Friday, August 15, 2014

I Reads You Review: STORM #1 (2006)

STORM #1 (of 6)

WRITER: Eric Jerome Dickey
PENCILS: David Yardin
INKS: Jay Leisten
COLORS: Matt Milla
LETTERS: VC’s Randy Gentile
COVER: Mike Mayhew
40pp, Color (April 2006)

Rated T+

Storm a/k/a Ororo Munroe is a Marvel Comics super-heroine and longtime member of the X-Men.  She was created by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum and first appeared in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (cover dated: May 1975).

Storm is also the former queen consort of Wakanda, a title she held when she was married to King T’Challa, better known as the superhero, the Black Panther.  Before the two were married (in Black Panther #18 cover dated: September 2006), Marvel published several stories and comics under the tagline, “Prelude to the Wedding of the Century.”

One of those series was Storm, a 2006 six-issue miniseries, written by Eric Jerome Dickey and drawn by David Yardin.  Dickey (born July 7, 1961) is a New York Times bestselling African-American author, who is best known for his novels about contemporary African-American life.  He has also written crime novels that are international in their casts and settings.  With the Storm miniseries, Dickey re-imagines the first meeting between the younger versions of both Ororo Munroe and T'Challa.

Storm #1 (“Chapter One”) opens in an outdoor market in an unnamed African country.  Ororo Munroe, our future “Storm,” is among a number of street urchins that prowl the market looking for things they can steal from the shoppers and shopkeepers and even from those simply passing through the market.  Goaded by the others, Ororo steals a camera from a white man.  What she does not realize is that this white man is Andreas de Ruyter, a ruthless hunter who is also a racist.  He is determined to track Ororo using any brutal means necessary.  Zenja, a jealous rival of Ororo’s, watches the situation, making plans of her own.

Flashbacks also show Ororo with her parents, her father, David Munroe, and her mother, N'Dare.  With the upheaval of change causing so much turmoil in America, N’Dare wants to return to her home country in Africa.  David does not believe that they will be better off in Africa.  Will their marriage survive this crucial disagreement?

Meanwhile, Ororo’s strange powers began to manifest themselves.  Plus, Teacher arrives to tell Ororo that the lessons in picking pockets and thievery she learned from Achmed El-Gibar are not enough.

I have written, both here and at other places, about Black and African-American writers having more opportunities to write for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and even the larger independent publishers like Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, and IDW Publishing.  I think that there should be more Black writers in comics, but not because of race and representation alone.  Black writers also mean different perspectives on storytelling and diverse points-of-view.

In one single issue, Storm #1, Eric Jerome Dickey shows what different perspectives on storytelling and diverse points-of-view can mean to the mythology of one X-Men in particular, Storm, and to the X-Men, in general.  Dickey really puts Ororo through her paces, forcing her to endure many challenges and obstacles if she is to survive her life as a thief and as a denizen of a jungle refuge.

However, Ororo’s life is not just difficult because she is an orphan, but also because she is, in some ways, a stranger in Africa.  Dickey, as a Black man, understands the stress fractures that exist in what it means to be Black and how it relates to heritage.  When Ororo’s fellow thieves insist that she is not one of them, Dickey brings a sense of authenticity and realism to those accusations.  He hits right at the heart of the matter.  Africans may see Ororo as a Black American and not at all as an African, no matter what her mother, N’Dare’s origins are.

This is a different kind of racial, ethnic, and national conflict than what we get in comic books written by white comic book writers trying to depict racial disputes.  An African-American understands the intercene conflicts that sometimes exist between black Africans and the descendants of the Diaspora.  Ororo is caught in the middle between Africa and America, or, perhaps, more accurately, she has a place on both sides.

I enjoyed reading Storm, a comic book made especially rewarding by the unique viewpoint and experience that Eric Jerome Dickey brings to the life of young Ororo Munroe.  The art by David Yardin and Jay Leisten, is not grand from a visual standpoint, something I expect of a Storm comic book.  However, Yardin and Leisten ground the story in reality, and are the right choices to illustrated and visualize both the ideas and pasts that Dickey is exploring.  I look forward to reading more of this miniseries.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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