BIOGRAPHY - Page 12
Storm was left at the helm when the mutant race began experiencing an entirely new threat. The Terrigen Mists that empowered the Inhumans had been released into the atmosphere, and congealed into a pair of clouds floating across the planet. It soon became clear that Terrigen was now poisonous to mutantkind. Although the effects varied, mutants exposed to the clouds could become violently ill, sterilized or even die in a matter of minutes. Storm consulted with Queen Medusa of the Inhumans and tried to remain on good terms with New Attilan while also assuring that any mutants in the path of the clouds were evacuated. Not all mutants were willing to work with the Inhumans, though. Cyclops, Emma Frost and Magneto announced the threat of M-Pox to the world and put the blame squarely on the Inhumans. They led an attack on one of the two clouds, destroying it at the cost of the life of a mutant transmutator named Alchemy. When Medusa and Black Bolt came to defend their culture’s sacred mists, Cyclops was apparently executed by Black Bolt before the eyes of the world. [Death of X #1-4]
Storm was forced to deal with the aftermath of this crisis. Although never fully confirmed, it appeared as if the Inhumans deliberately employed political spin to paint Cyclops as the villain in this scenario, stirring up anti-mutant activism and leading the human public to believe they might be vulnerable to infection by the M-Pox. Mutants became pariahs the world over, and the variably shifting path of the remaining Terrigen cloud put them in constant danger. Cyclops’ efforts had fragmented the X-Men, and Ororo was working with only a skeleton crew of X-Men to address the threat. She coordinated with Magik to assemble a coven of sorcerers to move the mansion into Illyana’s Limbo, creating an X-Haven for all mutants and the families who wished to avoid the cloud and the growing worldwide persecution.
Storm struggled to hold things together at the X-Haven refugee camp. Her original recruits of Iceman, Forge and Magik were joined by a few other active X-Men such as Colossus, Nightcrawler, the past’s Jean Grey and a future version of Logan, cast adrift in the timelines after Battleworld broke up. She also maintained ties with Beast, who was working in collaboration with the Inhumans to find a cure for M-Pox. Storm was myopically focused on the crisis, and had no time for Forge’s vain attempts to rekindle their romance. If anything, she was drawn towards Old Man Logan’s comforting presence, remembering the friend and lover she had lost months earlier.
The X-Men faced a number of challenges. Colossus and a group of trainees were drawn into a parallel future, and Piotr was changed into a Horseman by a future Apocalypse. Both had to be brought back to the present, in the hopes Peter could be saved. Storm had to work around a more aggressive team of X-Men led by Magneto provoking the Inhumans, especially after the discovery of a NuHuman asset named Ulysses who could predict the future. Magneto almost went to war with Storm and Medusa both to ensure the Inhumans didn’t hold such an advantage, until Ulysses showed him a vision of more mutant deaths if he continued. Magneto relented, but the mutant relations with the Inhumans only became frostier. Finally, Sapna (a protégé of Magik’s) developed an affinity for Limbo due to her powers manifesting there, and was corrupted by a malevolent World-Eater entity. She nearly destroyed X-Haven before Magik was forced to kill her student, and Limbo was left unsafe for the refugees. [Extraordinary X-Men #1-16]
With her life with the X-Men so intense, Ororo attempted to recuperate by reconnecting with her friends in Harlem from years earlier. “Blue” got back in touch with Ezra Klein and his children, Hazel and Malik, just before a powder keg exploded in the neighborhood when Ezra died in police custody. Ororo and Misty Knight started to investigate the scandal, and soon were drawn into contact with Luke Cage, the mutant former Avenger Manifold, and even T’Challa. It looked as if an earlier generation of Wakandans tried to covertly assist Erza with his Harlem activism in his youth. Those purported Wakandans actually turned out to be Hydra in disguise, and now the terrorists had returned to Harlem to claim the neighborhood for themselves. Ororo sought justice for Ezra, and her new group of allies drove Hydra out of Harlem, at least for the time being. [Black Panther and the Crew #1-6] This association of heroes, called the Crew, reunited shortly thereafter when T’Challa requested assistance dealing with foreign invaders intervening on a movement of internal strife in Wakanda. Storm and the others helped drive out Vanisher, Fenris and Ezekiel Stane, allies of the local dissidents. Despite their initial discomfort, Ororo and T’Challa enjoyed working side-by-side again. They parted on good terms, with the door open to possibly seeing even more of each other in the future. [Black Panther (6th series) #6-8]
Finally, the mutant race’s time ran out. Hank McCoy discovered an exponential growth of Terrigen saturation levels in the atmosphere – in a matter of weeks, Earth would become uninhabitable to mutants. Beast advocated a path of meek surrender, abandoning the planet to the Inhumans, but a faction headed by Emma Frost and Magneto wanted a first strike against the remaining Terrigen cloud. Ororo agreed with the majority vote to oppose the Inhumans, and struck down Beast when he refused to comply. Despite this, Storm still saw herself as peaceful at heart, and wrestled with the idea of leading her people into war. Back at X-Haven, though, Ororo had an encounter that put her feelings into focus. A 10-year old girl named Maya Jackson had manifested her mutant powers early before getting caught in the Terrigen cloud. She came to X-Haven with her family, but never recovered from her exposure. Storm sat by Maya’s bedside as the girl passed away from M-Pox. Storm knew at that point she would do anything to prevent one more mutant from dying because of the Terrigen.
