Spirit of Polaris

You can’t kill an idea.

This is said so often that it comes off as cliche. But it means more than that. You can’t kill a soul. You can’t kill a heart. No matter what someone tries to do, there’s a permanence of a high ideal concept which cannot be destroyed, denied, or tarnished. It buries deep and persists no matter how far down bad actors dig to try to yank it out. Even if tiny traces remain, it will continue to play out.

Polaris is more than just a fictional character and the way a company writes her. She’s the heart of what people see and feel from her. She’s everything anyone needs. She’s a comfort to those who need to empathize. She’s an inspiration for those who need a boost in spirit.

Marvel can fuck up. Their fuck-ups will never take away what matters most.

A fan can dream. A fan can make, and imagine, and believe. Those are things Marvel can never take away, no matter how ignorant or regressive they choose to be.

While Marvel’s busy wasting time on power plays, dictating that X character is an omega but Y isn’t, how Q character that’s a pet favorite of theirs can be in everything but A character that people want can’t be in anything… Lorna’s giving people and the world what they need.

Which is so much more important than whether or not some asshole with a title sees what’s really going on. Or respects it at all.

This is why I’ve said the things I’ve said lately. Why my stance is what it is.

Lorna has transcended Marvel. Her value isn’t in if she had her annual cameo this week, or how many panels exist where she gets mansplained to.

I know this because no matter what Marvel tries to do, Lorna is still Lorna. They can’t make me lose sight of her worth and potential. No matter what happens, there will always be at least me. They can’t snuff that flame out. No matter how hard they try.

Mapping MarvelThink

For the fun of it, let’s take a look at Marvel thinking toward Polaris. The “logic” behind certain actions both done and possible, as well as defenses of Marvel behavior (past or potential).

1) “There isn’t enough interest in Lorna to justify using her”

If you take a real look around online, this is just patently false. Interest in Lorna is still high. When Gifted was doing well by her, she was all over the place, managing to garner far more attention and interest than anyone expected. There’s also been a general move in pop culture toward all the things Lorna best exemplifies when used well.

You have to be completely tone deaf about the current state of society to think Lorna has no place or use.

But even without that, Marvel’s not been shy about using and promoting plenty of other characters that don’t have anywhere near the same level of interest in them. Lockjaw got his own miniseries. So did Multiple Man. Marvel even created a miniseries for a brand new character they created only for that miniseries (Worst X-Man Ever). Basically, Marvel’s saying that a brand new character with almost no marketing who they will never use again somehow has more worth and interest than Lorna.

Without Gifted or anything else to go on, the argument would remain that Marvel needs to make at least one real attempt with her before they can safely consign her to the dungeon of nothing. Marvel has not done that. Therefore any argument of “no interest” in her is colossal bullshit.

2) “This fan is saying things we don’t like, so we’ll take it out on their favorite character”

This is in response to the idea that complaining about Marvel mistreating Lorna results in Marvel treating the character poorly, refusing to use her where appropriate or necessary, etc.

There are a lot of fans in the world. Fans have different viewpoints. It’s natural. One thinks something’s good, one thinks something’s bad, one eats cheese wheels all day. But it says something all on its own if Marvel is “punishing” all fans because they don’t like the words and actions of one or a few.

For one, it further demonstrates that they have no respect for Lorna or her worth. If a couple fans’ thoughts are enough to sour them on a whole ass character, they’re doing their jobs wrong and have no business working at Marvel. I manage to not blame Havok for the sins of creatives who have mistreated Lorna for his benefit; you don’t see me saying Havok should be blacklisted from comics because of that history. I recognize the character is separate from things I hate about his usage.

For two, it demonstrates a very clear lack of respect for fans and consumers as a whole. You have however many fans exist in the world who absolutely adore the character and see great things in her.

In the past 10 years, I’ve seen the kind of impact she has. I’ve felt moved by fans who said they have a figurine of her at their desk at work for emotional support. I’ve seen tattoos by people who cherish her enough to have her (or a symbol of her) inked onto their arms or legs. I’ve gotten pissed after learning that racists verbally abused a black Polaris fan for cosplaying as her.

