Polaris Headcanons

I have a lot of different Polaris headcanons. Some of which I find more valid than things Marvel does, on account of how Marvel never thinks or cares about Lorna as her own character. I’ve decided to make this post to collect all the different headcanons I have!

Note: I have enough that it’s entirely possible I may forget some, and have to come back to this to add what I’ve forgotten.

I’ll enter each headcanon, and if I want to say a little more on it then I’ll add text after.

Lorna can change the color of her hair

Lorna’s powers of electromagnetism mean she has access to the whole electromagnetic spectrum – including colors. By this token, perhaps her hair defaults to green because it fits her mood, or because it’s the middle balance of rainbow colors (ROY G BIV).

Lorna is a knight/warrior type

Which does not detract from the princess aspect either (hi Xena). But when I convert characters to medieval settings, Wanda’s a witch. Lorna’s a knight. We’ve seen her don armor before as Pestilence.

In legend, I also think she would slot in well with Arthurian tales as the Green Knight.

Lorna has a Phoenix-equivalent concept of some sort out there

Another user on Twitter recently suggested from art that Lorna could be The Dragon. I like this concept. It pairs well with the Phoenix concept as a mythological creature, dragons are often seen as green and liking to collect treasure (e.g. Lorna’s original gold secondary color), and often perceived as evil (again, going back to the original conception of Magneto as evil).

Lorna creates her own costume with her powers

In my head, Lorna’s costume isn’t cloth. It’s very thin metal, constructed by her using materials that are around her. When she needs to enter combat, she doesn’t dress or undress, she gathers molecules and constructs it however she wants.

Lorna creates art with her powers

This is something I don’t see Magneto doing, but definitely see Lorna doing. Exploring her artistic side as a fun, constructive use of her powers.

Lorna can’t die

Lorna’s existed since 1968. In that whole time, aside from alternate universes, she’s never died.

Realistically, I think this is because Marvel cared so little about her that they didn’t think her dying would serve a purpose. But it pays off because with all the shit she’s been through, to NOT die to me implies there’s something about her that simply can’t be killed. Like her survivor’s spirit and electromagnetic powers work together.

In my mind, at most her body could be destroyed but she would still exist as an electromagnetic entity who rebuilds her body with her powers. Perhaps that’s even what happened on Genosha for real. It would really feed into survivor’s guilt for her, by the way.

Lorna is bi/lesbian

This is one part “I really like this for her,” and one part “she keeps getting treated poorly around men, so maybe women would be better.”

Within this idea, my top pick of a partner for Lorna is Jean. I think it would open excellent doors for the two characters to revisit their history way back to around when Lorna arrived on the scene (before Giant-Size X-Men and all that followed). Second pick for partner may be Emma Frost due to Genosha connections, but I’m really big for the Jean.

Lorna has low-level semi-psychic powers

The “low level” part of this is honestly more to be fair to full-fledged psychics than anything else. Since it wouldn’t be fair if Lorna could be as powerful as a main psychic AND have the rest of her powers.

Over time, research has found electromagnetic waves are able to do a lot of things involving the human brain. Some research can pick up thoughts and dreams. Some research can suggest an action for someone to take. From this, I have a headcanon that Lorna can use telepathy and add/erase/alter memories.

Lorna can access the internet at any time with her mind

The internet via WiFi is essentially electromagnetic. By this token, Lorna should be able to access the internet with her brain. No need for a computer, no need for a monitor. She’s already both. What’s more, because it goes straight to her brain, she should be able to read and process faster than someone simply reading from a screen.

This would make her one of the “smartest” people alive. By that I mean, say she encounters someone who’s been poisoned. She can look how to cure that poison immediately. Heck, she could have a live chat with a real doctor. Perhaps even sharing images/video from her brain to see what’s happening in real-time.

The weakness to this, of course, would be any time Lorna enters an area where those waves can’t reach her. If the signal’s cut off, then she can’t make use of it.

Lorna can create audio/video in her mind

If she has access to the electromagnetic spectrum, why not manipulate it to broadcast or record whatever she wants? She could make fake footage that looks like someone said something they never did. She could play her dreams and fantasies on TVs. All sorts of things.

X-Factor

I had a longer post on this in drafts. Then I deleted it. Because it doesn’t need to be a long post.

