A couple people have asked my thoughts about the March 2018 solicitations of X-Men Blue. I decided to make this post about it. I intend for this to be the only time I really say much about it here until there’s more info and we get closer, but I can’t promise that won’t change. I know myself, and I know life is always unexpected. Something might prompt me to post more.
I’m supportive of Bunn revisiting Polaris’ history with Malice. That, I presently have no issues with. I’ve said for a very long time that I’d like parts of Lorna’s character history where she was treated poorly to be revisited so they can be done right and respectfully this time. Claremont’s writing of Lorna when possessed by Malice is one of those times. If Bunn does it right, it could give a lot of great insight into Lorna and open doors for her.
Here’s where I have a problem: Havok, and everything about Bunn’s writing of Lorna on Blue sans Blue #15 and #16.
Blue #15 and #16 are the only issues where she’s had a good depiction. They’re the most recent depictions, so that’s good. That’s in Bunn’s favor. Recency matters. It could be a sign that he’s improving and trying to better understand the character, which is very important going forward.
Blue #15 showed an ability to acknowledge Lorna as her own distinct character while doing things with her father Magneto. Much better than prior issues, which I’ll explain shortly. Blue #16 showed he’s capable of grasping Lorna’s personality without trying to make it look like her personality isn’t her own. And, he managed to do it while having her interact with two male characters.
These are improvements. However, they’re minor improvements compared to major problems that came before.
In issues prior to Blue #15, everything she was written as saying and doing revolved around Magneto being her father and Havok being her ex. It wasn’t simply acknowledging and using those connections, it was defining her exclusively by those connections and nothing else. I won’t do a thorough accounting of those problems. If I did, I expect I could go for several thousand words. I’m going to set aside the Magneto aspects to focus on the ones that are relevant here, involving Havok.
The coming arc is literally titled “Cry Havok,” and one of the covers we’ve seen has Havok displayed on an equal footing with Magneto. Between the two, it’s pretty obvious the arc is going to be Havok-heavy and Havok-centric. He’s going to be the star of the show. There may be tangents of the issues that don’t include him, but the bulk of it will be about him.
… After he already had an arc devoted to him. What was that arc?
X-Men Blue #8 and #9.
Looking at only the visuals and the cover of X-Men Blue #9, it would be easy and understandable to mistake those issues as being about Lorna. They’re not. They’re actually about Havok. This was a case of deceptive appearances.
In Blue #8 and #9, Havok got the bulk of panel time outside of the O5 team. He got to lead a new team for New Tian. He got brand new interactions with Briar and Emma Frost. He defeated multiple members of the teen O5, showing himself as an intimidating threat in the process.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, during the fight between Lorna and Havok, everything about the fight was geared toward building up Havok’s prestige and putting him on a pedestal. It emphasized his need for redemption, and presented his inverted nature, and worst of all, it played into the idea that there’s absolutely nothing about Lorna’s history worth bringing up besides her terrible relationship history with Havok.
Not even looking at the story itself, but in general, Havok got half of Blue #8 to establish himself before Lorna showed up, and Bunn was eager to tease Havok’s coming use on social media at the time while talking not at all about Polaris.
All Lorna got out of the issue was getting taken out of a two-year forced limbo, and having interacted with the teen O5 – both things Havok got too.
In an X-Men Blue issue presented like it would be Lorna’s time to shine, Bunn had Havok completely steal the spotlight from her. Havok’s struggles, his personality, his near-total dominance of Lorna and her history all became the focus of an issue that tried to look like it would be about Lorna.
Bunn has not done anything to give Lorna the spotlight that was stolen from her and given to Havok. He hasn’t tried to do anything that would make up for it. And now, he’s giving Havok a huge multi-issue spotlight.
Already, he’s refusing to fix a mistake previously made. That sort of behavior already rubs me raw. I’ve been boycotting everything Square-Enix since winter 2010 over that behavior, and I anticipate I’ll be boycotting Square-Enix for the rest of my life because they still haven’t fixed their mistakes. But there’s another aspect of concern even if I set that aside.
In an issue supposedly meant to be about Lorna, Bunn made it all about Havok. Now we have an arc that’s actually intended to be all about Havok from the start. If Bunn wasn’t able to treat Lorna with care and respect for an issue about her, how can I trust that he’ll manage to do it in issues meant to be about the character who stole her show?
Imagine a car. Imagine being offered the car and buying it, only for the dealer to hand the keys to some other guy who crashes it into a wall. Imagine, after the dealer’s done that, getting charged for towing the wreck and having it junked, then getting a gift card for Starbucks as compensation. Then, finally, imagine the guy who crashed your car getting offered a much better car, while all signs suggest you might be offered something half as good as the first car or worse.
That’s how all of this feels to me. Like Bunn had Havok ruin something intended for Lorna and is now giving him even more on top of it, as if tearing her down wasn’t enough.
I’ve said a lot here. What’s the final verdict?
Despite all my complaining above, I’m waiting to see what comes.
Like I said early on in this post, X-Men Blue #15 and #16 were good depictions. They’re going in a positive direction. If Bunn keeps that up, then maybe what he does with her in Havok’s arc will be fine. Entirely because of those two depictions, I’m willing to wait and see. It’s incredibly hard for me to do that, but I’m trying my best to wait. His treatment of Lorna in the arc might be just fine. He might do great things in working on her Malice history. We need more for me to know.
However, I don’t have much trust or faith in Bunn’s abilities anymore. Especially with Havok around. As such, if he pulls this off, I might remain open to future work from him. But. If he doesn’t pull it off, if it’s bad like Blue #8 and #9 were, then it’ll be a permanent end of any support of Bunn from me, and I’ll be pushing really hard for Bunn to never write Lorna again.
I’ve always been against Lorna having any interaction at all with Havok until she gets to properly and fully establish herself, which I judged as taking a decade minimum. This is why. If Havok wasn’t involved and Bunn screwed up, it would be bad enough but I could be more understanding and patient. Screwing up and having Havok involved takes it to a whole other level.
It’s not even a matter of want or don’t want. I am completely incapable of giving a pass on screwing Lorna over if Havok is involved, because he benefits by his very presence. It reinforces the false decades-old narrative that Lorna is a bad character deserving of poor treatment that should only exist to be a supporting character for Havok. I don’t have much tolerance for that.
That’s all my thoughts that I can think to gather in one post. It’s possible I’ll add to this post later if necessary. My intent is to avoid making multiple posts that individually stand out.
I’m not hoping “Bunn proves me wrong” for doubting his abilities. I have good reason to doubt them. What I’m hoping is that he proves me right for giving him another chance and not immediately condemning the arc as guaranteed to be bad for Lorna.
Oh, and if by some chance everything happening is the fault of people above him, then Bunn needs to signal that he’s not at fault and he’s trying to do his best in spite of that. At present, I have no such signal, so I have to follow the assumption it’s all on him.