“Best Kept Secrets” + X-Factor

I’m combining two topics into this post.

I recently had reason to think of “best kept secrets.” Generally, we think of that as a good, endearing trait. Like being a best kept secret makes that thing more valuable, has the extra street cred of being an in-group privilege.

You see that cozy little cafe down the street, the one you’d miss if you weren’t looking for it? They make the best sandwiches you would ever eat. But not many people know about it. It’s a special privilege for those who know about it.

But I heard someone that pointed out: best kept secrets die quietly.

That same little cafe? When times get tough, maybe their business struggles to survive. Maybe it doesn’t survive. And then 50 years after its closure, because it was so small and secret, nobody remembers it even existed. Despite all the good work put in, it’s disappeared from public knowledge.

Polaris is a best kept secret.

She’s an amazing character, with amazing potential, whose background offers a lot of relatable content and depth. We’ve seen what’s possible with this. She was the breakout character on Gifted, even without being able to call upon history (e.g. Genosha) or relationships (e.g. Scarlet Witch) that exist in the comics. We’ve seen tons of excitement and fan content over the years from people who find out she exists.

But that’s the key. They need to know she exists. Which is something Marvel doesn’t want people to know.

I could cite a lot of things, but HoX/PoX/DoX is easiest because it’s recent. Marvel didn’t acknowledge Lorna’s history with Genosha or Krakoa. They didn’t include her on the X-women variant cover. They only used her as something to build up Magneto and Havok, and exposition provided by them. And now, she’s going to be put on X-Factor – not as a leader, but as a supporting character they’re trying to frame as sort of an overseer or advisor or something. And in talking about the book, the only aspect of her Leah mentioned was her relationship to Havok. Despite how, along with so many other things, she could’ve said something about wanting to delve more into Lorna and Rachel’s dynamic due to history in space.

Every single action taken by Marvel lately has been one geared toward forcing Lorna to stay bogged down as a “best kept secret” who serves the whims of whatever characters they like and respect more, or whatever story they want to sacrifice her on the altar of. In spite of how Gifted demonstrated she can be and deserves so much more.

This is not the way. And I reject it.

I’ve had some people, mostly eager fans of HoX/PoX/DoX or Marvel, suggest that Marvel’s treatment of Lorna is more than enough and I should be happy instead of critical. That I’m somehow in the wrong for demanding better for her, and sometimes citing how other characters aren’t getting their due either and should.

I’m not going to be quiet about Lorna. I’m not going to let Marvel kill her as a “best kept secret.” If they can’t do better by her, then they should just not use her and leave her to her fandom making everything of her that Marvel won’t. If Marvel wants to get in the way of that, they’ll see me call out when they do.

If this is supposed to be such a “great new era” for the X-Men franchise like Marvel and its corporate fans claim, then I expect them to show it. I expect them to treat Lorna and other characters a hell of a lot better. I expect them to interrogate long-standing “traditions” and if they hold any merit. I expect them to radically adapt and improve upon their creative philosophy, to better utilize what they have and touch fans who they’ve missed for so long due to bad policy.

Simply making mutants the dominant species is not a new era. Giving them fluff like their own language, a resurrection process, that sort of thing is just the appearance of change. Real change is deeper and harder.

That’s topic one. I also said I would be talking about X-Factor, topic two.

I’m against the upcoming X-Factor book. I’ve said why. It’s placing Lorna into a supporting character role for a team book led by Northstar, while Lorna isn’t doing something more important elsewhere. More importantly, said team book is named X-Factor, a book she’s been stuck on for 30 years and which she previously led. Lastly, there’s been zero sign of Leah considering who Lorna is for herself. Just her talking to a couple friends she knows who are fans, and taking away from one of them that apparently Havok is more important than anything else about everything Lorna’s been through in her life.

