Friday, September 26, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Storm #3

I know I give ex-girlfriends a lot of shit on this blog. To be fair, some do plenty to earn it. But I understand there are some that are actually civil when it comes to breakups. These women might as well be on the endangered species list with the tiger and the spotted owl. That’s what makes them so precious. In terms of ex-girlfriends, having someone like Storm could either be really good or really bad. Most people who get on Storm’s bad side live every waking moment terrified that a lightning bolt will get shoved up their ass at any given moment. But unlike most gods, she’s merciful and understanding. She’s had her share of love interests in the past. She’s done a lot in recent times to make Wolverine her most passionate interest, which is fitting since he’s about to die. But of all the lovers Storm has had, few have been more complicated and confusing as Forge. For a time, they had the kind of chemistry that would’ve made them the tabloid equivalent to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Then they had to become Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. It’s been a long time since they’ve interacted. Hell, Storm has been married and divorced in that period. Now in Storm #3, their paths are set to cross again. I don’t expect Storm to be the kind of vindictive ex-girlfriend who dedicates her every breath to emasculating all men around her. But even if she did, who would I be to question a goddess like her?

By this standard, I would say Beast counts as an infidel because he keeps busting Storm’s balls for some of the exceedingly noble shit she’s been doing lately. First, she dared to help a village that had been under the thumb of a ruthless dictator. Then, she located a bunch of missing teenagers that Callisto had been looking after and decided to leave them in her hands. This all seems too Cyclops-like to Beast so he complains, but as always nothing comes of it. He just reminds her that doing the right thing and being awesome sometimes has consequences and his balls are too fragile to take some of those consequences. But that’s his problem.

Beyond being a douche, he does give her something of substance beyond his constant whining. Someone wants Storm to visit Kenya to oversee the deployment of a new technology that will combat drought. It’s pretty exciting because if it works, it means her homeland would be free of famine and U2 fundraisers forever. Having once been worshipped as a goddess back in Kenya, she has plenty of reasons to go and getting away from Beast’s bitching is definitely top five.

She returns to Kenya, recounting all the ways it’s near and dear to her along the way. Anyone not familiar with her history won’t have to rely entirely on Wikipedia for once, which might be jarring for some readers. She’s then greeted by an elder named Esther Shira, who was among those who worshipped her. It’s not every day someone gets to actually meet the goddess they worshipped without the aid of potent hallucinogens. Usually, that takes the fun out of it, but Storm’s beauty and grace more than makes up for it. Esther provides a kind and welcoming face for Storm and the villagers, who I imagine wouldn’t hesitate to worship her again if she could ensure they never had to listen to another U2 concert again.

At first, it’s shaping up to be a nice, pleasant visit to her homeland. Then Storm meet’s Esther’s son, Noah, who’s kind of an asshole. He’s not an Iceman-caliber asshole, but at least he has an excuse. He’s helping with the new irrigation system, which apparently had its water cut off three years ago because someone didn’t get their bribe or someone just felt like being a dick. Not going to start accusing Iceman or Beast, but I’m not removing them from my list of top suspects. Whatever the reason, it provides a decent context as to why this town wants this new technology to work. It would help them sleep easier at night knowing their likelihood of going hungry isn’t contingent on how much of a dick someone is willing to be.

Then Storm’s trip home gets even less pleasant because Esther reveals who is responsible for providing this technology. It’s not the Gates foundation or Warren Buffet. It’s her old flame, Forge. I’m sure Storm was hoping that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were the ones behind this, but that might have been asking for a bit too much. It makes for an awkward, yet somewhat hollow moment. But it’s a moment that has been a long time in the making.

I say it’s hollow because as awkward as it was, it didn’t really have much of an emotional impact. It was basically, “Oh…my ex is here. Okay then, now I want to kick Beast’s ass.” It undermines the history between these two characters. Granted, that history is somewhat buried and hasn’t really been a factor since the Reagan administration. But for a time, Storm and Forge were a pretty serious relationship. Now their paths finally cross again after she’s been married, a queen, and re-adopted her Mohawk hair style.

It’s not completely random either. Forge actually decided to test this technology in this village because Storm told him about it back when they were together. And he specifically didn’t mention his name when he sent Storm the invitation. I don’t want to say that’s a dick move because he’s trying to feed starving people here. I’ll just say that he’s lucky Storm is so understanding because inviting an ex is usually like inviting a hungry pit bull to bacon factory.

Despite the minimal emotional impact, Forge gets right down to business. He starts demonstrating his technology, which is capable of creating a small storm cloud over a field. It’s basically the kind of shit Storm can do in her sleep. The problem is when he tries to turn it up, he triggers the kind of shit she would conjure if she found Sinister choking a baby kitten. There’s very little balance in between. It’s like my shower, which has only two settings: arctic blast and devil piss. He says it needs calibrating, but the blessings of a goddess certainly couldn’t hurt. Storm tells him that nature is all about balance and by fucking with that balance, he’s going to get way worse than a few lightning bolts up his ass. Most people probably pray for that whenever they need to call tech support for Verizon.

