Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

25 – The Best at What He Does

Art by David Wynne, after Katsushika Hokusai.
Art by David Wynne, after Katsushika Hokusai.

In which Wolverine gets his first miniseries, Yukio is still (and forever) the best, we categorically reject the classification “manic pixie dreamgirl,” everything is noir as hell, Wolverine gets an Iron Giant moment, Storm is too cool for your dress code, and we finally made “Probably a Summers Brother” t-shirts.


  • X-23
  • The 1982 Wolverine miniseries
  • Uncanny X-Men #172-173
  • Rachel’s Wolverine feelings
  • An auspicious road trip
  • Early Frank Miller
  • A really epic team-up
  • Plug’n’play storytelling
  • How to tell a good Wolverine story
  • Mariko Yashida
  • Honor
  • Shingen Yashida
  • Yukio
  • The Inverse Law of Ninjas
  • The Forty-Seven Ronin
  • Silver Samurai
  • Viper
  • A Ninja meet-cute
  • The Cyclops / Wolverine double standard
  • The secret origins of Wolverine’s mask and hair

Next Week: The New Mutants meet Team America!

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

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  1. Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is a PHENOMENAL book. Sean Howe’s book is a must-read for anyone who enjoys Marvel Comics. It’s SO good. I particularly like how Howe covers the Shooter era. It’s one of the things that Marvel is the least forthcoming about, because it’s a sales high point, but an internal-culture low-point. So their own media doesn’t really handle Shooter well, because they can’t say anything good about him, because he sucked, but they can’t say anything bad about him because the comics were great. Howe’s book finally gives an even-handed take on a controversial era. HIGHLY recommend the book.

    Thanks for another great episode!

  2. “Storm gives no fucks about your wedding. Storm is awesome and fierce in ways that transcends proper formal wear.”

    I know it includes foul language and is a bit lengthy, but damn, how I wish that quote was on a T-shirt.

    1. While we’re not going to make one, we have no problem with you making shirts with quotes from our show, as long as they’re attributed and you’re not selling ’em!

  3. Great episode. Not sure I understand the whole Yukio and Ororo making out thing, but great nonetheless.

  4. I picked up the four issue trade a few months ago and it was fantastic. When it ended with the wedding invitation my heart ached, since I knew there was no way that could end well. Poor Wolverine, he can’t catch a break.

  5. Just wanted to write that I loved the latest episode as usual, but a quick question. About 36 minutes in, Miles is giving background on silver samurai, but audio clips to Rachel talking. Is this an issue with my podcast download, or was this edited for time? Thanks.

  6. I’m glad that you used this story arch to show Logan at his best. My biggest problem with the Wolverine: Origins book-movie tie in is that as a character he would not want his past back. Also the past that he “remember” was just so stupid and over the top that it totally ruined the man that was set up here. My only hope is that when he is eventually brought back from the dead, they retcon the origins story out.
    This is also why I am enjoying the Death of Wolverine story, because it is an immortal man coming to grips with his mortality. Though again the Kitty Pride kiss, yeah, all kinds of wrong, even possessed.

  7. My understanding of the term “manic pixie dream girl” is that it’s specifically designed to describe flat characters. If a character has her own agency and goals, then she isn’t a manic pixie dream girl. So sure, let’s not label characters that are more fleshed out as manic pixie dream girls because they don’t fit the trope. But it’s not really fair to criticize a term that was itself created to rightly criticize a common writing flaw.

  8. I was interested in your remark about the “culturally specific” ^_^ mutant power of the Silver Samurai; i.e., to charge his sword. Have the X-books ever explored the idea that the expression of an individual’s power may be influenced by their culture? In other words, that these powers aren’t in themselves so ultra-specific (the spot on the genome for charging up a katana) but more like broader potentials that take their actual expression through the person’s environmental and cultural influences?

  9. Hey guys, just got through mainlining the entire series. I really love hearing from you guys, as someone who never got into comics as a kid but wants to understand the X-men beyond what you get through osmosis just being a nerd. Great work and thanks for the public service!

  10. There is another aspect of Woverine which I liked about that era and dislike about today: In the old days Wolverine was not completely invulnerable. He was far from it. He could’v been beaten by a regular human with some skills and a wooden stick! He couldn’t get too much punish and his healing factor would take time in order to be effective (Like on the time in Australia when he was nailed by the Reavers and was severely wounded for a relatively great deal of time.

    In our time, Wolverine could get blown by grenades from zero distance and be again on his feats, safe, sound and ready to keep fighting after one minute. He can be shot everywhere, you can rip his entire face, blow his brain – still he’ll survive. And keep going after just seconds!
    Wolverine hadn’t been turned boring only by his overexposure and lack of character development, but his powers themselves had become dull: When you see Wolverine in a comics you know when the danger will kick – he will be the first to take the hits, because of course the enemies will choose to turn their deadly weapons against the one guy the writer could spare to create a dramatic effect. Only it doesn’t work at all because you know that nothing – spare a total eradication of his body will harm him or even stop him. So instead everytime we see him in his comics it creates the opposite reaction: “Oh, here is this undead guy again. Let’s wait until he’ll leave and we can see the other character so the threat will be real again…”

    1. Oh, and in the late years some writers had refered to Wolverine as “arguably the most dangerous mutant on earth” and I was like: No, no, no! Storm is arguably the most dangerous mutant on earth. Magneto could be the one too. But Wolverine is just some guy with a healing factor and claws! He could be very dangerous and wipe out entire armies of ninjas but making the characters seems so over the top just makes him less badass.

  11. And an interesting cultural note, I don’t know about in universe or out of universe passage of time with these issues, but with sexist Japanese law, Mariko wouldn’t be able to marry Wolverine for at least nine months after her marriage with What’s-His-Name ended.

  12. in re-guards to the second trade paper back of this mini series I don’t think adding the two x-men issues ruins what the story means for wolverine’s character development i think it just gives closure to what the end of the mini series teases with its conclusion

  13. I really have to disagree with Jay’s criticism of every consequent Wolverine story after this because they’re not as good.

    By this logic you could argue that every Star Wars story ever is ‘bad’ because it isn’t as good as the first film.

    More importantly though it’s a shallow criticism when one considers the majority of Wolverine stories were written as monthly titles as opposed to mini-series and monthly titles rarely afford writers the time or space to inject AS much layers and substance into their stories as one off minis do. It happens sometimes but not often.

    It’s one of the reasons DeMatteis’ Kraven’s last Hunt story is better than all his other Spider-Man work. It came out in the monthlies but in a sense it was a fill-in story for 2 months. DeMatteis just wrote that concentrating all his efforts onto it and then left.

    Another comparison would be Steven Moffat. He’s written many good Dr Who episodes but fans still regard his best ones to have been his earliest works where he was responsible for just 1 or 2 episodes instead of multiple ones, including other people’s and running the whole show

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