Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Stan Lee presents: STORM and the BLACK PANTHER

Writer/Co-Plotters/Artists: Chris Claremont, John Byrne & Bob McLeod
Letterer: Annette Kawecki | Colorist: Robbie Carosella
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: In New York City, Ororo “Storm” Monroe is winged by an assassin’s bullet. She changes into costume and corners the shooter, getting him to admit the name of his employer: Andreas de Ruyter. This causes Storm to flash back to her childhood, when she met young Prince T’Challa while traveling south from Cairo, and helped him escape de Ruyter and his men.

In the present, Storm visits New York’s Wakandan embassy, where T’Challa -- now the king of Wakanda called the Black Panther -- greets her. Storm explains the situation and the Panther tracks de Ruyter to a mansion on Long Island. Storm and the Panther infiltrate the mansion but are assaulted by a monstrous robot. They defeat it and continue on their path, eventually finding de Ruyter, dead thanks to a mental link he shared with his robot.

As the authorities arrive to clean up, Storm and the Black Panther part ways.

Continuity Notes: Storm’s journey from Cairo was established in previous issues of X-MEN, though this is the first time we learn she met T’Challa on that trek.

The Black Panther uses all his resources, including his membership in the Avengers, to locate de Ruyter.

This story was apparently the inspiration for Marvel to marry Storm and the Black Panther around 2005 or so. (More on that below.)

My Thoughts: Though John Byrne’s final MARVEL TEAM-UP was issue 79, Chris Claremont stayed on as writer for the majority of issues through #89 before he, too, departed. But somehow both returned for issue 100. Claremont wrote the lead story with Frank Miller on art, and he and Byrne -- scant months before the former would dissolve their partnership for good -- collaborated for this backup, co-starring one of their X-MEN characters, Storm.

The story is okay, but nothing special. It’s hard to get too much out of a mere ten pages, after all. Its real interest lies in its legacy, as -- despite Claremont’s explicit wording on the final page which says Storm and T’Challa are friends and friends only, no matter how much they might have wished otherwise -- Marvel editorial (or more likely, marketing) decided to use this tale a springboard for a sudden and ill-conceived marriage between the couple a decade or so back.

I mean this story is basically telling us why these two can’t be together; their lives are far too different. And really, doesn’t it seem a little, almost… racist… to marry your only two native African characters, apparently simply solely based on that shared origin?

Anyway, moving on, I really only have one other thing to say about the story, and that’s regarding the communication (or lack thereof) between writer and artist. The reason Byrne would quit working with Claremont a couple months after this is due in no small part to the fact that Claremont often changed things at the scripting phase, after he and Byrne had agreed on what was supposed to happen and Byrne had drawn it based on those discussions.

In this case we get a couple very minor examples of that: First, twelve year-old Storm takes to the skies to save T’Challa and Claremont’s narration indicates she’s flying “for the first time.” I’m pretty sure if that was the actual intention, Byrne would have drawn her flailing a bit, or reveling in the experience, or something. But instead he draws her flying like every other time he’s ever drawn the adult Storm flying, in a very businesslike fashion. (And in fact Claremont gives her no thoughts about how this is a new experience, which seems odd too.)

The other example is more egregious, though. When Storm and the Panther arrive at de Ruyter’s mansion, the Panther tries the door and finds that it’s locked. Storm picks the lock to get them inside. That’s all the artwork shows. But for some reason Claremont decides to show the Panther up by having Storm tell him, “Had you followed your instincts and kicked the door open… it would have blown up in your face.”

Nothing in the artwork indicates the Panther was going to kick the door open. Not his body language or his posture; nothing. But for some reason Claremont decided to make the Panther out to be klutz here.

Later, as they enter de Ruyter’s control room, the Panther has a completely random expository monologue saying, “I doubt de Ruyter would booby-trap this entrance--too much risk of a bomb damaging his equipment--so I think I’ll try a less subtle method than your lockpicsk to open it.”

I can see how Byrne could get frustrated with Claremont over stuff like this. That second bit reads like Claremont is covering for Byrne’s gaffe; as if Byrne forgot to draw the Panther being cautious or something, so he needed to explain it away. But it’s Claremont himself who I believe created the problem in the first place, by booby-trapping the first door after Byrne had drawn a non-booby-trapped door!

Gotta love the “Marvel Method” in action…

No comments:

Post a Comment