art from marvel comics’s black panther. words by hudlin, art by sal larocca, scot eaton, and cafu.
A cappuccino mocha or a caramel queen
Rejected by the black, not accepted by the white world
And this is dedicated to them dark skinned white girls
This is kind of a hard post to phrase, ’cause, man, it’s rooted in old school prejudices. It’s the kind of thing that’s hard to shake, you know? So, let’s just get right into it.
When Halle Berry was announced as Storm for the first X-Men movie, there was really just one response from most black people I knew who read comics, including my uncle who put me onto them in the first place: “Well, if that ain’t just the worst and most apt casting ever.”
Halle Berry has made a career out of being the “safe” black actress. She’s part (half?) polish and she’s fairly light-skinned. She’s just white enough to be nonthreatening, if that makes sense. I’m not dissing her for that, of course. She can’t help how she was born or why she sometimes gets roles. It’s just that, well, she’s got a reputation.
So, in a way, she was the perfect Storm and the worst possible Storm they could have picked. Storm is a regal, powerful, arrogant African Queen. Storm possesses some of the most powerful abilities on the X-Men and in the Marvel U. She’s a powerhouse. Storm also has long, apparently super-permed white hair, blue eyes, and distinctly non-african features for the majority of her lifespan.
That’s the crux of Storm right there. For a long time, she was only black in skin tone, and barely even then. Claremont built her up into this amazing goddess in Africa (and that is something else entirely), a master tactician (making for three on the X-Men), and generally just this amazing character. Thing is, she looked black. She doesn’t read black, she doesn’t feel black, and to a lot of people, that means that she’s barely black at all.
I mean, look at how long it took her to hook up with a black dude. Heyooooooo I’m here all night folks, try the veal. You guys are a great audience, really.
The thing is, Storm was all we had for so long that she’s kind of the pre-eminent black female of the comics world by default. I might find Misty Knight more interesting, but I like crime comics and blaxploitation. Misty pushes my buttons, but she can’t really go cosmic. Who else is left? Vixen can’t carry that burden. Natasha Irons is still way too green. Who’s left? Bumblebee from Teen Titans? I hadn’t even read her in Teen Titans before Tiny Titans came out, but I hate shrinky people, so that’s a big fat en oh.
This is the problem with only having a few black characters in comics way back when. You have to latch onto someone, and sometimes that someone isn’t really what you’re looking for. You settle for second best, basically. You can’t get the Smurfs, so you settle for the Snorks. You can’t get Beast Wars, so you settle for Extreme Ghostbusters. That sort of thing.
In a way, Storm is one of the best black females in comics. In another, she’s one of the absolute worst.
I love Storm, but I hate her, and what she represents, so much sometimes.