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Published November 21, 2022

Read Storm's Full ‘Women of Marvel’ Podcast Episode

Goddess. Leader. X-Man. Queen. In this episode of the ‘Women of Marvel’ podcast, we examine Ororo Munroe’s hurricane-force impact on the Marvel Universe and pop culture.

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[THUNDER CLAP]

VICKIE BANE: She's one of those characters that so many people are drawn to just because of her story, and her background, and her strength, and her vulnerability.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: She can do it all. She can rule a country, rule a planet, marry some dude, divorce some dude, fight some morlocks, go to space. All while in heels, and with her hair being amazing.

VICKIE BANE: Her outfits and her hairstyles, oh.

ELLIE PYLE: Welcome to Women of Marvel. I'm Marvel editor, Ellie Pyle.

[MAGICAL MUSIC]

PREETI CHHIBBER: I did it! I am Marvel writer Preeti Chhibber, and I like the poof sound effect, and I wanted to try it myself.

ELLIE PYLE: 10 out of 10. Nice job.

PREETI CHHIBBER: Today, we are talking about a goddess. Well, a mutant, who can control and manipulate weather patterns and is idolized by millions of people, both in the real world and within the Marvel Universe. Of course, I'm talking about Storm.

ELLIE PYLE: When Storm, a.k.a. Ororo Munroe, was 12 and walking south across Africa, a Maasai tribe on the Serengeti Plain saw her as a goddess and hoped that she would come save them from drought. And she did! She brought them rain.

PREETI CHHIBBER: But this was all before she met Charles Xavier, learned she was a mutant, became Storm, and joined the X-Men. Since then, she's been a member of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and even the queen of Wakanda.

ELLIE PYLE: We all love Storm, but what do we love most about her?

PREETI CHHIBBER: The first thing that came to mind for me was her presence. Just the commanding way she exists inside of a room and takes ownership of it and everybody knows it.

ELLIE PYLE: Number two, I would say her resilience. The fact that she overcame a difficult childhood, struggles with claustrophobia, and all of these things didn't make her any less powerful. In fact, they probably made her more so.

PREETI CHHIBBER: Number three, she doesn't put up with any crap. Storm is fully aware of how much she's worth and what she expects, and she gets it, or else.

ELLIE PYLE: She's also an incredible leader, whether that is of the X-Men, as Queen of Wakanda, as a teacher in the Xavier Academy, as a mentor to some of the younger X-Men like Kitty Pride.

PREETI CHHIBBER: And across Storm's long Marvel history, she has lived many different lives, played many different roles. But no matter what she is inhabiting, she fully commits to that and fully lives in it.

ELLIE PYLE: And each of those different eras of Storm came with its own unique look a lot of times, which is one of the many ways in which she has had an enormous impact on pop culture.

PREETI CHHIBBER: Our fandom correspondent Faith talked to two huge Storm fans about why they love to cosplay her. First up, we'll hear Faith's conversation with the incredible drag queen, Dax ExclamationPoint.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: I am a cosplayer. I am a drag queen. I am an Illustrator and a graphic designer. But mostly, I'm just a giant nerd and a cat mom. That's very important.

PREETI CHHIBBER: You might have seen Dax on season eight of RuPaul's Drag Race.

FAITH: So how long have you been doing cosplay and what made you want to start cosplaying in the first place? I know you do drag as well. So which came first? How did that tie in together?

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: I mean, I would say in a lot of ways, drag and cosplay both go hand in hand. I mean, I've been doing drag for minimum 20 years. I mean, it began with Halloween costumes and The Rocky Horror Picture--

FAITH: Oh, yes.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: --Show. I was part of a cast in Savannah, Georgia, and that's how it began in drag, by playing Frank-N-Furter every Friday night for a number of years. But essentially, I only began doing drag because I wanted to be Storm.

FAITH: Really?

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: Yeah. I mean, my aesthetic has always been pretty much based around how Storm looks, dresses, moves, all of that. So I mean, I always just wanted to be Storm. And then one day, I just decided that, why am I trying to be like a typical drag performer when I don't want to be Beyonce. She's fantastic. I love her. We already have one. She's alive and well. I don't want to be like a living pop star. I'd rather be a drawing. So I just devoted myself more to that as opposed to more typical drag numbers or costumes and that kind of thing.

FAITH: Speaking of your Storm costumes, you are in one right now. You're in your Storm cosplay right now, and I can see it, and I can see how fabulous you look. But could you describe it for the listeners who can't see you?

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: Yeah. It's essentially a standard X-Men training uniform with the blue and the gold that Storm has worn several times. She's had it with short hair. She had with longer hair. She had it with ponytail. So we're doing the longer version today because I couldn't find my short hair. I put it somewhere and I've lost it.

[LAUGHTER]

But yeah. I mean, this is now-- like the training uniform is just a nice simple standard X-Men look that I love. Because people don't really do them very often because they aren't necessarily like so specific, but I love a team matching individuality thing. I love it.

