Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

55 – How Nightcrawler Got His Groove Back

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 5/10/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 5/10/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

In which Secret Wars II ruins everything (more) (again) (forever); Rachel Summers hates the Beyonder almost as much as we do; Miles gets mad at comics; Nightcrawler does not do gritty well; Lady Deathstrike gets wired; and we consult our favorite 3-year-old for book recommendations.


  • Rogue vs. Carol Danvers
  • Life before social media
  • Uncanny X-Men #202-205
  • Alpha Flight #33-34
  • Phoenix II vs. the Beyonder (twice)
  • The Reverse Gwen Stacy
  • Still more miracles of magnetism
  • Kitty Pryde disambiguation
  • Good times in Murderworld
  • The third-worst honeymoon
  • Lady Deathstrike (Yuriko Oyama)
  • Spiral’s Body Shop
  • The Reavers
  • One way to build a Wolverine antagonist
  • Skirting the Comics Code
  • Sound-effects lettering as a narrative device
  • Good X-books for a 3-year-old

Special thanks to Katie and Kestrel P.

NEXT WEEK: The Beyonder kills the New Mutants!

You can find a visual companion to this episode on our blog!

Find us on iTunes or Stitcher!

Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men is 100% ad-free and listener supported. If you want to help support the podcast–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!

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


  1. It’s such a pity that neither of you know that much about Alpha Flight because it is RIFE with cold opens, especially when you get to the massive, convoluted Sasquatch/Aurora/Box love triangle as well as the ‘Beaubiers are elves’ debacle.

    also, while the Power Pack book is always fun, it’s still the book where they eventually fight crack dealers and have quite perhaps the most terrifying Inferno crossover so yeeeeeeah. still, you can never go wrong with Katie Power. Every story can be greatly improved with Power Pack.

    1. If I ever somehow, by some unusual twist of events, get the chance to write for Marvel, I want to write a Power Pack series with Katie as a perfectly well-adjusted teenager. Really throw off people’s expectations, you know?

  2. This weekend I met Chris Claremont on Wizard con in Minneapolis. When I went up to have him sign a copy of X-men #137 I completely froze up, and could only tell him “I am a huge fan of your work.” The thing is, the majority of what I know about his work is from this podcast, since I wasn’t even a year old when he finished his run on Uncanny, and I felt embarrassed that I really read all that much of his work. Have either of you ever met someone that you admire, but felt too intimidated or embarrassed to make coherent thoughts?

    1. The combination of working in comics and arts/pop-culture journalism is pretty good innoculation against freezing up when you meet your heroes, because it is literally your job not to. (I do have some fairly embarrassing awkward-meeting and “oh-god-that-was-THEM?!” stories, the hands-down worst of which involved getting very drunk with my GF and a friend of hers I’d never met, whom she introduced only by his first name, and who I realized–several hours and many drinks in–was my very favorite author. He was very cool about it, but god, that was a moment of stark existential horror.)

      1. Also, FWIW, for future reference: Claremont is the nicest dude ever, and will totally geek out about X-men with you at cons. <3

  3. Would the Reverse-Gwen-Stacy be a nice stroll on the bridge followed by an excellent neck massage..while throwing a Green Goblin figurine off the bridge?

  4. I’m not a parent, but I’m commenting because I read a lot of children’s comics and I recommend the Marvel Adventures comics.

    They don’t have a specific X-men title, but the X-characters are interspersed throughout the line. Storm and Logan are main characters in the MA: Avengers series, and a teen-runaway version of Emma Frost who delightfully does WHATEVER she wants, is a reoccurring character in the Spider-Man title. She’s neither villain or hero in this–though she does eventually join the Blonde Phantom Detective Agency.

    There’s also the volume “Peter Parker vs the X-Men”.
    The entire line is collected in digest sized books that go rather cheaply on Amazon, and they’re very much “All Ages” titles.

  5. If you still want to do that “X-perts X-plain the X-men” podcast (may I suggest as the next annual/giant-size edition?), you should try to get James Kakalios to help out. His book _The_Physics_of_Superheroes_ is also a great resource and has a second edition. I believe he also teaches a college course on this subject (or did at one time). Also on a dream casting list, perhaps Neil deGrasse Tyson would come on for the space stuff.

    Meantime, thanks for a great podcast!

    1. Yep–I’m familiar with the book, and great idea!

      Tyson would be a hell of a long shot. He’s a great dude–I’ve interviewed him a couple times–but unbelievably busy.

  6. So, I don’t think I’ve read any of these books since 1986. I’ve got to say, looking at the art samples you posted:

    1) I’m filled with enormous positive nostalgia at Romita’s drawings of Rachel. The issues may be terrible (until I saw the art I’d completely forgotten they existed) but the art makes me happy.

