Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

71 – The Once and Fuchsia King

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 8/30/2015 at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 8/30/2015 at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.


In which the New Mutants return from space; Professor Xavier ruins everything; Magneto is the Craig Pelton of X-Men; Cypher carouses shamefully with Hellfire tramps; Karma quits the team; and we wrap up Chris Claremont’s New Mutants run.


  • Leong and Nga Coy Manh
  • New Mutants #51-54
  • The Starjammers (again)
  • The paradox of Professor X
  • Several dramatic speeches
  • The Hellfire Club for Creative Anachronism
  • Plan Omega (but not that one)
  • A fairly epic dress-code violation
  • Magik vs. Limbo
  • A very specific bit of fancasting
  • Best Magneto
  • What X-fans (may or may not) live for
  • A well-wrought nightmare
  • Hellion disambiguation
  • Doug Ramsey’s Fancy Hair
  • New Mutants X Frank Zappa
  • Wacky teen hijinks at the Hellfire Club
  • Carousing shamefully with Hellfire tramps
  • A heroic challenge
  • A counterintuitive heart’s desire
  • Claremont’s New Mutants run.
  • Libraries
  • Emma Frost’s accent
  • The sounds of blastin’

NEXT WEEK: It’s hard to be Havok.

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  1. Hey R&M –

    I think I asked this a couple weeks ago, but maybe it got lost in the shuffle, or maybe you didn’t care to answer. But I thought I’d ask again anyway.

    What’s your process for preparing an episode like now? Has it changed since the beginning? How far ahead of you is your long-term outline?

    Thanks for everything!

    p.s. For what it’s worth, Miles, I laughed out loud at “headcannon… ball.”

  2. “Plan Omega” is faking the X-Men’s death and going underground, eh?

    That’s. . . that’s, uh . . .that’s ironic, in a sort of “ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife” sorta way.

    1. …and it didn’t last long, and consisted of most of the most celebrity and notable mutants of the time: Dazzler, Longshot, and Psylocke all having a past profession as media personalities; Rogue being the number one mutant target of the US Govt.; Storm and Wolverine being the face of the rogue mutant hero team… in a way it makes sense because by then all the current active X-Men were intonational celebrities and all… yet also makes it a touche batsh!t insane…

  3. “MAGNUM P.I.” v.–referring to any action wherein action is taken involving one or more of the following 3 factors
    1. A Ferrari 308 GTS
    2. A helicopter
    3. A thick porn ‘tache

    EX: “Thomas totally Magnum P.I.’s that job interview. They said it was the first time anyone had used the company helipad for anything except barbecuing”

  4. I know I have found my happy place in comics-reviewing when a mere three femto-seconds after my nerd-alarm went off, Rachel corrected Miles on the Hellfire Club’s outfits NOT being Victorian… and in fact being a historical mess. 🙂

    (Also your in depth discussion of Doug Ramsey’s fancy hair! 🙂 Though in fairness his magnificent hairswoop was only perfected, not originated, by Alan Davis, as it apppeared in his debut appearance drawn by Sal Buscema in New Mutants 13

    As for Magneto’s taste for fuschia in all of his outfits, I think there are several instances where we discover that it’s all the SAME (presumably VERy sweaty by now) outfit, that he reworks into multiple styles magnetically thanks to metallic threads woven through all the fabrics.

    Actually I do wonder if the colour choice is down to poorly written margin notes to the colourist in the dim and distant past where they misread “This is Magneto” as “This is Magenta”

  5. As regards Cannonball’s level of noise, he does make a bit of a racket, but as Miles mentioned, it’s something he gets control of over time.

    IIRC in the recently covered New Mutants 48, future-Sam has managed to reduce the amount of noise he makes, as one of the visiting mutants (Dani? Not sure as I don’t have the issue to hand) notes how odd it is for Sam to be able to creep up on them while blasting “Stealth Sam? What a concept!” is a turn of phrase I recall.

    So at a guess it was always at least audible (as one would expect from a chemical rocket effect) and as he learned to fine tune it so he could turn and the like, he streamlined the effect so it could be quieter.

