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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – What Happened to Polaris’ Powers?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we take a look at an abandoned Chris Claremont plotline from the early 1990s, where he gave Polaris new powers.

Okay, during the late 1980s, the mutant mistress of magnetism, Polaris, spent a lot of time possessed by the Marauder known as Malice…

After the seeming death of the leader of the Marauders, Mister Sinister, Polaris began to break free from the control of Malice…

but not before a woman who claimed to be her sister showed up and had her kidnapped and taken to the Savage Land…

(As you can see, the X-Men showed up to rescue her)

In Uncanny X-Men #250, Zaladane steals Polaris’ magnetic powers…

The upside of her powers being stolen is shown, though, by Malice now being seemingly erased from Polaris’ mind entirely…

And later in the issue, Polaris develops NEW powers…

(Notice Alex’s attitude change, which Polaris notes – that’s an important plot point)

Polaris is separated from the rest of the X-Men at the end of the story.

We next see her in Uncanny X-Men #253, where her new powers seem to have an odd effect on others…

Now rescued by Banshee, she ends up on Muir Isle. Once there, Moira MacTaggert explains her powers somewhat…

In effect, Polaris is drawing power from (and it appears causing, as well) negative emotions. The problem is that she is on an island with a guy with multiple personalities, Legion. Her power to empower negative emotions works like a charm on the evil personality within Legion, causing him to take control and capture Polaris for his own little game…

A couple of issues later, Legion uses Cerebro to help look for the X-Men (who the Muir Isle folk now know are alive). This allows the Shadow King to take control of Legion…

Here’s the important point. This is the FIRST TIME that the Shadow King has become involved in Muir Isle.

In Uncanny X-Men #269, we see that things are going poorly on Muir Isle. Polaris’s negative emotion powers are now being used by the Shadow King (that Ms. Marvel is not actually Carol Danvers, but just for the sake of this piece please just pretend that it is – it is far too complicated to get into right now who she really is)…

In X-Men #275, Magneto kills Zaladane…

Now we come to the Muir Isle Saga, where the Shadow King has taken control of the whole island, using a “nexus” to control everyone…

Polaris IS that nexus, as X-Factor discovers in X-Factor #69 (from this point on, the stories are no longer written by Claremont – Fabian Nicieza handles the next few pages and Peter David does the very last page)…

Shadow King now takes total possession of Legion.

In Uncanny X-Men #280, the X-Men fight against their possessed friends while Xavier is fighting the Shadow King on the astral plane.

The X-Men come up with a way to cut off the nexus…

As you can see, now that she is cut off from the Shadow King’s control, Polaris’ new powers are gone…

And in X-Factor #70, we see she now has magnetic powers again…

The problem, as it is, is that the Shadow King did NOT cause Lorna’s new powers, so the destruction of the Shadow King should not have eliminated the new powers. Clearly, Claremont had SOME plot designed for Lorna’s new powers (in Marvel Age, he even discussed giving her a new code name to go with her new powers) but plans were derailed and when Claremont left, whatever he had planned was abandoned and the whole thing was forsaked by now having it be Shadow King who was behind her new powers and his destruction led to her reversion to normal (and the death of Zaladane presumably led to the return of her stolen magnetic powers).

Now, I understand that an alternate theory is that as soon as Zaladane died, her powers WOULD have gone to Polaris but the Shadow King somehow kept that from happening and it was only upon his death that her powers were able to return to Polaris and as soon as they did, her new powers went away. That’s certainly not a terrible theory, but I don’t think it really holds, as it still doesn’t explain why she gained these new powers. The retcon of “the Shadow King gave them to her to help control others and when he died, they went away” does.

But really, whatever reasoning you have for how her new powers went away, it is clear that whatever it was, it wasn’t what Claremont originally had intended, so either way, it is an abandoned and forsaked idea. I wonder what Claremont did originally plan for her?

82 Comments

I think that it had something to do with Malice- remember, Malice’s powers were the ability to take control of someone by bringing out the negative emotions in them.

I couldn’t bring myself to read anything but your narration. Polaris is one of my favorite X-characters, but that is some hideous, hideous art. (One of many reasons I fled comics in the late 1980s and stayed away for about 15 years.)

A Polaris profile in one of the old TSR Marvel game books suggested that it had something to do with Malice. I’m not sure what sort of input they had from Marvel writers. (Interestingly, that’s where Marvel stuck Mark Bagley for some years; he did the profile images for characters who didn’t have Marvel Handbook entries to clip art from.)

Not Harrison Ford

November 18, 2012 at 8:10 am

Why is Moira MacTaggert dressed like that?

Colossus has such wee lil’ legs. And how come we never got a limited series of “Moira McTaggert: Streetwalker”?

Moira was being affected by Polaris too.

Not Harrison Ford: Moira’s dressed like that because Polaris is making everyone’s dark side come out. She’s slutty because in her “normal” life, Moira is kind of repressed.