Some people (again, mainly HoX/PoX/DoX fans) think I’m being too hasty and judgmental about X-Factor and what Leah Williams might do with Lorna. They think we haven’t seen enough yet for me to be able to make that determination.

I understand their reasons for thinking this. And I need to pull in some of my own history for full, proper consideration. Back in 2011/2012, when Marvel announced that Polaris was going back to X-Factor written by Peter David, I was pissed. I saw it as a backstep. As Marvel trying to undo Lorna’s character development and revert her to a 90s view of her. I fully expected that Peter David, having written Lorna in the 90s and being older at this point, would feel strongly compelled to revert Lorna to how she was when he last wrote her and ignore anything writers did after him.

About this, I’ve said before: in retrospect, I was wrong and too quick to judge. Peter David ended up doing a lot of good things for Lorna, contrary to what I expected back then. I didn’t imagine him giving Lorna her origin story, having Lorna lead ANXF, or having Lorna build up her relationships with Wanda and Pietro. And when Peter David DID write her origin story, I expected the worst – and was pleasantly surprised.

But that was back then. Things have changed greatly.

I was new to X-Men comics in 2011/2012. I had been told things, and read things, but I hadn’t experienced things yet. I didn’t have much grasp on how Marvel thinks and functions.

More importantly, Marvel’s had more problems with how they treat Lorna in the past few years than they did in 2011/2012. Yes, in 2011/2012, she had been tossed into space and then space limbo. And yes, her getting sent into space was purely to be Havok’s girlfriend. But there were at least bright spots like her time with Crystal and Luna. And just 2-3 years prior, Lorna had a big role on Wolverine and the X-Men, and AU versions of her did great things in Jeff Parker’s Exiles and Fantastic Force. Mike Carey’s Five Miles South of the Universe re-established that Magneto is her father, that she’s a mutant, and her return to Earth could have technically re-opened doors; arguments could’ve been made that Lorna returning to X-Factor was just a baby step to regaining a platform.

Plus, many of the biggest problems with Marvel’s treatment of her seemed isolated to how a certain editor outside the X-books saw her. Not problems within the X-books themselves.

Jump to today. We spent late 2015 to early/mid 2017 with Lorna in limbo. When she DID return, it was primarily to promote Havok and Magneto, and everything she did on Blue was in service to that. What little good that came pre-HoX/PoX/DoX, was a tiny drop amid usage for the benefit of other characters. Like a panel or two of her doing something cool before she talks up Havok to launch him into a new team book he leads.

The trend of Marvel and the X-Men books at present is one where there’s no reason to trust they’ll change course with X-Factor. Especially with the position they put Lorna in, and how Leah’s talked about her so far.

If I turn out to be wrong, I’ll be amazed and own it. Like I own that I was wrong about Peter David, above. But it would not be an unjustified wrongness. It would be absolutely justified by my experiences and observations over the past few years.

Which means that I’m not going to give X-Factor or Leah “benefit of the doubt” when history tells me that would be a mistake.

They can say Lorna is “the north star of the team” as much as they want. I’ve seen others say such things only to do the exact opposite. I saw Motomu Toriyama claim he was going to write Aya Brea as a cool mature woman in her 30s in 3rd Birthday, only to write “Aya” as a woman scared of combat who endures and accepts repeated sexual harassment and has her clothes ripped off for a game mechanic argued as “for realism” (despite Aya being sort of like a ghost). Before revealing at the end that it was Eve in Aya’s body, and killing Aya. I could say I’m going to buy every single X-Men comic out there, doesn’t mean I’m actually going to do it.

You can’t expect me to put faith in this book when both Marvel and the writer are unable to acknowledge any of her own actual character history.

How did you discover Polaris?

image

I don’t know how much activity this post will get, but it’s worth a try because I’m curious.

If you’re looking at this post, you most likely know who Polaris (Lorna Dane) is. My question: how did you find out about her?

Mine is after the cut, or jump, or whatever you want to call it.

