Greg Pak and Victor Ibañez's "Storm" #2 finds Storm determined to make a difference in small ways even if it means taking some unexpected detours as she searches for balance in her life after too many restrictions and too much heartbreak. Storm's attempt to find a missing girl leads her to facing long held fears, as well as her old nemesis Callisto, both of which she approaches in a smart, honest way.
Wolverine's appearance is not unexpected since he's a character that shows up in every book possible and he obviously has strong ties to Storm, but it's easily the weakest part of the book. While Storm's complicated relationship with Callisto is well handled and her relationship with Beast has some energy and humor, Storm and Wolverine fizzle on the page, feeling cliché and primarily expositional in nature. The repeated focus on Storm as a "bad girl" or "good girl" is a miss. It seems to be aiming at either being sexy -- in which case it falls well short -- or to actually say something about what kind of a person Storm is, in which case it feels trite and painfully shallow. It's a particularly frustrating idea because in all other ways, Pak's interpretation of Storm is far more grey and complicated than anyone being resolutely "good" or "bad."
Despite these weaknesses, the continued development of Storm in this second issue is strong overall, and manages to suggest a good direction for the series, even though the first issues are largely insular. The history surrounding Storm and Callisto is so rich and complicated; one can only hope that this brief appearance is but the start of something larger down the line. Like the previous issue, Storm's focus seems to be on making a difference, even a small one, and admitting that some problems don't have answers, while others have unconventional solutions. It's a good approach to the character with lots of potential going forward.
It's hard to believe, but Ibañez's art is even stronger in this issue -- especially his work with Storm, which takes everything it got so right in the first issue and doubles down. Storm feels incredibly well-realized on the page, like a real person, rather than an idealized superhero-meets-supermodel type which is so common in superhero comics. Ibañez is in fact even better with Storm out of costume than in costume (the costume does look oddly unfinished without the cape, though that's no fault of Ibañez). Ibanez is equally skilled with Callisto -- a character that has frequently been "prettied up" since her debut. But Ibañez does a great job with her, embracing the rough edges and dark reality of the character, allowing her to feel as real and considered as Storm herself.
Beyond character, the storytelling is effortlessly clear throughout and Ibañez handles action scenes and emotional moments with equal ease. Ruth Redmond's colors are strong and she has a nicely realistic and restrained palette for the non-superhero stuff. As a good contrast, Redmond cuts loose in a rewarding way when the opportunity presents itself in the action scenes and even when underground, she doesn't let things get unreadably dark. Storm's lightning down in the sewers, which lights up the entire scene and blazes with white heat is excellent.
Though Pak and Ibañez's "Storm" #2 could use a bit more pop, it's a strong (if safe) start to a long overdue series for the character. These first issues feel like a solid base on which to build a book with long-range plans.