Polaris: Powers and Heritage was the first article written for the Merging Minds section more than 14 years ago. In fact, a version of the article even predates UXN itself and was originally posted in Peter Luzifer's original website, "Point of View – the other side of the X." At that point in time, Polaris was a character that had many unresolved questions surrounding her, primarily related to her mysterious origins and the unusual way her powers have developed and changed. The fact that writers seemed unwilling to clarify her history led to uncertainty about her past among readers. In an attempt to bring together all known facts regarding her, the UXN posted the first version of this article in 2001.
For the longest time, it could be argued that Polaris was not actually a mutant but a mutate, as her magnetic powers had been triggered by Mesmero's device in X-Men (1st series) #50 and her only true power was her green hair. In X-Factor (1st series) #243, it was confirmed that was not the case. Polaris' powers actually developed when she was still a toddler. She was on a plane with her mother Susanna and her mother's husband Arnold when Arnold took the opportunity of the flight to confront his wife about her adultery. Hearing her parents arguing over her alarmed the young child and Lorna inadvertently lashed out with her powers for apparently the first time, ripping apart the plane. Young Lorna alone survived the crash, none the worse except for her hair having turned unnaturally green. [X-Factor (1st series) #243]
Soon after, Lorna's biological father Magneto arrived on the scene, having sensed her magnetic eruption, and had his associate Mastermind wipe her memory of the incident. This in turn repressed Lorna's powers so they never developed in their totality until Mesmero triggered them years later. [X-Men (1st series) #50]
Note: Although Polaris' powers seemingly developed when she was a toddler, comments from her "father" Arnold indicated that they might have even predated the plane crash, as he mentioned that he became suspicious of whether or not Lorna was his child as a result of the strange things that happened around her. Though most mutants develop their powers during puberty, several other second generation mutants such as Cable and Tito Bohusk displayed active powers from infancy, so while it is uncommon it is not unheard of.
In later years, after Polaris had her powers stolen by her alleged sister Zaladane (see below), she developed new strength-based powers. World renowned geneticist Moira MacTaggert stated that she did believe the transfer was reversible, but that to accomplish the power theft Zaladane must have been Lorna's sister as their genetic structures needed to be similar for it to work. She also stated that Lorna's ability to manipulate magnetic fields still existed within her cells albeit in a dormant fashion that would most likely appear in her descendants. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #249-250, 253-254] Moira was also conscious that Lorna's body was still absorbing energy but unable to figure out the source. In actuality these new powers were augmented by negative emotions, this made Polaris a target of the Shadow King, who used her as a nexus for the psychic plane, amplifying these abilities to allow him to project negativity across the globe. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #257-258] Later, Polaris' connection to the psychic plane was disrupted by Psylocke's psychic knife and she was freed. In the aftermath of this, she completely lost her new powers and regained her magnetic might, never again demonstrating her strength powers. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #279, X-Factor (1st series) #69, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #280] It should be noted that a short time prior to Lorna's magnetic powers resurfacing, Zaladane had been executed by Magneto in the Savage Land. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #275]
It is conceivable that, with Zaladane dead and Polaris now free of her connection to the psychic plane, Polaris' body would regain the energies that Zaladane stole. Still, that doesn't explain the disappearance of her other power set or why it appeared in the first place. Since Polaris own secondary mutation many mutants have been seen developing additional/substitute/temporary powers in times of extreme stress or misfortune, such as Emma Frost, Psylocke, Gambit and Moonstar to name but a few. Ultimately as there is now a precedent for such drastic power changes in mutants there is no need to discuss this power change further.
Several years after the death of Zaladane and the return of her powers, Polaris came under the tutelage of Magneto. [Magneto: Dark Seduction 1-4] During this time the scope of her magnetic powers increased dramatically as Magneto taught her how to connect to the Earth's magnetic field. This seemed to have an odd affect on Polaris hair which converted into a form of green energy, the implication being that this was the result of a new advanced level of power she now wielded. Since this point, however, Polaris hair has returned to normal and she has certainly increased in skill and most certainly in power. Ultimately, that leaves this matter of her hair somewhat of an anomaly.
