To be transparent: no Storm solo book would have met my incredibly high expectations. I’ve written before on how important the character was to me during my nascent nerd-dom. Anything that fell outside of my nostalgic high for the character would have no other option but to fall short. I just wasn’t prepared for how short this new Storm book fell.
What follows is my review process:
- I look at only the art. Without words, can I still glean the story?
- I read the words. Is the story creative, coherent, interesting, etc?
- I read the book to gauge the marriage of the aforementioned. Do the words and art work in concert, or are they in opposition? Are the worthy of each other?
Minor spoilers follow.
Storm was a book that I was salivating for since I first read about it. A character with that much history — the amount of stories that could be told are damn near endless. But what I got left me a little underwhelmed. I — despite my tone on this site — detest writing negative reviews. Putting together a comic is an endeavor and I don’t want to shit on anyone who can go from idea to page to comic shop. That is a serious undertaking. But this book did not do it for me.
While Victor Ibañez’s cover art is beautiful and dynamic, I HATE the title font/style. For the character, it seems so pedestrian. There is a quality to it that is beneath such a storied character.
Ibañez’s interior art (and Ruth Redmond’s colors) failed on a much higher level. Most panels have either a blue or greenish tinge that constrains the panels; as opposed to letting them pop off the page. The book read very flat. Yes, of course it is a two-dimensional form, but there was a lack of depth… not to mention many of the panels felt too crowded. There was little room to breathe. There are two types of breathlessness. There is the breathlessness caused by an adrenalin rush and a breathlessness caused by being in a crowded train car with stank people. The art in this book felt like the latter.
Greg Pak’s story centers on Storm and her relationship with Santo Marco, an island that she just saved from a tsunami. The island’s government (in partnership with big business) has a no mutants policy and her very presence there is illegal. The opening four panels are kind of badass. I love superheroes doing their thing out of uniform. It makes them a little more relatable and real world. So to see Storm in her crop-top, long skirt, boots, and jacket hovering amongst the clouds was beautiful — and she had the Mohawk. But, damn. I know that I am far removed from the ridiculously large and convoluted X-Universe, but when did she become (DC/Warner’s) Captain Marvel? She didn’t say “SHAZAM!” but lightning did skkrraakooom! and she instantly went from her regular clothing into her uniform. What part of the X-game is this?
The stopping of the tsunami felt completely void of jeopardy. While we are made privy to her internal monologue about how the effort is affecting her, it was kind of like; of course she can stop it… next? After she saves the island — but particularly one of its coastal villages, Storm mingles with the appreciative villagers, kind of owning and reveling in her out-mutant celebrity. There is a confrontation with the Santo Marco military goons (cannon fodder, even the leader is unmemorable), and Beast (in contact with her via earpiece) urges her to not start trouble. There is this exchange about humans taking care of their own, and Storm leaves.
Then, all of a sudden, she is back at the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning. Can she fly at supersonic speeds? Did she have some 5-Hour X-Energy drink?
What follows next is when I was taken completely out of the story.
With any X-related book — especially focusing on a solo character — you’re going to get talk about home, belonging, forced Malcolm and Martin comparisons, power differentials, privilege, and all other manner of identity politics. But there is this secondary narrative centering on Marisol Guerra f.k.a. Flourish n.k.a. Creep and her feeling as if the X-manner of instruction is a form of indoctrination. She is also profoundly home/culture-sick. Her side of the argument reads like a teenager who learned some critical race studies theory and begins to wield it as a weapon. This comes off well. But when you add Storm to it, this entire sequence feels ponderous. When Creep calls Storm a “sellout,” I was done.
It was too much first year of college/emerging political consciousness for me. And for Storm to react the way she did, that this overused (and misunderstood) words has so much of an impact completely stripped her of her regal bearing. In an impetuous fit of pique, Storm returns to Santo Marco — via the same unseen wormhole or whatever she used the first time — and begins to assist with cleaning up debris from the aborted tsunami.
She is confronted again by the cannon fodder and they engage in the obligatory fight. The highlight of this sequence is that she opens with hand-to-hand. Many people forget that Ororo Munroe is a competent unarmed fighter. But when she deploys her powers, it is magnificent. The part that really sucks is that this fight is only four panels long — and only two of them depict Storm. After she kicks ass, Storm returns to the school to reengage Creep. The book’s conclusion is a little too happy day for my tastes.
I don’t want to give too much away. All in all I wasn’t very impressed with the book. There were flashes of greatness, but they were too few and far between.
As with any brand new series, I will read the first five. I figure five is enough time and money invested. If I’m not engaged after reading the fifth issue, I’m done.
This is my take. I’m very interesting in reading yours.