Thursday, February 5, 2009

Best Comic of far

X-Men Worlds Apart #4, written by Christopher Yost and penciled by Diogenes Neves, is the reason I go to the comic store.

Not only does it feature perhaps my favorite X-Man Storm in her own 4-issue miniseries, each installment of which was stellar, but it does her justice. Ororo Munroe is one of the most dynamic of X-Men; an orphan, a thief, a Goddess, an X-leader, and now a wife and Queen of Wakanda. Yost not only acknowledges all of these facets, but reveals a natural inherent self-doubt, specifically when the Shadow King turns all the other X-Men against her and releases their darkest criticisms, all of which she feels herself.

Yost plays out the grand battle and Storm's inevitable triumph ingeniously. He merges the old, deep, classic history of the X-Men (with Cyclops venting his past wound over losing a one-on-one battle for leadership with Storm when she was powerless in Uncanny X-Men #201) with the new modern story lines (having the Panther God hide in her mind and devour the Shadow King when he takes the bait).

The premise of the series was to explore Storm's role in this new post M-day, post-marriage age of the X-Men. Is she a Queen before a mutant? A leader or a reservist? A wife or a teacher? How essential is she to the multiple worlds she now inhabits? The answer, though perhaps predictable, is reassuring and in character. She can do it all. Ororo Munroe has no limits. She feels the responsibility of the mutant race, of her Wakandan people, and regular innocent lives with equal depth. And she, like Batman, rises to the challenge of that responsibility, and does not accept failure.

In her showdown with Cyclops Yost and Neves give us some chillingly awesome action panels. In one Cyclops opens at Storm with a full optic blast, and standing stock still she calls down a bolt of lighting that crashes directly in front of her, scattering his energy and protecting her. Immediately after she lunges toward Cyclops to confront him hand-to-hand, whipping up winds so powerful that they actually blow his optic beam off their path. (A la Vulcan in Deadly Genesis, only much more raw and visceral.) These are the kind of comic battles that satisfy the most avid fan, while providing us with never-considered possibilities.

Another minor element that I thoroughly appreciated was the limited exploration of Ororo and Emma Frost's relationship. Often strained, and at times in the past completely opposed, Yost begins to bridge the gap between the two in a natural way. When Storm confronts the amassed X-Men who have been possessed by the Shadow King, she thinks to herself how there is only "one hope" she has to win the battle without hurting her teammate. Unfortunately Emma is knocked unconscious at that point, but Storm's acknowledgment of her considerable power and skill, as well as the humble friendly willingness to ask her for help, proves her confidence in Emma's new leadership. In the end, when all is resolved, Emma quietly thanks her for saving Cyclops, and Storm in return thanks her for making him happy. Perhaps an obvious truth, but one never voiced before.

Storm comes across as the hero she is, an equal if not superior to her husband the King of Wakanda and Cyclops the First X-Man. But her humanity comes through too, her life as a woman finally starting to fall in place in a way she never managed in all her years prior. The final page of Storm flying beside the Blackbird and declaring her lack of limits, much like the final page of Pixie's earlier X-issue, makes me grin like a goofy 12 year old.

So Cheers, Mr. Yost. And thanks. I hope Storm remains in your able hands for at least a few more stories.

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