By Ben Morse
This July, X-MEN: SCHISM kicks off a startling metamorphosis in the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe that will split the Children of the Atom and lead to ReGenesis in the fall along with two new ongoing series, each featuring it’s own distinctive team: UNCANNY X-MEN and WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN.
With change in the air, here on Marvel.com we’ll be regularly gathering the creators and editors responsible for guiding the X-Men’s destiny to dissect each of their charges to examine what makes them tick and perhaps lend some insight into where they will find themselves once the Schism ends and the ReGenesis gets underway.
This week, we turn our attention to Ororo Munroe, aka Storm, a charter member of the X-Men’s “second generation” who served as one of the team’s most respected leaders and has seen every corner of life from being a child pickpocket to the current Queen of Wakanda.
How would you describe Storm and what is most important to her?
Daniel Ketchum (X-Men associate editor): First and foremost, Storm is the X-Men’s conscience. She often represents the point of view of what is right, not just what is right for the X-Men. If there’s one X-Man who values the Golden Rule above all else, it’s Storm.
Victor Gischler (writer of X-MEN): I think at her core we find a deep sense of integrity and dignity. She's a queen and carries herself like one. She sees it as her role not only to rise above bad situations, but to rise above them in a way that sets an example for others.
Rick Remender (writer of UNCANNY X-FORCE): To me Storm was an Earth Goddess, free-spirit, hippie with a stronger moral compass than the rest of the team on most issues. Though as a kid who grew up into hardcore, she’ll always be a punker in my heart. She had this piety that defined her; it wasn’t an air of superiority, but close. She is a rock solid person, unwavering in her beliefs. If you look at all of the X-Men throughout the years and how their character arcs have changed them, Storm has remained the most constant. I think what’s important to her is the concept of honor, family, and a belief in Xavier’s dream.
What is Storm’s view of how the mutant race should conduct itself moving forward? How does this contrast or conflict with others?
Kieron Gillen (writer of UNCANNY X-MEN): The most obvious head-butting point in the last few years is useful to bring up: she simply doesn't agree that a team of assassins knocking off threats preemptively can be justified. X-force is an abomination.
Conversely, it's worth noting that her disagreeing hasn't led her to leave the X-Men or—even more so—expose them. The value of family is absolutely key to her.
Remender: Storm is arguably the last member who still embodies the original dream Xavier had for mutants: Peaceful co-habitation without compromising a core set of ethics; to not become your enemy in order to defeat them. She killed a man in her youth and swore to never kill another living thing under any circumstances. This has remained consistent and defines her philosophical conflicts with Wolverine.
Ketchum: Storm would have mutantkind conduct itself admirably, with dignity and mutual respect. She certainly wouldn’t condone stalking through the night in black jumpsuits, preemptively eliminating threats to the mutant race. For her, there’s certainly no justification for taking the life of another. That’s a way in which she differs from Cyclops or Wolverine. She’d conduct herself honorably—maybe even to a fault.
Jason Aaron (upcoming writer of X-MEN: SCHISM and WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN): I think that's one the big questions that will need to be answered in the wake of Schism. And it will be. Storm will be in a position where she can't really hang back anymore. She will have to make her voice heard.
After serving as leader of the X-Men for years, how has Storm settled into a non-leadership position the last few years? Has the transition been difficult for her? Does she yearn to lead?
Aaron: I think she's happy to see Scott really come into his own these last few years, but she also has to be a bit worried about where he seems to be headed.
Gischler: I wouldn't say she "yearns" for it, but she does have a view of herself that includes leadership. She's knows she's capable. There's a lot of quiet confidence there. Speaking just for myself, I made sure she had a leadership role in a recent arc of [X-MEN] when the X-Men went to New York, and in future arcs I want to keep using her in a leadership role when the opportunity arises.
Ketchum: While Storm always has the presence and conviction of a leader, she’s just as comfortable following someone else’s lead, maybe even more so. I think for Storm, leading is more than just outright calling the shots. For her, I’d say it’s more a matter of demonstrating good character and staying true to ones own moral beliefs, setting an example, something that’s actually probably easier to do when you’re not saddled with all of the considerations a leader must make.
Remender: If Storm had remained leader of the X-Men I don’t think that they would be on Utopia. I don’t think that Magneto would be walking around again. Yes, I realize that around [UNCANNY X-MEN # 200] Storm led the team when Magneto was also in the mansion, on the team, teaching the New Mutants. In my mind, Erik has shifted his priority so many times, I just feel like she’s a little more hard line. Interesting to think of where the team would’ve ended up had Storm remained leader. It would’ve been a very different path.
Storm has been a thief, a “goddess,” a super hero and a queen; which of these is closest to the real her?
Remender: In my mind she’s the elemental goddess. It’s the thing that most defines her character and how she conducts herself.
Ketchum: If I have to pick just one, it would obviously be queen—I mean, seriously. Even before she officially became royalty, there was a regal air to Storm. But I actually think this is one of the beautiful things about the character: Storm is all of these things concurrently. When she’s picking a lock, she does it with elegance, and when she’s debating with opponents on the world stage, she does it with cunning.
Gischler: You can't separate any of that. It all goes into the special alchemy that makes Storm [who she is].
