20 Relationships That Hurt X-Men Comics (And 10 That Saved Them)

Oh hey, it’s yet another garbage CBR article written by someone that doesn’t care at all about Polaris. And who’s probably a Havok fanboy to boot.

I’ll save you a click. Here’s the text.

For a long time, the X-Men were simply five mutants. They finally got some new blood in the form of Cyclops’ brother, Alex. A mission had the team rescuing Lorna Dane, a beautiful green-haired woman with magnetic powers. She and Alex were drawn together and soon embarked on a romantic relationship. They left the X-Men for a time but later returned and kept their romance up while fighting evil. They also worked together as part of X-Factor.

True, there have been roadblocks. Each has succumbed to mind control that put the other in danger. Havok once dumped Lorna at the altar to send her over the edge. Yet they still stick together in the X-Men and show how they have an almost magnetic attraction to one another that’s created an enduring off-and-on romance.

First: the article author acts like Havok came first and Lorna came second, when Lorna had her big intro with X-Men #49-50 and Havok appeared in #54.

Second: the author conveniently leaves out how Havok’s had one new romantic relationship per decade while Marvel’s only ever allowed Lorna to have one in all 50 years (or two if you count Iceman).

Third: the author conveniently leaves out the circumstances behind Lorna stuck with Havok, how they all hinge on forcing Lorna to go with him when it’ll look good for him. “They left the X-Men” and “they worked on X-Factor” doesn’t get across how Lorna was shafted with the role of “supporting character girlfriend for his story.”

The bottom line is that what Marvel’s done to Lorna with Havok isn’t “an enduring off-and-on romance.” It’s enduring abuse of a female character for the benefit of a male character.

The writer of this article proves it himself with my very first point. If it was good and special like he bullshits it being, he would’ve accurately described how Lorna was brought into the fold. Instead, he spins to make Havok look good at Lorna’s expense. Tries to make it sound like Havok comes first and Lorna comes after him as a damsel to save.

I do have to thank the writer for one thing though: it reaffirms the fuck out of my decision to not buy anything Marvel after this year until Lorna gets a solo, mini, oneshot or leads a team book without Havok. If people are going to talk about Lorna like this, Disney is even less deserving of money and support than I thought until they fix it.

20 Relationships That Hurt X-Men Comics (And 10 That Saved Them)

When I complain about Havok forced on Lorna, this is the fucking reason why. This is supposed to be a write-up for her, but instead, it’s a write-up of how she’s been used for the benefit of men around her.

I deliberately removed the user’s name and handle because I don’t want him to be harassed, and that would accomplish absolutely nothing anyway if it did happen.

What matters isn’t who said it, it’s why they said it. That reason is the impression they get of Lorna because of her history with Havok. Because of all those decades, this user – and many others – perceive her as a character that exists for men. That can and should only be seen in terms of how she can advance the stories of men, add status to men, make men look good by being around them. Never what Lorna herself has accomplished, how she’s developed, what she’s been through.

This is why I hate Havok after X-Men Blue, and why I’m so fiercely against Havok forced on her. It’s Marvel muddying the view of who Lorna actually is. It’s disregarding her value because they can’t seem to care enough about this female character to do right by her, because she’s not popular like Jean Grey or Storm or Emma Frost so they can get away with it.

I’ll say this about Cullen Bunn’s focus on Havok on X-Men Blue: it’s gotten me in enough arguments with Havok fanboys to make me hate Havok more than I did before his run.

All I’ve ever asked for in regards to their relationship was to keep them apart for long enough that Lorna got to properly establish herself as her own character without him. I judged that to require 10 years apart since 5 didn’t suffice in the 00s. That’s literally all I asked. I didn’t ask for Havok to be kept away from her forever. I didn’t ask for Havok to be treated like shit for Lorna’s benefit to “make up for” all the times she got treated like shit for his benefit. Before Blue, I didn’t even hold Havok being forced into Lorna’s origin story, or into her leading her own team on ANXF, against him.

But after X-Men Blue #8 and #9, after the heavy upcoming focus on him for the next Blue story arc, and after arguments I’ve been in (especially one where a Havok fanboy’s been outright lying by saying they’ve been apart for 10 years when it’s only been 6 at best), I increasingly find myself thinking “fuck Havok.”

Lorna can’t do a single fucking thing without Marvel shoving him into Lorna’s affairs, and she can’t have a leadership role, a starring TV role, a supporting role, anything without Havok fanboys trying to put Lorna or her options down and acting like she isn’t a viable character without him. Including trying to make her interactions with Magneto out to be worse for her than the literal decades of trash treatment she’s endured with Havok, because of course.

If the goal is to wear out my very hard effort to not hate Havok and if the goal’s to kill my ability to remain open to their having a relationship once Lorna’s in good shape, congratulations, it’s fucking working.

Marvel’s Bias Against Polaris, For Havok, via Social Media

Quickly showing another tiny amount of further evidence of why Havok forced into Polaris’ affairs is a big issue for me. By comparison.

Here’s what the official Marvel account for Latin America on Twitter posted a couple days ago.

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Now here’s everything the official Marvel account has tweeted about Lorna, with keyword Polaris.

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Notice that the official Marvel account has never acknowledged Magneto is Lorna’s father.

Also notice that 4 out of 7 tweets invoke Havok in some way, to reassert the attitude that Lorna doesn’t matter or deserve to be talked about unless Havok gets something out of it. Notice that when they’re talked about, Havok’s name always comes first, as an implicit note that he’s perceived as “better” and “more important” than her.

I didn’t make a picture of it, but here’s what you get if you do the same search for Havok instead of Polaris.

https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=Havok%20from%3AMarvel&src=typd&lang=en

Havok gets 21 tweets. Polaris only comes up in 3 of them.

Let’s sum this up in statistics.

  • Number of tweets for Polaris: 7
  • Number of tweets for Havok: 21
  • Polaris tweets mentioning/showing Havok: 57%
  • Havok tweets mentioning/showing Polaris: 14%

The social media for @marvelentertainment reflects Marvel’s negative, biased attitude toward Polaris. To Marvel, Havok is a diverse character that can be all sorts of places and be many things, but over half of who Lorna is should be defined by being Havok’s girlfriend.

To Marvel, Havok deserves 3 times more promotion and support than Polaris.

This is all stuff you can see plainly if you pay attention to the comics, but you don’t even need to do that. Marvel makes it obvious with their social media activity.

Why Havok should NOT be involved with Polaris

It’s time I made a post about a very important topic: why Polaris should not be interacting with Havok at all right now, especially not in any kind of romantic sense.

Before I go into detail, I’ll just say: I obviously have no creative control over what companies do. I have no control over what people tell companies that they want to see. I’m not the sole arbiter of what can and can’t be done with Polaris. And frankly, no one person should fit that bill. It limits options.

However, I know, for a fact, that shoving Havok into things Polaris is doing will absolutely ruin her. No amount of promotion for her on Gifted, or with a cover for X-Men Blue, or anything else, is going to matter if it all gets funneled into putting Havok on a pedestal and establishing Havok as “better” than her.

The history I’m about to describe explains all of this, and why I can be so absolutely certain Havok is terrible for her.

After the paragraphs above, I’m going to start in the last place you expect: good beginnings. You see, when Polaris was created, she was the more feminist alternative of the team. 

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Jean Grey was more “traditional” due to being made in 1963, while Polaris was made in 1968, right as feminism was rising and shortly before the Equal Rights Amendment. Lorna represented women standing for themselves and exhibiting independence. We had the potential for Polaris and Havok to have a relationship as equals.

It all came crashing down pretty quickly as soon as people at Marvel decided to make Lorna and Havok exclusive.