So Moira pretending to be a stripper in “X-Men: First Class” actually has some basis in canon? Cool!

That doesn’t truly explain how she became ‘She-Hulked.’ I enjoyed the arc wherein the X-Men were dead and invisible to sensors and psychics…that, too, faded into the ether.

The rumour is that Claremont revealed in a letter to a fan that Zala and Lorna were the daughters of a silver haired man(Magneto) who left them early in their lives. Zaladane was supposed to show up on Genosha in the early 00s and basically take Zealot’s role in Magneto Rex or something like that.

The reason Polaris’ didn’t keep her super strength I thought was because Peter David wanted her to have her magnetic powers when he took over the reigns of X-Factor. Likewise that’s why Legion got killed off in the story. PAD didn’t want to use him. If I’m wrong I’m sure someone will correct but I’m sure I read this somewhere.

I would have assumed the strength powers came from some sort of secondary mutation caused by Malice. Malice had the ability to abilify negative emotions in her hosts so it would fit.

Personally I didn’t like the super strength for Polaris of the new personality it gave her.

“Fabian Nicienza handles the next few page” yeah you can tell, everybody’s voices just seemed wrong when Claremont isn’t writing them. And that Kubert artwork aint a patch on Silvestri/Green when they’re on

There’s some early Jim Lee artwork in there too!

I liked how people confused the tall superhstrong green haired chick for the She-Hulk in those issues.

Any one know what Polaris’ new codename was going to be?
I was frustrated with this whole story line when it appeared, let alone the related sub plot of who really was Polaris’s father. It was my frustration with Claremont’s dangling plot lines that made me drop the X-men.

Oh my god, every single page of this makes me want to bash my head against a wall. I’m so glad I spared myself this stuff at the time. But man, there’s no mistaking Claremont’s love of novel-length expository dialogue.

I almost hate to ask, but I’m guessing this Malice wasn’t related to the Sue Storm Malice? Normally I’d just figure the name was a coincidence (like the Scalphunter who’s mentioned, who I’m guessing isn’t on loan from DC’s Old West), but since this entity gives Lorna the same personality and fondness for horrible hairstyles as the other Malice, I’m not so sure.

“Today we take a look at an abandoned Chris Claremont plotline from the early 1990s.” Let’s see, one of about 5,000?

No Malice was a mutant like the Shadow King with no body.

There’s no mistaking Claremont’s fondness—I’m inclined to say obsession—for mind-control as a plot element. his villains are forever bringing out someone’s darkside or forcing them to do horrible things and invariably making them dress like that (never mind Moira being repressed—even perfectly normal people go sex-mad when mind-controlled).
Horrible art. Particularly Lorna’s horrible hair in that early sequence.

It’s funny to me that Legion (a character I’d be content to never see again, but I guess he’s all the rage now) is so inextricably tied to Sienkiewicz’s design that people draw him in that style even if it doesn’t fit in with how anything else is drawn.

Maybe decompression has caused this, but I can’t read those Claremont pages anymore. Bubble upon bubble of horribly affected dialogue… art consisting of stick figures to make room for bubble upon bubble of horribly affected dialogue….

Damn, the post-Siege Perilous period was crazy, crazy stuff, and not always in a good way. While Harras & co were jackasses in their treatment of Claremont, one can easily see why they would choose Jim Lee- Claremont was clearly losing the plot. I wonder how someone reading this monthly could keep it up.

Of course, Muir Island Saga specifically had a lot of editorial interference, but that doesn’t change what I said much.

I really appreciate this post. I just read this X-Men storyline a week ago, and I must admit I got really confused. The summary here really helped me sort it out what happened. I can only imagine that people who didn’t have good memories were constantly re-reading their back issues when this storyline was coming out because subplots were left dangling for many issues before they were addressed again.

What about the fact that some of the X-Men (Storm, Wolverine, Psylocke, Rogue, Colossus, Dazzler, and Havok) were undetectable to electronic devices and wouldn’t appear on cameras? Also, people couldn’t remember them after they were gone, although this could have been due to Psylocke mind-wiping everyone. Was this ability also abandoned when Claremont left the X-Men?

It was also never explained what the Siege Perilous was (or at least I haven’t reached an explanation yet in my reading of Uncanny X-Men). The “goddess” who let the X-Men use it on the Reavers said that it would give them a second chance or change them, but when the Reavers returned they were as bad as ever.

Marvel has had a ton of mostly unrelated characters named Malice.

The earliest one in publishing terms was a henchwoman of Erik Killmonger who fought the Black Panther is his famous serial in Jungle Action.

The second was a one-shot Ghost Rider villain who used a gimmicked armored car to commit crimes.

