Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

Elle & Graeme Guestsplain!


Rachel here! Miles and I are moving house this week! While we’re swimming frantically through a sea of boxes, the podcast will continue unabated, thanks to the guest X-pertise of two friends of ours: Elle Collins of Into It and Graeme McMillan of Wait, What?. Elle and Graeme will be recording episode 69 this weekend, talking about Beast’s solo post-Silver-Age adventures!

Since Miles and I will mostly be unplugged for the next few days, we’re following a slightly different policy than usual in our call for questions. If you have a burning Beast question–or any other question–for Elle and Graeme, please either:

We’re really excited for this one–in addition to being some of our favorite people in the Multiverse, Elle and Graeme each brings an encyclopedic collection of comics know-how and critical perspective, and they collectively cover some of the most significant gaps in Miles and my X-perience (see: the subject of this episode!).


  1. Avengers/Defenders/Whatnot Beast seems to be (in my limited reading as well as my podcast-listening) a cool dude, a Deadhead, a far-out funky guy that smiles, jokes, goofs, and capers. He was *fun.* Modern Beast seems much more Spock-ish. I couldn’t imagine applying “fun” to our current Hank McCoy. When did this personality/character shift occur? Is there any canonical reason for it?

  2. (I may have heard this on wait what?)
    I can’t remember, but I remember hearing/reading that back then, there was a bunch of gay subtext around the beast. Do you think that’s true, or is my memory lying to me?

    1. I don’t know about subtext, but for a while, Beast had publicly announced that he was gay. (I have it in the back of my mind that he had a conversation with Scott wherein it was suggested that this was less because he was actually gay, and more because he wanted to provide a role model for gay mutant teens, so make of that what you will).

    2. When Grant Morrison took over, Beast told his longstanding girlfriend (who had just broken up with him because him being a mutant was damaging her caeer) that he was gay.

      Emma later called him on this, noting that she knew he’d never had a homosexual thought in his life (Boy, what a boring adolescence he must have had), so the consensus was that he’d basically told that to Trish in a fit of pique.

  3. This is really good timing because, for the last couple days, I’ve had an idea rattling around in my head that I’ve been considering asking about, because my job can be boring and sometimes when my mind wanders I end up over-analyzing fiction. I don’t really know how well I can back this up, because I haven’t read many X-Men comics yet, so I’d like a second opinion from someone who knows more about this stuff than I do.

    I know Professor X’s questionable mentoring practices had a really bad effect on Cyclops, but I think they might also be partly why Beast has made so many ethically dubious science-related choices. The original five X-Men spent most of their teenage years in the care of a man who did a lot of things that were absolutely not okay but weren’t intentionally malicious. From what I know about Professor X, he seems like the kind of character who’d think:
    (1) “I’m good person, so obviously if I do something I think is right, it’s always going to be the right thing to do”
    (2) “I’m very intelligent, so any idea I have is going to be a smart idea.”
    (3) “Therefore, all of my ideas are both very smart and the right thing to do, so why would I need to consider the ethics of what I’m doing or the possible consequences of my actions?”

    This isn’t a good thought process, especially for someone who’s in charge of teenagers, ESPECIALLY if one of those teenagers is ridiculously smart, usually has good intentions, and sometimes has terrible ideas. I’m not saying it’s entirely Professor X’s fault that the current version of Beast probably needs Jeff Goldblum’s character from Jurassic Park to give him the “you were so preoccupied with whether or not you could that you didn’t stop to think if you should” talk, but I think spending his formative years learning from someone who did a lot of unethical things might’ve been damaging.


  4. When and how did the relationship between Beast and Abigail Brand start? What’s the state of it these days?

  5. It’s been mentioned in the podcast that a key dynamic in the Silver Age X-Men was the friendship of Bobby and Hank. After the series cancellation, why do you think writers didn’t attempt to split them off into a book or series like The Champions together? Or have Warren join The Avengers as another deep pocketed financier who could try and out womanize Tony Stark? Or buy AIM, like Sunspot? It seems counter intuitive that this rock solid friendship would just get jettisoned for so many years until X-Factor brought it back.

    1. Wow, actually now that you mention it, I *never* would have guessed that Iceman and Beast were Best Bros back in the day, from reading modern X-men. I wonder when that relationship was dropped.

    2. Editorial mandate I’m sure, Beast was in Marvel’s flagship title at the time (Avengers), and becoming BFFs with Wonderman… Beast/Iceman being buds represented isn’t as confounding as the friendship with those two and Warren/Angel… sure he was a moody s.o.b. after the Archangel mess, but seems like for most of the infamous ’90s run Bobby and Hank just let Warren just go be all moody and do his flying around naked thing most of the time. Maybe All New X-Men’s recent revelations are shedding light on this dynamic? (Beast digs Jean, Angel is always flirting with Jean, Iceman digs Angel, Beast and Iceman bond over agreeing Warren is kind of a douche?)

      1. My point was why put Beast in the flagship title by himself? Beast and Iceman as Avengers bros could have been even better.

          1. …and also, seems Iceman would be the more obvious choice to adapt in a non X-Men book. Which is why he totally fits with being an amazing friend for Spider-Man.

    3. Beast was put on the Avengers because he had a solo series that failed (which I assume Elle and Graeme will cover) and the writer of the series, Steve Englehart, was also the writer of the Avengers. He needed some new members and went for a character he had already used elsewhere, as writers of team books often do.

      Between Englehart’s Avengers and the rebooted X-Men, that left Bobby and Warren as the original X-Men without a home. The Champions was orignally pitched as a two-man buddy book, but all the other random characters were thrown in to make it more like Marvel’s other teams.

      Poor Bobby seems to get the least respect of any original X-Man. He was the only one of the group who wasn’t in X-Men 137.

  6. Beast query: What’s the deal with Edna and Norton McCoy (Mrs. & Mr. Beast’s parents)? I remember reading in one of the profiles for Beast (I think an old Official Handbook to the MU) that at some point in the Silver Age Professor X altered the memories of Hank’s parents so that they didn’t know he was a mutant, and/or that he never existed. Does the (usually) jovial Beast just go along with this absolute separation from a family that no longer knows he is their son without ever mentioning the situation again? Has this ever been addressed or changed in the comics?

  7. In most of the alternate timelines where the X-Men have children, Jean, Scott, Emma, Storm and Wolverine almost always have children. Beast usually doesn’t. Who would you think he’d have a child with, and if he/she/they was/were a mutant what kind of mutation would you give them?

  8. I went back and read Morrison’s New Xmen run years after it happened. Was there any lead up to Beast’s cat-like secondary mutation? It seems like it was just, “Yeah that happened when no one was watching.”

    1. There was sorta one, just a tiny bit after the fact. When Claremont was taken off the main books after his 2000 return, he was given an X-Men splinter book, which became X-Treme X-Men. Beast was apparently promised to him, so he wrote a years’ worth of issues with Beast playing a major role, and artist Salvador Larocca began to draw the first issues.

      Due to a miscommunication, new New X-Men writer Grant Morrison was also told he had control of the Beast, and wrote his issues, and Frank Quitely began to draw nu-Beast in his issues. Feline Beast was Morrison’s idea. No lead up, it was just written off as “secondary mutation”, which was a new concept by Morrison to explain changes to characters’ powers.

      Morrison got dibs on Beast, which meant Claremont had to quickly write him out of X-Treme. The way he did it was that Beast got the crap beaten out of him by mega-uber-badass Vargas (yeah, I know: who?) and Sage had to boost his powers to help him heal. When Sage did her laying on of hands thing, she saw a ghost image of feline-Beast for a moment. Sage wondered if her power-boost would lead to a change to a new form.

      So Morrison changed him, off panel, and hand-waved it with secondary mutation; Claremont went back and implied that Sage inadvertently caused it. X-Treme X-Men 3, and that ghost-image thing, was the closest there was to an on-screen transformation that we got.

      1. Have to say, Sage’s peculiar upward spiral of power augments really put me off the character.

        Tessa the human mentat, to Tessa the telepath, to Tessa the retconned in deep agent of Xaviers in the X-Men (despite them meeting for the first time in the New Mutants Graphic Novel) and then the living retcon of “Ability to activate latent mutations and trigger secondary mutataions”… what next?