Ironically, Polaris would lose her powers again at the hands of another sister, this time the Scarlet Witch. At the time, the Scarlet Witch had tapped into the power of the Life Force and it had driven her mad. In a moment of anger, hoping to hurt their father, she tried to wipe out the mutant race. Though she failed, the Witch managed to depower most of the mutant population, Polaris included. [House of M #7-8] Despite losing her powers, Polaris somehow retained her green hair mutation. Later, she was kidnapped by Apocalypse to serve as one of his Horsemen. Apocalypse used Celestial-based nano technology to recreate a facsimile of Polaris' magnetic powers, in addition to giving her the ability to ingest and incubate diseases. No novice to fighting off mind control, Polaris soon broke free of Apocalypse's control and was reunited with the X-Men. [X-Men (2nd series) #182-186] She later joined a coterie of X-Men to Shi'ar space to fight Vulcan, the insane brother of her long-time paramour, Havok. Following Vulcan's conquest of the Shi'ar Empire, Polaris was among the group of X-Men that were captured by Vulcan's forces. While in captivity, Shi'ar scientists referred to her as the "Earther mutant," although they commented that her powers were beyond anything they had seen. Her magnetic powers were of such a level that her energies burned through every inhibitor they tried on her. Even the drugs they used to sedate her had little to no effect. Up until this point, it had appeared that the abilities that Polaris possessed as Pestilence had dissipated. This was the first and only indication that they had remained, even if only in a passive level in her system.[X-Men Kingbreaker #1-4]
A short time later, Polaris was freed and Vulcan seemingly died in battle with the Inhuman king Black Bolt. With her enemy dead, Polaris returned to Earth, where it was confirmed that not only had Apocalypse restored her powers but he had also restored her X-Gene. [X-Men Legacy (1st series) #259] This is most likely owing to the fact that Apocalypse was using the technology of the Celestials to restore Polaris' powers. The Celestials have been attributed for putting the building blocks into humanity to allow for the possibility of superpowers/mutation. It is plausible that using the technology that originally created mutants, Apocalypse recreate that which Polaris had lost.
Polaris and Magneto
One of the most ambiguous aspects of Polaris' life has been her connection to the Master of Magnetism. At times, he's been referred to as her father and other times he has not. As there has not been a definitive answer offered on-panel, one must look at the available evidence to make a supposition.
Evidence for Polaris being Magneto’s daughter:
- When taking a tour through her mind, Polaris revealed to Earth's allegedly most skilled telepath, Charles Xavier, that she had an independent DNA test proving that Magneto was her father. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #431] Furthermore, in multiple alternate realities it is accepted as fact that she was his daughter, such as in the timelines of Mutant X, X-Men: The End, the home reality of Exiles' version Polaris and one of the realities visited by that Polaris' iteration of the team.
- Magneto openly referred to her as his child to his X-Men allies in X-Men Legacy (1st series) #254-258. Magneto even went so far as remarking that he believed he had been a failure as a father to Polaris as well as his other children. [X-Men Legacy (1st series) #255]
- Monet and Longshot used their powers to tandem to give Polaris back her repressed memories of her parents' death. In her memories, she remembered Magneto returning for her after the crash and claiming that her mother had potential beyond "just being the mother of his children." He told her that one day he would come back for her when she was ready for the life he offered. [X-Factor (1st series) #243]
- Once Polaris had the DNA test done, Magneto also named her his heir off panel over her elder“legitimate” siblings that he had sired with his late wife, Magda. This was stated by the surviving Genoshans in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #443 when they named her their queen as per the "late" Magneto's wishes. Most monarchies practice a form of primogeniture, i.e the eldest living legitimate male child inherits the throne, at that time Quicksilver. Quicksilver's daughter Luna's claim to the throne would typically supersede either of her aunts'. As Polaris is Magneto's youngest child and technically a bastard, Magneto naming her heir-apparent over legitimate children and grandchildren is highly unusual as technically she has the weakest claim.