The third was the name taken by the brainwashed Sue Richards in John Byrne’s Fantastic Four arc featuring the Psycho-Man; this Malice, confusingly, resurfaced as a separate personality in Sue’s mind in the 1990s run by Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan, making her seem a bit more like the X-Men character mentioned her. “She” was last seen when an adult version of Franklin Richards dumped her into the mind of an evil alternate universe Reed Richards; that evil Richards later died in the Negative Zone, so perhaps Sue’s Malice persona died with him.

The fourth Malice is this character, allegedly a mutant with no body, initially went after Storm, then possessed Dazzler, and finally got its hooks into Lorna as shown in the pages above. Anyone possessed by this Malice originally ended up with a mysterious skull choker around their neck, which seems more demonic than mutant to me, but hey, Selene is supposed to be a mutant too and is really just a standard horror vampiress with the word “mutant” bolted on so she can fight the X-Men instead of Blade or Doctor Strange. this Malice, which is either female or prefers exclusively female hosts, popped up again in post-PAD issues of X-Factor, where it was seemingly destroyed by Mister Sinister. Most recently, it was revived and digitzed by Sinister, and possessed the human-Sentinel hybrid Karima Shandipar for the duration of the “Messiah CompleX” storyline before once again being exorcised.

There’s also a fifth Malice, this one a successor to the Black Panther villainess; she’s Nakia, a former member of the Panther’s Dora Milaje who, thanks to Mephisto’s manipulations, came to believe that T’Challa would actually marry her. She was seen in Priest’s Black Panther series and has since been utterly forgotten.

Why does Forge only comment on Moira’s out fit when she’s dressed just like every one els?
I left the book during the Australiaa period. couldn’t take the jumbled plots,inconsistent characterization, and Sylvestri’s art.
The only X book I get these days is PADs X Factor.

You people ragging on Silvestri’s art during those X-men days need to go find a store that can sell you some better taste.

always found the bit about after zaldane stole polaris powers from her and while she was still trying to be be freed from malice only to be taken over by the shadow king in his plans to spread hate over the world and starting with muir island a little crazy mostly due to the fact malice and the shadow king would be battling each other for control of polaris mind. then polaris gets her normal powers back after servering the link with the shadow king. as for those pages showing miss marvel carol davers that is because in early issues of the sage rogue gets free of the miss marvel powers but they do not have enough life force between them to be two beings. plus rogue going through the siege Perilous earlier.

@Red Comet,

Yeah his artwork from this period was really nice. I loved the fluid quality it had. I hated the direction his art took when he moved over to Image.

As good as his artwork was though, It wasn’t good enough to get me to read the X-Men on a regular basis.
It just seemed hopelessly convoluted by this point.

I remember how bad Claremont’s dialoguing was getting at this point. He just had this weird scripting style that drove me crazy, and it isn’t the part about characters desribing what the art shows clearfly, which is what I know bothers most people about Claremont. It’s more the weird “voice” he gives a lot of characters, especially the bad guys, where they do this obnoxious, annoying constant snarky taunting.

All of Malice’s taunts, all of Legion/Shadow King’s taunts, I hate that “voice.”

There’s no mistaking Claremont’s fondness—I’m inclined to say obsession—for mind-control as a plot element. his villains are forever bringing out someone’s darkside or forcing them to do horrible things and invariably making them dress like that (never mind Moira being repressed—even perfectly normal people go sex-mad when mind-controlled).

And don’t forget, any villain who mind-controls simply must endlessly taunt with a grin in the most long-winded way throughout.

I read somewhere that Claremont’s “excuse” for his long-winded exposition was dictated by Harris & Co. The reason being that if new readers picked up a X-Men comic book, by explaining everything in each issue the new reader would not be lost and stop reading the comic. Hence being constantly reminded that Rogue could not touch anyone and being “nigh invulnerable”, Psylocke’s psi-knife being the “totality of her focused psychic powers”, and so on…. (This was before the Internet where any one can now search and read the history of a character).

I’m not sure I believe Claremont: 1) he was writing this way before Harris & Co came along, and 2) when Claremont was allowed back on the X-Men with the unnecessary “X-Men Forever” title, without Harris & Co looking over his shoulder, Claremont continued to write long-winded exposition.

I read somewhere that Claremont’s “excuse” for his long-winded exposition was dictated by Harris & Co. The reason being that if new readers picked up a X-Men comic book, by explaining everything in each issue the new reader would not be lost and stop reading the comic. Hence being constantly reminded that Rogue could not touch anyone and being “nigh invulnerable”, Psylocke’s psi-knife being the “totality of her focused psychic powers”, and so on…. (This was before the Internet where any one can now search and read the history of a character).

I’m not sure I believe Claremont: 1) he was writing this way before Harris & Co came along, and 2) when Claremont was allowed back on the X-Men with the unnecessary “X-Men Forever” title, without Harris & Co looking over his shoulder, Claremont continued to write long-winded exposition

I think you MIGHT be slightly misquoting something I’ve posted several times in the comments section on this blog. (If not, and you’re going off a Claremont interview, my bad)

What I wrote on past blog entries here is something SHOOTER said, not something Claremont said. Claremont had a habit of not always mentioning characters’ names. For example, he would call Storm “Weather Witch” “Wind Goddess” or not use her name at all for some issues, and other times he would call her Storm. Shooter made a rule to make sure to use every character’s proper name at least once an issue and make it clear that was their proper name, so that new readers wouldn’t get confused as to what a character’s name was.

Here is one of the many times he mentioned this policy:

For the first year, I didn’t read any books. I just wanted them to be on time. I was afraid that if I read them, I wouldn’t allow them to be published. I couldn’t read it.

…Then I worked on getting them better… I sat everybody down and said, “Guys, we’re going to take this a piece at a time. Number one, every issue, make sure the character’s name is mentioned somewhere. You look at comics from Marvel written in the mid-70s, 1974, 75, you’ll find comics — whole books — go by where the character’s name is never mentioned. No character’s name is ever mentioned.

Or like Chris, he’ll have Storm walk out, one guy calls her Windrider, the next person calls her Ororo, you know what I mean. If you’re a new reader, who the hell is this broad? I kept trying to say, guys, we have new readers, they don’t know all the answers, we are telling them the stories, ya see?

So it wasn’t that Shooter was requiring Claremont to write long exposition. Like you said, Claremont already did that (as did most 70s Marvel writers). It was specifically about how to use character names.

Here’s a cool blog by the way for people who like Claremont Mind Control trope:

http://clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com/

@ T. – Yes! My bad. Thank you. That’s what I was thinking of.

Dear god, you are so right about the “taunt” voice, T. I’d never really thought about it but yes.

What issue of Marvel Age did Claremont discuss giving Polaris a new code name to go with her new powers?

One point about this: one of the things that stands out as distinct between the comics of today and those of the 1970-80s (and a bit later) was that the earlier comics had a lot more story than most of what is done today. Quite honestly, I could do with more story, especially given how much comics cost. Instead, we are given way too many splash pages and way too few panels per page, all at the expense of involving stories. (The story here is not necessarily a good example of this, but the principle holds)

Man, I love the X-Men. This stuff went on for years and I’d forgotten all this stuff. Maybe it doesn’t add up completely, but who cares? It’s the X-Men!

Dear god, you are so right about the “taunt” voice, T. I’d never really thought about it but yes.

Yes, and it always involved lots of affectionate pet names too. Like in the examples above: “Silly boy” “my darling” “lover” “my girl, sweet Lorna” “dear sister” “sweets” “hon” “blondie”

The strange thing is, while it didn’t totally come out of nowhere it was relatively rare in the early days. Then sometime around Mutant Massacre he just started going crazy with that tic and it really hit critical mass by Inferno.

So do they ever explain her hair?

…was this story actually about anything? Maybe the Muir Island X-Men had a mission at some point, but ike most of Claremont’s endeavors, it just ended up being consumed by a bunch of parallel sub-plots with no direction and a bunch of strange physical and/or mental character transformations.

I feel like I need to be mindwiped after reading all of this…. this… I want to say ‘crap’ but let’s say ‘complicated storyline’. This sums up what, a span of 30-40 issues? Yikes!

I was off comics for a few years, and when I got back it was with Lee/Claremont’s adjectiveless X-Men and the whole line relaunch. So my first taste of Lorna (well besides whatever little I read of her from earlier 70s comics) was her and Guido trying to open a jar in X-Factor #71. Man was I ever spared!

And it’s probably against my better judgement, but I’m curious what Carol Danvers’ deal is that you won’t mention here.

@T- a few issues after Shooter left, Claremont never mentioned Maddie’s name in an issue he wrote, even though she persuades the X-Men to let Tyger Tiger go. It looks like Shooter had a point.

@ Fraser- yes, and it gets a lot creepier when you remember that Moira was raped by her husband. And Sean admits that he liked her more passionate.

@IAM FeAR – basically, this is the part of Carol that Rogue absorbed. During the Australian period, Rogue continued to suffer from multiple-personality issues with Carol’s personality. Then Rogue was tossed through a mystical gem that causes people to be reborn and as a result Rogue was split into Rogue and Carol, neither one having enough life force to exist on their own. Magneto killed Carol and saved Rogue.

@Michael: Thanks a lot!

Yeah, my better judgement should have known better. :p

@Nathan Adler: Marvel Age #96.

I’m not positive it was Claremont, though. That issue had a scorecard for keeping track of many mutants, including as-yet-unrevealed Gambit and the lot that went through the Siege Perilous.

There were a few clues for future storylines, such as a statement that Legion had reverted to Jack Wayne’s personality and would soon “menace all of Muir Island”.

@Luis Dantas: Marvel Age #85.

