78 – The Eye Killers and Other Cautionary Tales

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 10/18/2015 at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 10/18/2015 at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.

 

In which we persevere in the face of adversity; Storm goes on a quest; Mr. Sinister makes his first appearance; Dazzler learns about teamwork (again); it still sucks to be Havok (but not as much as it sucks to be Madelyne Pryor); you should probably put down that cactus; the Murder Grampas join Freedom Force; Storm’s life is a metal-album cover; and the X-Men are doomed as hell.

 

X-Plained:

  • The Mr. Sinister / Summers family time loop
  • Uncanny X-Men #220-224
  • Actual and potential origins of Mr. Sinister’s name
  • How Longshot’s powers work in combat
  • Teamwork (again)
  • Representing sound and silence in a visual medium
  • A protracted fight
  • Forge (again)
  • Naze (kind of)
  • The Adversary
  • Eye Killers
  • One of many reasons not to masturbate with a cactus
  • The X-Men in San Francisco
  • Madelyne Pryor vs. fate
  • Storm vs. Forge
  • Character names vs. code names
  • X-Makeovers

NEXT WEEK: X-Men vs. Avengers


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54 comments

  1. LAndrew says:

    I’m very happy that Mister Sinister has landed on his feet and has a nice fruitful career as a pro wrestler now:
    http://static1.thesportsterimages.com/cdn/1728/905/100/c/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/960×540-2.jpg

    • Gordon Lyons says:

      Dang it, I was on my way in here to post a picture of him as well. Cody Rhodes is an obvious comic book fan with this (loving?) tribute to Mr. Sinister.

  2. Icon_UK says:

    A polite question if I might. How much of Mr Sinister’s expanded origin were you aware of before you read this story for the first time?

    Reason I ask is, again, the context of reading this when it first came out. Have to say that as someone who did, Mr Sinister was, aside from a cool name, not impressive unless you were really into KISS Tribute bands. He had no real character at this point, except as the guy who aarranged to kill the Morlocks.

    The takedown of Sabretooth didn’t strike me as being a “good introduction” so much as a “lazy jobbing”, eg “We need to show how badass our new character is, how can we achieve that in short order? Oh yeah, let’s see him casually take down an established badass.” That didn’t make Sinister look good, it just made Sabretooth look even worse having now been defeated by an injured Psylocke, Power Pack and now this complete noob.

    (“Jobbing” bothers me. I’m a Nightwing fan, who tended to be on the receiving end of such treatment by new Batman villains who needed to prove their mettle without actually doing anything creative.)

    • Miles says:

      You know, that’s a really good point. By the time I first read this arc twenty or so years ago, I was already steeped in Sinister-ness from the cartoon and 90s X-Men – and now that we’re revisiting it in 2015, Rachel and I are very much Sinister converts already. I’m sure that’s influenced our take on this scene; if we’d been reading it as it came out, we might very well have had the same reaction you describe.

      I think that’s both a benefit and a pitfall of doing the podcast the way we do – on the one hand, we’re coming at every scene with decades of additional context; on the other hand, there’s no way for us to view individual issues and scenes in the isolation in which they were initially presented.

    • pawpaw5771 says:

      It’s interesting how first Apocalypse and now Mr. Sinister have both grown from their really campy intros into two of the most significant big bads that oppose the X-Men. Good jobbing analogy too. I guess Sabretooth survived getting buried, though.

    • Sol says:

      Yeah, if I’m remembering correctly (and I might not be, it’s been a long time), Sabretooth is in no way impressive at this point in X-men history.

      • TheAmazingEmu says:

        I don’t know about that. That fight at the X-Mansion where Wolverine, Rogue, and Psylocke struggle to stop him was quite powerful. He came off as a force of nature that could not be stopped.

    • TheAmazingEmu says:

      Even with my knowledge of the 90s cartoon, Mr. Sinister always comes off as a poorly designed villain who just exists to be “powerful.” I think I would appreciate him more if they kept the idea of him being a small child (essentially). That being said, it’s hard to judge him for better or for worse based on the small sample size that issue gives us. He’s more powerful than Sabretooth and he leads a really powerful group. That’s all that’s really shown.

      • Rachel says:

        Have you read Gillen’s Uncanny run? It involves one of the more interesting–and fresher–twists on the character I’ve encountered.

