STORM: Page 10 of 13

Publication Date: 17th Feb 2022
Written By: Peter Luzifer, Ruth and Monolith.


Tragically, this proved not to be the case. Victor von Doom kicked off a power grab in Wakanda by luring T'Challa to an isolated locale. The Panther's bodyguards were killed getting him to safety, and the king's private Quinjet crash-landed in Wakanda, exacerbating his already severe injuries. As queen, Ororo became acting ruler of Wakanda while T'Challa slipped into a coma. In accordance with tradition, she ordered that a new Black Panther must be chosen in the event T'Challa failed to recover. The royal sister Shuri prepared herself to take the mantle while Ororo worked desperately with T'Challa's mother Ramonda to find a way to save him. Turning to magic and alchemy, they approached the outlawed sorcerer Zawavari, who arranged for Storm to confront death itself on the spiritual plane and prevent T'Challa from passing over. The magics employed required "a life for a life," and Ororo intended to remain behind in the afterlife as a sacrifice for T'Challa's safe return. Fortunately, this did not prove necessary as Zawavari, Ramonda and Shuri arranged for the totem hunter Morlun to be transported to death's realm as a new sacrifice, freeing Ororo and T'Challa. [Black Panther (5th series) #1-6]

Despite T'Challa's physical recovery, Shuri had successfully passed the trials to become the new Black Panther, and so he was no longer king of Wakanda. As her husband isolated himself during his recuperation period, Ororo found her responsibilities to Wakanda lessened considerably. She returned to the X-Men who, in her absence, had also undergone trials. The mutants had effectively been forced out of San Francisco by government forces led by the Machaevelian Norman Osborn, and the mutants raised Asteroid M from the ocean to act as a private island and reservation called Utopia. Cut off from many supplies and resources, the X-Men relied upon their powers for basic necessities. Storm and Iceman in particular acted to maintain a continuous water supply for the new nation. [Utopia crossover, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #515]

Ororo returned to having adventures with the X-Men, lending her expertise to a Warpie outbreak in the African nation of M'bangwi and the arrival of her old nemesis Dracula to San Francisco. [Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #1-5, X-Men (3rd series) #1-6] Still, she repeatedly found herself on the outside looking in. Cyclops ran the X-Men now, with Emma Frost and Wolverine as his chief advisors, and Storm was now no more than an appreciated ally and useful asset, her part-time status costing her the role of team leader she once worked so hard to achieve. Ororo was shocked and appalled when she finally learned of Scott and Logan's X-Force hit squad, but her displeasure was brushed aside and barely even acknowledged by Cyclops. Her friendship with Logan suffered greatly from this revelation as well, particularly when they both dealt with the death of their cherished friend, Nightcrawler. As they shared a drink in Kurt's room, Wolverine opined that maybe if he had killed more of their enemies, Kurt would still be alive. Ororo shot back that if he truly believed that was the right path, then this was their last drink together. [Second Coming crossover]

Things continued to deteriorate in Wakanda, as well. The population had little faith in the young and untested new ruler Shuri, particularly as she spent so much of her first few months in office abroad, hunting down leads on T'Challa's attackers. Wakanda experienced economic woes, agricultural strife and political unrest... all of which was being manipulated by Doctor Doom. The Latverian ruler had allied himself with Wakandan extreme nationalists called the Desturi to unseat the ruling family. T'Challa knew of Doom's plotting, but he was unable to even inform Ororo of the trouble because Doom had introduced nanobots into the royal palace for surveillance. These nanobots microscopically bonded themselves to the staff and royals at the palace, including Ororo and Ramonda, turning them into living cameras for Doom. In analyzing one of the few nanobots he captured, T'Challa also found a self-destruct protocol that could conceivably kill his wife, his mother or his advisors if he tried to warn them of the danger. Only T'Challa and Shuri were free of the nanobots because Doom feared their enhanced senses would have detected the bots' presence on their persons. [Black Panther (5th series) #7-10]

Ororo did her best to help restore Wakanda's crops, but even her powers were unable to reverse the mystical blight Doom cast upon them. The more superstitious among the Wakandan farmers were then led to believe Storm's failure to revive the crop meant that the "weather witch" was actually responsible for the problems. In a staged riot, Storm was manipulated into striking a man in the crowd who was reaching into his pocket, but was pulling out fresh seeds and not the weapon she was expecting. She was soon arrested by Desturi loyalists for her unprovoked attack on a citizen, and the Desturi coup began in earnest. [Black Panther (5th series) #11-12]

With T'Challa and Shuri out of the country, the Desturi leader T'Kan was successful in a nearly bloodless coup of Wakanda. Firmly in control, he added to Storm's list of charges treason, practicing witchcraft and crimes against humanity. He brought Ororo before a live-broadcasting kangaroo court to declare her death sentence, but Ororo merely laughed at T'Kan while counting the minutes till her husband came home. Indeed, T'Challa was rallying support from the X-Men to retake his country, and executed T'Kan within minutes of his return to Wakanda. Still, the Desturi were mere pawns: Doom was the threat. At the Vibranium vault, the source of Wakanda's wealth and power, Doom held the royal family hostage. He executed T'Challa's uncle S'yin and threatened to do the same to Ramonda if Ororo didn't use her lock-picking skills to help override the vault's defenses. When T'Challa arrived at the vault, Doom held Ororo at the end of his power gauntlets and threatened to kill her in five seconds if T'Challa didn't disarm the last lock. T'Challa allowed the time to expire without giving Doom anything, but the doctor had only been playing with him. Doctor Doom had already broken the last lock and teleported the Vibranium away... he simply wanted to watch T'Challa squirm. [Doomwar #1-2]

Storm and T'Challa rallied their allies to hunt down Doom and prevent him from using the Vibranium for his own, nefarious purposes. They struck hard at Doom's empire, his manufacturing plants and the Vibranium-based robot drones he made with his stolen materials, but it was all a delaying tactic. Doom used a combination of shadow physics and alchemy to harness the Vibranium with vast mystical power. He created a suit of armor that made him as one with all the Vibranium on Earth, able to control every aspect of the ore. Left with no choice, T'Challa used Doom's armor to send out a counter-pulse that destroyed all processed Vibranium on Earth, rendering it inert. This "Hail Mary" play stopped Doctor Doom, but also crashed Wakanda's economy. [Doomwar #3-6]

As Shuri struggled to rebuild Wakanda in the aftermath of Doom's assault, T'Challa found himself adrift. He no longer held the power or title of Black Panther, the special properties of the Wakandan herbs having passed to Shuri when she was chosen. Looking to prove himself as a man and warrior, T'Challa accepted a request from Matt Murdock, Daredevil, to watch over his neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, as Murdock had to leave for personal reasons. In order to accomplish this, T'Challa extracted a promise from Ororo that she would not visit him or assist him in Manhattan, for he could not prove himself if one of the most powerful women on Earth was constantly there to protect him. Ororo was deeply reluctant to comply, but eventually chose to respect T'Challa's wishes. [Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #513]

With her ties to Wakanda and to T'Challa all but severed, Storm renewed her commitment to the X-Men. When the X-Men were quarantined on Utopia by a mutant-specific flu, Ororo joined the un-quarantined X-Men Angel, Northstar, Dazzler and Pixie against threats like the Sublime Corporation and the Collective Man. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #530-534] She led a team of X-Men in battling lizard-men created by the Dark Beast under New York, and this team was also on-hand to help deal with the Spider-plague unleashed by the Jackal and Spider Queen. [X-Men (3rd series) #7-10, Spider-Island crossover]

When Cyclops and Wolverine had their falling out, Storm was quick to decide her place was with Logan in New York, restoring the school in the old tradition of Xavier's dream. Scott ultimately convinced her to stay on Utopia, however -- with a remaining roster of former villains, morally ambiguous scientists and demon-possessed friends, Cyclops needed Storm to act as his conscience in case he wandered too far off the path. [X-Men: Regenesis #1] Storm agreed, and was positioned as second-in-command of Cyclops' new "Extinction Team," first responders to major catastrophes designed to showcase the power of mutantkind, and the benefits they brought to mankind. [Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #1] Ororo also joined Psylocke in overseeing the Security Recon Team, a second roster tasked with surveillance and defense for Utopia and mutants in general. [X-Men (3rd series) #20]

As if she didn't have enough to do, Storm soon found herself offered membership in another, unexpected team. An attempt to reconcile with T'Challa in Hell's Kitchen proved ineffective, as the former Panther rebuked his wife for not allowing him to finish this quest on his own as he insisted. [Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #519-520] Perhaps as a form of apology, T'Challa suggested Ororo to Captain America as a new recruit for the mighty Avengers when Cap came looking for him after the Serpent War. Although she was surprised by the offer, Storm accepted Captain America's bid for membership, and soon found herself commuting to New York for regular battles with A.I.M. and H.A.M.M.E.R. alongside Earth's Mightiest Heroes. [Avengers (4th series) #19-25]

With the Extinction Team only called upon in dire circumstances, Storm devoted the majority of her time to the Security Recon Team. With a mobile flying headquarters designed by Madison Jeffries and Pixie's teleporting powers at her disposal, Storm could not only reach hot spots of mutant activity around the globe, but also cultivated a degree of autonomy from Utopia. Using the mandate Cyclops gave her to watch over mutant security, Ororo began asserting her independence from Scott as she slowly reassumed a position of true authority in the X-Men. In particular, while researching the theft and manipulation of "proto-mutant" DNA strands, Ororo deliberately withheld information from Cyclops during her required update briefings, seeking to reach her own conclusions on the matter. Unfortunately, this led to considerable in-fighting among her group, and the Security Recon Team apparently collapsed because of the suspicion and mistrust Storm's leadership style engineered. [X-Men (3rd series) #30-37]