Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

Rachel & Miles Review the X-Men, Episode 55

Week of September 23, 2015 –

In which X-Tinction Agenda goes out with a fizzle, Years of Future Past goes out with a TIGER, and Secret Wars continues to careen merrily toward its end!


  • X-Tinction Agenda #4 (00:33)
  • Years of Future Past #5 (02:39)

Pick of the Week: Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #5 (05:19)

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  1. Captain Marvel has been so good, so good pick of the week! I think I started reading the series because at some point on the podcast you two made a quick recommendation for it. So a belated thanks for introducing me to the series.

    Also, thanks for building an X-men community that takes the best aspects of the Carol Corps and incorporates them into an X-men fandom. It’s always been my thought that a fandom should love to share information and enthusiasm about the things they love. They shouldn’t turn up their noses at someone because they haven’t read the tie-in series from 1983 that is suddenly relevant, they should help them understand who characters are and why the things that are happening are happening. Your podcast is all about that. I’d never really thought of it that way before, but it’s absolutely what you are doing.

    A nagging question for me is: why is the Carol Corps (also Kamala Corps) so different than most comic-book fandoms (or stereotypical ones)? Is it because Carol is a character that has failed to grab attention so often that her fans NEED to welcome anyone who is interested? Is the small amount of source material actually making it more accessible and so more people are willing to give it a look? Even people who may not be willing to put what seems like a lot of effort into learning continuity for other books.

    I found the wired article that you mentioned in the review (I think it’s the right one anyway) and I’m leaving a link here in case others want to read it too:

    Sorry for the long message.

    1. I think it’s because Carol–as Captain Marvel–spoke to a subset of fandom and potential fandom that had felt pretty marginal for a long time. She was a hand in to superheroes–or back in, for a lot of readers who’d abandoned them years ago–and a call to inclusion, and I think the readers she spoke to most profoundly and directly have continued that.

      Obviously Kelly Sue and her accessibility and approach to community-building and conversation played a huge role in that as well; but mostly, I think it’s that a lot of members of Carol Corps have a very direct sense of what it feels like to be told “This is for you, no matter who you are” after a lot of years of “Nope, not for you,” explicit or otherwise.

    2. @D:

      A nagging question for me is: why is the Carol Corps (also Kamala Corps) so different than most comic-book fandoms (or stereotypical ones)? Is it because Carol is a character that has failed to grab attention so often that her fans NEED to welcome anyone who is interested? Is the small amount of source material actually making it more accessible and so more people are willing to give it a look? Even people who may not be willing to put what seems like a lot of effort into learning continuity for other books.

      Hope it’s okay if I answer this, too. (I’m one of the new comics fans that got into comics because of Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel. I literally walked into a comics shop for the second time in my life, for the first time in more than ten years, to get Ms. Marvel and Saga. This was around May of last year. Captain Marvel was added to my pull list very soon after.)

      For me, it was really important to find a community of fans that cared about the stories and treated them like they matter, including discussing issues of good representation and the importance of meaningful stories with character development. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The people who are accused of “ruining” comics by bringing up diversity are the people who helped me become a comics fan. They discussed stories like they matter and made great recommendations. The Carol Corps is welcoming to new fans. I attended Kelly Sue’s last Carol Corps meet-up at DragonCon this year; it was such an emotional experience and a fun community. In the Q&A, someone said they were a newer fan and they were welcomed. Another person asked for comics recommendation for a pre-teen relative, and everyone was so supportive and making good suggestions with good representation.

      As for the stories themselves, Kamala’s story is so relatable and filled with experiences that I’ve had that I never saw in stories when I was growing up. I could go on forever, but most importantly: she’s a developed character and it’s her story. She’s not being used to just throw in a Muslim character or to do apologetics. She also gets to have the fun experiences that I only ever saw white cis straight male teens having in stories. She means so much to me. Carol’s story introduced the character in a way that made it possible for readers to jump in without having to read the older stories first. (I love learning the details of continuity, but it helps to have a story that develops the character and lets the reader jump in and get to know them. Also, some older content may be outdated and may contain stuff that today seems questionable in terms of representation.) In the very first story arc, the story about Carol looking up to the women who had been pilots before her, who paved the way for female pilots, that resonated so much with me. Add in the friendships with Tracy and Kit and I knew this story was for me.

      I agree that the X-Plain the X-Men podcast and associated fandom has been an awesome experience. There is so much in the more recent X-Men comics that I wouldn’t understand if not for the podcast, and I love the friendly community.

      Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but your comment was just so directly related to something I experienced I thought I’d chime in.

      1. It’s absolutely okay to answer this as well. It’s not much of a community discussion if the discussions are happening between one fan and Rachel and/or Miles (though I do enjoy seeing their responses). I enjoyed hearing your story too.

        I never got people who complain that diversity is ruining comics/games/movies/scifi… etc. Especially X-men fans who do so. How can you read a series with the message of ‘Hey, someone may be vastly different than you, but you can still find common ground. You may even accomplish great things by working together with people that have different strengths.

        Kamala is a great character. I agree that simply making a Muslim character doesn’t make an interesting character, but Kamala is so much more. She’s a nerd, a bit of an outcast, has loving but slightly overbearing parents (at least according to teenage Kamala). She fangirls over meeting her heroes. She’s trying to make it on her own, away from other Inhumans. She’s slightly oblivious when it comes to romance. None of those are part of being Muslim, but might be slightly colored by it.

        1. To me, the positive fan base for those two comics really comes down to one thing. Remember how just incredibly enthused you were when you started reading your first comics? Because Captain/Ms. Marvel seem to primarily be the place attracting new readers into marvel comics right now, you’re going to see a lot of those very positive and passionate new fans. And in general positive groups tend to spiral positively, so you set up a virtuous cycle within the group.

          The negative long term fans (excluding the small but vocal anti-“SJW”/diversity crowd) tend to be fans who are burned out on current comics, but still love their older stuff. Since Ms. Marvel is only 18 issues old, it’s sort of hard for her to have fans who both become disenchanted with the book enough to be negative, but also attached enough to the hobby to keep reading instead of just dropping it altogether.

          Note that none of this is meant to disregard these new fans as fresh faced and less cynical than longtime veterans. I think this is one of the first influxes of large amounts of new blood into the hobby in forever, meaning that there’s very few people still in the hobby that even know what to expect. I couldn’t think of anything better than getting comics away from being a graying hobby, because sales numbers show we need to do something to get back to where comics were pre-collector’s bubble. The only two ways to do that are to either get more disenchanted fans back into the fold, or grow the fanbase by getting lots of new people involved. The second seems much easier to me, so anything reasonable that gets people involved and passionate is exactly what we need if we want to continue to enjoy new comics in the long term.

          1. I think that’s a factor, but I’ve also met a huge number of fans–particularly women in their 30s or older–whom Ms. Marvel or Captain Marvel brought back to comics: who read and loved comics as kids or young adults, but felt there was less and less place for them in the medium and the community as they grew up and found both themselves and their main fictional points of identification aggressively sexualized, marginalized, or both. I’ve interviewed and followed dozens of members of the Carol Corps, and something I’ve heard again and again–and from a lot of men s well–is variations on “This is the first time I’ve felt proud–or even just comfortable–unapologetically reading a superhero comic / identifying as a superhero fan in public.” The way those books are marketed, and the way the characters are portrayed and presented, are a pretty damn powerful statement about who’s welcome.

            1. Wow, I honestly thought it was mostly younger fans, though I’ve seen more of the Ms Marvel fandom than Cap stuff since that’s the comic of the two I read. I’m really just happy to see a more diverse group of fans, because I’ve been personally worried that comics have become a bit too insular over the last decade or so. I’m hoping a more diverse active fandom can have it so we get a few less Identity Crisis/Avengers 200 style stories. The fallout of the former eventually was the straw that broke the camel’s back with me buying DC stuff. Heck, the Green Lantern debacle had me cringing when I heard that Ms. Marvel was coming out, because I was worried it would be another stereotype trainwreck. I feel a bit guilty about that, but the industry hadn’t given me a whole lot to make me hopeful as far as new minority characters in the Big 2 recently.

              In any case, the thing is I’m just incredibly happy to see new people come into fandom and just have a huge amount of positive energy brought in with them. Heck, I’d be happy with the same old fanbase if there was more positivity there too. I’ll fully admit to being pessimistic about stuff, but I try to always give people a chance or three to prove me wrong. But I think the comment on your recent podcast that fandom gets much more positive “when it comes out of the basement” is also a really true thing too. All nerd/geek hobbies seem to be going through the same coming of age at about the same time, so looking at any of my hobby stuff on the internet recently has seemed at least a partially futile act.

  2. With the Secret Wars tie-ins starting to wind down, and All-New All-Different titles being phased in gradually, there’s going to be some relatively quiet review weeks ahead. Enjoy catching your breath a bit!

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