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What are you seeing here? As explained by other, more well-read people, Uncanny X-Men #127 – released in 1979 (correction: I’ve been informed this was a new story added to Classic X-Men #33 in 1989, which was a reprint of Uncanny X-Men #127 plus this story) – serves as an explanation behind why Polaris and Havok left the X-Men. The explanation? Havok keeps imagining horrific ways he and Lorna could die. How does he express that?

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By blasting the shit out of some rocks and yelling at Lorna with alternating rage and mania, with extremely possessive language. Havok doesn’t care what Lorna wants, what Lorna needs, it’s all about him. He’s afraid of the danger and prizes his life above the common good, so when he decides to ditch the X-Men, Lorna “has” to ditch the X-Men too.

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Polaris as introduced, and not exclusive to Havok, was a firecracker who didn’t hold back her tongue. But now? Now, she’s perfectly pliant and submissive. Her feminist backbone and independence is completely missing.

I know what some of you are thinking. That’s just one depiction. That’s one awful story. Hold on to your butts. There’s more.

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Here’s Lorna Dane in Uncanny X-Men #219. She’s cowering behind a rock, absolutely terrified that Sabretooth is after her. She’s so afraid of the big bad Sabretooth, in fact, that she’s thinking about how badly she wants her savior Alex Summers to “kiss the bogeyman away.” Uncanny X-Men #219 came out in 1987. From 1968 to 1987, Lorna went from badass feminist woman, to passive and submissive lover, to complete infantilization.

How did that happen? With occasional appearances like this.

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In X-Men #97, published in 1976, we see Lorna supposedly happy to be a doting would-be housewife out in the country, taking care of the housework and waiting on “her man” to come back. She’s completely out of anything X-Men or mutant related, and she talks him up like he’s her whole world.

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In Incredible Hulk #150, 1972, a biker gang harasses her, and Havok rescues the “damsel in distress.”

Another example:

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This is from a What If? story from 1981. It’s not 616 canon, but it still greatly affected perceptions of Lorna and potential stories for her. In this story, Lorna sacrifices herself for a plan that (if I remember correctly) is devised by the Summers brothers – both Cyclops and Havok. Her dying cry is to say Havok’s name, establishing the idea that even in death he’s all that really matters to her.

These depictions built up a toxic pattern where she became exclusively dependent on Havok to define her as having any value whatsoever – and that she had to be increasingly pathetic to demonstrate Havok’s importance.

After this, Lorna got a series of additional poor treatment where other characters besides Havok (e.g. Storm, Zaladane) were used to tear her down. Havok isn’t the only character that benefited from stories that treated Lorna poorly. This post exists because he’s the most notorious and persistent case. He’s the only character who continues to benefit from this history and continues to hold Lorna back to this day. It was very important for me to acknowledge other issues exist in the gaps and why the focus here is on Havok before I move into the next phase: what happened after Claremont, after the 70s and 80s.

Or to put it another way, it’s time to get into X-Factor! Great! Right?

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R…. right?

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Oh hell.

To make a long story short, when Lorna is finally a) in control of her own body, b) given her actual power set back, and c) not being written by someone (read: Claremont) who gives her a power that’s literally about how her very existence makes everyone hate her and breeds hatred in general, we’re still left with two decades of “Lorna exists only for Havok” garbage as her be-all and end-all.

Now, to be fair, Peter David did make crucial baby steps to fixing things for Lorna, and the short arc be DeMatteis is excellent. On the other hand, this.

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tl;dr Wolfsbane is implanted with a psychic bond that makes her crazy obsessive for Havok.

So, going into X-Factor, there’s acknowledgment that Polaris and Havok have been linked as a couple way too much over the past two decades. Havok gets Rahne as someone obsessively lovesick for him in a major and consistent fashion, to the point where she will even threaten and attack Polaris out of jealousy. What does Lorna get?

Nothing.

Lorna has no one. The closest she gets is Random for like an issue. Havok, as leader of X-Factor, gets two women jonesing for him on his team: Polaris and Wolfsbane.