If Marvel is ignoring aaaaallllll of those shows of fandom, all those life experiences, because they’re mad that I or any other fan is calling them out on poor behavior (even if they don’t think I’m valid in what I’m saying), then Marvel is a flat out shitty company. People behind those decisions don’t deserve to be in control of characters that hold so much meaning to fans.

Even if taking the POV of “Marvel can’t dignify fan demands cause they result in more,” it’s hardly dignifying fan demands to use Lorna where necessary. You don’t have to give Polaris a solo book to acknowledge that her time on Genosha was an essential character moment for her and use it in events where Genosha is important.

When you refuse to do the bare essentials because you don’t like one person demanding far more, you’re saying every single fan has no worth in your eyes and you do not respect them in any way.

3) “Her use in <insert old decade> is her best use and we must recapture it”

This is nostalgia talking. Pure and simple. There are certainly many things about Lorna’s history that can and should be used and explored, but it should never be about simply trying to copy-paste a time that some guy really liked when he was growing up. Progress is about moving forward, not looking back and drawing Twitter handles on an old picture.

4) “Fixing decades worth of problems would take too much time and effort”

This has two gaping hole fallacies.

One, it assumes that if you can’t fix every single problem then you shouldn’t attempt to fix anything. In reality, fixing one thing is better than fixing nothing. People of color who have been wronged in the United States will never see full reparations for all the harm done to them, but at least SOME things can be done, however small. Lorna’s situation obviously doesn’t compare, but the same basic logic applies.

Two, we go back to how this amounts to Marvel saying Lorna is a nobody character who doesn’t deserve good treatment. If this were someone like Jean Grey or Invisible Woman, Marvel would trip over themselves to clean up past messes because not doing so very visibly reflects poorly on them. It’s symptomatic of lack of respect for the character – and other characters like her.

5) “Now isn’t the right time, other things/characters take priority”

Okay then, when IS the right time?

Lorna’s existed since 1968. That’s 51 years. Does that mean there has been not a single month out of 612 months that fits as the right time for her? Will her time come 51 years from now? Will it come centuries from now when we’re all dead?

I used to think “Lorna needs X before Y is reasonable to ask for.” Then I saw them give minis to characters like Lockjaw and Multiple Man, and ignore her as part of the Magnus family and try to replace her, and undermine her to promote Havok on Blue and subsequent work.

I’ve learned that if you give Marvel an excuse to hold her back, they will absolutely run with it. An “unreasonable” demand is only “unreasonable” because Marvel thinks she doesn’t deserve that level of respect and likewise doesn’t have enough respect for her fans to pursue it.

This is everything I can think of at time of writing. I will add to this post if anything more comes to mind. Feel free to reach out via Tumblr/Twitter or the contact form on here if you have any I’ve missed.

Ramble on Polaris/Marvel

This has no special title because it’s a free flow of thoughts about the two. I don’t know where it’s going, it’s just going.

Lorna has more value that Marvel knows. That’s the biggest secret. She’s a flex point for much of the present and future, and the fact is, Marvel’s blindness means they don’t see just how much influence the character has. WITHOUT them.

Lorna doesn’t really need Marvel. Of course, I’ll still complain about poor treatment and disrespect by the company, but ultimately she’s doing her thing. She’s reaching people and entities Marvel can’t even see.

I know this fact because through my fandom, I see so much of what Lorna offers that Marvel doesn’t. I see the connections. The influence. They’re not looking at her, they’re looking at a mix of the broad strokes and other characters they like and care about more.

I used to push for Marvel to do various things. That changed the day an editor opened my eyes to an unwillingness at the company to really look at Lorna, look at interest and potential she has, and actually DO something with it. As in a real something. Not a “she has a few people who like her, let’s exploit that to make men look good” something.

I also used to think Lorna needed Marvel. But she has so much more than Marvel now. Fandom is bigger, better, more caring and more interested. There are people who have a deep-felt longing for the character, besides me. Her existence itself is helping and saving people in an indirect manner.

People steeped in Marvelthink think she needs Marvel, because that is the narrative Marvel pushes. Just like the narrative that they need to piss people off to generate sales. Or the narrative that you need to get X number of tweets personally sent to you to show interest. Or, back 10 years ago, the narrative that Marvel doesn’t care at all what happens online and isn’t affected in any way.

