I was inspired by Brian Cronin’s month long series spotlighting comics by African- American comic book creators. I decided I too wanted to do something to commemorate Black History Month here at What’cha Reading. Thinking about it I decided to do a weekly series featuring important Black characters, because all children should be able to see themselves in the comic books they read. The characters I have chosen, and man it was way tougher than I thought to pick just 4, are important for various reasons, that I will point out but most of all they are all three dimensional, break down walls without caving to stereotypes and kick ass.
My first choice was an easy one as she is the character who hooked me on comics in the first place, Ororo Munroe, Storm of the X-Men.
Why is she important? She was one of the first Black characters and the first Black female character to be a major player in any comic from either DC or Marvel. She has also been consistently one of Marvel’s most popular characters and has never fallen to the background in the X universe.
Born to an African Princess and an American Photojournalist, Ororo was raised in Harlem but is brought to Egypt to live by her parents. After their deaths, six year old Ororo ends up alone on the streets of Cairo. She becomes a proficient pick pocket and thief under the tutelage of a local crime boss. When her weather controlling powers manifested as a teenager she ends up being worshipped as a goddess by a rural tribe. Professor Xavier finds her, recruits her to the X-Men and gives her the support and safety to become so much more.
Storm is a complex character. She suffers severe claustrophobia due to the PTSD of having been buried in rubble for days when her parents died. She is not ashamed of her criminal past, in fact she is proud of her skills and shows off on occasion. She has risen to lead the X-Men and was even able to maintain her leadership when her powers were temporarily lost. She happily embraces her dark and light sides as natural pieces of her much like the sun and storms of the weather. When her powers were lost she had to rediscover herself as a human and came out a stronger leader for it.
Her love life, as is normal in the soap opera world of comics, has been haphazard as best. She loved Forge, the mutant with the power to make anything. The revelation that he was the creator of the gun that stole her powers permanently damaged their relationship. A relationship with the out of time mutant Bishop, was never brought to fruition. A youthful encounter with T’Challa (Black Panther), where a 12 year old Ororo saves him from a group of racist thugs, when she still lived in Africa, was retrofit at some point and led to the two characters marrying a few years ago. The marriage was short lived and she is now involved with her old friend Wolverine.
I think it’s important to note that Storm is the closest thing Marvel has to a Wonder Woman character, yet she is far more fully realized and relatable than the Amazonian Princess. When Chris Claremont created her, he created a woman who became a superhero. Wonder Woman was a superhero, who has never quite been a real woman. That is, I think, the main problem writers have when writing WW. She’s iconic and difficult to make flesh. Storm is human, flawed and perfect in her imperfections. She is Wonder Woman as woman with the wonder only being part of the whole package.
Essential Storm issues:
Uncanny X-Men #189 Life Death – a double issue dealing with the aftermath of the loss of her powers.
Uncanny X-Men #201 – Powerless Storm battles Cyclops for leadership of the X-Men (spoiler alert, she kicks his ass)