X-Men film franchise spin-off THE GIFTED premieres on Fox Television October 2017. It will feature prominent longtime X-Men teammate Polaris aka Lorna Dane. Created in the 1960’s, almost original X-Men character Polaris plays the role of the on-again/off-again daughter of Magneto. In honor of the television debut of the character of Polaris, ComicsVerse hosted a podcast about Polaris’s role in THE GIFTED as well as the emotional identity of Lorna Dane.

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The following members of ComicsVerse’s staff feature in this podcast:

The following is a transcript of the podcast about Polaris.

Justin: I am not going to lie, I’ve secretly waited years for a podcast about Polaris. So in case you haven’t heard, Fox Television developed a series that takes place in Fox’s film X-Men Universe, Multiverse, whatever you call it. This series is called THE GIFTED. It stars that vampire dude who’s married to Anna Paquin from True Blood, and the awesome Amy Acker from Angel, and various other Joss Whedon things. The main characters in the story are not derived from the comics, but well-known X-Men characters like Blink, Thunderbird, who is played by an actor that when I look at just gets me pregnant.

Blair Redford as John Proudstar aka Thunderbird in Fox's THE GIFTED.
Blair Redford as John Proudstar aka Thunderbird in Fox’s THE GIFTED. Image courtesy of Fox Television.

We’re gonna have to take that one out. Thunderbird who’s played by a really charming actor, and Polaris, which I’m really excited about because she’s being featured in the series and I’ve waited forever for her to be on a television series or an X-Men movie. It was kinda cool that she was in Wolverine in the X-Men and she was in X-Men The Animated Series, if anyone remembers. Alright, so in my opinion Polaris AKA Lorna Dane, AKA the sometimes daughter of Magneto is one of X-Men and Marvel’s most underrated characters. I’ve always kinda talked about her.

Polaris aka "Lorna Dane" on the cover of ALL-NEW X-FACTOR #18.
Polaris aka “Lorna Dane” on the cover of ALL-NEW X-FACTOR #18. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment. Artist credit goes to Kristafer Anka and Jared Fletcher.

So for those of you who aren’t aware, Polaris is the seventh X-Men character. She predates Chris Claremont’s run of the X-Men, predates Storm, Wolverine, all those people, goes all the way back to Stan’s run. The only character that preceded her besides the original five which are Iceman, Angel, Jean Grey, Beast, and Scott. Polaris was originally billed as the daughter of Magneto and that fact has been proven wrong and retconned back and forth several times and as it now stands, she is still the child of Magneto, unlike Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver who have been retconned as now not being the children of Magneto.

The original five X-Men with Havok minus Polaris.
The original five X-Men with Havok minus Polaris. Images courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I’m gonna just go over the reading list really quick so that everyone knows what we read in preparation for this. So we read Uncanny X-Men 50 to 63, X-Men: The Hidden Years, X-Factor 87, which was an amazing issue I thought. And I saw Kat that you liked it; we’re gonna talk about it later. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men 132, although all of us have read the Grant Morrison run before because it’s just incredible, really amazing Jean Grey/Emma Frost moments which you should live for, because I do.

We read other Uncanny X-Men: 425, 426, 442, 443, Magneto Dark Seduction, Uncanny X-Men: Rise & Fall the Shi’ar Empire, X-Factor 243, All-New X-Factor: 1 through 20, Magneto: 18 through 21, and X-Men Blue: 9 through 11. So that was pretty fun and quite a lot of reading, so we feel really Polaris’d up right now.

Emma Dumont Stars as Polaris (Lorna Dane) on Fox’s THE GIFTED

Let’s start by talking about THE GIFTED. So are we excited to see the show? Is everyone here going to watch it?

Kat: I’m definitely gonna watch it. I love anything X-Men related. Mutants don’t get enough love on TV or movies. I loved Legion so much, I don’t think this is going to be anything like Legion but considering how great Legion was, I’m super excited that more mutants are going to be on the small screen.

Maite: Yeah, I’m super pumped about it. I thought the trailer made it look like it was gonna be really entertaining, had kind of a cool tone. And I think the television medium may actually be preferable than introducing a character like Polaris in the film series because I think the franchise has struggled in truly giving certain characters justice besides Wolverine, I guess, he always gets the love in his own series, I feel. So I’m looking forward to seeing how the television medium serves these characters.

“…not every character needs to necessarily pass the Bechdel Test.”

Mara: I completely agree with Maite. I feel like the pacing of a tv show will be much more conducive to the soap operatic nature of X-Men in general. So I feel like giving these characters a chance to really show their own, and also characters who might not be quite as familiar with a general movie going audience will really allow for a wider variety of mutants to show off what they can do to people who might not have been already exposed to them from the comics.

What We Want to See in Polaris’s Depiction on THE GIFTED

Justin: So what are we hoping to see in terms of the depiction of Polaris on the show?

Kat: I’m hoping that they take her character through the journey that she’s gone through in the comics, not necessarily everything that’s happened to her, but she’s gone through so many trials. And I feel like for the stuff that she’s in now she gains more agency over that part of her life. So I’d really just like to see them take her characterization through that whole journey.

Emma Dumont as Lorna Dane aka Polaris in THE GIFTED.
Emma Dumont as Lorna Dane aka Polaris in THE GIFTED. Image courtesy of Fox Television.

Maite: Yeah, I kind of agree with Kat, I really hope they show how she grows into her own identity, and with that, I’m curious to see how they depict her relationship with Magneto, if that’s even gonna be touched on in the show at all.

Will Polaris Maintain Her Role as Daughter of Magneto on THE GIFTED?

Marius: I very much agree and I think that especially when it comes to stuff like Magneto, I’m kind of curious to see how the show will treat the X-Men Universe and how it will connect to the Movie Universe in terms of the character of Magneto and whether their relationship will play a role. But also if maybe she can, in this series, work better as a character of her own because it’s pretty certain that Magneto is not gonna be able to show up in every episode if he gets a cameo to all, I don’t think. So maybe she will be able to stand on her own feet a little more.

The Introduction of Polaris to X-Men Comics in the 1960’s

Justin: So we read a lot of Polaris’ first appearances, and Marius and I read her first appearance together and it was super dramatic. Do you guys think the addition of Polaris to the original team of X-Men altered the team dynamic at all?

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Kat: Early on, she’s really driven by the men in her life, and I think that when she is added to the team, you do see that a lot because she’s in this sort of love triangle but then she also says that she’s nobody’s girl. While it’s nice to have a second woman on the team, I do feel that a lot of her interactions were driven by the men around her.

Polaris as the Green Flavor of Jean Grey

Mara: Yeah, and elaborating more on that point, not every character needs to necessarily pass the Bechdel Test. The one where a female character’s motivation shouldn’t necessarily be because of a man or doing something because of another male figure. At the same time, if there were ever to be a case for it, I feel like Lorna’s early character would have been just that. She was driven by her father and wanting to be a part of his empire as a more evil Magneto. And then driven by the love triangle that the teammates sort of imposed upon her, despite claiming to be an independent character.

So it was very hard to really even discern what she was supposed to be or if she had necessarily a character in and of herself. I just could not glean a personality based off the ones that she didn’t seem to have a… She didn’t seem to have a personality is really what I’m trying to get at.

Justin: And you’re referring to her appearance in the very early…

Mara: In the very early comics.

Justin: So you might not feel that way later on, which we’ll get there.

Mara: No, later on, I really like her and I think that she’s one of the stronger characters especially with the political end of it, but early on, she was an object to be won.

A Strong Powerset Can Never Make the Woman

Kat: Yeah, especially that in the first few issues where she’s introduced she’s supposed to be this very powerful mutant; they call her the queen of mutants, but it never really goes beyond that in her early appearances. It’s just kind of her dynamic with Bobby and with Magneto. But I do agree that later on — I really do like her a lot later on, but in the beginning, I think they could’ve just done so much more with her.

