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Saturday, December 09, 2006 

Storm may have needed a development, but not the mohawk haircut

On Howling Curmudgeons, we find the following argument about Ororo Munroe's going punk mohawk during the mid-80s:
...the linked-to letter mentioned Storm as having been a victim of two of the all-too-common and all-too-pathetic examples of female character abuse in mainstream superhero comics: uglification and depowerment (uglification when she went punk with the leather and Mohawk look, and depowerment when she got zapped by Forge’s mutant-depowerer gun). ...

I was still a youngster when those issues came out (bought ‘em off the ol’ Maverick Market magazine rack). I was pretty horrified by Storm’s punk look at the time – I was offended because I thought the look was ugly, and because I hated the idea of the creators “arbitrarily” changing a character from the way they were “supposed” to look to something ugly.

And yet, even at the time on a certain level I realized that it made sense for the character. Up to that point Storm’s main character bits were being overly-naïve/ignorant-of-Western-culture and being overly-noble – and with her ascension to leadership of the X-Men, overly-serious (not saying that’s how Claremont wrote her all the time, just that the vast majority of her character bits seemed to be about one of those things – or just being really powerful). I could see Storm wanting to cut loose a little, wanting to shake things up, and I could buy Yashiko, Yakiko, whateverthehell her name was having an influence on Storm with her energy and personality. In retrospect, I think it was a good, interesting bit of character writing in the context of the series.
If we're talking about the Mohawk part, I disagree. I can probably buy her turning to some kind of punk subculture if she feels the need to, but why abuse her gifts? She could wear a leather jacket, she could probably even shout a bit, but a mohawk haircut is decidedly going too far. Or, maybe the fact that she went more than a year with it is what turned out to be the problem, and if nobody ever seriously argued with her that she was degrading herself, that too was a letdown.
The depowerment episode was also interesting because you had the angle that Storm lost her powers because of a device built by Forge, her romantic interest. It also was used to demonstrate that Storm was still capable enough and strong enough to adventure with the X-Men and lead them. Claremont was long past his prime by that point, but he was still capable of churning up some compelling angst (and even pathos) on occasion, and this episode was in that zone for me.
On the depowerment part, there I can agree, because if you look around, you will find plenty of good examples of superheroes proving themselves even without their superpowers. After all, it's the dedication and the intelligence that make the character a superhero, not the superpowers alone.

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