(Chantaal’s note – We continue with the Memorable Moments of Marvel Women series! Welcome Terry, today’s guest blogger. If you want to write up a moment, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love the help, there are still a few available! We’ll be showcasing one to two moments a day, and we’ll have the polls to pick the final five up the first week of March.)
Storm discovering her new self at the company of Yukio and the subsequent makeover, reflecting her new inner self.
Uncanny X-Men #173, September 1983
Created by Len Wein in 1975 for Giant Size X-men #1, the relaunch of the X-men title, Storm was a major revision of a character that he’d originally intended for the Legion of Superheroes in DC Comics, but had never used. Storm was very different from “The Black Cat”, who was going to be a thief, so there was some remnants of the original concept, as Ororo had been a thief as a child in Cairo.
However, it wasn’t until Chris Claremont took over the writing of the Uncanny X-Men that Storm began to be treated as a major character. She was presented as a balance of gentle and fierce, much like weather/nature herself. Even as a young teenage boy, I appreciated Storm for more than just having cool powers and being sexy. She was wise beyond her years, intelligent and stood up for herself – but always in a restrained fashion.
In the year 1983, the storylines in the Uncanny X-Men were ramping up. Claremont was juggling giving equal attention to all of the characters on the team, not to mention of copious people that played support to the X-Men. After Jean Grey’s death on the Moon, Cyclops had left the team and Storm had assumed the role of field leader. As such, she had begun to evolve, as the role of leader and the responsibilities of the position weighed heavily upon her.
She even became the leader of a tribe of mutants living underneath the streets of New York, known as The Morlocks. To accomplish this, she had to best their leader, Callisto, in hand-to-hand combat – something she did, almost killing Callisto in the process. The groundwork for a drastic transformation was being laid.
While the X-Men were in Japan for Wolverine’s wedding to Mariko, they had to deal with The Silver Samurai and Viper, who were trying to establish a claim on Clan Yoshida, led by Mariko after Wolverine killed her father; Samurai was Mariko’s half-brother, and though apparently a bastard, felt that he was more their father’s heir than a woman would be.
Helping the X-Men in their fight against Samurai and Viper was Yukio, a ronin (a samurai without a master) who was allied with Wolverine (and had once been much more.) Yukio, also, had once been a thief, a subtle comparison between her and Ororo, when so much was contrast. Yukio was a “wild child”, where Storm was reserved, always in control of herself. Yukio and Storm battled the Silver Samurai and Viper (and, unbeknownst to them at the time, Mastermind, who had been playing with the X-Men behind the scenes for some time), and barely escaped with their lives. On the run, cut off from assistance from the underworld, the two went into hiding to recover.
When we next see Storm, as everyone is arriving for Logan’s wedding, it is in a drastic change of style and appearance – she has shorn her long, flowing hair, leaving only a spiked Mohawk, and changed her standard black fabric (that always seemed to be something along the line of silk) for leather jacket, pants and spiked heel boots. Much like Kitty, when it first happened, I was shocked and not exactly fond. It took me a couple months of reading the comic to get used to it (please understand, I was 14 years old – suddenly changing a character after 7 plus years, it was jarring.)
Of course, this was no simple cosmetic change or “acting out”, but instead, reflecting the changes within. But, in reality, they were more than recent changes, but rather what had always been within coming to the surface. Ororo was always strong and confident, but she had always repressed her stronger emotions, in order to fit in with others. Now, after years of being amongst the X-men, and being their leader for a good part of that time, she had the confidence to be more herself. Yukio’s influence was only the last push she needed.
The best part of this is that this was no temporary change. Granted, the Mohawk is no longer part of Storm’s look, nor has it been for some time. (As an aside, artist Paul Smith has been quoted that the Mohawk came about as a joke, and he apparently considers it still in poor taste. I find this to be a shame – for 1983, the Mohawk was the perfect symbol of rebellion and individuality. The punk rock movement had established the Mohawk as part of the counter-culture environment, which holds even today, almost 30 years later.) Despite the fact that Storm’s appearance and fashion has MOSTLY reverted to her original design, she is still the stronger, more assertive, confident and aggressive person she became in 1983.
In comics, there are few lasting role models for minorities – Storm is not only lasting, but she is one for women and people of color alike, and even a Caucasian male such as myself can learn from her and her strength of character. Though little justice has been done in the movies and animated shows, in the comics, Storm is the X-Men’s strongest and wisest member of them all.