FAITH: What was it about Storm that drew you into her? You said you always wanted to be her. Was it a particular comic run? Was it just her vibes or?

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: I mean, listen, it's all about the hair and the shoes and the legs. Let's be real. My first issue of X-Men was Uncanny X-Men 300 by John Romita Jr. So the way he drew her with her massive hair and her double capes. Like, who's wearing two capes? Why? Do you need two capes? No, but I'm wearing them!

FAITH: Yeah.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: And her giant boots, and the area where she had the sash belt. It was still the Jim Lee costume with the sash belt instead and the bigger shoulders. So that is what got me into it first, just her aesthetic and just the way she looked. Cheekbones, eyebrows, this massive cloud of hair, like all of those things were really what got me interested when I was like eight years old. And then more than that, it's like, I've always said Storm is like aspirational really because she can do it all.

She can rule a country, rule a planet, marry some dude, divorce some dude, fight some morlocks, go to space. All while in heels and with her hair being amazing. So [LAUGHS] I mean, if there's anything that I want to be able to do in my life, it's that. To be stunning at all times and handle literally everything while keeping solid composure. Even though I might be freaking out internally, you'll never know.

FAITH: Yes.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: Because if I do freak out, we might lose Malaysia. I'm just saying, you never know.

FAITH: In terms of your first Storm comic and all the ones to come since, how did you approach picking the designs to bring to life?

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: Yeah. I've just always wanted to have all of her costumes, basically. So my whole goal is to one day own all of her costumes. I am-- I want to say 9 in now?

FAITH: That's amazing.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: I really want to start doing a whole arc of her less popular or lesser-known costumes. The ones she wore for three issues or a single panel. My favorite one, of course, being the Moscow nights era. The purple one.

FAITH: Yes. The purple--

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: The purple one.

FAITH: Yes!

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: That no one could draw twice. Oh, I love that one so much. It's my favorite one.

FAITH: Oh my god, that would be fabulous.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: I mean, I've been wearing a lot of the Worlds Apart Storm lately. My most recent/least recent Storm costume, it was one of the first official Storm looks I made years and years ago. I want to say 2009-ish, '11-ish, somewhere in that area. I just wanted to do a redo. I wanted just to-- now that I can actually sew, I'm like “let me remake the whole thing because I have the time and the fabric right here. Let's just go.”

FAITH: Yeah.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: And I really want to do the Jim Lee design again. I want to do more of the Romita take on it. I've done it before in silver. I really want to do it in-- I want a gunmetal gray. But I'm also cool with like Marvel's Capcom Street Fighter alternate color idea. Do it in pink, but metallic.

FAITH: Honestly, mixing it up is all of the-- I feel like that's so much of the fun of cosplay and I think that brings in that drag element of bringing extra bits of creativity. Obviously, you have these genius designs by these artists, but adding your own little punch to it.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: And you have to obviously think of actual wearability and actual functionality because they're just drawn on. I do X-Men: Red Storm. I have that costume as well. And while I love that costume, her headpiece makes literally zero sense.

FAITH: [LAUGHS]

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: It's like a circlet, but also not connected, but also holds her hair up. No, no, no, no, no. I love that costume because the suit is comfortable to wear and it's just an obvious Storm look, but that headpiece makes me never want to wear her unless I have time to really wrangle it into my head with enough pins and wire and an extra pair of hands would be great. But it has to be a drag queen because no one else gets it. [LAUGHS] And so we don't wear her very often, no.

FAITH: No, and it make's sense.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: But I have it.

FAITH: Right. You add it to the shelf and you say, I've been there, done that.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: Yeah. You can draw it onto a body if you want to. But as far as wearing it in real life, it's going to take a whole system of literally invisible rigging that doesn't seem complex. But then once you get into it, it's like, “oh, wait, there's physics that exist. I forgot.” [LAUGHS]

FAITH: We have to obey the laws of gravity, I guess. [LAUGHS]

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: Yeah. Or the time limits of adhesive functionality.

FAITH: Oh God.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: [LAUGHS]

FAITH: So I've seen on social media, you say that her Mohawk look is your personal favorite. Why do you love that so much? Is it because of the hair? Is it the outfits that come with it?

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: A little of both. I mean, it debuted the year that I was born, so--

FAITH: Oh, I love that.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: --it's my Zodiac sign, obviously. But also, I mean, I've always had punk roots essentially. I used to go to a lot of shows when I was younger. I have a Mohawk under this hat that I'm wearing right now, and I've had it forever. Because the only haircut that I found that I liked. And also, it's really hard to transition out of a Mohawk.

FAITH: Yeah.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: You either have to shave your head completely or just go through an awkward phase it lasts for years. So I'm just like, this is my hair forever now. Oh, well, [LAUGHS] a choice I made at 19 follows me forever. Oh, no, that never happens.