I don’t expect anything good for Lorna from this book. Period. I could write a big in-depth explainer behind that, which I originally was going to do, but the bottom line is Marvel and the team haven’t given me any reason to think it could be good for her on any level. I can’t even begrudgingly say “Lorna deserves better but this is better than nothing,” because I actually think Marvel leaving her alone is better for her and nothing I’ve seen so far makes me think otherwise.

Lorna’s stuck on a team she was put on in the 90s. The writer either can’t or won’t mention anything about her besides that she dated Havok, even something simple like how Lorna and Rachel were in space together. The past few years have been poor treatment of Lorna in general, but narrowing just to HoX/PoX/DoX, there’s been no acknowledgment of anything Lorna’s done besides Havok.

I don’t expect everything Marvel does to cater to my exact specifications, but if Marvel’s going to use her, I expect key moments in her development like how she survived the Genoshan genocide and was considered Queen of Mutants by those who remained to actually mean something. Instead, we’ve got Storm able to freely cite that genocide while what happened to Lorna is treated like it never happened.

Anything that ignores such a vital moment in a character’s history when it matters deeply, is absolutely worthless.

And even in the off chance that Marvel ever gets its act together and acknowledges what happened to Lorna for once after 15 years of ignoring it, a throwaway line in a single panel is not sufficient both for the importance of what happened and the insultingly long gap from when Marvel last acknowledged it to today. These other characters get to regularly talk about what a horrific event the Genoshan genocide was, but Lorna can only be used for her dad to spout exposition at her or for Marvel to hype up Havok for the billionth time cause they think he can’t hack it without exploiting her? Please.

That’s what I have to say about this book at the moment. Lorna deserves a hell of a lot more and better. Tacking her to a team book she’s not even leading, with the same title as what she was on in the 90s, doing nothing else and apparently with no grasp of what she offers (just “oh she dated Havok”) is not the way. I’m not going to deny the evidence of my eyes and ears.

X-Men #1: Run, Polaris, Run!

Shelfdust

I wasn’t going to read any of these comics, after covering House of X and Powers of X for Shelfdust last year. It all felt like a very nice jumping-off point, which let me skip away from the world of mutants for a while… at least until I could see what the reaction was to the new series, at least. It all seems to have gone basically as you’d expect, with each new series being a chaotic new element into the previously-structured world Hickman and Muller had carefully put together. Having given the X-Men a happy ending of sorts, it makes sense that the characters would then find themselves all filled with random purpose, inspired to then race off and do whatever came to mind first.

Excalibur, X-Force and Marauders all seem to be completely manic and unstructured, and I’m not going to read Fallen Angels. With the world…

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“Best Kept Secrets” + X-Factor

I’m combining two topics into this post.

I recently had reason to think of “best kept secrets.” Generally, we think of that as a good, endearing trait. Like being a best kept secret makes that thing more valuable, has the extra street cred of being an in-group privilege.

You see that cozy little cafe down the street, the one you’d miss if you weren’t looking for it? They make the best sandwiches you would ever eat. But not many people know about it. It’s a special privilege for those who know about it.

But I heard someone that pointed out: best kept secrets die quietly.

That same little cafe? When times get tough, maybe their business struggles to survive. Maybe it doesn’t survive. And then 50 years after its closure, because it was so small and secret, nobody remembers it even existed. Despite all the good work put in, it’s disappeared from public knowledge.

Polaris is a best kept secret.

She’s an amazing character, with amazing potential, whose background offers a lot of relatable content and depth. We’ve seen what’s possible with this. She was the breakout character on Gifted, even without being able to call upon history (e.g. Genosha) or relationships (e.g. Scarlet Witch) that exist in the comics. We’ve seen tons of excitement and fan content over the years from people who find out she exists.

But that’s the key. They need to know she exists. Which is something Marvel doesn’t want people to know.

I could cite a lot of things, but HoX/PoX/DoX is easiest because it’s recent. Marvel didn’t acknowledge Lorna’s history with Genosha or Krakoa. They didn’t include her on the X-women variant cover. They only used her as something to build up Magneto and Havok, and exposition provided by them. And now, she’s going to be put on X-Factor – not as a leader, but as a supporting character they’re trying to frame as sort of an overseer or advisor or something. And in talking about the book, the only aspect of her Leah mentioned was her relationship to Havok. Despite how, along with so many other things, she could’ve said something about wanting to delve more into Lorna and Rachel’s dynamic due to history in space.

Every single action taken by Marvel lately has been one geared toward forcing Lorna to stay bogged down as a “best kept secret” who serves the whims of whatever characters they like and respect more, or whatever story they want to sacrifice her on the altar of. In spite of how Gifted demonstrated she can be and deserves so much more.

This is not the way. And I reject it.

I’ve had some people, mostly eager fans of HoX/PoX/DoX or Marvel, suggest that Marvel’s treatment of Lorna is more than enough and I should be happy instead of critical. That I’m somehow in the wrong for demanding better for her, and sometimes citing how other characters aren’t getting their due either and should.

I’m not going to be quiet about Lorna. I’m not going to let Marvel kill her as a “best kept secret.” If they can’t do better by her, then they should just not use her and leave her to her fandom making everything of her that Marvel won’t. If Marvel wants to get in the way of that, they’ll see me call out when they do.

If this is supposed to be such a “great new era” for the X-Men franchise like Marvel and its corporate fans claim, then I expect them to show it. I expect them to treat Lorna and other characters a hell of a lot better. I expect them to interrogate long-standing “traditions” and if they hold any merit. I expect them to radically adapt and improve upon their creative philosophy, to better utilize what they have and touch fans who they’ve missed for so long due to bad policy.

Simply making mutants the dominant species is not a new era. Giving them fluff like their own language, a resurrection process, that sort of thing is just the appearance of change. Real change is deeper and harder.

That’s topic one. I also said I would be talking about X-Factor, topic two.

I’m against the upcoming X-Factor book. I’ve said why. It’s placing Lorna into a supporting character role for a team book led by Northstar, while Lorna isn’t doing something more important elsewhere. More importantly, said team book is named X-Factor, a book she’s been stuck on for 30 years and which she previously led. Lastly, there’s been zero sign of Leah considering who Lorna is for herself. Just her talking to a couple friends she knows who are fans, and taking away from one of them that apparently Havok is more important than anything else about everything Lorna’s been through in her life.

Some people (again, mainly HoX/PoX/DoX fans) think I’m being too hasty and judgmental about X-Factor and what Leah Williams might do with Lorna. They think we haven’t seen enough yet for me to be able to make that determination.

I understand their reasons for thinking this. And I need to pull in some of my own history for full, proper consideration. Back in 2011/2012, when Marvel announced that Polaris was going back to X-Factor written by Peter David, I was pissed. I saw it as a backstep. As Marvel trying to undo Lorna’s character development and revert her to a 90s view of her. I fully expected that Peter David, having written Lorna in the 90s and being older at this point, would feel strongly compelled to revert Lorna to how she was when he last wrote her and ignore anything writers did after him.

About this, I’ve said before: in retrospect, I was wrong and too quick to judge. Peter David ended up doing a lot of good things for Lorna, contrary to what I expected back then. I didn’t imagine him giving Lorna her origin story, having Lorna lead ANXF, or having Lorna build up her relationships with Wanda and Pietro. And when Peter David DID write her origin story, I expected the worst – and was pleasantly surprised.

But that was back then. Things have changed greatly.

I was new to X-Men comics in 2011/2012. I had been told things, and read things, but I hadn’t experienced things yet. I didn’t have much grasp on how Marvel thinks and functions.

More importantly, Marvel’s had more problems with how they treat Lorna in the past few years than they did in 2011/2012. Yes, in 2011/2012, she had been tossed into space and then space limbo. And yes, her getting sent into space was purely to be Havok’s girlfriend. But there were at least bright spots like her time with Crystal and Luna. And just 2-3 years prior, Lorna had a big role on Wolverine and the X-Men, and AU versions of her did great things in Jeff Parker’s Exiles and Fantastic Force. Mike Carey’s Five Miles South of the Universe re-established that Magneto is her father, that she’s a mutant, and her return to Earth could have technically re-opened doors; arguments could’ve been made that Lorna returning to X-Factor was just a baby step to regaining a platform.

Plus, many of the biggest problems with Marvel’s treatment of her seemed isolated to how a certain editor outside the X-books saw her. Not problems within the X-books themselves.

Jump to today. We spent late 2015 to early/mid 2017 with Lorna in limbo. When she DID return, it was primarily to promote Havok and Magneto, and everything she did on Blue was in service to that. What little good that came pre-HoX/PoX/DoX, was a tiny drop amid usage for the benefit of other characters. Like a panel or two of her doing something cool before she talks up Havok to launch him into a new team book he leads.

The trend of Marvel and the X-Men books at present is one where there’s no reason to trust they’ll change course with X-Factor. Especially with the position they put Lorna in, and how Leah’s talked about her so far.

If I turn out to be wrong, I’ll be amazed and own it. Like I own that I was wrong about Peter David, above. But it would not be an unjustified wrongness. It would be absolutely justified by my experiences and observations over the past few years.

Which means that I’m not going to give X-Factor or Leah “benefit of the doubt” when history tells me that would be a mistake.

They can say Lorna is “the north star of the team” as much as they want. I’ve seen others say such things only to do the exact opposite. I saw Motomu Toriyama claim he was going to write Aya Brea as a cool mature woman in her 30s in 3rd Birthday, only to write “Aya” as a woman scared of combat who endures and accepts repeated sexual harassment and has her clothes ripped off for a game mechanic argued as “for realism” (despite Aya being sort of like a ghost). Before revealing at the end that it was Eve in Aya’s body, and killing Aya. I could say I’m going to buy every single X-Men comic out there, doesn’t mean I’m actually going to do it.

You can’t expect me to put faith in this book when both Marvel and the writer are unable to acknowledge any of her own actual character history.

New Polaris/Lorna Dane “soundtrack”

In 2017, on Tumblr, I created my own idea of a Polaris “soundtrack” for the character. It was largely constructed in chronological order of her life.

Three years have passed. New songs have come out. And this time, I’m far more eager to create a “soundtrack” that’s more about capturing her essence as I see it via the songs I know and like rather than trying to code songs to her life events.

So let’s begin!

Golden – Halestorm

Ignorance – Paramore

Joan of Arc – In This Moment

Going to Hell – Pretty Reckless

Monster – Stitched Up Heart

Vicious – Halestorm

Turn Off the Light – Kim Petras ft Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Lightning – Fireflight

White Flag – Bishop Briggs

Nightmare – Halsey

Simmer – Hayley Williams

Control – Garbage

My Tears Flood the Streets – Charlotte Martin

Blindside – Icon for Hire

The Last Hope in a World of Hopes – Temperance

Otherworld – The Black Mages

Fandom and Authority

This is a Polaris post. About authority on defining and understanding characters, and companies vs fandoms.

Companies have their own ideas of what deserves or doesn’t deserve attention. How to use their “assets.” What they want people to think and believe about those “assets.” Within that, as the rightsholders, they want a constructed reality wherein the only “true” and “legitimate” version of a character or relationship or story resides with the company. With the people who own the rights and are legally allowed to profit off of it.

There’s a problem here. Even the best, most well-intentioned companies can’t cover everything. They can’t grasp everything. And that’s just the optimistic POV. It’s not counting companies with people who look at various characters with hate on their minds, or presumptions of lack of worth, or looking at everything through their own fandom and not considering the fandom of people other than them.

That’s the risk.

If you buy into a company’s narrative, that they’re “the authority” and you must abide by what they say, then you have no options even if what they say is garbage. It could be racist, sexist drivel. But if you just accept “only the company gets to decide what counts,” then that’s what it is. Marvel could write Captain America as a sieg heiling Nazi and you have to accept it (hi, Secret Empire). Now, he’s a Nazi. Nevermind whatever he’s been before.

This is where fandom comes in. Fandom by its nature hones in on the beautiful, the sad, the dark, the powerful, everything about the object of its fandom. It explores the myriad dimensions that the company either can’t or won’t. Furthermore, authority is decentralized in fandom. There isn’t one lone person who gets to decide everything. It’s a work in progress of many anonymous and non-anonymous people all over the connected world.

Case study: Magnus family

Marvel demanded via Axis that people accept “Wanda and Pietro are not Magneto’s kids” as canon. According to Marvel, they’re not related, and they shouldn’t have family-based stories together.

If you stuck only to Marvel’s narrative and nothing else, that’s it. Done. The family is over. No stories to tell, nothing to engage in. Time to move on and do other things.

