Worthy of Worship: ‘Storm #1’

[28 July 2014]

By Jack Fisher

Mankind has worshipped a long list of gods, goddesses, spirits, and reality TV stars over the centuries. It can be argued to no end whether such entities are worthy of worship and some of those arguments have turned into all-out holy wars. But it’s not an unreasonable notion to consider, assessing what makes a powerful deity worthy of worship.

There are a great many characters in the Marvel universe that have all the defining characteristics of a deity, along with all the crippling personality flaws of former child stars. There are beings that can blow up buildings, control thoughts, and fly wherever they want without being harassed by the TSA, but not all are worthy of worship. Some are even worthy of the exact opposite because they end up abusing their powers in ways rivaled only by Zeus, minus the numerous illegitimate offspring.

Then, there is Ororo Munroe of the X-men. If ever there were a standard by which gods and goddesses would be deemed worthy of worship, she would be the one to set it. Storm has done a lot to endear herself to many since she was introduced as part of the All-New All-Different X-men. She is a leader, a friend, an ally, and a lover. She was even a queen for a time. She takes on these roles while wielding the power of the elements, something that would warrant worship by default in most eras of human civilization. And Storm #1 helps reveal that she deserves that worship and then some.

Storm has always had a high profile with the X-men and the Marvel Universe as a whole, but there are times when the responsibility of this profile obscure the personality that has become adored by so many. This story has her taking a step back from those responsibilities so she can just be the caring, compassionate woman she is at heart. For her, that involves more than just hugging random strangers, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or buying carbon credits to offset her carbon footprint.

Storm wields the power of the elements. That means she can visit some poor village in a third world country and use her powers to prevent an incoming tsunami that would have otherwise created a humanitarian crisis worthy of a celebrity telethon. She doesn’t do this because it’s part of a mission or because Hydra has somehow hijacked the weather. She does it because it’s the compassionate, moral thing to do. It shouldn’t be such a novel concept, but it is and that’s a big part of what endears her to others. The village cheers and embraces her. They stand ready to worship her for saving them and she doesn’t even demand that they sacrifice an animal in her name. It helps set her apart from far less compassionate gods throughout history.

But it isn’t just the amazing feats that Storm accomplishes that makes her worthy of worship. She’s also capable of far simpler acts that don’t involve manipulating the elements of nature. In addition to saving villages, she’s a teacher at the Jean Grey Institute and that often involves dealing with troubled teenage mutants who are in the process of figuring out that the world isn’t that compassionate. One of these students essentially calls Storm out, arguing that the X-men often blur the lines between training mutants to use their powers and just training them to be X-men. It’s not an unreasonable criticism to make. Not every mutant wants their lives to revolve around Danger Room training, killer robot Sentinels, and evil clones. It’s an issue that isn’t often raised and Storm does something that most worshipped beings don’t do in that she listens.

This helps reveal in Storm another defining quality not common among gods. She has an uncanny sense of humility. She’s not just willing to stop a tsunami using tornados without demanding worship or sacrifice of any kind. She’s willing to walk alongside the very people she protects, helping them clean up the damage done to their village and even taking time to pose for pictures. There are B-list celebrities that aren’t that generous to their fellow man, some of which even charge hefty fees for a photo. Storm earns every bit of adulation she gets, carrying herself both as a goddess and just an ordinary woman with a big heart.

However, all these demonstrations of power and compassion wouldn’t be complete without showing she’s still as tough as the weather she controls. What makes her feats in this village all the more remarkable is that it’s in a part of the world that seeks to do to mutants what Uganda is doing to homosexuals. Storm is beloved by the people, but not by the local government.

This government claims they can take care of their own people and don’t need someone who can control the weather. For some reason, they think that means forcing innocent villagers away from their homes to make room for an overpriced resort for rich people. Storm, despite protests from her fellow X-men, makes it clear that she is not the kind of goddess that takes kindly to such acts. She doesn’t wait for a rapture or a second coming either to make them pay for their actions, showing that even a compassionate goddess can be vengeful when necessary.

Storm has so many qualities, both as a person and as a hero, that make her worthy of worship. Storm #1 serves as a simple, concise story that illuminates these qualities in all the right ways. It provides insight into Storm perceives herself and how she is perceived by others. It effectively conveys all the qualities that make her such a great X-man and a great hero in general. It is a testament to a goddess that doesn’t need temples, worship, prayers, or sacrifice. Her own actions speak to her divine nature and this issue delivered her message loud and clear.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/183953-storm-1/