FAITH: [LAUGHS]

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: So yeah. I mean, it's just always been my go-to. I always had goth-leaning punk roots. I wore a lot of black. So it's that kind of thing. And just was one of the looks that it was just so different, especially for a Black female character to have, especially at that time period. A Black femme character with obvious subculture or alternative leading kind of fashion. It wasn't expected. It wasn't typical. Kitty Pride cried her eyes when she first saw it. I mean, I get it. I get it. It's a shock.

But also, I always love how Storm does have that angry side to her. I mean, she holds it well and she doesn't pop off at everybody around her who pisses her off. She knows who she's mad at, and she knows why she feels the way she feels. But it's not your fault, she's not going to antagonize you for it. So I mean, we're just giving her that edge to her and having that difference in the character compared to how she was first introduced as being this like angelic kind of ethereal--

FAITH: Very--

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: --goddess--

FAITH: --grand.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: --figure.

FAITH: Yeah.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: Yeah. And her being like, “but I'm more than that. That's just because I have great hair and I can fly.” And her just taking control over her appearance and the way she was perceived by people around her that they just put all these things on her. She didn't ask for it. She just woke up one day and they're like, “oh, so you're a goddess, cool.” And she's like, “if you say so.”

FAITH: Sure.

[LAUGHTER]

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: Like, sure. And that's drag.

FAITH: Yeah, absolutely.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: That's literally drag.

FAITH: No, I was going to say, is that reminds me of drag and this idea of stepping outside of the boundaries that people set or people expect of you. And as we start to wrap up, I'd love for you to just give a shout out and say where people can find you on social media, the next Storm cosplay coming up for you.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: Yeah. I mean, I can be found on all sorts of media platforms as @daxclamation. That's D-A-X-C-L-A-M-A-T-I-O-N.

FAITH: Awesome. Well, it was so lovely getting to talk to you, and I hope you have an awesome rest of your day.

DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: Thank you so much for having me.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

PREETI CHHIBBER: Dax mentioned Storms iconic Mohawk. Readers might remember it from the early 80s and the Uncanny X-Men number 173 when Storm returned from Japan with a new punk outfit and a new punk hairdo.

ELLIE PYLE: So many fans love the Mohawk look. To learn more about Storm's hair, Faith, also sat down with Vickie Bane, a cosplayer who specializes in hair and wigs.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

VICKIE BANE: I have been cosplaying for 21 big years. Pretty much anything that you can think of to do for cosplay, I've definitely done it-- foamsmithing, fabric work, I've been 3D printing recently, which is-- it's so much fun to just be able to think of something and be able to make it. It's so wild. It's so wild. But my specialty is in wig styling. So, I've done so many different types of wigs. It's so much fun. I love wig styling so much because it's just like, you can have a really crisp, clean costume. But then once you put that wig on, and it just completes the look. It is just like, oh, chef's kiss.

FAITH: Yeah. So much of the effort you see people in these really extravagant costumes and then they don't put the work into the wig and you're like, oh, it's just-- it's the last little piece.

VICKIE BANE: Little piece, yeah, exactly.

[LAUGHTER]

FAITH: And so was it wig styling that drew you to cosplay in the first place or what kind of was your gateway?

VICKIE BANE: I think for me, it was so random because I had gone to A-Kon ages ago, and I wasn't wearing a costume. It was my first convention ever to go to. And I was looking around. I was like, “holy cow, there are so many people in all of these costumes” and I was talking to them. And they're like, “yeah, I made this myself!” I was like, “you made that?”

And it was so serendipitous because I had just, just learned how to sew in high school. And I was like, “I can do this.” So, the next time I went, that was like-- I was like determined to be part of the cool club with a costume. So, I was super jazzed. It was really rough, but also, I had a blast doing it, and I've never looked back.

FAITH: Yeah. I feel like so much of that joy is getting to put that character on for a little bit in something that you love so much. And so obviously, today we're talking a bit about Storm. And so, what draws you to Storm in particular as a character, as a wig maker, as a creator?

VICKIE BANE: I feel like this is a shared experience with everybody who loves this character, but she's just-- she's so relatable. She's so complex. She's got so many different facets to her. And when I was first introduced to her, I was watching the 90s animation, and I was blown away by how just-- I don't even know. She's Just such an amazing character, and so well-written.

And there's so much depth to her character that it really resonates with me and a lot of different people from all walks of life. I feel like she's one of those characters that so many people are drawn to just because of her story and her background and her strength and her vulnerability. And her outfits and her hairstyles, oh, I can't-- the costume that I've done the most, I've made it like over a couple of different times. But her 90s, the silver or white--

FAITH: Yes!

VICKIE BANE: --leotard, the catsuit with like the big hair, I love that hair. That's one of my favorite looks of hers because it's just so majestic. It's so awesome.

FAITH: So you say that's the one you've made over and over again. Like--

VICKIE BANE: Mhm.

FAITH: --how have you approached building that and building upon maybe your previous creations or picking out different designs?

VICKIE BANE: So, for that specific one, it was one of those ones where I was like, OK, her hair is basically like a cloud.

[LAUGHTER]

So I wanted to make sure that I got-- there's a technique that you can use where you heat up the fibers and then you tease it back, and then you like comb it out and it's big and fluffy. So I did all of that, the whole thing. I actually put two wigs together. [LAUGHS] I took wefts out of 1 and sewed them into another just to make sure that I had all the volume I needed. And after I teased it, I curled it up and I brushed out the curls.

I went through two cans of hairspray just to make sure I had the hold. [LAUGHS] But yeah, the first time, it was good, but it wasn't perfect because there was just some shape to it that I could have done a little bit better. So the second time, I made sure to pluck the hairline because she has a widow's peak a little bit. So I did that, and then that one little piece that comes down and it's curly, [LAUGHS] that was perfection. [LAUGHS] And I was like, yes, this is it. This is it.

FAITH: That is like, not a small undertaking as far as wigs go. And we talked a little bit about how significant the wig is in topping off a costume and something like that. So if you wouldn't mind, I'd love to hear what you think about the significance of wigs and hair in representing characters and particularly Black characters like Storm and how that feels for you.

VICKIE BANE: I think that one of the things-- a uniform on a character, that might be their only thing that they wear, but you'll always recognize a character by their hairstyle. You can always look at the back of somebody's head and be like, that's that character, that's this character. I mean, you can't mistake Storm's big hair for anything else. [LAUGHS]

I mean, and her Mohawk, I feel like that was another thing that really drew me to that character too, is the way that her hairstyles change and her expression with that. That actually really helped me in finding comfortability with my self-expression too because she changed her hair to that iconic Mohawk and it was so free and so amazing. And it helped me to branch out into that. I felt a little bit closed off in myself, and I was like, “let's just try something wild.”

And I think I had an undercut for a really long time, and I was like, “yeah, I'm rocking this.” But it was so confident. And I feel like for a lot of POC characters too, when they are represented with natural hairstyles and cornrows, dreadlocks, it's one of those things that I think is really important to see because that representation of natural hairstyles in media is so important because it's sometimes you feel pressured like you want to straighten your hair, which is-- that's fine.

But you shouldn't feel pressured to do so. That should be a decision that you want to make. If you want to wear cornrows, wear cornrows. That character has cornrows, you want to be that character, boom, you've got it. There's so much importance in making sure that there's different types represented in all sorts of media so that you can feel comfortable finding a character that you like and feel comfortable in yourself too.

I think it helps a lot to help find a place in your community too. The cosplay community can be kind of a rough place. But once you have that sense of togetherness, that sense of belonging, it really helps improve your confidence, I feel like, and let you take risks with things and come more into yourself I think.

FAITH: Yeah. And it's what you said. I mean, so much of media is seeing characters or storylines that we see ourselves in or see people we would like to be a little bit more like and allows us to accept pieces of ourselves. That's one of my favorite things about media as a whole. So I think that's such a good point. And so just if you want to give us a few insider tips, I'd love to know how you would go about creating a wig for that Mohawk. Because Mohawks are scary wig material. [LAUGHS]

VICKIE BANE: So big secret, I've actually made a Mohawk for her before. I made a cosplay of her when she was the goddess of thunder when Loki gave her Stormcaller. So I had a bald cap, which was the most intimidating thing I've ever had to put on ever. It's so difficult. But if you have somebody to help you, it's so much easier. It's so much easier.

But what I ended up doing was I just took the sides off of the wig, I took all the wefts off of the sides that I took off, I sewed them into the top that I had left and then around the sides, and then I just put spirit gum on the bottom, stuck it right onto the bald cap, and it was perfect. It was perfect. The bald cap was a little rough. I'm not going to pretend like it wasn't because it was the first time I'd ever done it, but it was super convincing.

I had the little headband to hide some of my crimes. [LAUGHS] But the Mohawk is one of those-- it's like, how am I supposed to do this? What am I supposed to do? But once you break it down and really look at it from, “OK, here's this side, here's that side, this isn't really that bad.” It's not as hard as it seems once you get into it.

FAITH: Yeah. It's a bit like Storm. It's like you look at it it's like, wow, this is overwhelming. But you have the pieces.

VICKIE BANE: Exactly

[LAUGHTER]

FAITH: And so for the people listening at home, I'd love if you could shout out where they can find you on social media and find some of your amazing work.

VICKIE BANE: Sure. I am on Instagram @VickieBane. I'm also on TikTok @VickieBane. I have a YouTube channel, I believe that's VickieBane9. If you search for it there or just Victoria Bane if you search in YouTube. Those are the main places where you can find me, especially recently on TikTok. I'm trying to get more into TikTok. I was a late adopter, so I'm trying to get in there. [LAUGHS]

FAITH: Well, it was so lovely getting to talk to you today, Vickie.

