Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

As Mentioned on Episode 19 – Acorns and Swords

Listen to the episode here!


  1. Given the amount of depth you went into in your recap of this miniseries, I feel a little betrayed that I only find out Illyana was carrying a plush Fozzy Bear when she first enters Limbo by reading the As Mentioned on. It may not be an important detail. It may not matter in terms of plot continuity. But Fozzy Bear!

    1. I had just assumed Rachel and Miles were aware of the S’ym/Cerebus connection, and simply chose not to spend any time talking about Dave Sim. When you mention his name, after all, there’s always the chance he might appear.

  2. You know, I’d probably read at least five or six comics featuring Belasco before I noticed he only has one arm. He does a really good job of hiding it with that cape.

    1. …..huh. You know, I have the vague sense that I knew that at some point, and completely forgot about it.

  3. Man, Illyana gives exactly ZERO FUCKS that Belasco is in the middle of another story arc. He’s all ‘Finally, my plan!’ and she’s all ‘Hey, this is MY mini-series!’

    I’m curious how that plays out in Kazar 29.

  4. I’m ashamed to say that I never knew about this miniseries. I was but a poor lad at the time and my few pennies went toward Uncanny X-Men and whatever Spider-Man happened to be out that week (I think he had three titles even then). I’d dig this up, but I’m afraid I’d have to follow that rabbit hole into New Mutants and that leads directly into Cable’s X-Force and that way lies madness.

    1. > that leads directly into Cable’s X-Force

      My cybernetic foot it does. Just stop reading when Claremont leaves the book and you’ll be fine.

  5. You’ve got me wondering now: Are the “Stepping Disks” wholly a creation of Illyana’s? Because of the time-bending nature of her own powers, and the nature of limbo, it’s possible that all of the stepping disks that we see have been created by Illyana at one point or another, even the ones that show up long before her powers actually manifest.

    1. That… is actually a really awesome theory. I don’t know offhand, but I’m wondering if that might have been addressed later. We’ll find out!

    2. Weirdly, this reminds me of Feynman’s theory that all the electrons in the universe are really a single electron going back and forth in time.

    3. If every stepping disc is Illyana’s creation… would that mean that she is responsible for her own kidnapping and eventual corruption?

      I kind of love this idea.

  6. You two are awsome but young enough to not realize that when Arcane kidnapped Illyana and took her to Murderworld, she was considered to have defected from the Soviet Blockaid. The same with Petyr when he left, so even though she was 6 she could not have just hopped a flight back home without being arrested and interigated about how she was able to leave. Also her parents, even if they believed she was SORAS’d, would have chased her away for her own safety.

  7. As a kid, I knew who Rasputin was, if for no other reason that Rasputin Records was on the same street where I bought X-Men. And I knew that Colossus’s name was Piotr Rasputin. But the two guys were so different, I don’t think it occurred to me for a moment that Piotr, as a character, would have ever had any connection to the infamous “mad monk.”

    Illyana first showed up as “name” character when I was 13 myself, but I remember I had trouble liking her. I’m not sure I would have been able to articulate this at that age, but I thought Kitty was cool because she’d proven herself several times over as one of team. She might get teased or act silly, but when it came down to X-business she was no mere sidekick or mascot. I also thought her power was dope; the ability to go anywhere you wanted and not be confined or restricted in one’s movements no doubt had psychological appeal for a 13-year old.

    But by contrast, Illyana seemed to me back then as if she was getting suddenly foisted onto the reader—declared an important character by fiat. I’m not sure if I at that age I was conceptually down with spin-off miniseries; I mean, I bought them and read them, but I don’t think I accepted them as fully legit. X-Men and the Micronauts was published at the same time as Magik, so I got the impression miniseries were somehow gimmicky. Again, to compare, Kitty had come up gradually through the main storyline; that was part of what made her legit in my mind.

    I think the fact that magic was Illyana’s power, plot device, and even her name (spelling it with a “k” seemed pretentious to me, just like “daemonic” instead of “demonic”) made it worse. I also wasn’t comfortable as a 13 year-old with this casual mingling of magic and science in my fiction; this was the age of the original Handbook of the Marvel Universe, which gave impressively scientific-sounding explanations and diagrams for just about everything. It was largely technobabble, of course, but it was a powerful exercise in world-building and seemed to integrate the idea of superheroes with the SF I was reading. To suddenly establish an important character “because Magik” didn’t sit with me at all. I had felt the same way about things like Dracula’s appearance; I was like, “Dracula, right, whatever. Next issue, I hope it’s a real X-Men story.”

    I bring all this up not to resurrect fan rants from the first Reagan administration ^_^ but because your show makes me reflect on the different ways I felt about the X-Men when I was reading it “in real time.” Nowadays, we can look back as adult fans, and see the series itself as one of the great superhero books that became a phenomenal multi-branched franchise. But if you look at the actual ads that ran in Marvel comics in 1983-84, it’s clear that kids and teens were still expected to be the main readership, rather than comic fans per se. That was probably part of the appeal of X-Men–you were, in fact, a kid reading a comic book, but Claremont was giving you something more sophisticated.

  8. Man, this episode branched into areas I’ve had no experience with. I actually had no idea the Rasputin family line got so screwed up, especially with Illyana. Going to have to make sure I read through that content, that’s for sure.

    Also, I can’t wait to see the X-Men/New Mutants and the Asgardians do their legendary battling. I imagine it looks a lot like this old Joust cover:


    (Seriously. Is that not Cyclops riding an Ostrich while wearing Thor’s hat?)

  9. OMG guys. I just discovered your podcast and I could not be more thrilled. I’ve been working my way through the X-books from UXM #1 for the past couple years. Right now I’m in the late 80s, just post Fall of the Mutants. I am starting at the beginning of your podcast today!

  10. I came into superhero comics through Claremont when I was 13/14 – the New Mutants and then the X-Men, and I always associated with Illyana – she looked a bit like me, kind of, I loved the whole magical thing, but also, those incredible time powers, where she theoretically could do everything she wanted, except for the fact that she didn’t have complete control. I loved the issue where Magneto could have sorted out techno-organic S’ym forever, and she’s all “thankyou, but that would be too easy”. I loved that she was such an outsider in the New Mutants – and it felt like I was just betrayed over and over post-Claremont.

    Louise Simonson’s boy-crazy iteration was just horrible (and that terrible art, with the weird pointy breasts) and then Inferno, where she was given a “happy ending” which was making her a child, again – awful! And then the Excalibur episode where Kitty sees her, and kid-Illyana rejects her previous best friend Kitty for Rahne, and the New Mutants are all “this is great”….

    That’s a really long way round of saying, I love this character, I stopped buying Marvel stuff because of crossover-madness, and read trades in the library, but I’ve avoided new-Illyana. The “trying to corrupt everyone” iteration frustrated me…. what’s this one like? I know, I know, no such thing as canon, what’s now is the character etc, but… as a Claremont girl who went Vertigo and non-Marvel, should I give it a chance?

  11. Also, Bill Sienkewitz drawing Illyana, just to die for. I love the Demon Bear storyline, of course, but the sleepover/Warlock episode, just beautiful – the whole Rahne makeover sequence, so fun. And you touched on this in this podcast, but Sienkewitz’s ability to draw such a range of teenage girls – and his Amara in Magma form, and that panel of Illyana trying to work out how to fight the bear in the Demon Bear saga, with her hair flipped by the wind – to die for! I wish he’d drawn a Sandman storyline…

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