Have just recalled it was Claremont but he mentioned it in Marvel Age #85, not #96 (still had a Groo cover though;)

When Claremont had Lorna lose her magnetic power, but gain the ability to absorb negative emotions and convert them into physical strength, etc. was he actually suggesting that her real power was imprinting on a powerful mutant nearby and matching their powers retaining them longer depending on how powerful they were?

I’d suggest that the reason she demonstrated magnetic powers at the start was due to her meeting Magneto at some point and after manifesting she incorrectly put two and two together that he must have been her father. He perhaps had some association to her adoptive parents, and Lorna saw this as him secretly checking up on his daughter.

What if Mr. Sinister then tests his own conclusions that this is her power, and thereby binds an incorporeal mutant such as Malice knowing that it is only this that would break her imprinting of Magnus’s power?

Therefore, if Lorna’s ability is absorbing Omega-level mutant powers, is this then the reason Eric the Red dubbed her Polaris, and Sinister called her his “Pole Star”, because if she spent enough time with Alex – a mutant with the potential of becoming a STAR – she would absorb his powers and fulfill some similar destiny?

Shoot, you could run a double feature on this article and continue with Polaris’ powers post M-Day, becoming a Horseman of Pestilence for Apocalypse during Milligan’s X-Men run, then losing those powers, only to pop up with the magnetic ones again, without much explanation how Apocalypse’s tampering with Celestial tech restored them for Brubaker’s “Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire”.

I really feel for Polaris fans sometimes. There’s been more retcons and power swaps on her than maybe any other X-Man. And that’s saying something.

Neil, that’s the kind of thing that made me give up on X-Men–all these endless games and power struggles that never seemed to amount to anything.
Re Malice, I never made sense of the choker, though I thought it might be where she hid between possessions. Now I’m also remembering what I found a really bizarre argument at the time (and still)—she couldn’t possess Storm because Storm didn’t repress her dark side.

All that talk of dark sides gets tiresome after so much abuse. At this point not even Star Wars takes the concept (not all that solid in the first place) that seriously.

In Marvel, people don’t so much give up control to their dark sides as get swaped up entirely with their evil doppelgangers from a parallel universe. Shades of Star Trek’s mirror universe.

It’s easier to count the Claremont stories that do NOT feature mind control, dark sides, or a villain physically transforming the hero against their will. I think there were 6 or 7 in all his career. :)

How innocent I was in those days. I was barely aware that there was something called sadomasochism.

Heh. And people say that in the good, old days, comics were “properly” for kids. When the best selling comic at Marvel had all this stuff for 15 years or so.

I am not really complaining, I remain a fan of Claremont’s work. Even the tail end of his run, that decreased sharply in quality, was usually better than most later X-Men writers.

T. – I’ve read that Claremont faced even greater editorial interference in the last couple of years, and was pretty depressed with the X-Men. He always had a tendency to do manipulative, taunting villains and in those last years he went overboard, I think he was projecting editorial into the villains. He said he kinda lost faith that good could ever defeat evil.

@worstblogever- Not to mention that she seems to be mind controlled more than any other X-character. And as G:DR on the X-Men message board put it, Alex always cheats on her when one of them turns evil.

Rene, is that your personal theory or something Claremont explicitly said? I totally buy it either way, I’m just curious. It makes so much sense.

My favorite of the taunting voice and pet names was when Polaris/Malice called Storm “butch” – slang term for a lesbian. I think was in the same issue depicting Havok and Polaris fighting in San Francisco (first comic seen above). I thought it was daring at the time for Claremont to imply through Malice/Polaris that Storm was a lesbian. Malice/Polaris had every reason to, there was that “close” friendship Storm shared with Yukio in Japan that was never fully resolved.

T. –

It was stuff Claremont actually said, sort of. I’ve read interviews of him, saying that he had lost faith on account of editorial interference by that time, and so he broke up the X-Men with the Siege Perilous, and more and more in the comics the heroes were just fighting to survive, and the villains couldn’t be defeated for good.

But the part about the increased snark of the villains being part of that trend is my interpretation.

Claremont certainly got more heavy-handed about how humanity can never accept mutants and all human beings except his regular nonmutant cast members were horrible bigots etc. as the series went along. Although I rather doubt that was based on purely “My editors are evil!” thinking.

That first sequence is from the first X-Men issue I ever bought for my very own self (222, I think).

Every time an X-Comic from this era pops up on the blog here, it seems to be the “thing” to start railing on convolutedness, art, yadda yadda….but this period (from Fall of the Mutants to X-Men #3, and especially Australia/Inferno/XTinction Agenda) remains my favorite run to this day. It’s “my” X-Men – the version of the team (or non-team) that I grew up with. And I have to say, my 12-14 year old self didn’t find this stuff terribly hard to comprehend. I do remember thinking the Polaris wrap up was weird because it wasn’t connected, but hey, the Shadow King works in mysterious ways.