VICKIE BANE: You too.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

 

PREETI CHHIBBER: Oh my god, it's number one Storm fan, Brad Barton!

 

BRAD BARTON: [SHOUTING] Whoa!!! [LARGE CRASH] Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. I tried to use the poof sound effect, but it didn't work.

ELLIE PYLE: That's only for official correspondents.

BRAD BARTON: Oh. Also, Storm is awesome, but I wouldn't say I'm her number one fan. My favorite character is actually-- oh, no!! [LARGE, LOUD CRASH] Oh. Oh. Ow. What happened? Where did I go?

ISABEL ROBERTSON [DISTORTED AUDIO]: Sorry, that was me. I pressed the wrong sound effect button.

PREETI CHHIBBER: Oh. Brad is our senior development manager. He told us that he really likes the show so far and has an idea.

ELLIE PYLE: Ten seconds, Brad. We'd have given you more, but these shenanigans cost time and money. What would you like to tell the listeners at home?

BRAD BARTON: OK. Can I be today's weather correspondent?

ELLIE PYLE: Sure. Why not?

BRAD BARTON: It's sunny!

PREETI CHHIBBER: Thanks, Brad.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

ELLIE PYLE: Storm is a powerful mutant and a mighty leader. It's not hard to see why a lot of characters within the Marvel Universe assumed she was a goddess. Author Tiffany Jackson is exploring exactly that in her upcoming young adult novel, Storm: Dawn of a Goddess.

TIFFANY JACKSON: Hi. My name is Tiffany T. Jackson. I am a young adult author, and I've written a YA Storm book called Storm: Dawn of a Goddess. And it starts off when she's very young, and we see her grasp and grow into her power and the journey she takes to get there. So you open the page, and you first start off when Ororo is nine years old, and you get to meet her parents.

And so you see the complexities of where she got some of her love for culture, her intelligence, her beauty from both her mother and her father who were living in Cairo at the time. And then you dive into the horrific death of her parents as well too, and you see some of the origins of her claustrophobia.

I basically made a conscious effort to start off early because I think that it really kind of explains everything else that you witness about Storm throughout her entire journey. It was amazing to go back into her history, especially follow her footsteps as well too. She definitely found her footing in Cairo, Egypt, so I was able to go there. Her family is from Kenya, so I was able to go there.

It was a lot of going back into that and diving into what it was like to potentially be this goddess in the midst of all these mortals and finding your power at such a young age as well too. You also get a chance to see her fall in love for the first time as well too. A lot of people don't know this, but like T'Challa was actually her first love. This is even before they actually got married later on, and people don't know that.

They actually had a history where they were each other's first loves at a very young age. So it's really fun. I hope everyone falls -- or falls back in love with Storm and remind yourself the thing that keeps running back in her mind is that in the very beginning, she was very fine just being a pickpocketer. She was very fine running the streets.

But there was always a voice inside her that said, you were meant to be a part of something bigger. And so that pushes her on this journey outside of just outstanding circumstances, which you will read in the book. And I feel like every kid has that voice in them. So she's not much different than the rest of us. So that feeling of, “oh, I was supposed to do something else” that pushes you towards a dream.

ELLIE PYLE: Brad? We already did your segment.

BRAD BARTON: [SHOUTING, WIND BLOWING] It's raining now!

PREETI CHHIBBER: If I didn't know any better, I'd think Storm was actually manipulating the weather.

ELLIE PYLE: I think Brad finally got a hold of the sound effects board.

PREETI CHHIBBER: But, did you know that scientists are actually manipulating the weather in the real world right now just like Storm? One way they do that is through something called cloud seeding. The practice is complicated, and not without controversy. Our producer, Isabel, sat down with an expert to get the scoop. Fittingly, they actually had the conversation outside, so you might hear some birds.

[BIRDS CHIRPING]

ISABEL ROBERTSON: Could you start off by just introducing yourself to our listeners and telling them what you do?

KATJA FRIEDRICH: Yeah. My name is Katja Friedrich, and I'm a professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder. And my area of expertise or my specialty is anything related with severe weather, severe hail storms, severe thunderstorms, severe snow storms. We're looking at how hail is produced in thunderstorms, but we also look at processes that occur in clouds that produce snow. And lately, we have a project on cloud seeding. So we are putting silver iodide in clouds to make them snow or precipitate.

ISABEL ROBERTSON: So we, of course, have this character Storm who we're talking about for much of this episode who-- her whole deal is manipulating the weather, making it snow, making it rain, making wind blow. And from what I understand, cloud seeding is as close as we can get as humans to doing what Storm can do. Can you explain what that is and how that helps us as humans - without Storm’s Super Powers - manipulate the weather?