See, this is the way things go. Havok gets romance options. He had Goblin Queen during the Claremont era, Wolfsbane here, Wasp in Uncanny Avengers recently, and I’m sure many more. Lorna’s only ever really had Havok. The obvious reason for that? She’s seen as an extension of him. She’s seen as a character who literally can’t figure out what to do with herself without him.

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Oh, you thought I was exaggerating? How cute.

At one point, Havok “died.” He disappeared to the Mutant X alternate universe, but people thought he died. With his apparent death, writers had no idea what to do with Polaris. Havok being her entire world and only reason for being was so firmly entrenched that in efforts to find a story for her, they made her obsess over his goddamn clothes and costume like a hoarder for his specific brand of man funk.

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No, I wasn’t kidding. Marvel really went there. They decided Lorna should be so “committed” to Havok after his “death” that she’d treat his costume like the one true holy cross.

We’re seriously not even done yet. There’s still fucking more.

Eventually, writers started to remember that she had connections to Magneto decades ago and thought to actually explore those connections again. I’m talking about Genosha. They finally gave her a story that wasn’t about how great and glorious and shiny golden boy Havok supposedly is.

Until they tried to force it back into being a story about how great and glorious and shiny of a golden boy Havok supposedly is.

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Out of nowhere, her motives for being on Genosha shifted from finding her place in the world and becoming her own woman, to getting involved in Genosha exclusively for Havok’s sake. Whether it’s “What would Alex want me to do?” (WWAD for short) or doing things there only to try to bring him back, Marvel tried to turn her into a female proxy/adherent for Havok’s will. In his absence. Due to presumed death.

When this junk wasn’t being done, for a good 5-6 years, Lorna actually got to develop her own interests and beliefs. She experienced things unique to her, like surviving the Genoshan genocide and dealing with that trauma.

No, we’re still not done. After the genocide and trauma, after Havok returned and she had a big bridezilla moment from Havok leaving her at the altar, after losing her powers on M-Day and having an identity crisis, and after her time as Pestilence for Apocalypse, Marvel ultimately decided they should be on a path to romance again.

Here’s how they decided to kick off the attempt.

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Start of Uncanny X-Men #475? She’s independent. She’s touring the world. She’s dealing with a direct personal threat with a promising potential story arc that could have easily spanned multiple issues.

A few pages in? She’s “rescued” by Havok and crying as she insists she’s some kind of dangerous monster who deserves to be in prison. For what, I have no goddamn clue. If it’s for her time as Pestilence, she had no control over her actions. If it something after Pestilence, we never saw it.

We’re not told what Lorna supposedly did wrong – because in Marvel’s eyes, whatever the hell happened to her doesn’t matter. What matters is that big strong golden boy Havok gets to look like her savior as he consoles her for some made up crime that for all we know amounts to having given someone a sliver. Oh, and she made sure to have makeup on for his entirely unexpected arrival for maximum arm candy hotness.

She then joins the Starjammers to be on Havok’s team, just like she was on Havok’s team for X-Factor before that, just like she left the X-Men to go out in the middle of nowhere and gush about getting to clean his dirty underwear before that.

I know you’ve been patient, but no. It gets worse. Keep in mind, this happened between 2007 and 2011. We’re not talking about decade ago anymore. We’re talking about recent events.

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Polaris gets captured with the rest of the Starjammers and gets tortured. We get zero insight into her trauma and pain, her thoughts, her ordeal. We get Havok sulking in his manpain about getting her in the situation, but all we get of Lorna’s POV is a bunch of sleep and getting knocked out with a punch to the face.

There is so, so much that could’ve been explored with Lorna in her own right even here. The Genoshan massacre immediately comes to mind. But, no. That would acknowledge that she has worth and character development outside Havok. Can’t have that.

During their time in space, toward the end, Polaris actually does get rare moments with Crystal and Luna. In these moments, she gets to show some of her actual personality.

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With Havok? We get this.

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A depressed, emotionally broken mess.

With other characters, Lorna is playful, witty, full of life. With Havok, she’s a sad mess. Because in those scenes, her purpose is to enhance Havok, not be her own character with her own thoughts and feelings. Her sadness in those scenes is to support Havok’s sadness by making her worse so he can “comfort” her.

And then they get back home, and Polaris follows Havok to X-Factor, because of course.

Throughout this massive post, I’ve guided anyone still reading through a chronology of how awful Havok has been for Polaris. You might still think “Those were terrible stories, yeah, but things can be better in the future.” Here’s some visuals. They serve a purpose. I’ll explain below them.

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These pictures are just a small sample of covers and general art. In some, body language is possessive. Havok has an arm over Lorna’s shoulder, or she’s leaning in a cheesecake pose, establishing his authority over her. In others, Lorna is very close, but slightly behind him – demonstrating that she’s in his shadow and he takes priority.

A lot of people disregard covers and details like this, and think it’s all nitpicking, but covers actually send messages. The message here is that Polaris should be seen as a character primarily in Havok’s shadow.

Are there other covers where Lorna is in a better position? Of course. But covers like the ones shown here are more common. And that’s the point. They represent the prevailing attitude toward Polaris that Havok is more important than her, and her unique identity should be subsumed in favor of boosting his prestige.

When they’re together, Havok comes first, she comes second if at all.

And as you have seen in aaaaall the examples I’ve given here, history keeps repeating. Every time Havok gets anywhere near Lorna, everything goes to shit fast. Anything she has to offer gets utterly demolished and thrown away.

THIS is why Havok should not keep getting shoehorned into everything Polaris is doing right now. He’ll ruin her. It’s guaranteed.

There’s a chance that enough time kept apart, with Polaris getting to establish who she is in her own right, could eventually lead to their relationship being a good thing for once. But we’re a long ways off from that. The relationship between Polaris and Havok contains decades of toxicity. You can’t wipe that slate clean with five years apart – and we know this because five years apart wasn’t enough time when they tried it in the 00s, either. It didn’t prevent how horribly she was treated to get her into space and make her part of the Starjammers.

And even as they’ve been apart as a couple, Marvel won’t let Polaris do anything without him popping up. Havok was there for reuniting with her father, for her origin story, as cameos on All-New X-Factor, and recently for her “big return” on X-Men Blue (which put far more effort into promoting Havok than it put into Lorna).

Even when they’re not a couple, Marvel is so wedded to the idea that Lorna’s identity should be all about Havok that they keep shoving him into her stories. As if she needs his permission before she’s allowed to have any kind of character development.

While Marvel excluded her from Uncanny Avengers and Axis while Havok was on them without her, and put Havok on an X-Men anniversary amalgam cover with 4 of the O5 but didn’t put Lorna on any of them.

Compared to Lorna, Havok has been given an obscenely high pedestal and infinite opportunities. Lorna’s had neither.

She didn’t get her origin story told or get to lead a team of her own for over 40 years in part because of Havok. It’s time she got respect in her own right for her own merits and potential. She won’t get that with Havok around.

So when you see me rage online about Havok horning in on a story she’s in, or say I’ll drop The Gifted if he ever appears on the show, now you know why. I don’t trust anyone – not Cullen Bunn, not Neil Gaiman, not anyone – to write Polaris and Havok interacting right now. The track record shows that no matter how good they are or what their intent might be, it’ll ruin things for Lorna.

As a Polaris fan, I want the best for her. Not the worst.

annparkins:

I literally wanna fight alex summers for everything he’s done to my precious sunflower lorna dane 

I think Alex is typically a case of both the character and many of the people who have written their relationship thinking he’s good for her, completely oblivious to how he’s held her back and made things worse. There’s especially a certain level of possessiveness. “It’s my DUTY to save her even from HERSELF! She may not like it, but I know what’s best for MY woman.”

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m really hoping they stay apart for at least a decade, and if they do get back together again, Lorna’s given her due respect and they’re presented as equals in the relationship. I could be zealous and say Lorna should get to be dominant over Alex, but I’m willing to concede on that since Lorna treated well and getting the respect long overdue to her is all I really want.