    2) I’m not filled with any affection for the Nightcrawler issue, even though he’s one of my favorite X-men and I am a huge fan of swashbuckling. (I must say I entirely missed the Ruritania reference back then — it would be another decade or two before I’d read Prisoner of Zenda.) I’m not sure why, it just all seems kind of off to me.

    3) Despite being a BWS fan, I’m not in love with the art from #205. It just seems far too busy, like he’s adding so many details it just detracts from the elegant work underneath.

  7. Awesome podcast!

    The Alpha Flight issues are an interesting thing–this was part of Bill Mantlo trying to throw some shade on James Hudson, but it’s been implied that this was quashed (mostly) by Claremont.

    . . .though the next time Wolverine shows up in the #50s of Alpha Flight, there’s a bit more of it . . .

  8. In regards to the cold open, I’m reading through the Australian era Uncanny right now and it really bothers me how everyone treats Ms Marvel’s intrusions into Rogue’s life so casually. Sure, it’s mostly Rogue’s own fault that Ms Marvel’s in her head to begin with, but it’s not the actual Ms Marvel that’s taking over. It’s just a shadow of her left inside of Rogue. The real Ms Marvel is out there flying through space as Binary and the X-Men know this. So why do they continue to treat the Ms Marvel personality who pops up as the real thing, having conversations with “Carol,” encouraging her to take over Rogue’s body when it’s expedient, and acting like it’s only fair for this mental construct to take a turn in the spotlight. It actually reminds me a bit of Ms Marvel’s pregnancy in Avengers in that sense that Rogue is completely losing control of her own body and everyone but her is perfectly cool with it.

    1. Sorry if you were planning to get into this in detail when you actually reach that point in the comics, but since it came up in the cold open I couldn’t control my annoyance any longer.

    1. Good catch. The music used is “Prophecies,” from Philip Glass’ score to “Koyaanisqatsi,” which was later used (along with “Pruit Igoe” from the same film) to score Doctor Manhattan’s chapter on Mars in “Watchmen”

  9. Both my boys, and now my little girl, are growing up with story time out of a book/DVD set called Battling the Bad Guys. It gives a cursory into to a handful of Marvel heroes (FF, Spiffy, and of course- the reason I got it- the X-Men, but spends most of the book on their villans & their back stories. Plus the DVD is clips from the ’90s cartoons of battles with said villains. So it takes TV & cartoons and brings their interest in those characters back to books and comics. So it’s like pre-podcast X-plaining, complete with a visual companion. Worth checking out if you never have…

  10. Also, can I just say that between the Reverse Gwen Stacy & SFLANNG! I laughed harder at this episode than any so far. I just wish my SFLANNG!s had the reverb & echo effects too.
    You’re finally getting into the era when I 1st started picking comics up of the rack at the convenience store. This is why I love Nightcrawler so much.

  11. Aww, you know, I’m going to be in the minority here, but I actually really liked the comics where Rachel faced off against the Beyonder. I thought the issues they raised about godhood and what that “entitles” a person with omnipotence to do were very fascinating. Rachel’s at times at risk of becoming even more of a “villain” than the Beyonder, while the latter’s handled by Claremont with a care that I think most writers– Shooter included– didn’t quite match. I’ve heard the Beyonder was a pretty controversial character and perhaps that influenced the way some writers treated him, but Claremont really took the baton and ran with it, portraying the Beyonder as naive, but not childish; dangerous, but not all-together evil; and godly, yet limited by perspective. I think UXM #202 and 203 ultimately explore the idea of godhood from two different viewpoints: a god who doesn’t understand humanity and a woman whose humanity is clouding her judgment over how to use her own godlike abilities wisely. In the end, it is the humanity of others that dooms one and saves the other from making an enormous mistake.

    1. That’s actually a really cool way of looking at those issues. I’ll have to bear what you pointed out in mind the next time I read them – I suspect I’ll like them much better as a result.

  12. Enjoyed this podcast, but I have a completely irrelevant X-Men thing I need X-plained concerning Silver Age X-Men…and Thor. Why is their crossover to Journey Into Mystery #109 sooo weird? Basically, Thor and Magneto fight Kirby style, but the B plot is that Magneto has sent the rest of the Brotherhood out to search for the X-Men. The X-men turn up, but aren’t shown, except for Beast’s hands. We see Cyclops beam (super-scary shot of the Brotherhood getting blasted), ice, Angel’s shadow and an ‘X’ on a partially revealed sub. It’s as if they were characters Marvel weren’t licenced to use. It doesn’t match anything going on in the X-Men that month, that I can see. Was Jack teasing Stan? I dunno, but that’s what emergency services like yours are for. Right?

  13. (still catching up)

    Actually one of my friends was a “human skeleton repo lady” for a while. She didn’t seem to mind it.

    Seriously, she collected organs and bones from recently-dead organ donors at accident scenes.

    …I know! Me neither!

  14. I’m losing my mind over what the music is under Miles’ narration at 14:30. Please help so I can use it in my D&D campaign.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *