8007cef6b23ae281bb2242c0f39f9123If you’ve been listening closely on a few of the more recent podcasts of That Girl with the Curls, you might have noticed I’ve been talking a lot about Storm. She’s one of my favorite X-Men and, if you haven’t listened to the episodes linked, her trading card back in the early to mid-nineties was one of my most prized possession. Whenever my mom took me and my sister to the local game shop – we didn’t exactly have a comic book store close by to my recollection – I always asked (or begged) for another pack of X-Men cards. I was in love with the 1992 cartoon and I was infatuated with Storm. More accurately, I wanted to be Storm. Not only did she have what I believed to be the best mutant powers ever, but as the cartoon progressed I became wrapped up in her story. Like many of the X-Men, and villains, featured in the cartoon, Storm was fleshed out as a character, showing a wide range of emotions fueled by her past and her present position as one of the most powerful mutants on the X-Men roster.

Goddess, thief, mutant, queen, leader, friend, lover, and hero; Ororo Munroe, aka Storm, was introduced, along with Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Thunderbird, and Banshee in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May, 1975) as part of a new diverse generation of mutants created by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockram. When Chris Claremont took over writing for Uncanny X-Men from Wein, he established Storm’s backstory and continued to feature her as a prominent character for the next sixteen years. Since her first appearance, Storm has been in every iteration of the classic-x-men-inside-coverX-Men to date; cartoons/anime, movies, and video games have all utilized Storm not just as a powerful mutant but also as a valued team member and friend. However, in the nearly four decades she’s been part of the X-Men Universe, she’s never had a solo book until now and it’s already facing cancellation after only five issues.

Currently being written by Greg Pak with pencils by Victor Ibañez and colors by Ruth Redmond, Storm’s solo book has finally taken the Mistress of the Elements out from under the greater umbrella of the X-Men team to explore her as an individual on her own terms. Yes, she’s still as much involved with the team as ever but Pak uses her relationships, past and present, to key us into what makes Storm so significant and so different. In the five issues thus far, Pak has firmly established Storm as a defender of anyone in need who’s grown tired of working within systems (societal and political) that prevent her from helping others and doing what’s right. As she tells Wolverine, she doesn’t want to hold back anymore and Pak succeeds in making each issue function partially as a one-shot but tied together through the 1398611782000-Storm-1-Ibanez-Coveroverarching theme of Storm’s personal journey to make good on her statement. Much of that journey means going back to her roots in Africa, making her book significant on a cultural level. Africa is a hotbed of socio-economic and political conflicts, so putting Storm in the midst of these problems makes sense and gives her an added dimension of relevance.

But really it’s the diversity angle I want to stress here because it’s at the heart of the #SaveStorm campaign started not too long ago in an effort to keep the book afloat. In the wake of Marvel’s cancellation of Elektra and She-Hulk‘s solo books, the common denominator was low sales. As Brett White at Comic Book Resources pointed out:

According to the October sales charts, “She-Hulk” #9 sold 21,418 physical copies and “Elektra” #7 sold 15,021. You know what series sits between those two terminated ongoings? “Storm.” The fourth issue sold 19,862 copies, which, if “She-Hulk” and “Elektra’s” ultimate fates are to be used as proof, puts it in danger of being cancelled.

StormaProblematic to this entire situation is the way in which copies are being counted. The October sales chart only covers physical copies sold to retailers in North America. Sales from countries outside North America and digital sales aren’t factored into the charts, making the numbers unreliable in their representation of the actual market of readers. But if these are the numbers Marvel is using to justify cancellations, then we have to work within the same parameters.

Are the low sales the result of terrible marketing? Personally, I found out about the book when maybe one or two websites mentioned it, but I can’t recall any huge push from Marvel. Then again, a lot of the solo books have fallen by the wayside mostly due to event books taking precedence. It’s still surprising how little attention she’s received given that Storm is one of the most recognizable characters in the X-Men universe, if not Marvel as a whole. She was Marvel’s first major black female superhero and one would think they’d try to market the hell out of her solo book. Then again, there’s been a lot of speculation about how Marvel has been handling titles with characters they don’t have the rights to for their cinematic universe. Just sayin’.Storm_h622

Is it the readers? I doubt Marvel would give the greenlight on a solo book unless there was enough interest in the character to warrant hiring the talent and spending the money to bring the book to fruition. But, as stated previously, event books are the company’s bread and butter, and with the glut of comics coming out from Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, Dark Horse, Boom!, Archie, and other independent publishers, readers need to decide where to spend their money. This means they often purchase books they’ve always bought instead of opting for something new, especially if they’re working with limited funds.

Is it the character? Popularity doesn’t necessarily mean dollar signs and there could definitely be a bit of mental gymnastics going on in the minds of readers trying to justify not buying the book. Storm, as part of the X-Men, still appears in several titles and she’s a regular participant in the crossover events due to her affiliations with multiple teams. It’s easy to think, “Well, she’s in these other books, so I’m still going to have Storm but also all these other characters.” Then again, Wolverine’s been around for the same amount of time and he was (RIP Logan) in almost every book Marvel could stuff him into. Personally, I don’t think it’s a gender or race issue in terms of the lack of interest or cancellation, but it is important in terms of representation in comic books. Diversity is integral to the survival of the comic book industry, not just in the creative teams, but in the characters put front and center. Storm tumblr_mdcss8EKxX1qzgx3uo1_500is on par with Wonder Woman as a character who inspires others. Her strength, compassion, and wisdom, coupled with her very human flaws, make her relatable to readers of all ages, races, and genders. Featuring her as a major player and representative of the Marvel brand, however, gives validation not just to the character but to those who identify with her yet feel overlooked.

