Who wants to see my custom of Polaris in her red & gold X-Factor costume? “But you just made a custom Polaris!” Don’t hassle me, readers! None of you stopped me when you had the chance! I know you’re just figments of my imagination anyway! I will tell you a tale of how this custom of The Mistress Of Magnetism’s least beloved costume came too be. You won’t believe how far my recipe changed. Plan A did not survive its encounter with my budget. Since I’ve inserted photos of it to break up the text walls, I’ll be spoiling the ending. For non-Polaris commentary, refer to my previous X-blog.
I’m of the rare breed of people who doesn’t hate Lorna Dane’s short lived second X-Factor costume. This outfit debuted in the formative X-Factor #87 by Peter David & Joe Quesada. If I recall correctly, this was the first time Polaris chose her own costume rather than receiving it from others. After appearing in one trading card set, it was replaced in #93 after both were off the book. (Quesada’s redesign for Doctor Polaris fared better.) The US government (editors & new creative team) made her swap it for a more modest blue & yellow outfit.
The red & gold outfit is both extremely 90’s & timeless since people didn’t really dress like this in the 1990’s. I’d argue that her other costumes aren’t anything to write home about either. Half her costumes match her hair, resulting in a monochrome blur easily confused with Viper & Abigail Brand. This one is certainly better than her baggy yellow sweatshirt & Serval Industries uniform. (Corporate uniforms are the worst!)
Meanwhile her lime-hued hair pops when contrasted dynamically with crimson. The trendy non-mask framing her face matches Havok’s (Why do fans make fun of Gambit for introducing headsocks when he merely stole it from Warren Worthington III?) I like how her suit doesn’t blend with the team look, similar to Quicksilver. The X on her bosom lets you know who she’s affiliated with without looking at her belt buckle. The vermilion gave her a Magneto vibe a decade before it was decided they’re related. (When they did decide Dane is his daughter, she went for purple leather gear vaguely reminicent Darkstalkers’ Morrigan.) While it’s supposed to be sexier than her prior costume, they resisted giving her obvious high heels. They wouldn’t be impractical since she flies, but flats better indicate she’s not megalomaniacal. The costume is metal so seemingly superfluous elements like her oversized belt could be mentally reshaped & animated.
Along with this this new costume, Lorna also revealed that’d she’d become legitimutantly shredded. It’s understandable not to think this wasn’t a tasteful conclusion to her body dysmorphia subplot, yet the controversy over whether her costume was too sexy ignores the body beneath it. (The condensed timespan of this issue either confirms that she was never really out of shape or that comics greatly underestimate how long it takes to notice results of a new workout regimen.) I can’t recall another makeover where a superheroine without superstrength gets additional muscle definition. Even superstrong superheroines tend to get drawn with minimal muscle tone, as shown by her earlier stint with negativity-converting powers. (Superstong supervillainess are more consistently drawn as yoked because of a beauty double standard.) She had the chiseled shoulders, stomach, & legs of a physique competitor. Her costume reveal would’ve been more dramatic if she tore the baggy blue sleeves off her prior outfit.
Because of her electromagnetism mastery, she doesn’t require as much protection as weaker characters (The Dr. Manhattan Principle). Her exposed skin is an expression of defiance not weakness since it displays her physical prowess. Towards the end of its brief lifespan, the gap between Lorna’s bloomers & riding boots was colored yellow. (For some reason nobody could fathom that she could be wearing flesh-colored pantyhose. It clearly worked so well for Burt Ward that everyone forgot it was an option.)
Whereas her outfit got more risque, Lorna thankfully did not get a matching personality overhaul. She just became more confident. Bucking the 90’s reputation, this character revamp was nowhere near as edgy as The Gifted’s would be.
Although she lost her superstrength by this point, Polaris opted to transform her body into the closest approximation of that form. She did so for personal reasons not because her role on the team was hitting things really hard. (That’s Strong Guy’s job, although a rejected pitch had her maintain her superhuman physique.) Getting her body into this condition must’ve taken Lorna even more disciple than a regular woman given her powers. (Her non-simulation workouts occurred off-panel.) This signifies it’s not merely a superficial costume change. Subsequent issues don’t call attention to the fact that she’s now as buff as the average superhero, which normalizes it.
This also lets readers write off her muscle mass as artistic embellishment, however, which is why it didn’t become a more permanent part of her character. Later artists including Jan Duursema, Steve Epting, & Jeff Matsuda admirably kept her jacked physique even as her costume changed. Once X-Factor was cancelled, Lorna reverted to the default superheroine bodytype. (What space does this qualify for on Polaris Mistreatment Bingo?) This is an instance of comics being able to show without telling that gets ignored when the writing doesn’t reinforce the visuals. Perhaps if Internet fandom was as developed then as it is now Lorna’s muscles could’ve become as memetically indelible as Nightwing’s butt? Or would the same people outraged by Eternia’s women not being waifs have pressured Marvel to erase her physicality sooner?
Presuming that there was minimal chance it’d be an official Marvel Legends, I decided to finally customize my own red & gold Polaris. Although standardized female bodies are fit, I wanted a base that would convey she’s even fitter. My first choice was the Target exclusive Ms. Marvel especially since it already had key parts molded in a normal skin tone & wasn’t tall. Its neck joint was already compatible with the two-pack Polaris head. I had to pay a premium for her when the set first came out & was sorry to see the prices have become less affordable since. Hasbro should’ve warned me they wouldn’t be using this body for either of its Lornas so I could’ve splurged on a second. Unfortunately Hasbro has only released this body as an exclusive, in odd colors, or with too many parts altered. Successive uses of the mold appear to have shrunk slightly as well.
So I tried thinking outside the Marvel Legends box. I realized DC Collectible’s New 52 Superwoman has the right build despite being a bit out of scale. When I looked into it, I was shocked to find she was even pricier than Ms. Marvel. I found one buy it now for $861.97, an incredibly specific outrageous sum. Even more reasonable ones were out of my price range.
Every customizer knows that they should avoid painting joints whenever possible. Even if you sand down the plastic & seal the paint, eventually paint rub will ruin it if the the joint is moved. This will look especially unnatural if you have an area that’s supposed to be skin. So I went looking for a base body whose arms, chest, & thighs were cast in flesh tone plastic in addition to having significant muscular definition. That lead me to Mattel’s WWE line.
The figure that ended up matching my criteria most closely turned out to be Wrestlemania Chyna. She’s more massive than I was looking for, but I’d rather exaggerate than understate Lorna’s build. (I almost went with Alexa Bliss, but she’s shorter & has thinner arms than ML Polaris.) I needed to nudge a Walmart order over the free next day shipping threshold, so I bought her. Plus she was 25% off. Worrying about ruining an expensive figure adds an extra layer of anxiety to customization. Since Mattel tended to do the bare minimum for its former DC license, I was pleasantly surprised at Chyna’s quality. Chyna would be a great base for literally strong female characters including Wonder Woman, Big Barda, She-Hulk, Titania, Knockout, Power Girl, Stunner, Fairchild, Man-Killer, Grace Choi, Frenzy, Rampage, Poundcakes, & Anaconda.
So I only wanted a Polaris that was moderately thicker than Hasbro’s standard, & wound up with a base body substantially larger because it was more cost effective. Chyna is taller & thicker than I expected, so she doesn’t blend in as well with Marvel Legends. 5’10” Chyna shouldn’t be as tall as 7′ She-Hulk, but these two companies have different ideas of scale. Exaggerating her build helps her stand apart, although her proportions would be more comics accurate if she had longer legs & torso with thinner arms. (The new She-Hulk is closer, although that body has yet to be released in human colors without torn jeans.) High heels might give the illusion she’s less stocky, but flats are more accurate to this outfit anyway.
This Polaris is mogged. You could interpret this as superstrength era Polaris anachronistically wearing her second X-Factor costume, which would undermine my point about her being a brickhouse without being the team brick. This inaccuracy is something I’d criticize Hasbro for, but it’s an intriguing incongruity when I do it. So either her physique is wrong or her costume is, depending on which phase you’d prefer this to be. She scales better with Marvel Select & my obsolete ripped Rogue.
