Mutants in the Marvel Universe have always served as a representation for people who’ve been marginalised by society. The allegory of an oppressed race has been responsible for many fascinating stories, with The X-Men being at the heart of it. I do have my favourites like Wolverine, Gambit and Cyclops, but they’ve never been the characters who’ve stood out the most. In my opinion, the character who best signifies the undying spirit of the mutants is Storm. With the power to control the elements, Storm has played many roles in her long history: goddess, queen, thief, teacher, liberator, warrior and leader.
Born Ororo Munroe, she was raised in Harlem and Cairo, eventually becoming a skilled thief until she was recruited by Professor Xavier. First appearing in Giant-Size X-Men 1 in 1975, Storm was the first black female superhero in mainstream comics. The historical significance of the character can’t be understated. Gladys L Knight, author of Female Action Heroes: A Guide to Women in Comics, Video games, Film and Television wrote that “two defining aspects of her persona are her racial identity and her social status as a mutant.”
This duality highlights her strength. Not only is Storm an example of a powerful woman of colour, she’s an established character who isn’t defined by anyone else. She is one of the most formidable fighters in the Marvel Universe, having served with the X-Men, Avengers and Fantastic Four. Some of her most impressive feats include defeating Cyclops in hand to hand combat without the use of her powers and being one of the few people worthy to hold Mjolnir.
The important thing to note is that her powers go far beyond controlling the weather. Her ability to control natural forces is so precise she can manipulate the air in a person’s lungs. She can also bend light and moisture to appear invisible. Storm is also capable of controlling cosmic weather like solar winds and the electromagnetic field.
A little explored aspect of the character is her magical potential. Storm is descended from a line of sorceresses, with her white hair being a part of her ancestry. It has been stated that Storm’s spirit is so strong that she was able to host the consciousness of an avatar of Eternity. This was during a gathering between herself, Doctor Doom, Silver Surfer, Black Panther, Doctor Strange and The Fantastic Four. Out of everyone in attendence, she and Strange were the only viable candidates.
Within her history, Storm has appeared with two iconic looks: the long-haired goddess and the badass warrior with a flowing mohawk. The mohawk first appeared in the 1980s, drawn by Paul Smith who admitted the change was a “bad joke gone too far.” In the modern era, Storm is sporting the mohawk and it represents her standing tall in the face of mutant persecution.
There’s no doubt that Storm is one of the most enduring women in comics. She’s the spark of lightning that lights up a dark night. She’s the rain that cools a starved land. She’s the sun that warms the world and gives life to a generation of comic fans.