Tuesday, November 3, 2015

1987-1989: Shifting Storms part IV: The Tempestuous Turn Around

By Jef Willemsen (clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com)

When we last left Storm, she had reached a very important decision that would bring her full circle. Even though she was able to lead the X-Men without her mutant powers, recent events like the Morlock Massacre convinced her she had to get them back from Forge.

"Forge, you coward! Show your face! I want my powers back... NOW!"

Actually, that's not exactly how it went back in 1988's Uncanny X-Men I#220, though the Marc Silvestri pencilled cover is memorable nonetheless.

Swallowing her pride, Ororo returned to the Dallas home of mutant inventor Forge. He had come up with the neutralizer that took her weather powers and she was sure he could help her get them back. The fact they'd had a passionate fling before she learned he'd been responsible for losing her abilities complicated matters even further. But a broken heart would be the least of her concerns as she entered Forge's skyscraper home called Eagle Plaza.

"I must prepare her the most fitting of welcomes."

Meet Nazé... or rather, meet the form of Forge's old Cheyenne mentor Nazé who's now been demonically possessed by the very evil we'll be facing a few issues down the road. Yes, in an anything but subtle attempt at foreshadowing, Claremont and Silvestri set up Nazé as the avatar of the big bad.

Nazé, before he was taken over by the Adversary, had been living inside Forge's Aerie home for months while Forge himself went out to deal with, well, the Adversary. Nazé had stuck around because he expected Storm to return but when she did, the evil force inside him took over full time. It first used the Aerie's holographic systems to show Storm all that she'd lost without her powers.

"No more the goddess, he told me"

Already unnerved, this brutal confrontation caught Storm totally off guard. As a result, she didn't notice how deceitful "Nazé" was acting once he showed himself and sold her a pack of lies. Yet, despite his evil intentions, he told her the plain and simple truth like most devils tend to do... And she was so angry, she didn't even notice that either.

"The devil take you, old man"
"Can't take... what's already owned."

Storm bought into Nazé's lies, that losing her caused Forge to unravel eventually leading him to go and actively try and unleash the evil of the Adversary on the world. Y'see, Forge isn't merely a mutant inventive genius, he's also the conveniently named "Maker" thanks to his Cheyenne heritage. As his people's reluctant shaman, he wields considerable magic powers. Storm eventually agreed to accompany Nazé on a quest to find and stop Forge.

"Nazé, if you know where Forge is, why not simply go to him?"

A fair question, but the answer's a tad more complicated than that. By the mid- to late 80s Chris Claremont was becoming ever more euphemistic in his writing. He started to use dreams as other forms of reality able to impact the "real" world, as well as visions and vision quests that served the same purpose. 

Nazé was well aware where Forge was "hiding" but he needed time and rituals to prepare Storm so she would act as his willing, unwavering agent. That's why he took Ororo to Forge via the scenic route, which led to them fighting menaces like the Eye Killers, mystical bears and snakes and even the elements themselves.

"I love Forge, Nazé... But because of what he is doing...
What he has become... I must... I shall... destroy him."

Twisting Storm's love and affection for Forge, "Nazé" finally got what he wanted: a pawn to use against Forge who was as driven and relentless as you could possibly want. Having bonded with Nazé during their ordeals, Storm had grown fond of the old man who eventually led her to the mountain Forge was allegedly using as his base. Feigning injuries, Nazé forced Storm to go forth and face Forge alone, but before doing so he passionately kissed Ororo.

She returned this intimate gesture, later realizing she even liked it, which further cemented "Nazé's" control over her. So, properly mind controlled and after having fought a slew of demons reaching him, Ororo wasted no time stabbing her old lover through the chest...

Only to learn how wrong she'd been.

"You're wrong. I was trying to close the gate. 
Not destroy the world, Storm... But save it!"

Instinctively sensing the truth in his words, Storm knew she'd been tricked. Forge forgave her instantly and together they escaped the Adversary's hordes by entering the very portal Forge had been trying to close.

"I was wrong. You were tricked. Forgive me. Always."

