Ominous, metaphorical storm clouds have been gathering over Black Panther's Wakanda for some time now as the ancient Orisha have seemingly abandoned T'Challa and his people. But just as the old deities have disappeared, a new(ish) goddess is coming into her powers in Marvel's comics, and it's long overdue.
As is typically the case, Wakanda has been under assault from outsiders who want to see the powerful nation fall. In addition to a restored and significantly more powerful Ulysses Klaw attacking Wakanda, T'Challa and Shuri have been desperately trying to figure out why the ancient gods who once watched over the country have deserted them, making it possible for all manner of nefarious otherworldly creatures to cross over from the spiritual plane. Long before the first Wakandans settled on the land enriched by the vibranium mound, beings known as Originators lived in peace and harmony that would only be disturbed when the humans first arrived.
For a time, the early Wakandans were able to coexist with the Originators, but eventually, they declared war on their neighbours and were able to drive them away to another dimension. The sheer power of the Wakandans' faith in some of their earliest leaders is what transformed them into the Orisha (including Bast), and it's the Orisha's presence that acted as a kind of seal that kept the Originators locked away. With the Orisha missing and the Originators flooding through portals popping up randomly all over the country, many Wakandan people turned to a man known as Ras the Exhorter, who has been spreading the word of a supposed new god, Sefako.
As it turns out, the being calling itself Sefako was never a new god or Orisha, but actually the Adversary, the ancient agent of chaos who's often clashed with the X-Men in the past. All the bad mystical shit going down in Wakanda? It's the Adversary's doing.
Shuri attacking the Adversary with her griot powers.Illustration: Leonard Kirk, Marc Deering, Walden Wong, Laura Martin, Matt Milla (Marvel)
With the Adversary's role in Wakanda's troubles exposed, T'Challa and his allies finally have a clear target to attack, but what's less obvious is just how one would go about reversing the demon's magical impact on the world. Though the demon can be weakened by iron and vibranium, T'Challa's forces alone aren't quite able to drive the Adversary back - something that would require the strength of an equally-powerful divine being.
Though Storm was first introduced as a mutant back in 1975, over the decades the character has been revealed to have strong mystical potential that's usually seen in her alternate-dimension counterparts like Bloodstorm. In Black Panther #172, Ta-Nehisi Coates leans into this particular part of Storm's character in a big way when T'Challa reveals the final part of his plan to defeat the adversary.
As the king of Wakanda, T'Challa explains, he is the spiritual embodiment of the country and its people, something that allows him to imbue a hero with all of Wakanda's faith in the same way that the first Wakandans did in order to create the original Orisha. Bolstered by Wakanda's spiritual energy, Storm taps into the power of the Hadari Yao, a Wakandan mother-goddess figure who maintains the balance of all things, and makes quick work of the Adversary, banishing the Originators in the process.
Storm being powered by the faith of Wakanda.Illustration: Leonard Kirk, Marc Deering, Walden Wong, Laura Martin, Matt Milla (Marvel)
Though the specific nature of Storm's newfound (and perhaps temporary) abilities aren't fully explained, the Adversary and the Originators' defeat implies that for all intents and purposes, Storm is an Orisha now whose presence maintains the seal between worlds. It's a significant development for Storm that's likely to feature prominently in her upcoming solo series, but the most shocking of surprises Black Panther #172 delivers is far more mundane:
Storm and T'Challa deciding to get back together.Illustration: Leonard Kirk, Marc Deering, Walden Wong, Laura Martin, Matt Milla (Marvel)
Guess those crazy kids are going to give it another go.