“It shines through your beautiful skin”

May 8th, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

Cheryl Lynn and I play this game on twitter. I’ll post a link to something I find interesting/funny/horrible, and she’ll click it and end up thirsting for vengeance and retaliate a few days later. I’m pretty sure that being linked to this essay on scans_daily is the latest volley in our cold war 2.0, and probably payback for the time that I called Brother Voodoo the Cam’ron of comics.

I’d actually slotted the post away to write about today, because it’s so wholly horrible. Setting aside the word “Thorm,” I could take issue with

Because as a starting point for hooking up 2 characters go, “storm deities living in New York” makes a heck of a lot more sense than “two black Africans who have met maybe twice”.


I always liked that aspect about how Storm’s features were the distilation of the best of the various human racial groups, something that pretty much seems to have been tossed by the wayside.


Who drew it? (i can’t read the signature) Storm’s features are so unique and diverse.

I mean, the last one bugs me on a grammar level (you can’t be “so” unique like lights can’t be “so” off) and a race level. I would’ve had this short-ish essay springboarding from the topic of Storm being some ridiculous mesh of all races into my absolute loathing of use of the terms urban/ethnic/exotic/diverse when all you really want to say is “black” or “not white.”

I think it would’ve been pretty good, honestly. I haven’t really dug into race&comics since black history month, and I rarely see other people doing it regularly. I was starting to feel that itch again. But, Cheryl beat me to it with this jawn, her long-awaited essay on the female half of Black Trinity. I wrote last year about Luke Cage as the Black Reality, Shilo Norman as the Black Fantasy, and Black Panther as the Black Ideal. Three aspects of one people: pure wish fulfillment, reality, and then the best we can hope to be.

Cheryl’s first entry is on Storm as the Black Fantasy. In her own words:

Today we are going to talk about the Black Fantasy from the female perspective. And the Black Fantasy is Storm. Storm is what black women want, or are constantly informed by the media that they should want, but are also told that they never will achieve. To be loved and to be beautiful. To be free. To be special.

Basically, you need to read it, and after you read it, you need to digg it. Link it around if you can. I noticed that it’s on Comics Blips, which is kind of like a baby digg. Get it out there.

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8 comments to ““It shines through your beautiful skin””

  1. scans_daily seems to mostly comprise of immature, perpetually complaining arsehats these days. When they’re not writing long, rambling essays about how Grant Morrison is, like, totally a complete hack because his Batman run hasn’t featured that OTP of Batman & Catwoman for them to wank over – I mean, they have plenty of material already, but it’s a matter of principle, a Batman writer is not truly GREAT until he repeats that cyclical relationship over and over – when they’re not doing that, they’re raging about how this character who a small minority loves can’t say this or that, or how Cluemaster’s Daughter/Robin’s On-And-Off-Foil/Booty-Call is the GREATESET CHARACTER EVAR, or how the DCAU is the best writing evar, or other some such.

    After realising that the majority of them are basically very childish, and can only connect with unchallenging, childish stories, I gave up on reading the comments. I basically stick with the scans now.

  2. You’re missing the point, and what you’ve said applies to most comics fans, not just scans_daily readers.

  3. Oh, I understand and appreciate the point – it is vaguely similar to the female reinvention of Batman villain the Ventriloquist. While the original merely evoled ideas of schizophrenia, ego vs. superego, thought vs. action by giving us a scared old man dealing with his issues visa murderous puppet, in Dini’s version we have a young woman who is not pathetic or scared but shows herself quite capable without the doll – implying that even a strong, capable woman can only become a supervillian via a dominant male persona – a theme Dini cut his teeth on with Harley Quinn. Just as Dini is able to hide his sexism behind the character’s insanity, so are Marvel writers able to make Storm primarily a Mutant to hide the implication that she can’t be great as just a Person, let alone a Kenyan person.

    I realize that these are common Internet things – but then compare 4thletter’s calm comparative post on BftC: The Network with the curse-word-laden, career-insulting bitch-test from the s_d crowd. I’ve never seen so many people so angry about such ultimately pointless issues.