Instead of dying or getting stuck on a demonic plane, Storm and Forge find themselves on a pristine alternate, outerdimensional copy of Earth where they were the only two people around. Concluding this was a world without soul, they briefly discussed staying and giving this newly created realm the life it deserved. And Forge's dialogue in the final panel really doesn't put all the comparisons to Queen singer Freddie Mercury to bed...

"Our Adversary may well discover that his precious pawns 
have transformed themselves into queens!"

Be that as it may, Storm wasn't convinced by Forge's arguments. She felt he used most of the same words Nazé had to trick her. That's why she went on a year long quest to find herself on this infant Earth. Yes, an entire year...Starting from someplace in that world's equivalent of the Rocky Mountains until she finally reached the East African plains she'd spent most of her youth. Just how she crossed the ocean without her powers or a boat was something Claremont conveniently left unexplained. Let's just say it's a kind of magic...

"Nothing! This world has no soul...
Is that the reason there is no bright lady to hear my prayers... am I meant to be she?"

The Adversary works through manipulation and temptation, often tricking his victims into giving into their hearts' desire. Being an earth mother goddess was something Ororo dreamt of on our own Earth, but she knew she was merely a young mutant weather manipulator who was falsely worshipped because of her powers. Now, the Adversary offered her the chance to become the Gaea of this new paradise and live out her dreams. 

But Storm resisted.

Journeying back to Forge, she found he had taken use of the year apart to devise a way home. He even created a device that could restore Ororo's powers by cannibalizing his own cybernetic leg for parts. But he needed Storm to make it all work, or in his own words...

"By ourselves, we're crippled. Together... the possibilities are infinite"

It's not too far fetched to see Claremont alluding to Storm and Forge as the Adam and Eve of this alternate paradise. Especially when you consider that Adam gave up part(s) of himself to make sure Eve could be fully alive.

"Bright, blessed goddess.... I can once more fly!"

Thanks to Storm's powers, the duo returns in time to Earth to help the X-Men and Roma fight off the Adversary. It's a fascinating story, all told in Uncanny X-Men I#223 through #226, culminating in the Fall of the Mutants crossover that saw the X-Men sacrifice themselves on live tv. 

"Once more, farewell. Until we meet again."

In order to stop the Adversary, Forge had to close the portal to the demon's realm and he required nine souls to do so. Storm, the X-Men and their ally Madelyne Pryor volunteered and seemingly perished, thereby indirectly carrying out Storm's plan to fake the X-Men's deaths following the Morlock massacre.

While the whole world believed the X-Men had died, they were instead resurrected by Roma, who was grateful for their assistance. The Omniversal Guardian gave them a new lease on life and indirectly helped set up the team's new status quo: operating out of the Reavers' old base in the Australian outback as living ghosts.

"We have endured so much these past months, X-Men. If we have learned nothing from our experiences, we do not deserve the second chance we now possess."

And that, in essence and a sentence, is Storm's character arc throughout the 80s. 

She started the decade as someone who was defined by her powers. She literally denied herself to experience even the most basic of emotions because it might affect her control over the weather. Over time, and because of traumatic experiences in outerspace, she adopted a more rebellious nature while she tried to discover who she really is. 

That journey became even more personal when she lost her powers. Now as much herself as she ever would be, Ororo was put through the wringer only to come out stronger and more herself in the end. Regaining her powers was little more than icing on the proverbial cake. It was wonderful to have them back, but she'd proven that she didn't need them to be all she could be... That knowledge guaranteed she would never be ruled by them again. Instead, she fully reveled in the joy of being able to fly once more, as seen in the opening page of Uncanny X-Men I#230. 

"Bright blessed Goddess... I can once more fly!"

And she's never stopped soaring since. 

... Of course, a few issues down the line she was kidnapped and seemingly killed by Nanny. That villain actually turned her into a preteen girl who was hounded by the Shadow King until she met Gambit and, well... Needless to say those weren't her proudest moments. So let's remember the good times :-)


  1. By the time these kind of stories were the norm for the Uncanny X-men, I was pretty much over them.....I was always more of an Avengers and Defenders fan. Forge was a character that just seemed to always suck the life out of a story. The X-men got really angst-y, metaphysical.... in two words, NOT FUN. I like fun comics.


  2. I loved these X-men comics growing up! Thanks for the memories!



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