Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

1 – The Strangest Podcast of Them All

In which we begin at the beginning: everything clicks with #3, Professor Xavier is a jerk, Magneto is a fearless fashionista, Cyclops gets a name, Jean Grey has a chronic case of the Silver Age, and allegorical diversity is not enough.


  • Mutant genetics and taxonomy
  • Practical semantics of “X-Men”
  • Charles Xavier’s equally dubious ethics and decorating choices
  • Superhero couture of the Atomic Age
  • Why Cyclops can’t control his powers
  • The miracle of comic-book magnetism
  • A problematic analogy
  • X-books for beginners
  • Snow grenades
  • The word “yaybo”
  • The mystery of the ubiquitous plaid suit

You can find a visual companion to the episode – and links to recommended reading – on our blog.

Find us on iTunes or Stitcher!


  1. I really enjoyed this! Great start and I can’t wait to hear more.

    Are you going to make the podcast available on iTunes? It’s so much easier for me to subscribe to those so they download automatically, rather than having to go to individual websites whenever they come out. I’m so forgetful.

  2. This was great! I was a massive fan of the X-Men as a teenager (the Claremont/Lee era). And Joe Quesada’s run on X-Factor is some of my favorite art of all time. There are specific panels that are etched into my memory…

    This was so fun to listen to. Thanks for reigniting my love for these stories, and the great suggestions for getting back into the comics. Professor X really is a dick!

        1. Oh, yeah. In particular, we will be x-plaining the fuck outta some exploitation and consent issues when we get to Gabrielle Haller.

          1. Your knowledge of his dickery far outstrips mine. I was thinking of an incident when he tried to win an argument with Moira MacTaggart by telepathically forcing her to see his point of view. That squicked the hell out of me.

            Also it just occurred to me how ironic it is that Patrick Steward played this character, given how outspoken his on violence against women.

            1. On the other hand, Movie Xavier and Comics Xavier aren’t exactly the same character–and I think it’s worth noting that the former’s most dramatic acts of telepathic dickery fall after Stewart’s first three runs as the character.

              Also, FWIW, for comics Xavier, that kind of abuse isn’t remotely limited to either romantic relationships or female targets.

              1. Both good points. I was just wondering if you’d cover dickery in his personal life in addition to the “professional” dickery as superteam leader.

  3. As a longtime reader of X-titles, it is nice to have a podcast devoted to dissecting Marvel’s Marvelous Mutants. In a future episode will you be comparing Dennis Hopeless/Jamie McKelvie’s X-Men Season One and the corresponding Stan Lee/Jack Kirby issues?

    Thanks for devoting your time and energies to this project.

  4. I always saw the first group’s minority as the disabled. Cyclopes needs glasses Jean keeps fainting, Bobby has problems with his powers, Hank appears deformed, Angel has a humpback.

    I know some of that stuff was reconnected in later but it seems to fit.

  5. I always thought that one interpretation of Cyclops was that he is basically a teenage male view of sexuality–his fear of losing control of himself is akin to teenage male fear of sexuality and its control over the teenaged male.

    Might be just me, though.

  6. “X-Men is where continuity goes to die”
    this is great! – Grew up reading with 90s xmen and have been trying to fill in the gaps and read up on the old issues ever since. It definitely is a superhero soap opera!

    Really looking forward to your future episodes!

  7. This was pretty fun!.
    I would have liked a bit more plot overview for the the first 3 issues as a whole, but I suppose that how it goes when prying apart a herky-jerky book like x-men #1.
    Looking forward to seeing how this grows though, good fun!

  8. I don’t know, in my reading of the classic era, I thought Jean fared far better than some of the other popular female popular heroes at the time, when you compare her to, say, Sue, who had to take a leap into badassery fairly late on; or the Wasp, who would miss out on adventures from cat-napping (wasp-napping) and when around Spider-Man she somehow thought she was an actual wasp.

    Instead, Jean was proven to be one of the stronger members of the group, with her telekinesis being so strongly measured she could fight and reassemble a piece of machinery with her mind at the same time. I think Claremont tried to write her off as being less powerful to sell her transformation into The Phoenix, but she was always a strong part of the team, regardless of who was hitting on her and her soap-opera longing for Scott.

  9. Loved this and I’ve been reading about these characters since there were only the Kirby/Lee versions. I loved what you said about the allegory not really working. Increasingly as an adult it looks more like the fears of rich, privileged, powerful people worrying the mob (ie most of us) will rise up and strip them of privilege. I mean, they go to a private school, don’t have to have jobs are actually much more powerful than other individuals, just because they’re born that way. You can read it as an allegory of entitlement. A team of Paris Hiltons with superpowers.

  10. I love the podcast! It has actually gotten me back into reading X-men (which I have not done since the mid to late 90s). You mentioned a website that you utilize that basically summarizes or discusses every issue of X-men. What was the name of that site?

    1. That would be the X-Axis–if you go to the “as mentioned” post for the episode we mention it in, there’s a link.

  11. Thanks so much. Just wanted to mention again how awesome you guys are and how much I love the podcast. You guys got me to start back reading X-men (and Avengers) for the first time in almost 20 years!

  12. While I really enjoyed the podcast (and can’t wait until you talk about AOA), I have to be that person and say that IT DROVE ME BANANAS whenever either of you said “um”.

    Okay, I’ve said it. I hope I can listen to your other podcasts without going crazy! 🙂

    Thanks for tackling the X-Men!

  13. I just started listening to the first couple of episodes yesterday after seeing Days of Future Past and feeling the hankering to read/discuss comics again. I haven’t bought a single issue from either company since around the start of New 52, although I have been “comics-adjacent” the whole time (and even follow you on twitter, Rachel). I came across this podcast and now I’m hooked! It really is amazing, and I appreciate the work you both put in as well as the breadth of knowledge you obviously have. And damned if you’re not giving me that extra push to start buying comics again! (starting off slowly and cautiously, of course) Thanks and keep up the amazing work!

  14. Have you talked about the carnies? I don’t think you talked about the carnies. How could you miss talking about the carnies?!

    I’v just read Jason Aaron’s Wolverine & the Xmen #19 (late, I know) and in the last pages of the issue you see some bizzare looking, like, disfigured carnival people whom are in their way to the westchester county. And right there, when we see their leader, he says: “Finally, after all these years-”
    And I would pay every penny I have just so he would complete the sentence with: “…The CARNIES are back!” But instead he just said: “The legacy of Frankenstein ends now.” Which was totally random and I was really bummed out.
    Such a missed opportunity…

  15. I loved Whedon’s run at first, but reading it again after years made me realize how bloody awful his dialogue is. He is only capable of writing very specific types of dialogue, and it simply does not work for a lot of the characters. We have someone like Cyclops or Wolverine cracking snarky sarcastic jokes and it’s so jarring. I noticed this problem in the Avengers movies too – ALL his characters talk like they’re from Buffy.

  16. Going back and listening to episode number one. Haven’t smiled this much in a long time. Love reminiscing about the Silver Age and my autographed, turbo-drive No Prize. But I was wondering, what was Miles going to say about the official Handbook of the Marvel Universe before he was stopped dead in his tracks?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *