Polaris fandom, my place in it

This post is prompted by comments by someone about how much I stan Polaris.

I am not “the authority” on Lorna. I’m just one fan among many fans who care about this character. I may be very vocal and demanding, and I may sometimes commission art or write tons of posts, but that doesn’t make the things I say any more important than anyone else. Other fans have drawn fanart themselves, or created and worn cosplays that took tons of time to make, or modded Lorna into various games.

There are plenty of fans that think differently from me on all sorts of things. I think Lorna needs to keep her iconic costume or a variation of it, other fans think she needs something purple like she had in the Austen era. I think her time as Malice should be explored and essentially reframed/rewritten to fix how she was treated in its original use, other fans think Malice should never ever come up again because they’re afraid Marvel will wax nostalgic too hard and just repeat the sins of the past. My being loud doesn’t mean I’m more right than them. There are some fans that know a hell of a lot more about the history for both Lorna and X-Men/Marvel than I do and possibly ever will.

I say all this for a couple reasons. As a Lorna fan, I want what’s best for the character. What’s best for her isn’t always going to be what I want, or what I think is best. I can be wrong. As part of a broader fandom, I want to be respectful of differing views from my own. Honestly, that’s the only way fandom really grows. Different perspectives contributing to a whole.

So if you see me say something strongly, remember, that doesn’t mean what I want and believe matters more, or that I’m more “right.” All it means is that it’s my POV, and I feel strongly about it.

I’ve been reluctant to make this kind of post because I’ve felt like it’s insultingly egotistical of me to think others may think this way. But this time, I feel it’s more important to state something like this instead of letting selfish concerns about how it might sound get in the way.

The Havok Situation

Hi.

I’ve considered whether or not to make this post for a while now. Ultimately, I decided to go for it. Because I’m confident in how things will play out.

I’ve noticed that over the past few months, the X-Men comic books – under the editorial control of Jordan D. White – have attempted to sow the seeds of forcing Havok on Lorna again. I’m not showing the images, cause I don’t feel it’s worth the time, but here’s a quick list.

  • Flashback of Lorna and Havok seeing baby Cable
  • One image of Lorna kissing Havok in Prisoner X, that doesn’t fit with anything else about the page
  • Forthcoming use of Malice-possessed Lorna on Uncanny X-Men, where Havok is a key member of the team

I recognize the three goals of the X-Men books (and Jordan D. White) doing this.

  1. If I complain about it, they hope my complaining will backfire and make people think of Lorna mostly for her association with Havok instead of her actual great qualities.
  2. If I don’t complain about it, they hope my silence de facto permits them screwing Lorna over by making her all about being his girlfriend again.
  3. It’s a test. They want to see how I react, what consequences they face, and if the slow roll instead of the right-in-your face bullshit that got pulled with X-Men Blue will work out better.

Framing this as “if I do X” does sound cocky, I admit. That’s why I usually don’t speak this way. But 1) I’m kinda using the I in a “plural” sense – myself as any fan out there, on an individual level vs collective level. And 2) even meaning it as specifically me, Marvel has a history of being petty and “punishing” people for not just accepting their garbage.

Cracked.com has previously pointed out how an editor printed a staff member’s resignation letter (#2), deliberately set up in story in a way to be insulting to the staff member who left. Marvel hasn’t changed in any meaningful way since then. It’s still run by people who will do stuff like this if they can get away with it.

So Marvel, and JDW, are trying to pull something with their recent spat of activity. They’ve had Havok hijack Lorna’s return on X-Men Blue, then had him lead a team of his own while Lorna got nothing, then made him a key member of the major flagship book while holding Lorna down in roles as a supporting character. All the while, trying to force Havok back onto her in the few appearances she’s been getting.

But here’s what I’ve been leading to: Marvel is going to fuck it up. Hard.

I literally don’t have to do anything except watch. If I died right now, they will still fall into a trap of their own making.

Let me give a little context though. This week, there was a HUUUUUGE uproar about how Rosenberg, in Uncanny X-Men, used trans panic in a clumsy and insensitive manner with Wolfsbane. To Rosenberg’s credit, he apologized. Not to the credit of anyone at Marvel, this shit keeps happening. They never try to fix it – as we’ve seen with all the ways they’ve done similar to Lorna and kept it intact if not reinforced it. They never learn. They make an apology, ask for donations to a cause, then 2-3 years later someone else fucks up in similar fashion.

My complaints about how Lorna’s been treated around Havok or because of him aren’t baseless. Every bit of what I’ve said, I know to be 100% accurate and valid. I’m not trying to “sell” people on a lie like Marvel is. I’ve been unveiling the truth and laying it bare.

Which is why I know that when – not if, but when – Marvel tries to go further than whispers at the moon, they are going to prove me right. On everything.

