EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: The Hellfire Club Surfaces in X-Men Blue #23

Once again relayed to me by @lordtimeblogposts! I’ve been busy all day/night and only just now got a chance to say anything.

I wanna give a big thanks to Bunn for what he did in this preview on what Lorna’s called. One of the complaints I had a lot in her return issues was their emphasis on her value as Magneto’s daughter over her value as herself. Here, Bunn’s using her connection to her father, but letting her express that that’s not all that defines her.

I also think using Lorna right off the bat in itself may be Bunn trying his best to show good things for Lorna amid a lot of people worrying about how she may be treated in coming issues.

I’m still worried, because of Havok’s presence and what that might do (almost always does) to treatment of Lorna, but this is a good start. 

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: The Hellfire Club Surfaces in X-Men Blue #23

Opinion: Polaris (Lorna Dane) writer pros/cons (2012 to present)

I’ve considered making a post like this for several months, and I’m starting to hate myself for dwelling on negatives lately, so it’s time I do this.

Here are my thoughts on the pros and cons of various writers and/or their runs regarding use of Polaris. I’m only doing since 2012 because to be frank, I haven’t read everything Lorna’s been in, and I’m only really concerned with recent use anyway.

Just because I list a con doesn’t necessarily mean I think that con is a major travesty. Some are huge problems, some are minor things that are included for sake of honesty. This also does not mean my views won’t change over time. I might spot a problem at some future point that doesn’t look like a problem right now. Could even be something I currently think is good. Conversely, something that’s bad to me now might seem good later based on how things change.


Mike Carey (X-Men Legacy, “Five Miles South of the Universe”)

Pros

  • Subtly confirmed Polaris is a mutant again with her powers
  • Confirmed Magneto is, in fact, Lorna’s father after the question was left open for too long
  • Let Lorna and Magneto interact for the first time in about a decade
  • Let Lorna demonstrate fine power capabilities again (altering molecules to patch up space station)
  • Got Lorna and the rest of the Starjammers back to Earth after over a year of limbo so they could take part in X-Men/Marvel stories there

Cons

  • Had Polaris mind-controlled yet again, by Friendless

Peter David

Pros

  • Provided Lorna’s origin story, after over 40 years without one
  • Provided Lorna interacting with her brother Pietro for most of ANXF, and sister Wanda for one issue of ANXF
  • Gave Lorna a leadership role of a team in her own right for the first time in over 40 years (before this, she was “substitute leader” for Havok, Magneto and Madrox)
  • Teased the notion of a romance between Polaris and Gambit; important, since Havok is literally the only love interest Lorna’s been allowed to have since Iceman in the late 60s while Havok’s had several
  • Was able to capture the playful “zinger” side of her personality well
  • At least had a good reason for team costumes for ANXF

Cons

  • Bias against Magneto meant he tried to keep the two apart, wrote Lorna disparaging Magneto more than once
  • Opposition to characters he’s writing taking part in bigger events meant Marvel had an excuse to exclude Lorna from Axis and other events
  • Very poor representation of Lorna’s mental/emotional issues in early parts of All-New X-Factor
  • ANXF #3-6 increasingly treated Lorna like “leader in name only” with Gambit acting more like the leader and Lorna like a member of his team; e.g. Gambit inviting Danger to the team while Lorna’s written as annoyed but getting no say in the membership of her own team (mostly changed for the better starting with ANXF #7)
  • Except with ANXF #243, tendency to disregard work of other previous writers and act like things they did are things he’s doing brand new
  • Prioritized team costumes over costumes that showed character individuality

Marjorie Liu

Pros

  • Acknowledged Lorna’s history with Iceman as one of his past love interest
  • Acknowledged Lorna (along with Gambit) had been one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen
  • Let Lorna talk about things other than Iceman in the few panels she had

Cons

  • Didn’t acknowledge Lorna’s specific history as the first love interest Iceman had in publication chronology
  • Didn’t have a moment of Lorna interacting with Nurse Annie (though they did share a panel with no words, sort of acknowledging that history)

Alan Davis (Savage Hulk, “The Man Within”)

Pros

  • Included Polaris in the story, in effect acknowledging she existed and played a minor role in the original story the arc was based on
  • Gave her slightly more presence than cameo via version of her imagined by Bruce Banner
  • Actually acknowledged and used the importance of Lorna’s headgear in the story – something almost nobody does

Cons

  • I guess… not more presence of Lorna? The “Jean taking Hulk power” mindscape bit would’ve been more interesting with Lorna in her place IMO. All that green and atypical for Marvel to let Lorna be powerful instead of Claremont’s preferred women.

