Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

46 – Shadows Over Cairo

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 3/8/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 3/8/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

In which we bid a fond farewell to Bill Sienkiewicz; Secret Wars II continues to ruin everything; the New Mutants end up in an improbable number of gladiatorial arenas; Shadowcat’s secondary mutation is queer subtext; Magik gives no fucks about your crossover event; Warlock transcends storytelling conventions; and Karma rejoins the team.


  • The chronologically inconsistent mobility of Professor Xavier
  • The Shadow King
  • New Mutants #29-34
  • Steve Leialoha
  • The Arena (more) (again)
  • Evil group projects
  • Easter eggs
  • Rachel Summers: butch fashion icon
  • Some major failures of positive size diversity in comics
  • Madripoor
  • Ashake
  • The incredible changing Guthries
  • The wickedest club in Cairo
  • Default X-teams
  • Cypher’s powers

NEXT WEEK: Miles and Elisabeth Allie X-Plain X-Men / Alpha Flight

No visual companion this week, because, reasons.

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


  1. Thoughts as I listen to the episode while following along in the comics:

    – Perhaps a Magento “Raise the Roof” t-shirt will be in our future?
    – I love the Polaroid of the original team with Sam’s head cutoff at the top, with the comment “Sorry, Sam!” handwritten on it.
    – Whupwhupawhupawhupa. Cartoony Warlock is awesome.
    – The evil future New Mutants in this arc look amazing. Some kind of futuristic-but-still-80s dystopian punk motif. Wolfsbane is especially fantastic.
    – Illyana will not take any of Dani’s shit, and rightfully so.
    – Warlock needs a podcast to Xplain Karma’s powers to him. He is very puzzled by oncefriends and that they’re not responsible for their actions while possessed. “Self is very young and knows very little. Self could sure use a podcast to explain these things to self.”
    – Ororo without her powers still really holds her own against all of the possessed New Mutants. Further evidence of her badassery.
    – Illyana and Warlock are so amazingly entertaining as a duo on a caper, I wish they had a limited series together.
    – There were so many crossovers, one-shots, and limited series being released out of continuity order around this time that there is actually an entire Bullpen Bulletins from Ann Nocenti titled “How to read THE X-MEN and THE NEW MUTANTS this summer” – Marvel’s first acknowledgment of a need for advanced X-planation beyond the little editor comments in panels. Foreshadowing!!

  2. I’m curious, where are you guys from in South Florida? There’s something familiar in the way you banter and it reminds me a lot of conversations I would have with friends about the X-Men when I was a kid in South Florida.

    – G

  3. I was under the impression, from vague recollections of an episode of the cartoon, that Xavier’s psychic powers were connected to his paralysis.

  4. When I reread these stories as a late-teen, I read Claremont clumsy handling of the Secret Wars derail as a deliberate move – “you’re making me do this, so fuck you” because he just couldn’t be arsed to try to smooth it over as he hated it. So as you say, the post-death stuff is handled better because it’s something he can work with, but it felt like he wasn’t going to try to make the ridiculousness better.

  5. I’ve always had that same thought about Warlock and Gogo, to the extend I’ve always read them with similar voices.

  6. I just wanted to second the need for a “So-and-so and So-and-so Explain Heinlein’s Expanded Multivers.” Or if not need, then a fervent desire.

  7. Steve Leialoha is a hugely underrated artist. He was Gene Colan’s second best inker (behind Tom Palmer), as seen in the early issues of Howard the Duck. Although Steve Englehart’s Coyote series wasn’t especially good (and the gender politics were dire), those first few issues looked “right” with the surreality Leialoha brought to the art. The last work I saw from him was in a Fables prose novel, and those spot illustrations looked great.

  8. Sigh … some of my most favorite issues !!! It took me years to appreciate the Leialoha issues , now they are prized possessions . He did a run on Spider-Woman (partly with Claremont) that is stellar too . You made me see the issues in a new light . I’ll have to read them once again! Can’t wait for the Asgard stories. Also: Was it really referred to as Madripoor in issue #31 of the NM? Neato! I’ve heard of first appearance of characters, but a locale as significant as Madripoor has gotten … should be a collectors item too! Yeah, and that final page splash pinup of the Muties and rachel, ali, & kitty: Priceless!

    xo guys…

  9. I’d love it if you guys would put up an “as mentioned” post for this episode at some point, even if not right away. You mention, several times, really interesting-sounding things you were intending to put in the “as mentioned.”

    Best wishes to Rachel for whatever’s going on.

  10. What annoys me about Doug’s bemoaning his lack of fighting powers is that at the same time, Storm is kicking all kinds of ass without any powers. Doug needed to find ways to either support the others in battle or take advantage of the fact that he’s got some of th best martial artists in the world near him and to learn how to be badass without powers.

    1. Yeah, but at the same time, he’s trying, and his teachers and classmates are literally refusing to let him train.

      1. I think I’d have liked to see a scene where he finally is allowed to try sparring and just finds out he’s not innately very good at it. He could still have the frustration without his team-mates being entirely deaf to his comments.

        Not everyone is a born combatant, and not every one of Xavier’s pupils SHOULD be, IMHO.

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