The first issue of DoomWar, a new 6 issue Marvel Comics limited series, debuted February 17, 2010. It has quite the ensemble cast, featuring Black Panther (Shuri), T’Challa (the former Black Panther), the entire supporting cast of the Black Panther title, some of the Fantastic Four, a few X-Men and even (gag) Deadpool as they all team up to fight the tyrannical monarch Doctor Doom. The mini-series is written by Jonathan Maberry and drawn by Scot Eaton and takes the place of the Black Panther title which is on hiatus for the interim of DoomWar.
Jonathan Maberry spoke with Marvel.com about his plans for the title and one paragraph in particular made me very excited:
“Storm hasn’t been as heavily-used for reasons that will be explained in DOOMWAR. There are good reasons why we haven’t used Storm and there are good reasons why T’Challa hasn’t communicated with Storm and good reasons why Storm has been easily manipulated. Once we find out what they are and she gets free of the limitations, she’s going to kick some serious ass. Talk about payback being a bitch. I can’t wait to see what the artist is going to do with the pages that I’m scripting when Storm cuts loose. It’s going to be ugly and beautiful.”
Now that I have read DoomWar #1, I can attest that the ugly is already quite obvious within the story thus far. I don’t want “good reasons” for why Storm isn’t a major player. I want her to be a major player. Storm is depicted in the entire issue as the typical “damsel in distress” (and that’s couching it lightly). All of those “good reasons” that Maberry says are forthcoming had better be amazing, because so far DoomWar has left me cold due to its weak portrayal of Ororo Munroe.
Black Panther has left Storm to face the new government alone. Their kangaroo court quickly resorts to torture. This is the first of two times that Ororo has to resort to cursing her enemies rather than show any personal power. As far as curses go, “Be damned” is an awkward and unseemly phrase for Storm. She’s better than that, in my opinion. At least the artist draw her with her head held high.
The next page shows Storm still bristling with indignation as the “court” proceeds to sentence her to death. While they continue to call her a witch (which seems rather ignorant to me since they know she is a mutant), Storm stands by her man. I’d like to think that she’s plotting her escape instead of waiting around for T’Challa like her dialogue suggests. And does T’Challa = Wakanda as Storm seems to think? Isn’t the idea of Wakanda bigger than that? However, if we accept this logic and remind ourselves that T’Challa is no longer Black Panther, wouldn’t Shuri = Wakanda instead?
T’Challa visits the X-Men and asks for help. When I read this, I kept wondering why no one invited Namor (Who is an X-Man now) to the discussion as he and T’Challa had come to an understanding during Hudlin’s Black Panther #21. I feel like he would be an obvious choice for assistance. Perhaps he’s too busy rebuilding New Atlantis beneath the X-Men’s floating island. Anyway, T’Challa breaks down his decision for the X-Men. He says he had to choose between Storm and Wakanda and he chose Wakanda. I want to believe there’s something else he’s not telling the X-Men. We shall see.
T’Challa then tells the X-Men about those insidious horrors of technology–nanites! Seriously? It’s 2010 and we’re still using nanites as a plot device? So, not only has Storm been a figure head with no power, she’s also been a spy without her knowledge. She hasn’t been an asset to Wakanda, she’s been a detriment. She’s been a “living camera” ever since Doom spiked her food with tech. She might as well be a doll for all the involvement she has in this story.
So, Storm escapes her cell only to be confronted by Doom. He reveals that he has chosen her to pick the final lock of the Wakanda vaults. To make her do it, he shoots a Wakandan prisoner. Okay, I might not be the biggest Doom fan, but this characterization doesn’t wash for me. I remember Victor having a code of honor that wouldn’t automatically resort to killing as an “incentive.” I understand Doom to be someone who doesn’t kill his foes because he wants to best them (Whether in sorcery, technology, or overall intelligence). Killing a random warrior to prove a point seems beneath him somehow. Storm does what he tells her but she threatens to kill him which at this point is just an empty threat. It would’ve been better if she hadn’t said anything to him in that moment. I don’t like Storm sputtering words without the power to back them up.
Storm curses Doom a second time (More empty threats) while Doom continues his “incentive program” and murders T’Challa’s uncle . This was too much for me. Why would Doom kill someone so close to T’Challa when he supposedly has everything going for him. He’s in control, right? Why kill a hostage when he’s so close to victory? And what if things go awry? Won’t it make T’Challa even more his enemy? Although ruthless, I always thought Doctor Doom had panache. In this instance, he’s nothing more than a bank robber thug.
Storm collapses in the corner while T’Challa’s mother holds her brother (?) in her arms. Then Doom pulls Storm by her hair (!) and tells her to “get back to work.” Sigh. I don’t see how Storm’s portrayal could get any worse. She’s been abandoned by her husband, arrested, tried by a false jury, sentenced for death, imprisoned and now knocked around as a hostage while her kidnapper kills people around her. How heavy handed does this story need to be? It’s all too much for me. What emotion is the art in that last panel supposed to convey exactly? It looks like she’s angry and confused. Or maybe she’s meant to be determined. I can’t tell. I don’t mean to place blame on the artist. I think the art is well done. It’s simply that after all of the hell that Storm endures in this comic, this is the last panel in which Storm appears and I am not sure how to feel about her duress. Looking at this panel, I’m not certain how she feels either. One more quibble: Storm’s eyes are white during the entire time of this story. It’s a fact that her eyes turn from blue to completely white when she accesses her powers. If she has them, why isn’t she using them? It’s probably just an artist mistake, but I find it problematic.
You know those “good reasons” Maberry spoke of in that interview with Marvel.com? They can’t come soon enough for me.