- Polaris said she felt an instant biological connection to Magneto, despite her aversion to his behaviour. She said she could feel her father's blood in her veins. [X-Men (1st series) #49-52] Melodrama aside, this was later reinforced during the Twelve Saga, when Magneto in his weakened state was able to tap into her power. [X-Men (2nd series) #97] Later, this connection between the two was referred to as a "magnetic umbilical cord," metaphorically indicating a parent-child connection. [Magneto: Dark Seduction #1-4]
- Polaris also has magnetic powers. While not necessarily an indication of a biological relationship, it is quite common for second generation mutants to receive a facsimile of their parents' powers, such as Banshee and Siryn, Jean Grey and Rachel Summers, Archangel and Eimin and Uriel etc. Usually, though, these mutants have an additional mutation or ability, in Polaris' case her hair (or, arguably, her latent super-strength).
Evidence against Polaris being Magneto’s daughter:
- In the Age of Apocalypse reality, Dark Beast did genetic scans, proving Polaris was not Magneto’s daughter. [Factor-X #2]
- The Magneto that first claimed Lorna Dane was his daughter turned out to be a robot in X-Men (1st series) #58. It was indicated that the robotic doppelgänger of Magneto was created by Machinesmith at several points. [Captain America (1st series) #247 and #368]
- Magneto himself declared to the X-Men that it was a robot that employed Mesmero and claimed to be Lorna's father in X-Men (1st series) #112. Also, according to Magneto, he was in the Savage Land when this other "Magneto" claimed Lorna Dane as his daughter. [X-Men (1st series) #63].
- Magneto said he did not know who Polaris was in X-Men: The Hidden Years #12. This was shortly after the robot claimed that he was her father.
Analysis: Magneto you are the father!
The preponderance of evidence definitely seems in favour of Magneto being Polaris' father. If one takes that position, that leaves the task of examine the contradictory evidence against.
Let's start with reasons why Magneto would say he did not know who Polaris was in X-Men: The Hidden Years #12. It is highly implausible even if it was not Magneto in “the Devil had a Daughter” storyline that Magneto did not know who Polaris was even if he had not seen her since the plane crash. His daughter to his knowledge was a green haired, green eyed mutant with magnetic powers. Her characteristics are just too specific for him to not be aware of her identity upon meeting her regardless of when that point was. Even from a tactical point of view, as the X-Men are his primary adversaries he should have been aware if they recruited another mutant with his power set. In X-Men: The Hidden Years #12, Polaris even acknowledges their connection albeit loosely as she states she can feel him manipulating the magnetic field. If she was able to sense his power then surely he could sense hers and recognize it.
There are several plausible explanations/factors to keep in mind regarding Magneto's unusual behaviour towards Polaris on this matter and his subsequent lack of acknowledgement of her over the years.
- On a human level, Magneto had already suffered so many familial losses, notably his daughter Anya. Consciously or unconsciously he might have decided to deny himself knowledge of Polaris' existence. This theory might seem outlandish but given the extreme amounts of mental instability exhibited by Magneto, particularly during this period and generally, it is possible.
- He had decided that her actions had proven that she was not, as he put it, "ready" for the life he offered her so it was best that she return to being in the dark about her origins.
- Magneto may have wanted to protect her from the knowledge of her own culpability in her mother's death. He may have even felt a degree of guilt in later years as it was his “inheritance”, that ultimately killed Polaris' mother.
Now let's address the existence of the Magneto robot. Although the Magneto working with Mesmero was quickly dismissed in canon as a robot, even 40 years after that story an explanation still hasn't been given for who commissioned the robot or why it would claim Lorna as its daughter. The idea that the robot made such a wild claim about Lorna, and then that claim actually turned out to be accurate defies belief. It would be one thing if the robot claimed another magnetic mutant was Magneto's daughter, but Lorna was still a latent mutant at the time the Demi-Men chose her. The Magneto robot, and whoever commissioned it, must have had inside knowledge about Lorna's paternity.
Later, it was believed that Machinesmith had created the robot, though no motive was ever given for him to do so and it was never actually proven he had, only implied. [Captain America (1st series) #247 and #368] It is important to note also that Magneto was just one of a number of robotic duplicates Machinesmith is seen making in those issues. Further, in Captain America (1st series) #368, Machinesmith also mentions that he made his robots to order. No client was ever revealed for the Magneto robot. This leaves three possibilities.
- An undisclosed individual or Machinesmith himself created/commissioned the robot and struck golddust and accidentally discovered the heir of Magneto, Polaris.
- An undisclosed individual or Machinesmith was somehow aware of Polaris true identity when they created the robot.
- Magneto himself commissioned Machinesmith to create the robot.
While the latter doesn't appear that likely, it is possible. Despite his feelings for humans, he hasn't been above hiring them when it has suited his purposes. There have been some notable examples of this behaviour during the Magneto ongoing series by Cullen Bunn were Magneto has in his employ a human woman named Briar Raleigh. [Magneto (2nd series) #1-15]
Also, it's worth noting that Magneto was very selective when he denounced the robot to the X-Men. He said, paraphrasing, "The Magneto who claimed to be Lorna's father was a robot." At no time did Magneto deny that he WAS Polaris' father, only that the Magneto the X-Men heard that from wasn't him. He also doesn't deny any involvement in the robot's creation, but merely says he never met Mesmero. It may very well be that the robot was part of a scheme of Magneto's, programmed with the information of Lorna's paternity, and designed to instruct her as his heir if he was killed. And once Magneto turned up alive and found out the robot had been activated, he backpeddled on the revelations until a better opportunity presented itself. Frankly, at this point, what the robot knew and why it knew it has become a secondary concern since Magneto openly admitted he was Lorna's father and outside evidence has come forward about her paternity.
The most damning evidence against Magneto fathering Polaris actually relates to the DNA test done in the divergent reality the Age of Apocalypse. This information came from Dark Beast and Mr. Sinister, neither of whom could hardly be considered reliable sources. Additionally, if one were to play devil’s advocate and consider why Dark Beast or his superior, Mr. Sinister, would lie, one can easily find motives. For instance, hiding the daughter of Magneto in plain sight and branding her as a lunatic would be a smart move for either one of them. Mr Sinister was plotting the downfall of Apocalypse and Dark Beast was aware of this. Had Sinister’s plan been successful and Apocalypse had fallen, Sinister and Dark Beast would still have had to deal with the threat of Magneto. In this reality, Magneto had buried two daughters already, the guilt of which weighed upon him dearly. Holding his only surviving daughter above him would allow Sinister or Dark Beast to blackmail Magneto to ensure either man's survival. This is further backed up by Sinister doing just that in the return to the Age of Apocalypse, the only exception being that Polaris was out of his reach at this time so he used Magneto’s former student Jean Grey as leverage to ensure the Master of Magnetism’s compliance with his demands. Also, a pedigreed second generation mutant like Polaris would be a valuable test subject even in her weakened state.[Factor-X #2, X-Man -1, X-Men: Age of Apocalypse #1-6, New X-Men (2nd series) #41]
Considering the above motives, the evidence against Magneto being Polaris father is easily explained as the strongest evidence against originates from an alternate reality. In 616 universe, Magneto says he is the father. Polaris says he is the father. They are quite literally connected via their powers. Still, given the fluid nature of continuity in fiction, especially in comics, someone could nevertheless turn around and say Polaris is not Magneto’s child at a later point. However, to accurately retcon at this stage that Polaris is not Magneto's child, a writer would need to be able to:
- Disprove the DNA test that Polaris had done.
- Find/create a telepath to rewrite Polaris' memories and give them a motive to do so.
- Have said telepath be skilled enough to create/alter memories that could fool the expertise of telepaths of Monet St. Croix and Charles Xavier skill level.
- Find/create a mystic/mutant with the ability to alter the psychometric imprint left on an object to fool Longshot's talent and give them a motive to do so.
- And finally come up with a motivation for Magneto to claim he was her father in the first place.
Polaris' relationship with Magneto has not been the only lingering familial mystery. There is also the mystery of Polaris' relationship with the other, brief, mistress of magnetism -- jungle priestess, Zaladane.
