Many of the times I insist on/demand something for Lorna, I know that in the eyes of Marvel, they consider it “unreasonable.”
That does not mean I do not genuinely feel that way. I mean what I say. I think what I’m demanding is absolutely reasonable. There’s a disparity between what I know is reasonable, and what Marvel – and people who cheerlead and defend them – thinks is reasonable.
But I can’t (and won’t) base what I want and push for based on what Marvel thinks is appropriate and reasonable. Here’s why.
Polaris’ history is one of constantly being underappreciated, misused and misrepresented. The opinion of her at Marvel is very low. The attitude there alternates between thinking she’s good fodder for promoting other characters (mostly men, e.g. Havok) and nothing else, and thinking she’s completely worthless. There have been attempts to replace her with other characters. Multiple times.
What you push for sets a bar. In ordinary, good scenarios, a company would attempt to meet or exceed that bar. Marvel does not do this. They always, always strive to come up short of that bar. My top theories as to why being that they think Lorna doesn’t deserve it, and that they don’t want fans to feel like Marvel will do whatever they want.
If you want Lorna to get something, you have to demand it. Even if you think Marvel won’t go for it. When you do, you have a higher chance of at least getting something that may not be quite what you wanted, but it’s at least closer.
By contrast, if you go with the bare minimum of what you want, the least effort that will satisfy your needs… Marvel is never going to give it. If you want Lorna to lead a team, maybe she’ll get to do it for one story arc. If you want Lorna to be a team member, you might get lucky and see her show up for one arc of a team book as a temp replacement. If you want Lorna to appear in a story arc, you might be lucky if she shows up in one issue. Want her in one issue, maybe she’ll show up as wallpaper in the background.
With Lorna, you have to set the bar high to receive anything. Otherwise you get nothing.
Yesterday, the X-Office at Marvel announced their post-HoX/PoX books and rosters. And…
The “new era” touted with Hickman is the exact same as everything that came before. I can say this before HoX/PoX even come out for one reason: their treatment of Polaris.
This is where a typical fan in typical fashion would typically assume the only basis I have for making this remark is fanboyism. Allow me to explain.
Marvel has an established corporate culture. Outsiders need not apply. Marvel would like people to think that they are very open-minded, willing to try new things, accepting of different perspectives and suggestions. But the reality is that they are not. Sina Grace recently outlined his struggles with Marvel while he was working there, as one concrete example. And that was with a high-profile character recently touted and publicized in media for his recent reveal as being gay. It’s worse when you dig deeper down to characters traditionally looked down on at Marvel… like Polaris.
In the past, I have seen countless forms of dickery out of Marvel. To go through every single one of them would be (and has been) a post in itself. Today, I am going to focus instead on the biases against Lorna that have been reflected in people who work at Marvel.
A year ago, a fan asked Gail Simone about a Polaris solo. Her response? “Polaris might be a hard sell, but I think a few lady mutants could carry their own book…”
I want to stress that we do not know how Gail feels about Lorna with this – whether she likes or hates Lorna. What we do know, is that as an employee working at Marvel, she thinks a Polaris solo would never happen at Marvel, or that it would be an excruciating uphill climb.
This is echoed in remarks from Jordan White last year.
This came out of a back and forth I was having with him at the time. In his (mistaken) belief, Lorna doesn’t have enough fan demand to sell a book.
Lastly, recently, I found out a Marvel artist viewed Lorna as a “third tier character” from the 90s, in response to a Lorna fan cosplaying as her at a local convention.
That’s three comments from people who work for Marvel that all converge on a central perception: that Lorna is worthless, has nothing to offer, and shouldn’t get much (if any) use – especially not as her own character.
Here’s why this is a problem: Polaris is one of the most high profile underrepresented, underappreciated, misunderstood characters within Marvel’s entire roster of X-Men characters. No, she’s not the only character where these descriptors apply. But unlike other characters, she has a LONG history of mistreatment to go with it, and she has the Gifted version of her breaking out in popularity recently despite all expectations.
When Gifted was first coming out, majority focus of advertising and promos was on Blink. During that time, Marvel put Blink on a team book AND released a new volume of Exiles with her as the leader. But when Polaris became the breakout star instead, they… used her to promote Havok. Twice. Including this cover that makes her look like a trophy for Havok and Magneto to fight over.
Since 2017, most of her use has put her in lesser roles, building up other characters – so far, all of them men. But the main beneficiary has been Havok. In all her appearances except the Uncanny X-Men event (NOT ongoing book), she has been used to promote him in some way. Whether it’s her return to comics getting hijacked, or a kissing image forced into Prisoner X, or releasing a Marvel Tales book with Lorna on the cover but the actual story inside is of Havok.