As Polaris, Lorna Dane is called "Queen of All Mutants" by followers of Magneto's philosophy in Uncanny X-Men #50.
As Polaris in UNCANNY X-MEN #50, Lorna Dane is called “Queen of All Mutants” by followers of Magneto’s philosophy. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Marius: So I think in one of her first appearances, which was Uncanny X-Men 50 and 51, Justin and I read that together. It was very, very apparent how she was very much guided by and very much betrayed by what the men in her life thought she would have to act like.

Justin: So how much do you think her one-dimensionality or two-dimensionality was a result of a creative team of all men in a male-dominated environment Mara? [chuckle]

Early Polaris Influenced by Entirely Male Creative Writing Team

Mara: There’s a school of thought that you should write what you’re more familiar with as opposed to trying to write someone else’s experience. I’m not saying that necessarily it will breed good storytelling. However, I don’t think it helps that a bunch of white, cisgendered men, stuck in a room, creating a bunch of comic books presumably for white teenage boys necessarily helps with the depiction of female characters. Especially one that could have initially been a complex character. She is technically Magneto’s daughter. What does that mean for her? Is she going to follow in his footsteps? Is she going to break away from that?

“…should you be celebrating representation if it’s not done well?”

Exploring nature versus nurture would have been cool to explore early on. Instead, in one panel in the earlier comics where literally one of the mutants comes up to her and they’re like, “You’re not evil but your father is.” She says, “I’m on board with that, I have no idea of who you are, but I will obviously come with you because you seem to understand that I am not an evil person.”

It just was so bizarre to me, because I was like, “This is not what a real person would do.” I know that they’re just comics, but I want them to represent women characters well. That was one instance in a whole bunch of instances in earlier comics where women were not written with any accuracy.

Early Polaris as an X-Man with All Men

Maite: You can also talk about that in regards to the artwork too.It often sexualizes and objectifies her body, accentuating her breasts. That’s common with a lot of female characters throughout comic book history, but it obviously of aligns with your point.

Justin: So playing devil’s advocate, what do you say to a retractor who says, “I agree with everything that you’re saying, but in 1967, it involved luck simply to have another female character on the team, especially a super powerful one.”

Mara: I would just reply, “That’s great, but why should you be celebrating representation if it’s not done well?”

Polaris on the cover of MAGNETO #20.
Polaris on the cover of MAGNETO #20. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Nolan: Making characters overly powerful can often serve as a kind of a replacement for depth, like you take up space on the page with them, just blasting instead of having complex questions they’re trying to answer for themselves. In Magneto’s solo series, he emphasizes over and over that his powers do not make him who he is. His conviction does. Other mutants shouldn’t consider themselves the sum total of their powers. When the most unusual thing about her character is that she’s super powerful, it’s not as interesting as if she was complex.

Depictions of Polaris Versus Male X-Men Characters

Justin: Do you feel the men in the story are depicted in a more three-dimensional way? We should make sure the audience understands we’re talking about Uncanny X-Men 50 through 63. These issues got created in in the 1960s, well before Storm, Colossus, Len Wein, and Chris Claremont ever came to write X-Men.

Kat: The male characters in X-Men in these particular issues feel put more at the forefront. They have much more control over what they want to do and how they feel. Whereas a character like Lorna, things got dictated to her, her relationship with Bobby, for example.

He knows right away that he loves her. He wants to be with her. She says, “I’m no man’s girl.” But everybody is telling her what to do. Beast has one line where he says, “Oh, this is the daughter of Magneto, she is driven by her filial duty and a desire for power, so of course she’s going to be evil.” She rolls with that. Early on, she has no agency over what she wants as a person.

Justin: You’ve read Laura Mulvey, right?

Three male characters in Polaris's life are Iceman, Magneto, and Havok.
Three male characters in Polaris’s life are Iceman, Magneto, and Havok. Images courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Mara: Yes, yes, I have.

Justin: What comes to my mind, especially in terms of Laura Mulvey and what Kat mentioned and what we’ve been talking about with early Lorna, is how she is subject to the will of both these two men, right?

Mara: Yes.

Early Polaris and the Veil of Free Will

Mara: I’m not saying they’re Shakespeare written characters. They are still early comic book characters. At the same time, they have the placement that, what the writers perceived the teenage boy would want them to be. They had her be the object of desire that the male characters were pursuing, much like they assumed that the teenage readers would want to do for this character. It frustrated me. I get the argument like, “Oh, they’re just comic book characters. It was the times, blah, blah.” However, that doesn’t mean you still can’t hold it to a standard. You should because these things should be fixed or at least addressed in later issues, which they do address, for the most part.

Justin: When we compare Polaris to Jean Grey and other contemporary female superheroes of the time, the Invisible Woman comes to mind, does Lorna Dane stand out in any particular way?

Images of Jean Grey, Medusa, Carol Danvers, Crystal, and the Invisible Girl from 1960's Marvel Comics.
In the 1960’s, these were mostly Marvel’s female superheroes! Images courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Mara: No, she really doesn’t. Honestly, other than the fact that she’s Magneto’s daughter, if you re-color her and said that she has a different name, I would have no way of telling her from another superhero female.

Marius: I agree. The only thing you could make a case in that time is probably her power level. It was way before Jean Grey was the Phoenix. Polaris was the kind of the OP Power House of the team.

Polaris: Originally a Token Female Character?

Kat: I think she’s notable for two reasons. One being her power level which unfortunately didn’t get explored enough that early on. But also the fact that at that time and still even today, a lot of teams, a lot of groups of characters are typically a bunch of men with one kind of token female character. So while here there were the five X-Men, one being Jean, now you have Polaris joining the ranks in some aspects. So I think it is notable that in this year, in this age X-Men did kind of expand a little bit to include that despite the fact that she didn’t really get the attention that she deserved.

Justin: She just seemed to me like another flavor of Jean. Like here’s the green flavor. Like here’s mint. Before was cherry, here’s mint.

Mara: That was honestly when they were talking about… I don’t know how else to describe it, when they were essentially talking about boys at the very end when she’s finally a part of the team, it felt so “good kid, eat your greens, these are the types of role models you should be” type characters. And again, honestly, maybe it’s just… And I know it’s partly because of the arc of the time but it’s literally, you two are interchangeable right now. It’s a little bit uncanny.

Polaris: What’s Your Flavor?

Jean Grey as Marvel Girl in UNCANNY X-MEN #52 in the 1960's.
Jean Grey as Marvel Girl in UNCANNY X-MEN #52 in the 1960’s. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Kat: I definitely agree with that, her being a different flavor of Jean. Especially that they both are two mutants who have this crazy amount of power. Jean ultimately having the power of the Phoenix. Lorna being the daughter of Magneto, the queen of mutants and mistress of magnetism and all this random crap they call her. So yeah, she is just another iteration of this hot, powerful woman on the X-Men.

Nolan: She’s almost just there to create this conflict between Bobby and Cyclops where Cyclops can say, “Bobby you need to be more objective.” And Bobby is like, “But I’m a man. I wanna live.”

Maite: Slightly off topic but now I can’t help but think who would win in a battle between Polaris and Jean Grey.

Justin: Okay, well I would say in this era, Polaris.

Maite: That’s what I was thinking.

Justin: Post Phoenix, Jean Grey. Only because Lorna is a little less focused than Jean, I think.

Jean Grey as Phoenix has way more powerful than Polaris.
Jean Grey as Phoenix has way more powerful than Polaris. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Mara: Oh for sure.

Justin: I don’t think she has the same coping mechanisms Jean has and Jean is pretty much okay until you get her to the border and then she loses it versus I think Polaris slowly breaks away.

Mara: And I know we’re gonna talk about this more in later segments but she doesn’t have the same support system that Jean does. Jean, at the very least, if nothing else, has Scott.

Justin: And her parents and her sister.

Early Lorna Dane Versus Early Jean Grey

Mara: Yeah exactly. Whereas Lorna, she’s pretty much on her own since Magneto birthed her and decided, “Well, I’m gonna be hanging out with these X-Men now.” And then, they all kind of still treat… It’s really weird. I guess it would depend when they were fighting because again, Phoenix would beat Lorna hands down. But if it were before she got the Phoenix within her, I would say Lorna.

Polaris: Dealing with Trauma and PTSD

Justin: Let’s fast forward through the 1980’s, 1990’s, and 2000’s. Polaris has been a member of the X-Men most of this time off and on. She experiences a great deal of trauma as a member of the X-Men. At one point, Malice possesses her. Zaladane almost kills her. She becomes Pestilence, one of the Horsemen of Apocalypse. She’s a victim of the Genosha genocide. Trauma affects every character and each person differently. How does her trauma affect her versus her teammates?

Polaris crying in Grant Morrison's NEW X-MEN #132.
Polaris crying in Grant Morrison’s NEW X-MEN #132. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Kat: Polaris has gone through nothing but trauma and she never gets a break and it’s always something huge like being possessed, almost dying, being a Horsemen of Apocalypse. Definitely the genocide in Genosha where she has this huge survivor’s guilt. And that stuff is hard to recover from if it’s one thing after another. I don’t blame her. I feel for her a lot.

Marius: I think that in terms of her character and how she’s depicted throughout the years, I think as compared to other X-Men teammates first who do suffer from trauma, she’s portrayed as more like a ticking time bomb type of character, which is unfortunate because… The depiction is kind of unfair that she’s “the crazy one.” I think she’s been referred to by some of the other characters in Peter David’s All-New X-Factor.

Trauma and the Daughter of Magneto

Mara: No matter what sort of trauma a character would’ve gone through, it would have been difficult for the team to really understand how they would’ve been affected personally because like Justin said before, trauma affects everyone differently. However, the fact that they seem to forget that she had gone through so many things and just sort of be like, “Why are you acting this way? Why are you being like this? Why can’t you just get over it?” That’s not how trauma works. That’s not how PTSD works.

Maite: We can also tie that into X-Factor: 243 when it’s revealed that she was involved with her parents’ death and with that, her teammates try to suppress that memory and hide that truth from her which, maybe they had good intentions but was that necessarily the right thing to do? She found out anyway. Again, you can go back to them not totally understanding her past and her identity.

Polaris cries "No!" in X-FACTOR #243 written by Peter David with art by Leonard Kirk, Jay Leisten, Matt Milla, and VC's Cory Petit.
Polaris cries “No!” in X-FACTOR #243 written by Peter David with art by Leonard Kirk, Jay Leisten, Matt Milla, and VC’s Cory Petit. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Nolan: Marius you said they call her the crazy one. I think in multiple different issues we’ve read Havok uses that. He doesn’t say those exact words, but in so many words he calls her the crazy one and it’s especially bad that it’s him saying it. He just comes across as such an asshole.

Mara: Were they seriously about to like Sleepless in Seattle this freaking relationship between him and his nurse? Come on. Kids don’t facilitate adult relationships. I know this is a popular trope in media but it’s not a thing.

Contrasting the Experience of Trauma Between the Women of X-Men and Polaris

Kat: Not only that. That happened after she discovered Magneto was her father. That happened after Genosha. She had been so back and forth with control over her powers. All she wanted to do was go back home and have that relationship with Havok again and he leaves her at the altar and she… Yeah she kind of goes on a little rampage, but she cries too.

Justin: Marius, you brought this up before about how Emma Frost dealt with what happened in Genosha. It’s kind of perfect because I want to ask this question. We all agree Polaris experiences a great deal of trauma as a member of the X-Men, possibly more so than other characters. So it’s obviously hard to quantify, but which of these tragedies she experienced do you think had the biggest impact on her personality and who she is?

“…these murders at Genosha, the whole genocide of that, that’s when I felt like she started really seeing and, again, self-actualizing herself as a character.”

Like Marius said Emma Frost was also in Genosha when Polaris was, but I see Emma as more driven by the death of the Hellions in the early 90’s by Trevor Fitzroy than I see her driven by Genosha, and I do also see her driven by Genosha, to be clear. Just probably more so by the death of her students, which caused her to essentially switch sides and switch ideologies.

Marius: I’m not sure if I necessarily agree about Emma because the creators have managed to make a pretty good point about how she… Like gaining her secondary mutation and having to watch her students die again by the way is… I think that’s something that impacted her very intensely especially when she has her back and forth battle with Jean as the Phoenix and we kind of get an insight into that.

The Trauma That Drives Polaris the Most

In terms of what affected Lorna the most, I would probably say that. And, again, it’s hard to quantify but for me it would be the suppressed memories from her childhood and how her powers first manifested and then of course how she kind of tried to regain these memories and also how the mystery about who her real parents are have shaped her experience going forward. I think that’s something that has a huge impact on the character.

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Mara: I saw Polaris’s parents as one of the more defining aspects in terms of forging her personality. After learning the truth about them, she knew it made her a killer. She murdered two people. That’s hard, especially for someone so young to have to try and grapple with.

It stays with you your entire life, though I would also add that while that might have been the preliminary trauma. Especially later on in Uncanny X-Men 442 and 443, these murders at Genosha, the whole genocide of that, that’s when I felt like she started really seeing and, again, self-actualizing herself as a character. She was like, “Hey, how could they do this to a bunch of mutants? And why were their lives so easily lost but the human lives of the ones in New York weren’t? Why is it more of a big deal that humans die but not mutants?”

Polaris’s Parents

Kat: Yeah, I agree with everything everybody said so far. Repressing the memory of killing her parents on that plane, I think, was the catalyst for everything, but Genosha was definitely the breaking point. To go off what Mara said those moments in issues, 442 and 443, Polaris makes so many great points that she realized, I think on Genosha, is that there’s so much hypocrisy in humans saying that mutants are a menace and everything like that. But they can kill 16 million mutants so easily.

Episode 54: The Origins of X-Men’s Emma Frost

There’s that moment where she’s talking to Charles Xavier. She’s sort of playing the devil’s advocate, she says, to explain to him the method behind Magneto’s actions. And she says to Charles, “What’s it gonna take for people to realize mutants are worth living? Is it gonna be after you die and become a martyr? How many of us need to die before humans accept us as people?”

Mara: I pretty much agree with everything you said Kat and just expanding on it. I love how even though this was written some time ago at least you can see how it plays in with our modern day politics and it’s so powerful to be coming from a character who has had this type of growth and who’s had this time to change from being so one-note into finally having this trauma. And I don’t wanna say that trauma will help with character development. That’s a terrible way to go about how characters would work.

How Trauma Drives Polaris’s Politics

I’m happy that she was able to voice these points so well in 442 and 443 because someone needed to say it. She is not incorrect. There is something inherently unjust about that and I definitely appreciate what Xavier is trying to get done, but man he’s… To what end will mutants have to keep dying in order for people to realize that, “Hey, maybe the fact that we’re treating them as inferior individuals won’t solve anything?” And Lorna did a great job of just voicing those anxieties of the characters.

Justin: To me it’s interesting though, because it’s like, “When does Lorna get a break?” Like someone said earlier. And if you think about it, she was… This traumatic thing happens to her when she first comes on the scene. She’s fighting with the X-Men. Then, she goes from that to kind of joining back with the X-Men. She goes with Alex to San Francisco. Get’s her Ph.D. in whatever, in Geophysics or something.

Doc Samson gets under Polaris's skin in X-Factor #87 by Peter David.
Doc Samson gets under Polaris’s skin in X-Factor #87 by Peter David. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Nolan: Which Alex also has. It’s a Master’s. They both have Masters in Geo…

Justin: Oh, Masters. And you know Jean Grey has a Master’s in Psychology, I think, at Columbia. So then she goes from that to kind of joining back the X-Men, joining back with the X-Men. She has that whole experience with Zaladane. She has the experience in Genosha and the really shitty experience with Alex leaving her at the altar… Spoiler alert if you haven’t read X-Men Sacred Vows.