    And despite Rachel’s loathing, I maintain my fondness for Doug’s assorted-types-of-energy-blast-proof graduation costume. The kid was wearing overabundant pouches before anyone else, though I suspect his were filled with all sorts of mundanely practical things like spare change, a penknife, some snacks, a torch and of course, a comb so a tight cowl head wouldn’t muss up the fancy hair.

  6. Oh drat, I knew that there was something else I meant to mention. The scene with Magneto and Illyana in Limbo. This scene bugged the HELL out of me at the time, never mind the whole “Prelude to Inferno” thing that is only visible in significant hindsight, but the whole POINT of being on a team should be to learn to trust, and ask for help and accept it when offered, so Illyana openly rejecting the offer to help from something which was about a whole lot more than her feelings made me puzzled and annoyed.

    It was only years later that someone at scans_daily pointed out to me that it could (perhaps shoul) be viewed as a metaphor for a survivor of traumaticabuse, which Illyana most definitely is. The offer of an instant cure from an external source, one that would wipe out the darkness of her past in one swoop is clearly tempting, but it’s not what she _needs_, she _needs_ to reclaim agency over her situation by herself, or at least try.

  7. For the people keeping score at home, this is the second time R&M booked Jim Rash for an X-Men role, though clearly Magneto is a much more lucrative role than Arcade (back in episode 38).

  8. The New Mutants Classics are in fact out of print- I lucked out in that my LCS had all but the first couple anyways- and in that I had Rachel and Miles to explain what I’d missed!

  9. Agh! This arc! This arc right here!!

    Barely-teenage me was so, so infuriated by how Doug’s spectacular night at the Hellfire Club never turned into anything, and then he promptly died shortly thereafter. First: yes, his wacky party hijinks are semi-shameful from an innocent-’80s-teenager perspective (like I had), but seriously, that whole bit was AWESOME.

    I may have had a blink-and-you-miss-it glitch, but I think you skipped over the part where Doug used his powers to read his gambling opponents’ body language to win. Who needed to show a new aspect of his powers to make himself more useful? DOUG!

    Tarot was adorable! You know who needed a love interest on another team? DOUG!

    And yes, Roulette might not have been all that “nice,” but I can’t actually recall a moment where she did something truly awful. You know who needed a love interest who gave no fucks about rules and propriety and could just have a good time and maybe teach a dude to loosen up a bit? DOUG!

    And do you know who would have been GREAT to put in a love triangle? TAROT, ROULETTE AND DOUG!!

    But no. They killed him off. Stupidly. For a long time, I saw this as a biggest example of Marvel grabbing hold of a good thing just as it was getting rolling and stuffing it into a garbage disposal. Nowadays Civil War absolutely holds that title of Way To Ruin Good Things, but the death of Doug will still be a bright shining star of missed opportunities.

    …man, now I need to write that Tarot-Roulette-Cypher love triangle fanfic. I just can’t decide if that should come before or after I write a Jean-dates-Rick-Jones fanfic. Argh.

    1. Yeah Roulette never struck me as being malevolent so much as absolutely self-absorbed and slightly malicious (The very traits which our esteemed reviewers found entertaining last week as regards Boom-Boom, which is a comparison I’ve never thought to make until right this minute, but seems apt).

      She’ll mess with someone if she thinks it might be fun (or they get in her way), but wouldn’t be bothered about it the rest of the time, she’s certainly not in Empath’s league.

      For a pretty much perfect take on the potential of a Doug / Marie-Ange romance seek out a fic called “Go West!” by Jeremy Botroff (which also offers an explanation of Roulette’s actions with Doug after he was so mean to Tarot, it was her getting some payback for her friend – You can find it by translating this fiendish address; http[colon]// lubakmetyk[dot]infinology[dot]net[slash]newmut[dot]htm[hash]bottroff . It’s amazing.

      1. Sorry, re-reading this after a nights sleep, “esteemed reviewers” comes over as snide and sarcastic there, when it genuinely wasn’t intended to be.