Aaron: What's cool about Storm is that she's all of that and more. She's one of them more complicated, multi-faceted characters in the X-verse.
Gillen: When I was first started writing [UNCANNY X-MEN], Storm was one of the characters who left me a little paralyzed, for exactly the reason you describe. Someone like Cyclops or Wolverine or Colossus or Dazzler it's relatively easy to draw a line of best fit through their history and personality and explain the core of them in a sentence or two. There's lots more to them than that, of course, but you can get a key idea of what makes them tick.
Storm was trickier for me to process, for all the reasons you describe. She's been all these things. What's the real her? How can you sum her up? What is it like when someone's been all these things? It's different for someone like Logan, who's been even more things.
The story there is a very long life and mysterious past and he sticks closer to a series of core ways he interacts in these roles.
It's a long distance between being a thief and being a goddess.
Eventually, I ended up with the view that she's just someone with an awareness of how big life can be. That's the key thing there. She's a woman who's experienced extremes, and it's left her with a wide appreciation of the art of living and how to live with people. There's a generosity there.
When I first talked about this to [former UNCANNY X-MEN writer Matt] Fraction, he explained his take, which was—I paraphrase badly—that she's the real queen of Utopia. As in, whatever we take from the good idea of "Queen." A natural generosity tempered with an unshakable dignity, neither of which are traits you could really apply to the more obvious White Queen of Utopia. I can see that. I think that's what her life has left her.
She's complicated. The real her is that she realizes that life can make you a thief or a goddess, and being too sure of what you really are is generally a bad thing, because it makes you think other people are also just what they are. And rather than making her bitter or angry, it's given her the aforementioned generosity of spirit tempered with the toughness.
How has Storm’s marriage to The Black Panther changed her and her role in the X-Men?
Aaron: It's taken her away from the X-Men more times than she would like, I'm sure. But it's also obviously made her a more visible, more important character in the overall Marvel Universe.
Gillen: It's given her a much bigger role outside the X-Men, which has been the primary reason why she hasn't been as prominent in Utopia as you may expect. She's been busy. But there [are] other reasons for that, as I'll explain in a minute.
Ketchum: Storm’s marriage to The Black Panther makes her a world dignitary, and as such, her concerns have to extend beyond just the X-Men, even beyond mutantkind. She’s always had perhaps the most global perspective of any of the X-Men, and now it’s not just in her inclination but her responsibility.
What is Storm’s role in the X-Men?
Gischler: Going back to an earlier question, I'd say leadership. Maybe not the leader, but she is one of the steady hands with the experience to help keep things stable when it gets rough for mutantkind.
Gillen: As I said, not as prominent as you may expect. Experienced core team member who's somehow found herself a little sidelined from the politics of Utopia. Perhaps a little deliberately; as I said, there's things about the regime she's not entirely on side with. Separating herself from the top level of command allows her to stay true to the family without forcing to become complicit with where it is and what it may do. That Scott's approach hasn't failed allows her to go along with it, but she can't commit totally. Not least—and this is just a relatively tentative thought—because if it does go wrong, the X-men need people untainted by it to carry where they may go next.
I also think that Storm will react strongly to the Schism.
Ketchum: Besides being a powerhouse—I mean, she can control the weather—Storm is the X-Men’s voice of reason. Both as a mentor to young mutants and advisor to her peers, Storm is a moral compass who isn’t shy about expressing when she believes a teammate has veered off course. For example, check out X-MEN: SECOND COMING #2.
Who among the X-Men does Storm trust? Who would she follow as leader if not herself?
Gischler: I think she will always follow Cyclops, but not blindly. She trusts Scott because she knows what makes him tick. But she also knows she might need to act in a way sometimes that blunts his hardcore nature.
Ketchum: While there’s a level of trust amongst any teammates, Storm trusts most those she’s fought alongside the longest. Years of adventures across the globe, in deep Shi’Ar space, and even in alternate realities have a way of bringing people together!
Remender: I think that’s a fairly large number of people. She trusts most of her close friends enough to oversee the remaining mutants. Off the top of my head I think Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler—were he living—maybe even Cannonball. I think the exception would be some of her friends like Gambit and Rogue, who, though they have overcome their checkered past, it does still shroud their present to some small degree.
Gillen: There [are] different kinds of trust. I think she'll trust almost all of them with her life, but wouldn't—with the experience of recent times—trust them to tell her the whole truth. But I also think she's got the capacity to forgive and genuinely move on. I keep on floating back to the word "generosity" with Storm, don't I?
I think if the X-Men decided a leader, she'd follow them, with a few Magneto-esque exceptions. She'll let them prove themselves or fail. And if they were looking like they were a fail, she'd step in as an alternative candidate. She thinks the best of people [and] understands the possibility of change, but is no-one's mug.
Worth noting that as much as she questions Cyclops' recent decisions, she also sees he hasn't failed. If even slightly more of Scott's decisions went bad, I suspect we'd see her a little more in his face.
Aaron: Just wait until of the end of Schism and we'll see.
X-MEN: SCHISM #1 hits stores July 13, ReGenesis commences this fall, and the X-Perts reconvene soon right here on Marvel.com! And be sure to visit our X-Men: Schism event page!