So let them try it. Let them fail. Let them not listen to a word I’ve said, and ruin themselves in the process. If they’re that eager to be disrespectful to Polaris in favor of their fanboying over Havok and toxic past treatment of Lorna, then they deserve every single thing they’re going to bring on themselves. And I won’t have to lift a finger.

Gifted Post-Mortem

Yeah, it’s been several weeks since I made a new WordPress post. I’ve had plenty of thoughts over that time. None of them fit or required WordPress. Some of it’s been over on my Twitter account.

But that’s not why I’m posting now. This is a post-mortem for the show Gifted.

The show started out with a lot of promise. In season 1, the show had all the foundation it really needed for potential success. It started off rocky. Most first seasons do, including incredibly successful shows. Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 1 is much different from Buffy the Vampire Slayer at its height. It takes time for creatives to determine where they really want to go with characters and concepts.

Unfortunately, Gifted wasted what it had and from what I heard, got much worse in season 2.

The show put too much emphasis on the Struckers. I think that’s something a majority of people felt. As a lead-in to the show’s concept, the Struckers were bland (even with Amy Acker) but could’ve been tolerated til about halfway through season 1. At that point, they should’ve started slowly taking a back seat to the main focus of the show. The usage of the Struckers in the first place felt like someone involved thought white audiences needed a white family at the core demonstrating the show’s version of white guilt to get into it. That kind of concept works best sneakily working as a subplot. Making it the focus detracted from the potential of the show’s diverse cast, and for some came off preachy in the wrong way.

The show’s handling of character death was another big issue – which I was very loud and clear about when they killed off Dreamer. The problem wasn’t merely that characters were killed off. It’s how it was done. Other, better shows will have the episode focus on that character, or make that character’s death part of a HUGE event that people will talk about endlessly. Gifted killed characters for a mix of shock value and to push other characters’ stories along with no love or respect given to the departing character. Fans generally don’t like to get deeply attached to a character only to have them offed out of nowhere with no catharsis of any sort to deal with it. The show being based on comic books doesn’t mean it’s great to follow terrible comic book tropes that are part of the reason comic book sales are often so low.

This was especially a problem with Dreamer’s death. It became all the more apparent to me post-death that she was the secret heart of the show. Like most “secret heart” characters (e.g. Rosa in FF4), her importance was completely lost on most people who stuck with the show – especially the show’s writers and showrunner. In comedy terms, it’s like having an act that needs the “straight man” trope and you remove him cause you think he’s not adding any jokes. In reality, everything else loses its impact without him.

Resurrecting Dreamer or saying she wasn’t killed off would’ve been the best option. Second best would’ve been bringing in a new character to fill the role and keeping them. Gifted did neither.

Another obvious issue: the show wasted Polaris, Esme, the characters’ potential, and Emma Dumont and Skyler Samuels.

I didn’t watch season 2. In fact, I stopped watching Gifted with the episode that they killed Dreamer. But I did see some things. I heard Lorna was treated very poorly in season 2, in part to promote Reeva. I also saw Dumont talk about how she didn’t like what the show was doing with/to Lorna, but as a professional, she understood the need to have balancing among all the characters in an ensemble cast.

There were two huge problems here.

One, providing balance doesn’t mean “Let’s make this character look pathetic and stupid so the other characters can look great.” That’s another shitty comic book writing trope that needs to die in a fire. TV audiences hated that approach because TV audiences expect better writing. A lot of them likely abandoned ship when they saw the show was going to be terrible just cause comics like to be terrible.

Two, Polaris had rapidly become a huge fan favorite character in season 1. There was toooooons of enthusiasm for her. When you have a fan favorite character, you don’t tear them down to make another character – especially a newcomer – look good at their expense. You capitalize on that enthusiasm and raise the stakes. Gifted failed.

By comparison, when Negan arrived on Walking Dead, Rick and Daryl had low moments. But they weren’t written horribly out of character to make Negan look good. They were presented with terrible situations, they behaved as they normally would, they went through trials and emotions and eventually found their strength again in themselves.

In general, Emma Dumont and Skyler Samuels brought a lot more to the table than the show seemed willing to acknowledge and respect. Their enthusiasm was infectious. Doing things that made their enthusiasm suffer led to fans losing interest. Not doing things to spread that enthusiasm stifled momentum into getting new viewers. The show had a gold mine and blew it up looking for coal.

I even remember when Skyler Samuels joined the show, but before Dreamer’s death soured me to Gifted, I specifically told another fan in private that Skyler would be a much bigger boon than most people realized. She was amazing on Scream Queens. Apparently the showrunner and writers understood that only enough to add her as a regular, but not enough to make the most of her alongside Dumont.

Meanwhile, if the show had done things right, the other characters – Blink, Thunderbird, Eclipse, Dreamer, Sage – could’ve risen up to a much higher level of interest over time.

There’s still been some talk about the idea of the show landing on a streaming service like Hulu. If the show persisted in its current model, I think it would only last as long as one limited series, at absolute most one more season (though I’m really padding it when I say that). Probably just enough for the show to give a comfortable conclusion after the cliffhanger.