    2. Claremont’s last piece in TNM #54 was pivotal to me, as I felt it was the peak of maturity/realism for the title, and opened up so many grand possibilities for the series, all of which were squandered with Bird Boy etc. (Although I no longer find Bird Boy to be the Nadir of comics, the pre Jar Jar, pigin speaking ‘noble savage’ pinned all my squick meters to 11 at the time.)

      Back in the day, Telnet & Usenet had a lot of Fanfic that diverged at #54, keeping the school rivalry and otherwise ‘continuing’ the flavor of Claremont’s run.

      QUESTION: does “Rachel and Miles” have links to recommended Fanfic, or is that outside the scope of the website’s concept? Other than Connie Hirsh’s classic ‘Kid Dynamo’, I’ve been unable to track down any more of the ‘corrected’ Claremont Continuity Fanfic I was reading back then, and miss terribly now :’-(

  10. Infinite thanks for your library advocacy!

    …as ever you all are entertaining and enlightening

  11. I hold out the hope that every so often, Emma Frost and the women of the Hellfire Club get together have an evening where they carouse with male-tramps in revealing quasi-period outfits.

  12. I explicitly remember a moment from Rob Leified’s New-Mutant/X-Force run where Sam has been thought to use his cannonball power without making a sound. Thus retroactively explains that he did use to make a noise while blastin’. Though it is a question how much you can rely on an information about the new-mutants from the Liefied run…

    About the New Mutants as a library material: This was a question to me as I had a difficulty on buying any X-book material from the Claremont era to my library (aside from the Dark Phoenix Saga). The problem is that most of the stories from that era commonly overlaps with each other, so you can’t just read uncanny X-men but also have to read New Mutants and vise versa. I had a rough time thinking of a single New-Mutants graphic novel that could still intrigue young modern readers who are less familiar with the X-men pantheon. But maybe I’m underestimating the New-Mutants/kids these days…

    1. That’s exactly what I though of regarding blastin’.

      New Mutants #98, page 11-13, Sam is practicing on low volume in the danger room. Cable starts shooting at him and Sam dodges, but his volume gets louder when he is dodging.

      But don’t look it up! That’s the first appearance of Deadpool, don’t pull out your copy, that will pay for your kid’s college

  13. That party issue was my first issue of New Mutants. It was not an ideal jumping on point, I guess, because I don’t think I ever wound up buying another until the LCS accidentally stuck two brand-new copies of X-Force #1 in my bag when I was buying Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe back issues.

  14. In re Cannonball’s noise level, I have a few no prize suggestions. As Emma Frost would say, “Choose the one you like.”

    Most of these center on the mine rescue and involve aspects of physics and engineering. I don’t work in either of those fields, so I may be off base, but FWIW:

    1) The mine shaft is an enclosed space, in contrast to flight through the open air (the reconnaissance assignment Cyclops gave). That means there are hard surfaces off of which the shockwave could bounce. I suspect that would be loud and echoing much like shouting in any natural cave would be.

    2) The sound at the mine might not Cannonball’s doing at all, or he might have triggered something else, the ignition of which is the actual source of the explosion. Mining can involve the use of explosives that could be set off by a shockwave in the aforementioned enclosed space. What is more, coal dust itself is quite volatile, so if the mine is a coal mine (which I believe it is), then the explosion could’ve resulted from that, either from Sam’s force or some other ignition source (malfunctioning electrical gear or a heat source or whatever).

  15. Interesting thing I noted when rereading X-men #54, is the huge call-back of sorts it gets later, with Doug’s death, namely that Doug jumps in front of a blast from a goon meant for Dani at Shooter Island, and Rahne leaps over to see if he’s alright. All the way down to the comment by Doug, in this case, complaining about his costume being ruined, which mirrors very much in scope with his line after he is shot (complaining about something negligible like it’s the end of the world vs treating his impending death with a very casual retort). I actually was surprised to realize that this was written by Claremont, since it feels almost like deliberate foreshadowing, and it’s definitely clear to me that Louise Simonson paid careful attention to that part of #54.

  16. Magneto as headmaster was such a great period for the character. I loved his relationship with Illyana, and I always think of this issue whenever I think of Uncanny #304 and his appallingly badly written appearance at her funeral.

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