Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

34 – Mordenkainen’s Marvelous Mutants

Warlock The Barbarian
Art by David Wynne. Prints available here through Sunday, December 14!

In which we venture forth into an age undreamed of, there are so many reasons to have Northstar on your team, Selene is the worst guest, Rachel X-Plains Conan, Cyttorak is the Mordenkainen of the Marvel Universe, Miles loves Doctor Strange, we have some fairly serious Captain America feelings, the X-Men completely fail at hide-and-seek, and we make more D&D references in one episode than in the previous 34 combined.


  • Northstar
  • Beard privilege
  • X-Men 189-192
  • Anachronistic timeline markers
  • Hounds
  • The Culture Shock Class
  • An Age Undreamed of
  • Conan disambiguation
  • Red Sonja vs. Red Sonya
  • Kulan Gath
  • Marvel Team-Up #79
  • Barbarian Avengers
  • Why we love Captain America
  • Several haircuts
  • WiFi sorcery
  • A really good inspirational speech
  • The inevitable cephalopod revolution
  • Why Hank Pym is the absolute worst
  • Claudication
  • Hide-and-seek
  • How Rachel Summers actually traveled back in time
  • Magus
  • Warlock, Adam Warlock, and their respective Magi
  • Politics, religion, and Nightcrawler

Edited to Add: In this episode, we answered a question from a listener looking for textual evidence that Nightcrawler isn’t homophobic (we pointed them to Amazing X-Men #13). We also discussed that question from a different angle–and at considerably more length–on the blog.

Next Week: Dazzler: The Movie!

You can find a visual companion to the episode on our blog.

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Buy prints of this week’s illustration at our shop, or contact David Wynne for the original!


  1. There is another place in which Ive encountered time/space claudications and that’s in Diane Duane’s Young wizard books. the online wizardry concordance defines them thus: “Any pinching or constriction that affects both a volume of space and a segment of time or timeflow. Usually a temporospatial claudication is artificially induced, but there are occasional incidences of the effect in nature. (Black holes, for example, can sometimes have temporospatial claudications associated with them.) ” I dont know if the one series is stealing from the other, or if they’re both getting the word from the same place.

    1. I’m pretty sure the use here was a direct reference to So You Want To Be A Wizard. Claremont did a lot of that sort of thing in this era, like Rogue being a fan of the Nazgul.

    1. Likewise, since we basically asked the same thing (Assuming you’re the Warlock/Magus questioner and not the anon)! I wonder how many of those they got…

  2. On the subject of gaming and X-Men, you guys mught enjoy Co-Optitude’s X-Men Legends episode. Two people who know very little about X-Men discuss Cyclops’ preferred brand and style of undergarments. I would give link, but typing on phone is nearly as hard as navigating their mobile site. Keep up the good work!

    1. Do they mention where to get the rad X-boxers he’s got in the Void arc? Because I would wear the HELL out of those.

    1. Although, it does make one wonder.

      When Colossus became Juggernaut, he would randomly be wearing that same silly/awesome (silly awesome?) helmet that Cain Marko wears. Does this mean it’s the Helm of Cyttorak?

      And I do believe he did wind up wearing the same armbands that Marko wore. Which, of course, could be considered the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. Or maybe they’re the Crimson Sweatbands of Cyttorak, and thus are perfect at absorbing sweat and being comfortable rather than a Doctor Strange spell.

      And then there’s J2, the Juggernaut’s awesome son from the Spider-Girl universe (Earth-982). Where the Juggernaut armor was literally just armor, and he painted it silver…
      …but I suppose that’s neither here nor there, despite being awesome and combining Captain Marvel (the DC version) with Spider-Man for hijinks and enjoyable reading.

  3. I have always suspected that this story must have made a big impact on Kurt Busiek. Not only does his (fantastic) run on Avengers open with a story where Morgan LeFay pulls the same trick as Kulan Gath and transforms the Avengers into D&D versions of themselves, but 30 issues later he has a direct sequel to this story, with that necklace getting found again and Kulan Gath casting his master spell on Silverclaw’s hometown.

  4. I think the idea for Green Crystal Rogue comes from Crystar: The Crystal Warrior, which was a toy tie-in involving barbarians/knights who were made of crystal.

