In October of 1968, writer Arnold Drake and artist Jim Steranko introduced Lorna Dana, better known as Polaris, to comic book readers. While Polaris’ character has had a complicated history, she finds strength by becoming a true and steadfast leader.

She made her grand debut in X-MEN #49, but it would not be until 1969 in X-MEN #60 that she would join the X-Men as a full-fledged member. Throughout her run with the X-Men, Polaris has been known for many things. Firstly, she is the daughter of Magneto and shares his powers of magnetism. Also, she’s a badass who rocks green hair. However, beyond her abilities and appearance, Polaris has had a history of ups and downs that have truly exemplified her greatest strengths.

The problem is, though, many perceive Polaris as a projection of how fellow X-Men and her own father perceive her. As a result, she has not always been given the agency she deserves over her persona.

In my opinion, though, Polaris’ development over the decades has established her as a strong character. She is individual who is willing to fight for herself. Throughout her comic book history, she has exemplified relentlessness. So, despite the fact that many writers have given her a multitude of obstacles, Polaris has never failed to overcome those obstacles in ways us readers can take inspiration from.

So, without further ado, here’s an in-depth look at one of the X-Men’s most iconic, and important, characters in comic book history who has been a formidable leader and fearless survivor.

X-MEN BLUE #9 cover. Art by Arthur Adams. Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The Secret Origins of Lorna Dane

To say Polaris’ backstory is complex is an understatement. Lorna’s affirmation of her very own identity has been a subject of conflict throughout her personal history. Yes, many superheroes, including various notable X-Men such as Jean Grey or Wolverine, have faced identity crises that have challenged their very own perceptions of themselves. Oftentimes, these challenges arise from traumatic events of that respective individual’s past. However, Lorna is distinct in her identity crises.

How does one remove themselves from a past they have never been truly sure of? For years, Lorna Dane never knew who was responsible for her parents’ death. This mystery haunted her even when she tried to move forward from it. As a result, she struggled to distance herself from that event as she characterized her own, heroic persona.

Additionally, how does one reconcile the fact that their own father is one of the world’s most feared supervillains?

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Well, for Polaris, there is no single solution. Her experiences with the X-Men and X-Force have served as heroic endeavors that contribute to her disassociation from Magneto as they exemplify her ability to empathize with those in need of saving. Polaris is a superhero, but she is still human. Her relationships, including her continuous connection to Havok, have certainly exposed a fair share of Polaris’ sensitivity.

With these genuine, raw aspects of her personality, there still appears to be a level of trepidation some of her peers express. Consequently, throughout her history, Polaris often struggles to attain agency over her own persona. Interestingly though, this trepidation is not necessarily a result of fear or distrust of Lorna. Rather, it is a result of concern for Lorna’s own stability in response to accepting the repercussions of reality.

Polaris as portrayed in X-FACTOR. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Who is Lorna Dane?

Therefore, one of Lorna’s greatest enemies is the agency others often take from her. One of the most poignant moments in Polaris’ history is the revelation of the truth regarding her parents’ death. Up until X-FACTOR #243, Lorna had never been exactly sure who or what exactly was responsible for her parents’ death. In fact, she had made the assumption that Magneto was responsible for the death of her parents.

At least, that was the lie she had come to believe.

So, in X-FACTOR #243, fellow X-Men Longshot comes across a photograph of Lorna and her parents. Upon touching the photograph, he exhibits a fierce reaction. As a result, Polaris immediately asks him to show her what he had seen through the assistance of M, a telepath.

The vision they end up revealing to Lorna encompasses the sequence of events she had always expected: Magneto destroying the plane that held Lorna and her parents.

However, this too was another lie.

Polaris as featured in X-MEN BLUE. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

An Impossible Truth

Upon the revelation that Magneto was the culprit of Lorna’s parents’ death, Lorna immediately feels uneasy. She knew there was more to her story than what Longshot and M were letting on. So, she demands that they reveal the truth.

They do.

In reality, Lorna’s manifestation of her mutant abilities catalyzed the plane crash that would kill her parents. Following the crash, Magneto and Mastermind would eventually find the young Lorna in the midst of the wreckage. In order to protect her mind from the trauma caused by her own powers, he and Mastermind decided to conceal that memory within her own mind.

Lorna’s reaction to this true revelation is devastating. The truth of her past tears her apart, showcasing an unseen vulnerability and uncertainty of her character. Most unfortunately though, she showcases a great deal of suffering and guilt.

In this moment, we revisit the question of Polaris’ agency. Her teammates and her own father concealed her personal truth from her. Sure, her peers may have had genuine intentions. However, was it their place to make that decision on Lorna’s behalf?

Cover of X-FACTOR #243. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

A History of Shadows

Due to the concealment of her own past, Polaris is an individualistic character. She has not been able to define herself in regard to her personal history simply because she did not have the resources to interpret her past. Thus, she has taken matters into her own hands throughout her run. Yes, her agency has consistently been of an unstable nature. Her peers have subverted her authority over her identity many times. However, in the end, Polaris has actually overcome these subversions, but how?

It is instances such as the revelation of her involvement in her parents’ death that call into question Polaris’ agency. She has experienced several traumatic experiences including this revelation and her survival of the Genoshan genocide, depicted in NEW X-MEN #132.

Thus, it seems as though Polaris just never catches a break. She is constantly deconstructed and exposed. For what though? How does Polaris regain agency in a world that seems to constantly turn against her?

Daughter of Magneto. Leader of the X-Men.

Moving on From Malice

The deconstruction of Polaris throughout her history showcases integral facets of her character. She has experienced countless traumas that she has somehow bravely overcome. She has faced off against notorious foes that have taken possession of her own body. However, she has still endured.

In the 1990s, Polaris took on the role of the leader of the X-Factor. More recently, she began leading a team of X-Men in the X-MEN BLUE series. In the beginning of her stint in X-FACTOR, she took time to reflect on some poignant experiences in her life. More specifically, she acknowledged the anxiety she had been experiencing as a result of the horrifying incident in which Malice controlled her mind.

X-FACTOR #87 depicts the reconciliation of Lorna’s fears and anxieties in regard to mind control. In the issue, she finds solace in expressing herself to S.H.I.E.LD. operative, Doc Samson. As a result, her self-expression catalyzes her ability to move forward. Of course, her fears may not subside immediately. However, her recognition of her fears, as well as the self-exposure of her vulnerabilities, provides Lorna with authority over her dread.

Yes, she did have those encounters under Malice’s possession. However, she now accepts that those encounters are incapable of possessing her true self. She is a hero and leader. So, that event of character development is particularly admirable and identifiable to the reader.

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Following the Leader

So, despite the numerous times her peers have attempted to subvert her journey to identification, it is safe to say that Polaris affirms herself in roles of leadership. That quality of her character as a superhero is not one that can be taken away from her.

Therefore, the deconstruction writers have attributed to her piece out the qualities that establish Polaris as a leader. She has been brave, and she has been vulnerable while showcasing incomparable strength. Most importantly though, she has not let her experiences nor her relation to her father define her. Rather, she has taken her agency back in order to affirm herself as an integral part of the X-Men and their history.

Feeling green?

The Reign of Polaris

Why are so many comic book readers die-hard fans of Polaris? Well, there is a multitude of reasons.

Lorna Dane exemplifies an air of authenticity. She does not believe there is a point in one’s heroic journey where you have to establish yourself. Polaris has fought against the tension of her agency. She has lived a history where much was taken from her. Ultimately, she has endured.

So, despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and countless foes, Lorna has never faltered in her steadfast role as a member of the X-Men. This is why she is so beloved.

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