This treatment of Lorna is traditional. It’s how she’s been mistreated for decades: as if she has no value whatsoever except as a man’s (Havok’s) pet/status booster/helper. If she’s not being used to support Havok, then she goes into limbo, because that’s the only “worth” Marvel culture has seen in her for most of her existence.
And that is the crux of my argument behind why nothing has changed with HoX/PoX and what comes after. Lorna’s absence.
If Lorna was unhampered by old time bullshit biases, her newfound popularity via Gifted would have resulted in not only a meaningful presence in coming events, but a big spot of some kind (leadership, or a solo or mini, etc) to at least test the waters and make a bit of extra cash. Marvel’s argument for not giving characters books has been “they wouldn’t sell,” but Marvel has had no problem giving books to characters like Lockjaw, or Multiple Man, or Chamber, or countless others. Even Strong Guy got a oneshot in the 90s. Lorna has been given nothing.
More importantly, if the X-Men books were going through any kind of real change, part of that process would involve seeing where they have done poor work in the past and making amends for it. Spotting characters long overdue for a fair shot and giving them that fair shot. Finding important events and history that have gone ignored for far too long, sometimes decades, and bringing them back and revisiting them.
Polaris has all three in spades. The negative attitude toward her at Marvel alone is proof of this. The poor treatment she’s received across decades has become so ingrained in Marvel’s corporate culture that they can’t see her potential, and dismiss and downplay fan interest. Interest, I will add, that has led to countless pieces of fanart, fanfic, cosplays, full-fledged game mods, and so on. I even made a Polaris minicomic (commissioned Mlad for art, written by me) for her 50th anniversary. A character with no fandom does not get this level of fan activity.
It is also important to add within this that both Matt Nix for Gifted and Chuck Austen on Uncanny X-Men in the 00s originally planned to put Lorna in a “token girlfriend” role, but radically changed their plans when they actually got to know her. When they put some real thought into Lorna, really dug into who she is, Lorna’s popularity soared.
So this is the summary. The lack of any meaningful presence for Lorna in HoX/PoX means they haven’t put any thought into her. If they haven’t put any thought into her, it means they haven’t done so for the franchise as a whole either. Putting deep thought into the X-Men franchise as a whole would’ve inevitably turned up the need for a serious overhaul in how they view and treat Lorna given her history and recent events. She would not have been the only character to come out of the woodwork with this need, but she would’ve been one of the big ones.
If nothing is changing for Lorna, then nothing is changing for X-Men. It’s that simple.
This is not a prediction of the success or failure of HoX/PoX or what comes after. It’s an assessment of what will come regardless of the outcome.
My final point. There has been a hell of a lot of hype surrounding HoX/PoX about how it’s supposedly a huge revolution for the X-Men franchise. How it’s supposed to change everything we know. To which I have two things to mention.
It’s evident that X-Men is intended by Marvel to make a huge comeback from the past decade of Marvel undermining it due to their spat with Fox over the film rights. In video game terms, this makes HoX/PoX the equivalent of the most important AAA game being released by a major video game publisher for the year.
You know what happens in Japan with such games? Famitsu gives it near-perfect scores. Doesn’t matter how good or bad it actually is, Famitsu will score it highly because they know it’s too important for the company to assess properly. The same goes for most publication style reviews. Only exceptions are cases like the original FF14 release, where they’re so bad that calling them out is a near necessity.
Writers, artists, etc working in the industry also have a vested interest in going along with what Marvel wants people to think. Play nice, and you stay on Marvel’s good side. Stay on their good side, you have a higher chance of getting gigs.
Of course, not every reviewer, writer, etc is going to behave this way. It would be asinine and insulting for me to say that. Many will speak highly and genuinely believe it. This is where hype comes in. Hype has a tendency to make feelings stronger than normal. I’ve seen it countless times, as initial hype for a game gives way to apathetic response once the hype is gone. Huge Marvel fans who want to believe Marvel is the best will see what Marvel releases exactly how Marvel wants it to be seen. Actual response by non-hardcore fans will be much different, and even hardcore fan attitudes will change somewhat once the shine of hype is worn away.
I’ve seen this play out with various Marvel comics already, by the way. Where fans of a writer will say bad depictions are perfect, or haters will say great depictions are awful, but when it’s been out for a while, the real views rise to the top.
In the end, I could always be wrong. I might be missing something and not realize it. I don’t know what I don’t know. But this is what I expect based on all the evidence I’ve seen – and my sense of Marvel has gotten much keener in the past 2 years than it was any time before.
Hi everyone! Yes, it’s been a long ass time since I wrote a WordPress blog post. I’ve either been tweeting, posting on boards, felt it was better represented in a Tumblr post, or did certain other things of no mention. 🙂
I was also busier (emotionally, mentally) in my offline life than usual. The stuff that made me busy is gone, so I’m freed up for more of this again.
Over a year or two ago, I talked to someone in the comics industry about the idea of a Polaris solo. I’m deliberately not naming them because I don’t want to risk bad comments sent their way, especially as I know they meant well and would’ve said what they said regardless of who they were talking about.
Anyway, this someone said that they thought a solo (or rather, a solo pitch) could only be successful if there was an underlying “core” unique philosophy that would really stand out and carry the book. They felt that one of Lorna being a champion of mutants post-Genosha wasn’t unique enough from other X-Men. I’d obviously say otherwise, but I can understand why they would think that as an outsider to Lorna fandom. How she differs is hard to summarize, best handled in execution of story.
Since then, I’ve occasionally tried to write posts like this but tried to make it fit closer to What was asked of there. I’m able to write this post for one reason: I’m ditching that “prerequisite.”
Lorna’s poor treatment for most of her history is built off following Marvel expectations and code. Playing ball as Marvel would have it played always, ALWAYS holds her back. So I’m not going to do that. I’m throwing out what could be done for a Lorna solo in free form, sharing everything that would make it successful in the right hands.
And I make this post knowing that there’s no way current Marvel would ever give Lorna a solo book. They’re too biased against her. They could have a million guaranteed sales for a Polaris solo and they’d refuse. With no chance they’ll make one, there’s no risk that I might accidentally say things that would keep them from making one.
I strongly believe the key reason the Scarlet Witch solo had such poor numbers was because it failed to utilize (or rather, Marvel aggressively barred) Wanda’s meaningful connections getting play.
Lorna’s solo success would come in part from stories told with other characters. Mostly ones that are actually relevant to her. Occasionally, ones that she hasn’t interacted with before.
Captain America and/or Iron Man
This is just a list of what I could think of as characters with potential for stories with Lorna. The one thing I’ve learned from writing fics for over 15 years is, when you’re really in the zone, you go places you wouldn’t expect – and one story can suddenly spawn another you weren’t expecting based on where it went. I have some fics that I expected to be self-contained and I ended up writing multiple chapters.
I’ll get into some stories I’ve thought of with some of these characters below – along with ideas for brand new ones not tied to those characters.
You will notice I left Havok (and Cyclops) out completely. A Polaris solo is only going to be good and succeed if Havok is kept the hell away from it. Even though there would be other character interactions, the solo’s primary goal is to make the most of Lorna, what she has to offer, and all those bits about her that have gone unused for too long. Havok has held her back for decades, and interacting with him has been overplayed as hell. His involvement would only hurt the solo.
Cyclops could still be good for interaction. I mainly left him off because I expect any dynamic between Lorna and him would lead some to expect Havok to be at least mentioned. And he shouldn’t be.
You do, of course, need storylines. It can’t be a character ambling around in random scenes that go nowhere. So here’s storylines I’ve thought of.
Retelling of X-Men #49-50 all from Lorna’s POV
Pre-X-Men high school issue(s), showing why she dyed her hair, seeing her foster parents, etc
Good opportunity to introduce a new character that then figures into present day events
Sometimes her powers act up in moments of stress, out of her awareness (e.g. “why isn’t the TV working?”)
Malice possessing Lorna again, BUT with a very heavy empathetic toward Lorna POV
Multi-issueSee who Lorna is by how people respond to her acting “OOC,” and how Malice is able to exploit their faith in Lorna
Also see INSIDE Lorna’s head, as she fights Malice from within; backdoor way of also seeing old events and how she feels about them
Anti-Apocalypse cult; Lorna dealing with them
I imagine this as a flashback, pre-space story; see her fighting them, saving people from getting killed by their reckless attacks, integrating in the culture to not stand out and learning from it, etc
Alternately, modern day setting, could be a chance to do something with Dust
Zaladane returns, trying to ruin Lorna’s life again
Good opportunity to restore the twins as Lorna’s siblings, and end of this storyline could segue into storylines with them
IMO Zaladane could be ultimately revealed as Lorna’s sister on her mother’s side
Lorna and Wanda dealing with consequences of M-Day
Lorna got REALLY screwed over by losing her powers on M-Day; IMO they could fight it out, and ultimately come to a point of catharsis that revives and deepens their sister bond for future stories
Serval Industries: what happened to it?