The question then becomes: Is that enough? Marvel is a company and numbers are what matter to companies. If a book isn’t selling, even if the higher-ups love it for all the right reasons, it will eventually boil down to numbers. So, for now, all we can do is support the hell out of Storm. Buy or order it from your local comic book store, buy it on Comixology, tweet about the book with the hashtag #SaveStorm, go on Tumblr, shove a copy of the book into the hands of your friends and families. Help Storm because she’d do her damnedest to help you.

  1. LeVar says:

    I’m a die-hard Storm fan, and excitedly bought #1, and was blown away! It was a fantastic issue. The next issue, not so much. #3, I didn’t even buy because of the way it handled her pagan goddess past. #4 and #5 were okay, but outside of that initial mourning scene, nothing to write home about. I think Storm has been mismanaged by Marvel since her marriage to BP, and the movies did not do her justice at all. This series hasn’t even excited me as a hardcore Storm fan, I can’t imagine mainstream comic buyers being all that impressed. She’s a tough sell anyways, female led comics are not big seller anyways, let alone a black female. I was rooting for Pak to begin with, but he’s let me down. I don’t think the sales are radically out of line. The market has spoken. If you want to counter sexism and racism inherent in the market, you have to bring your A-game(in storytelling, in art, in marketing). This series wasn’t it.

    • Sam says:

      I agree with you on some points, mostly from the storytelling angle. The problem with having a solo book for a character so tied into the X-Men universe is finding the balance of separation vs participation and the last two issues being part of the “Death of Wolverine” event didn’t exactly help, though I think Pak did an admirable job with tying Storm’s mourning process into her personal journey.

      I also agree that she’s been mismanaged since her marriage to Black Panther, though I did enjoy Brian Wood’s take on her in X-Men alongside Rouge, Psylocke, Jubilee, Rachel, and Kitty. The movies also never gave her much in the way of character development.

      I do, however, disagree on the numbers. Captain Marvel sold less than She-Hulk in the October 2014 sales chart and yet not a peep about her being cancelled. Is it because she’s white? I don’t know, it could be, but with the announcement of the character getting her own solo movie, they wouldn’t dare cancel the book. Storm is part of the X-Men, which means Marvel has less incentive to promote her book or keep it around because of Fox. I don’t believe she’s a hard sell at all and Pak shows that in the first three issues. Hopefully, if he gets a go at another arc, he’ll have more time to spend with Storm and not have to worry about tying her into another event.

      But regardless, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      • LeVar says:

        Thanks for reading them. Yes, the Fox/Disney-Marvel cinematic rights certainly tie into this. If Storm(and the X-Men) were a part of the Marvel cinematic universe, things would be very different. That said, Wood’s X-Myn was a wash for me, which was horrifying considering how amazing he wrote Storm in the previous volume of X-Men with his delicious Storm-Cyclops political intrigue over the proto-mutants which came to a head with Colossus’s attack on Storm’s leadership/person.

        I think Pak has some writing talent, for sure, but look what happened to his X-Treme X-Men under Dazzler. It just didn’t connect with readers, in spite of some interesting storylines. I’d say Pak’s characterization of Storm has been mostly solid, but a little too goody two-shoes. Storm is a hero, but she is also in touch with her dark side, and has been ever since Claremont transcended her goddess-of-life phase and had her commit a galactic core abortion on that Broodling, and later stab Callisto in the heart.

        A darker, sexy and more dangerous Ororo would connect with today’s audiences a bit more than Storm the righteous, bumbling do-gooder. Of all the new X-Men solos, Magneto is the clear best-seller. I would wager that is in part because Michael Fassbender’s Magneto has been so cool/prominently featured in the last two movies, he’s a gritty white male anti-hero/sympathetic villain and also because that’s the only place you can find him on the comic racks.

        I’d love a Storm series that taps into the best of 80’s dangerous-punk Storm with the elemental powers and compassion of classic goddess Storm. Make her smart, sexy and dangerous, with a defined mission statement/quest/directive/plot, and the comics will sell.

  2. Nadia says:

    One thing I’ve definitely noticed since #SaveStorm’s very first post on tumblr through to now is that a lot of the comments are from fans that still had no idea she even had a series. A lot. If even her fans are just discovering her book now I’d give it a few more issues and a lot of spreading the word before the market ‘decides’ cause I’m not convinced that most people have really had the chance to make up their minds about her yet. Personally I’m reserving my opinion till I can see where her journey goes now that the Wolverine stuff’s out of the way.

    I’ve also seen some people say that X-men have too much of a convoluted backstory for newbies but that didn’t stop 15 year olds from getting into Dr Who so I’m not really buying that. I do wonder how X-books would get treated if Disney owned the characters. I also wonder if the X-men solos (and also ANXF and X-Force) would be selling better if there was only one solid main X-men book instead of four. Comics are expensive especially Marvel comics. Personally I’m also really rooting for her story because I’ve been having a hard time being invested in a lot of the recent X-men storylines.

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