The art of Marc Silvestri was a huge influence on me as a young man. I fell in love with his leggy supermodel heroines and glamour infused narrative style. His mohawk Storm, tanned Dazzler and corrupt Madelyne Pryor are forever burned into my brain. He has a way of making everyone, men and women, so pretty. So, it’s a bit strange that I haven’t had a spotlight on him since this post in 2008! Let’s rectify that omission by looking at a lot of original artwork! Above, we see the X-Women take some time to relax in a tropical paradise. From left to right, Storm, Jean Grey, Rogue, Psylocke, Rachel (above), Meggan, Kitty Pryde and Lockheed. That’s a bevy of bathing beauties!
Yes, dear reader, the title of this week’s Storm Sunday is lifted from the new “Fame Monster” album by pop goddess Lady Gaga! If it is within your personal tastes, you might wish to listen to this song while you read this post. Why? Because today we’re going to take a look at one of the most important X-Men relationships in comics: Storm and Forge. (Click on images for larger versions)
Native American inventor (whose mutant power is to create any technological invention he can conceive of) works for the United States government to make a gun that will strip a mutant of their powers. The gun is used against Storm, mutant weather wielder and leader of the X-Men, instead for whom it was designed (Rogue, who had a criminal record). Storm falls out of the sky and Forge rescues her and hides her in his penthouse from the government. When she awakens powerless and despondent, Forge tries to help her count her blessings. Forge gets a phone call and Storm eavesdrops on the conversation and learns Forge is the inventor of the gun that took her powers. She runs away with Forge following after. They exchange heated words as Storm says she cannot believe she trusted him and Forge says he’s sorry and has feelings for her. Storm says that she was falling for him too, but that it doesn’t matter. She punches him and leaves even though Forge says he thinks he can reverse the damage.
(Artwork by Barry Windsor Smith)
Forge also has a talent in sorcery that he doesn’t embrace because one time in Viet Nam he cast a spell that used the souls of his troop to summon demons to kill the Viet Cong. We don’t learn this until much later except that this past is alluded to in holographic projections that Storm runs through as she escapes Forge’s home. Much later, the X-Men are fighting evil aliens known as the Dire Wraiths and Forge and Storm’s paths collide. Forge reveals he’s still crushing on Ororo and Storm is not impressed. “We will meet again,” she says, “but you may well wish we had not.”
(Artwork by Kerry Gammill)
During the Asgardian Wars, the God of Mischief Loki totally fixates on Storm. I should also mention that way before this, Doctor Doom put the moves on Storm, too. Oh yeah, and before Storm loses her powers she has a relationship with the thief Yukio that some interpret as intimate.
Later, Forge tried to right the wrongs he made in Viet Nam and this fiasco included his old mentor Nazé, who was really dead by this point and possessed by an evil entity known as the Adversary. So, when Storm swallowed her pride to ask Forge to help her get her powers back, she was accompanied by Nazé who tricks her into believing that Forge was evil. When she finally finds Forge her mind is dead set against him and thinking he is creating a rift in space, she stabs in the heart without a second thought (Storm is really good at doing this. See Callisto and Marrow). The Adversary then traps Storm and Forge on an alternate Earth without any other people on it. They both admit they have feelings for each other and even though they could presumably live happily ever after on their pseudo-earth decide to save the real one. So, a year passes on pseudo-earth and Forge creates inventions from his artificial leg and hand to 1. return Storm’s powers to her and 2. create a gateway back home. They fight the Adversary but in order to defeat him nine souls have to be sacrificed because that was the number Forge used in Nam on his buddies. Forge cannot be one of the souls because he has to cast the spell. Storm and the X-Men agree to spell and then “die”. The Goddess Roma brings them back but with all this weird stuff that gets retconned anyway (some stuff about their images unable to be seen by technological equipment, yadda yadda). Storm decides that the X-Men for all intents and purposes should keep up appearances of being dead to strike at their enemies. Forge is not privy to their resurrection and goes home and has to fight Magik, Colossus’ little sister.
(Artwork by Marc Silvestri)
Later, Storm is reduced to a much younger version of herself. Forge has a psychic fight with the Shadow King and barely wins, but learns that Storm is alive. When they reunite, Storm is an adolescent thanks to the villain known as Nanny. Awkward. Much later, there’s some bad business on Genosha and Storm is kidnapped by the baddies to be turned into a slave. However, the procedure turns Storm back to her adult self. There is a fight with the Shadow King and all return to the X-Mansion. Forge works there as the mechanic fixing the Danger Room, Professor X’s wheelchair and the Blackbird. He asks Storm to marry him and when she appears to tell him no, Forge accuses of her of having no life outside of the X-Men and stomps off. Jean Grey tries to tell Forge that Storm does care about him but when he finds out that Mystique is going crazy, he leaves the X-Men to help her. Also, it seems for a minute that Storm and Bishop were flirting. Storm breaks down as she would have said yes.
