No one wants to incur the wrath of HBO, so I won’t embed a clip from the show the Wire. Suffice to say that the clip I wanted to show deals with an interesting dialogue between two characters. One, Marlo, a ruthless drug dealer in the streets West Baltimore and the other is a just a security guard trying to feed his family. In short, Marlo enters a store and buys a bottle of water. While at the counter he slips a couple of pieces of candy into his jacket. The security guard sees this brazen display of theft in plain sight. Marlo walks out the store and doesn’t even bat an eye or acknowledge the security guard, which by the way is armed with handcuffs and a walkie talkie. The security guard confronts Marlo and explains that he is just trying to do his job and if nothing else Marlo, the ruthless drug dealer should respect that in the least. Yet, Marlo doesn’t flinch or much else even care. Instead, Marlo looks him in the eye and says to him. “You wanna it to be one way” He repeats the phrase. This just irritates the security guard because like it or not, its the truth. At this point, Chris Partlow, Marlo’s deadly muscle pulls up. Chris sees the exchange and wonders what is going on. Marlo just hops into the car and they ride away. Of course, not without Chris looking intensely at the security guard. So… What does that have to do with Storm?
Storm, is the most popular Black superheroine in Marvel comics and perhaps in all comics to be frank. She is an amazing character with an amazing skill set. The sister controls the weather, okay? Now when you are the most popular and arguably one of the most powerful, there’s bound to be issues. Right? A few of my homies and I were discussing Storm and her history in comics in regards to of all things relationships. Storm has had a few love interests over the years. No big deal. Right? Wrong. If you talk to certain cats. You will hear things like “Storm is a pin cushion in Marvel comics” “Storm is for the streets” and these are more tame quotes.
However, like the situation involving the security guard being taunted by Marlo, some comic book heads in the heavy melinated persuasion feel similar. Let’s just bottomline this. Why Storm gotta be “loose”? Why she always up in Wolverine’s face. Why she kissing on Nightcrawler? Why her and Forge? Yada Yada Yada.
So guys, if you good and triggered by now, let’s really dig into this. So what is the real problem? Is it swirling? Is it fetishizing of a Black woman? Is it just jealous Blerds and their weird perceptions of made up characters? Truthfully, it’s probably all of that and then some. However, I can tell you that most of the “logical” reasons are low hanging fruit. Of course we have to consider Storm’s humble beginnings. Storm the character was created in 1975 and was in the comic Giant Size X-Men #1. The character was created by Len Wein and pencilled by Dave Cockrum. Storm joined the X-Men after being sought after by Charles Xavier. Now of course what is a story about a Black goddess without a hand from White Supremacy racism (shout out to Dr. Francis Cress Welsing)? Even though the word is that Storm is a descendant of African priestesses who all have white hair and blue eyes and can possible wield magic, Professor Xavier was like “nah boo, you just a mutant”. (we gonna leave that alone… that could be a book by itself). Iconography is one of the most important mediums there is in the visible world. However, like all things in comics it comes from a human experience and that experience can be troubling. Storm is very beautiful. She is on the cover of a lot of X-Men books for that reason. Nobody is stupid. Marvel knows what its doing. The sexualizing of characters is nothing new.
In the book Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation, Jeffrey A. Brown notes “Black superheroines are often presented as hyper-sexual and metaphorically bestial. Moreover, popular Black Superheroines like Storm, Vixen, Pantha, and the Black Panther are explicitly associated with exoticized notions of Africa, nature, noble savagery and a variety of Dark Continent themes including voodoo, mysticism and animal totemism”. So yeah, Storm was drawn and written with certain things in mind. Yes, she is a strong leader. Yes, she is very powerful. Yes, she’s dope but to ignore the intentions of her characterization is just lying to yourself. Marlo told the security guard, “you wanna it to be one way”. Marlo is representative of the dominant society, those who rule and those who enforce the “agenda”. The security guard is representative of the people forced to live in the society and those who have to find away to survive without being crushed by the “agenda”. The problem with the security guard is that in surviving, you think you matter. You think you are important but like all things under the thumb of the dominant society you are there but you really don’t matter. God forbid that Marlo’s muscle eyes you because then you become a casualty in the war. In comic book fandom. We who adore Storm are that security guard. We want to matter but unless we create our own and create own narratives, we are forced to endure dumb and ridiculous conclusions that our precious Storm is for the streets when in reality, She herself wants it to be one way but its the other way! -Richard J Wright
NOTE: Richard J Wright’s complete blog listing can be found at blackwardslivingincomics.blogspot.com