The X-Men and their allies arranged a series of surgical strikes to eliminate many of the Inhumans’ more powerful members before laying siege to New Attilan itself. Storm put Forge to work building a Terrigen Eater that would neutralize the cloud once the X-Men brought down the Inhumans protecting it. Ororo’s brusque manner finally got to Forge and he tried to press her about their past, but she wasn’t able to give him the time. Still, once Forge was out in the field positioning the Terrigen Eater in the cloud’s path, Storm teleported out to speak to him just before the siege. She apologized for keeping Forge at a distance the past few months and taking his skills for granted. Ororo felt their relationship was part of the past, but she had once loved him very much and took the time to acknowledge that.
The assault on New Attilan was only partially successful. The Royal Family was captured and isolated in Limbo, but some NuHumans escaped the siege and attacked the Terrigen Eater, destroying it and sparing the cloud while also kidnapping Forge. Secrets were exposed as Storm and the X-Men raced to find a new solution. It was revealed that Cyclops died by accident in an early encounter with the Terrigen cloud – the Cyclops who started the war with the Inhumans, destroyed the first cloud and was executed by Black Bolt was nothing but a psychic construct made by Emma to take revenge on the Inhumans in his name. And when Medusa actually learned about the Terrigen saturation, she willingly triggered a revised Terrigen Eater to destroy the mists rather than let innocent mutants die. So, when Emma unleashed a cadre of Anti-Inhuman Sentinels, the X-Men stood beside the Inhumans. Emma Frost was driven underground as a renegade, and the X-Men and Inhumans made peace, permanently this time. [IVX crossover]
Despite the end of the M-Pox crisis, Ororo was emotionally exhausted from the conflict. She felt responsible for leading the X-Men to the brink of war, and doubted her ability to guide the team in the days to come. Storm approached Kitty Pryde (freshly returned from a stint in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy) to take her place as head of the X-Men. Kitty ultimately accepted, but her first order as leader was that Storm couldn’t leave the team. [X-Men: Prime (2nd series) #1]
Kitty brought the X-Men back to Manhattan, transporting the mansion from Limbo into Central Park to serve as the new Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach. Rededicated to serving as heroes for man and mutant alike, the X-Men began operating from New York and Storm fell back into a more comfortable supporting role for Kitty and her vision of the team. [X-Men: Gold #1-2]
Storm and the X-Men had numerous missions from their Central Park mansion as weeks passed. They battled a revived Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, with Mesmero paid off to coerce his “teammates” on behalf of the bigoted Lydia Nance to stir up anti-mutant controversy. The X-Men fought a new X-Cutioner and an evolving Sentinel nanoswarm called Alpha. They dealt with the resurrection of Omega Red, an invasion from Mojoworld and another invasion from the Negative Zone. The team was drawn into that anti-matter universe to battle the deposed god Scythian and cast him into a star. [X-Men: Gold #3-20]
In Wakanda, a progressive movement led to the country being re-imagined as a constitutional monarchy. With fewer powers invested in the office of the king, T’Challa felt free to follow his heart and he reunited with Ororo. [Black Panther (6th series) #12-13] As they tested the boundaries of their new relationship, Wakanda became threatened by Originators, ancient races removed from the land by the original Wakandan settlers and banished to an extra-dimensional prison. Bast and the Orisha gods of Wakanda no longer seemed to be watching the prison, and the Originators were escaping. A priest called Ras the Exhorter appeared in the villages suffering in the Orishas’ absence, pronouncing the faith of a new god, Sefako. T’Challa had begun to question the nature of the Orisha, and asked Ororo about her own time being worshipped as a goddess in Kenya. Indeed, Ororo’s returning presence in Wakanda acted as a counter-force to Sefako, and the tribesmen proclaimed Ororo the Hadari Yao (“cloud walker”) as a savior, much like the villages of her youth did in Kenya. [Black Panther (6th series) #15-18]
