Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

As Mentioned in Episode 55 – How Nightcrawler Got His Groove Back

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  1. This was a great era of Uncanny, despite all of the Secret Wars II derailment. We got two Arcade issues that featured some nice focused character exploration of a few individuals instead of the whole team (Shadowcat and Colossus in 197, Nightcrawler in 204). We got two awesome Barry Windsor-Smith guest issues that spotlighted individual characters (Storm in 198, Wolverine in 205). We got two guest appearances with Katie Power (or the entire Power Pack) contrasting against the X-Men’s world (195 and 205). We got the Asgardian Wars. We got the fantastic double-sized Trial of Magneto in issue 200 that moved Professor X off the board for a while, and really moved forward with Magneto’s redemption into a more nuanced hero from his cartoony villain origins…man. So much from this period is just so very, very good.

    I first quit collecting within about 4 months of this, though. The endless Secret Wars II tie-ins (with the X-books but also across the entire Marvel line) were such a shameless cash grab for a story that was really rambling and ultimately felt pointless and just not enjoyable. The launch of a third X-book with X-Factor in this same environment just felt like more of a cash grab as well, especially with how…unfocused? uninspired?…the initial story arcs felt (especially after the Beast transformation that you’ll get too soon.) And when advertisements for the upcoming Mutant Massacre started showing up in the books, and with that crossover being plugged in Marvel Age and again involving a bunch of tie-ins and story across books I didn’t normally pick up, it just felt pretty easy to throw my hands up and say “Forget this!” I wasn’t enjoying X-Factor, I never read Thor or Power Pack, and with prices rising from 60 cents an issue circa the beginning of the first Secret Wars to 95 cents an issue (in Canada) for issues when the Mutant Massacre started? 13 year old me had had enough.

    Of course, when 18 year old me got into comics again during University I went back and collected all the back issues I had missed from 1986-1991. And even after I lapsed in collecting again around 1998, the even older (and wiser?) version of me is slogging through runs and issues that came out since then thanks to this awesome podcast reigniting my passion for and interest in X-Men again!

    Thanks for another great episode! I’m really looking forward to the episodes coming up that will cover the period of my first collecting lapse, since while I have collected and read those issues over time, they are not as near and dear to my heart as the issues I bought as a kid so many years ago.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. At the point of uncanny 205 were Katie and powerpack still under asguards protection or did that come later?

    Also you guys hit the nail with Windsor Smith his style compliments Wolverine so well. His marvel comics prsents weapon x story is some of the most beautiful stuff ever put on paper.

    And in regards to Isabelle Asking about comics for her children, I’d like to throw out there that the recently concluded new warriors series is very kid friendly and lots of fun. On eBay you can get easy reader books based in the 90s xmen cartoon for pretty cheap! Outside of marvel I’d like to also recommend Super Dinosaur and Gladstones School for World Conquerors getting little ones into the medium we love is always welcome marvel or not!

    1. Oh I’d also like to put out there all 3 volumes of Runaways. I’ve read them together with my 6 year old niece and she loved it and I don’t feel it was inappropriate for her age. So gravitated to Molly right away. An all ages Molly Hayes focused book would be fantastic. Marvel needs to get on that.

      1. Thanks for those recommendations. I’ve intended to read Runaways for a while so I’ll add that to the list of stuff to read with my daughter as she gets older. New

  3. As awful as The Beyonder and Secret Wars are, I’m still fascinated by the fact that both are the most Meta creations ever concocted by the Big Two. The Beyonder is the embodiment of Jim Shooter’s ego and editorial intrusiveness, and Secret Wars is the perfect metaphor for the creative and economic conflicts driving comic book events of this ilk.

    1. And Shooter KEEPS doing this a lot–there’s this thread of persecuted deities that runs through Korvac, the Beyonder, Star Brand, Solar, and Erica Pierce–it’s kinda his “thing,” really.

  4. So, for obvious reasons, the Barry Windsor-Smith stuff you have here reminds me of the Weapon X storyline from Marvel Comics Presents, which I am still the only person I know who read regularly (although obviously that particular storyline became very famous). This makes me wonder, are you guys going to cover all the X-Men related stuff that came up in that title? Obviously there was a LOT of Wolverine in there, but there was other stuff, too. I didn’t know SMaHAF, so MCP was my first introduction to Firestar, who had a cool multiparter in there. I remember a good Wolverine-Nightcrawler buddy story. There was a lot of Madripoor stuff. Mostly, though, when you got past the Wolverine/Ghost Rider main feature stories, there were a lot of opportunities to see characters that might otherwise be largely forgotten in interesting solo stories.

    I guess it doesn’t have much to do with the main continuity of X-Men (except Weapon X, perhaps) so it might not be worth it. If not, I’d highly recommend people go take a look at some old issues of MCP if that is possible somewhere. I think I will do so by raiding my parents’ attic for the ones I bought back in the day.

    1. Is there much evisceration in “This is Wolverine”?
      I’m hesitant to introduce Wolverine to my 3-year-old because I know how the conversation will go:
      “What are those on his hands?”
      “Those are knives that pop out.”
      “What are they for?”
      “… Murdering.”

  5. It makes me very happy that Claremont just outright called it Ruritania rather than Sloviakia or Crovania or some such…

  6. I think Arcade should ditch the kidnapper mobile and just tell his victims that they are secret royalty from nations that no one has ever heard of. It’s probably a lot easier.

  7. By the way, I know how much Magneto would be able to control the weather but he can probably control the water, since water is diamagnetic. Magnetism and electricity are related, so he can generate electricity and create lightnings, gamma ray, x-ray, ultraviolet etc. So, yeah, he could probably emulate Storm’s powers!

  8. Rachel & Miles,
    Firstly, thanks for Xplaining the Xmen. Been a fan of the X-men for quite some time but I love your humour & take on it all,and also for filling in some of the gaps.

    Anyways, I was just wondering which X-men/Mutants you would class as underrated, or oftentimes overlooked?

    Apologies if this has been answered before, as I have only come across your page about a month ago and still slowly going through it all.


  9. I have to say, “What was she supposed to do, eat him like a gerbil?” tickled my funny bone. Cannot wait for the opportunity to work that into a conversation….

  10. I also have some suggestions for the listener who wants to introduce her daughter to comic: Mini Marvels, Marvel Fairy Tales, Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers, all the Power Pack comic, Eric Shanower’s Oz Comics, Bone by Jeff Smith.
    Also, JL8, Yale Stewart’s webseries about 8 years old Justice Leaguers. Stewart publishes one strip a week and many of them are about Wonder Woman and Power Girl. It can be read on his tumblr: http://jl8comic.tumblr.com/

    1. Thanks for those recommendations.
      I have come across JL8 before and I thought it was a lot of fun.
      I see that, besides the Pet Avengers, Eliopoulis did a Franklin Richards series that looks promising.

  11. Thanks so much for reading my question about kids comics. I’m excited to get ahold of some of the stuff you mentioned and I’ll be watching here for future replies.

    I wonder if anyone has read Skottie Young’s Young Marvel stuff?

  12. So, I re-read these books recently (and some for the first time) when I got the “Ghosts” trade paperback. It was the first time it hit me how terrifying Sentinel dialogue really is. They are perpetually telling you, as you helplessly hide, or worse, are restrained, HOW MUCH LONGER YOU HAVE TO LIVE. Emotionlessly intoning about the 104 seconds they will take to recover, or overcome your force shield, or compensate for the defense you’ve cobbled together. A minute forty-four. That’s all you have left. Chilling.

    And they make you waste some of that doing the math to convert seconds over to minutes. That’s evil AI for you.

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