Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

Review: Storm #4

Rachel here! As some of you astute viewers noticed, there was no Storm #4 review in last week’s video reviews. We did actually record one–it’s just that I then failed to edit it into the video, and then deleted the raw files, as I do.

In my defense, there were ten books this round, and I’d been back from New York for about 90 minutes. But the point remains: No Storm #4.

The silver lining is that, instead of a 90-second video review, you now get a significantly longer written review of Storm #4–and on Thursday, we’ll be posting a bonus mid-week minisode featuring a con-floor interview with Greg Pak about Storm, Yukio, and more.

So, without further ado: Storm #4!

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.16.42 PM

Like most of the last few weeks’ worth of X-books, this is a Death of Wolverine tie-in, and it’s one of the better ones. At this point in the series, Storm and Wolverine had been lovers for a while, but even without that note, it’s a really terrifically Storm beat, hitting that balance between tranquil control and raw emotionality that’s always been a hallmark of the character done right.

The rough (low-spoiler) premise of this particular story is that Storm intercepts a message from Yukio, about something Logan was supposed to help her with, and goes in his stead. It’s a good idea, one that echoes their early dynamic–Storm again unmoored, Yukio left suddenly in the lurch by Logan. And, again, the parts of the story staged around Logan’s absence are awesome: a lot of very deliberate echoes of Storm and Yukio’s first meeting, and emotional beats that hit and stick.

Less so, the second half of the issue. Recall: this is a series that is all about returning to significant players and stages in Storm’s history, and this particular issue–this arc, from the look of it–hearkens back to one of the weakest, a four-issue 2004 X-Treme X-Men story called “Storm: The Arena.” So far, writer Greg Pak has done a great job addressing and reworking some of the rougher pieces of Storm’s past–that’s something we talk about at some length in the interview that’ll be going up tomorrow. This, unfortunately, isn’t one of them.

Now, I am clearly biased: my Yukio Feelings are emphatic and well documented, and my expectations for both the character in general and her appearance in this book in particular are perhaps unrealistically high. And for the first few pages we see her on–when it’s just her and Storm–she’s on point.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.14.12 PM

The problem is that I don’t entirely buy the way Pak is using her in the larger story. Maybe this is a more cynical Yukio; maybe there are upcoming windows into her journey from the version I recognize to the one we’re seeing here. But for now, she rings hollow: a means to propel a storyline that it itself a somewhat forced reminder of an arc I’d honestly just as soon forget.

I’m staying optimistic: Pak’s a smart, nuanced writer, and this isn’t a bad story–it’s just fallen short of my–again, probably inflated–expectations. And the first half of the issue is good enough to leave plenty of room for the second half to still be reasonably strong while falling significantly short of what comes before.

But that’s the story–let’s talk about art! Series artist Victor Ibañez–notably absent from #3–is back on the book, and Miles and I are both really excited about that. He’s a terrific artist, but, more, his Storm is one of the best versions of the character we’ve seen.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.17.54 PMThere’s a tendency in comics–superhero comics in particular–for artists to make female characters pretty instead of interesting. That’s not to say a character can’t be both–but there are serious limits to what you can do with facial expressions and body language if you’re not willing to let women look anything other than model-perfect; on top of which the adherence to specific and narrow cultural standards for beauty have contributed to the significant problem of whitewashing in superhero books.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.13.16 PMIbañez’s Storm is beautiful, but above that, she’s expressive. Distinctive. Her face–and this is a tremendous and frustrating rarity for Storm–isn’t anglicized. Her anger and anguish and joy are raw and believable. Her face and body are narrative. Ibañez is a strong if not particularly standout artist in other areas–layouts, action–but his character art? This is our Storm.

For more on Storm–and Storm–tune in Thursday, when we’ll be posting a bonus midweek minisode: a NYCC floor interview with Storm writer Greg Pak!

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *