Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

69 – Weird Science, with Elle Collins and Graeme McMillan

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 8/9/2015 in the shop (once Redbubble’s uploader starts working again, anyway), or contact David for the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 8/9/2015 in the shop (once Redbubble’s uploader starts working again, anyway), or contact David for the original.

In which Elle and Graeme save the day; Hank McCoy joins the real world (sort of) (briefly); Carl Maddicks may or may not be undead; academic discourse in the Marvel Universe leaves a few things to be desired; Steve Englehart is an unsung hero of X-Men; Mastermind lives up to his name; Warren Worthington has a good attitude about mutation; and Avengers Beast is the best Beast; and Graeme has strong feelings about Moira MacTaggert.


  • The complex romantic life of Patsy Walker
  • The increasingly terrible life choices of Hank McCoy
  • Amazing Adventures #11-17
  • Incredible Hulk #161
  • Captain America #173-175
  • Avengers #137, 144, & 178
  • Marvel Team-Up #124
  • Life after the X-Men
  • The Brand Corporation
  • Carl Maddicks (again)
  • Vampire Secret Agent Linda Donaldson
  • The dubious chemical cause of mutation
  • Beast as proto-Wolverine
  • Steve Englehart
  • The high price of passing
  • Several unusually realistic latex masks
  • Norman Mailer’s Handbook for Unliberated Women
  • Sad clowns
  • Buzz Baxter
  • Hellcat (Patsy Walker)
  • Someone who might be Carole King, Indira Gandhi, or your sister (but isn’t)
  • Questionable corporate practices
  • Quasimodo (but not that one)
  • Semantics of fur color
  • The Griffin
  • The Secret Empire
  • Actual supervillain Richard Nixon
  • Mimic (Cal Rankin)
  • Avengers Auditions
  • Best Beast stories
  • Scotland

Special thanks to guest hosts Elle Collins & Graeme McMillan!

NEXT WEEK: Everything is terrible.

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


  1. This was a really awesome episode, and I will happily co-sign Graeme’s assertion that the Mimic is rubbish.

    I mean, if you need a mildly embarrassing Silver Age X-Men villain to pull out of the mothballs, the Locust is like, right there.

  2. I liked Mimic in Exiles but that was an alternate version that had a better personality. It’s true that the 616 version was a jerk and not really interesting. Early X-men villains were not the best apart from a few, it really contrasts with Spider-man where most of his Rogue gallery came early.

    1. Is it just me or does whenever modern 616 Mimic appear, he comes across as that token recovered drug addict everyone has in their family who always seems like he’s in recovery, but is perpetually one bad day away from relapsing? He’s such a minor character at this point who keeps getting shuffled around that I basically see him as the perpetual well-meaning fuck-up of the silver age x-characters.

  3. Thanks, guys. I love seeing what characters do when their book is canceled – they can’t disappear forever because of trademarks, but to actually get something interesting to do they depend on the goodwill of individual writers and editors. I loved how in his final year on Avengers, Englehart plucked characters from canceled books at every end of the Marvel universe: X-Men (Beast), teen humor (Patsy), Westerns (Two-Gun Kid).

  4. Great episode!
    One minor note: the two Ka-Zar issues that featured Angel were actually collected, in Marvel Masterworks: X-Men Volume 5 and also Omnibus: The X-Men Volume 2.

  5. Loved the episode! Around the time the podcast started I had started to read X-Men from the beginning, making a special effort to keep up with what Beast, Angel and Iceman were up to after they left the book. It was nice hearing this episode about Amazing Adventures and the Secret Empire storyline, as I had not thought it would be covered. Perhaps the next time Rachel and Miles need some time off Elle and Graeme could talk about The Champions?

  6. Beast’s non-x-team years seem like a pretty significant chunk of his backstory not to have covered already going into X-Factor, which has me thinking. Did you not cover it already because it veers so far away from the themes that define an X-book or have your various podcaster/comics industry friends all called dibs on odd bits of minutiae or character-centric issues and it’s simply a matter of finding a gap in the schedule for them, like when Chris Sims did with the Arcade story? Would it be too spoiler-ish of me to ask who else might have made similar requests?