Cullen Bunn

Pros

  • Got Polaris and Magneto back together interacting as father and daughter
  • Acknowledged Lorna’s history with both Genosha and Marauders/Malice
  • Brought Lorna onto X-Men Blue as a teacher for the teen O5 (incl. great few panels in Blue #16)
  • Let her be team leader of the last X-Men in an alternate future (Deadpool & Mercs for Money)
  • Awareness of how powerful Lorna can be shown in multiple instances
  • Able to capture her “darker” side, especially playful dark in Blue #16

Cons

  • Poor representation of how she would react in certain situations given her history (surprise attack on mansion, discovering the Malice costume suddenly on her body, etc)
  • Tendency to do opposite of Peter David and make Magneto look good at Lorna’s expense (changed for the better with Blue #15)
  • Presented X-Men Blue #9 as the big return of Polaris after two years of forced limbo, only to have Havok completely hijack her spotlight (in addition to Havok getting a Blue event focused on him next year)
  • Having Lorna interact with Havok at all when she needs more time to establish herself without his presence first

Dennis Hopeless (Secret Wars: House of M)

Pros

  • Acknowledged Lorna as part of the Magnus family/House of M and used it
  • Demonstrated Lorna with great intellect, strategic thinking, and power use
  • Showed Lorna providing support for her father and his kingdom
  • Lorna got to interact with Black Cat, tease idea of working together in thievery

Cons

  • Pietro treated very poorly, and Magneto poorly in a couple spots, for Lorna’s benefit (not needed)
  • Not enough of a dynamic with her sister Wanda

Gifted writers

Pros

  • Excellent representation of Lorna’s dark side and vicious, unfliching support/protection of mutants
  • Hilarious and awesome training methods for her students on display
  • Co-leadership role alongside Thunderbird
  • Though presently low-powered (as needed for a show), versatility and creativity to her power set demonstrated repeatedly
  • Great moments of Polaris and Dreamer, best friends, working together on missions
  • Polaris in a romantic relationship (Eclipse) that’s actually good, giving her the care and respect in her own right that Marvel’s almost never given her

Cons

  • Didn’t make very good use of Lorna’s time in prison (e.g. could’ve forged alliances, made contacts for outside prison) and did it too soon
  • Brought in a pregnancy storyline way too soon
  • Randomly, pointlessly killed off Dreamer and all the potential the Polaris and Dreamer duo had
  • Just generally don’t know how to do character death right, following the godawful comic book philosophy of cheap deaths out of nowhere instead of proper build-up and catharsis seen on countless other TV shows (Once Upon a Time, Walking Dead, etc)

Okay. Post that shouldn’t be necessary but apparently is, after seeing some of the Asks sent to Cullen Bunn.

Do not harass creators. Do not harass Cullen Bunn.

I’ve complained a lot and loudly about writing and treatment of characters by various creators, but that is much, much different from sending direct messages to a creator.

When you send a message directly to the creator, you’re not just talking to other fans and other consumers and letting loose with your feelings. You’re not making a post because you have strong feelings and you need an outlet. When you send a message directly to a creator, you’re opening a line of direct communication. You’re starting up a discussion with them.

In offline terms, airing your grievances in a public space to any who might hear is just you expressing your thoughts and feelings. Going to where the person lives, knocking on their door and insulting them to their face is being a harassing asshole.

Sending a direct message to a creator full of insults and personal attacks is like going to their home for the express purpose of doing the same. Don’t do it. It’s wrong.

I’m glad to hear what you’re doing with Polaris. I read that you might let someone else write her solo book. Who do you think will be best suitable to write her book? I can’t think of any one but you or Peter David.

cullenbunn:

Oh, I don’t know. I think that if there ever was a Polaris solo, there are a ton of really amazing writers out there who could handle it if they ever did something like that. Marjorie Liu, Gail Simone, Christina Strain, Dennis Hopeless, Ming Doyle, Sina Grace, Becky Cloonan…

…the list goes on and on, really. 

X-Men Blue #4 Thoughts

Thoughts, with spoilers, here in this post. They’re not extensive. There is, however, one thing in this issue that irks me. I’m leaving lengthy remarks on that for the end.

Here’s the thoughts.

Iceman mocking everyone feeling cold makes me wonder what he feels, if anything, to temperature. Can he feel the cold but has much higher tolerance? Is he a bit like Mr. Freeze except he can handle the heat fine too? Does temperature not affect him at all, hot or cold, aside from whether or not his powers work?

Going from page 4 to 5, with the sheriff popping up: is a page missing here? It’s so abrupt. It feels like I was supposed to have one more page that isn’t there in the digital.

Bunn seems to be getting into the swing of things with the playfulness and jokes. The first few issues were kinda awkward about it, but now Bunn’s finding the right spots. It’s the sort of thing most writers have to struggle with at the start of something.

“When you were off in space with your dad”: Well, now I know Corsair’s back. Last I heard of him was that he appeared to die, which was the reason behind Havok leading the Starjammers, which in turn was used as the reason to keep Polaris stuck in space for a few years.

The last thing has to do with Mach 2/Nomi. This is the thing that irks me.

One thing I also say Marvel should do more of is use and promote characters that don’t get much use. I’ve also always said that two characters with the same or similar powers can be on the same book, or both used at Marvel on different books. I still believe that.

However, I also know how Marvel functions. The company holds this view that there’s only room for one character that fits a certain mold to be active. For many years, the assumption was that if Magneto is around, then Polaris is redundant. After she was confirmed as Magneto’s daughter again, a certain editor seemed to take the attitude that if Polaris is Magneto’s daughter, then it hurts Scarlet Witch as Magneto’s daughter. That Polaris being Magneto’s daughter made Wanda “redundant” in the role.

