173 – The Muir Island Saga, Part 2

Art by David Wynne. Wanna buy the original? Drop him a line!

In which Abs-lantis will not be denied; “slightly traumatized” is basically the default state of Xavier’s original students; we pick up the slack for Nicieza; Banshee and Moira MacTaggert probably have an active and varied love life; Xavier miscounts the X-Men; we look back over the Claremont/Simonson era of the X-Universe; and Jay makes a case for the re-resurrection of Jean Grey.

X-PLAINED:

  • X-Men: Red
  • Namor’s beard
  • The conclusion of the Muir Island Saga
  • Uncanny X-Men #280
  • X-Factor #70.
  • Cool orange spacesuits that make you immune to telepathy
  • Off-brand Magneto hats
  • Literary terrors of our childhoods
  • Agents DeMarco & Heacock (R.I.P.)
  • Casual use of nuclear weaponry
  • The cavalry
  • The end of the Shadow King
  • The most dysfunctional timeline
  • Uncanny X-Men #200-278
  • The case for an eclectic X-Universe
  • X-Campus
  • Resurrections, and when they do and don’t work

NEXT EPISODE: Ed Piskor’s Grand Design


The visual companion to this episode will be up sometime before the end of 2017, by which point Jay’s lungs will hopefully be working again. Yay?

(Seriously, though, fuck this cold. Fuck this cold so much.)

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43 comments

  1. Damien says:

    Can I take the time to thank you Jay for the amazing journalism in the Buzzfeed article. You have changed the comics community for the better. I know you have previously given your Scott Lobdell disclaimer on the podcast but I wonder if your take on this era of X-Men is changed by your knowledge of how Bob Harras dealt with Liz Gehlein Marsham (expecting her to be managed by someone who had sexually harassed her). I had a situation in my work where I was being bullied by my line manager and I reported this to their superior and their response was basically a shrug. I find it very difficult now to look at any work which involved Harras now without extreme fury knowing how traumatising my experience was and Marsham had the extra trauma of sexual assault.

    I know we’re often told to view the work separately from the creator but I find it so hard to excuse this particularly as he didn’t have the excuse of it being a different time.

  2. Porthos Fitz Sh'iar Empress says:

    David Wynne’s art for you continues to knock me on my ass with how perfectly it complements the issues you cover and your episodes discussing them; his Guido is just so perfectly pristine in this week’s illustration that I had to give praise.

    Thank you all for your dedication to excellence!

  3. Anthony Damiani says:

    I think it was inevitable to have teen Jean interact with adult Jean, but we didn’t need to quasi-permanently restore her, as with X-Men Red.

    You talk about being encouraged by the creative teams involved, and Taylor is at least encouraging, but I can’t help but think of the interview Lemire just gave where he complained about the level of editorial interference in his run, and how it interfered with his ability to tell a good story. Seeing this much obvious and forced editorial fiat makes me worry that the X-office is continuing on the same path.

    I don’t like these kinds of resurrections; first because they are seldom good stories– when the result is rewinding metaphysics it’s hard to ground the setting. Second, in aggregate they undercut the illusion of change, of the idea that anything that happens on the page matters even within the context of the fiction. When Jean came back the first time it was a huge deal. Now? Nobody even bothered pretending that Logan was going to stay gone. Third, sometimes you need long-characters for storytelling purposes, and this return depletes a hard-to-manufacture resource; Barry Allen at D.C. was similar for a long while, as was Jean herself when they named the school after her. It’s hard to honor the legacy of the departed when nobody really departs for any length of time.

    • Dan says:

      That’s the problem with serialized storytelling. By their nature they are circular. From most my comic collecting youth the saying my comic store owner always said is “No one stays dead in comics except Bucky, Jason Todd and Uncle Ben”. Which is really funny when you realize that in one year the comics industry introduced Red Hood, Winter Soldier and did the continuity rewriting House of M which brought back all three of them. Only Uncle Ben eventually resumed being dead.

      Instead of being mad that they are bringing people back, since it will always happen, we should cheerish the length of time characters actually stayed dead. Jean had a long run as being a corpse, a lot longer then most X-Men. Although to be honest, I am more impressed they managed to keep OG Logan dead for almost 2 years.

      • Anthony Damiani says:

        I don’t think it’s a function of serialized storytelling so much as the decision to treat the characters less as characters in a story than as IP to be cycled and refreshed and kept individually evergreen (rather than keeping the series as a whole healthy and relevant). This simultaneous wave of resurrection isn’t coming from a storyteller going A to B to C, it’s coming from editorial curating of the line. I think comics have done better and that we as an audience should expect better. Throwing up our hands and accepting that no change will ever occur (because anything iconic means money) feels to me like an act of despair.

        • Voord 99 says:

          I tend to think it’s complicated. Part of it is the IP thing, as you say. But, you know, Disney could stop publishing new Marvel comics tomorrow and get by for a long time just reprinting back catalogue material to keep those characters in circulation. I’m not sure from an IP perspective that new comics with original model Logan in them do that much to maintain Logan in the public eye.

          On the other hand, I think it’s undeniable that there is a segment of the comics fan audience (i.e., the people who actually buy new comics and keep them in publication) who really are hostile to new characters replacing the old ones, for whom Logan just *is* Wolverine.

          Some of this is just nostalgia for the comics that they fell in love when younger, and that part of it is just a more intense version of something felt by most of us adult readers of superhero comics (= all readers of superhero comics, pretty much). But some of it is more poisonous than that: the side that comes out when people complain about publishers “pandering” to “SJWs.”

          But as long as that constitutes a significant segment of the audience at a time when sales are doing as badly as they are, publishers are going to pay attention to it. Intensity matters.

          And this is why I think it’s important not to give in to the jaded, cynical, sophisticated-superhero-reader acceptance that, of course, all important dead characters are going to come back sooner or later. It’s easy to do that, because it’s accurate.

          But part (not all, but part) of why it’s accurate is self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s an element of asymmetrical polarisation here. As long as the segment that complains about (e.g.) Laura being Wolverine, or Miles Morales being Spider-Man as well as Peter Parker is passionate and engaged, and the people who welcome those developments aren’t equally passionate and engaged in opposing them being reversed and instead just sit back and say, “Oh well, it was just a matter of time,” then, yes, it will be endless recurrence back to the same old, same old.

          • W. H. Rad says:

            In regards to people complaining about Miles and Peter being Spider-Man at the same time there are two things which come to mind. First, Brian Michael Bendis, before leaving Marvel, just wrote a conversation between Miles & Ganke in which it is stated Miles has proved he can be Spider-Man, maybe it is time to be something else. He is a young character who could definitely forge a different path, but it also felt like Bendis was putting some of his own life into that decision and that gets into how much a character should do what a primary author thinks. Looking back on Chris Claremont’s contributions to the podcast, he shared his view of how Jean should stay dead because Logan wouldn’t want to stay dead if she isn’t, (while Claremont wasn’t Logan’s creator). I never shared that view. It seems Marvel does.

            Second, Spider-Man: Homecoming refreshed Peter Parker by pulling material from Miles Morales, which I think is a shame. It’s not as bad as having neither Marrow nor Spike in X-Men: The Last Stand to give Logan some nameless guy to fight, but at least people were openly disappointed with that… whole movie.

            • Voord 99 says:

              I suspect strongly that Miles Morales will soon have a new identity, and now that Bendis is no longer around, will fade into the background, to be killed off by some future writer in an Amazing Spider-Man story at an indefinite but not too distant point in the future. But I don’t have to like it, I really hope that I’m wrong, and I’m not going to “pre-accept” the inevitability of it happening.

              But I have to admit that I’m more tolerant when a character is associated with a single writer. I think Kamala Khan is a tremendously welcome presence in the Marvel Universe, but at some point G. Willow Wilson will move on, and I don’t really want Kamala as a solo character to be written by anyone else.

              • W. H. Rad says:

                Mark Waid has become my second-favorite writer for Cyclops but I also like his version of Ms. Marvel. Champions is a book where secret identities of most of the team members are not known and the team is globe-trotting. Without the ties to supporting cast or references to Kamala’s civilian life things aren’t the same as in the Ms. Marvel book or All-New X-Men/X-Men: Blue for Scott, but everyone loses some focus on this book. Viv and Amadeus cannot hide their identities, but even when the team went out for paintball everyone was in costume. I don’t think Mark Waid should be the next to take over on Ms. Marvel after G. Willow Wilson, but I do think people will be able to write serviceable versions of the characters. Although, I wasn’t a fan of Jason Latour’s version of Kamala during “Sitting in a Tree,” but I started out feeling weird about the age gap between high school graduate Gwen Stacy and high school student Miles Morales.

          • Si says:

            It’s tricky. Yes there’s people who just can’t accept change, and sadly people who can’t accept anything but white male super heroes. But then there’s others, like me. I think Miles Morales and Kate Bishop are far better in their roles than the originals. But good as the stories are, I can’t get into the idea that Laura is Wolverine, because most of Wolverine is the person, not the personality. I don’t demand he be brought back to life, that’s boring, but try as I might I’ll keep thinking of Logan as the “real” Wolverine.

