33 – Crossoverload

In which we dive into two crossovers; our DCU is the DCAU; the Greys just cannot catch a break; Darkseid is basically Santa Claus; the Phoenix Force has Cyclops feels; Baron Karza is the sonic screwdriver of supervillains; and the Enigma Force is aptly named.

CONTENT NOTE: The Micronauts portion of this episode involves not-particularly-graphic but still fairly involved discussions of sexual violence. If that’s not something you want to listen to, we’d recommend stopping the episode after the Teen Titans portion at 26:26, and fast-forwarding to 47:52 for conclusions, questions, and outro.

X-Plained:

  • Crossover Earth
  • Amalgam
  • Crossovers
  • The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans
  • The Teen Titans
  • The One True Flash
  • Cosmic Kirby
  • Darkseid
  • Metron
  • The Source Wall
  • Deathstroke the Terminator
  • Ravok
  • Butte sex
  • Cyclops and the Phoenix Force
  • The X-Men and the Micronauts #1-4
  • Bill Mantlo
  • The Hero Initiative
  • Micronauts
  • The Microverse
  • Baron Karza
  • Evil Xavier (more)(again)(seriously, how is anyone still surprised when this happens)
  • Several moral event horizons crossed in quick succession
  • Female protagonists in X-books

Next Week: Captain America in a loincloth!


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37 comments

  1. Greg says:

    I completely agree with Rachel on the relative merits of the various Flashes. The only interesting thing Barry Allen ever did was die.

  2. Greg says:

    For X-books with female leads, I’d recommend Mike Carey’s run on adjectiveless X-men and X-men Legacy. Rogue is the lead character in both (although there’s an interlude where Charles Xavier takes over the book after the Messiah Complex crossover). Mystique’s solo series is pretty good too.

    The first volume of X-Treme X-men, by Claremont focuses mostly on Storm and Rogue as well. Come to think of it, Dazzler stars in the second one, so there’s that. And Jean Grey is probably the character who’s been getting the most play in All New X-men, especially since Cyclops left to be a space pirate.

  3. David page says:

    Thanos is the rip off of Darkseid not the other way round in similar news Deadpool of all people is a ripoff of deathstroke the terminator!. But man I love your show so much. I thought I was a fan of x-men but you both constantly keep bringing up stuff I had no idea about

    • alistair says:

      I’d heard that Starlin actually based Thanos more on Metron than Darkseid, though obviously there’s a lot of Darkseid in Thanos as well.

      I think the big difference between Darkseid and Thanos is their aims; the latter is (usually) literally in love with capital-D Death and kills people to try and win her favour, but death isn’t Darkseid’s goal. Darkseid’s aim is anti-life, and in Kirby’s view the opposite of life isn’t death; it’s the abolition and absence of free will in favour of the will of a single being.

      What it boils down to, I think, is that Thanos wants to kill you, but Darkseid wants to use the Anti-Life Equation to turn you into a mirror.

      • Andy says:

        Originally Thanos was based on Metron, but Starlin’s editor told him “if you are going to rip off a New God, at least rip off the good one” and he became more like Darkseid (or so I’ve heard)

        • A.L. Baroza says:

          I think Starlin, in the last 25 or so years has been trying to return Thanos’ characterization to something more like Metron’s; as an amoral seeker of truth, more of an antihero instead of the evil warlord Darkseid analogue. Not that any other writer at Marvel has been writing him in that way, but I imagine Starlin has an incentive to shepherd his creation’s development as he sees it, regardless of what Marvel editorial may want.

          • alistair says:

            I think Starlin has always had a very clear arc he’s wanted to pursue with Thanos, but obviously he’s always been at mercy of the vicissitudes of working in a shared universe as much as any writer. The use of Thanos by other writers doesn’t always gel with Starlin’s plans for the character, so that’s why the “it was a clone that could fool the Watcher” angle was introduced.

    • NewtypeS3 says:

      The best part about the Deadpool/Deathstroke comparisons is that Superman/Batman Annual #1 from about 2007 has a “dimensional tear” that results in another Slade Wilson slipping through to interrupt Batman and Superman on a cruise ship.
      A Deathstroke who bounds about, won’t stop chattering, heals from any wound (including using his own arm as a melee weapon after it was ripped off), and… you get the idea.

      Some of it can be seen here:
      http://deadpoolica.proboards.com/post/3639

      Supposedly, some original art showed that the artist wanted Deadpool there instead, but…

  4. Scott Bennie says:

    Thanks for covering X-Men/Titans. I really recommend the Wolfman/Perez Titans run, wonderful comics. It crams a lot into its pages, and I can understand if readers feel overwhelmed, but I’m unapologetic in loving this book.It was also my introduction to the Fourth World and Darkseid, and for that reason alone I love it with great love.

    Uncanny from 101-175 was my classic era, and that leaves only “God Loves, Man Kills” as a book that remains to be covered. But that’s hardly a major story, and no one wants to hear about that one, I’m sure… 🙂

    And yes, any hint of Dark Xavier or Onslaught tends to induce epileptic fits of rage. I find a lot of the issues you raised in X-Men/Micronauts becoming disturbing subtext in the main line; it’s not like the mutant books weren’t brimming with rape metaphors like the Brood to Dracula, or the nature of Xavier’s, Mastermind’s, Karma’s and Dani’s powers. A lot of things we rightfully view as creepy now weren’t as offensive at the time, and I find how those issues have evolved fascinating and a little disturbing.

  5. alistair says:

    I’ve heard that one of the reasons the sequel to the X-Men/Teen Titans crossover never materialised was that Shooter had been keen that the X-Men should have crossed over with the Legion of Super-Heroes(obviously a property very dear to him) and was disapointed enough that he nixed the second one.

    Can’t imagine how anyone could’ve managed to juggle THAT many characters!

    • Gurkle says:

      The follow-up to X-Men/Teen Titans was (not surprisingly) supposed to be JLA/Avengers, and it actually was greenlit, with George Pérez – the only person who could possibly do such a book – drawing.

      But Shooter felt that Gerry Conway’s plot was terrible and demanded changes, even though Pérez had already drawn a lot of pages, Marvel-style, directly from the plot. There were breakdowns in communication over revisions, Pérez eventually quit, and the project went down the drain; Pérez did a JLA/Avengers book 20 years later, but with a totally different script.

      To be fair to Shooter, the plot as summarized, and shown in those early pages, is really not very good. It’s just a bunch of exposition, followed by teams of Avengers and Justice Leaguers being plunked down to fight each other (Captain America and Scarlet Witch vs. Batman and Zatanna, that kind of thing).

  6. Miles says:

    It looks like only 3:57 of the episode made it to Stitcher. I contacted Stitcher’s support folks; hopefully that’ll be fixed very soon.

  7. WizarDru says:

    Old Man Perspective INCOMING!

    I remember the excitement over the X-Men/Teen Titans crossover series. No one expected it to be actually in-continuity, but it was a Big Damn Deal. Many people were fans of one or the other, both of which where breaking barriers at their respective publishers and considered them to be in competition, after a fashion. I remember everyone was pretty excited about the idea.

    The Micronauts were cool toys that created an even cooler comic thanks to Bill Mantlo. It was far, far darker than you might have expected. Example: Baron Karza’s storm-trooper analogues wore power armor that forcibly amputated damaged limbs when damaged (since cloning technology made replacement more efficient than healing). Which a main character discovered the hard way when he stole a suit.

    Some various comics nerd factoids (as I was a Marvel man, but I had my DC stuff, too):
    The Teen Titans originally in the 1960s WAS a sidekick team: Robin, Speedy, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash. They grew slightly over time, then were cancelled. The relaunched New Teen Titans (which the All-New, All-Different X-Men crossover with) were launched with a few of the originals and then the new bloods joining.

    As others have mentioned: Thanos is an (admitted by Jim Starlin) copy of Darkseid. It’s worth noting that much of Kirby’s early-70s work was disavowed by DC for years, until they realized what they had and AWESOME it was. Likewise, Deadpool was created as a parody of Deathstroke the Terminator, wisely just called Slade in the TT animated series (and there voiced by Ron FUCKING Perlman). Both have long since exceeded their roles as copies, obviously.

    Wally West is the Best Flash, no question. Unlike Barry, he had to EARN the right to be the Flash in the comics. Mark Waid’s epic run solidified him as the REAL Flash. And if you can watch JLU episode “Divided We Fall” in which Wally defeats a fused Lex Luthor and Braniac ALONE and think he isn’t awesome, then I will never truly understand you.

    • David says:

      Amusingly, Deathstroke originally went by “The Terminator” as his main villain moniker until James Cameron screwed that up and he was left with only the lamer half of his name.

  8. kiragecko says:

    When you guys said X-23 miniseries, were you talking about the 2 actual 6 issue miniserieses or the Liu ongoing? Because I really enjoyed the minis but I’m not sure if they’re good from a women focused perspective? And the violence to underaged girls quotient is pretty high.
    Loved hearing about the Titans from your perspective, teen DC characters became my second love after the X-Men and it was fun to see them from your less experiences eyes. Especially your comments about Deathstroke.
    I definitely second Excalibur as a women focused and marvelous series.

  9. Andy B says:

    I’d love to see any generation of X-men or mutant students do a crossover with Teen Titans Go.

  10. Defenestrator says:

    X-Men/Micronauts really brings a lot of Claremont’s…shall we say “issues”?…to the fore. Mind control (“Body and soul) is absurdly common as the X-books go on, and the sexual overtones are not in the least bit subtle.

    I mean, how many instances are there of mind-controlled characters ending up in some variation of leather fetish gear? I can think of several just off the top of my head.

    It’s something that I’ve found increasingly icky as the years have passed, and at this point even re-reading those early instances make me wince a little.

    Am I alone in this? Or does CLaremont indeed have something of a body-and-soul-control obsession?

    • alistair says:

      Claremont eventually wrote “Storm: The Arena” in X-Treme X-Men, where she goes to break up a mutant slave ring in South East Asia and ends up enslaved herself as a fetish-gear-clad gladiator by Masque (who has used his powers to become Marilyn Monroe) and whose minions mutant powers are, to all intents and purposes, BDSM.

      I think that’s the most obvious he’s been about it.

      • NewtypeS3 says:

        Don’t forget the time that Storm and Emma Frost switched brains, and then Emma-as-Storm dressed up in the White Queen getup.

        While it’s not as bondage-y as the X-Treme X-Men example… it’s Claremont at his Claremont-iest in the 80s.

  11. Grant says:

    I’m reading Uncanny X-men,and I’m curious about why Magik decided to join Cyclops. Did they become close friends at some point, or does she just agree with his mission?

  12. Uberwookie says:

    I have a theory that people call Nightcrawler ‘Changeling’ because it refers to the fact that a changeling is originally a mythological elf (or fae or demon) baby left in place of a human child, and Wolverine calls him Fuzzy Elf, plus… Mystique’s kid. So, three maybe reasons that almost kinda work?

  13. Tracer Bullet says:

    That scene with Moonstar was gross, but we’re talking about a character that had already engaged in genocide and mass possession, which is a pretty solid analog for rape. Psychically molesting a teenager was a step DOWN in villainy for The Entity.

  14. A.L. Baroza says:

    As Alistair mentions above, Darkseid’s thing was “anti-life” or loss of free will. Kirby distilled a lot of his experience as an infantryman during WWII into his Fourth World saga–basically, it’s about war and the people who fight it, through the prism of patented Kirby cosmic bombast. Darkseid was THE dictator; Space Hitler, if you will. It’s generally believed that elements of the Fourth World influenced George Lucas in Star Wars–Kirby certainly believed that.

    Practically every major cosmic Marvel villain created in the 70s and 80s was a variation of Darkseid: among them Thanos, Apocalypse, and the Micronauts’ Baron Karza, although Karza was equally influenced by Vader. The Micronauts owed a lot to Star Wars, the Enigma Force being a direct analogue to the Force (which was itself probably inspired by Kirby’s Source in the Fourth World).

    Psychic rape is definitely a Claremont trope, and I found his overreliance on it highly problematic and creepy even then, reading his work as a kid. I don’t think we can attribute that aspect of X-Men/Micronauts to Bill Mantlo at all. To me that reads as pure Claremont.

