Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

19 – Acorns and Swords

In which we continue our delve into the eldritch end of the X-Universe, Illyana Rasputin has a rough childhood even by X-Men standards, Kitty Pryde is a Niven fan, Limbo is way metal, Vincent Price is our Belasco, and Rachel and Miles have feelings about female friendships in Claremont’s X-Men.


  • Mikhail Rasputin
  • Hell dimensions, including but not limited to
    • The Void
    • The Dark Zone
    • The Hill
    • Limbo
    • The other Limbo
    • Yet a third Limbo
  • Reincarnation
  • Illyana Rasputin
  • Magic vs. Magik
  • Uncanny X-Men #160
  • Octopusheim
  • Stepping Disks
  • Otherplace
  • Belasco
  • Emergo
  • S’ym
  • Storm and Illyana: Magik #1-4
  • Bloodstones
  • Yet another set of alternate X-Men
  • Friendship
  • The Soulsword
  • Podcasting

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

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Next week: In space, no one can hear you snikt.


  1. Uncanny X-Men #160 was the first issue of X-Men I ever read (over the shoulder of the kid sitting next to me in my 5th grade class). It seemed so weird! That weekend I bought my first issue of X-Men (#144 – also weird!) at a yard sale.

  2. S’ym is not just cartoony, he is a gigant version of Cerebus the Aardvark, created by Dave Sim. (Get it? S’ym? Sim? It’s very subtle.)

  3. I always loved Inferno, but something has been nagging me about it. You mentioned that Claremont is sort of homaging Niven’s Ringworld. But is Claremont also homaging Dave Sim’s Cerebus? The Cigar-smoking S’ym looks an awful lot like a larger Cerebus. And with the shout-outs to Nivens and Cerebus, is the Magik mini-series meant to be a commentary on the whole sword and sorcery genre?

  4. It’s going to be a bit odd hearing about the Brood Saga and the introduction of Lockheed before hearing about Kitty’s Fairy Tale and the reason for Lockheed’s name. I guess it won’t be any more odd than having the Doom/Arcade story before the first Arcade story though.

  5. Another fine episode guys. This is now my favorite cold open as I just finally read Colossus: Bloodline about a week ago and my reaction was similar to Miles: “What!” Why can’t Peter get a good story? (Seriously, anybody know of any? I’d love to read them.) It was nice to spend some time focusing on Illyana and I think you’re right; she is a bit of a tragic figure in the Marvel Universe. On a brighter note, her and Peter’s affectionate sibling relationship (and Kitty’s relationship with both of them) was one of my favorite little things about X-Men back in the day. In retrospect it seems a bit odd that Illyana and Storm didn’t interact more in the years immediately after “Magik.” Maybe Illyana was too traumatized by the memory of “her” Storm, but it didn’t seem to impede her relationships with Peter or Kitty. Anyway, thanks for brightening my Monday.

  6. The highest complement I can give you guys regarding this episode was that I turned it off half-way through: so I could read the Magik miniseries on my own first. You guys made it sound very compelling, so I’ll be back for the second half once I get a copy through Inter-Library Loan!

  7. I like your podcast and think you’re both funny, charming people but could you cool it on pointing out how funny your puns (intentional or otherwise) are? Just seems so self-congratulatory and grinds the podcast to a halt. You’re both so funny naturally, you don’t need to highlight the juvenile jokes you’re not making but could if you wanted.

  8. The island is not Octopusheim. It’s R’lyeh, from “The Call of Cthulhu”. That’s why the tie to the Elder Gods, and why Kitty, chasing Illyana, thinks that the corners don’t lead where they should.

  9. Hey there. I’m a new listener (Thanks, EW!). I just wanted to thank you. Magik has been my favorite character since New Mutants #50. Great episode.

    1. Welcome! Magik is one of our favorites, too–really looking forward to getting deeper into the Limbo stuff as we work through New Mutants.

  10. 1. So I’m coming in way late, and catching up on episodes–I don’t know if you respond to comments on episodes you did a year ago, but I figured I would give it a shot.

    2. In some later episode (I forgot which one), you mention or allude to the fact that this miniseries can be read as–very disturbingly–an encoded story or semi-allegorical thing about child molestation.

    3. That got me interested enough to read the miniseries before listening to this episode. As it happens, I’d found the miniseries in a bargain bin at half-price books a few weeks back but hadn’t read it yet.

    4. Then I listened to this episode and you really don’t talk about that angle. I was going to create section about that type of symbolism and cite this episode as a footnote on the Wikipedia page for the miniseries, but I’m not really sure if that works. Of course I can couple it with the episode including your later allusion (I think it might have been number 23–Meet the New Mutants?)

    5. But I guess my question is: Do you guys actually stand behind that reading? Do you think, consciously or subconsciously, that Claremont is addressing or allegorizing child sexual abuse on this miniseries or do you think that’s purely a projective reading?

    6. I’m really fascinated by the encoded dialogue between X-Men and contemporary events/recent history–how Wolverine’s origin story seems to be informed by revelations and documents released at congressional hearings about MK Ultra, how Genosha seems to be in dialogue with issues around South African Apartheid etc. Magik’s publication in the early 80’s places it in pretty close proximity to the wave of Satanic Ritual Abuse stories that hit the media around that time, starting with “Michelle Remembers” in 1980. Do you think that informs this narrative at all?

    7. There are precious few comic book stories that deal with sexual assault or with sex crimes against children (I suppose it becomes more commnon in the late 80’s and 90’s–The Maxx, The Killing Joke etc.). I guess I feel like it would be significant, if this miniseries is kind of a primordial example of how that theme gets discussed in this medium. What do you think?



  11. Got recommended this podcast by a coworker, excellent and enjoyable work throughout so far. I am very happy for your success (seeing it, as I do, from a year+ ago).

    I am surprised that you don’t see the sexual abuse aspect of the Illyana abduction story – “You are special” is the very sort of thing a sexual abuser might tell a child.

    I think you might continue to explore the X-men as not just stories to be told about inherent differences (the civil rights side of it) and awesome super powers, but also consider that the medium wants youth to see themselves in the characters, and to help young people find a way from adolescence to adulthood.

  12. So I’m pretty bad about about posting other than when I disagree with something. I’m pretty sure I did that a few episodes ago.

    I just was introduced to your show and absolutely love it. The things that typically drive me crazy about X-Men do that to you two as well, but you’re better role models for me (although I’m probably a similar age) in that you’re excited and positive while staying critical. All that is to say, I think its awesome and I want to be excited and positive while staying critical too.

    I’m excited to listen to more as you two have read way more X-Men than me which kind of blows my mind (I didn’t make it through the 90’s, picked it back up in the 00’s).

  13. Nice update on Mikhail Rasputin. I find it interesting that he serves the same function in the Rasputin family that Jamie Braddock (brother of Captain Britain and Psylocke/Kwannon,Lady Briton/etc.) does in the Braddock family. Both families have all sorts of parallels, including the classically heroically physiqued brother, the sister who’s been put through all sorts of bad crap, and the crazy brother.

  14. It was thanks to this episode and your later Inferno episode that I fell in love with Magik/Illyana Rasputin. As a child abuse survivor and as a trans woman, Illyana’s story speaks to me in so many nuanced ways. Thank you for your amazing podcast. <3

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