Chyna’s likeness is unmistakably the late Joanie Laurer (RIP), which would make it harder to believe this is supposed to be Polaris. So I swapped in a head from Sand Saref I had left over from my Barbara Kean custom because it looked better than the Gwen Stacy head leftover from Firefly. Chyna’s head boiled & popped easily, & Saref’s head fit on the ball without modification. Whereas Chyna’s head seemed a smidge low, Saref’s looked like it was floating above her neck even after boring into her head to lower it. The problem was the interior post attached to the ball was too high, so that excised that & glued the ball directed to the neck.
I kept Chyna’s mane, which was much tougher to pry off, because it evokes the Jell-O hair of this period better. (The original hair from Stabby Babs fits pretty well on Chyna.) The forelock is leftover from when I made Scarlet Witch into Speedy. If you ever wanted to see swole Eva Mendes with green hair, this blog’s for you! (Now you’re imagining Ryan Gosling as Havok too.)
Her non-mask is impasto. I filed down the upper rim of Chyna’s choker so it’ll look like Dane’s headpiece flows into her neckwear rather than her still wearing Malice. The buckles on her back were sanded down. The laces, tongues, seams, & upper rims of her short boots were Dremelled off. The one I received was missing her back tattoo so I didn’t need to remove it.
Her armbands were made from industrial grade rubber bands from Peruvian asparagus. Historex Tape would’ve been better , but I didn’t have enough left. It takes all her magnetic concentration to keep them from snapping off when she flexes. They’re often dawn with closures on the outside as if they’re straps, but I moved the seams inside because it’s more elegant. They’re still visible in most poses, so maybe not? Her glove cuffs, boot tops, & garter are clear rubber bands. I also used these to slightly raise her decolletage so the negative space is more comics accurate. Sometimes she has a chunky cuff on her left wrist but I thought it was a bit much. Her belt is the included championship belt trimmed slightly with its center insert replaced with a cardboard belt buckle & the oval plates reversed. The coils on her belt are thin clear plastic ties. I didn’t glue the garter strap to the garter so I could remove the belt.
Chyna’s fists are a smidge small whereas her gripping hands are a tad large, so Mattel still isn’t at 100%. Polaris doesn’t have any signature accessories to hold, so I tried to make the non-fists more gesturing. Her fingers were sliced apart & glued into position. Now she can make air quotes! Her energy effects are borrowed from Polaris & Dr. Doom. I wish I had a set of each for all my Lornas so they don’t have to share.
This costume was colored with strong shadows & highlights in the comics, so I went with metallic paints. Permanent market was used on her knee & wrist joints to minimize paint rub. I struggled to find consistent reference for her back, so I gave her an X in inverted colors to balance the one on her front. For contrast, I used flat greens for her verdant locks. I thought it’d be weird if her irises were the exact color as her hair, so she got metallic green eyes to be extra unnatural. Maybe this indicates she’s powered up?
As soon as Polaris was freed of her possession by Malice, her magnetic power was stolen by her possible half-sister, Zaladane. She then developed a third mutation where she gained superstrength by absorbing & inadvertently amplifying the negative emotions of those around her. I guess it’s kind of like weaponizing her bipolar disorder long before she was officially diagnosed? It was like bizarre subplot from a Silver Age DC comic taken seriously for several issues. At least muscle growth was a breath of fresh air from Chris Claremont’s go-to mind control fetish. Her secondary mutation returned & her tertiary disappeared after Magneto killed Zaladane. (It was arguably less weird than the next time she lost her magnetism so Apocalypse gave her Alphonse Elric armor & pestilence powers she didn’t use.) It’s a pity The Gifted got axed before it could adapt either cheesteak phase. (When she had green hair, Nicole Third looked like the spitting image of Emma Dumont’s Polaris with muscles.) Dumont & Dane share a birthday!
Lorna is the distaff version of Lorne, meaning laurel wreathed. (Some translate it as fox, which may also be apt.) So Marvel cut out the middle man & gave her guacamole hair. Sadly Lorna’s naturally verdant locks are not proof she photosynthesizes her own food. Whenever she gets depowered, her hair refuses to turn a human color. Perhaps her follicles are mutagen ooze?
So do you think this is the wrong physique or wrong costume? Should Lorna Dane become a glamazon again? Which effects pieces work best? Is this costume still an eyesore?
Next up: Venom: Let There Be Carnage, What If…?, or Riverdale?