Storm Arcana

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Storm Sunday: Barry Windsor-Smith, Part III

BWS-StormSketch
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.
uncanny214
Storm battles a Malice-possessed Dazzler on the cover of The Uncanny X-Men #214 (pencils by Arthur Adams, inked by Barry Windsor-Smith).

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2 Comments

  1. Ingonyama

    I’ll admit, there was a long time when I wasn’t sure if I liked the brutal, no-holds-barred warrior version of Storm. I was so used to the beautiful, life-affirming goddess, and I didn’t see what made Forge (and others) go so crazy about punk-Storm.

    Then I did some thinking…and more than a little arguing with one of my boyfriends, who likes Storm, and likes heroes who kill people.

    In Lifedeath and other issues after her power-loss, Ororo was so down-to-earth she was almost ugly, but it helped me realize that I loved her as a character for more than her powers, for more than her beauty. Claremont and artists like BWS (intentionally or not) took away everything that originally appealed to me about Storm and then forced me to take a second look at her character. I came to the conclusion that Ororo was more than just a woman who controlled the weather. In some cases, she was more like an anthropomorphic personification of the weather…BWS especially helped me come to terms with this through his drastically different take on Storm.

    The weather is not always nice to us. It won’t stay bright and sunny when we want it to, rain exactly where it’s needed, or otherwise obey us in any way, shape, or form. It’s like a cat in that regard (which, when I look at Ororo’s eyes, strikes me as a perfectly apt comparison). But if you pay attention and watch it closely enough (as meteorologists know), you can see that it does what it’s compelled to do regardless.

    Storm, the woman, is the same way. She follows her own dictates, journeys as the winds of her life command (if that’s not too sickening an allegory). When she was robbed of the things that made her a goddess, necessity drove her to embrace what made her human…the change may or may not have been for the better, but it was profound and resonant, and permanent.

    Even after she regained everything…powers, beauty, hair…she kept the wildness, skill, and instinct that had served her during the interim, becoming a more complete person all around.

    That, to me, is the epitome of what an ongoing character’s journey should be like. Life is ongoing, but it has chapters…one door closes, one more opens, etc. And at the end of the journey, people are rarely the same as they were when they started. Even when her hair and costumes became long and flowing again, she kept the innate baseness of humanity that she’d acquired, and I think, became more than the goddess or the warrior could ever have been on their own.

    This is all just my take on it, of course, but I like it. ^_^

  2. scarlett

    I would have never said it better Ingon..

    being a huge fan of Storm too I read a few issues of her in her punk period.. but it’s only because it wasn’t really on sale in my country or just that I haven’t enough money to buy it lol but I remember a few.

    now grown and with more possibilities as I moved to France I took a careful look at Punk Storm and what can I say you haven’t already said?? I totally agree with you and I just can praise them to have deepen the character. Storm deserved to be fully developped.. what I have to say is that later, they somehow put her aside.. just giving her the average “bossy” personna.. and leaving the rest in the shadow.. of course there were attempt to make her shine again, like before, but they stayed at the first layer.. and the changes.. hugh.. I hate how they slimmed her.. they gave her european features.. and now they all get wrong with the idea she’s not african..that she’s.. mixed.. is it so horrible to be plainly african? it’s like they said, Logan is half canadian and half US or Piotr is half-us and half russian.. it’s not a shame being from africa (and yes, Africa is not a country) not against you, but just against some People outta there >>

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