        1. Yeah, I actually really liked Tessa as the human, brilliant, power behind the throne of Shaw and the “Lords Cardinal” in general. Sage ruins the otherwise awesome character of Tessa for me.

  9. I always wondered, has Beast ever created a company or earn money for his inventions/discoveries? I know he worked some time in he Brand Corporation, but I find strange that ne never create a independent laboratory considering his intelligence and that he could get foundings from his rich friends like Tony Stark, Emma and Warren.

  10. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but am I the only one who thinks the creature at the end of Prisoner of Love is Emplate? That was one of my favorite Beast stories.

    “Next time, definitely an elephant gun…”

  11. Has Trish Tilby shown up again since her break up with Beast (due to a tabloid calling bestiality, ironically enough, three times) in the Morrison run? If she dated Hank as an ape-man but simply could not handle him as a, uh, cat-person… did she just get dropped or is she still out there reporting?

  12. Guys, I have a question. I’m putting it here since I’m directing it to everyone: I’m a Librarian and I’m pushing forward the expansion of comics collection in our library. Now, I’v already talked with some comicbook store owners for recommendations on superhero trade paperbacks that are recommendad for newcomers (since the comicbook culture in my country is kinda scarce), but these guys mainly gave me Batman, Superman and Spiderman titles.
    The only X-Men title they recommended is Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men.
    Now as an X-Men fan by heart I cannot accept that a new generation of readers wouldn’t be familiar with the greatness off the X-Men.

    So my question to you all is thus: What X-Men trade paperbacks (since we won’t buy single issues) would you recommend for newcomers and should be exhibited in our library collection?

    1. This is the full list of the titles we currently reaching for:
      Batman: Hush (paperback)
      Batman: The Long Halloween (Collected)
      Batman. Vol 1: The Court of Owls
      Batman: Earth One. Vol 1
      Batman: Earth One. Vol 2
      Batman: Year One (Collected)
      Batman: Dark Victory (Collected)
      Superman: Earth One. Vol 1
      Superman: Earth One. Vol 2
      Superman: Earth One. Vol 3
      Superman: Birthright (Collected)
      Superman: Secret Origin
      Superman/Batman Vol 1: Public Enemies
      Superman for All Seasons (paperback)
      Superman: Red Son
      Justice League Vol. 1: Origin
      Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain’s Journey
      Spider-Man Blue (paperback)
      Spider-Man by Mark Millar Ultimate Collection (paperback)
      Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt (paperback)
      Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1: Parker Luck (paperback)
      Hulk: War World Hulk (paperback)
      Hulk: Planet Hulk (paperback)
      Civil War (paperback)
      Avengers: Rage of Ultron (hardcover)
      Avengers & X-Men: AXIS (hardcover)
      Astonishing X-Men Vol 1 (hardcover)
      Astonishing X-Men Vol 2 (hardcover)
      Hellboy Library Edition Vol 1: Seed of Destruction AND Wake the Devil (hardcover)
      Daredevil: Guardian Devil (paperback)

      1. If you guys think of more titles that should be in this list you are more then welcome to suggest. Doesn’t have to be superheroes (and also: what about some comicbooks for the female readers?! I protest against this sausage fest! How about some diversity in the material? Comics that aren’t only awesome or cool but funny or lighthearted and sweet?)

        1. I’d recommend Strangers in Paradise for anyone, but it does have a reputation as a women’s favorite. Also Bandette. Its super fun.

          1. Hey man, thanks so much for the recommendations!
            I’m afraid that Stranger in Paradise looks a bit too large for starts (107 issues!) but Bandette looks really cool! I’ll add it to the list. Thanks!

      2. The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past TPBs are must-reads, and I would think any X-fan would enjoy them. As wonderful as Astonishing X-Men is (my favorites, personally), those two Claremonts are more “important,” and likely to be more familiar and better for a nascent library collection. The God Loves Man Kills graphic novel is a good one, too.

        As for Daredevil, I would probably drop the Kevin Smith/Joe Quesada one in favor of either Born Again or any volume of the Mark Waid run; literally ANY volume of Waid’s run, because they’re all AMAZING.

        That’s my $0.02.

    2. Ray, if it’d be helpful, we’d be happy to run the call for recommendations as its own post. Drop us a line? xplainthexmen(at)gmail(dot)com.

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