Today brings Barry Windsor-Smith Week full circle as we take another look at the legendary artist‘s take on Storm. The above image is from 1984, the same year that brought us Lifedeath. There’s a rough masculine energy about this portrait that resonates with the powerless Storm from this era. Ororo had gained a fighting edge in order to become a better leader for the X-Men and at times, she found herself mirroring Wolverine’s lust for battle. I must admit I had a hard time accepting this version of Storm. The art of BWS was radically different from the more polished superhero art to which I was accustomed. Also, the story of Lifedeath had a lot more talking than the typical superhero slugfests I had read until then. The themes of identity and responsibility felt very adult to me, like suddenly comics had deemed me more mature and spoke to me as such.
It might have appeared to some readers (as it did to me) that Storm had lost her femininity when she lost her powers. I know my younger self wanted the compassionate self-styled goddess back. However, the vision of BWS promoted Storm’s warrior self as she had to deal with what it meant to be simply human. BWS’s darker artwork, with all of its cross hatching and expressive lines, recreated Storm from the ground up. Perhaps the results weren’t palatable to some, defied expectations of many, and incorporated elements that were unfamiliar to all, but this was a seminal moment for comics storytelling. Storm, the X-Men and the comics world at large would never again be the same.
Storm battles a Malice-possessed Dazzler on the cover of The Uncanny X-Men #214 (pencils by Arthur Adams, inked by Barry Windsor-Smith).