Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

67 – Shadow of the Technarch

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 8/2/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 8/2/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

In which the New Mutants get unstuck in time; Robert the Bruce is surprisingly shallow; Sentinels dabble in decoupage; Rachel pitches a comic; there’s no such thing as a happy Magneto flashback; you should probably respect teenagers more than you do; the seeds of Inferno are sewn; and Doug Ramsey hacks the planet.

NOTE: Rachel and Miles are moving this week. Expect everything to be late.


  • Messing with the past
  • New Mutants character themes
  • You Can’t Do That on Television
  • New Mutants #47-50
  • Constructive stabbing
  • Sad Darin Morgan Magneto
  • Adventures in time and space
  • Tactical retreat
  • Several dark alternate futures
  • Earth-8720
  • Decoupage of Future Past
  • A singularly evocative Sentinel
  • Earth-87050
  • Magneto’s terrible, terrible life
  • The New Mutants vs. Magus
  • Peak Magma
  • Karma’s codename
  • Soul Sword continuity

NEXT WEEK: Hunting humans for sport!

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  1. It’s so quaint to read about the Magus and Warlock back in the day before we’d laid on all the lore with the Phalanx on the Technarchy with a trowel.

    Also, I’ve been reading some of the early X-Force issues and I’m kinda intrigued, in light of what you were saying about Sunspot’s character arc in this episode with how it squares with Nicieza’s plans later on to turn he and Cannonball into the Xavier and Magneto of their generations (that then gets bent all outta shape by Jeph Loeb and it just ends up with “Venom with a Jheri curl”)

    Sometimes, you wonder what mighta been.

  2. I really appreciate the recommendation of the Fantasticast podcast and I’m enjoying going through it now after absorbing all the episodes on your feed. Do you have any other comics podcast (or even non comics) recommendations?

    If you are curious about my tastes, i currently listen to: your podcast, War Rocket Ajax (by long time friends of mine Matt and Chris and where I first heard of your podcast.), Lore, Death Sex and Money, TED Talks, Invisibilia, Love and Radio, Serial, The Moth, RadioLab, Song Exploder, Attitude Era Podcast, Quality Control, Journey Into Misery, and the Fantasticast.

    1. There’s a lot of good stuff on The Incomparable – it’s general nerd interest with a deep dive on one thing every episode. There’s a good one from about a year ago on House of M.

    2. I like Geek History Lesson, featuring Jason Inman from DC All Access. They go in a lot less depth doing one character each episode from all of pop culture but they are good to give you an overview of a character.

    3. I greatly appreciate the Fantasticast recommendation as well, vary hilarious and spares me the task of reading EVERY silver age FF issue.

      Is there a Spider-Man podcast you would recommend? My husband is a huge SpM fan and a good sport about putting up with my X-Men obsession despite his absolute loathing of Wolverine (you all have been a great help in warming him up to Marvel’s marvelous mutants otherwise). So, I would like to find something we can listen to about his favorite character in return for him indulging my uncanny addiction.

  3. I read the mutant-dominated future as Johannesburg and South Africa, but that could have been because I was reading in the early 90s… I’m pretty sure I heard people say the exact same thing about “black people don’t WANT to live with white people, they have their own homes, and they could do better if they wanted to” pretty regularly, from Apartheid apologists

    1. If Claremont was thinking about South Africa, then this may have been his test run for Genosha a year or two later.

  4. Regarding Karma’s mishmash of religious symbols, perhaps she spent part of her youth among Caodaists. In some regions in Vietnam, the Đạo Cao Đài religion embraces equally elements of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. She would therefore have a familiarity, and perhaps even feel an attachment, to all of these symbols and concepts.

  5. I’m not an expert at Scottish history, but I believe at the time of Robert the Bruce, there wasn’t really established clan tartans. Scots in the past tended to wear whatever patterns the local tartan maker had the dyes for at that point in time. Clan patterns came about more during the Era of industrialization when mass production became an option.

    1. This is true. I would also add that Robert the Bruce and his troops likely wouldn’t have worn tartans anyway, because they were a) mostly lowlanders and b) soldiers.

      My understanding is that tartans were traditionally more of a Scottish Highlands thing than an all-purpose Scottish thing. Lowlanders, especially nobles, probably wore similar clothing to what the English were wearing at the time.

      More to the point, if Robert and co. are indeed fleeing from a recent battle with the English, they almost certainly wouldn’t have been wearing tartans. Some historians suggest that they would have worn armor; others point to primary sources from the time that say the Scottish troops wore special war tunics that had been dyed yellow with crushed leaves or urine. Either way, probably not a tartan.

      The tartans in this issue are almost certainly another delightfully adorable romantic anachronism from our good friends at Marvel.

  6. Ha ha ha! No, ‘You Can’t Do That On Television’ was not a fever dream, it just seems like one. Kids were routinely tortured, poisoned, executed, mocked, bullied, soaked, slimed, and as Rachel pointed out, sent to New York to sell pencils on the street when they hit puberty. Great stuff.

    1. I only vaguely remember this show–it was slightly before my time–but I do remember the kids getting slimed.

      Oh, the 90s Nickelodeon slime. I remember it well. It was such a big thing in all of their programming back then, I just assumed it was something the network came up with themselves. Imagine my shock when I learned that ‘You Can’t Do That On Television’ originally aired in Canada.