(Artwork by Whilce Portacio)
Forge runs off to lead X-Factor and make out a lot with Mystique (!) while Storm stays with the X-Men. Forge eventually realizes that Mystique is faking her mental problems and asks Storm out again. She agrees to go out with him and they both feel that they can make it work. Lots of adventures later, Storm tells Forge that she sees no long term relationship working out and during her mini-series (in which she has a slight flirtation with Cable), Storm completely cuts it off with Forge. Forge stays with X-Factor until that team runs into the ground. Sabretooth almost killed everyone on the team and Mystique ran away, leaving Forge to nurse his heart. After this, Forge tries to resume his studies in shamanism but quits. Thanks to Professor X, Forge and Mystique cross paths again and Charles has Forge create inventions for Mystique while she works for the Professor as his Black Ops agent. Forge’s feelings for Mystique are not returned although they go out on a date together. Mystique escapes Professor and leaves Forge disheartened.
(Artwork by Whilce Portacio)
Around this point, Storm visits the Black Panther and helps him out on a mission. They act in the manner that good friends would with one another. Storm accuses T’Challa of going down the same slippery slope of Magneto in regards to his leadership of Wakanda. They share one kiss.
Storm ends up flirting with Davis Cameron (Slipstream) during her tenure as leader of X-Treme X-Men and is hit on by wannabe conquerer Shaitan.
Now here’s where things get screwy for Forge. He encounters Nimrod, a time travelling robot who makes him invent some stuff for him or else he will teleport to Wakanda and kill Storm (who is about to marry the Black Panther). Forge gets help from the New X-Men and la la la. Forge obsesses over time travel and when Bishop comes calling, Forge is shot and dealt serious head trauma by the former X-Man. After Forge recovers, he gets even more consumed by time travel and moves to Wundagore Mountain (home of the High Evolutionary). Forge’s new scheme on how to deal with M-Day (a day when almost all of the mutants lost their powers0 is to inject synthetic DNA into several humans. He discovers there are other creatures from another dimension who are set on invading Earth with their “Ghost Boxes” and he sends his creatures (whom he dubs the “New Mutants”) against them. The X-Men get involved and discover a stark raving mad Forge. Before everything blows up, Storm asks him to leave with the X-Men. Forge refuses, seemingly upset at her having married the Black Panther. He apparently gets blown up while the X-Men escape.
(Artwork by Whilce Portacio)
It’s important to note that Storm has had quite a few dalliances throughout her life. She met the Black Panther when she was a child and they had a “thing” with him depending if you rely on the few pages of their time together in Marvel Teamup #100 or the retcon crazy Storm mini-series leading up to her marriage. She fell in love with the warrior Arkon while on a mission with the X-Men, likening her feelings to what she thought Jean and Scott had, but her duty to the team kept her from being with him (sound familiar?). She’s had flirtations with Wolverine and Nightcrawler as well.
So what have we learned? This romance was doomed from the start.
Deception, guilt and shame are the major players here. As well as pride. A lot of pride. Forge was a lapdog for the government who turned his back on his Native heritage which led to the death of his supposed friends in the military. Storm was a woman with extraordinary powers who instead of having peers all of her life, was worshiped by her tribe and haunted by the death of her parents. Neither one had what could be considered a healthy relationship with their family or themselves. Forge was an escapist living in denial, while Storm had delusions of grandeur (although if one had her powers it might seem logical that you would as well). Still, Storm did grow up on the streets of Cairo as a thief, so she had to know that there were other lives she could be living.
Storm fell in love with Forge under the worst circumstances. She was completely powerless, suicidal and trapped. Perhaps it’s a bit rash to liken this situation to Stockholm Syndrome, but it certainly reminds me of it. Forge’s feelings for Ororo surfaced while she was his captive. The guilt he felt for destroying her life were always mixed up his love for her. Not a great way to start a relationship.
(Artwork by Jan Duursema)
Think about the relationships Storm had before she met Forge. Oh, that’s right. There’s nothing there but an adolescent dalliance with a prince that borders on fantasy roleplaying and a series of flirtations. It makes sense in an odd way that Storm would keep going back to Forge when she knew next to nothing about anything else. (However, it doesn’t mean she should return to her first love from her childhood and marry him either, but that’s a whole other post.) We aren’t privy to what Forge’s life was romantically before Storm, but I find it hard to believe that a women in her right mind and proper sense of self would fall in love with a man who denied his heritage and worked for a questionable government agency. That kind of man is not boyfriend material.
So, even though it makes perverse sense that Forge would fall in love with a woman as beautiful and deeply emotional as Storm, and that Storm without her normal defenses would take a risk at love, in this instance the overall combination is rife with failure. When Forge asked Storm to marry him and didn’t get his answer immediately, he left like a spoiled child. Although Storm says she would’ve married him, her hesitancy betrays her emotions. It seems that she was fooling herself, perhaps thinking she would never get another chance at love.
There’s also the Mystique factor. What kind of low self-esteem does one have to have to go back to the man who broke your heart by going out with your arch-nemesis? Twice! Or flip that around. What kind of low self-esteem does one have to have to continuously go out with a woman who is the complete opposite (and therefore enemy) of the woman you are really in love with? It really is hard to wrap that one around my mind.