I can’t remember how I got there, but at some point in early 2009, I was link-hopping around the Marvel wikia. Maybe I recently saw the Iron Man film, maybe someone was talking about Marvel and I was just curious, I honestly don’t know. Eventually, one of those links took me to the Polaris entry.

Of course, her aesthetic intrigued me, but her character history was what hooked me. There were all these personal emotional events in her life, things I never even knew happened in the Marvel universe, that went completely unknown to me for my entire life. I’d grown into an adult without knowing she even existed.

That day, I immediately went out to a nearby comic book shop and bought about four comics that had Lorna on the covers. It would’ve been better if I got a list of her most important appearances like House of M, or at least bought a whole story arc instead of just one issue of it, but I didn’t know that at the time. This level of comic fandom was new to me. Luckily, one of those books was the TPB of Civil War: House of M.

So that’s my story. I’m curious to see where everyone else jumped on board. Maybe it was her stint on Uncanny X-Men? 90s X-Factor? The Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon? All-New X-Factor? Some great cosplay or fanart? Whatever it is, I’m interested to find out.

Magneto #20/Inferno #3/Starlord & Kitty Pryde Thoughts

Guys, I slipped. I thought Starlord & Kitty Pryde was coming out next week, and only just discovered it came out this week. I also never got around to sharing my thoughts on Inferno #3, and I need to do a better rundown of my thoughts on Magneto #20 now that the things I had worried about were (thankfully) proven wrong.

Magneto #20

I said this with the previews, but it was really cool that Magneto posited the thought that another version of him may exist in the other universe, and may be acting against him. We already know that version of him is dead, but Magneto doesn’t know that, and it’s a great introduction to showing he has a limited POV compared to the reader.

Briar looks a lot more cunning in this art, which I think is the biggest reason some fans theorized she could have been Mystique. It was an interesting theory among the ones out there on who Briar could be, though I’m honestly glad she turned out to still be her own unique character.

Lorna telling Magneto he can stop fighting is… awkward to me, but I can definitely see her saying that out of concern he could kill himself with too much strain. It shows she’s aware that he’s in a self-sacrificial state of mind.

The issue also does a good job of representing all the big players from the solo, and including Lorna in the mix. There’s a definite “home stretch” feeling from it.

And Lorna looks amazing in her dress. I’d love to see this one as a cosplay some day, but I have a feeling that’ll never happen. I’m still not quite sure what to think of all the people missing limbs, showing scars, etc at a party to celebrate Magneto; it seems kind of strange. For me, personally, it stretches believability, but I could just be missing something important.

And then, of course, the end. Before Magneto #20, I was worried she might get killed off; after it released, I was worried she might’ve been depowered. Thankfully, neither were true, but my kneejerk response at the time was extremely unfair.

Draining Lorna to use her power instead of Lorna having to bear any of it is definitely something Magneto would do. He’s had a long history of thinking he’s doing the right thing by withholding information from Lorna and doing things that may feel like betrayal, but he thinks are in their best interest.

In all, Magneto #20 was a great read, and I’m looking forward to Magneto #21.

Inferno #3

There was no indication Polaris would be in this one, so I didn’t find out until after the issue already released. I still managed to read it digitally. Forgive me if I say something wrong, as I’m jumping right in the middle and not entirely aware of the entire backdrop.

Colossus’ eagerness to save his sister comes across well with the demons on the stairs and busting down the door. It’s interesting to see this Havok around given the character history, too. Domino seems a lot more strategic than Colossus, which I get the feeling is meant to suggest Colossus might have been more successful on past attempts to save Illyana if he’d been more strategic that way.

Artist did an excellent job with what I assume to be an attempt at a “Whore of Babylon” play. I think that one deserves kudos to the writer and artist. As far as Madelyne Pryor goes… I disagree with the complaints that led to her underboob getting covered. What matters is context and how well it fits the character. Madelyne’s the type that’s shown she enjoys such displays. I’d complain if it was out of character for her to show underboob and made her look bad, but it fits her history and doesn’t tear her down. She’s a very sensual type.