For a Gifted revival/continuation to actually be more than that, the showrunners and writers would need to make a LOT of changes to what they’ve been doing for the last season and a half. They’d have to basically reset to halfway through season 1. Or, the show would need an entirely different showrunner, and maybe different writers (depends on if the current showrunner steered the writers in the wrong direction from what they would’ve wanted).

What seems most likely to me right now is something more like what happened to the Batman Beyond cartoon. Where one episode of Justice League Unlimited acted as a backdoor conclusion to Batman Beyond.

That’s all I’ve got now. New thoughts could spring up in the future.

I’m going to refer to this video and its lyrics. Why? Because it perfectly encapsulates where things stand for Polaris and dealing with Marvel.

Marvel is full of people who mostly disregard and disrespect Lorna. Some even hate her. They act like she’s not worthy of use, of having her potential explored, of being treated like a character of her own, of so, so much that she’s been denied for decades.

But it’s her time now. Nothing Marvel tries to do to hold her back or hurt her is going to change that. They can’t stop me from being a Lorna fan, pushing for her, doing things to spread awareness of her and build fandom.

They had a good most of the past 50 years getting their way. That time has ended. That’s canceled.

My unreasonable Polaris demands (vs reasonable ones)

Yesterday on Twitter, I said I’d make a list of things I want for Lorna that I recognize as unreasonable and therefore I don’t ask for them. I’m doing this to make a larger point. It’s incredibly easy for people at Marvel who think she’s a worthless character to imagine that what I insist on is asking for too much. Here I’m showing the difference between reasonable me and unreasonable me.

Unreasonable demands

  • Polaris as the focal star of a huge Marvel-wide event, a la Dark Phoenix or House of M
  • Marvel openly, publicly admitting Lorna’s been treated poorly for decades and apologizing for it, particularly busting the false myth that Claremont was a godsend for every character
  • The specific history of Lorna treated poorly to benefit Havok getting openly called out in the comics themselves
  • Everything Tom Brevoort did to try to erase or replace Lorna as Magneto’s daughter completely redone (e.g. Children’s Crusade re-released with Lorna actually in the House of M portrait, Avengers vs X-Men re-released only with Lorna heavily involved and a new special issue dedicated to her and Wanda, etc)
  • Spend at least the next decade with Lorna used and promoted as heavily as Wolverine, to catch up on lost time from decades of poor treatment

Reasonable demands

  • Polaris getting a solo, mini, oneshot or team book she leads to make up for the past few years (esp. being treated poorly to promote Havok on Blue)
  • Lorna included in Marvel events (at least at level of Uncanny)
  • Marvel not hijacking her moments and character elements and handing them off to other characters
  • Marvel using Lorna for her own value, not only using her to promote whatever big strong man they think she should be shown as inferior to this time
  • Marvel acknowledging her surviving the Genoshan genocide regularly in the comics themselves, that she’s been around for 50 years (since 1968), and various other important character bits and development
  • Lorna getting to interact and spend time with characters she hasn’t been used with properly for far too long (e.g. Jean Grey, Iceman)
  • Marvel not bending over backwards to undermine her (e.g. withholding comic covers, not promoting her origin story issue, etc) every time she has a shot at showing her real worth and interest
  • Lorna kept as Magneto’s daughter alongside Wanda regaining it, instead of acting like there can be only one and Lorna isn’t “worthy”

There are other situations where whether it would be reasonable or unreasonable depends on the context. Costume is one such case.

I might add more if I think of or remember more for either list. This is what I have now. Consider this a baseline.

What to expect from House of X / Powers of X regarding Polaris

Yesterday, I made a post about how Marvel won’t deserve support for House of X and Powers of X.

The premise of this coming event from what I’ve seen people saying about it and the teaser image used for it is that it’s going to cover X-Men history and then show “a way forward” from that.

These are the different outcomes specific to Polaris that I’m prepping for, with varying levels of likelihood.

They’re not all guaranteed. In fact, some of them directly conflict with each other, meaning it’s impossible that all of them will happen. The intent is to prep for future behaviors I expect from Marvel based on Marvel’s past behavior.

  • Key moments where she was treated poorly rewritten to flat out replace/exclude her, so Marvel doesn’t have to acknowledge they treated her poorly in the past and make up for it
  • Lorna’s role and presence in Genosha and as Magneto’s heir purged
  • Lorna suddenly not Magneto’s daughter anymore
  • Excessive effort to present Lorna as primarily Havok’s girlfriend/a supporting character for him and make it somehow good
  • Rewrite in which Havok somehow got introduced before Lorna
  • Lorna suddenly having not become part of the X-Men until after Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Jubilee, etc, to ignore how she’s been around for 50 years and make it look like she was only created in the 90s

We’ll see which and how many of these come true, if any. They’re also limited by my imagination. Marvel could do something far shittier that I didn’t consider.