Evidence for Zaladane being related to Polaris:
- Moira MacTaggert claimed that the only way Zaladane could have stolen Polaris’ powers was if they were sisters. According to Moira their genetic structures needed to be similar.
In talking about Susanna, his late lover and mother of Polaris, Magneto said she had more potential outside of being the mother of his children, possibly implying that either he wanted her to give him more children or that she already had. Additionally, Magneto remarked that looking at Zaladane was like looking into a mirror image. Although the context of the statement seemed to be about her behaviour, it could be interpreted as a further indication that Zala may have been a full blooded sibling to Polaris. [X-Factor (1st series) #243, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #275]
- Havok noted a resemblance between Zaladane and Polaris in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #250.
- Lorna and Zala apparently share the same last name.
- Zaladane knew about Lorna and claimed she had searched the world for her. Unless it was personal and a biological connection was necessary for the power theft, surely there were other formidable superhumans whose powers she could have stolen? [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #249]
Evidence against Zaladane being related to Polaris:
- Moira never examined the equipment the Zaladane used to steal Lorna’s powers, so her assertion seemed like a bit of a leap. Additionally, she was under the influence of the Shadow King at the time, a being that thrives on negativity, so her prognosis might have been influenced on the Shadow King’s desire to hurt Polaris and feed of her anguish. Zaladane also had mystical talents and they could have contributed to her ability to steal Polaris' powers.
- The Savage Land Mutates referred to Lorna as their fallen leader Zaladane’s “false” sister.[X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #6]
- Lorna had no awareness she had a sister but she also didn't know she was adopted. Her parents had their secrets.[X-Men (1st series) #52]
Analysis: Zaladane is probably Polaris' sister but she probably isn't Magneto's daughter.
Without another story to offer more details, it’s impossible to ascertain whether Zaladane is actually the daughter of Magneto or the sister of Polaris. If one were to guess, it might be best to look to Lorna’s mother, as she provides the most logical explanation given the available evidence.
When Lorna’s mother Susanna appeared in X-Factor (1st series) #243, she was decidedly older-looking, appearing to be a middle aged woman when Lorna was a baby. Additionally, her husband was a black-haired man with thinning hair. As such, Zaladane might have the significantly older daughter of Arnold and Polaris’ mother, Susanna making her Lorna’s half-sister. This would back-up Moira’s prognosis that they were related and explain the alleged physical resemblance. Not only would it clear up why Zaladane used a different device to drain Magneto’s powers, but it could also explain her hatred of Magneto, if she had been aware he was having an affair with her mother, and hatred of Polaris as she was the product of said affair. As Lorna's adoptive parents kept the knowledge of the adoption from her, presumably to shield her of the trauma of the crash, they could have wanted to shield her from the "loss" of a sibling too.
Of course, this supposition does nothing to explain exactly how Zala ended up in the Savage Land...
In earlier drafts of this article Magneto's other children, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, played a much larger role, as there are certain commonalties exhibited between Polaris, Magneto and the twins. Due to the events of Avengers & X-Men: Axis #7, the twins may no longer be the children of Magneto, so those sections were revised or eliminated entirely.
This possible change has proved surprising, as the twins parentage served as a connective tissue between two of Marvel's bigger franchises, the Avengers and X-Men over the past 3 decades. Magneto connection to Maximoff twins featured several times as the central relationship in several of Marvel Comics' important crossovers, such as Bloodties, Avengers: Children's Crusade and House of M, to name a few. Despite the importance, that Marvel has given this relationship in the past, after 32 years it may no longer exist.
On the flip side, though Polaris was revealed to be Magneto's daughter in 1968, the revelation was retracted in the same story. Fast forward 34 years later, writer Chuck Austen had Polaris take a DNA test and find out she was the biological daughter of Magneto. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #430-431] Fast forward another 10 years and Polaris finally received a concrete origin story by writer Peter David. [X-Factor (1st series) #243]
What this proves is that there are no constants when it comes to comic books. Changes to characters whether it is their family connections, powers, background etc are intrinsic to the nature of this beast that we call comic books. Given the fluidity of "facts" in Marvel comics who knows were we will find the emerald tressed, Polaris in the next 14 years time?