  7. Heather Hudson totally wears glasses. (Although I guess she hasn’t quite been introduced yet at this point.) Much later, Kitty bitches a lot about having to wear glasses but I don’t think she’s depicted actually wearing them all that often.

  8. Great job, folks! This was a great listen – felt seamless in terms of the tone and feel of the podcast but still felt like a unique perspective! Will have to start listening to Elle and Graeme’s podcasts.

  9. At the time of Amazing Adventures, Quasimodo had already had a 2nd appearance, in a book you may have heard of: X-Men! Issue # 48, to be exact.

    Quasimodo was behind “Computo, Commander of the Robot Hive!”, and was thwarted by Cyclops and Marvel Girl. This was between the time after “Professor X” (aka Changeling) died and before they met Lorna Dane. It was a horrible issue, as were most X-Men issues at the time, so I don’t blame you if you never read it, or did and forgot about it. Either option is a sign of sanity.


    As for Beast’s color change, I always thought it had to do with difficulties in doing a consistent gray. When Hulk first appeared, he was gray, and it looked awful: sometimes he was dark gray, sometimes light gray, sometimes kind of greenish. After Stan Lee saw the issue, he decided Hulk should just be green. I don’t know if I read it somewhere or if I’m just assuming, but I always thought Beast’s color change was due to the same coloring problems.


  10. Always pleased to hear a fellow Scot make mention of the somewhat… strained relationship between American writers and Scottish accents and geography. My favourite example of the latter remains Kitty Pryde popping over from Muir Island to go shopping or something with Douglock, so naturally she ends up in Aberdeen (?!?)

    I even had high hopes for Warren Ellis writing Moira and Rahne in Excalibur, but Moira ended up being vaguely Glaswegian rather than West Coast and Rahne was… well, admittedly a step up from Claremont.

    1. Now, see, I’ve listened to Graeme, and I listen to Paul O’Brien and Al Kennedy on the House to Astonish podcast, and I find it hard to believe they’re Scottish (or is it Scots? — I googled and I’m still not sure).

      I mean, not once have I heard any of them utter the phrase “Och! The puir wee bairns!”


      1. Don’t worry, I’m sure they make up for it when they’re not recording! 🙂

        That’s not to say that there aren’t some Scottish people who actually do talk like that (I’m related to some of them. Seriously, to hear my local accent put “Aberdonian doric” into youtube and see what you get. It’s why a particular character in Pixar’s “Brave” is hilarious to me). A lot of us do learn to moderate the extremes so we can be understood by others.

        As for the whole Scot/Scottish thing it can get a little confusing and it’s not completley hard and fast. I’ve heard it summarised that “Scot” is the noun for people, “Scottish” is the adjective for inanimate objects, but don’t quite hold to that myself as “Scottish” is also used for multiple people “They are Scottish” etc…

        Oh, and these days one never, ever uses “Scotch” for anything other than “Scotch Egg”, “Scotch Mist” or whisky (and if it’s from Scotland it is ALWAYS whisky, never whiskey)

        1. I’ve been listening to “X-Men: the Audio Drama”, an adaption of X-Men stories performed like an old radio show. Most of the original cast and crew are from the UK, and they do pretty good American accents, save for an odd pronunciation or two. (In the case of Professor X and the Angel, they just have British accents, explained (explicitly, in Angel’s case) from having spent their formative years in UK boarding schools.) Now they’re up to the “All New, All Different” period, where we have Russian, German, east African, and occasionally a Japanese accent thrown into the mix. While the accents don’t necessarily sound authentic all the time, the main benefit they have is to differentiate the characters, something that’s really important to a project like this. I think that’s the benefit of Claremont’s phonetic accents too. I love him, but his characters tend to sound the same, what with all the lengthy speechifying they do. The accents add a bit of flavor to the mix.