Those reasons are bull. But they’re also the way some people at Marvel think. Polaris’ options are constrained by whatever those people have as assumptions on how characters can and can’t be used.

Because of this, I’m irked by Mach 2/Nomi because she might be placed in roles that Polaris should be in.

Now, in this specific story, she’s fine. She’s not taking a role that could go to Lorna. She’s playing a part unique to her that fits the story’s needs.

My concern isn’t this story. It’s future stories.

It’s in essence the same root concern I had when Peter David had Lorna said she could go without seeing her father again for the rest of her life. When Peter David wrote that, it gave Marvel an excuse to keep her away from Magneto and the rest of her family, which Marvel jumped on.

It’s also partly informed by Marvel’s trend of trying to “replace” Polaris with other characters. During Axis, they used Enchantress in this manner. Post-Axis, on Uncanny Avengers, they introduced a “sister” for the Maximoff twins called Luminous for the same reason. Abigail Brand is also used much more often than Lorna. What’s to stop Marvel from doing the same with Mach 2/Nomi?

We know Polaris is going to show up for X-Men Blue #9. They made it a meaningful announcement at C2E2, I presume to get ahead of X-Men Blue complaints about Mach 2/Nomi if plans for Polaris weren’t known. I think Bunn did really well with a darker leader Lorna in Deadpool & The Mercs For Money, and I think he gets a better grasp on who she is as a character each time he writes her.

Under other circumstances, I might have dropped X-Men Blue when I heard about Nomi’s appearance and only picked it up again once Polaris appeared. I’m planning to keep reading unless something glaring pops up. Although Marvel has burned me in the past, I’ll lend cautious trust toward Bunn and Paniccia in this case. Especially since Paniccia’s spoken highly of her on Twitter.

Hi Cullen. Love your work and glad to have you as a writer of the X-Men Blue. One question… are we going to see more of Polaris after issue#9? I’m really excited about the whole thing. Thank you in advance for your reply.

cullenbunn:

Polaris will have a very important and interesting role to play in the series. 

This is good to hear. As an aside, sorry if I’m all or part of the reason you weren’t responding to people on Tumblr for the past 4 months.

Cullen Bunn Sale! – Comics by comiXology

There’s a one day Cullen Bunn sale on Comixology. This is relevant for Polaris fans because it includes Magneto #18-21, the final arc and the one that includes Lorna alongside her father.

Unfortunately, the sale does not include Secret Wars: House of M (IMO among the best treatment of her recently; Bunn co-wrote/helped with Dennis Hopeless on #2-4 but not #1 which was all Hopeless) or the recent Deadpool and the Mercs for Money issue (cause it’s recent).

Cullen Bunn Sale! – Comics by comiXology

Hey there. As it’s been a few months, I wanted to ask: do you still have plans involving Polaris in the future, or hope to use her again at some point? I understand if this is a question you can’t answer.

cullenbunn:

I’ve just written some Polaris stuff… but not in the series you might expect. 

Wow… thanks for answering. I honestly assumed both that you had given up on your Tumblr blog entirely, and that Polaris got killed or depowered (which I realize could still be the case) and we’d never see her again. I hope what you wrote gets to make real use of her and gets published. I’ll keep an eye out at least.

Polaris probably won’t appear in Uncanny X-Men (for this arc at least)

Marvel solicitations for November 2016 have been released today. With it, I think it’s now safe to say there’s very, very strong evidence for something warned could happen and strongly suspected was the case for the past couple months: Polaris either isn’t going to appear on Uncanny X-Men in the current arc after all, or she’s going to have an incredibly small and/or poorly depicted role.

It was nearly half a year ago when Cullen Bunn said Lorna would appear in the third arc of Uncanny X-Men. Since then, he’s said nothing. The only time Bunn got presented with the question of Lorna’s future in a way he couldn’t ignore, in-person at San Diego Comic Con, his only answer was to confirm she would eventually appear again someday.

Let’s contrast this to everything else going on at Marvel.

In the same session at SDCC, Bunn had no problem with answering someone’s question about Havok by stating that not only would people see him very soon, but that he was being held back purposely for important story reasons.

Upcoming comic book events and issues have no qualms with highlighting the fact Rachel Grey will take part in Civil War II X-Men, and that both Warlock and Dani Moonstar will appear soon.

The only possible good reason I can fathom for why we wouldn’t have seen Polaris by now is if she’s going to have a role in upcoming events that’s so astoundingly huge and unexpected, it has a chance of shattering all expectations from Marvel and bringing in a golden era for Lorna’s use as a character.

As much as I’d love to believe that fantasy rendition of events, my personal experiences have taught me to know better. Pleasant surprises are rare, and disappointments are common. This is shaping up to be more of the same.

I could be wrong. I’m not saying my conclusions and logic are infallible. After all, I expected that Marvel would depower or kill Lorna during Secret Wars, and I was wrong about that. But everything I see points to this outcome, and unless I hear some good news that says otherwise, I’m trusting the evidence.