KATJA FRIEDRICH: [LAUGHS] Yeah. So I mean, again, we're trying to manipulate the weather. I mean, some people think that we can really-- I mean, make it rain in snow as we want to, but it's actually pretty complicated, and I can tell you in a minute why that is. So what cloud seeding basically is, we are trying to squeeze all the water out of clouds.

So clouds are made out of tiny liquid, and that's why we see them as white little puffy things in the air. But really these particles, whether it's ice or whether it is water, they're too small and too light to really fall onto the ground. And when they actually start to grow bigger, they then turn into either rain, or snow, or hail or whatever precipitation we have.

So what we are trying to do with cloud seeding is we have these clouds that we know contain a lot of water, and we are trying basically to turn this water into ice, and then have this ice stick together and form snowflakes. So cloud seeding is a really wide area. So you can try to cloud seed and get water clouds to rain. You can cloud seed and get snow clouds to produce snow.

But the underlying idea is to squeeze the water out of the clouds, and that's usually done in areas that are struggling by droughts that have really a water problem. And so for instance, what we are doing, we are cloud seeding in the West. And what we're trying to do is to increase the snowpack in the winter because we want to use the snowpack as an easy way to store water. And then as the snowpack melts, it basically fills the reservoirs and it can be used for agriculture.

ISABEL ROBERTSON: How much water or precipitation can you generate this way?

KATJA FRIEDRICH: That's a very good question because that is really one of the big research questions. So cloud seeding was basically discovered in the 1940s, and it was discovered-- in a lab in an indoor lab where we understand the physics behind it. Now when we take cloud seeding outside in nature, it's becoming really complicated because we don't really know how much water is in the cloud. We don't really know how much we can get these snow particles to stick.

And that's why cloud seeding has been so controversial because in the 1940s when we discovered how cloud seeding works, it was a little bit oversold. It was said, yeah, we can manipulate the weather, we can get all this water. Drought is not a problem anymore. And then the reality was a little bit different also because we didn't really have the measurement instruments to do that. But overall, I have to say as a scientist, there's a lot of open questions and one open question is really how much water we can produce.

However, cloud seeding is being used in a lot of areas that are under drought conditions. So usually, the argument is, any drop that we can produce on top of what we have is actually a good thing and it's worth doing. How much you can produce out of this cloud seeding process really also depends on the storm.

So, we had a study in 2017 where we were cloud seeding Idaho, and we basically had-- we could show in three cases on three days that what we produced snowing was just generated from cloud seeding. And again, we were usually cloud seeding for one hour, and we could generate an amount of water over an area about 100 by 100km that range between 90 to 150 Olympic size swimming pools--

ISABEL ROBERTSON: Wow.

KATJA FRIEDRICH: --equivalent to the water that are in 90 to 150 swimming pools. Again, if you look at this in the-- I mean, how much you really produce over the entire area is really not a lot. But again, these clouds are seeded through the entire winter. So initially, you might just produce a little bit per event. But overall, you can actually produce a lot.

ISABEL ROBERTSON: Wow, I have so many questions.

[LAUGHTER]

So what are some of the limitations of this? I mean, you mentioned doing cloud seeding for an hour and getting a certain amount of precipitation. What are some of the boundaries that you have to work within in terms of how often and for how long and when you can do this?

KATJA FRIEDRICH: Well, we are really comfortable where we know it is working actually pretty well is in these orographic wintertime clouds. So orographic means these are clouds that are generated in the mountains, and they occur in the winter. And what we are targeting is basically clouds that have supercooled liquid, so tiny, tiny water droplets that are floating around subfreezing. So below the freezing point.

These are the clouds that we target, we're putting in silver iodide, and that basically makes these clouds or these ice droplets freeze, and then they stick together and they come down as rain. So then there are two types how you can cloud seed. You can either put silver iodide on an airplane and you're firing up the silver and you're burning silver iodide so you're flying through the cloud. So that's a pretty solid method of doing, but it's pretty expensive because you have to fly out, and you have a certain limit time-wise that you can fly.

Another method is that you basically burn the silver on the ground and then generate silver iodide. You hope that the silver iodide is being lifted with some updrafts into the cloud. Of course, there are a lot of people are concerned about that. We're putting silver iodide in the atmosphere and that we're manipulating the weather. But usually, you put the substance in the cloud, and then it precipitates out. So after one or two hours, everything is out of the system.

Again, this is relatively inexpensive, because everything is on the ground, but again, there's a lot of uncertainty. Does the material get into the right spot at the right time? So we're using numerical models of weather forecasting to basically target the time when we have most of the supercooled liquid. We still need to have big storms coming in.

So in the case of Idaho or the Western US, you still need to have these big Pacific storms coming in, and then maybe we would cloud seed ahead of those storms when we have these type of clouds. So we know what are the conditions that we need in order to cloud seed, and then we would cloud seed for one or two hours.

ISABEL ROBERTSON: So unlike Storm, there have to be clouds and systems already in place to pull additional precipitation from, is that right?

