Polaris and Trauma

I wasn’t going to make a post about this until/unless something new from Marvel pushed me into it. But it’s been grating on me enough that I want to make a post.

There are many ways a person may react to trauma. There is no one “right” way to react. The idea of reacting the “right” way falls into the “perfect victim” problem. You can’t just dictate that a certain behavior is what you would expect a survivor to exhibit. That a certain thought is one you would expect a survivor to have when faced with memories or with more, new traumas. You can’t carte blanche say “This is how all survivors think and act and feel.”

But when you’re writing a character, their thoughts and feelings and actions when faced with trauma need to come from a foundation of how they have thought and felt and acted in response to trauma previously. That needs to be taken into account even when they’re not currently facing trauma, since it’s a part of who the character is and what they’ve been through. It’s called character development. You develop the character. You don’t pretend things in their past didn’t happen and try to start over from scratch. You work from who they already are.

Marvel is not doing this with Lorna. Has not been doing this. And it’s frustrating as fuck to see.

I harp on the Genoshan genocide because that is a huge, weighty, character-defining experience that Lorna went through. It’s on par with Magneto surviving the Holocaust and Wolverine going through the Weapon X program. It wasn’t just a one and done situation. You don’t have a character go through an experience like that and just ignore it. It’s supposed to be too big to ignore.

Yet Marvel somehow does it. And it makes no sense even in the fictional world itself, because there should be reminders everywhere for Lorna. She was considered Genosha’s sovereign princess in its final moments, and in Uncanny X-Men #442-443, we even saw people bowing to her as their queen. Even if Lorna wanted to forget, why would all of those people, all of them, not be reminders of that history? Either in Lorna’s thoughts, or in wherever she goes?

We saw her develop from Genosha. We saw her struggle with the mental barbs and wires of trauma. We saw her worldview shift and grow from that trauma. By the end of Austen’s run, we saw Lorna as someone who would never want Genosha or anything like it to happen again, and she was ready to be more aggressive about it.

Part of what bothers me isn’t just that Marvel ignores Genosha. It’s that Marvel increasingly looks to me like they’re trying their damnedest to wipe it out from her history. Like they want people to forget it ever happened to her so badly that they want to try different ways of replacing it with new traumas.

When X-Factor #243 happened, I was, and still am, pleased that Lorna finally had her origin story told. I like that origin story. I support it. It’s a good origin story, and I think her reaction to it was perfectly fine. But in the back of my mind, a tiny, tiny part of me was concerned that Marvel might attempt to “replace” her surviving the Genoshan genocide with that. It didn’t happen, thankfully, but the risk remains.

Then a couple years ago, in Age of X: Prisoner X, Marvel had a scene where Lorna remembers major moments in her life. One of the images was… Lorna kissing Havok. Because Marvel has this desire to force her into existing mainly as Havok’s girlfriend. But what they didn’t include, was an image of her surviving the Genoshan genocide.

And then we have last year’s X-Factor #4, which was so dedicated to trying to misuse Lorna to raise the story’s stakes and make death seem more intense that it disregarded not only that Lorna survived the Genoshan genocide, but also how she fought in an actual war out in space (and the related casualties), and went through deaths of teammates she was much closer to in a prior version of X-Factor.

I realize this doesn’t seem like much to have an issue with yet. That’s why I wasn’t going to say anything until/unless something more happened with Marvel that pushed me into it. But I just need to say it now.

Marvel’s ignored Lorna surviving the Genoshan genocide for 15 years. They’ve had Red Skull exploit the Genoshan dead, Jean fight Cassandra Nova on Genosha’s ruins, and Storm show outrage over the genocide. But they can’t be bothered to acknowledge what Lorna went through even once. Even in passing. And even in passing honestly and seriously wouldn’t be sufficient especially after 15 years of nothing, but the fact they can’t even remind people that it happened to Lorna for a single panel is damning and frustrating and wrong.

X-Factor #4 should have explicitly acknowledged what happened to Lorna and worked with it carefully, compassionately, considerately to make what it was trying to achieve make sense with her. I can’t say I would’ve been fine with how she was depicted if it had done so. I’d have to see what was done, though for the sake of honesty I’m doubtful I would’ve been on board with X-Factor’s depiction even then. But I wouldn’t be so pissed about it because at least then the biggest thing to happen to Lorna would be acknowledged.

And part of my frustration with X-Factor is because honestly, I think leaving out what happened to Lorna on Genosha was deliberate. I think an editor at Marvel, not the writer, doesn’t want her to be remembered for that part of her history because doing that would require admitting she’s done meaningful things and had meaningful experiences and is worth a damn for something besides stroking Havok’s or some other (usually male) character’s goddamn ego for the billionth time in 52 years.

I think there’s a desire within Marvel to erase the most important thing that’s ever happened to Lorna because they don’t have any respect either for Lorna or the trauma connections that any readers might have connected with through her.

People generally seem to be aware that Lorna’s been through A Lot Of Shit. That’s good. It’s one side of the coin, and it’s progress, because just a decade ago were were in a place where nobody seemed to have that in mind.

But now it feels like people at Marvel don’t think they can ignore how she’s been through A Lot Of Shit, but do think they can get away with wiping out the worst Lot Of Shit she’s been through and replacing it with something else that’s much smaller, much less meaningful for her, something that could easily be set aside and diminished to keep her on the sidelines supporting whoever they think is more deserving of respect than her.

And that’s something I don’t want. I don’t want such an integral, deep, cutting thing about the character and who she is and what she’s been and become wiped out because some asshole at Marvel doesn’t like Lorna enough to want it to mean anything. It means something to me. It means something to plenty of other people, countless because there’s no way to see a tally, but you have no idea how much power that carries even if it’s just one person who gets something out of it.

We’ve seen how important these things are. We’ve seen how Black kids are inspired by seeing Black superheroes in Black Panther. How little girls are inspired by Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman and Black Widow. Even with adults, we’ve seen how Superman has touched some people to do good things with their lives and in the lives of others. Fiction isn’t just fiction. It means something to us on a deep, heartful, primal level. To cut something with so much weight and pretend it doesn’t mean anything at all is just all kinds of wrong on a level I can’t even put into words.

For some people, it’s “with great power comes great responsibility.” For others, it’s seeing Lorna survive a genocide, struggle through her trauma, and from it become ready to fight for a worthy cause instead of shrinking into a void like some would prefer out of her.

That’s it, that’s the end of this post. My inboxes are open for anyone that wants to get super double mad at me for having feelings.

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