  4. You’ve never seen a 24 hour news channel then, I take it.

    I gotta be honest here: When I think of black characters, Storm is the last person I’ll think of. I know I watched and read a bunch of X-Men as a kid, so I can’t think of why that is. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen her around much since then, but maybe it’s because she is too unrealistically special. She’s been portrayed as so unique, possessing so many singular qualities, that she can’t be seen as part of a group.

    That’s also a pitfall of writing Wonder Woman, I think, when she’s so special & perfect she loses her connection to the people she’s supposed to represent & empower. In fact, now Storm is too special to be just a mutant. She has left the X-Men behind for a fairy tale life as a princess bride.

  5. That collection of pictures on Scans Daily with a couple of sentences inserted between them is an essay? The point of that post is completely lost on me. Or maybe you were being ironic.

    Cheryl Lynn’s post, however, is fascinating. I’ve been reading X-Men for my whole comic-reading life (so, since 1993), and I always kinda dug Storm, although I’ve found it difficult to ever really connect with the character. Lynn touches on thought-provoking points that most X-Men writers (probably) don’t even think about. So, yeah, worthwhile read, indeed.

    Lynn’s post (especially the second paragraph of the section titled “special”) reminds me of a thought I had a few years ago, concerning Storm’s character. Basically, I reasoned that Storm, as a black woman with white hair and blue eyes; as a child of two very different nationalities and cultures; as someone who was orphaned at a young age; as someone who grew in a country not her own; as someone who was a thief during her childhood; as someone who suffers from claustrophobia; and yes, as someone who is a mutant, should know, from childhood experience, things about racism, prejudice and being an outsider that Professor Xavier and Cyclops would never be able to dream of.

    Also, it’s interesting that “Uzuri” is the actual word for beauty in Swahili. That might actually make a better name for the character than Ororo. Aside from actually meaning “beauty,” Uzuri reminds of the word azure, which connects nicely with the color of Storm’s eyes, one of her defining features, and (from my Western perspective) it has a kind of alien quality to it, which reinforces her strange nature (her hair and eyes, her being a mutant, and her role as a goddess).

  6. I couldn’t post on Cheryl Lynn’s site, so I’ll put my observation here: After 3 years of living in Europe, I’m convinced that the anathema to dark skin is primarily a cultural remnant of the major slaveholder societies (England, Spain, France) and not a universal trait among the Caucasian populace. England? Racist as hell, with Ireland being slightly better. France? Better than England, worse than Ireland. Spain? The best of the lot, but not by much.
    Visit Germany, Denmark, Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Italy, more or less any county besides the abovementioned ones and make the mistake of having dark skin. You’ll be treated like a special guest by anyone under the age of 55. And by “special guest”, I mean that you’ll get molested (if male) and idolized (if female). If you made the double mistake of being able to understand the language, you’ll be proposed to in a flash. That last sentence wasn’t a joke, because it happened to me. And I’ve seen (on more than one occasion) Caucasian men run against the light to get a black woman’s attention. I’m not trying to say that they’re hyper-enlightened race-blind utopians (for example, you don’t want to be black and better at playing football than the natives. Trust me on this.), but they’re far more likely to see Michelle Obama or Gabrielle Union as examples of beauty than citizens of those countries that I mentioned earlier.

    IOW, by American standards, Storm had to be drawn as genetically bland as possible to cater to “American” standards of beauty. If a European artist had a good crack at her, she’d look thoroughly different, and she may even meet the standards of what could legitimately be considered African beauty. Cross the ocean, avoid the colonizing countries, and you too may have the privilege of walking into a bathroom and seeing a 15 year old Swiss boy masturbating to a picture of Alek Wek that he printed off of the Internet. On second thought, try your best to avoid that. Really. I’m dead serious about that one.

  7. Salieri, did Scans Daily kick your puppy or something?

  8. @Evil Abraham Lincoln:

    You’re right and I’d imagine her in traditional West African gear instead of the usual superheroine garb. Also Storm’s beauty is rather surprising all-American: fair hair, blue eyes, dark skin and playboy figure. It makes her more akin to Playboy and Valley Girls than to genuine African beauty.