Lorna Dane AKA Polaris… among other things.

With convention season starting back up, figured it might be time to start writing this column on a more regular basis again.

Today I wanted to try something a little different…. This is probably the first time I actually don’t have a strong book to argue for. When I started researching Polaris, I thought it was going to be pretty cut and dry… except it really wasn’t.

First up is X-men #49… or Uncanny X-Men 349 if you prefer.

This book gets listed way too often as the first Polaris, which is not accurate. It is the first appearance of Lorna Dane, true. It qualifies as a full appearance for Lorna as she appears throughout the issue.

Lorna is what’s referred to as a Latent Mutant in issue 49. Meaning, her powers existing but have not yet developed or manifested. While she doesn’t appear initial with her green hair, it’s relieved later in the issue that she does in fact have the trademark green hair. Like in the TV show Gifted, she dyes it to fit in. These are important distinction to make since she does not exhibit any powers and is never referred to as Polaris in this issue.

Now let’s move on to X-Men #50.

Mesmero straps Lorna into a machine which draws out her mutant powers. Literally turning her into the mutant with the powers over magnetism we know as Polaris… but there’s a catch. Never once in this entire 4 issue story arc spanning from issue #49-52 is Lorna Dana ever referred to as Polaris, not once.

So just out of curiosity I decided to jump down the rabbit hole and find the first time she has that code name.

Oddly enough. As it turns out, Polaris is not Lorna’s first code name. It’s actually Magnetrix. While that might not seem too important, it actually is… as is the fact that it’s roughly four years before a character named Polaris ever exists in the pages of Marvel’s X-Men comics. So to make a very long story short, the first appearance of “Polaris” is Uncanny X-men #97. Which is like 47 issues later.

So what does that mean?

Well, in a time when people will insist with their last dying breath that a boot qualifies as a first appearance, that really dependents on the individual.  

There’s a few ways to look at this. If you’re speculating on Lorna. Based on the tv show Gifted, both X-Men #49 and #50 have merit in there own right. The real problem with issue #49 is that Lorna doesn’t have her mutant powers yet. Issue #50 has her using her abilities. She physically obtains her abilities in this issue, She’s on the cover and it’s a Jim Steranko issue to boot. Meaning it will probably always be more highly sought after, whether it’s the first appearance of “Lorna Dane” or not.

I’ll level with you, there really is no single book that has more merit than the other. Each are important… and truth be told. Do to the way Lorna’s story unfolded over the years this is a mess. Her story is scattered over little bits and pieces, here and there over the course of 47 issues. That’s just to get us to this point. After this it’s an even bigger mess collecting key and minor key issues for Lorna/Polaris… which I’m not even going to try and tackle today.

So which book is it?

For me, it’s pretty simple. If you like the character, buy all 3.

If you only care about the issue where she takes on the superhero name, than Uncanny X-Men #97 might be sufficient. If you care only about the first appearance of Lorna Dane, than X-men #49 might be all you really need… Unless you’re looking for Lorna’s first cover appearance, in which case 50 is probably what you’re looking for.

Everyone should by this point realize that collectors view things slightly different. Regardless of what many will tell you, it’s more about value or bragging rights than anything else.

I will say this, in terms of the labeling of slabs, neither issue #49 or #50 should have the word “Polaris” anywhere on the label. They should be labeled with #49 first Lorna Dane and issue #50 with second Lorna Dane and that really should be the end of it. To include Polaris on those labels unnecessarily adds to the confusion and is just blatantly incorrect. Mainly because, Polaris was not her first, last and only code name. Sure, it’s the code name that she’s now known as. However, with such a large gap and another code name in between Lorna Dane and Polaris, it’s very misleading using it on the labels.

So there’s really no version of this argument where #49 is the first Polaris no matter how you slice it. Again it’s 47 issues or 4 years before Polaris is ever an actual thing. 

Issue #97 should have “first Polaris” on the label, since Lorna Dane’s new costume and persona is Polaris. That all happens for the first time in this issue. So it would in fact be correct to label #97 as the first Polaris.

As a side note. This comes about when the real Erik the Red makes his appearance and uses mind control shenanigans to turn Lorna and Havok evil. If Erik the Red sounds familiar it’s because he appears in issue 51 as part of Lorna’s original arc…, but it’s really Cyclops in disguise in those issues. Why? Because Chris Claremont wrote it, so it’s has to be unnecessarily convoluted and confusing.

Again, this is why I write this column, because someone needs to. There needs to be some detailed breakdown of what’s really going on. There’s a clear conflict of interest in our hobby when it comes to information, which is how misleading information becomes fact. In this day and age, if you repeat something incorrectly enough times it becomes truth. Simple one or two word descriptions are inadequate with some characters, Lorna Dane/Polaris is a good case in point.

That’s all for this week, see you next time!

18 comments

  • She’s born a mutant doesn’t matter when she uses her powers #49 is the first appearance it’s her origin story of how she finds out she’s a mutant and has her powers activated by a message sent to her brain by Mesmero, her hair even changes to green after she tells Beast it’s always been green and she’s been dying it her whole life to hide it this issue is showing the full transformation to Polaris In my opinion.

    • #49 is also 1st Mesmero as well.

      • Alana,

        Why does it seem you are more aggressive here than on the other site? You are very well informed and I appreciate all that you contribute to over there, but then too many times here, I’m disappointed in your semi-attacks to diminish/downplay the message Skot and others are relaying….you could become such an integral part of this site, should you choose to…just MY opinion.

        Keep up the fantastic work, Skot!!

        • Don’t see how it’s an attack or how it’s aggressive simply stating that #49 is her origin and saying she doesn’t use her powers doesn’t make a difference or less of a first appearance . If you dont agree with CGC I’d say take it up with them.

    • Skot Whitman

      Alana, everyone entitled to an opinion… and looking back at some of your comments, your “opinion” seems suspect.

      Whenever I pull back the curtain on a book that is commonly presented in a way that is misleading, you get upset. I writing this column because I got sick and tired of getting ripped off by shady dealers misrepresenting books. Labeling a panel as a first appearances, rather than cameos as they should. If that’s the type of person you are, someone who fears transparency with appearance. GREAT! I look forward to continually upsetting you in the future.

      • I’m with you on one panel cameos vs first appearances but Xmen #49 is far from a one panel cameo. I also don’t see how this upsets me as I own both #49 and #50 slabbed. Guess my opinion is subject because I’m a girl and unless I start a post with great job guys I’m aggressive.

        • Skot Whitman

          Couple things Alana. Just because you don’t think it’s important or “matters” doesn’t mean others don’t. That type of attitude is a large part of why the market is such a mess with conflicting interests or opinions of appearances. People only hear what they want to hear, not just related to comics, but in general.

          I never said 49 was a cameo, i specifically called it a Full Appearance. I also referred to it as the first Lorna Dane. However no matter how you slice it, it ain’t the first Polaris and maybe if you actually read these books instead of having a slabbed copy, you’d know that.

          You’ve commented before that I “marginalize” some book… Yes, I do exactly that. More often than not, I actually show the panels or pages in question so that people can draw their own conclusions. Which very few, if any other writers about comics can be bothered with. I do that because even though “I” may not like a book, that doesn’t give me the right to omit pertinent information about it.

          There’s an edge to your comments typically I try to ignore. Mostly because tone is difficult to intemperate in comments section… maybe “upset” was the wrong choice of words on my part, combative is probably more apt.

          Regardless, it’s due in part because, more often than not it feels like you read something you don’t like and race to the commentions section to voice your opinion. Rather than bothering to finish reading the column or article.

          I don’t need people to comment and tell me “great job”, I honestly could care less. But I do take the time to reply to almost every comment as a show of respect to people who do comment.

          As I said in the article:
          “Everyone should by this point realize that collectors view things slightly different.” It might benefit you to realize your comments may not always come off as intended.

        • Khoi Cakes

          I actually thought you were a guy with the first name Alan and surname starting with A. No one brought up gender except you.

  • You weren’t listening were you?

  • CountZeroInterrupt

    Great article Skot. You’re doing the Lord’s work. Unfortunately, you’ve added three books to my hunt list soooo…there’s that. But, seriously- that Steranko has always been on it.

  • Great, detailed fun read Skot! Agreed too, just buy all 3 if your a fan and have everything covered. I think these slabbing companies could use someone like you in House to clean up the laziness! Perhaps they can outsource to you and fix these issues! With ample pay of course… LOL!

  • It’s very cut and dry to me. No argument here LOL. Already have issue #50. Mainly bought it because I’ve always loved the cover and also have #97 as well but didn’t know until after I bought it that it’s the first time she was called Polaris. Originally got it to get all the early Claremont issues. I think another good reason to pick up #97 as it’s also the 1st app. of the Shi’ar empire. Even though its a brief appearance but still somewhat important. Probably won’t worry about getting issue #49 unless it’s a very good deal.

  • I don’t comment often but I like to read great write ups like these. Now every time I see a slabbed Xmen 49 all I am going to think is this label is wrong.

  • Mr. Whitman, thank you for such a wonderfull article. I appreaciate your time for writing an article like this; I’m new to this community and to the collecting world fo comics, anytime I read an article loaded with information, specially well substantiated information with the panels and all. It is simply great.. I have much to learn.

    Please keep up the great work , folks like me and others appreciate you!!!

  • Lebednik

    awesome info thanks.

  • I love all her appearances. From issue #49 to where it keeps continue in X-men blue. Polaris is a unique character and interesting. She was born a mutant where her first manifestation took place back in X-factor 243, where her origin story was told. Her powers manifested when she was 4 years old. Her power didn’t come from a machine. Mesmero just unlock her mutant power that Mastermind suppressed. When her father, Magneto, found Lorna, he told Mastermind to make her forget about the incident and contained her mutation ability because her power manifested waaaay too early. This is why she’s extremely powerful.

    If you love Polaris you can always follow her starting from X-men #49 throughout her entire appearance.

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