Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

50 – The People Vs. Erik Lehnsherr

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 4/5/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 3/29/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

In which Magneto makes an official alignment shift; Claremont does a court drama; Professor Xavier makes poor choices; Rachel Summers comes by her communication skills honest; the Strucker kids are the evil Wonder Twins; and the podcast hits a major milestone!


  • Xorn
  • Uncanny X-Men #196, 199, and 200
  • The X-Men status quo circa 1985
  • Magneto’s alignment shift
  • Beyonder-related existential crises
  • A hypothetical murder mystery
  • Minor vandalism as a harbinger of dark futures
  • Psi-scream
  • Brood classified ads
  • A thematic parallel
  • The tipping point in Scott and Madelyne’s relationship
  • The new, improved Magneto
  • The Professor Who Cried Wolf
  • Phoenix II
  • Earth-811/Earth-616 disambiguation
  • Freedom Force
  • The Trial of Magneto
  • NPR-616
  • James Jaspers
  • The best editor’s note
  • The mystery of Magneto’s age
  • Andrea & Andreas Strucker
  • What not to wear to court
  • A super icky sword
  • Phoenix morality
  • Sponsorship & conflict of interest

NEXT WEEK: Emerald City Comicon special with Kris Anka, Marguerite Bennett, Kieron Gillen, and Peter Nguyen!

You can find a visual companion to this 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. Ugh, I hated the Xorneto retcon. It was clearly only done because:

    1. Chris Claremont wanted to do an Odd Couple series with Xavier and Magneto on Genosha, and wasn’t going to let something small like one of his lead characters having his head cut off get in the way of that.

    2. Xorn was a popular character, and Marvel didn’t like that he wasn’t real anymore.

    I much preferred the explanation that Xorneto was just a Sublime-controlled Magneto.

    1. It’s a dumb retcon, but I feel like the lion’s share of the blame has to fall on Morrison himself for writing a story that was guaranteed to be retconned away (Magneto dies, not only in unrepentant kill-all-humans genocide mode, but acting as a patsy for a new villain? No waaaaaaay that’s gonna stick) without leaving a convenient backdoor for the writer who eventually got that job to use.

        1. In my headcannon, I like to think that Magneto was Xorn, but the Scarlet Witch used her increased altering-reality powers To resurrected and created a “real” Xorn.

  2. Oh man – I’m imagining the Brood listing their psiscream for sale on Craigslist. I really cannot emphasize enough that you *DO NOT* want to contact them for other services.

  3. Just wanted to say–I’ve only just discovered this podcast, but I’m making my way through the archives and enjoying it immensely.

    Looking forward to starting in on the 200s in the next series of podcasts. The 200s of Uncanny X-Men are the best and worst of times for the Claremont Era, I’ve always thought.

  4. Surprised you didn’t discuss #196’s most startling and controversial moment – Kitty’s N-bomb. I was quite interested to hear your feelings on this. I see how it makes sense and is deliberately antagonistic in context, but with hindsight it seems like an incredibly uncomfortable, perhaps ill-advised bit of dialogue… Do you think Claremont was justified in his choice of language here?

    1. It’s contextually almost identical to an equivalent moment in God Loves, Man Kills. It’s a questionable choice–probably in character for a pissed-off 15-year-old without a lot of understanding of her own privilege, but I don’t think it adds anything to the story.

      1. I think it’s classic “show, don’t tell”. It’s one thing to say, “this is a very very offensive slur, and you should think it’s bad”and quite another to lay it out and show “This? It’s equivalent to this. That is the rate of exchange. Capisce?” I also tend to give Claremont leeway on this, because Claremont always played the mutant issue straight. If this was Garth Ennis or Mark Millar, that’s another matter, but Chris took his mutants very seriously, and I
        think his approach deserves consideration.

        Also, this issue answers your question vis a vis the N-bomb and the Comics Code (asked in your coverage of “God Loves, Man Kills”), as there’s the seal, right on the cover. Contextual use permitted, maybe?

    2. Thank you so much for bring that up? I was listening to the podcast as I was reading the book and Kitty dropped a pretty N bomb and it was the 80s. Mind blown!