On that note, I seem to remember “Dark Moira” to be more a result of the Shadow King sinking his claws into Muir Island than Polaris’ new powers. Wasn’t she on that road already before Lorna arrived? I’m talking just a few panels here and there (in classic Claremontian cutaway fashion, mixed in with the Jacob Reisz stuff), but I thought I remembered it that way.

FINALLY – this made me think once again of Dazzler showing up several years ago asking the X-Men for help on Mojoworld. The X-men were like “yeah, but help us with Genosha first”, which she did….and then it was dropped. Guess that one was just abandoned, and not forsook – at least that I know of.

I realize Moira is Scottish, but that’s no reason for her to dress like Sheena Easton, circa 1987.

And I agree…I got really tired of the snarky villain cliche. It worked for Arcade, but not for every single baddie. I’ve also noticed he seemed to have a ton of suit-wearing, slightly effete villains. There was Scramble or whatever from the Marauders and Empath with the Hellions. They basically had the same personality.

Oh dear, that Shadow King stuff was diabolical. And the notion that Claremont wanted it to grind on all the way to #300 just makes me realise that a bullet was dodged for all concerned, as after I don’t know how many issues of interminable build-up, the Shadow King was still a hopelessly dull character.

When your main power set is that you make people dress slutty and behave like jerks (I leave off mind-control because every Claremont character can do that) you really don’t deserve anything above like “one-shot Marvel Team-Up” villain tier.

Schnitzey Pretzelpants

November 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm

“Oh my god, every single page of this makes me want to bash my head against a wall. ”

Couldn’t agree more! I don’t know what it is, but I feel like 100% disinclined to even a read a comic that looks like that – probably my loss in some instances, I know, but all I see when I look at those pages is my rationale for not buying most comics during that time period.

Claremont apparently didn’t write any of the Muir Isle Saga past page 11 of Uncanny X-Men issue 279. And indeed the material he didn’t write was deemed non-canonical to his X-Men Forever run (as was the X-Factor story where Cyclops’ son was sent into the future, despite that story purportedly being scripted by Claremont).

“The reason Polaris’ didn’t keep her super strength I thought was because Peter David wanted her to have her magnetic powers when he took over the reigns of X-Factor. Likewise that’s why Legion got killed off in the story. PAD didn’t want to use him. If I’m wrong I’m sure someone will correct but I’m sure I read this somewhere. ”

I’m pretty sure David has said he was handed his X-Factor cast by editorial, so I don’t know how much he might have had to do with either the power reversal or Legion dying.

Can’t believe I was collecting this crap back in the day.

Oh wow, over 600 extra pageviews for my blog with just one single mention on this page? Thanks ever so much. Now I feel like I’m pandering like Stan Lee on his soapbox throughout the decades, but here goes… If you’re interested to learn more about Polaris under Claremont’s reign (and ow yes, there’s plenty to tell) be sure to check out these links:

http://clarmindcontrol.blogspot.nl/2008/11/polaris-just-cant-catch-break.html

A brief retelling of Polaris’ new powers and stay on Muir Island as the Shadow King’s… guest

http://clarmindcontrol.blogspot.nl/2012/05/maliciously-mindcontrolling.html

And way before there ever was a Shadow King to control her, Mister Sinister introduced Polaris to Malice. They worked together like a charm…

Oh, how could I forget, Polaris and Havok made a guest appearance in the early All New X-Men era as disturbed passengers turned mental slaves?

http://clarmindcontrol.blogspot.nl/2008/09/2nd-post-brotherly-mindcontrol-love.html

Do enjoy these and other examples of woefully inappropriate comments made in kids comics…!

@Mel- no, Moira was not acting unusual before Lorna arrived. She yelled at Magneto for neglecting the New Mutants and it was implied she slept with Sean but neither of those is unusual behavior for Moira.

FWIW, the X-men suddenly appearing on scanners again and able to be picked up by TV and what not was due to their plotline post-inferno where they were separated for various reasons (Storm died and reborn; Rogue, Psylocke, Havok, Colossus, and Dazzler gone through the Siege Plot Device; Longshot vanishing because why not). In each case, my understanding has always been that in gaining new lives or bodies through the device, magically reforming someplace else, or through Nanny and the freaking Orphan Maker, they lost the protection from scanning…which would make an odd sort of sense.

Now, why Wolverine lost it is a good question. He’s the only one who wasn’t altered in form in some way (instead he gets ambushed by the Reavers when he returns to Australia after getting hammered in Madripoor or something…Jubilee rescues him and helps him escape and then he goes and gets Betsy). So his loss of being detected, as far as I know, has never been explained in any meaningful way.

That storyline where that all went down was advertised as the summer crossover done in 6 issues bi-weekly called “Dissolution and Rebirth”. So I always assumed at the time that it would be 6 issues and then we would get a new team. How that then spanned some what? Nearly 2 and a half years before the entire band got back together in X-Tinction Agenda is baffling.

