In "Storm" #8, Ororo confronts the Senator and Harmon as only she can -- in cyclones, tsunamis and gale-force winds. As her conflict with the FBI, the federal government and agents of the Four Clans comes to its climax, Greg Pak and Al Barrionuevo bring it all together with an awesome story about Storm as a populist superhero. Though the artwork can be spotty and stagnant, "Storm" is really hitting its stride post-"Death of Wolverine."
I complained in my review of "Storm" #5 that the plot was much more about Logan than it was about the title character, but issue #8 is all about Ororo. Pak captions most of the pages in her internal monologues; for this approach to work, the narrator has to have an engaging voice, and Pak imbues Ororo with all the thoughtfulness and confidence of a once-goddess. She certainly questions herself, thinking her enemies are "almost as bad at thinking through the consequences of their actions as I've been lately," and recognizing that owning her power is "a dangerous way to live." At the same time, she's supremely competent and effortlessly effective. Matter-of-fact dialogue like "Shut up, Harmon...I'm working now" or a mere "...Yes" become almost comically understated when placed beside Storm's extraordinary powers. To Ororo, they're just facts, but for the reader they function like assured one-liners.
While the script has a strong and consistent voice, Barrionuevo's pencils, with inks from Tom Palmer and Ed Tadeo, are unfortunately patchy. At times, Storm's body language is powerful; in other panels, it's static and posed. Occasionally, characters' faces won't match their dialogue. For example, one of the bystanders says, "Ha ha! She did it! She saved us all!" but her face looks creased in pain, and she's hunched to shield herself. The relief in the text isn't apparent in her face.
That said, the artists nail many of the key moments. In the closing battle between Harmon and Storm, just when it seems that Harmon has defeated her and doomed San Francisco, she manages to turn the tide. This big reveal is saved for one splash page, and the scale and framing of her epic weather-working is exhilarating. My breath actually caught in excitement. Storm's determination and confidence as she explains her epic coup to Harmon is also perfectly reflected in her face.
Colorist Ruth Redmond makes few missteps. When Storm parts the ozone layer and reaches for some unfiltered sunlight, Redmond chooses harsher, lighter yellow; rather than a fiery blaze, it's a harsh parting of the clouds, a dawn taken from toxic air. I loved that unexpected choice. However, Redmond's choice of background at the beginning is lackluster. The mauve and flat purple drain energy from the rest of the panel, and it doesn't feel like the middle of a firefight-meets-tornado. The problem is doubly disappointing when contrasted with Redmond's rendering of the sea floor later in the issue. The more mottled and varied backgrounds in the ocean feel more energetic and powerful, the way the first fight should have.
Let me take a moment to appreciate Stephanie Hans' work. Month after month, she proves that her forceful, dramatic style is the perfect choice for this series. Issue #8's crackling, vengeful cover is full of righteous fury, with the government's narrative of Storm -- wanted, criminal, and cold -- consumed by the fire and lightning of actual Ororo. Hans' Storm is a serious force of nature.
"Storm" is more glorious than ever, and I'm rooting hard for this series. Pak has a great sense of Ororo's voice, and I want to hear more.