When I think of romance, I think of emotional honesty. I think of a partnership of like-minded individuals looking to learn more about themselves and each other and, through that partnership, the world. Romance starts with loving your self so that you can better love your partner. I believe romance is about being mirrors for one another so you can move beyond the ego and unconscious projections. Storm and Forge may have deluded themselves (and many a reader, myself one of them) when they spent time together that day in Dallas. However, in spite of all of their good intentions, theirs was a bad romance.
Ah, Forge, what did we ever see in you? Mutant with the power to invent anything (nicknamed “Maker”) so he’s super technologically advanced. He also has sorcerous abilities that are tied to his Cheyenne bloodline, but he hardly ever uses them due to a mishap in Vietnam (He conjured some demons but it cost the souls of his fellow soldiers which is why the Outback X-Men had to “die.”)
Currently, Forge is causing trouble in Astonishing X-Men where he may be behind some kind of inane tomfoolery, which given his past track record of making mutant power nullifiers for the government and mucking around with time machines is a logical progression of his personal narrative. I miss the days when he and Banshee were hanging out together and trying to find all of the X-Men who went through the Siege Perilous. That was a bromance I could get behind.
So, here’s Storm in all of her sex kitten finery, chewing on her sun glasses for Forge. I think I’m just going to pretend it’s Mystique pretending to be Storm and leave it at that.
Marc Silvestri brings the curves for Marvel’s Swimsuit Edition (Anyone know the year?). I love the crinkled hair and the parrot the most, but Silvestri’s Storm has always been a favorite of mine. He draws the eyebrows high and draws the double lines on the outside of the eyes that many artists forget to add.
I saved the ridiculous for last. Forget the controversy of Storm’s marriage to Black Panther! This Deviant guy Ghaur kidnaps seven of Marvel’s (then) superstar ladies to marry them off to Set, Egyptian god of (in the Marvel world) evil. From left to right, we have Jean Grey (Wearing her X-Factor costume), The Invisible Woman, Andromeda (her inclusion always puzzled me. She’s an Atlantean warrior who adventured with The Defenders just long enough to die with most of them when their series got cancelled, but she was kind of a cypher character and besides, the one leg pantsuit is so bad), She-Hulk (barefoot, of course), Storm, the Scarlet Witch and Dagger (of Cloak and…). Quite a crew, eh? Of course, no one gets really married to Set, but it seemed at the time that Marvel had chosen their favorite female heroes and these were it. I found the grouping to be odd. Where’s Monica Rambeau (Captain Marvel at the time)? They are a rather colorful bunch though. An alternate story in an issue of What If? explores this story if Set had won.
In 1987 Marvel had their X-titles (at the time this was Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants and X-Factor; yeah, only three! Hard to imagine in this day and age of franchises and properties) share a “Fall of the Mutants” banner (The above image was the advertisment for the event and drawn by Alan Davis). The three titles didn’t actually crossover with each other, but they all shared a common thematic intention of shaking the individual teams up a bit and had their own separate storylines.
Uncanny X-Men finally saw Storm finding resolution for her power loss (You read Lifedeath like I recommended, right?) and creating the team I am most fond of in X-Men history that would be known later as The Outback X-Men (consisting of Storm, Dazzler, Psylocke, Rogue, Longshot, Havok, Colossus, Wolverine and tagalong Madelyne Pryor). X-Men fans were also treated to amazing artwork by superstar Marc Silvestri. A fun adventure in fashion sees Storm regaining her powers while sporting a Native American ensemble with her ex, the newly buff and shamanic spell-casting inventor Forge (as you can see in the image above). Forge finds his past has caught up with him and the X-Men pay the price with their lives (well, sorta kinda). The pointed eared lady is Roma and she bends magic rules to help out our favorite mutants.
New Mutants broke my heart as one of my favorite characters died saving the life of a character for whom I’ve never had any sort of affinity. Not to mention that it featured some of the worst characters in New Mutants history (The Right, Ani-mator, Bird Brain) in a The Island of Dr. Moreau storyline rip-off. I also found Bret Blevins‘ artwork too cartoonish for the themes and violence depicted in this particular storyline. However, as you can see from the above image, Blevins’ version of Magik is pretty sweet, somehow looking cute and formidable at the same time.
X-Factor brought a character back from the dead in an incarnation that is still recurring in the pages of the X-titles today (check out recent issues of X-Force). This was really hard for me as a reader back then because I shed some real tears after reading issue #15 in which said character died as a result of injuries from the Mutant Massacre crossover. This character is also one of my top five favorite characters ever and a part of me wishes he had really died than be brought back as he was. The villain of this storyline is not one of my favorites (not even close) but his longevity has endured somehow and he pops up every now and then in spite of his repeated failures. Survival of the fittest? Kinda questionable if you ask me. At least this comic had Walt Simonson‘s artwork going for it (as seen above)!
Cover art by Marc Silvestri. One of the characters on the right does something dastardly to a character on the left involving a face mask, some magick and a knife. You gotta see it! Go read “Fall of the Mutants” now!