On Needing a Moment of Rest to Figure Out Who You Are

When does she really get to experience who she is as a person? Or as a woman? As someone outside of the X-Men? As someone, yes, who has the ideology she has, but as just… When does she get to be a person and relax and take a breath and figure out who she is? I feel like the other characters get this moment, but I don’t ever feel like she really gets it. Maybe until now, and we’ll talk about that in X-Men Blue. I think she’s starting to really come into her own. And not that we don’t see her in control before, but do we ever see her have the opportunity to reflect on what makes her, her?

Polaris tears up UNCANNY X-MEN 443 by Chuck Austen.
Polaris tears up UNCANNY X-MEN 443 by Chuck Austen. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Nolan: I think comparing her wedding issue with Alex, with the very famous Scott and Jean wedding issue illustrates this. The whole idea of the Scott and Jean wedding issue is like, “This is a break from the constant threats and action.” There’s conflict between characters but not… There might be like a fight, I don’t remember. Either way, this is like a moment to mark their lives, their festivities, the sort of reason we have holidays in our lives. Whereas the Polaris and Havok wedding issue is just like grim, dark fuel for making things real rough for everybody.

X-Factor: Polaris Takes Charge

Kat: I think later on Polaris just gets much more agency over her traumas and over who she is as a person. I don’t know if she ever overcomes a lot, but in her later depictions, like in X-Factor and in All-New X-Factor where she takes on a more leadership role. But even in that earlier run of X-Factor, she’s a lot more in control of herself, and she still has moments where she kind of snaps and kind of acts out against people. But I think people understand her at that point, and I think she’s a lot more in control of that part of her personality and that part of who she is.

Polaris in ALL-NEW X-FACTOR #1 by Peter David.
Polaris in ALL-NEW X-FACTOR #1 by Peter David. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Mara: When she was standing up to Professor Xavier, again, I don’t mean to keep harping on these issues, but when she was able to question why the X-Men do what they do, and essentially the Xavier Institute as a whole. That to me was her starting to find her own identity because she no longer was a complacent part of the team. She was really trying to figure out like, “No, what do you stand for? What do I stand for?” And trying to find her own place in relation to all of that. And I was very proud of her for doing that and, “Good job Lorna.”

Polaris Develops Further in X-Factor

Marius: I’m not sure if that counts but I thought that how she got really competent and just like a good leadership figure in All-New X-Factor was kind of interesting and kind of… We still get Alex depicting her as kind of a crazy person and being kind… As we already established he’s being an asshole about the situation. But in terms of how she’s depicted as a team leader, and also how she is able to negotiate between the team and the company, she’s portrayed as really competent. And apart from the Quicksilver betrayal storyline, I think we kind of get her catching a break. Just being a member of this team and possibly the most important member also.

Nolan: But I thought when she seemed like the most normal X-Man was in Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire when…

Justin: Oh my God. I so disagree, but sorry, continue.

Nolan: You do?

Justin: I do. I thought she was the most “Havok’s girl” in that story than I had ever seen her since the beginning.

Nolan: I didn’t think so at all. She does take his side in everything, yeah. And at the end, she’s like, “I’m staying with you in space, Havok.” Which, now that I read earlier developments between them, after reading that, I find that to be a lot more shocking. She doesn’t seem so traumatized, she seems to deal with post-trauma well. Her powers are like on a kind of an even keel for a while there. They’re like slowly getting more powerful. She’s slowly relearning them after Apocalypse.

Polaris, the Politician

She is kind of one of the super-powered members of the team in that, like one of the most powerful ones. But not so over-the-top as like Jean Grey in The Dark Phoenix Saga where it’s just like everyone else is like, “Whoa.” So she just has that kind of a proper role, I feel, in that, in Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire.

Polaris’s Idealogy

Justin: So something she says in 443 is, “Good and bad often come wrapped in the same package.” And I was curious what you think Lorna specifically meant by this, was this a character statement? Why does she feel this way? And how do you think it speaks to her evolution as a character from when she was a teenager to this point?

UNCANNY X-MEN #442-443: Beyond Good and Evil

Marius: While it also is indicative of her ideology in this issue, it also has kind of a double meaning to it, because it’s very much about her relationship to Magneto, to her father. Because while we could probably agree that overall he’s being a pretty terrible father, from her point of view, I imagine it being a bit more complicated than that.

Mara: If I remember what I talked about in the piece and also the comics in is that, “Good and bad are essentially… ” I don’t wanna downsize it but they’re more or less framing devices, and I feel like Lorna does a good job explaining how one character’s methodology and one person’s worldview very much so depends on how they frame a problem. And even if we might see it as being objectively bad, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a different side wouldn’t see it as a positive.

Polaris and Understanding Villany

That’s what Lorna was really getting into with why Magneto had to have been right because given all that the mutants had gone through they should be allowed to fight back.

Polaris questions Xavier's ideology in UNCANNY X-MEN 443 by Chuck Austen.
Polaris questions Xavier’s ideology in UNCANNY X-MEN 443 by Chuck Austen.

Justin: I watched a George RR Martin interview a few weeks ago. He was saying that the villain is always the opposition’s hero. I thought that that kinda came across when I reread this.

Kat: What Polaris means there is that it’s not black and white and it’s all very subjective, so what somebody perceives as bad, somebody else is gonna see that as good, and also that good people are gonna do bad things and bad people are gonna do good things. And I think that pertains to Lorna herself a lot too, is that, you know, whether you’re inherently good or bad. I feel that she’s been through a lot of trials throughout her life and I don’t think she wants to see herself as a bad person, just because of the things that have happened to her, the same as Magneto.

Maite: Yeah, earlier we were talking about how we thought that Polaris may not be so distinguishable in comparison to other popular female superheroes in the Marvel Universe. At the same time, I feel like this duality kind of gives her a stronger characterization. She struggles with this duality. She struggled with it since she first appeared in the comics, and she still struggles with it. Her relationship with Magneto, with all her past traumas, it’s something that she’s never truly come to terms with. It continues to contribute to her perception of herself and her identity as an X-Man.

Recovery

Justin: I did kind of think this was a problematic question even though we kind of talked a little bit about it, but does Lorna ever kind of recover from the traumas that she experiences?

Kat: I don’t think Lorna recovers from those traumas she experiences and I think that’s okay. I make this reference a lot and it’s kind of dorky but if you guys have seen the movie, The Babadook, the message in that movie is that you can’t get rid of your traumas but you can learn to live with them. And I think that’s exactly what Lorna does. The traumatic events of her life obviously still bother her, and they definitely should, those are huge things that are really difficult to get past, but she’s able to have more agency over them now and she’s able to live her life and be part of a team, and I think that she accepts them now, I think she accepts them as a part of her. But she’s able to live.

Justin: I think that’s really beautifully said, because who really does get over those things? I don’t. Anyone want to add anything? Maite?

Maite: Yeah, kind of just what you just said. I feel like that’s a very common aspect throughout comic books and superheroes, like look at Batman, look at every superhero that’s experienced some sort of trauma, they don’t really let that go. And again, like Kat said, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If anything that gives them more complexity, that gives them more, I feel like, motivation in their character.

From the Small Spoons, She Rises?

Justin: It doesn’t matter who writes Polaris, her role as Magneto’s daughter seems to be super important to her. At one point when Alex leaves her at the altar, spoiler for those of you who haven’t read, is it Uncanny 425, 426 you definitely should, because it’s really campy and… I wouldn’t say it’s awesome but it’s… I was glad I read it. The arc is called Sacred Vows, it’s two issues. So like I said spoiler alert, Alex leaves her at the altar, she dons… Is it dons or dones? Dons? Dons. She dons Magneto’s helmet, she creates it out of silverware no less. She’s like, “I don’t need these spoons, but I need Magneto’s helmet to kick your ass Havok,” when he leaves her at the altar. What does this mean for her in terms of her character development from the early X-Men issues to later ones?

Polaris creates a Magneto-type costume for herself in UNCANNY X-MEN #425 made, in part, with spoons.
Polaris creates a Magneto-type costume for herself in UNCANNY X-MEN #425 made, in part, with spoons. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Mara: I want to quickly point out by donning the silverware and by using domestic household items in order to create a suit of armor can be read as her rejecting the heterosexual norm of the housewife and becoming her own self-actualized person.

