Thursday, April 9, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Storm #10


There are some characters that find a way to be relatable, yet still have the kind of obscene power that makes gods, goddesses, and congressmen shit themselves. And I’m not talking about the kind of bullshit relatability that Spider-Man claims to have. Nobody not named Tom Brady can be a young, attractive white guy who bangs supermodels and still be relatable. And even though Peter Parker is the kind of guy who the Ted Cruzes and Hillary Clintons of the world would pander to in an election year, I find Storm to be much more relatable.

I know. That sounds like one of those things I say when I’ve had a few too many bong hits or lost a fight with a lawn gnome. But think about it. She’s an outsider who had to fight to survive under circumstances way more shitty than just making a mortgage payment. She’s very different in that she stands out in a crowd, but not to the point where the NYPD would subject her to a stop and frisk for reasons that don’t involve copping a feel. Yet still, she finds a way to be so loving and compassionate to all those around her, even when she’s surrounded by injustice and annoying teenagers.

Compared to that, her weather control powers are her second greatest abilities at best. Her solo series had given everybody so many reminders as to why she’s the most lovable and relatable X-men character in the Marvel Universe that nobody who isn’t in a coma has an excuse at this point. But Storm #10 still tries to reinforce it because damn it, it’s a point worth reinforcing.

It’s also a point that everyone in the Jean Grey Institute seems to understand. They know that when Storm arrives on the scene, everyone needs to step up their game. For a good chunk of this series, she’s gone on more than a few not-so-enjoyable excursions. One of them involved her getting wrongfully arrested. Luckily, she let the authorities off with a warning. So when she returns to the Jean Grey Institute, everybody stands up a little straighter because the bar for being a good X-man has once again been raised.


What follows is a brief, but meaningful exploration into the kind of life Ororo Munroe lives at the Jean Grey Institute when she’s not fighting Sentinels or inspiring others to worship her like the goddess she is at heart. That includes duties like teaching classes, answering emails, and sitting in on disciplinary hearings. It’s the kind of shit that goes on in real schools that don’t have a front yard that happens to be alive. It many sound menial, but it’s not beneath her. She never treats it as such.

That’s what makes her so much more lovable than most of the other heroes that get solo series and major movies. She’s willing to do these menial things and she finds a way to do them in a way that’s both graceful and awesome. That includes something as simple as clearing up a mold problem in the sewers and watering her plants. Storm doesn’t just accomplish these tasks with stunning efficiency. She does it with a grace and humility that makes her more worthy of worship than most every other god or goddess. How many other gods will take time out of their day to clean mold?


But the menial aspects of Storm’s duties at the Jean Grey Institute don’t last. They never do. After establishing that Storm is capable of handling her day-to-day duties with the divine beauty that we’ve come to expect, she faces a more typical X-men style problem. For once, this one doesn’t involve killer robots or corrupt mutant-hating diplomats. It involves some creepy, anime-porn inspired monster that shoots up from the sewer system that she just cleaned. I guess at a place like the Jean Grey Institute, this counts as a fairly typical Thursday afternoon.

Storm makes quick work of it. She’s not some cute anime school girl. She’s Ororo fucking Munroe. But in doing so, she also reveals that this creepy anime wannabe is actually a familiar face. It’s Kenji Uedo, also known as the most butt-ugly batshit character from the Generation Hope days. He’s been listed as dead for a while. But in a universe occupied by Jean Grey, he should know by now that’s no excuse. It turns out he’s back and the only way he could get the X-men’s attention was attacking them. That or his email was going too damn slow. He might still be using Yahoo.


Being the kind and understanding woman she is, Storm resists the urge to finish Kenji off again and rushes him to the infirmary. It’s there where she reveals in the most polite manner possible that he’s supposed to be dead. He died back on Utopia after he went ape shit and tried to kill everybody in ways that even tentacle porn doesn’t depict. As a result, he’s wearing a strait jacket. For what this asshole deserves, he should consider himself lucky.

This doesn’t stop Storm from being kind and comforting to Kenji. She gives him a chance to explain himself and he comes off as sincere. He’s weak, scared, and nothing at all like the Akira rip-off who fell in love with a brain in a jar (not a joke, by the way). It’s almost believable. He even has a reason for how he came back to life.

This asshole named Harmon, who Storm clashed with earlier in this series, used his exotic body to give his busted up physiology an upgrade. It’s pretty sick in a way that probably gives Sinister a boner. But it’s both believable and consistent with the recent events of the series. It’s not overly forced or contrived. It works. Compared to most resurrections that involve clones or shape-shifting aliens, it’s a huge plus. That doesn’t mean Storm is going to be his Oprah and hug him like a sick puppy. He’s still going to be on lockdown while a couple of telepaths monitor his mind. As kind and compassionate as Storm is, she understands it’s never wise to trust creepy teenage boys with a history of homicidal douche-baggery.


