There’s one thing I want to point out concerning Marvel and use of Lorna, and part of the process involves acknowledging one good thing about Blue that I haven’t mentioned much until now.
Out of all pictures of Lorna during her time on X-Men Blue, this is the one I keep seeing most on social media.
One of my big complaints – perhaps biggest – of Lorna’s earlier appearance on X-Men Blue was that it bent over backwards to put “she’s Magneto’s daughter” at the forefront of everything about her. Doing that brought about a lot of problems. History was overlooked, opportunities were missed, etc.
One thing Cullen Bunn did right and well with Lorna on Blue is exemplified in the above image. He actually did take steps to fix the problem of how Lorna’s own identity was getting ignored in earlier issues.
The above image’s usage on social media is the result.
There are various images people could use instead. The page where she’s described only as “daughter of Magneto.” The panel where her memories are used to “redeem” Havok. Both of which I abhored, but even ones I support like Lorna training Angel and Jimmy. Those get less use than what’s above.
Here’s why it gets so much use. The picture acknowledges that Lorna is Magneto’s daughter, but it doesn’t define her as Magneto’s daughter. She’s acknowledged as her own character. She may have things in common with her father, but she has her own independent interests and drives that take precedence over who her dad is, too.
This was something Bunn did right, and it paid off for everyone. If he had done more like this, I would be saying a lot of good things about Blue today and how he turned his use of her around. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened with regard to Havok.
I wanna go back over things that happened with Cullen Bunn, Polaris, and my perceptions and reactions to Bunn as things progressed with him.
I started out highly supportive of him. I wanted Lorna able to interact with her father Magneto, and out in broader areas of the X-Men and Marvel universe where she could interact with other characters. I liked what I saw of the Magneto solo. I thought Bunn would be a good fit.
I really liked the scenes where Lorna and Magneto used their powers together. I liked the nod to Lorna’s history possessed by Malice.
I didn’t like Lorna somehow suckerpunched by Magneto, her powers drained. It felt like Lorna used as a tool instead of a character, and it didn’t seem to consider how that happened to Lorna before. But I didn’t say much about it. I felt the good had outweighed the bad, and I gave Bunn credit for the great depiction of Lorna on Secret Wars: House of M. Plus I had just come off Peter David, how I was hostile about him before he wrote a single new issue with Lorna. I felt I should give Bunn a chance to do more with Lorna first.
Two years passed with Lorna blacklisted from the comics. Bunn said he was going to include Lorna in Uncanny X-Men. It didn’t happen. I blamed Marvel editorial.
Then Bunn wrote an alternate universe Polaris in Deadpool and the Mercs for Money. I was pretty happy about that. Though I expected it to amount to nothing after two years of Lorna blacklisted. My original response was entirely positive. At the time, I didn’t see anything that bothered me about her use there.
Then, when Marvel announced Lorna’s return at a convention (the Chicago one, I forget what it’s called), including with a cover that was an homage to X-Men #50, I was cautiously optimistic.
Keep in mind. After two years, I came to expect Marvel wanted to bury the character, and editorial didn’t like that she had fans. Particularly as the spat between Fox and Disney kept going. Giving Lorna this return sounded great, but I expected we’d get little to nothing and then she’d be thrown back into the blacklist.
It’s when Havok started to figure into Blue that things went south real fast.
I noticed Bunn wasn’t saying anything at all about how he would soon be writing Polaris on X-Men Blue, unless specifically prompted by a question. He showed no excitement, enthusiasm or interest. By contrast, he was very happy to tease that he was going to write Havok – by posting a picture of his collection of Havok comics.
This was an immediate red flag for me. Bunn’s about to bring back Polaris, who has a cover dedicated to her return, whose return got announced at a convention, and what he’s most eager to tease is… writing Havok?
I didn’t say anything bad about Bunn at this point. I decided to wait and see what happened.
Then X-Men Blue #8-9 happened. And it exceeded my worst worries about what Bunn intended to do.
X-Men Blue #9 was supposed to be Lorna’s big return. It was supposed to be a chance to see this amazing underappreciated character show what she can do with a bigger platform, interacting with other major X-Men characters.
Instead, it was all about building up Havok. Presenting him as a major threat to the teen O5. Giving him a team to work for him. Giving him a chance to work with Emma and meet Briar. And then, on top of it, making Lorna’s fight with him all about how Lorna exists entirely to a) redeem Havok some day, and b) serve her father Magneto’s goals, needs and interests.
