Archive for April 2015

Rachel Recaps X-Men: Evolution
S1E5: Speed and Spyke

Before we jump into this one, let me tell you kids a story.

Once upon a time, there was a gentleman by the name of Dwayne McDuffie. McDuffie was an incredibly important figure in comics: these days, he’s best known as the creator of Static Shock and the co-founder of Milestone Media; for his work across the DCAU; and as a tireless and outspoken advocate for black representation in superhero comics.

In 1989, when McDuffie was an editor at Marvel Comics, he wrote a biting, satirical pitch that has since become industry legend. In his pitch, McDuffie points out that 25% of African-American superheroes appearing in the Marvel Universe over the last year have had skateboard-based superpowers or fighting styles, and proposes a new team to take advantage of this and other equivalently exciting trends, featuring four black guys on skateboards:

McDuffie

Twelve years later, the fifth episode of X-Men: Evolution would introduce the Xavier Institute’s sole black student and the show’s first original character, Evan “Spyke” Daniels:

A black guy on a skateboard.

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As Mentioned In Episode 54 – Who You Gonna Call? (feat. Elle Collins)

Listen to the podcast here!



LINKS AND FURTHER READING:

54 – Who You Gonna Call? (feat. Elle Collins)

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 5/3/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 5/3/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

In which the X-Men get their third ongoing series; Elle drops in to x-plain the Defenders; the band gets back together; rich people are not like the rest of us; Cyclops is in desperate need of some kind of intervention; and X-Factor is basically Ghostbusters.

X-PLAINED:

  • Cameron Hodge
  • The fairly spectacular secret origins of X-Factor
  • The Champions
  • The New Defenders
  • The evolution of Hank McCoy
  • X-Factor #1
  • The death throes of Scott and Madelyne’s marriage
  • Rusty Collins
  • A really bad first date
  • The increasingly dubious life choices of Scott Summers
  • The worst job interview
  • Sushi-a-Go-Go
  • How not to have an intervention
  • X-Factor
  • The X-Terminators
  • The Phoenix Force on Earth-811 (and its relationship to Rachel Summers)

NEXT WEEK: The Beyonder ruins everything. Again.


You can find a companion index to the material mentioned in this episode on our blog!

Find us on iTunes or Stitcher!

Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men is 100% ad-free and listener supported. If you want to help support the podcast–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!

On Coming Out, Queer Identity, and Continuity in All-New X-Men #40

by Rachel Edidin

This article originally appeared at Playboy.com under the title “One of the Original X-Men Is Gay – And It Matters More Than You Think”; reposted with permission. Special thanks to Marc Bernardin.


incorruptible_iceman_cropped

If you’ve been online in the last couple days—and especially if you follow comics— you’ve probably heard the news: Earlier this week, The Advocate posted a handful of leaked pages from All-New X-Men #40, out today from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mahmud Asrar, in which a time-displaced teenage Iceman comes out as gay.

To understand why this is such a big deal, you need to know a little bit about the X-Men. This isn’t Marvel introducing a new queer character, getting accolades for diversity, and then quietly shelving them (Remember America Chavez?1) Bobby Drake — Iceman — is one of the OGs of one of Marvel’s biggest lines, a character with 50-plus years of cross-media name recognition. There’s a generation of kids who know him from the movies; another who grew up watching him on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. If this sticks — which it seems likely to, at least until the upcoming Secret Wars2 event tosses an immersion blender into the Marvel Universe — it fundamentally changes the landscape of queer visibility in superhero comics on a scale no other character’s coming out has.

ANXMEN40That this is happening in an X-title is also significant: the X-Men have a large, dedicated, and markedly diverse fanbase; one that tends to be particularly attuned to representation of minority issues. There are a couple reasons for that.

The X-Men themselves are outsiders; and their outsider status is fundamental to their core premise, even when they’re not being written as a direct allegory for a specific marginalized group. As a teenager, I gravitated to the X-Men not because they offered a pointed metaphor for my sexual orientation, but because I identified with their liminality. The X-Men are superheroes for the rest of us — superheroes whose relationships to their powers and identities are often painful and fraught, superheroes who operate on the margins of both genre and society because of who they are.

But there’s been a consistent gap between what the X-Men represent in theory or allegory and whom they represent in practice. They’re used with striking frequency as a direct and obvious proxy for sexual minorities — but at the same time, within their stories, queerness is almost exclusively relegated to allegory or subtext (Storm, Shadowcat). The few openly queer characters in the franchise (Anole, BLING!, Karma, Rictor, Shatterstar) rarely make it further than bit roles. The most prominent openly gay X-Man is Northstar, a B-list character whose primary association is with a different team and title.3

So, while representations of queerness and coming out in superhero comics matter across the board, they matter a particular lot — and draw (and deserve) particularly close scrutiny — in X-Men. And the conversation around Iceman’s coming out has been, pardon the pun, more than a little heated.

Of course, the catch is that if we’re going to have a serious conversation about this story, we’re going to need to delve into two of the most complex and controversial fields: sexual orientation and identity; and X-Men continuity.

Fasten your seatbelts.

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Rachel & Miles Review the X-Men, Episode 34

Week of April 22, 2015:

In which Black Vortex and Amazing X-Men wrap up, Juan Doe is the best at what he does, we are certainly not raising cyborg bees, and there is a lot to say about All-New X-Men #40.

REVIEWED:

  • Black Vortex: Omega #1 (0:44)
  • Wolverines #15 (2:55)
  • Amazing X-Men #19 (5:02)
  • *All-New X-Men #40 (6:55)
  • All-New X-Men #40 extended discussion (spoilers!) (9:53)

*Pick of the Week (15:52)

You can read Rachel’s Playboy.com op-ed about All-New X-Men #40 here (and now also at rachelandmiles.com!).


Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men is 100% ad-free and listener supported. These video reviews–and everything else here–are made possible by the support of our Patreon subscribers. If you want to help support the podcast–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!

As Mentioned in Episode 53 – Sometimes They Come Back

Listen to the episode here!


53 – Sometimes They Come Back

Rachel screwed up and accidentally gave David material for episode 54 instead of 53, so there's no illustration this week. Instead, we offer both our sincere apologies and this photo of Miles dressed up as Mister Sinister at a costume party.

Rachel screwed up and accidentally gave David material for episode 54 instead of 53, so there’s no illustration this week. Instead, we offer both our sincere apologies and this photo of Miles dressed up as Mister Sinister for a costume party.

In which Wolverine doesn’t care about your baby; Storm takes charge; duels are terrible bases for systems of government; editorial mandate is hell on a marriage; Magneto is a pretty cool teacher; Jean Grey comes back; and we have mixed feelings about the Phoenix retcon.

X-PLAINED:

  • Kenji Uedo
  • Uncanny X-Men #201
  • New Mutants #35
  • Avengers #263
  • Fantastic Four #286
  • Classic X-Men #8
  • The post-Trial of Magneto status quo
  • Nathan Christopher Charles Summers
  • A small cross-section of Cyclops’s myriad issues
  • The wrong means to the right end
  • Magneto’s educational philosophy
  • The politics of creative credits
  • “You Know Who”
  • The Phoenix retcon
  • Several unrelated break-ins
  • The return of Jean Grey
  • Jean and the Phoenix Force
  • Alternate-timeline Madelynes Pryor
  • Jean Grey’s code names

NEXT WEEK: X-Factor begins! (for real, this time – sorry about that SNAFU!)


You can find a companion index to the material mentioned in this episode on our blog!

Find us on iTunes or Stitcher!

Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men is 100% ad-free and listener supported. If you want to help support the podcast–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!

 

Rachel & Miles Review the X-Men, Episode 33

Week of April 15, 2015:

In which Jordie Bellaire is our god now, Black Vortex is way too long, and Miles makes gremlin noises.

REVIEWED:

  • Spider-Man and the X-Men #5 (0:28)
  • Uncanny X-Men #33 (1:55)
  • *Magneto #17 (3:59)
  • Legendary Star-Lord #11 (5:46)
  • Wolverines #14 (8:01)

*Pick of the Week (9:39)


Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men is 100% ad-free and listener supported. These video reviews–and everything else here–are made possible by the support of our Patreon subscribers. If you want to help support the podcast–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!

New Milestone Goals!

Quick update to let you know that we’ve added a new set of milestone goals to the Patreon!

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  • PODCAST WIKI – $2750/month
    Wondering which questions showed up in which episode, or where to find that one cold open about Fantomex? When we hit this goal, we’ll start work on an exhaustive wiki and question index!
  • WEBSITE REVAMP – $3000/month
    We’ll ditch our DIY setup and hire an actual web designer to revamp (and regularly maintain and update) the site!
  • A/V UPGRADE AND NEW PROJECTS – $3300/month
    We’ll upgrade our video production setup, and start producing some new video and audio content–including some larger projects*–in addition to the podcast and video reviews.

When we first launched the podcast a little over a year ago, we had no idea how large it would grow, or how quickly; and since then, it’s been a nonstop race to keep up. As a result, a lot of what we’ve done has felt less like building something to last than improvising a series of on-the-fly fixes–for instance, our very rudimentary (and mobile-unfriendly) website.

So, while previous milestones have been all about offering more content–posts, merch, recaps, video reviews, and more–this series of goals is all about creating a better and more sustainable infrastructure from which to run the current stuff and launch some projects* that we’re really, really excited about. Hiring a professional to build us a website that works. Organizing and indexing the mountain of material we’ve covered in a year+ worth of podcasts. Shifting more of the organizational and administrative hours to AdministratriX Tina, and using some of that time to get new stuff up and running.

Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men is entirely listener supported, and that means that everything we do here is possible because of you. Thank you for helping us get to where we are, and helping us stay ad-free and independent–and thank you in advance for helping us continue to grow!

*Top secret, at least for now; but SO COOL. Seriously. Hardcore pipe-dream stuff; we’re kinda freaking out at the idea that we might actually get to do some of these for real.

Rachel Recaps X-Men: Evolution

S1E4: Mutant Crush

Let me get this out of the way fast: “Mutant Crush” is my least favorite episode of X-Men: Evolution. Yes, even more than “The Cauldron,” which I’m pretty sure is objectively the worst episode of the series.1

But while “The Cauldron” is terrible, it’s hilariously terrible. “Mutant Crush” is. Well. It’s a decently written episode, I guess. And it’s got a lot of moments I dig. It’s just also really fucked up and disturbing, and not in hilarious and pedantic ways.

Seriously: Shit gets dark in this episode. If you don’t want to read a humorous write-up of a story that is essentially about stalking and kidnapping, you may want to skip this one. I recognize that this is essentially a humor column, and I tried to find okay ways to be funny about this episode, but I mostly ended up with a lot of tonal whiplash, and a pretty high volume of commentary on the ways women are socialized to appease violent men, and some really inappropriate references to John Fowles’ The Collector.2

And on that note: Here is a link to the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s help page. NDVH is a pretty solid organization, and in addition to the actual hotlines–which include a phone line and web-based chat, both confidential and anonymous–they’ve got a very good list of resources, including LGBTQI and teen-specific stuff. (NDVH is, however, mostly U.S.-specific. If you know of international resources or have other specific recommendations, please stick ‘em in the comments, and maybe we can get something useful out of this clusterfuck of an episode.)

Right. So. LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME X-MEN!

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