  5. I believe Mad Jim Jaspers is alive in Uncanny #200 because, at the time this story was written, the original Marvel UK material (most of the weekly Marvel UK magazines in this era comprised reprinted American comics alongside short original strips starring Captain Britain, the Special Executive and so on) simply wasn’t considered officially canonical or in continuity with what was being printed in America. Understandable, perhaps, given that these comics probably weren’t readily available stateside and the Marvel universe was fairly interconnected at the time.

    However, Claremont was an early American admirer of Alan Moore and Alan Davis, and decided he would incorporate some of the ideas they had introduced in the X-Men books. His original plan was essentially to redo the Jaspers Warp storyline, tying in ideas which eventually became Mutant Massacre and Fall of the Mutants (Nimrod was going to merge with the Fury, which would have slaughtered the Morlocks; the X-Men would have “died” fighting Jaspers rather than the Adversary; Kitty Pryde would have become trapepd in her intangible form when she phased through Nimrod/Fury to stop it; and so on). In his mind, this was going to be Marvel’s answer to Crisis on Infinite Earths, with the effects of the Jaspers Warp felt in every other Marvel comic.

    In the end, Moore put a stop to it, because differences between UK and US copyright law meant neither he nor Davis would have been guaranteed any royalties for the use of their concepts, and we got what we got instead. (I believe Davis would have been happy enough; he was angling to break into America at the time, and Claremont was eager to get him on X-Men, as he eventually did.)

    I’ve ALSO heard a rumour that Claremont might have left the X-Men after he’d done all that because he wanted to write Fantastic Four instead, but I’ve never seen any confirmation of that one.

  6. My tweet asking about the Jasper’s Warp storyline seems oddly prescient now, given the appearance of Sir Jaspers in issue 200. I had no idea he’d pop up, and literally gasped out loud in the car (and nearly missed my turn) when I heard you relate that fact. Could another Jaspers from a different Earth have found his way over to 616 and taken the original’s place after the incident with the Fury? Kind of like another villain connected to Captain Britain does later?

  7. Another great episode, but I found myself arching my own Magneto-esque eyebrows at a couple points:

    The Rachel/Beyonder stuff “feels gratuitous and pointless”–? I don’t know. It always felt to me like another solid Claremont slow burn. When she decides to purge the universe of the Beyonder, stealing her teammates’ life energies to do so, that felt like a very natural turning point in her arc–betraying their trust because she’s so damned desperate to set things “right”.

    As for Scott & Madelyne being a great couple, come on. They had a great natural rhythm superficially, but there was always plenty rotten under the surface. Whether you accept Claremont’s dubious interview soundbite of “giving Scott his happy ending”, or you embrace her solidly planted ties to Jean/Phoenix, there was always too much wrong lurking there for it to ever truly go right.

  8. Andrea and Andreas have a reason to shoot Storm. She interfered with Andreas’ getting grabby with a waitress the issue before, and humiliated him with a beatdown. So they shoot her in the head for her affront to all things Strucker. Supervillain S.O.P.

  9. Just to correct Rachel slightly. Magneto did, in fact, have the good sense to stop wearing the ‘M’ costume not THAT long after this. It seems many people, including a costume gallery I saw online for Magneto, forget that he also had a second ‘hero’ costume, basically a magenta leisure suit with white boots, gloves and belt and a red cloak, worn sans helmet. In the hands of some artists, it looked a bit ropey, but it did look cool in the ‘Fantastic Four versus the X-Men’ mini, at least.

  10. Douchey as it may be, it was also very effective strategy. In just about any other situation, Magneto would have fought and it would not be anywhere near certain that they could have actually captured him. But to hit him in a place where he would be worried about innocents being hurt, people that Magneto would think of as his own people just as much as mutants… it’s completely a dick move but I can’t fault their logic.

  11. Gah, the Xorn retcons were so awful and made NO sense. Xorn pretended to be Magneto pretending to be Xorn? ARRGH!!!! I thought the twist at the end of New X-Men #146 was among the best I’d read (even if Magneto was pretty out-of-character after that; I blame TEH DRUGZZ!!!).

    Argh! Frustrated all over again just thinking about it.

  12. In defense of the MU’s characters’ myopia with respect to the Phoenix Force, the Dark Phoenix destroyed a fucking star and killed billions of people. Even if there is a miniscule chance of a repeat of that, I can understand not wanting to take that risk.

    Granted, a number of other MU characters have power-levels close to that, but, well….

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