Marvel needs Lorna more than Lorna needs Marvel. It’s easy to think otherwise with sales numbers and hype and whatnot, but truth is bigger than these things. And the future is more complicated than this.

More importantly, Marvel is backwards. There are so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so many cases I’ve seen over the past 10 years of Marvel missing beats. Failing to catch and utilize golden important opportunities that should’ve been slam dunks. I have always focused on Lorna when I said that, but it doesn’t stop at Lorna.

Marvel’s behavior concerning Lorna is just a taste of who they are. Sometimes they do things for the appearance of progress and change, but it’s always shallow. And you have to ask, how they can possibly know Lorna well enough to use her potential when they refuse to get to know her. To understand why she has the fandom she does. To acknowledge the most important elements of who she is and what she’s done.

Lorna is better than the company that owns the rights to her. And I’ve stopped wanting to play Marvel’s games. I’d rather go outside them and break the artificial barriers they try to maintain.

But a lot of what’s happening right now is invisible, and timed. Development is not forced or rushed. That’s when mistakes happen. It needs to unfold naturally.

That’s the end of my ramble.

Predictability Isn’t Inherently Bad

I’m waiting for my Sam in Death Stranding to finish sleeping, so now’s a good time to make a post that’s suddenly on my mind.

Predictability in story-telling isn’t inherently bad.

There’s a mistaken assumption that if the direction you’re going with a story is obvious, it’s somehow a bad story. Some companies and writers take this a step further – that if fans and consumers have already accurately guessed where things are going, they need to veer in a different direction.

But predictability can be good. Or at least not as much of an issue as it seems.

Knowing where a story is going isn’t the same as getting there. “This character dies in the end” may not capture everything the character does on the way that makes their death so impactful. Or in another sense, if it’s a tough thing to guess and fans succeed in their guess, it can bring a sense of satisfaction that they managed to guess right. And lastly, catharsis. A predictable outcome isn’t a bad thing if that outcome is what the audience emotionally needs at that point. Leading into a particular character coming out of a trial fine, fans guessing right, and deciding to change it into the character dying horribly just because of a correct guess can easily leave a sour mood that puts fans off.

This goes hand in hand with the idea of how too often people think spoilers are inherently bad. They’re not. If you don’t want spoilers, that’s understandable. But people who want them may be deriving more satisfaction from the chance to better see the way things develop to the “spoiler” moments.

My Sam’s done in Death Stranding, and I’ve pretty much said what I needed to anyway. Onward!

Corporate Tribute

I both understand and don’t understand why some fans seem to think they need to highly revere and bow down to companies that own the copyright to their favorite franchises and characters.

Lately, this is especially the case when it comes to Marvel comics. But it’s also true for many things, and I’ve seen it often with video games.

I understand fans wanting to buy into a company’s narrative and perceived ownership. Company owns the rights to create content? Make money off of it? Hire and pay talent to make it? Market it all over the place, make that a full-fledged job that expands into other media at times which the average person couldn’t make alone (e.g. Hollywood films, AAA video games)? Yeah, I can see in that sense why fans feel like they should go by what a company puts out.

… What I don’t understand is why some fans act like the company is always right, and fans have zero say in anything.

I remember, when complaining about Resident Evil 5 excluding Jill Valentine from the finale (and thus any catharsis about what Wesker did to her), how some fans tried to claim she “had” to be left behind. Because the P-30 drug behaved a certain way. Yet, those fans ignored the fact that P-30 didn’t exist until the writers of Resident Evil 5 created it. The game’s writers had full control over how that drug functioned, just like they had full control over everything else about their story. It wasn’t a case of the writers having their hands tied by a pre-existing concept. It was a case of the writers deciding a concept they created should function in a way that led to Jill’s exclusion.

Currently, when it comes to Marvel comics, I’ve seen some hardcore comics fans present a narrative of “You must support what Marvel is doing with the X-Men right now. You must want your favorite character involved. Supporting the current event and trying to get your fave in that door in whatever fashion you possibly can no matter what it is is the only available path.”

And that’s a lie. It’s buying into several mistaken assumptions. One, that Marvel has exclusive authority and fans must go along with anything and everything the company says. Two, that fandom is worthless. Three, that Marvel can do no wrong, ever.

Marvel is not owed tribute. Their owning the copyright to a franchise or character does not mean they are always in the right and never to be questioned. If they made Magneto into a Nazi tomorrow, and they made that the centerpiece of a massive X-Men event that all of Marvel is pushing as a status quo change for decades to come, should we say that we need Polaris there as his Nazi underling?

I’m not going to say “Lorna needs to be involved in this” just because it’s getting a lot of hype that people are buying into. I need to be given a real reason to want her there, and trust that her presence would be a good thing for her. Sales and hype generated by a combo of artificially depressing the X-Men franchise’s potential for a decade (due to a spat with Fox) and promoting like crazy as a bounce back is not sufficient. It may be for other people who see big numbers and think that’s the whole story, but it’s not for me.

“This is popular therefore my fave needs to be part of it” misses crucial ingredients. From what I’ve seen, I don’t trust Marvel with Lorna or believe they are willing and able to do right by her. I don’t consider Marvel to be the real authority on Lorna. It’s in her fandom that I see real authority. Fandom actually wants to know more about her, thinks about who she is and what she could be, wants to explore what she’s been through. Marvel only sees a prop to be used for glorifying Havok and Magneto. And if not them, then the closest man they can find.

Marvel wants fans, like me, to think our faves need to be involved in their next big event. To think it’s necessary to pay tribute with money and fawn over their every move in hopes that we might get a panel once per year where they show up to make some other character look good. Because “maybe we’ll get something more.” But when Marvel’s done nothing to earn it, there’s no real reason to give it. Send your love to the people who really love and respect your fave: other fans.

The same applies for just about any case involving fans and companies with creative IPs.

The Snowball

It’s been a while. Life has been sucking. This is the first time for the past month or two that I’ve had a moment to really think about these things in a dedicated and coherent way long enough to make it into a blog post.

Problems snowball. You start with one tiny, seemingly insignificant problem. Then if you’re not careful, not considerate, more problems arrive. Or you unwittingly add problems that didn’t need to be problems. Sometimes, things that wouldn’t be problems under ordinary circumstances turn into problems because they join the collective big snowball of problems.

That’s what’s happened and happening with Marvel. At the very least, as far as my fandom and feelings in relation to their behavior.

Back when Lorna and Havok rejoined X-Factor in 2012, and when Havok made appearances on All-New X-Factor, Havok’s presence was not a huge problem for me. It was an annoyance, but one I was able to put up with while getting to things for Lorna.

Today, in 2019, Havok having anything to do with Lorna and her stories is an instant black mark for me.

Why? How did this happen? Because of the snowball effect. There are many, many problems that contributed to the snowball effect. Specific to Havok, some of the contributing factors were:

  • Lorna’s return to comics in Blue hijacked to promote Havok, before Havok then got to lead his own book
  • The awful (in content, not quality of art) cover for X-Men Blue #28
  • Bait and switch cover for Marvel Tales, where the cover was a great depiction of Lorna, but the contents inside were Havok’s intro issues that were horrible for Lorna
  • Multiple instances of trying to define her primarily as Havok’s girlfriend/ex (in a Marvel Legends bundle with him, kissing portrait in Prisoner X, asking where he is at end of Age of X-Man, etc) while ignoring her own actual character

This is only the past two years. This is not judging the entirety of their character history – which would give TONS more issues to cite.

But there’s a reason this is called the snowball effect. It’s not just adding more junk to a pile of junk. When that snowball starts rolling, it becomes harder and harder to stop. Its momentum and accumulated mass make it into a problem you can’t simply pretend doesn’t exist. At least not if you want to do the right thing and minimize or prevent damage. Small, formerly innocuous elements come within the snowball’s reach and add to it.

The bigger and faster that snowball gets, the more it takes to stop it. Break it down. Take the good things out of the snowball and do good with it.

Now, if you actually deal with that snowball, guess what happens. Those little issues are no longer as much of a problem. It’s easier for people affected to say “That’s a problem, but perhaps it’s an accident or misunderstanding, they’ve done a lot lately to try to do the best they can.”

When you have a legitimate problem, expecting people affected by it to ignore it is not going to do anything for you. Adding even more problems to the snowball (especially as a threat, explicit or implied) only makes it worse. There are three things that could work. One is to actually fix the problem. Two, if it’s too big to fix, is at least acknowledging it IS a problem so attempts can be made to account for it (and maybe fix in the future). Three, diverting the problem or trying to minimize potential damage.