    2. I wasn’t allowed to watch You Can’t Do That on Television when I was a kid. My mom said it was disrespectful because all of the adults were dumb. I pointed out that all of the kids were dumb too, but to no avail. I would still watch it sometimes when she wasn’t paying close attention though.

  7. “The Evolution of Hellfire Club Craft Night” should be a full-length novel. Or perhaps a doctorate program somewhere.

  8. Utterly bowled over by the first two minutes of the show. Thank you very much for the very nice things said about The Fantasticast. I went all Hugh Grant for a couple of moments… in my head, because what I actually did was squee but I refuse to admit it.

    Thank you!

    @Shane – some other shows in a similar vein are Amazing Spider-Man Classics (it’s defunct, but it covers the first 48 issues of Spidey in exhaustive detail), Resurrections: An Adam Warlock and Thanos podcast (skip ahead to the coverage of Marvel Premier), and Wah-Hoo: A Sgt Fury podcast, which covers the WWII Sgt Fury comics.

  9. I think you’re right on the first-really-explicit-Magneto-holocaust flashback claim. I’m looking at the flasback in 161–which i think you huys kind of skated over–and it’s very distorted and kind of like a psychological allegory.

  10. I am pretty sure that Karma and Trahn (her twin brother) only had one part of the yin-yang on their outfits when they debuted, and Karma absorbing her brother’s essence gave her the full yin-yang on her clothes.

    I always thought that it made sense for Bobby and Amara to be the heads of the particular dark future in New Mutants #49. They both came from aristocratic backgrounds, and their attitude in the issue had a large dollop of noblesse oblige.

    1. Agreed, Bobby and Amara being the Lords of the Hellfire Club in the future made so much sense, and was further hinted at when Louise Simonson had Amara decide to switch schools.

  11. I thought maybe we had seen Magneto’s past in Classic X-Men by this point, but, double checking the dates, New Mutants 49 was cover dated March 87 and Classic X-Men # 12 (Magneto’s backstory) is cover dates Aug 87. So, a few months away for that.

    Will you be covering any of the Classic X-Men stories? Probably the Magneto back story issues are the important ones. There is a Storm backup story that sets up some characters that appear in an Australia era annual too.

  12. I thought they already covered some classic x-men backup stories especially during the Dark Phoenix Saga episodes, but I could be mistaken.

    1. We did indeed. I’ve thought about doing a Classic X-Men backup story episode sometime, covering a few of the highlights. Perhaps!

  13. Another great episode over some of the more impressively random issues.

    One thing you didn’t mention that always impressed me was not just that Amara was hardcore in this, but the extent to which we discovered her powers could reach. Warlock had damaged the planet and it was dying, but Amara was basically able to harness the ENTIRE power of the ENTIRE planet to aim at Magus. He ignored it, but you have to give her credit for the sheer scale of her assault.

    Katie Power being as old as she was didn’t make a lot of sense, she was only 7 years old to the New Mutants 14-19 range, so why she was so much older than them didn’t make much sense (I suppose Bobby and Amara had access to a great medical plan with mutant healers and plastic surgeons)

    Something I noticed, as I am wont to do, was that it seemed almost deliberate that we never once saw a grown-up Warlock or Doug; Not in the Karma/Shadow King Future, nor the two futures here (their fates are never mentioned), nor even when Template aged all the other New Mutants in the Wildways story. One would like to think that they were out having amazing adventures in outer space together, but who knows, perhaps it wasn’t all Louise Simonson and he was always fated to be Poor-Dead-Doug (as Chris Claremont is apparently STILL known to refer to him)….

  14. Oh, man. This arc.

    In a lot of ways, #50 is the climax to the New Mutants as a whole. You can really read it as a single semi-coherent story, with this as the big finale and 51-55 as denouement and setup for Simonson’s run. “Father’s Day” is probably my favorite of the entire original New Mutants run, and the only way it could be better is if Bill S. came back to draw it.

  15. Out of curiosity, will the 1987 “versus” limited series be dealt with in a single episode, or are you going to deal with them separately? They’re of this era, and I’m curious.

  16. In re Robert the Bruce’s reaction to the New Mutants: in medieval times, goodness was associated with physical beauty, so it doesn’t really surprise me that he thought they were good people because they were physically attractive. Historians can no doubt go on at length about this (personifications of vices and virtues using looks to indicate which is which) and give you chapter and verse, but I’m confident this idea was a thing.

    1. Growing up in Scotland, I remember hearing an old tradition that the Devil impersonating a human form will never be _perfect_ since the Devil is incapable of perfection, so the eyes might not exactly match, or the outfit will be tailored perfectly apart form one really untidy seam…

  17. Oh, good, you mentioned getting to “Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix” eventually. I was hoping that one was in the plans. (I have a story related to it that I’m going to save until that episode actually happens.)

  18. “House of M” owing its existence to a New Mutants issue? LOL. Assumes Bendis actually read an X-Men comic before writing that.

    Also, “You Can’t Do That On Television” = awesome

  19. Evil Roberto also seems like a precursor to Reignfire of the Mutant Liberation Front in early to mid 1990’s X-Force (Nicieza’s original plan, at least, and not the nonsense that Moore eventually went with).

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