Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

As Mentioned in Episode 63 – Wildways

Listen to the episode here!


ART CHALLENGE: Design a new graduation costume for one or more of the New Mutants! Send your designs to xplainthexmen(at)gmail(dot)com, with the subject line GRADUATION, and we’ll collect ‘em on the blog at the end of the week!


  1. Sunspot’s second round costume seems like it’s inspired by the Vancouver Canucks’s Flying V jersey of the early 80s.

  2. Re Doug & Betsy – EW! In the de-aging in the X Men annual, she definitely seems adult, from her rate – about the same as Rogue, but since Doug is the same age as Kitty, she’s definitely older… and hang on, isn’t she Brian’s twin? Brian’s definitely not a teen…

    1. I agree– I’ve always thought she was meant to be an adult by the time she met up with the team (she was a professional model and worked for STRIKE before this). Brian is her twin, and I would think he was an adult at this point as well–he had a science job prior to becoming Captain Britain, and had time to get a reputation as a hero before he ended up at school with Spider-Man.

  3. Was hoping the episode art would be Psylocke’s ninja-leg and Doug recreating The Graduate poster.

    The New Mutant costumes are definitely terrible, but there are some aspects I do like: the flames on Magma’s costume, the deep V on Roberto’s, the hood and gloves on Ilyana’s. But oh man, Karma looks like she’s cosplaying as Viper.

    1. The lack of New Mutants representation in the episode art is a litle disappointing I agree, and it even includes Cyclops when he’s not even mentioned in either issue featured.

  4. X-men has fusing with someone as homosexual subtext? That just sets off all my Steven Universe feels (if you’re not watching Steven Universe, what are you doing with your life?)
    And as a side note, I *have* seen geese live, I have been chased by geese. Geese are absolutely terrifying and living proof that anybody who says feathered dinosaurs aren’t scary is an idiot

  5. I love Alan Davis’s art more than almost anything, but I do think he overdoes it (by a lot) when it comes to Illyana’s bangs.

  6. Mad love for Doug here. I love the character, and I love his sense of grounded morality. That said….

    At about 30 minutes in, Miles says Doug’s background makes him an excellent viewpoint character. Ironically, he’s also a straight cis-gendered WASP male straight-A, computer-savvy teen from an upper middle class/lower upper class neighborhood– a Ricky Schroeder in Silver Spoons, where his poverty has been replaced with being a mutant. He’s a stand-in for a marketing demographic, the kid Marvel thought was buying the product at the time..

    And this is why we get a Doug/Betsy pairing, despite the age difference: it’s the teen male fantasy writ large; an older, attractive, more experienced person who takes you seriously, thinks of you as an adult, and wants you in an adult way. Sure, as adults looking at this, we recognize the crazy power differentials and the creepiness of this sort of relationship. As a teenage boy reading this as it came out, though– well, let’s just say I would have gladly risked techno-organic death to have been in Doug’s shoes.

    That said, Claremont at least has the decency to handle it as the taboo it is; as I recall, Betsy stands Doug down easy later on.

    Also, keep up the great show, you wonderful people.

    1. Interesting points.

      Doug is indeed the ordinary middle class WASP kid from an average family in the suburbs, but the irony is that actually makes him pretty much unique in the New Mutants (Who include a Nova Romani, an escapee from an abusive guardian in Scotlan, the scion of a bewlideringly rich Brazilian family, a Cheyenne whose parents spent years as a demon bear and so on) and pretty much the entire X-Mansion since Iceman joined the team.

      Kitty was a great audience identification character too, but had the additional valid and interesting USP’s of being; female, Jewish, her parents were divorcing and had a genius level intellect, Doug was just “The kid with the non-combat-oriented powers” everything else about his background was… kinda bland, which made him a blank slate for readers to imprint on.

      I _would_ be fascinated to know the general demographic of a comic reader at the time to see how much Doug differed from that. The mid 80’s was pre Dark Knight and Watchemen, and the comic shop regulars at my LCS at the time tended to be males around that age group, maybe a little older, but comics could also be bought at news stands back then, so the actual demographic may have varied wildly (certainly in terms of gender representation). Anyone know a good resource for that?

      I don’t think Betsy and Doug ever actually discuss their not-a-relationship with any openness or break it off, it’s just never really addressed beyond random thought bubbles, and then Doug dies and that’s it.

      1. I was buying the New Mutants in the early 90s from dime and quarter bins at my local comic shop, not exactly when it came out, but I had latched onto Doug pretty hard. I had always thought it was because Doug felt like he didn’t belong with his highschool friends nor the New Mutants, but it makes sense that it as more because he was the blandest of the characters and I imprinted myself onto him. I am a girl and didn’t have his exact background, but it was certainly close enough.

        I don’t remember Doug and Betsy ever having a face to face discussion about their feelings, but her side of it was brought up in one of the Uncanny issues where she was transitioning into Kwannon’s body. There was a two or three panel reference to her and Doug being together and she had made some comment about him not being able to keep up with her. I don’t think it was ever mentioned again.

  7. Ah, now you are into the comics which were my first in the X-Men universe. I remember this and the issues when Wolvie stabbed Rachel so well, it was a great way to see how the X-Men were different from most other superheroes. Really, really looking forward to hear what you say about Excalibur (haven’t read it for a long while, but I remember loving it, and I can just imagine loving Excalibur even more since nowadays I watch Doctor Who). 🙂

  8. As terrible as that Cannonball graduation costume is, it’s somehow even more inexplicable that Rob Liefeld picked up the concept and ran with it for his own Cannonball costume re-design (sans helmet).

        1. Since he needs to shut his power _off_ to LAND, he ain’t nigh invulnerable as he hits the ground, so a crash helmet and some padding is probably a really good idea.

      1. Aviator goggles are ALWAYS cool. If they’re good enough for folks as varied as Sam Guthrie, Snoopy, and pretty much every steam-punk cosplayer ever, they’re good enough for me!

      2. The pilot goggles make sense for someone who flies super fast but doesn’t have a lot of control.

        You don’t want bugs in your eyes!

  9. All the Betsy blinding stuff happened in the Delano/Davis Captain Britain run that followed the Alan Moore material. It’s all in the Captain Britain by Moore and Davis Omnibus (along with the X-Men and New Mutants annuals you discuss in the podcast).

  10. I really wish you had the time to discuss the parallels between Doug & Betsy’s past 10 years of character growth in more depth. I understand Betsy’s even if I don’t %100 buy the ongoing “addicted to killing” thread. Doug on the other hand, needs more explanation. I think whatever happened to him (not even trying to sum that melarky up) is more comparable to when Darwin adapted to Hela’s touch in X-Factor or that “what if”-ish story in New X-Men when Prodigy’s powers were unfettered. The three all resulted in somewhat similar degrees of batshit behavior, so I was curious how you would frame it as paralleling Betsy.

  11. After finally catching up I put my money where my appreciation is and subscribed to your Patreon today. I am so thankful for this podcast. I think Miles and Rachel are excellently balanced hosts. I love the mix of fan appreciation with critical commentary. It is rare to apply serious criticism such as queer theory, feminist theory, etc to this medium and to have it done to my all-time favorite group comics is highly appreciated! Your analysis of the art has also been wonderful for someone like myself who typically focuses on text more than visuals. On top of all that the humor and desire to find the best in a work is welcome as well. It’s a great balance between not taking the work too seriously yet respecting it as an artistic work (if that makes sense).
    Anyway, TLDR: Thanks!

  12. Your talk of Psylock’s age lead me to her wikipedia page where the earliest age given is 16 not long before she joins the x-men. I guess thats cool, but I always considered her to be about 20-24 because of the way she was drawn. Love Alana Davis’ work. To me, his characters actually look like they are made of soft material. That may sound odd, but I always appreciated his female form from the Fall of the mutants promo pic, shapely but not Tits heavy like many Artist. And I’ve always loved Art Adams’ stuff. But I do think it works better on glossier paper. Regular newsprint just doesn’t cut it.

    And no Love for the Graduation costumes??!

    1. Alas, there is no way for a claim to her being 16 years old to stand up; she’s Brian’s twin sister and he was a graduate student before he even got his Captain Britain uniform and powers, and she didn’t join him again for some time, during which time she’d had her own career as a model and when her powers kicked in, working for the secret service. She’s in her mid-ish 20’s at least.

      I have some love for the gradution costumes. 🙂

  13. Goggles would make sense for a flyer who’s not nigh-invulnerable when he’s blastin’. Not so much on Cannonball.

    Unless they came with a HUD, in which case they make perfect sense.

    1. I think a bug impacting his neye invulnerable igh when he was blastin’ would still be something to be avoided where possible.

  14. It may be a few weeks late, but while reading the Mutant Massacre for the next show I came across a panel that may place an age on Psylocke. It is the first panel on page 4 in The Uncanny X-Men #213 . She is talking about Kitty Pryde and mentions that Kitty is half her age. This strongly places the Betsy and Doug romance in inappropriate territory to say the least.

      1. Those numbers are kind of scary in terms of consent – for me, that’s especially evident if I turn the genders around. I know you totally didn’t mean it that way, but please be careful with the age jokes on this one. 🙂

  15. I’ll throw in another thing about Betsy’s age: I specifically had in my head that she was 29 around this time. I could have sworn it was somewhere in the Captain Britain: Before Excalibur tpb, but looking through it, it’s not stated directly — you have to do the math. Brian and Betsy’s birth date is specifically given as “April 23rd, 1956” (Captain Britain #1, 2nd series). Davis and Delano were operating under the assumption that the comics were taking place in real time, and drop in several specific dates. (Another then-recent Davis story is set on “June 6th, 1984”). That would indicate they were writing Brian and Betsy as around 29/30.

    I think a letter writer in an Uncanny issue around this time said she was around that age too, and may have specifically said 29, which is probably where I got it in my head.

    I never saw the Betsy/Doug stuff as creepy. Maybe it has to do with the age I was when I read it (around Doug’s age — and I was reading these as they came out). He had a crush on her, she really liked him too, but there was a line that couldn’t be crossed due to their ages.

  16. Rachel, Myles, you may have X-plained geese! Given the length of time Apocalypse has had to interact with goosekind, isn’t more reasonable to assume geese are the way they are because Apocalypse? The geese are ready for the nightmarish future he envisions, but will the mutants be? WILL THEY?!

Leave a Reply

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