Storm and “Black Hair”

This is somewhat of a continuation off of yesterday’s Fame Day post, concentrating particularly on the Marvel character Storm. Kris Anka’s design for the weather-wielding Ororo Munroe harkens back to her appearance in the 80s [seen on the right].

Keeping consistent with most changes to beloved comic book characters, the mohawk was met with both praise and scorn.

Trawling the comments section of the ComicsAlliance article on the topic, I came across two guys who were very interested in not just the style of her hair, but the state or quality of it as well.


Earlier on Scafin commented about wanting to see Storm’s hair in its natural state. In following up with my reply to his thoughts  [and with a slight miscommunication as to what I meant by "black hair"] he said:

I don’t mean color, though. I really want to see her with white, afro-textured hair. I understand why she was given relaxed hair when she was introduced, as that was the norm back then, but the ubiquity of relaxed hair has declined since then.

The thing is, Storm as a character has always had straight, white hair. The fan-run Marvel Database tells me that she’s descended from “an ancient line of African priestesses, all of whom have white hair, blue eyes, and the potential to wield magic.” That answers Scafin in that the character has never had “black hair.” It’s part of who Storm is now [having been depicted as a young child that way] and to retcon that many years of portrayal would fare poorly with fans.

This leads to another question, though, which is why Storm was designed this way at all. This comment on an article about Storm’s marriage to the Black Panther had the following to say about the character’s creation:

I’m going to break this down as quickly and efficiently as possible, so we can concentrate on the more important aspects of the comment.

  • People are upset about the marriage because Marvel didn’t lead up to it well enough. In other words, they weren’t invested, and that’s adding to the fact that marriages in comic books typically do not work [see Peter and Mary-Jane in "One More Day."]
  • That this is the sexual domination of White over Black when one of the very first relationships Storm gets into in the comics is with Forge, a member of the Cheyenne people. He was not, and still isn’t, white.

David Brothers, a blogger on staff with ComicsAlliance, agreed with part of what Africa had to say, commenting on the same article:

I liked Hudlin’s run on Panther. It was one of the precious few times that Storm actually felt like a black character, instead of a fetish object with blue eyes and perfectly straight hair.

This is in stark contrast to the article he wrote for Marvel a year earlier titled “A Marvel Black History Lesson Pt. 1.” In it he has more than a few good things to say about the heroine, which can be summed with these words:

If Gabe Jones stood for reality, Black Panther for ingenuity, Robbie Robertson for integrity, The Falcon for equality, Luke Cage for self-awareness, and Misty Knight for unadulterated cool, Storm was the combination of all of their traits and more. She was the daughter of a Kenyan princess and a photojournalist from Harlem, and therefore a direct link from African Americans and the continent known as “the Motherland.” She was powerful on a world-class level, refused to allow anyone to be her master, and commanded a massive amount of respect from all who knew her.

Taking into account Brothers’ apparent conflict in viewing the character, I
personally come away from this with the knowledge that Storm is more than just eye candy, she is a strong [in terms of power and character] heroine on par with many of her peers.

While Storm having straight hair may have been a product of the time she was created in, that in no way affects who she is as a character. Marvel has the right to maintain consistency in how she is portrayed, and has other characters who are better examples of having “black hair.” While the event of her marriage had its flaws Storm remains someone who has both strong ties to Africa and one of the most prominent black superheroes of all time. The straightness of her hair should in no way detract from that.

One response to “Storm and “Black Hair”

  1. Pingback: Blog Posts of Note This Week: Politics & Religion, Jesus the Jedi, and Walmart! |

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