Going back to Havok. In my opinion, that snowball is way too big to stop or break down easily. It’s going to take multiple attempts over a long period of time to chip away at the snowball until the good in it is salvageable. Throwing things into the snowball’s path in its current state will just add to its problems.

So let’s go back to the three potential fixes. In my opinion, the best approach is to keep the snowball out of the way. Don’t do anything to add to it. Pair this with structures designed to chip away at the snowball – in this case, actually doing more with Lorna as her own character, acknowledging her own worth, with Havok not involved or even mentioned.

If your goal is to eventually have Lorna interact with Havok again, then will there be a time when you start to re-introduce him in her life? Yes. But it has to be at the right time, with the right approach. You can’t just say “Oh we had Lorna say hi to her dad for one panel, now she’s Havok’s girlfriend again.”

Marvel’s problems in this regard are 1) a lack of respect for Lorna as her own character, and 2) a lack of patience.

What I’ve seen of Marvel to date, they don’t seem to care one bit that Lorna is an actual character who has fans and potential all her own. This has been echoed repeatedly, from one editor trying to claim Lorna couldn’t be Magneto’s daughter, to another claiming she doesn’t have enough fan interest to warrant her getting anything like a solo book (despite other characters like Lockjaw getting minis, and even creating a brand new character for Worst X-Man Ever specifically for that mini).

Pair that disrespect with a lack of patience, and what you have is people at Marvel trying to force Havok onto Lorna in little bits and pieces thinking if they just keep tapping in those appearances, eventually they can force the couple together again. Yet all Marvel’s doing is tapping in more junk to make the snowball bigger, faster and more dangerous.

And that’s my blog post on the snowball effect. Tune in next time! Whenever that is! Same Polaris time, same Polaris channel.

(P.S. Lorna should have a TV show that she broadcasts straight from her brain. She can do it. She has that power.)

My Current Shows

For a bit of fun and relief from my more serious topics, and to be more bloggy for a moment, I’m gonna go into my current shows. By this I mean brand new content. Not stuff made a while back that I’m watching now.

The Good Place

If you’re not watching this… why? Go watch, it’s amazing. It’s got such a great soft sense of humor that goes completely against how often comedy seems to think you need to be crude and disgusting for no apparent reason.

I’m disappointed it’s ending with season 4, but I understand the decision to stop at four seasons instead of letting it go on endlessly. I can very much see the show falling into stale tropes over time. Keeping it as a nice tight package keeps it sweet and memorable.

Creepshow

This is on Shudder. It’s been fun. It’s part of a trend of bringing back horror anthologies, which I absolutely love. Anthologies have been misunderstood for a long, long time. It’s like a neat shot of immersion every single time because it’s always a whole different scenario with different rules and structures.

The House of Head is the best episode so far. The others are just kinda okay, but House of Head gives you some amazing thoughts on the concept of hauntings and spins the haunted house notion into a whole different angle. I’d love to see more like it.

Charmed

I loved season 1. Niko was the best, followed very quickly by Chloe (the pixie girl who I really wanna see more of in future episodes). It’s a new, more diverse setting that’s not afraid to be a bit corny and playful with tropes.

I especially loved how this show evolved the sisters’ powers. The evolution is so much more fitting, in my opinion, to the core of their powers than what the original did to add new powers for the Halliwell sisters. Having other factions is great too.

I really think season 2 is when this show is going to find its best unique voice and shine.

The Purge

Purge has been rife with great social commentary since the second film. I’ve been watching all of it (films and show) since the first film entered theaters. Lots of potential in the setting, and it’s been great to see it expand to really delving into human nature and social structures.

I don’t know much about the newest season. Last season did a good job showing how men might use the night to be misogynistic assholes instead of murdering people. Also, how someone might exploit the day to murder outside the “official” hours and still get away with it.

That be all I have currently. I dropped Walking Dead because, although they were obviously in their right to do it, the death of Addy really put me off. I felt she had so much potential and the show just wasted it. It basically killed my interest and desire to see what happens with the other characters, or get attached to any new ones.

See you all next post!