    As mentioned above, Deadpool was a direct ripoff/homage to Deathstroke; Deathstroke’s civilian ID is Slade Wilson, Deadpool’s is Wade Wilson. Rob Liefeld was not subtle about it.

    I used to pronounce Acroyear’s name ACRO-year as well, but I believe sometime in the course of the series Mantlo said the correct pronunciation was Ac-ROY-yer.

  15. Sol says:

    I feel like I botched my childhood X-men crossover reading! I never bought or read the Teen Titans crossover, and judging by the art here it is a gorgeous Walt Simonson thing I was a fool to skip. Is there any reasonable way to purchase a copy today? As far as I can tell, Comixology doesn’t carry it.

    On the other hand, I was the right age to have Micronauts toys and read the comic book when it first came out. (This was in the period where I could only afford one or two comics a month, so by default it was one of my favorite comics!) By the time the X-men/Micronauts book came around, I’d given up on the Micronauts comic for a few years. I bought the first issue of the limited series and absolutely HATED it. It didn’t feel like “my” Micronauts any more at all, and the X-men bits were pretty dodgy too. I know your review is mostly favorable with major caveats, but based on what you describe I feel quite confident I made the right decision to skip the rest of this one. Seriously, I don’t get what you guys find amusing about 6″ tall people fighting normal-sized people… but then, the issues of Micronauts that I liked were all set entirely in the Microverse, so everyone seemed normal-sized.

  16. NewtypeS3 says:

    While I’ve not read the Micronauts crossover (and I’m now both wary and wanting to read it – yeesh, 80s Marvel!), it does bring up yet another really interesting question for me.

    So.

    Xavier is a dick, right? Doing jerkass things for the greater good, even when that greater good is helping a set of motorcycle guys make another motorcycle guy who’s really good at dirtbiking?

    Wouldn’t that make his “Evil” side completely well-meaning, but ultimately Evil, rather than just utterly evil like this one-shot and Onslaught? Wouldn’t it be far creepier to have had an “evil Xavier” who was just plain nicer to his students, but was subtly manipulating them into performing acts of actual terrorism rather than just mindraping them or trying to take over the world with Sentinels?
    And maybe a little less expected, even though Xavier seems to go evil every other week (the week off of being evil, he uses it to fake his death)?

    Anyhow, it was great seeing you guys cover the Teen Titans/X-Men crossover. Loved hearing you guys talk about it. And Wally is totally the best Flash.

    But Jay is the second best.

  17. pawpaw5771 says:

    Thanks for another interesting episode. I’m just chiming in to say that my only recollection of Micronauts was a story featuring them with Man-Thing. A quick check with Dr. Internet suggests this took place in Micronauts #7.

    I thought Rachel & Miles should be advised of this if they weren’t already aware. Primarily for joke and giggling purposes.

  18. Duke of Luns says:

    Hey guys, love the show! Anyways, I do have a reader question:

    There have been several X-Men books/novels published over the years, have any of them been referenced directly in the actual comics?

    P.S. You guys mentioned in an early episode that the villain Lucifer never got out of the silver age. Well, in keeping with my question, he was the main villain of the novel “X-Men: Shadows Of The Past”, by Michael Jan Friedman, published in 2000.