I was pissed. I was lied to as a reader who had supported Bunn, and Lorna was robbed of her moment in the spotlight. Everything got hijacked for Havok and Magneto’s benefit (moreso Havok than Magneto), and they didn’t need one damn bit of it.
Treatment of Lorna continued to have problems. In multiple cases, her history was ignored for Magneto’s benefit. So Magneto could make some smart quip that made Lorna look stupid. Or so Magneto had a little helper for a scene focused squarely on him.
After way more issues than it should’ve taken, Bunn started to do a little better with Lorna. He let Lorna work with her father in positive ways. He let her briefly train teen Angel and Jimmy. The latter wasn’t interacting with teen Jean and teen Iceman like Bunn should’ve done, but it was better than what he was doing.
Then he brought Havok back. And I lost all remaining respect I ever had for him.
Havok had already robbed Lorna of her return and spotlight in X-Men Blue #8-9. That was bad enough, not even counting the decades worth of how Lorna had been constantly torn down to build Havok up.
But now, Havok gets his own five-issue story arc too?! One where the core thrust of the storyline is “redeeming” Havok. Fuck that. Fuck X-Men Blue. Fuck everything.
Bunn toyed with the idea of doing something with Malice, but his failure to actually do anything with it only further magnified his lack of interest in and respect for Lorna. He didn’t use Malice to explore Lorna’s character in any way whatsoever. All he said with it is that Lorna can beat some low rent AU version of Malice, but it happened so quickly that it was clearly just filler. Buried as a tiny footnote in Havok’s story.
Then Bunn had Lorna as leader of a team. Which under normal circumstances, would have been a good thing. But not here. Here, Lorna’s team leadership was a lesser substory to the “great and glorious Havok” getting five issues of spotlight after he stole the 1-2 issues Lorna was supposed to have.
There were some good moments, but they were not enough, and they were too buried into putting Havok on a pedestal (mostly at Lorna’s expense) to have any real worth.
Plus, there was this fucking cover, which I will never get over until Marvel starts giving enough of a damn about Lorna to treat her better than this.
This cover is a perfect summary of everything that pissed me off about her treatment on X-Men Blue, and treatment by Marvel in general.
Lorna is a powerful storied character who cares about mutants and mutant rights. She suffered through the horror of seeing mutants she knew and cared about die in the Genoshan genocide. She’s the Mistress of Magnetism. She was introduced as Queen of Mutants.
But in the eyes of Marvel, and how she was mostly written on Blue? She’s just a limp trophy for Magneto and Havok to fight over. She’s just a toy for men.
This is why I’m as hostile about Marvel as I am right now. This is why I no longer have any respect for Bunn. They have this amazing character, yet they treat her like she has no value outside what she can do for male characters.
And as if to cap off just how atrocious and insulting everything that went down with Blue was, Havok proceeded to move on from X-Men Blue to get his own fucking team book with him as the leader.
Havok gets to hijack Lorna’s return, he gets to have his own five-issue story arc, and for what? So he can then get a whole fucking book dedicated to him?
What X-Men Blue did to me was make me loathe Havok more than any character I’ve ever seen, made me lose all respect I ever had for Bunn, and it’s now pushed me to where I’m going to be dropping everything Disney after this year.
On that last point, I’ve said I won’t do that if Lorna gets her own solo/oneshot or a team book with her as leader before the end of the year. I stick by that. It’s just that after Blue, I didn’t expect Marvel to have enough respect for Lorna to do that. So I’m preparing myself for when I make good on what I said I would do.
Everything that happened with Blue has also had a corrosive effect on my views of everyone else that works at Marvel. I’ve heard Matthew Rosenberg considers Havok to be his favorite character. Before Blue, I would’ve been open-minded to him writing Lorna. After Blue, I suspect he’d be such a fanboy for Havok that he’d set out to ruin Lorna for Havok’s benefit with any attempt to write her, and that he’d force Lorna into stuff tied to Havok when Lorna should be nowhere near him for the next 10 years.
All of that said?
It’s always possible I could come back around on Bunn. But it would take a hell of a lot for that to happen.
My default attitude is that I never want him to go anywhere near Lorna again. I don’t trust him to have enough care or respect for Lorna as her own character to do right by her. That means I’d be hostile to him writing her until he proves himself.
As I am now, I would not respond to hearing Bunn is writing Lorna by saying “I’ll wait and see where he goes with this.” I would expect the worst, and say Lorna needs to be taken from Bunn ASAP. But that’s the thing about life. Something is only true until it isn’t. The only way for my mind to change about Bunn is for him to do things that would make me change my mind.
But of course, that’s all contingent on if Bunn is able to treat her well. If he isn’t, then it’s better for him to cut losses.
A few days ago, it was confirmed that X-Men Blue is ending, and Bunn is off the X-Men books as he goes to other areas of Marvel. I have a few things to say.
Editorial vs Writer
I’ve seen some people say Bunn kept getting interference from editorial. If that’s true, and if things I’ve complained about concerning his writing happened only because of that interference, then I apologize for as hard as I was on him.
However, I did also repeatedly say that I needed clear signs it was editorial and not him, and I never got those signs, so I had to assume it was primarily Bunn’s choices as a writer. And as such, until I see proof, I have to lean toward the expectation that “editorial got in his way” is more likely fans of Bunn wanting to write off problems as things he had no control over.
Expectations vs Reality
When I originally found out about Bunn, I read the Magneto series both cause knowing Magneto fed into knowing Lorna, and because I hoped Lorna would show up there and get the same care and attention Bunn was giving Magneto. I assumed quality for Magneto would trickle down to quality for Polaris, which led me to imagine all sorts of things could happen.
Not that every story arc or issue would be “about Lorna,” as that would be absurd and greedy. But I expected that when she did show up, she would get some really good stuff out of it.
Instead, most of her presence with Bunn writing her has been what she can do for Magneto or Havok. How Magneto having a daughter can boost his profile. How Havok’s ex can give insight into who he was before inversion. Even Lorna’s big return was really all about how she could benefit those two men. And then, not content with Havok having stolen the sole issue where Lorna could have shone, he was then given a five-issue story arc.
That was not what I expected and hoped for with Bunn when I supported him taking over as her writer. Frankly, I expected editorial to refuse to let her be used. But in a scenario of Bunn getting to use her more than that, I expected great things from him.
I expected scenes of Lorna talking to teen Jean and teen Iceman because they came from a time shortly before they would’ve met teen Lorna. I expected that Lorna and Magneto’s shared Genosha history would be featured prominently. I expected that if Malice was used, Bunn would delve into the vast potential behind it. I even fandommed that perhaps the time travel device Bunn introduced was going to bring teen Lorna in, or that the Sentinels that helped the teen O5 were controlled by Lorna.
I don’t know with 100% certainty why none of that happened. Maybe editorial shot it down. Maybe Bunn didn’t care enough about Lorna as her own character to want to do anything like any of that.
The Overall Takeaway
My overall takeaway is that Blue ending, and Bunn moving on to other areas of Marvel, is… good. At least for Polaris.
Under Bunn, Lorna didn’t really reach any important milestones or development like she got with Peter David – who I also didn’t exactly like writing her, but I came around to him by the end of ANXF as he made real efforts to fix things in response to complaints.
The three things that can be said for Bunn having written Lorna is that she interacted with Magneto, Malice came up again, and she was on a flagship title. But I can’t say he made good use of her, because he didn’t. We learned nothing new. She didn’t achieve anything new. And with the teen O5 going away soon, it feels more and more like he wasted a golden opportunity to tell such amazing stories.
Someone I used to talk to, used to say Lorna needs a writer that will champion her before she’s able to get real use and real attention at Marvel. The impression I got out of what Bunn’s done with Lorna is that her champion wasn’t Bunn. If he was, he would’ve done more with and for her. If editorial resisted, he would’ve fought for her. At the very least, he would’ve said more publicly to show interest in her so fandom could talk to him and he’d have fandom as a bargaining chip.
I don’t want a writer writing Lorna that only sees Lorna as Magneto’s daughter or Havok’s ex. If it’s editorial who sees her that way, I don’t want a writer writing Lorna that isn’t willing to push back against editorial’s misguided ideas of who Lorna is. I want a writer for Lorna that sees her potential and wants to use it.
I wish Bunn the best wherever he goes. If editorial was screwing him over like some fans say they were, I’m glad he’s switching to where editorial can’t do that to him anymore. I thank him for not making things worse for Lorna when he could have. And if he sees her potential some day, or he gets up the will to fight for her to be treated better by Marvel, then I’m open to him writing her again – but with an understanding that I’ll need some convincing that things will be better the next time around.
This really, really irked me because even one absolutely horrid writer – bad enough that for a time top Google autocompletes for him included ‘sexist’ after his name – had people defending him when I called him out. I started to really, genuinely worry on what it said about Bunn that this other sexist writer had people willing to defend them while Bunn didn’t. So, thanks for changing that.
Second? I’ve been busy all morning and afternoon, as I said I would be yesterday. Even if what I’m about to say next wasn’t a factor, I haven’t had the time to post until now.
Third? I haven’t had a chance to see this “one page” you’re talking about. The only things I’ve seen so far are the preview pages from last week and four images of Lorna cropped to show just her, with no text. I dropped Blue after that horrid page from #23. As such, I have literally no idea what Bunn has or hasn’t done with #24. The entire issue post-previews could be The Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe in comic book form for all I know.
Fourth? Whatever page you’re talking about could very, very easily be something you and other people think is perfection incarnate, but a closer look could reveal it’s loaded with problems.
I’m very used to being the sole voice or one of few voices to see something wrong in writing that other people don’t see. I’m used to being the host of a Cassandra complex, where I call out warning signs and they get ignored until it’s too late. This page you’re talking about could easily be such a case. Or it might not be. It really could be as great as you make it out to be. I’d have to see it first.
Fifth? I find your attitude amusing. Because you clearly don’t know me.
I want Bunn to “shut my mouth” in a good way. I want him to be a good writer and do amazing things with and for Lorna.
I don’t enjoy railing on him, saying he can’t write women, saying Polaris needs to be taken from him and given to another writer. Admittedly, there is a certain “fighter’s rush” when I get in the thick of it, but once it fades, there’s nothing left but depression and sadness and a slight feeling of guilt for having to call out another human being like that.
I want good writing. I want Lorna treated with love and care and due respect within that writing. If I say “this writer is ass,” I want that writer to show me I’m wrong to think and say such things. I want them to be the best damn writer they can be, especially to Lorna.
I’m not one of those assholes you’re thinking about that blindly hate on people or characters for no reason other than to act snobby and superior to everyone else. I don’t need to “win the argument” or “prove I’m better” or any of that junk. I don’t need to “be right.” I just need Lorna to be treated with the care and respect that’s long overdue for her. That’s really all I need. Lorna is more important than feeding my ego with the “I was right” line I’ve had to say far too often for over a decade in so many places.
I hope your claim that “just one page” is enough to “shut me up” is the real deal. I really, really hope that’s true, and that you’re not just throwing around empty trash talk. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
I’ve leveled complaints about Bunn and his treatment of Polaris/Lorna Dane for several months. I’ve really picked up with it in the past month, due to Blue #23.
But I’m not getting any pushback. Even when I’ve complained about the worst stuff I’ve ever seen for any character in anything, I’ve had at least some tiny shred of pushback. And a few months back, I did have that with Bunn. I haven’t had it lately though. I’ve only seen people who also see problems with what Bunn’s doing, or who agree with what I’ve been saying.
So my question is this: do you disagree with my complaints? Do you think Bunn’s doing a good or great job with Polaris?
I’m not looking for an argument with this post. I’m not requesting an explanation, though you can give one if you want. I just want to know if there’s support for how he’s treating Lorna that hasn’t been said or that I’m not seeing.
I will admit in advance that if reasons are given, I might say something about those reasons, but it would very likely be in a new post.
Oh hey look, the cover for an upcoming Blue issue reinforces every bad thing I’ve said about Bunn on his view and treatment of Polaris, and adds more weight to arguments he can’t write women at all.
Remember: the cover of a comic is almost always a reflection of the story contained within. They’re trying to sell you on the story with it.
On this cover, the action is Magneto attacking Havok. The apparent cause? The passive, weak, defeated Polaris sitting right there.
No agency. No expression. Not even conscious. On this cover, Lorna exists exclusively to be a trophy for Magneto and Havok to fight over. Lorna isn’t a character on this cover. She’s an object for the stories of men.
By itself, this cover could get a pass. If Bunn had a pattern of treating Lorna incredibly well, then we could dismiss this cover as either the artist or the editor misrepresenting the story.
But we can’t do that. Because it fits Bunn’s pattern of poor treatment toward Lorna. It reinforces Bunn’s perception of Lorna as worthless as anything other than an object in the stories of men, primarily Magneto and Havok.
The story inside will match the cover. As such, if you’re still reading Blue and you’re a fan of Lorna (or female characters as a whole), I strongly suggest skipping #28 when it comes out. At least until you see what people say about it online. You’ll thank me later.
The article itself, in mentioning Malice possessing Lorna, puts primary emphasis on what that can do for the stories of other characters – primarily Magneto. Not what it can do for the 50-years-and-going story of Lorna Dane.
I don’t know whether this is just the writer’s take, or the writer is doing this off things Bunn has said behind the scenes.
Either way, it’s heavily informed by how blatantly Bunn’s priorities are all about what benefits characters he actually cares about, including Magneto and Havok, even if it’s at the expense of Lorna and other characters he clearly doesn’t care about.