This arc frustrated me on many levels because I didn’t think that she deserved what happened to her, it didn’t seem just or right. And so, when she was about to go destroy Alex and get revenge, I was kinda there with her, I was like, “Yes girl, go! Go, beat his ass!” Like, “Come on, you deserve this.”

Polaris’s Wedding from Hell

I was very proud for her though it did seem a bit weird that they kept hearkening back to her being married. She still had the tattered remains of her wedding dress and was singing, “Here Comes the Bride,” [chuckle] which if there were ever to be an intimidating moment of that song other than the actual event, I suppose that would be it. And I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to be siding with Alex, because she definitely, like that was more of a, “Good on her moment,” like, “Yes, revenge. Let’s do this, guys.” But… Yeah.

Polaris as a Victim of the Overused “Crazy Girlfriend” Trope

Justin: I do think it’s interesting how they tried to change our perspective because she sleeps with that Gambit impersonator the night before as if to say, “Well they’re not gonna get married for the right reasons anyway.” So it’s kind of okay that he does this. I’m just throwing that in there, not that I feel that way.

Kat: I have so many mixed feelings about this because of the trauma she dealt with. I hate this crazy girlfriend narrative superimposed onto Lorna. As far as her donning the costume, I think she did it for the drama of it all. It’s been really tumultuous, her figuring out where she fits in as Magneto’s daughter. It was kind of just this representation of all her fears, and all of this latent power that she has, that she had to kinda take on the image of her father. I did think the whole spectacle was a bit ridiculous of her.

“Her donning Magneto’s helmet saw her embrace her role as daughter of Magneto. She embraced her dark side completely…”

Mara: Frustrated me to no end, that the only reason she was having this great show of power, and honestly a fantastic outfit. Really well retooled for her own person, was because a guy left her at the altar and, like they said in the little introduction into one of the issues, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” And I’m like, “Okay. One, this feels like slightly dated. Two, yeah she has a right to be upset. Why are you trying to make it seem like she shouldn’t be mad? Even if they weren’t getting married for the right reasons, he still left her there, at a moment that should’ve been one of the happiest moments in her life.” That’s not okay.

Magneto Armor

Marius: This is also something that was striking me as odd, which, it’s from the Chuck Austen run, we already talked about that on several podcasts. It has its moments, it’s kind of like weird moments, dated moments, kind of cheesy moments, in that case. Was it something that bugged me? Yes, definitely. But I also thought it was telling that she would kind of take on the Magneto armor, which is kind of also for drama but it also while she has a complicated relationship to her father, something that I took away from almost all the other stories, where the two of them were together is that she also has a lot to learn from him.

Nolan: It also portrays her as so clueless that she didn’t notice there were problems in this relationship coming up to the wedding. And that she’s surprised enough to become so angry. And if not clueless, then it portrays her as kind of loyal and perseverant, which is just as much of a stereotype I think.

A Different Take on Polaris’s Wedding from Hell

Justin: I will say that I totally agree with Kat and also everyone else’s saying that the narrative is structured in such a way that you are supposed to identify or at least empathize more with Annie and Havok, but I do have a different perspective, should I say. Let me say that I might say the mechanism in which to deal with this character drama is maybe a little bit cheesy with the leaving at the altar thing.

Although I do think it’s different for X-Men, I sort of saw this whole storyline as a character-driven moment in the X-Men’s history. And what I liked about it was that it was a story about this guy who fucked up and his girlfriend who isn’t in a really good place from what’s happening and probably isn’t ready to get married. And he does this dickish thing and here’s what happened, and none of it’s really dictated by plot, which I kind of liked.

Polaris’s Rage

Maybe I have… Because I love Madea and I love A Doll’s House, so maybe to me, when a woman reacts in… She overreacted, Lorna, she broke, and I feel like to me that’s always like a Medea-esque reaction that I find very desirable and really cool as a reader. And I guess it’s not that I even disagree with everybody, it’s just that I wasn’t necessarily caught in the morality of it. I was team Lorna the whole way, but what I liked about it was that I saw different parts of the characters and more fleshed out attributes of the characters that I don’t see in this sort of big battles, the big events. And for everything that it was, it was a quieter moment that I liked as a reader.

I think that her trauma from Genosha has her teetering more what she considers to be her dark side, which is kind of ironic after that whole story and that whole stance she has in Uncanny X-Men: 443. Her donning Magneto’s helmet saw her embrace her role as daughter of Magneto. She embraced her dark side completely in order to do this task which is to get back at Havok, and I also thought that that was kinda cool. I don’t know, when I saw that panel I was like, “This is so badass. Lorna is so bad ass.”

Rage Reaction Framed the Wrong Way?

Mara: I think it has a lot to do with how her reaction was framed. If it were like,” we were supposed to be sympathizing with this woman. She has been understandably hurt and has dealt with a lot of things already,” then I feel like people would have been a lot happier with it. It could have been a great character development moment for Havok. He can’t treat people like they don’t mean anything. Instead, the way that the intro into the comic has it and the way the comic reads is that we’re supposed to feel bad for this romance between Havok and Annie. That’s not okay. It’s not. First off, it’s not narratively satisfying for a reader who’s already followed a relationship between Lorna and Havok for so long.

It’s not enjoyable from just sort of like a drama perspective because it doesn’t feel like it’s been earned. It’s just something that’s sort of contrived and thrown together for the sake of it. And I guess that’s what my real problem with it is, in the end, is that it just feels kinda mean as opposed to a well-earned like soap operatic moment.

Magneto’s Daughter

Justin: What does Polaris see in Magneto that has her taking pride in their relationship as father/daughter really throughout the entire series? She does reject his philosophy during the Claremont era but that relationship was always really important to her even when she doesn’t think that that’s her father, isn’t aware of that.

in X-MEN BLUE #10, Polaris talks with Magneto.
in X-MEN BLUE #10, Polaris talks with Magneto. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Nolan: I think her defense of Magneto just after Magneto’s attack on New York, it kind of heralds an editorial shift in the 2000’s that has been building pace up to today in which we see these attempts to recast Xavier as a misguided character or one with ultimately negative influences.

We see the kind of failure ultimately of Xavier’s efforts to mold Cyclops and certain other characters into heroes for mutant kind and a kind of corruption of those characters. And now we see Magneto as more or less leader of the X-Men, leader of half the X-Men, a kind of a repeat of the early 90’s with Age of Apocalypse and of the mid 80’s when he was the leader of the New Mutants. So there’s kind of a cycle here but we’re on the… Ever since that moment or right around there we’ve been on the upswing of the pro-Magneto cycle, so her character is a natural choice for someone to begin the upswing of that cycle by defending her father.

Polaris Turns the Tables on Magneto

Marius: Yeah I think that, first of all, I agree with the points that Nolan has made but I think that whenever she, apart from whether she actually agrees with his ideology or not, I think that she always feels like Magneto can be useful to her in terms of how she can learn things from him. And ultimately I think that she has kind of… She know’s that Magneto as a father is probably not the best person to actually fulfill that role. I think she’s very aware of that, throughout her entire history with him.

Maite: I was thinking along the lines of the fact that maybe she has an innate desire for some sort of guide in her life. She lost both of her parents and you can perceive Xavier as that mentor, but at the same time maybe inherently she feels as though Magneto will understand her in a way that no one else does particularly her duality.

Magneto’s Favorite Child?

Marius: Part of what makes up her, in a weird way her fascination of Magneto is that Magneto is very good at getting her to a place where he needs her, like in terms of… I figure a very good example for this would be the Cullen Bunn Magneto solo series where… Solo book where he manages to manipulate her into assisting him in trying to save his universe, or his earth in that case, from the ultimate universe.

I think that she’s not easily falling for that, but falling for that too often for her own good, which is one of the reasons that she has this very complicated relationship to him. And Quicksilver points this out in… I think it was Magneto Dark Seduction where she initially really doesn’t come out to denounce his bigotry and is kind of still on board because she thinks that Magneto can amplify her power level and that’s where she needs to be at that point.