  5. Regarding the Morlock Massacre, which it looks like you’re a few episodes away from–please include some content on Power Pack. Especially if you have any opinions or actual inside info on their intended audience. The vocabulary is advanced for kids their age to read, and in my experience the last thing a 10-year old wants to read is the adventures of a 6-year old “baby”. The issues that are included in Essential X-Men #6 look like they’d be popular with a certain prison crowd. Sabretooth should not share a panel with them. Even if apparently they can defeat him without loss of life or limb. Their parents are apparently cool with them getting kidnapped by aliens, despite not knowing about their powers. I find them very confusing, though, on the plus side, not nearly as boring as I was expecting. And I ramble, not nearly as entertainingly as you two. Use your magical editing powers, Rachel.

    1. Chiming in to agree on Power Pack. Given that they show up semi-regularly in X-Men and that they were created and written for most of their run by Louise Simonson, they look like a shoo-in.

    2. Eagerly awaiting the caption for the cover of Uncanny #195, where it looks like Wolverine is about to skewer a six-year old. Actually, the entire discussion about 195 will be cool. Power Pack, Morlocks, Kitty and Rachel mentoring Katie, Rogue and Leech, Wolverine vs. all the Morlocks…great issue.

      Plus I’m hoping the awfulness of Secret Wars II will help Miles and the readers convince Rachel to give the original Secret Wars a chance. Secret Wars at least fulfilled a contractual obligation. Secret Wars II is just Shooter run amok to a degree so above and beyond the first series.

  6. Mike’s Fanfare For the Common Man-Cap speech brought a tear to my eye. I want to hear him do Cap’s speech to Spidey during Civil War. It might inspire me to, I don’t know, tattoo a flag on my face.

  7. You know, it’s funny. I actually knew about this storyline without having read or heard of the storyline before. Thanks, Exiles, for giving me a story where Kulan Gath’s plan kinda-sorta-worked, only to blow up in his face and leave us with a timeline that needed fixing!

    Also, while Marvel Team-Up 79 was awesome, the follow-up story from 2007 was more awesome. “Spider Man Red Sonja” was pretty enjoyable, and basically had Kulan Gath showing up yet again, and casting some sort of bizarre spell like last time with the X-Men.
    And Mary Jane is possessed by Red Sonja again.
    And if that wasn’t enough, while we don’t get the DnDvengers again, we do get Hyborean versions of Spider-Man’s villain cast, and Spidey basically flirting with his possessed wife a few times in a way that somehow doesn’t come off as creepy.

    Also, Venom-Gath.

    Also, as a follow-up, I have to say that while 616 Hank Pym is certainly a dick from time to time, he is not the worst. Ultimate Hank Pym is the worst, easily (and yes, EMH Pym is the best). 616 Pym is just a supervillain obsessed with becoming a Hero, which is a pretty solid reason why so many of his plans for good backfire so spectacularly.

    Of course, hilariously inconsistent writing doesn’t help, nor does not a goddamned person letting his hitting of Jan while suffering from a mental breakdown while Jan was being kind of a bitch go… while Reed got to slap Sue around a few times, and Peter Parker hitting his pregnant wife with Spider-Strength while ALSO suffering a mental breakdown goes unmentioned (then again, it happened in the Clone Saga).

    Ah, well. Modern Pym is much better, where he realizes that he’s basically a broken human being and is trying his best to funnel it into more worthwhile projects while he can.

    1. I feel I should note that “Jan was being a bitch” is not a good reason for her to have been slapped (nor is it ever with anyone – fictional or real), but it did help create a perfect storm of bad circumstances with Pym’s mental breakdown that resulted in the slap heard ’round 616.

    2. I’m sure you don’t mean to sound this way, but it’s hard not to read your comment as “It’s unfair Hank gets penalised for domestic abuse, when other heroes are allowed to hit their wives without repercussion, so be nicer to Hank”, and that’s not a convincing argument to me at all. Rather, the issue should be why other writers don’t see domestic abuse as incompatible with heroism.

      And even with your follow-up, it still sounds like you’re saying Jan being a “bitch” was why she was hit…

      1. No, that’s fair. I never intended for the comment to come across as “be nicer to Hank,” but more along the lines of “it’s funny what Marvel likes to forget.”
        Don’t get me wrong – Hank’s hitting of Janet has made for some compelling character drama. But the whole event came about due to a Hank Pym Fuckup (trademark pending). From what I’m re-reading (it’s been a while since I’ve read through the Avengers, to be honest), Hank Pym decided to prove that he wasn’t a screwup or mentally unstable (he’d been aggressive to Janet and cruel to surrendered opponents)… by building a robot to attack the Avengers during his court-martial. With a weakness that only he knew about.
        Janet tried to stop him… and then we had THAT moment. Jan then destroys the robot and divorces Hank. Why we don’t remember Hank building the killer robot to kill his best friends to prove his innocence, though, I’ll never know.

        This also comes from around the same era of Avengers #200. Maybe we could just strike this entire run of Non-Canon.

        I was certainly off on the timing of Janet being what some people may define as “a bitch,” however. THAT came from when Hank originally assumed the Yellowjacket personality. And was generally insane, claiming to be a villain who had killed off Hank Pym in a greusome way, claimed Janet for his own with a hastily-done marriage, somehow made a special treehouse fortress during all of this… and then when he snapped back to normal, Janet made sure their marriage stayed despite his altered mental state during the kidnapping/marriage.
        And she didn’t know Pym was Yellowjacket until after he returned to normal.
        So while it did start as a Hank Pym Moment (patent pending), it really didn’t end the way most “kidnapped and married at gunpoint” stories go.

        Comics, everybody!

        1. Okay, Moderator Hat on. Just now checking the comments, or I’d have been on this earlier; sorry about that.

          NewtypeS3, you seem like a rad individual, and we dig having you in our comments. However:

          -While I appreciate your clarification, you need to edit that original comment. For what it’s worth, I read it exactly as Sarah did, and I am not comfortable letting that sit in our comments section, even with the subsequent addendum.

          -Gendered slurs are not acceptable here. Period. Get rid of those, or I will.

          If you have questions or concerns about either of the above, feel free to drop me a line via e-mail.


          1. I have personally sent you and Miles an apology via the xplainthexmen g-mail account, Rachel.

            For those of this community as well, I apologize for my words. It… wasn’t the best way to describe my thoughts, which were already wrong by combining two completely different storylines decades apart.

            I don’t seem to be able to edit comments, however. Or if I do, I have no clue how to edit. If you would like to take out this post chain, Rachel, I completely understand.

            It won’t happen again.

            1. I didn’t realize there was a time limit on editing. If you want to e-mail me the text you’d like me to sub in, I’ll take care of it. I’m sorry about that!

              I’m responding privately to your e-mail as well, but I want to say here as well that we both really appreciate your response. Crossed lines are pretty much inevitable in any conversation that lasts long enough, and if we get to continue to have a community whose members handle that as civilly and compassionately as you have, we are damn lucky. <3

  8. Dropping back in for a thanks to Rachel for the “Into It” recommendation. Listened to a couple episodes, and happy for the podcast discovery! Anybody else who likes this podcast should definitely check that one out.

  9. I’m new to the podcast and I am really enjoying it. It’s like a fantastically detailed audiobook for the X-Men.

    p.s. Is Rachel saying ‘wheelie’ instead of ‘really’ ? Sorry if this has been answered already.

  10. I mostly returned to this episode discussion just to echo other sentiments about how amazing it is that this isn’t a big event crossover. 80s style Orzechowski-enabled Claremont storytelling vs. modern decompressed storytelling aside – it’s got X-Men, New Mutants, Avengers, Spider-Man, and all kinds of death, destruction, and mayhem. It is jarring to see how much “things will never be the same!” mayhem unfolds in two mere issues, compared to how spread out a modern event like Avengers vs. X-Men is.

  11. Just an observation with regards to cultural names. Rachel E referred to the comment about Rachel Summer’s tattoos being Maori. The pronunciation on the podcast was May-or-ri. The correct pronunciation is Mow-ree (the ‘Mow’ rhymes with ‘ow’ as in what you say if you injure yourself).

  12. Kulan Gath did not cast the Master Spell to mess with Spider-Man. Kulan Gath deliberately left Spider-Man out of the Master Spell to mess with Spider-Man. It left him trapped in a world he had no way to navigate, that was full of people he knew who didn’t know him, and who he was wholly incapable of communicating with. That was the revenge. The Master Spell making Gath absolute ruler was the evil plot the revenge nested inside of.

    As to Val Cooper having no idea as to what history looked like, I thought the Hyborean Age WAS history in the Marvel Universe. Maybe not in America (the Americas?), but certainly somewhere, that’s what history looked like.

    I also came into this book cold, but having started at Uncanny 208 and picking this up as one of my earliest back issues, everything going on was pretty clear with an 11-year old’s sense of genre savvy.


  13. Hank Pym is basically a Mad Scientist who’s mad scientist fixation is being a superhero.

    That said, I actually do like the character (Though largely because of the EMH cartoon)

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