by TLF writers and friends
In what we expect to be a very rare feature, TLF will induct iconic pop-culture characters into our Hall of Fame. These are characters that have made an indelible impact on their space in popular culture, but may not be the usual leading man/lady. We also invited some TLF friends/readers to chime in with their thoughts!
Our first induction, Storm of the X-Men.
Keidra, Co-founder/Editor of The Learned Fangirl
I remember being really clued into Storm by one of the neighborhood kids with that one comic when she whooped Cyclops ass that one time. Even more than her ass-kicking, it was her punk aesthetic that blew my mind. I had never seen anything like it, didn’t know that could be a thing. Storm is one of those characters that seems to be generally respected by fans, but not necessarily a character that people identify with, much like Wonder Woman. Revered as a goddess, a queen, born to lead, even when she didn’t know it. A woman. A black woman. A leader. Pre-Oprah, you guys. This wasn’t something that we saw in pop culture on any level. I admit,I didn’t always identify strongly with Storm, even though she looks like me. A powerful and smart, brave and beautiful, she reminded me more of my mom than myself. My adolescent self aspired to be someone like Storm, but I identified more with Rogue and her intimacy issues/Gambit swooning. As I got older and more confident, I began to relate to Storm a lot more and while I was not a huge fan of how the Black Panther storyline panned out, it was refreshing to see that even Storm has got some serious man-drama in her life.
I have yet to see a film or animated incarnation of Storm really get her character right, because it’s easier to just portray her as “strong, regal woman of mystery” than to show her as the vulnerable, oft-conflicted leader she’s often been. Her story is just as compelling as, say, Wolverine, but epic tales of heroism and leadership don’t come so easily to female comic book characters in Hollywood. When/if the time comes for that story though, Storm is my number one pick.
Raizel, Co-founder/Editor of The Learned Fangirl
Despite the changing backstory for Storm, what was essential to know about her was always straightforward — her intelligence, her strength, and that she was a literal force of nature.
Unlike others who required possession (DarkPhoenix/Jean Grey) or taking over the power of others (Rogue), Storm exemplified a sister doing it for herself. After all, during one of the times Prof. X was “dead” Storm was the kick-ass, take-no-prisoners leader, not the calm Cyclops. Unfortunately, with the rise of Wolverine-this, Wolverine-that, too often Storm has taken a back seat and not been the right hand of Professor X that she rightfully is.
In a universe of mutants where there is at least one mutant from every possible background, the importance that since her arrival Storm as a Black woman is always part of the team — and usually a leader — is significant and its importance should be celebrated.
Troy Hunter, art creator and appreciator. @tallblackguy
So, why is Storm awesome? She went from ashy to classy to ass-kicky. Her writers have sometimes missed the point, but anyone who went from trying to rob Professor X to becoming a damned demigod just HAS to be. No matter how they drew her (thin lips? Come ON) she was still the sista in the X-Men who was a leader whenever there was need. She married the Black Panther and became a queen. She faced down Silver Surfer, one of the most powerful entities in the Marvel universe. She did hand-to-hand combat, made it rain on them heauxs, and followed it up with lightning for the best in frying superhuman internals. The X-Men were always about outcasts, and Ororo was an outcast whose moral code was unflappable and the fact that she looked like women I grew up with amid the usual rosters of superwomen with long blonde tresses made her excellence all the more special.
Gamaliel D. Thomas, Pop Culture Enthusiast & Connoisseur of all things Digital. – @gduthomas
Storm. Guiding figure to a ragtag band of miscreants, rejects and would be heroes.
Eternal mother to otherwise savages; elevating them to atmospherical heights of heroism and self-sacrifice. The quintessential ideal of an iconic heroine and leader.
While certainly not the first African American woman depicted in comics, Storm most assuredly shattered the perceived notion of not only women in comics; but how they are defined in the medium. She embodies a charismatic nature that brings about the best in all who surround her; and yet is still very much a “Nuclear Deterrent” to anyone who decides to visit 1407 Graymalkin Lane with malicious intent. Could you even imagine Storm being made to fit in the previous norms of sidekick, heroine in distress or leadership’s girlfriend/partner/wife/baby mama? Hell to the no. Storm was and has been in charge of her own compelling plotlines, and even when not at the center of the plot; she is certainly the “Michael Clayton” you want on speed dial.
Beyond her stature and perceived nature though, Storm evokes a sense of majesty, royalty and grandeur not seen in other heroines. I partly attribute this to the consistent fascination with the “Exotic Goddess Principle”. This is my own genius level principle mind you but it entails that no one can resist a woman hailing from lands shrouded in mystery, rich in heritage and culture; and exuding beauty unparalleled. Coupled with her ability to harness and wield a power that everyone takes for granted yet lives in fear of; well suffice to say it makes Storm the stuff of legend.
Antoinette, happenstance nerd, @antauth
I will confess that, unlike my other co-authors, I do not know the full lore and mythology of Storm. As a child, I was your stereotypical bookworm: Scholastic book fairs were like Christmas to me. I read so much that, on occasion, I would run out of books to read. Luckily, I grew up with four older brothers: two of them read and collected comic books. Obviously, the next thing best thing to books were graphic novels (big ol’ comic books) and, next, comic books themselves.
Thus, my familiarity with Storm is an on-off relationship that started some 25 or so years ago. Even in my favorite real books there weren’t many characters that both looked like me–namely being both a woman and a person of African (or other brown-skinned) ancestry–and were super awesome and badass. It was as if being super awesome wasn’t just the domain of men, white people or aliens anymore. At the same time, Storm was atypical among the way African-American women were supposed to be in my majority African-American community: she rocked a mohawk (sometimes), she was in love with a man that wasn’t Black (gasp), and she was just so strong yet not unkind. Or so that’s what I remember.