Nolan: She also points out that it has been argued that schools themselves create that environment and that gets a rise out of Xavier. He raises his voice and he’s like, “No, my school is different. It doesn’t do that.” Would I… What this makes me wonder is, is she too forgiving toward Magneto just as she’s too forgiving, I think, toward Havok. Should she be more demanding toward Magneto? She does tell him he’s a bad father but should she just not be willing to interact with him unless he becomes a better father?

Magneto’s Influence Over Polaris

Mara: I think that that’s a very tall demand for her to do and just in general for the type of relationship that they have because, I can’t speak to this personally but if you haven’t really known this father and you haven’t really necessarily had a real father/daughter relationship it’s hard to kind of try and rekindle that as an adult because you don’t necessarily need him like you would have as a child.

“Jean Grey shared a strong stable bond with her parents. Circumstances of nature took that away from Polaris.”

It seems like what she has come to him more for, and this is sort of the point that I wanted to make was that, when she’s trying to figure out who she wants to be and how she wants to perceive the world and go about it, was at the very least, his ideologies were able to help guide her into how she would want to approach being a mutant and being a person with extremely powerful magnetism abilities. Then I would think it’s more like the whole nature versus nurture thing.

She wasn’t necessarily raised by Magneto. I think that’s an… Is that an accurate statement to make? Yeah, she wasn’t necessarily raised by Magneto. But she has a lot of him in her and that’s not something that she should necessarily shy away from and the fact that she’s starting to learn that just because he is more villainous than some other people and just because his thoughts are more extremist, that doesn’t necessarily mean that she, in and of herself, has to deny that part of her. She can be that and still be herself.

Why Polaris Chooses Magneto Over Xavier

Justin: Kinda jumping off from that I wonder if Xavier is not enough for her. Is not enough of a mentor, is not enough of a father figure. And that there’s a certain… I don’t know, I’m not sure what the word is. She needs to have a one-on-one relationship that that fills that void of not having grown up in a typical nuclear household the way she wanted to or like the other X-Men really.

Mara: Just to answer that point I think that that’s part of why she does go towards people like Havok. That’s why she does develop these strong, if a bit, absurd relationships with people in her life is just to have that kind of connection that she seems to want to have with someone. I don’t want to just say, “Oh it’s daddy issues,” because that is a whole sea of problematic but I do…

Justin: I think everyone has daddy issues to some extent.

Mara: Oh yeah, it’s a real thing. But I feel like at least, again in 442 and 443 when she’s starting to see herself as like, “Magneto maybe wasn’t all that bad. Maybe I can incorporate more elements of him.” It’s kind of like a way of rekindling that kind of relationship with somebody even post-mortem, which I thought was a good idea for her to do, to finally, finally be a really true independent character.

Justin: Here’s someone who’s never been allowed to feel special their whole lives. What would make someone feel more special than that? Polaris never had the parents Jean Grey had. Jean Grey grew up feeling very special and loved. She shared a strong stable bond with her parents. Circumstances of nature took that away from Polaris.

Identity Politics?

Maite: Going off of the point that you said earlier about Xavier not being enough for her, I think she’s not necessarily seeking empathy from her peers, I think she might also be seeking a way to identify with somebody else, who her personal experiences are very different from the people around her and what they’ve experienced. So I think in a way she’s kind of seeking that connection in which she can relate to somebody and not necessarily just receive their empathy because that doesn’t mean they understand which is Xavier’s perspective I think.

Polaris Goes to Therapy

Justin: Doc Samson he psychoanalyzes the whole team on X-Factor. I was curious. I loved that issue when it came out and loved going back and reading that. When I was younger, I thought it was longer than it was. I thought it was a little bit more in-depth and I kinda wish it was, like, a double-sized issue because it would have been cool to hear more psychoanalysis. On Marvel.com, Tim Stevens, who has been on this podcast before, writes these amazing Psych Ward articles. I don’t know if you guys have seen them, but the Emma Frost one is super amazing. So definitely check them out on Marvel.com. I want to ask everybody here if there was something that you learned from her in this issue that you found interesting or telling about who Lorna is.

Kat: I was really interested to learn just how insecure she is and for Doc Samson to say, he gave all these metaphors with her magnetic power saying, “She repels people and she’s afraid that she’s not attractive.” And I thought that was very interesting. It wasn’t something I had gotten from her before, for him to make those points about her and she reacted to that and then she comes in later super defiant.

Polaris’s Big Moment Sexist?

Mara: And just jumping off Kat’s point and I know I shouldn’t expect so much from a comic or what have you but would they have said that to say, Magneto, who has the same exact power set she does and a very similar trauma? Probably not because they would have been like, “He attracts people. He is powerful and strong. He has all this stuff.” But because she’s a woman they can just assume those things and roll with it because, you know, girl.

Justin: That’s a good point but I would say as someone who was overweight as a kid, I identified with that because at least they were talking about weight with somebody.

Polaris exposes her vulnerabilities to Doc Samson in X-Factor #87 page 20 by Peter David.
Polaris exposes her vulnerabilities to Doc Samson in X-Factor #87 page 20 by Peter David. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Marius: I would probably agree with what Kat was saying is that, it was interesting to see some of her vulnerabilities and her difficulties in opening up to others. This is kind of something that really annoyed her or set her off, I guess. This idea of having to open up to others because she thinks there was even some… To her, it almost seems like there was some kind of malicious intent. So I guess in terms of how she copes with her trauma, that was one of the more interesting issues for me. Because before it was kind of hard for me to really get a grasp on the character and I think that helped.

Polaris’s Defiance

Nolan: I think it was her defiance to repeat myself that I learned about… Only in the wedding issue and those that come after Magneto’s attack on New York does she seem so combative. And in a lot of her other appearances, she’s quite passive. And in this, it’s not about Magneto and it’s not about her role in the Marvel Universe or anything like that or global ethics or anything. It’s just she just doesn’t wanna be psychoanalyzed. She does, it’s not about Magneto, but she does sound like him in his solo run when he keeps saying, “You don’t know me,” over and over to people. She has that same attitude.

Maite: I agree with Nolan with that. I feel like it was a big transition for her character, which I find very compelling. I think there was a moment where you maybe not identify with her but you can almost understand her in a way you didn’t before. You knew about her different character aspects, her different histories but at the same time you didn’t really understand maybe her perception of those events in her life and I feel like in that issue you’d came to understand that in a way you couldn’t before.

Justin: I love that that you kinda understand her perception more. And, also, for me, I found this issue nourishing in terms of a place decades later to kind of explain her behavior and parts of her relationship with Alex, for the reasons she states that she’s insecure. It’s no wonder why she would never really feel at ease in this relationship and especially after the whole Annie thing and being left at the altar when they got back together.

Polaris: Character Analysis

Justin: So let’s do the whole Susan Batson thing. So for those who don’t know, Susan Batson wrote a book on method acting but it’s also really good for writers who wanna write really compelling characters and really three-dimensional characters. She talks about what the actor can do to turn a character in a script and make that character more three-dimensional.

The three dimensions that she talks about are the public persona, how a character wants to be perceived, the need, the driving force behind most of the character’s actions and what is requisite to that character as an organism to survive. And she describes the third dimension, the tragic flaw as a jam up, something that prevents the need from being accomplished. So let’s go around and how would everyone describe Lorna’s public persona? And I should add that when I interviewed Peter David at Five Points Festival and I asked him this… I did that word association thing for him to say, “What he thought about as characters?” And he said, “Lorna was a would-be leader.”

Mara: I definitely understand where Peter David would coming from, later. Especially how she’s seen now, I would definitely say that she is more of a leader persona, but especially early on and I feel kind of bad for saying that she was more of a victim.

Justin: And do you think that’s how she wanted the world to perceive her?

Mara: I don’t think that’s how she wanted the world to perceive her but I feel like that’s what she wound up being anyway.

