How Eric Jerome Dickey Redefined the Origin of the Storm

The author of the New York Times bestseller, Eric Jerome Dickey, died last week on January 3, 2021 at the age of 59. The groundbreaking African-American author rewrote the story of two of history’s most iconic black superheroes: Storm and Black Panther. Across 29 novels, Dickey wrote from a variety of genres, often bringing voice to the perspective of black women. Perhaps this is why she was perfect for writing the 2006 miniseries Storm, illustrated by David Yardin, which went into greater detail on Ororo Munroe’s early life as a pickpocket in Africa, before exploring her growth as a woman.

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Before Dickey’s latest novel, The Son of Mr. Suleman, hits bookstores this April, we’re taking a look at Dickey’s contributions to the Marvel Universe. How did Dickey alter the origin of Storm, as originally described in X-Men # 102, by combining it with the story of the arrival of T’Challa, the Black Panther.

The origins of the storm, altered

Storm’s origins in the comics were barely outlined originally. We saw Storm’s story primarily through the eyes of Charles Xavier, who happened to have his watch stolen while traveling in Africa, during his first encounter with the mutant known as the King of Shadows. Xavier would find Storm years later, revered as a weather goddess, in Len Wein and Dave Cockrum’s X-Men # 1, when he reformed the new X-Men team.

Dickey sets his miniseries sometime in Storm’s childhood. The story centers on Storm, under the tutelage of Achmed El Gibár, who trained her in the art of robbery. Ororo’s family had died when a plane crashed into their home. Ororo stole a camera from a poacher named Claude de Ruyter, who happens to be the brother of Andreas de Ruyter, aka the Bull. At first, the poacher only tries to kill Ororo to remove the camera from his corpse, only to discover Storm’s abilities to manipulate the weather.

However, before the poachers can kill Storm, T’Challa, on a journey of maturity across Africa, intercepts the poachers, saving Ororo from them. This chance encounter leads to a brief but intimate romance between Black Panther and the woman who would become Storm, which is complicated when, sometime later, Storm saves T’Challa from the same poachers from whom he originally saved her. However, he eventually leaves her to return to Wakanda, as she leaves to be worshiped as a goddess.

In the end, adding T’Challa was able to further link Storm’s story to the greater Marvel Universe. More specifically, Dickey made T’Challa Ororo’s first love, which at the time, was a great touch. The series concluded around the same time that T’Challa and Storm married Reginald Hudlin and Scot Eaton’s Black Panther # 18. This miniseries managed to further cement their relationship as if they were years in the making.

Intolerance and colonization in the storm’s past

While that Storm miniseries parimetrically introduced T’Challa into Storm’s past and retroactively paved the way for their marriage, the miniseries also explores other facets of Storm’s childhood.

A huge contribution from Dickey to Storm’s youth is the role that racism and colonization played in her development as a young woman and as a girl. Ororo’s parents originally lived in America, but moved to Cairo to escape intolerance. However, when moving to Africa, Ororo faced poachers, who recklessly killed and massacred without regard for human life.

This ultimately introduces the themes of colonization and intolerance in Storm’s youth. Considering that Storm is a mutant, this helps to establish the bigotry that she faced earlier in life not as a mutant but as a black woman. Explore the intersection of Storm’s unique form of oppression, helping to establish Storm’s resolve to fight for equality and acceptance in the world.