          One other thing that was pointed out by Paul O’Brien is that the old comics were written with an American audience in mind, so a neutral mid-western American accent was assumed as a starting point. O’Brien mentioned, for example, it took him quite awhile before he knew what Gambit was supposed to sound like. (Gambit’s accent had gotten much worse, post Claremont, IMO. Claremont’s Gambit was able to say “this” and “that”; after he left, it was all “dis” and “dat”.)

          The audio drama’s Banshee sounds like the voice I read in my head, which makes me think it’s probably not a good Irish accent. But, on the other hand, since the group is based in the UK, maybe it’s correct?

          Scot and Scottish sounds like Asian and Oriental — people are Asian, objects are Oriental.

          I’ll look up Aberdonian doric when I have time later. I’m expecting to hear a lot of Groundskeeper Willie-speak. 🙂


      2. Paul O’Brien does sound quintessentially Scottish to my American ears. Listening to Al Kennedy, and Graeme here has also been instructive. Unfortunately, they still haven’t completely erased the stench of bad phonetic dialogue from my mind.

  11. I believe the Norman Mailer line is just a topical reference to the fact that Mailer had said a lot of sexist stuff, and was often the go-to reference when you wanted to make a joke about anti-feminists or “male chauvinist pigs.”

  12. Thanks for answering my question! I was just being cheeky…

    (Endangered Species is really, really good though, even if it does star the post-Morrison angst-ridden Hank, rather than fun, stoner Hank).

  13. This episode is amazing. Beast is one of my favorite characters if not my favorite character. You guys did such a great job. I love that you covered some of the more obscure stories.

  14. Great “fill-in” from Graeme and Elle. Certainly a worthwhile installment up to the high standards of this series. 🙂

    What a weird period of flailing about for the original five. Tracking their whereabouts via Beast’s activities makes sense – he was the only member to receive any meaningful character development despite never quite extricating himself from the X-Men. I know John Byrne wanted to retroactively fill in the gaps with the Hidden Years, but that series is so at odds with how the characters were actually being written post X-Men #66 (to the extent they were used at all). The era could more accurately be called the Lost Years.

    Although his run started in 1975, I’ve never thought of Chris Claremont as a traditional Bronze Age writer. So, it was interesting to see likes of Conway, Englehart, Wein, and Goodwin and what their take on the characters was during this transitional time. It was that aggressively earnest ’70s sensibility applied to a concept that very much owes its origins to the ’60s.

    Makes you wonder what might have been if not for Giant-Sized X-Men #1. Can you imagine? A Jim Starlin X-Men revival?? (Though I am certainly more than satisfied with what we got!)

  15. When you mentioned his harness and how much it hurt and how vital it was to his passing as “normal”, all I could think was “It’s like he’s Binding!”

  16. Coming from Belfast, I’ve some sympathy for Graeme’s remarks re Scotland. Cassidy Keep is my Muir Island. For instance for a castle to be whole and standing in Mayo is a puzzle. A pro-Cromwell family? Also, that time in Generation X when British intelligence agents are operating in Mayo and nobody seems surprised? Yeeeess…

  17. I really wish the Nixon thing would get more mention in Marvel continuity.

    In the early X-Men stories, there was only a very small number of (known, at least) mutants in the world. There’s a Silver Age Sentinels story where they capture all of the mutants, and it’s basically just the X-Men, the Brotherhood, and like one or two other characters.

  18. I’m happy to report that Beast’s work at the Brand Corporation, in which he discovers the chemical cause of mutation, was revisited in 1994’s “Spider-Man: Mutant Agenda”!
    It was a multi-media event, being “the world’s first comic-book/newspaper strip crossover event, as Spider-Man teams up with fan-favorite X-Man and Avenger the Beast! When the Brand Corporation announces it has discovered the secret of mutation, the two heroes investigate – but run smack-dab into the Hobgoblin!” Plus, it was adapted into Season 2 Episode 4 of the Spider-Man animated series.
    If Elle and Graeme ever want to come back, the laboratory is ready for them!

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