Marius: I find myself agreeing with the leadership statement a lot, I guess, because we see that in recent depictions of the character.

Public Persona of a Leader?

Nolan: She wants to be perceived as the bigger person, the one who is forgiving, adaptable, low maintenance who is heroic in that sense like always rising above, but she has a temper, just like her father and she’s quite perceptive and intelligent and she’s not that forgiving about people’s flaws. When it comes down it, she notices them very acutely, and she doesn’t have patience for them when she gets truly mad and that’s why she blows up sometimes.

Justin: When we talk about what it means to be a leader, one of the qualities people like in a leader is that they are self-sufficient and low maintenance and I know you are gonna talk about her need. And for those who don’t know she’s in Batson’s work Truth, the book that we’re talking about. A way to discern the need is to look at what the opposite of the public persona is. The need is for safety and to be taken care of in a way… It’s almost like her personality, her public persona is about hiding the fact that maybe, even though she is self-sufficient even though she does have the qualities of a leader, that she doesn’t feel that way.

Polaris leads in Peter David's ALL-NEW X-FACTOR.
Polaris leads in Peter David’s ALL-NEW X-FACTOR. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Polaris: A Different Kind of Leader

Nolan: I don’t know if it has so much to do with leadership, I think to take her father as an example. Magneto is self-sufficient and commanding but not low maintenance. Magneto has to be handled because his ego is so big. She has that… I think her need is to be commanding rather than forgiving, to be taken seriously rather than taken as someone who is low maintenance. When you take someone seriously, you take their opinion into consideration, you give it equal weight with other people’s opinions. When you remember that someone is easy to deal with then you just go, “Okay, well, they’ll be fine.” So she needs to be commanding but feels that that is too much to ask of people, including her lovers, including her friends too.

Polaris/Hillary Clinton 2020?

Justin: And also, I just read Hillary Clinton’s book and I’m sure we can talk about this a little bit but it’s… Hillary Clinton talked about how dangerous it was for her as a woman to be seen as commanding. And I wonder if that plays into Polaris’ character at all.

Mara: I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I’m so hung up on her, like the fact that she does wind up becoming so obsessed with Havok and these men who, honestly can’t hold a torch to her. But the fact that she just wants somebody to at least love her as much as she feels she kinda needs that validation from someone. And it’s painful because I don’t necessarily think she needs to find that in a romantic partner or in any of that. She could just go out and get a dog and then get that unrequited love basically from the same place. But it’s just the fact that someone would need to see her and appreciate her and give her the love that she honestly deserves is what I feel she could do well with.

Justin: Yeah, I could see it to be the need to be special. What’s the tragic flaw then? And then we’ll do the reverse order. So what prevents her from being as you said, Maite, was is the Polaris that… What were the words you used?

Maite: I think the Polaris that she is comfortable being or the Polaris she aspires to be.

Polaris’s Tragic Flaw

Justin: Oh yeah, so what prevents her from being the Polaris that she aspires to be? What prevents her from accomplishing her need? Where does that jam up come from?

Kat: Yeah, I think, what’s preventing her from that is definitely all the traumas that she’s been through. She’s definitely been put through the ringer and after so many times it gets harder and harder to pick yourself back up, so, eventually, it’s just gonna become more and more exhausting for her to kind of get past all of that stress.

Marius: I definitely agree that the traumas would be one of the main reasons and also the fact that, which is also one of the reasons these traumas exist in the first place, is the fact that the people in her life wouldn’t stop being manipulative towards her, or mistreating her, especially… We’ve talked about this. Especially with Magneto and Alex.

The Tragic Flaws of Magneto Versus Polaris

Nolan: Well, by the schema that I was laying out there, it’s that the flaw is that she can’t be consistently commanding. She can’t keep that up. It either comes out in bursts or not at all. And take Magneto, he is consistently commanding, demanding, unwaiverable. Dark Scott is the same way.

Justin: [chuckle] Dark Scott.

Nolan: Xavier consistently forgives, giving people second chances.

X-MEN BLUE #9 Review: Whose Side Are You On?

Justin: Or pretending to be that way.

Nolan: I think he really is that way but we can get into that on the third The Dream annual podcast [chuckle] or whatever.

Justin: You mean the fourth one?

Nolan: The fourth one! She wants to be that forgiving person, but this commanding person lies underneath and comes out in bursts. That’s the flaw, those explosions of anger. If she could just keep it consistent then she would be a great leader, but I don’t think it’s so much about leadership really.

What Polaris Needs

Mara: I don’t think she knows how to help herself right now. I think that she needs some help and I’m not saying that she won’t eventually get to a point where she can understand that she doesn’t need other people to validate who she is, but especially the stuff that really stuck with me was that she really needed someone there for her and she was kind of reaching out into the darkness and nobody was there to hold on to. That felt like that was really hard and there is no good answer for what would help her get better. I guess therapy, but that doesn’t really seem to be option in the X-Men Universe.

Justin: I guess she could go back to Doc Samson.

Mara: Yeah, that’s didn’t seem to go over too well.

Justin: I love what you just said by the way and to tack on to what Nolan said and then what you said. I love that you said that she doesn’t know what she wants or she doesn’t know what will help. When Nolan talked about her wanting to seem that she has her shit together, her wanting to seem she is low maintenance. That Polaris doesn’t want to accept the fact or lead into her sense of self that she is allowed to crack from these horrible traumatic moments that have happened. And therefore she doesn’t think she needs or isn’t aware of where to go or even how to ask to get the coping mechanisms that she requires in order to be the Polaris that she wants to be.

A Difficult Childhood

Nolan: Since we talked a little about her childhood trauma of killing her parents. I think I can trace her discomfort with being commanding and unilateral back to that because it’s like there’s a moment in which she did something without asking anyone’s opinion, without forgiving people and letting them get another chance. She just acted on what information she had, which she was a small child so that’s imperfect information and it kills her parents. So ever since then she doesn’t wanna be unilateral like that. Whereas take Magneto and his total comfort using his powers of killing people and not even regretting it. He never had to feel like, “Oh I killed someone by accident with my powers.” No, no, no, he should’ve use his powers more, then more people’s lives would have been saved in the holocaust when he was a teenager.

Lorna’s Guilt

Justin: And I think one word we haven’t used it is guilt. Does she feel guilt over what happened with her parents?

Mara: I don’t think she totally realizes it, but I think that that definitely subconsciously plays a huge part into why she does things the way she does. And I would even go so far as to say she feels guilty by the fact that she’s Magneto’s daughter that in some way the trauma of the parents is the trauma of the children. And even though she wants to need and she needs to find herself as her own person and realize that what has happened isn’t necessarily her fault in either situation, it’s not something that will just go away overnight. This is a long process that hopefully, her character will someday go through.

Maite: I definitely agree with that point about the guilt of being Magneto’s daughter because I feel like even if she doesn’t necessarily want to associate herself with him she inevitably identifies herself with him and will find similarities between them and I think that kind of complicates their relationship because it’s almost like this reluctance to have him be a part of her life, but he is and she can’t change that. So in a way she has to find a way to cope with that.

The “How Real is Polaris?” Test

Justin: Could you imagine Lorna Dane, aka Polaris, sitting in the room with us? And if so, what would she be like?

Marius: I think that with Polaris… Polaris is probably one of the characters where I always thought it would be a lot harder to imagine her in a three-dimensional manner together with others in a room. And now that I’ve read up on her a lot I guess that I think it’s easier. And I think that All-New X-factor had a lot of cute little moments where she was sitting at the breakfast table with the other people at the facility and we got these cute little moments.

Polaris aka Lorna Dane in panel on page 12 in ALL-NEW X-FACTOR #18.
Polaris aka Lorna Dane in panel on page 12 in ALL-NEW X-FACTOR #18 by Peter David. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I think that gave us kind of an impression of what she would be like in a casual environment. And I think these little details are always important as to being able to imagine someone in the room with us. But I think it’s still harder to imagine her sitting right next to me as compared to the big X-Men names like Kitty and Cyclops and Jean.

Polaris: More Than Meets the Eye?

Kat: I used to think Polaris was boring. I was like, “Polaris has done two cool things her whole life.” In preparing for this podcast and kind of analyzing her character in these different ways, I’ve realized that she’s been through so many trials and she’s been through so many struggles and she’s reacted to them despite being a mutant with power, she’s reacted to them in a lot of human ways, I think. So I think in that sense, despite the fact that we don’t get to see a whole lot of her outside of those experiences, it does make her relatable in a sense. So I think that she’s somebody that I could imagine being here.

Mara: I think talking to her would be kind of strange. It would just be really weird to have some lady with extremely powerful magnetism just to be chilling here and like, “Hey, what’s up? My hair is naturally green.” These probably aren’t points that I should get hung up on but I kind of do. And, yeah, I won’t say that she’s the most deep… She’s not the deepest character that Marvel has ever created, but she definitely is dimensional enough that if she were to be… If someone were to describe this as a person, I could see it as a real person. Though I would probably have a lot of questions and be like, “So the hair, how did this happen?”

Justin: It was from when she was a kid right? From when she killed her parents by accident.

Mara: Your hair just turns green?

Justin: I think that’s what happened.

[chuckle]

Maite: Yeah, I think that’s right.

THE GIFTED: Emma Dumont as Polaris/Lorna Dane in THE GIFTED premiering premiering Monday, Oct. 2 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ryan Green/FOX
THE GIFTED: Emma Dumont as Polaris/Lorna Dane in THE GIFTED premiering on Monday, Oct. 2 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ryan Green/FOX

 

Polaris: It’s All About the Hair

Nolan: I can’t imagine it. I would have trouble imagining speaking to any X-Men character. Their stories are all so much larger than life. I don’t know anyone who had a dictator father of a country of 16 million people that all got killed. It’s just not… It’s hard to imagine.

Maite: It’s hard for me to wrap my head around sitting across a table with the Polaris. You won’t have enough time in the world to really get to know her and talk to her about everything you’d want to talk about. I would also want to know about the hair.

Mara: It’s a real thing.

Justin: How does one maintain it?

Mara: These are the questions that you should ask if she were real.

Justin: I think that would be a good place to start. You don’t want to be like, “So how did you feel about the Genosha experience?”

Mara: Yeah, it’s like, “So the hair, do you just swim in a lot of chlorine, you used to be really blonde but you never wash it out properly? Or is it like are you going for a sort of pop-punk look and you’ve just really committed to the aesthetic and now this is your every day?”

Justin: Or is it like an earthy thing? The green of the earth?

Mara: Yeah, you’re going for a mother nature, like Gaia type of deal?

Polaris Really Isn’t Real Yet

Justin: I cannot imagine her sitting in the room. Scott, I can imagine. Jean, I can imagine. Storm, I can imagine. Kitty Pryde, I can imagine. Magma, I can imagine. I can imagine all of the New Mutants. Psylocke, I couldn’t imagine until I read Uncanny X-Force and I’m on the brink with her, but Lorna, I still need more development from her before she can come over.

Mara: I feel like it would be more of a convenience than that I would want her to be here because her powers are basically infinite.

Justin: I would ask her a lot of questions about geophysics.

Mara: Oh yeah, really delve into what she studied. That would be good.

Justin: Yeah, that would be a good place to start. Okay, so now we know how to approach her if she were ever to become real. Okay, good to know.

Polaris: Recommended Reading

So favorite moments out of what you read?

Polaris loses it when Havok aka Alex Summers leavers her at the altar for another woman in UNCANNY X-MEN #425.
Polaris loses it when Havok aka Alex Summers leaves her at the altar for another woman in UNCANNY X-MEN #425. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Mara: This is funny because I was definitely probably ridiculing this just a little while ago but when she was saying, “Here comes the bride,” in the full garb, I was just… I was just so shocked that’s what they chose to do. It was so over the top, like evil. It wasn’t even a really good character moment for her. There was such a bizarre image of this angry woman in a torn off wedding dress. Half dressed as Magento and half about to be married and just trying to intimidate the crap out of everyone. I giggled.

X-FACTOR #243: Polaris In-Charge

Kat: X-Factor #243 had my favorite moments from what we read. I want to say has the Polaroid of her parents and Longshot touches it and gets that psychometric reading from it. She knows exactly what she wants and she knows exactly how to get it, which is using everybody in the room to give her answers. It was so cool of her because she wanted to get answers for her life She wanted to take control of this moment in her life.

Everybody was trying to protect her. She kind of pushed them all out of the way. Polaris took control of that moment for herself and got it. She kind of strangled people with her powers and pushed them around. She was a bully about it. However, everybody understood like, “Oh, this is Lorna, this is how she is. Let’s listen to her.” I loved it.

Nolan: They tried to trick her, but she sees through it. She knew these characters too well.

In an emotional issue written by Peter David, Polaris (aka Lorna Dane) graces the cover of X-FACTOR #243.
In an emotional issue written by Peter David, Polaris (aka Lorna Dane) graces the cover of X-FACTOR #243. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Maite: I 100% agree, I really liked X-Factor 243. It was a kind of tragic issue. It was a monumental work for her character and also how her teammates perceived her. They didn’t totally understand her. I still don’t think they totally do. They maybe understood her a little bit better than they used to. Her character needs that.

Polaris in “Darkest Night” by Chuck Austen

Marius: I would have to say Uncanny X-Men 442 and 443. They are outstanding issues for Polaris. Especially the moment when she comes close to actually murdering Charles Xavier. She does this to say a point. The point that she’s trying to make with it is that she doesn’t really want to kill anyone but at the same time, there’s a lot of more a grey area in terms of, “When is it okay to fight back?” I thought that was pretty interesting.

Nolan: I liked both Peter David issues very, very much but I gotta say Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire was my favorite in general of the comics we read and I think I liked her role in it best too, in that she’s not the main character, she’s not the big problem character. What will we do about Lorna? But she’s also not hardly in it like she was in some of the issues we read. She has exactly one X person’s role in it and that works well to me. It’s neither overblown nor underplayed. It’s just like she fits there fine.

What Polaris Adds to Fox’s THE GIFTED

Justin: What do you think she’ll add to THE GIFTED?

Emma Dumont as Polaris peers pensively through a window at night in Fox's THE GIFTED.
Emma Dumont as Polaris peers pensively through a window at night in Fox’s THE GIFTED. Image courtesy of Fox Television.

Maite: I think she’ll add insight into an X-Men character we haven’t really seen before in the film or I haven’t seen Legion so maybe I’m wrong but I just am praying that the show is good enough so that we can continue to see it, because I’m sure we’re gonna see the beginning of her character development and I would love to see how the show adapts that in a way that truly gives her character justice.

Justin: I have not seen a female X-Men character have an arc yet in any X-Men stuff so it would be cool if Polaris was the first.

Kat: I think she can show the inner turmoil that mutants go through.

Marius: For me, it’s almost impossible to answer this question because the way that Fox hands out its X-Men properties is usually very unpredictable and not necessarily really close to any sort of source material.

Lorna Dane: Is She Likeable?

Justin: Alright so yes or no? Do you like Lorna Dane?

Marius: Yes.

Nolan: Yeah.

Kat: Yes.

Mara: Yeah.

Justin: Okay, I do too. So I think that’s… Is that everybody? Maite did you yes?

Maite: I kinda appreciate her more, since talking about her today. I think before this I didn’t really perceive her as three-dimensional as we’ve kinda made her out to be today so that’s been good.

Justin: I think that is a beautiful note to end on and I hope everyone listening to this will feel the same way. Thank you to everybody listenin! Please check out this podcast on iTunes, which you can do so over at comicsfirst.com and, yeah, we’ll see you soon. Thank you so much.

Listen to the Polaris Podcast!

Woof! If you’re still here, you made it a long ass way! What did you think of the quality of information and level of discussion in this podcast? Did you learn more about Polaris? Get amped for more Polaris in Fox’s THE GIFTED?

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