this post.

    You know what’s sad to me is that even with the straight hair and the blue eyes and how special Storm is, given her reduction in comics, THAT’S STILL NOT ENOUGH!!!!! Which is why her screen time has been continuously reduced while Emma Frost is pounded over our skull.

    As far as her lack of vulnerability goes, to be fair part of me wonders how much of that is for the fact that she is one of the most decorated leaders of the X-Men. When you’re put in a position of authority, especially for a paramilitary unit, you can’t allow yourself to be human. Especially when you’re leading strong personalities like say Wolverine, Bishop or Gambit.

    And being both a woman and person of color, we know she has to perform even at a higher level.

    I don’t think Storm should ever be taken off of the X-Men team. Stan Lee said it best, X-Men would not be X-Men if some characters weren’t present: Cyclops, Wolverine and Storm.

    Instead what I think needs to happen is that she has an ongoing series and a solo storyline in conjunction with alternating her time on X-Men.

    After all if Wolverine can be on four different teams/comics: New Avengers, Avengers, X-Men, X-Force as well as have three solo titles than so can she.

    In regards to a plot, with T’Challa having disappeared after Doomwar (he’s currently in Hell’s Kitchen taking over for Daredevil), what I think should happen is that Storm finds herself the target for assassination by a shadowy group which is a government conspiracy. They hire the heavies hitters to take her out. This prompts her to go on a journey to investigate and find out who is at the core. What she can discover is that because people in government feared the marriage of T’Challa and Storm (two major influential superheroes with connections to Wakanda a powerful African kingdom, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and most of the major superheroes in the Marvel verse who could possibly unite them all together as a cohesive unit), with T’Challa gone, they’re going to try to take out Storm.

    This could be a story of espionage, intrigue and you really see Storm shine as a character. So much potential there.

    Also, a few trade graphic novels you may wanna check out for Storm:

    Black Panther: The Civil War
    Black Panther: The Deadliest Species
    Black Panther: The Bride
    X-Men: Worlds Apart

    I think they showcase Storm in a nuanced light much of what you’ve discussed in this post.

  2. Which is why her screen time has been continuously reduced while Emma Frost is pounded over our skull.

    I’d heard about that, too. And it just makes me go, “Really? With all the global geo-socio-economic shit the X-men would likely be involved in, the most important thing going on is this soap opera bullshit? Really?”

    As far as her lack of vulnerability goes, to be fair part of me wonders how much of that is for the fact that she is one of the most decorated leaders of the X-Men. When you’re put in a position of authority, especially for a paramilitary unit, you can’t allow yourself to be human. Especially when you’re leading strong personalities like say Wolverine, Bishop or Gambit.

    And being both a woman and person of color, we know she has to perform even at a higher level.

    To be honest, I don’t believe it’s an either-or thing. They both feed into each other. But that shit must take its toll.

    After all if Wolverine can be on four different teams/comics: New Avengers, Avengers, X-Men, X-Force as well as have three solo titles than so can she.

    That’s what I’m saying.

  3. Storm had some crowning moments of awesome in the comics. I’ve not been reading comics for years so I’ve missed out on a lot of her new background. The Storm I knew though was a former thief, former goddess and there’s a strange dichotomy there between the two, one very regal, the other not so much. She was claustrophobic. She had her flaws but mostly she overcame them. She was strong in the line of duty.

    What I remember most about Storm is her fighting Callisto for leadership of the Morlocks, to free Angel, and without her powers.

    I always found her relationships with the women around her far more interesting than those with the men.

    I found a link from one of the Marvel Editors who apparantly wants to do a Storm series. (He might have been joking about it.) http://gay-nerds.com/site/industry/industry-interview-a-talk-with-daniel-ketchum-from-marvel/

    Hopefully though someone will think a Storm series is a good idea.

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