Fandom didn’t do that. Fandom refused. It doesn’t matter what Marvel puts out, how fiercely they try to reinforce the retcon. The fans have decided it was a stupid ass decision and have chosen to ignore it. And we’ve been better off for it, because we’ve seen some amazing fanart, fanfic, fan comics, cosplay, etc come out of it.

This cycles back to Polaris specifically, not just in the context of the Magnus family.

Consider Marvel’s behavior for the past few years (don’t even need to consider decades). Marvel’s constructed authority, what they want people to believe, is that Lorna has no value outside of providing support for other characters – primarily Havok and Magneto. She gets no stories actually focused on her. She leads no teams. When she shows up, it’s to reinforce Magneto being powerful and wise, or Havok having a woman he dated, or how helpful she can be in telling the stories of Bishop or Northstar or whoever else.

If you stick to Marvel’s constructed “authority,” then Lorna really isn’t worth much. According to Marvel, she has no history with Genosha or Krakoa, has no past dynamics with Jean or Iceman, nothing worthwhile.

Fandom says otherwise.

Fandom has looked at her character history and seen these things that Marvel, in all its “wisdom,” deliberately pretends never happened. Fandom sees the importance of Genosha in shaping her world view. It sees the fun she must’ve had with Jean, or the insight of Iceman’s relationship history for an outsider view. And then fandom does something with it – unlike Marvel.

Fandom presents an actually proper, accurate picture of who Lorna is and what she offers at the same time that Marvel presents an atrophied, dismissive, ignorant view. And ignorant has two meanings here. Ignorant in that they aren’t willing to consider what she truly offers as a character. Ignorant in that they literally ignore key aspects of who she is and what she’s done.

This is why you see me spurning HoX/PoX/DoX and talking about fandom being Lorna’s salvation. Marvel’s “authority” is not to be respected, because it’s false. It lacks anything other than a spiteful cardboard conception of her. Fans have the true multi-dimensional view of her. So they’re her future.

Marvel’s just the people who own the legal rights. That’s all. They’re not even her creators. Her creators (Don Heck and Arnold Drake) died over a decade ago. Steranko’s the only one still around art-wise.

That’s all I have to say at the moment on the topic. May add later or write a sequel if I feel it’s relevant.

On Outspokenness

Today, I’ve been exposed to a few things that lead me to think greatly about outspokenness. And reactions to it. Especially when the topic is problems.

People don’t like when you “air dirty laundry,” as they think of it. When you cite problems and insist on fixes. Especially if those people are in positions of power where they have some kind of expected duty to provide the fix, or to be outspoken themselves when they either don’t care that deeply or dread some kind of backlash.

You would think that the more serious the issue, the more eager someone else to set things right. But no. In fact, something very serious can have the most effort to suppress and ignore and silence outspokenness about it. Because people don’t want to think about it. They just want to forget and bury it, even if doing so is toxic and destroys from within.

With any legitimate problem, when initially called out, there seems to first be that effort to forget. To pretend it never existed. Then, if it’s serious enough, things change… temporarily.

By temporarily, I mean doing and saying things that appear to be responding to and addressing those problems without really doing much. People in powerful positions offering a few breadcrumbs of the appearance of sympathy. Maybe rushing to a “quick fix” where they think offering up the most talked about bits will magically make everything instantly okay, and you can go back to Business-As-Usual. You can now forget those awful things, what impact they had, and focus on other things you like and care about more.

… Unless that isn’t “enough” for someone. And that someone feels that what’s been offered wasn’t sincere, or fell short, or most importantly, wants some assurances that there will at least be attempts not to repeat past mistakes. That’s when the people who initially sought to look open and cooperative will become dismissive, and derisive, and attempt to “punish” anyone who’s still outspoken.

The natural – and hoped for – reaction when faced with that kind of reaction is for the outspoken person to feel like they should self-silence and slink into obscurity to avoid being a target. Because the general effort against them is to try to make it look like any further outspokenness is only going to hurt the thing they care about, and themselves too.

But when something is truly wrong, that is not the way. In reality, if you stop speaking out, you’re allowing matters to look like they’re far less important than they really are. The real path forward is to continue, because it’s justified, and necessary. Ostracism, dismissiveness, and sometimes isolation is a test of the seriousness of the issue.

If the issue isn’t worth enduring such things, then obviously a person should not keep going for the possibility of a reward they may never get. But when the issue matters, then being outspoken about it matters.