            Thor’s a different case again. Jane Foster is far more interesting than the other guy, but the other guy is meant to be the actual real-life mythical Thor, and it’s kind of weird to me that the name has become more of a military rank or something, so now the original Thor doesn’t even have a first name.

            I suppose what would be ideal for me is if the new Thor and Wolverine took on new identities and somehow remained commercially viable, while the originals stayed out of the picture*>

            *okay neither actually went away and Logan’s in like 35 books at the same time right now, but you know what I mean

            • CountZeroOr says:

              Actually, once I saw that Jane Foster/Thor had late-stage (and likely terminal) cancer, I actually came to the conclusion that the writers intended this to be a limited time thing from the beginning – they had an endpoint in mind, and if they stick that landing, then I’m okay with that.

              • W. H. Rad says:

                The current storyline in The Mighty Thor is titled “The Death of Thor.” Jane Foster’s mortality is brought up on the intro page of every issue I have read of The Mighty Thor, even if it isn’t a subject in every comic. Karnilla also just tried to give Odinson one last message about the fate of Jane. And Mangog is back, something which has been teased since the gods of the Shiar, Shara and K’ythri, as well as the Pheonix showed up (and Quentin Quire seemingly took on some portion of its power, but I ignore that part). If this is to be Jane Foster’s end, oh what an end she will make. Brief aside, it bugs me that cancer is framed as a “battle” on that intro page.

            • Si says:

              I should add that when I say “better” and “more interesting”, I just mean that the originals have been around 40, 50 years. They’re still good characters, but there’s not a huge number of stories about them left to be told.

              And okay, technically Jane Foster has been around just about as long as Odinson, but it’s not really the same thing.

      • W. H. Rad says:

        Did anyone else read “OG Logan” as Old Guy Logan? Just me? OK…

        I will add that well after House of M there was “the Spider-fly effect” crossover with Silk where Peter got to meet Ben again.

      • David M says:

        Junior Juniper demonstrates you can stay dead if you’re forgotten. However, I kind of expect someone’s going to tell me he’s back, too.

  4. M says:

    Batman and Robin also have a cow. I’m not making this up:

    http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Bat-Cow_(Prime_Earth)

  5. W. H. Rad says:

    Had to stop the episode because Jay just said they worked on Dark Horse’s localization of “The Sky.” What?? There aren’t many credits listed in the books, only 2 for U.S. editors. I’m guessing this would have been in an assistant editor capacity? If so, that is quite fortunate. Especially if this includes book 2, which was crammed full of sketches of Tina/Terra (clearly Yoshitaka Amano’s favorite) and things like the alternate designs of Faris from Final Fantasy V, the cast of Final Fantasy VI in chibi, or an interpretation of a video game console. I also suspect King Tycoon is the sort of character design Jay would love to make fun of while Miles would love.

  6. CountZeroOr says:

    Brief aside about Jay’s aside about horror novel covers – if you’re unfamiliar with the covers in question, there’s a book on the topic that came out fairly recently – “Paperbacks From Hell”, which covers the horror novel boom from the ’70s and ’80s.

    Also, having played through the entirety of Typing of the Dead back when GameTap was still a thing, I cannot hear someone demand that another appending “…as G did” to their dialog.

    I’m interested in seeing how Jean’s resurrection turns out, particularly with her leading a team. I don’t recall if Jean the Elder ever lead a team – I think this is something that Jean the Younger has done first. She’s certainly been a teacher, but as far as I recall (and I could absolutely be wrong) she’s never been a leader of a field team the way that Storm and Jean The Younger have.

    Aside from the possible narrative potential of Old Man Logan and… Middle Aged Man Logan (?) interacting, I don’t really see a reason to bring Logan back (and I’m really liking reading All New Wolverine and I really hope she gets more opportunities to interact with other teams).

    Xavier, on the other hand, I would prefer dead. (Which is a statement that reads way too harshly when expressed in a single sentence).

    On the CountZero Contextualizes X-Men Through Anime Front, either due to the release of the latest Fate series (Fate/Apocrypha), the new movie, and playing a bunch of Fate/Grand Order, I’ve been spending *way* too much time thinking about The X-Men as Heroic Spirits. Unfortunately, since Imzy is dead, I can’t post about them there. 🙁

    • W. H. Rad says:

      Jean lead a team during “Eve of Destruction.” Jay referred to the team once before as the pick-up group X-Men. It was comprised of Sunpyre (Sunfire’s younger sister with the same powers and costume), Northstar, Paulie Provenzano (indestructible and homophobic), Hector Rendoza (transclucent and Jean’ssecret weapon), Dazzler (who just shows up at Xavier’s mansion after Mojoworld’s version of Age of Apocalypse) and a mind-controlled Frenzy. Yep. Can’t wait to see how many of Old Jean’s team members are mind-controlled into being there this time…

    • Voord 99 says:

      Old Man Logan helps Middle-Aged Logan deal with his midlife crisis.

      “You think you have it hard, bub. But you ain’t got it so tough. Let me tell ya — when I went through my feelings of personal disappointment and impendin’ mortality, I’d just killed all my friends and was livin’ in an apocalyptic hellscape. And there weren’t no teenagers there for me to mentor.”

  7. JG says:

    I had SUCH empathy listening to Jay and Miles talk about the way book covers can frighten you as a child! Funny enough, I had that experience as a kid with the cover of Classic X-Men # 63 drawn by Mike Mingola featuring the X-Men vs. Dracula!

  8. Zachary Adams says:

    I am REALLY looking forward to the discussion of David/Stroman X-Factor, though I think it’ll probably be after Christmas if you cover the first arcs of both X-Men titles, X-Force and the contemporary Excal arc first (based on order of most recent discussions). That and Milligan/Allred’s X-Force feel very similar to me in that they’re both books that felt shocking and funny and progressive when they came out and feel more problematic in 2017, but are both still worthwhile stories with both big laughs and earnest drama. I am anticipating an extended discussion of the whole “Gee Cee” thing (I won’t be sad if it doesn’t happen, it’s just something it seems y’all will likely land on.)

    • Si says:

      I have no problem at all if a lot of the early 90s dross was just sped past on the show, like the 60s stuff was, but yeah, X-Factor was pretty special at that time and I look forward to it being savoured.

  9. Text Angie and Moira we’re going to take a friend home with them, you just know it would be Angus mcwhirter AKA AngryHovercraftRentalGuy
    I love that scene when Wolverine eats the cigar! 😀
    That one whole issue always stood out to me, I really like the art in that one. Aww you didn’t comment on strong guy staring at polaris’s ass. 😛
    (Still wish you guys just had a normal Facebook group for the podcast like all the other X-PODZ.So much easier)

  10. Gythreuliad says:

    “She gets possessed so often that she needs to keep a room vacant in her brain” perhaps?

  11. Steve says:

    Did we already decide that “IMPERIOUS PECS!” would distract from the abs?

    • Psyche says:

      I imagine that this is just part of a set of phrases Namor yells while at the gym. “Imperious Pecs!” for heavy lifts on chest day. “Imperious Glutes!” for those killer squats on leg day. Etc etc etc.

  12. CitizenX says:

    Jay mentioned the Samurai armor- I think the Shadow King’s armor was Samurai and Xavier was Roman. David Wynne knoked another one out of the park this week. Also, I was glad to see Jay’s name on the buzzfeed article. It’s about time people are held accountable for their actions.

    • Devin says:

      Yeah, I gotta go back and check later, but that sounds right.

      Classicist “Um, actually” moment: hoplites were Greek. And yeah, that armor looks Roman…though I’d have to see if I can dig through my old books to see what kind of Roman (dear lord, the Romans had SO many names for their levels of troops).

    • Jay says:

      Thanks. That one’s been–a looooooong time coming. I think I started initial work on it around three years ago, or a bit more. =P

    • David M says:

      Yes, I think Xavier’s armour specifically draws on the Thracian style of armour Roman gladiators used.

  13. Devin says:

    Re: Polaris: “She gets possessed so much, she might as well have a guestbook”

    • W. H. Rad says:

      Polaris is possessed so frequently Logan thought he was teaming up with, “the Repo Men.”

      …there’s actually going to be “Repo Men” on Marvel Database when I check later, isn’t there?

  14. Nick says:

    Logan is using creole correctly – it means a native inhabitant of Louisiana as opposed to a French born person. It came to mean people of African as well as French ancestry and people of mixed backgrounds. According to Wikipedia, the local Creole people also identify as Cajuns – so you can be both.