But making this technology work isn’t the only conflict here. Some, namely that prick Noah, aren’t too keen about getting this kind of help, even if it’s from a goddess. I would say that’s a dick move, but he and Forge do make some valid points. With the exception of stoners and S&M enthusiasts, nobody likes having to rely on outsiders to survive. Noah thinks relying on this technology could make them the equivalent of crack heads. Forge makes clear that he intends to let the village control this technology, not some poorly-managed foundation run by rock bands looking for good PR. There’s not a lot of trust and given Forge’s history, that’s not entirely unreasonable. It still feels like a shitty excuse to refuse a way to combat famine. There are many legitimate complaints about not accepting handouts, but even the Koch brothers would agree that preventing famine deserves an exception.

Whatever their reservations, Storm still decides to help. Preventing famine in her home country is kind of important to her. She starts helping Forge out, but this is where she starts recalling all the reasons why trusting her ex-boyfriend might not be the best way to aid her people. She starts reminding him of some of the shit he pulled back in the day and she doesn’t just focus on the nasty stuff that probably made it into Penthouse. It makes for a much more volatile test and volatile by Storm standards means hiding in the basement like doomsday preppers for those of us with less divine standards.

She starts listing more instances where Forge fucked up. He tries to make the same excuses that so many others made, saying he wasn’t in his right state of mind. If that excuse doesn’t work for Cyclops, it sure as hell doesn’t work for Forge. Storm then makes clear that if for any moment she suspects his asshole inclinations factor into this technology of his, she’ll make sure it fails before it can screw over the innocent people it’s supposed to help. And being her ex, he can expect her to be extra careful when judging him. That means Forge better have an adamantium cup protecting his balls.

To his credit, Forge keeps up his end of the bargain. He’s able to calibrate the machine and makes sure it works in a way that won’t punch Mother Nature in the jaw. The problem is that Noah, the second biggest asshole in this series after Beast, isn’t satisfied with that. He wants Forge to make it so they still have the option to fuck with the weather if they’re so inclined. Maybe they think a gentle rain just isn’t enough. Maybe they’ll just get bored one day and decide to unleash a hurricane at some neighboring village that gave them a dirty look. Forge doesn’t like it, but he’s not in a position to oppose him. For Storm, however, Noah can safely assume he’s more fucked than a wounded deer in front of Ted Nugant’s house.

Storm doesn’t wait for anyone to reason with Noah. She lives with Beast and Iceman. She knows when douchebags can’t be reasoned with. So she does what she has to do and destroys the machine before Noah can claim it. This rightly upsets Forge and Esther, but Storm rightly points out that nobody trusts each other enough with this gear. She then lists all the ways it could be horribly misused and after Noah expressed an interest in having that option, she’s perfectly justified in destroying it. The threat of famine sucks, but the threat of fucking up the weather sucks even worse and for way more people. It’s a difficult decision that even gods struggle to make, but it’s one Storm makes and she does it with a grace worthy of a goddess. I know I should be used to that by now in this series. I really should. But like a cold beer on a hot summer day, it never gets old.

Storm leaves Forge to continue working with Noah in hopes they’ll rebuild the machine and the trust they’ll need to run it. It’ll also give Esther plenty of time to punish Noah for being such an asshat. It makes for one last nice moment between Storm and Forge. They don’t go so far as to have any makeup sex, although I’m sure the thought crossed Forge’s mind. Storm isn’t even ready to have the, “Let’s just be friends,” talk either. But she makes clear that she doesn’t hold grudges and she’s willing to give friendship a chance. Whereas most goddesses would smite infidels and laugh while they suffer, Storm is willing to be friends with them. I’m pretty sure that puts her several rungs above every other god ever worshipped, but that really shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point.

Having a good ex-girlfriend is like having an inoperable but benign tumor. It can be horribly uncomfortable and unsightly, but it’s better than the alternative. Now Storm certainly has reasons to be a lousy ex-girlfriend to Forge. Their history has been troubled at times, albeit not to the degree that Tom Cruise’s last marriage, but she’s not one to hold a grudge. For any ex-girlfriend to say that is like hearing a cop say, “Meh, don’t worry about all those unpaid parking tickets.” It’s both liberating for forge and symbolic for Storm. It once again shows that she’s a goddess worthy of worship. She’ll take the moral high ground and look dead sexy doing it.

And like previous issues, she’s willing to go out of her way to take on heroic tasks that don’t involve killer robots. Helping a poor African village create a better irrigation system to avert famine might not be as impressive as hitting a Sentinel with a few dozen bolts of lightning, but it’s every bit as heroic. It’s the kind of shit Bono fights for when he’s not pissing off ITunes users. This issue didn’t hit the same emotional chords as the first two, but it’s still a quality story about Storm being awesome. Storm #3 gets an 8 out of 10. Forge is in an elite club of men, having dated a beautiful woman and not been subject to their bitter wrath. His balls should thank him every day for that because there are too many men in this world, especially those who have never heard of a pre-nup, who can’t say the same. Nuff said!

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