I’m happy that while all the X-Men are wearing about the same uniform, Lorna has a green glow and her headdress to remain close to her iconic look. Got Strong Guy there too as an homage to X-Factor.

At the end, Mister Sinister looks a lot more gruff than I’m familiar with for his 616 counterpart. It’s a neat spin for the work he does.

Star-Lord & Kitty Pryde

There are a LOOOOT of cool cameos mixed into the very first page. It does something you really don’t see much of, one of the things I praised Peter David for when it happened in bits and pieces on ANXF: seeing characters in their everyday downtime. We get a lot of the big stuff, which is important, but it’s also nice just to see the characters being people beyond that.

That said, part of me wishes Lorna used her powers to play the guitar; but I can see her wanting to do it naturally too. Still, imagine what music tricks she could pull using both hands and powers.

It’s great that we get a brief summary of Battleworld and how Starlord ended up where he is, for people (like me) who haven’t been reading the major books. Thumbs up any time that happens. The commentary with this world’s Drax also helps to establish that characters may be much different from the 616 ones people know.

Holy hell Kitty Pryde’s dress looks gorgeous.

I just realized I’ve devolved into this.

Holy shit, knives crafted from Longshot’s bones? God Doom doesn’t mess around, huh?

There’s also this picture I haven’t seen make the rounds.

I don’t have much else I can think to say, other than that this is another interesting use of X-Factor, but overall pretty good issue. Hoping Lorna gets to play a bit more in future issues. 🙂

I ran across this picture among the screencaps I have stored on my hard drive. This is from All-New X-Factor #1.

I was in arguments recently with another guy on Tumblr that didn’t like me criticizing Marvel or parts of All-New X-Factor. Among my criticisms, I said ANXF #2-6 treated Lorna very poorly, and things only started to improve for her with ANXF #7. Included in this was how it was Gambit who recruited the other half of the team, not the team’s designated leader – which was even worse in Danger’s case given Lorna clearly didn’t want Danger on her team when Gambit recruited her.

But of course, there are many things that WERE good about All-New X-Factor, otherwise I wouldn’t complain that Marvel didn’t give it proper marketing and support. Overarching interaction with Pietro, sister time with Wanda (ANXF #14), some of the spots with Gambit were good for Lorna.

That’s where this picture falls into place. I loved Lorna’s recruitment of Gambit here. She’s very cool, very composed, very intelligent and comes across as extremely business-savvy. I wanted to read this Lorna badly, and I’m happy we did get to see more of this Lorna starting with ANXF #7.

So, that’s all I wanted to say. I just wanted to share one of the moments I see as a highlight of Lorna’s time on ANXF. 🙂

rudetoons:

Drawing more official #marvel cards.

One thing you learn doing gigs is you carnt show off art as your doing it because your either waiting for company approval or your contract doesnt let you…. So im drawing Marvel Fleer Retro right now, but i legally can not show you the photo of the cards with 7 Jean Greys on lol…. So see a behind the scenes on this Marvel set which is already approved from a few months ago.

#marvelart #sketchcards #drawing #aceo #psc #sketch #xmen #avengers #picture #art #artwork #cosplay #cartoon #comic #comicart #comicbook #vegan #veganart #vege #promarker #polaris #wolverine #deadpool #rogue #hulk #ironman #goth #emo #green

I just wanna take a moment to point out this really cool thing I stumbled across while looking for Polaris stuff.

Redbubble

I don’t know if this is the original artist of the picture, but the above art is being used as something you can buy to have added on shirts, mugs, iphone cases, tote bags, etc. I haven’t tried to buy any of them myself, I just think it’s cool that there’s both enough interest in her and so little official merchandise including her that people feel it’s worth it to set up stuff like this to tap into that almost completely untapped market.