  15. Paul Fr says:

    I’m excited that you’ve reached the issues I started with the X-Men. The Transformers US comic had finished just prior to this relaunch and I was missing the monthly comic fix. I had only a very vague idea of the X-Men,with most of my knowledge coming from the ALF parodies (since in Australia pop culture the only time X-Men came up it was related to Brian Mannix!). I flicked through a few issues of Uncanny at the newsagents. I remember the gatefold cover on 275 caught me eye, the flaming Colossus on #279 was intriguing. But it was X-Factor 70 that was the first issue I bought to see what “proper” X-Men was all about.

    I loved it. I liked the writing, I liked the art, I liked the conversations. Did it bother me that there was no “action”? Didn’t even notice! I was too busy being intrigued by the back story being hinted at and learning who all the characters were. I was hooked instantly and have been a die hard fan since.

    For the few weeks though between reading X-Factor #70 and getting X-Men #1, I assumed by process of elimination that the unnamed guy in the trenchcoat in X-Factor #70 had to be the character named Ship mentioned in the letter column!

    And how exactly where there fourteen X-Men? I figured eventually this was reference to the 6 members of Blue, the five members of Gold, and Jubilee, Banshee and Forge as the other three (which is also X-Factor’s five members and X-Men’s seven plus the returned Rogue and Colossus).

  16. Jay says:

    I was surprised the discussion of Namor’s abs on the podcast. I feel like there never would have been a discussion about parts of Jean’s anatomy. For a progressive podcast, it seemed like a double standard. In my opinion, objectifying people of any gender should be something we move past.

    • Mike says:

      Completely agree. One problem I have with this podcast is that they are very “right”, meaning if it’s their view it’s ok, but you better not go against their view. Heck, sometimes it’s uncomfortable how Miles can’t even have an opinion without Jay correcting it.

    • Anthony Damiani says:

      There have been repeated discussions if how the comic portrays and sexualizes is characters, whether that be about Excalibur-as-sex-farce, Maddy’s questionable taste in goblin outfits, the way Rogue’s being drawn as sexy as a component of characterization is different from specializing the New Mutants’ art, and the contrast between power and sexualization in the way Jim Lee draws women, and so on. Namor’s abs seem like part of that, not least because he is one of the few male characters who is presented in an explicitly sexualized manner (contrast Longshot who is canonically the prettiest but is seldom drawn with such an overt gaze).

      • Mike says:

        I guess the difference for me is just what you pointed out. There HAS, in fact, been much discussion about the things you mentioned. In those discussions, it was acknowledged that those things were negative (like Maddie’s under boob). The difference in this episode was that they were ASKING for Namor to be objectified. So in the past, they were against objectification of females, but now that it’s a male, they seemed to be encouraging it. Thus, it seems like a major double standard that I disagree with.

        • Jay says:

          Exactly. Before it was “why do we have to have Maddie’s under boob”? But in this episode, it was “why is Namor wearing a shirt. We need abs.”

    • Miles says:

      I’m glad you brought this up – I think it’s something worth discussing.

      (Disclaimer – I’m just speaking for myself here; my co-host may have a different perspective.)

      As Anthony said in his reply: on the show, we try to pay attention to context when it comes to sexualization and objectification. On one end, you have the default sexualization of damned near every female character, teenagers included – that strikes me as weird and uncomfortable, and we try to call it out when we see it. On the other end, you have characters for whom sexualization is part of who they are. Rogue can sometimes be one, Emma Frost is usually one, and Namor is right up there with Emma. That dude *loves* to show off his body and to be perceived as attractive – hell, he has a brief discussion of that fact with Hope Summers in Gillen’s run of Uncanny – and so I feel totally fine playing along.

      It’s all about agency, basically: if a character, fictional though they are, would be cool with someone talking about their body in a sexy way, we’re down with that. If not – or if there’s an additional creepy mitigating factor, like youth – we don’t join in and call it out when it seems appropriate.

      Short version – this isn’t an anti-sex podcast, it’s an anti-inappropriate-sexualization podcast. It can be a fine line between the two, though, and we definitely welcome input if and when folks disagree with how we handle the topic.

      As for the Goblin Queen – personally, my main objection is that her outfit doesn’t make any sense. She’d fall right out of that top the first time she lifted her arms!

      • Tomas says:

        Hahaha, indeed, although I think I see the reasoning behind her original costume. “Inferno” is very much about lust and seduction– mainly the seductive nature of power and the allure of revenge when feeling wronged– but it explores lust from a physical angle, as well. That’s why I think Madelyne and Havok dress as they do in the crossover– their revealing costumes are symbolic of them giving into both the anger from their romantic frustrations (Maddie’s been wronged by Scott, Alex by Malice) AND their desire for each other. Perhaps their costumes were all torn because they felt torn up inside, as well…

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