Other elements from previous issues in this series come into play as well. A few issues back, Storm met up with Callisto and a group of run-aways living in the sewers. It turns out they’re also having a nasty mold problem and they don’t have Storm’s powers to clear it up while looking sexy as hell in the process. So they either have to pick up a sponge or learn to live with it. There’s some nice quips about how shit was easier in the sewer when they had Morlock powers to rely on. It’s still the sewers though. Mutant powers can only go so far. Not having them also really sucks with scary shit starts attacking, as Callisto learns the hard way.


In addition to Callisto, another one of Storm’s friends from earlier in this series calls up and says shit is starting to stink. Forge, who actually had the privlidge of seeing Storm naked at one point, reveals that he also had a mold problem while working in Kenya. But windex and paper towels can’t clear this shit up because apparently, it’s not ordinary mold. It’s the kind that fuels a legion of Kenji Uedo style monsters.

It started with mold in the Jean Grey Institute, which Storm easily took care of. Now that shit has found its way to some of Storm’s other recent hangouts. It’s a nice bit of convergence for a series that has been remarkably concise in making Storm awesome in so many different ways. She’s had to battle her share of assholes along the way, but none quite like this. Any army of monsters that originated from an unstable teenage boy is bound to be disturbing than any killer robots.


When Storm hears about this, she quickly connects the dots. She knows Kenji Uedo has to be the source and she doesn’t need a Batcave, a Fortress of Solitude, or a Cerebro to figure that shit out. She understands that the best way to help her friends and allies is to go to the source. So she’s not just awesome and lovable. She’s also competent. That not as common as it should be. Look at Peter Parker’s long list of fuck-ups for proof of that.

She eventually does arrive at the source, but it’s a bit too late to unfuck the situation. More Akira-inspired monstrosities emerge and they’ve already got Rachel Grey and Beast. Kenji Uedo is still coming off as innocent. He’s trying to fight it off and doing a pretty shitty job. A metal chair might be marginally effective in a WWE match. It’s not nearly as effective is a big fucking tentacle monster. Still, I give the kid points for at least giving the impression he’s not the same asshole.


He loses those points pretty damn fast when he eventually gets sucked up into the monster and not like a cute school girl in a short skirt. As it absorbs him, he starts to talk like his old self again. That means he’s channeling his inner douche-bag again, sounding like a deranged artist who would make a statue of Paulie Shore out of dead baby seals if he could. Now it’s not clear if he’s still somewhat innocent in all this. That lack of clarity is somewhat confusing. The line between where Kenji Uedo ends and this oversized Akira rip-off begins is not easily defined. Maybe that’s on purpose, but it’s still overly obscure and lacks emotional impact.


Even so, Storm tries to be the kind and loving person she is at heart and reaches out to Kenji. She’s way more merciful and kind that Kenji deserves, but that only helps reinforce the traits that make her so awesome. This kid has already gone on multiple Godzilla-style rampages. He’s already carried himself with the kind of douche-baggery that would’ve made him a perfect cast member on the Jersey Shore. But she’s still willing to give him a chance. In an era where being caught with a tiny bag of weed means jail time for most people, that says a lot about Storm.

It also says a lot about Kenji when he basically spits in the face of Storm’s compassion. This is both a dick move and incredibly stupid. She’s a fucking weather goddess. She can use a tornado to do root canal on him if she wants. Even so, he’s got batshit insanity on his side so the battle feels more even than it is on paper. He wants to re-establish his douche-baggery in a story that re-established all the less obvious traits that make Storm awesome. In both instances, they succeed.


It would be easy at times to accuse Storm of being too competent and kind. Then again, that would be like saying a certain Playboy model is too beautiful. It’s not a valid complaint. But this issue does something besides give Storm a new challenge to overcome with the kind of grace and swag that she wields. It showed how she conducts herself as headmaster of the Jean Grey Institute. It also shows that for all the respect and authority she wields, she earns every fucking bit of it.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Kenji Uedo has done everything possible to be unworthy of such respect. He was the chief asshole prior to Avengers vs. X-men and since he was on a team with Hope fucking Summers, that’s saying something. He makes a concerted effort to be sympathetic in this issue. He even ties it into some of the recent conflicts Storm has been dealing with. But given his history and his personality, it’s just hard to give his words any credibility. So it was hard to be surprised to see him go full tentacle porn in the end.

It was still nice to see Storm give him a chance. Granted, he pissed that chance away like a bad cup of coffee, but it once again demonstrated the kind of character Storm is. It also nicely tied in a few other stories that had been explored in previous issues. This sense of cohesion and the many respectable moments Storm brought make this series special. It’s special because she’s a special character that Marvel will never be able to replace with some bullshit Inhuman rip-off. I give Storm #10 an 8 out of 10. Kenji Uedo is a dick an a total Akira rip-off. Ororo Munroe is a loving, compassionate goddess that combines the heart of an angel with the badassery of an army of Amazon warriors. Nuff said!

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