Lorna’s eye cam still exists; could do things with that
Status update with Nurse Annie and Carter
Don’t have a lot of thoughts on what ELSE could be done here; maybe tie in with other comics’ stories.
Would also be a good time for Lorna to apologize for blaming Nurse Annie for things that were not her fault during Austen’s run; Havok not named of course
Red Skull payback
Depends on where Red Skull is in things now. I’m mainly thinking about Axis, how he exploited Genosha’s dead, Lorna finally getting a chance to kick his ass over it
Auntie Lorna helps Luna as she’s growing up!
Polaris and Black Cat on a heist. That’s it. That’s the idea.
You can thank Secret Wars: House of M for this.
Polaris and X-23 shut down a shitty clandestine government project
Built off X-23’s history (of course) and how the government at one point wanted to turn Lorna into a weapon in their arsenal against Magneto
Lorna and Iceman finally get together about his coming out
Insights into their history way back to when she first joined the X-Men
Revisit Genosha, relive the final moments in detail and see what life was like before the genocide (Lorna picking up residuals)
And that’s all the ideas I can think of right this second. I may edit this post to add others!
When I was trying to think of this in a “core philosophy” way, I was taking it as more of a world tour thing. Lorna going to different countries, exposing herself to different cultures, all to better understand all the walks of life mutants come from and better protect and help them. And maybe thatt could happen here. But there’s a hell of a lot as it is able to be touched on as said even without the “world tour” component.
This post is prompted by comments by someone about how much I stan Polaris.
I am not “the authority” on Lorna. I’m just one fan among many fans who care about this character. I may be very vocal and demanding, and I may sometimes commission art or write tons of posts, but that doesn’t make the things I say any more important than anyone else. Other fans have drawn fanart themselves, or created and worn cosplays that took tons of time to make, or modded Lorna into various games.
There are plenty of fans that think differently from me on all sorts of things. I think Lorna needs to keep her iconic costume or a variation of it, other fans think she needs something purple like she had in the Austen era. I think her time as Malice should be explored and essentially reframed/rewritten to fix how she was treated in its original use, other fans think Malice should never ever come up again because they’re afraid Marvel will wax nostalgic too hard and just repeat the sins of the past. My being loud doesn’t mean I’m more right than them. There are some fans that know a hell of a lot more about the history for both Lorna and X-Men/Marvel than I do and possibly ever will.
I say all this for a couple reasons. As a Lorna fan, I want what’s best for the character. What’s best for her isn’t always going to be what I want, or what I think is best. I can be wrong. As part of a broader fandom, I want to be respectful of differing views from my own. Honestly, that’s the only way fandom really grows. Different perspectives contributing to a whole.
So if you see me say something strongly, remember, that doesn’t mean what I want and believe matters more, or that I’m more “right.” All it means is that it’s my POV, and I feel strongly about it.
I’ve been reluctant to make this kind of post because I’ve felt like it’s insultingly egotistical of me to think others may think this way. But this time, I feel it’s more important to state something like this instead of letting selfish concerns about how it might sound get in the way.
I’ve considered whether or not to make this post for a while now. Ultimately, I decided to go for it. Because I’m confident in how things will play out.
I’ve noticed that over the past few months, the X-Men comic books – under the editorial control of Jordan D. White – have attempted to sow the seeds of forcing Havok on Lorna again. I’m not showing the images, cause I don’t feel it’s worth the time, but here’s a quick list.
Flashback of Lorna and Havok seeing baby Cable
One image of Lorna kissing Havok in Prisoner X, that doesn’t fit with anything else about the page
Forthcoming use of Malice-possessed Lorna on Uncanny X-Men, where Havok is a key member of the team
I recognize the three goals of the X-Men books (and Jordan D. White) doing this.
If I complain about it, they hope my complaining will backfire and make people think of Lorna mostly for her association with Havok instead of her actual great qualities.
If I don’t complain about it, they hope my silence de facto permits them screwing Lorna over by making her all about being his girlfriend again.
It’s a test. They want to see how I react, what consequences they face, and if the slow roll instead of the right-in-your face bullshit that got pulled with X-Men Blue will work out better.
Framing this as “if I do X” does sound cocky, I admit. That’s why I usually don’t speak this way. But 1) I’m kinda using the I in a “plural” sense – myself as any fan out there, on an individual level vs collective level. And 2) even meaning it as specifically me, Marvel has a history of being petty and “punishing” people for not just accepting their garbage.
Cracked.com has previously pointed out how an editor printed a staff member’s resignation letter (#2), deliberately set up in story in a way to be insulting to the staff member who left. Marvel hasn’t changed in any meaningful way since then. It’s still run by people who will do stuff like this if they can get away with it.