  19. Alice says:

    The Teen Titans and the X-Men have a very, very, weird and parallel history. At least until the 90s or so.
    They both started out as 5 person teams, with four boys and one girl each. They both were very WASPy teams, and both were very poorly received and had writers who didn’t know how to write teenage lingo. The Titans even got a mentor named Loren Jupiter to be their benefactor, similar to Xavier (also like Xavier he has secret children revealed and is a terrible father).
    When their series ended they kept trying to make it work, like the X-Men, with failed jump starts. Until 1980, five years after the X-Men became All-New and All-Different.
    In 1980, Marv Wolfman started a 16 year run on New Teen Titans (sound familiar? not only did Claremont have a 16 year run too, but when he came on the title changed to Uncanny and when Marv came on Teen Titans became New) and introduced the “definitive” Titans
    Changeling is a furry jokester like Nightcrawler (but green instead of blue)
    Starfire is a powerful, exotic, big haired, warrior princess, like Storm
    Cyborg is a superstrong metal man like Colossus
    Terra, who is introduced later, was specifically made to be an homage to Kitty Pryde, but with the twist that she is completely evil. Starting out a plucky 14 year old cute metahuman with Earth powers, she is later revealed to be a chain smoking sociopath working with Deathstroke
    Speaking of Deathstroke, despite later characterization as a completely amoral Punisher riff, Deathstroke started out as just a mercenary. He had morals then too, somewhat. He was more of an anti-hero and even almost joined the Titans. He is like Wolverine. They both have a military background and sordid past, both are gruff loners, and both use sharp objects to fight. Deathstroke even gets his own ongoing in the 90s, paralleling Wolvie’s. In it, Deathstroke is even revealed to be functionally immortal after being experimented on.
    Not to mention that Wonder Girl and Robin are basically the Phoenix and Cyclops of the Titans, which you noted about Donna. Robin and Cyclops are both the stoic leaders.
    The 80s run on the Titans is classic, they really create a fleshed out universe and introduce most of their memorable villains, and was the only big competition from DC in the 80s against Uncanny. That’s why they were chosen for this crossover, they were equivocal franchises. They could’ve stayed that way through the 90s and on to today, but later writers and whatnot didn’t know what to do with the Titans.
    I feel like they get hung up on the initial premise of the Titans as a teenage Justice League and a club for sidekicks and it really wasn’t that anymore. It was it’s own thing that’s hard to pin an easy logline around. The X-Men will always have “mutant” at their center. It really helped them. Titans also failed to create the millions of spinoffs X-Men did, also for the same reason. You can take mutant and do anything with it, “uh uh a new young mutants team! uh, a government sponsored mutants team! a black ops mutant team!” that’s much harder with the Titans. The X-Men also were able to get their 90s cartoon and their 2000 film AND X-Men evolution, way before Titans got their first tv show in 2003.
    I’m not saying later Titans runs weren’t good, in fact there is a lot of really awesome stuff to read. It just never reached the levels of popularity it once had, and DC doesn’t treat it as well as Marvel treats the X-Men, which they should. Heck, now in the New 52, The Titans don’t even have any of their history anymore lol it starts with the current team! No more Starfire, Cyborg, etc!
    I couldn’t imagine Marvel restarting the X-Men with Surge and Hellion and Rockslide as the team, with Storm and Colossus, etc never being X-Men!!

    • Theo says:

      I agree; I think the problem with the Teen Titans is after Perez and Wolfman left, no one really knew what to do with it for a while.
      I think what really brought it back was having Young Justice members join and having this multi-generational/ mentorship situation, along with the ‘Teen Titans’ and ‘Young Justice’ shows. One of the things I really think DC comics does well is having generations of superheroes, like with Wally West becoming Flash after Barry Allen and becoming a mentor to Bart Allen, the new Kid Flash.
      It’s something that made me kind of disappointed in the New 52, because it erased a lot of those connections and growth characters had made.

  20. Glaciel says:

    Great episode guys. Love the podcast

    To answer one of your questions, the Teen titans hang out in Jump City, which I believe is somewhere on the California coast just north of San Francisco in-universe.

    Hope that helps ^_^

    • Alice says:

      That is only in the TV show and the Teen Titans Go! comics, in regular continuity the Teen Titans operated out of New York City from the 80s to 2003. In 2003 they moved to San Francisco. On the TV show it is alluded to being the West Coast because they have a Teen Titans East appear, on the other side of the country. New York City exists in the DCU, just it is smaller than in real life. Power Girl and the JSA operated out of there too. 😀

  21. Aaron Coggins says:

    Linkara’s actually done a pretty good retrospective on Teen Titans called March of the Titans, if you’re interested in learning more about them.

  22. Theo says:

    As a huge fan of both the Teen Titans and X-Men, I would absolutely recommend reading ‘The New Teen Titans’ Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s run on the book; especially “The Judas Contract” story line, if you are interested. It’s one of my favorites!

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