KATJA FRIEDRICH: That is correct. And sometimes it's even hard for us to really determine when it works and when it doesn't work.

ISABEL ROBERTSON: Are there other ways that scientists are currently or are thinking about in the future controlling or changing the weather, and what do some of those other things look like?

KATJA FRIEDRICH: So model modification really is being used for precipitation, not so much for wind or any other solar radiation or temperature or something like that most of the time it's being used to address precipitation, either produce more or reduce it or reduce hailstones or something like that. Cloud seeding is also being used to remove fog around airports. Because again, fog is tiny, tiny water droplets, and airports don't want to have fog.

So what do you do again, you're putting agents into the fog, and you make these tiny droplets basically grow or merge together to water droplets that then fall out. So that's another way where you can use the idea of cloud seeding or weather modification for a purpose. But what-- where really this modification comes into is when we talk about climate modification.

Is there a way where we can modify the climate, specifically cooling the atmosphere and just basically counter the heating of the atmosphere? So again, there are ideas of maybe putting particles high up in the atmosphere so that the sunlight is scattered and it doesn't hit all the surface so we are basically preventing heating. I mean, this is a lot of scientific things. There's nothing really in action because it has a much, much bigger, broader political impact than cloud seeding that you can do in a relatively small area.

ISABEL ROBERTSON: This is all so fascinating, and I can't help thinking it would be so much easier if we had Storm here to just make it rain! You wouldn't have to do all this!

KATJA FRIEDRICH: And she might have some good ideas.

[LAUGHTER]

ISABEL ROBERTSON: Well, this was so, so great. Professor Friedrich, thank you so much for joining us. If people want to find you online and learn more about your research and your work, where should they go?

KATJA FRIEDRICH: They can just go to clouds.colorado.edu. That's my website, and there's everything explained. Also, other topics that we are covering, and there's also more about cloud seeding and there's a lot of podcasts and news articles about our work and people can follow us.

ISABEL ROBERTSON: Well, thank you so much.

KATJA FRIEDRICH: Thank you.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

 

ELLIE PYLE: So it sounds like we can manipulate weather in the real world, but it's a lot harder and more unpredictable than Storm’s power.

PREETI CHHIBBER: If we need more Storm in our lives -- which obviously we do, there's never enough Storm -- where should we look?

ELLIE PYLE: Our Marvel Unlimited reading guide, Preeti. All right, Robyn, what turbulent tales do you have for us today?

ROBYN BELT: I'll preface this by saying that the following list is presented in chronological order. And for this particular list, I do recommend reading in chronology because it starts to fill out Storm's history more and more. We fill in the pieces as we move on in the list. And we are starting it off with Storm's origin issue in Uncanny X-Men issue 102 from the X-men's first volume. This is Storm's definitive origin.

We find out what that watershed event was in her childhood that causes her claustrophobia today. That's something she struggles with deeply. And we also find out about her parents. Her dad being American, her mother being Kenyan, and what happened to her as a child in Cairo, and her interconnected history with the Shadow King. So I love this. To understand Storm, I think this is a key issue.

We continue our list with my favorite issue. I love the Lifedeath arc. The first part of this actually starts in Uncanny X-Men issue 186, and that is when Storm is depowered. There was a mishap with the mutant forge who's a technarch. He can control all sorts of technology. One thing leads to another, and Storm is inadvertently depowered. And this is who Storm is as a woman, as a person. Not just as a mutant powerhouse, but what drives her.

It's a vulnerable chapter for her, but a very important one. The second part of Lifedeath continues in Uncanny X-Men issue 198. I call this her spirit quest issue. I think it really is a mythic journey for her. Storm is basically wandering through this windswept desert in Africa. She is separated from the X-Men. She is going on her own journey, and it's a very feverish issue where she confronts her own death. She hallucinates and sees the X-Men. She is pushed to the very edge.

But she also discovers that even without her mutant powers, she is a giver and a breather of life. By the end of this issue, she saves an infant. She helps a woman safely deliver a baby, and then saves this child's life by physically breathing life into his lungs. This is big goddess energy. It shows you that Storm can command the elements, but she is at her core utterly heroic, a leader, and someone with just this powerful elemental relationship to her surroundings.

PREETI CHHIBBER: Issues like this are always some of my favorites for when heroes are stripped down to the bare essentials of who they are because that's so much of what Marvel heroes are. It's like they're the person. Who are they maybe if they're not-- if they don't have these extraordinary powers? And they're still heroic, and they're still incredible. So yes, more of this.

ROBYN BELT: Can't recommend Lifedeath enough. The next issue on our list, Storm issue 9 from her 2014 run. I include it because I love Storm and Gambit together. I think they're a really cool team up. These two have an intertwined history because Storm was a pivotal part of Gambit's first ever appearance in Marvel Comics and Uncanny X-Men 266.