So Marvel, and JDW, are trying to pull something with their recent spat of activity. They’ve had Havok hijack Lorna’s return on X-Men Blue, then had him lead a team of his own while Lorna got nothing, then made him a key member of the major flagship book while holding Lorna down in roles as a supporting character. All the while, trying to force Havok back onto her in the few appearances she’s been getting.
But here’s what I’ve been leading to: Marvel is going to fuck it up. Hard.
I literally don’t have to do anything except watch. If I died right now, they will still fall into a trap of their own making.
Let me give a little context though. This week, there was a HUUUUUGE uproar about how Rosenberg, in Uncanny X-Men, used trans panic in a clumsy and insensitive manner with Wolfsbane. To Rosenberg’s credit, he apologized. Not to the credit of anyone at Marvel, this shit keeps happening. They never try to fix it – as we’ve seen with all the ways they’ve done similar to Lorna and kept it intact if not reinforced it. They never learn. They make an apology, ask for donations to a cause, then 2-3 years later someone else fucks up in similar fashion.
My complaints about how Lorna’s been treated around Havok or because of him aren’t baseless. Every bit of what I’ve said, I know to be 100% accurate and valid. I’m not trying to “sell” people on a lie like Marvel is. I’ve been unveiling the truth and laying it bare.
Which is why I know that when – not if, but when – Marvel tries to go further than whispers at the moon, they are going to prove me right. On everything.
So let them try it. Let them fail. Let them not listen to a word I’ve said, and ruin themselves in the process. If they’re that eager to be disrespectful to Polaris in favor of their fanboying over Havok and toxic past treatment of Lorna, then they deserve every single thing they’re going to bring on themselves. And I won’t have to lift a finger.
I’m going to refer to this video and its lyrics. Why? Because it perfectly encapsulates where things stand for Polaris and dealing with Marvel.
Marvel is full of people who mostly disregard and disrespect Lorna. Some even hate her. They act like she’s not worthy of use, of having her potential explored, of being treated like a character of her own, of so, so much that she’s been denied for decades.
But it’s her time now. Nothing Marvel tries to do to hold her back or hurt her is going to change that. They can’t stop me from being a Lorna fan, pushing for her, doing things to spread awareness of her and build fandom.
They had a good most of the past 50 years getting their way. That time has ended. That’s canceled.
Yesterday on Twitter, I said I’d make a list of things I want for Lorna that I recognize as unreasonable and therefore I don’t ask for them. I’m doing this to make a larger point. It’s incredibly easy for people at Marvel who think she’s a worthless character to imagine that what I insist on is asking for too much. Here I’m showing the difference between reasonable me and unreasonable me.
Polaris as the focal star of a huge Marvel-wide event, a la Dark Phoenix or House of M
Marvel openly, publicly admitting Lorna’s been treated poorly for decades and apologizing for it, particularly busting the false myth that Claremont was a godsend for every character
The specific history of Lorna treated poorly to benefit Havok getting openly called out in the comics themselves
Everything Tom Brevoort did to try to erase or replace Lorna as Magneto’s daughter completely redone (e.g. Children’s Crusade re-released with Lorna actually in the House of M portrait, Avengers vs X-Men re-released only with Lorna heavily involved and a new special issue dedicated to her and Wanda, etc)
Spend at least the next decade with Lorna used and promoted as heavily as Wolverine, to catch up on lost time from decades of poor treatment
Polaris getting a solo, mini, oneshot or team book she leads to make up for the past few years (esp. being treated poorly to promote Havok on Blue)
Lorna included in Marvel events (at least at level of Uncanny)
Marvel not hijacking her moments and character elements and handing them off to other characters
Marvel using Lorna for her own value, not only using her to promote whatever big strong man they think she should be shown as inferior to this time
Marvel acknowledging her surviving the Genoshan genocide regularly in the comics themselves, that she’s been around for 50 years (since 1968), and various other important character bits and development
Lorna getting to interact and spend time with characters she hasn’t been used with properly for far too long (e.g. Jean Grey, Iceman)
Marvel not bending over backwards to undermine her (e.g. withholding comic covers, not promoting her origin story issue, etc) every time she has a shot at showing her real worth and interest
Lorna kept as Magneto’s daughter alongside Wanda regaining it, instead of acting like there can be only one and Lorna isn’t “worthy”
There are other situations where whether it would be reasonable or unreasonable depends on the context. Costume is one such case.
I might add more if I think of or remember more for either list. This is what I have now. Consider this a baseline.