Storm’s position in the X-Men has been a little tenuous recently, as she hangs around in “Astonishing X-Men” while simultaneously being the Queen of Wakanda over in “Black Panther.” While it hasn’t been promoted as much of an event, there’s a reasonable expectation that this series might just clear the situation up and put Storm back in the X-Men for good. After all, it takes place while she’s in Wakanda, but quickly draws on elements of the X-Men’s mythos rather than the Black Panther’s to put the story in motion.
Once you know this is a Storm miniseries, it isn’t hard to figure out who the villain is, and if you don’t want to know, look away now: it’s the Shadow King. Again. Admittedly, there aren’t many characters with enough of a personal history with Storm to justify being a foil for her, but on the other hand, these two can only face off so many times before things start to seem a little wearing. Was there really no other story to tell with the character?
References to the X-Men’s rich history are usually welcome, but here the references feel almost too gratuitous. Yost’s past work shows that he’s clearly a writer who enjoys dredging up the X-Men’s past, but in stark contrast to Carey’s measured visitations, Yost’s referencing feels more like he’s pleasing himself than the fans. Elsewhere, the opening scene in the Morlock tunnels features an uncharacteristically stand-offish Cyclops bemoaning Ororo’s lack of commitment to the team, which seems vastly out of step with the current “walk-in” nature of the X-Men. Perhaps this was a result of psychic manipulation by the Shadow King, but if you even have to ask, then something’s gone wrong with the storytelling somewhere.
Neve’s art is all perfectly passable superheroics with the odd flash of realized potential, and the artistic low-point of the issue is Campbell’s rather under-rendered cover. It’s perhaps notable that Neves isn’t using Bianchi’s recent redesign of Storm’s costume, because it really seems to struggle to appear normal under any artist less elaborate than Bianchi (which is most of them) and the simpler costume featured here is far more muted, fitting the tone.
Unfortunately, the importance of the series really relies on whether it puts Storm firmly back in the mutant-verse or not. If it does, then at least there’ll be some point to the exercise. If not, it’s doomed to be another of Storm’s instantly-sidelined and forgettable miniseries like many before it. Despite attempts to raise the character’s profile in recent years, all Marvel have managed to do of late is show that no writer they’ve got is especially sure what stories to tell with her. It’ll keep the Storm fans happy, but if that’s not your thing, there’s little here for you.