Ulysses Klaw, Hydra and other forces appeared to be working in tandem with the Originators and the followers of Sefako. Manifold brought in Storm to fight the elemental magic being wielded by Ras, and the captured Exhorter was revealed as a brainwashed Asira, formerly of the Dora Milaje. The truth behind Sefako also set Ororo on her heels, for the newly risen god followed after the Originators and revealed himself as the Adversary reborn. The Adversary buried Storm alive to prevent her from interfering in his plans for Wakanda, but T’Challa had prepared for this. He had come to understand that Bast and the Orisha were originally just super-powered humans, like Ororo, risen to the title and power of Godhood by harnessing the spiritual energy given to them by the faith of their worshippers. They evolved to become gods… mutated. As king of the Wakandans, both living and dead, the Black Panther asked his people to pray to Ororo, the Hadari Yao. As keeper of the spiritual faith of his people, the Black Panther decreed that their faith should go to her. Through these acts, a new goddess was born on Earth. Literally empowered by the faith of a nation, Storm, Mistress of the Elements, emerged from the ground with a thunderclap. With this power at her fingertips, Storm forced the Adversary back through the dimensional gateway he had created and sealed it shut, by her decree. The moment passed, and the godhood left her, but it lay there waiting for Ororo Munroe to choose to claim it again in the future. [Black Panther (1st series) #170-172]
The X-Men had a rematch with Mesmero and his Brotherhood when the evil mutants attacked Lydia Nance at her Heritage Initiative fundraiser. It was a ruse, however, arranged by Nance and Mesmero to frame the X-Men for attacking the NYPD while under a hypnotic fog. Storm, Kitty and the others were arrested and sent to the Box until their lawyer could find evidence to clear their names. The X-Men were targets as soon as they entered the prison, and they got in a fight for dominance with Crazy Maisie and her posse in the yard. The warden ordered them all into solitary confinement, which was traumatizing to Storm’s claustrophobia. She refused to give into her fear, however. Her inner turmoil overwhelmed her inhibitor collar, restoring her powers and blasting a skylight into the prison with a massive bolt of lightning. The weather goddess was in no mood to entertain the judicial system any further, and she informed the warden she and the X-Men would be leaving. Immediately.
As it turned out, Scythian of the Negative Zone had followed the X-Men to Earth to seek revenge. Storm and Kitty’s team met with Iceman’s secondary roster to confront the dark god as he made landfall in Paris. Elsewhere in the Ten Realms, the enchanted hammer Stormcaster emerged from the deserted space of Asgard and responded to Ororo's side. While Ororo tried to quell the storms stirred by Scythian’s presence, her Asgardian hammer returned to her and gave her the power of a true goddess once more. The Goddess of Storms lent her magnified abilities to the X-Men’s battle, and Scythian was soon destroyed and his remnants cast into Limbo. [X-Men: Gold #21-25]
Wielding Stormcaster had been an overwhelming experience for Ororo in the past, and she tried to return the hammer. It refused to leave her grasp for long, however, and always came when she summoned it. Storm’s god-like power benefited her and the X-Men in the days that followed. She could survive unaided in the vacuum of space and wielded her hammer’s might to stop a flurry of missiles containing a genocidal nano-virus launched by the Sentinel Alpha and Lydia Nance. [X-Men: Gold #26-32]
Storm would learn the truth about Stormcaster’s return when the Wakandan consulate reached out to her with news of the death of Ainet, her foster mother. Ororo returned to Uzuri in Kenya to pay her respects, but found the village changed in her absence. The people of Uzuri had worshipped Ororo during her time as a self-styled goddess, and her departure had left an absence in their faith. That faith was redirected when they become followers of Uovu, a proclaimed god and leader of a death cult. Ainet had died opposing Uovu’s rise, and her final act was one of prayer, beseeching the gods to give Ororo the power to defeat Uovu. Those prayers were heard in Asgard and awakened Stormcaster to return to its mistress.
Storm did summon Stormcaster at first when confronted by Uovu, but he distracted her with his ability to raise the dead, bringing Ororo’s parents back to life. Uovu claimed to be a true and benevolent god, and only wanted to help the people of Kenya with the gifts he had at hand. Unwilling to cast aside this gift despite her suspicions about Uovu’s true intentions, Ororo spent time getting to know her parents again. She did not ignore her instincts, though, and discovered a crypt where Uovu’s cult preserved the bodies of the dead in preparations for the Reaping, where the dead would rise as an army under Uovu’s command. With the help of the X-Men, Storm deprived Uovu of his worshippers, robbing him of the faith that fueled his powers. Stormcaster was destroyed in the final battle, but it fulfilled the prayers that brought it back to Ororo in the first place, ending Uovu’s threat. Ororo had a few moments with Ainet, David Monroe and N’Dare before her three parents returned to the afterlife. [X-Men: Gold #33-35]