So he met Storm when she was de-aged. He saved her from the hounds of Shadow King, and the two went off and had these thieving and heisting adventures together, which continues to this day. It's a great team-up issue. This is also a heist, and it is not disappointing at all. These two have an excellent dynamic.

I love that Gambit brings out Storm's mischievous side, which is very much present. I think we always think of her as very regal and restrained, and that's a key part of who she is. Because I think if she were to lose control, then everyone suffers for that with her kind of powers. But I love that Gambit brings out the mischief in her, and it's a whole lot of fun.

ELLIE PYLE: It's one of those pairings that you wouldn't think would work, but it absolutely does, and I also kind of love that because they met when she was de-aged. There's a little bit of that and why it brings out the mischievous nature in her too that -- on the one hand, who wouldn't be mischievous around Gambit? On the other hand, it is tapping back into this younger version of herself who he initially became friends and had these adventures with.

ROBYN BELT: Yeah. He brings out the inner child. The next issue takes us to the world of Wakanda, another place where Storm has a very pivotal role. This is Black Panther, issue 18 from the 2005 run, and this is the issue that spiritually connects Ororo to Wakanda. Prior to the wedding of Storm and Black Panther, this is a pretrial before that giant big royal wedding.

Ororo goes through an initiation rite to become the wife of the Black Panther by meeting the Panther god Bast who is the deity of Wakanda. And where Bast has been judgmental of others who have met the deity, including Shuri, Bast is a huge fan of Ororo. Right off the bat, Bast is like, yeah, you're in. You're cool. I'm into this.

PREETI CHHIBBER: Relatable.

ELLIE PYLE: Yeah. Goddess recognizes goddess energy.

ROBYN BELT: Yeah.

PREETI CHHIBBER: [LAUGHS]

ROBYN BELT: This is her spiritual connection to Wakanda. This is her divine connection to Wakanda. And she is fully given the seal of approval and marries Black Panther, T'Challa, in an absolutely gorgeous celebrity super heroic royal wedding for the ages. I think it stands as the royal wedding in Marvel Comics canon.

ELLIE PYLE: Well, and even though their marriage doesn't necessarily last, that connection endures.

ROBYN BELT: Yes, and it takes on a different shape, both sometimes romantic, usually platonic now, but we're back on a romance track with these two. They're my favorite power couple, I think, because they're so bound by duty and responsibility, and they know that their love story is much bigger than themselves. So what Storm feels she has owed to Krakoa is what T'Challa owes to Wakanda.

These are two people bound by their roles to their people. And I think it's that connection that really speaks to why they've endured. They get each other. It's a very adult relationship.

The next issue on our list is X-Men: Red, issue 1. This is from 2022. This is a great run for Storm. This firmly cements her as the ruler of Arakko, a.k.a. the planet Mars, which mutantkind commandeered in the first ever Hellfire Gala.

We find out just how Krakoa and all of mutantkind basically Terraform the planet Mars for their own citizens and for their own use. And even set up portals on Mars to connect to Krakoa. So this is the X-Men going interplanetary, and Storm is at the helm of that. So the displaced Arakkii mutants - you'll meet them in the 10 of Swords event collected in full on Marvel Unlimited - Planet Arakko becomes their home in X-Men: Red and becomes the capital of the solar system, and Storm is elected to be the regent of Arakko, the voice of soul.

So if we didn't know, she was a queen already. Now she's basically ruling the planet Mars as well. She can add that to the list. This concludes our Marvel Unlimited reading list. Again, you can read these in chronological order as recommended, and we're going to bundle up this list for you along with the episode so that you can follow along if you didn't catch it here.

ELLIE PYLE: Thank you so much, Robyn. As always, I have a ton of rereading to do right now. But next week on Women of Marvel, we are going to be talking about one of my very favorite characters. We're going to be talking about a little bit of romance and other types of relationships, and why they might look a little different . . . if you're Rogue.

PREETI CHHIBBER: Until then, Women of marvel is produced by Isabel Robertson, Zachary Goldberg, Ellie Pyle, and Preeti Chhibber.

ELLIE PYLE: Our senior manager of audio development is Brad Barton, production manager is Emily Godfrey, and our executive producer is Jill Duboff.

PREETI CHHIBBER: Special thanks to our comics correspondent Robyn Belt, and our fandom correspondent Faith D’Isa.

ELLIE PYLE: Listen weekly on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. I'm Ellie Pyle.

PREETI CHHIBBER: And I'm Preeti Chhibber.

ELLIE PYLE: And this is Marvel--

PREETI CHHIBBER: --your universe.

Women of Marvel: Storm
Women of Marvel: Storm
Storm was worshipped as a goddess across the African continent and her influence on the real world is just as powerful! Examine Ororo Munroe’s hurricane-force impact on the Marvel Universe—and on popular culture—with some of our favorite comic stories starring this X-Men leader and regent.
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