Smokescreen, I know the guys involved in Spider-Man’s Clone Saga said they had massive problems with marketing in the 1990s: If the first two issues of a five-issue arc sold well, the writers would be told to stretch it to eight or nine issues. So while Claremont certainly can ramble, stretching things out may not be entirely his fault.

@Smokescreen- Ali was clearly invisible to mechanical devices AFTER going through the Siege Perilous so that can’t be it.

Thanks, Michael! I was going to check myself but my longboxes are currently buried under a pile of current and soon-to-be-used baby/infant stuff. :)

The invisibility to electronics thing pops up a lot here – don’t think there’s a real clear answer for it because of Dazzler’s post-Siege Perilous stalker storyline (and if I recall correctly, the Hand cant see Betsy’s original body on the scanners when they find her…just before they do the ninja switcheroo). Also, as I’ve said previously, I’m pretty sure there was a bit WAY later where it was mentioned that Wolverine was still “techno-invisible”. I’m thinking during a Claremont return, possibly around the Neo stuff. I’ll try and find it over the holiday if I can dig through Baby Gear Mountain.

It is like Marc Silvestri and George Perez were in a competition to see who can make the worst female hair….

@Fraser: That makes sense, and truthfully there were some good character issues in all of the post-break up of the team before the Genosha arc. In hindsight, it’s sort of interesting that there was a team book for a couple of years that didn’t really have a team in it and just did individual character stories.

@Michael/Mel: I honestly don’t remember the Ali arc. I’ll have to look at the books again, but yeah, that would confuse things as reading it originally I always took it as entering the portal cancelled the invisibility, and it was always what seemed to make sense from a story standpoint. Then again, Claremont was notorious for leaving things unresolved forever in that book, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he had an answer and it never saw print.

The whole “invisible to electronics thing” came up in “X-tinction Agenda” as well. I’m pretty sure it just got brushed under the rug after Claremont left, like so much else.

Even for me, this post-”Inferno”/”Dissolution and Rebirth” period is not a favorite. Or rather, it’s really the post-”Dissolution and Rebirth” stuff that I have little tolerance for, the issues in the 260s with Forge and the Morlocks and Young Storm and Gambit and really lackluster art. The idea of breaking up the team never bothered me; the fact that Claremont never did anything interesting in the wake of it (before Lee and Harras forced him to get the band back together) did.

Poor Polaris. As others have mentioned, she really gets a bum deal. She’s close enough to being a main character that writers want to monkey with her, but far enough removed that they can get away with stuff they couldn’t with other, more main, characters. As a result, she really gets put through the ringer, during and after Claremont.

Yeah, the whole “Forge and Banshee search for the X-Men” plotline really did suffer from some surprisingly bad artwork. A title as popular as Uncanny X-Men was should not ever have a guy like Bill Jaaska drawing it.

Wow so Lee and Harras forced Claremont to bring the team back together? I don’t really like either Harras or Lee too much but I have to give them props on that at least. The post-Siege Perilous/pre-reunion stuff was incredibly dull, convoluted, and painful. The stuff that followed afterward when Lee and Harras started exerting more influence and marginalizing Claremont more and more was convulted and painful also, but at least it was no longer dull.

@T: “Forced” is maybe too strong a word, depending on who you ask. But my understanding from interviews that I’ve read is that Lee was very much a devotee of Byrne, and loved the Claremont/Byrne run, so he wanted to move the book back towards that kind of straightforward super heroics: a defined team, costumes, operating out of the mansion, etc.

Harras, who shared Lee’s appreciation for the more traditional elements of the book (and who wanted to keep his superstar artist happy) backed him up.

I gather that Claremont, who had a history of writing to his artists’ strengths (ie while working with Cockrum, we wrote more space opera stories) initially didn’t have a problem returning to more traditional material, but it quickly became clear that Harras valued Lee more and that Lee was calling the shots. I’ve also been led to believe that Claremont simply found himself uninterested in the more traditional material. Whereas Lee wanted to do his take on all the classic stories, Claremont had already done that, when he wrote the stories Lee wanted to riff on.

@teebore: Hm, it’s tough to figure out which side to take in that one. While I understand Claremont’s decision to not want to retread old ground, his new ground clearly showed that he was well past his peak. When i hear his plans for what he would have done had he stayed on the book and had his way, it sounds terrible. He was going to follow up his mega-long and super-boring Shadow King run immediately with another years long Shadow King run that involved more Hand ninjas (well beyond passe at that point) and a mind-controlled Wolverine (yet more mind control?) Combine that with all his dialogue tics that had spiraled out of control by then (“Your choice, your funeral” “No quarter asked, none given”) and it would have likely been terrible.

However, Lee’s idea of returning to traditional type stories was also terrible, as the man simply had no idea how to create a coherent plot, but his art, while detailed and clean, really aged horribly. Seriously, I think the artwork from Cockrum, Byrne, Smith or Romita JR all ages better than Lee’s artwork. even though he came after all of them.

