Sketch Friday #63 – Ororo “Storm” Munroe

With the release of Dark Phoenix––the last 20th Century Fox-produced X-Men movie––just around the corner, I can’t get it out of my head. So, I’m not going to fight it and keep drawing X-Men until it opens next week.

There’s nothing beyond the X-Men motivating my choices, though with Scott last week and Ororo this week, I seem to be focusing on characters who were official leaders of the team at some point.

When I first started reading X-Men comics, the team was divided across two books––Uncanny X-Men and, simply, X-Men. The team in X-Men (I like the unofficial name of the book, Adjectiveless X-Men) was designated as being “Blue Team” and was lead by Scott. In Uncanny––the “Gold Team”––it was lead by Ororo. In my early reading days, I stuck with the Blue team if only because I, perhaps, wasn’t aware that there was even more X-Men to read in another book. I was also limited by budget, especially for a new hobby.

The original ball-point pen sketch.

Ororo, of course, popped up in X-Men all the time but she was never a featured character because she had her own team and book to host. So, when she showed up, she was always portrayed as a stoic, confident commander. While Scott was busy ogling the sexy ladies of his team and fighting with Logan, Storm always came across as a bit boring.

My opinion changed of course with time and further reading. She actually comes across as a capable leader rather than one determined by seniority, as often seemed the case with Scott. This proves especially true when reading through her tribulations in her forty years of comics (de-powered, de-aged, queen of Wakanda, guilt-ridden figurehead, among many others).

The run of Extraordinary X-Men is one of my favorites, and is a great representation of Storm. Art: Humberto Ramos (lines) & Edgar Delgado (colors). Source: Marvel.

My favorite version of storm is from Extraordinary X-Men, a series lasting twenty issues from 2016 to 2017. Written by one of my personal favorites, Jeff Lemire, this book has Ororo leading the team during a time when mutantkind is facing an existential threat. Her leadership during this run crosses countries and dimensions, revealing depths and nuance of her role as a leader in interesting and powerful ways. Issue #17 is the only comic that I’ve become emotional over, and it was a scene showcasing the scope and growth this wholly unique––but often muted––character has had over the years. This team, especially, was one of liminality––characters pulled out of time, characters newly resurrected, characters newly changed––and Ororo had to not only adapt as a leader, but to challenge her vulnerabilities as a person and friend to those she led.

Many people ask what are, ultimately, silly questions about superhero comics. The most common ice-breaker when someone learns you’re an X-Men fan is “who is your favorite character?” However, a common variant of that is actually a more interesting question even though the asker usually means to ask the former––”Who is the best X-Men character?” I think, when looking at performance, dedication, growth––as well as more superficial things like superpowers and range of costumes––the answer must be Storm every single time.