So it seems like whichever camp won out in that dispute, the Claremont or the Lee/Harras, the X-Men were doomed.

@T: Yeah, it’s tough to judge a story that never happened; some of Claremont’s plans sound horrible (more Hand ninjas) some could have worked (a mind-controlled Wolverine would be fun, IF he committed to it fully and it lasted more than a story or two) and some sounded interesting (killing Xavier and supplanting him with Magneto once and for all). You could even look at what he did in X-Men Forever, which incorporated some of those ideas and say they wouldn’t have worked, but that Claremont was vastly different than 1991 Claremont, so who knows?

The dialogue tics have never bothered me as much as some people – I find them kind of quaint and charming, though I’ll freely admit that’s nostalgia; I grew up reading them (and I still maintain – this is 100% my personal theory – that the increase in those tics towards the end of his run was intentional, his way of saying “you want back to basics? Fine, here’s ‘every issue is somebody’s first’ repetitive dialogue straight outta the Shooter days. Happy now?”).

But I definitely agree that the X-Men were pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place at that point, with neither option likely to lead to the best stories.

Hey, at least we know exactly how Claremont would have had a mind-controlled Wolverine talk. And dress.

I think the whole Wolverine mind-controlled storyline was only an excuse for Claremont to break up Scott and Jean, which he was hellbent in doing since she returned in X-factor.

Millar’s blockbuster version of it was fun and a lot better, in part because it didn’t last too long.

ParanoidObsessive

December 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm

While Harras & co were jackasses in their treatment of Claremont, one can easily see why they would choose Jim Lee- Claremont was clearly losing the plot. I wonder how someone reading this monthly could keep it up.

Like some people have already mentioned, I always saw it the opposite way – a large part of why Claremont’s writing started falling apart in later years was BECAUSE of editorial.

It’s VERY telling that the sharp decline in story quality in X-Men takes place very shortly after Marvel fired Shooter and DeFalco took over. Something which multiple insiders have freely admitted caused a lot of “Who gives a ****?” attitude to develop (just as it had in the late 60′s/early 70′s).

So Claremont has editors looking over his shoulder who honestly do not give a crap about whatever story he’s trying to tell as long as the comics keep selling. Then they tell him that they need him to devote X number of issues per year to the next big franchise-wide crossover. Then they tell him that, oh yeah, you’re going to need to write twice as fast now because we’ve decided we’re pushing X-Men to a bi-weekly schedule. And he no longer has the strong authorial control he always had over the “mutant” side of the Marvel universe, because now there’s multiple other creative teams dipping into the same character well (X-Factor, New Mutants, the Wolverine stand-alone series, etc). And suddenly there’s a feeling of general malaise and laxity sort of creeping over the entire company, because DeFalco shows neither the inclination or ability necessary to hold things together the way Shooter did. And then company insiders basically start crowing about how popular these fresh new artists are with the kiddies, and how it’s art that sells comics and not writers – so when the artist has an idea he wants to add, you should totally humor him regardless of how insane it is or how badly it might mess up your other ideas. And so on.

Looking back, I have absolutely no trouble seeing why Chris’ writing started to falter during the later part of his run. If anything, I’m surprised he didn’t flip out sooner and start murdering people in the bullpen.

The irony is that editors of the time period (and into the 90′s) were simultaneously too involved and not involved enough – too involved because they would force ideas and premises onto writers that didn’t necessarily work, and not involved enough because it seems very few of them ever did anything resembling creative control or continuity checking. That’s the sort of scenario that’s going to lead good writers to produce bad work, and mediocre writers to produce terrible work.

Similar to the situation now, where it seems Marvel has editors who don’t actually have any power over writers at all, while DC is desperately trying to mimic early Image/90′s Marvel.

ParanoidObsessive

December 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Oh, and for people who keep bringing up the “invisible to technology” thing, I always just assumed that most of the X-Men would theoretically have lost it when they passed through the Siege, meaning the only ones left who should still have it would be Storm and Wolverine (and who knows how the whole age regression/re-aging thing would have affected that).

On the other hand, both the Siege and the invisibility thing were gifts from Roma, so it actually kind of makes sense that they might lose it when they lost the Siege. Or just that it would eventually fade over time.

A wizard did it. We ain’t got to explain nuthin’!

ParanoidObsessive- the idea that the Siege took away the X-Men’s invisibility to sensors doesn’t hold up, though. Dazzler was shown to still be invisible to sensors and cameras “*after* she passed through the Siege.

For those of you who were wondering just where Claremont was taking his plot about Polaris’s familial relationship to Zaladane, and just what Malice was, you might be interested in my latest post here:)

http://fanfix.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/the-link-between-polaris-and-zaladane-and-for-that-matter-malice/

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