        • TheAmazingEmu says:

          I haven’t. Aside from the 90s cartoon, I’m about five issues ahead of you guys at any given point. I’m relying on you guys to push me to get there.

      • Icon_UK says:

        I’m trying to remember how long it was before we actually had a clear idea of what his powers even were beyond, obviously, the fairly generic “endurance and strength” bit, which was so common I think it came free with any purchase of a supervillain outfit from “Criminally Fashionable” (If that’s not the name of the average supervillain’s boutigue of choice, it ought to be). I think it was some years and then it was the ever-vague “Control over my own molecules” bit which we already had with Apocalypse (and Warlock, in his way)

        • Joe Iglesias says:

          Yeah, I don’t think we actually had any indication of what powers Sinister may or may not have had until Peter David had him change shape early in his X-Factor run, which is a good three years (!) after his creation…

    • Joe Iglesias says:

      I remember being fairly taken with Sinister when these issues came out, but I also think that “new guy gets over by immediately punking the previous badass” was relatively new to superhero books at the time… it’s really the ’90s when that became pretty much the go-to way to introduce a new character.

      I think the podcast has pretty much reached the point where we’re seeing the seeds of everything that would end up seriously damaging the X-books post-Claremont. None of them are bad things in and of themselves, at least not yet, but they’re so iconic of the worst excesses of the ’90s that it’s hard not to look at them as harbingers of doom. Apocalypse and Sinister are both active and pursuing their vague master plans, and Cable is about two years on the horizon…

      • TheSam says:

        It had also been a fairly standard tradition that the leader of a group of villains was the most powerful or always be able to overcome their underlings. It wasn’t a surprise to see Mister Sinister take down Sabretooth (he was the leader, after all!), but for him to do it with his hands was.

        I thought he might have been a vampire or something similar since the Montesi formula was still in effect at the time.

    • Sarah says:

      Yeah, I’m with you on this, from reading at the time – Sinister (and Apocalypse) were really out of step with pop culture (UK especially) and just seemed a bit over the top. When I read Claremont’s plans for Sinister-as-child’s-projection, that made total sense of the bombasticity of him.

  3. Zach Adams says:

    Since you mentioned it, Stardust aka Cody Rhodes is the wrestler with the Sinister cape and gear.

  4. LAndrew says:

    On a more podcast specific tangent–I reeeeeaallllyyy hate the Naze/Adversary thing. Oh lord he is just the worst. Horrible stock Claremont villain obsessions wrapped around “mystical Native American” cosplay and he’s just a big blank thing for the bad guys to punch.

    That then leads into a big crossover event that in a real sense seems utterly divorced from anything that the X-Men would typically have anything to do with before . ..well, it’s a big misstep for me.

    Which is why (X-Factor excluded) Fall of the Mutants can’t hold a candle to Inferno, and I’m not even including the Daredevil issue where he fights a possessed vacuum cleaner, because that tilts the scales too far in Inferno’s favour.

    • ray says:

      Agree on this one. I think I even might have skipped through those issues, because I was so bored with all of these melodramatic shaman things. And it didn’t help me like Forge more then I already didn’t like him. /:

  5. Tetra says:

    Poor Dazzler, when she started her “raw and raunchy” phase, her old fans called her a sell out.

  6. John says:

    Are you planning on covering the John Bolton Classic X-Men backup stories at some point?

  7. McArdle says:

    Was this the visit to San Francisco where they meet Dirty Harry, and he turns out to be an anti-mutant bigot? Or was that another time?

    Also, isn’t Nathaniel Essex a doctor? So why is he not Doctor Sinister? Then again, the other famous comics Mister I can think of, Mr. Fantastic, definitely has his doctorate. Dr. Doom, on the other hand, seems like he never finished his doctorate, since his thesis experiment exploded in his face and he decided to pursue a career in absolute monarchy and time travel instead. Dr. Strange is definitely a doctor. Doctor Octopus was a scientist, so it’s definitely possible he had his doctorate. I don’t think Dr. Destiny from DC was a doctor, and I have no idea about Dr. Fate. I don’t know that much about Doctor Voodoo. Is he a real doctor?

    When do you get to use the courtesy title “Doctor” in the superhero world? You definitely don’t see to have to be a medical doctor (although you can be: c.f. Dr. Strange). You don’t really seem to need a doctorate at all. Then again, people with doctorates go by “Mister” (Essex and Richards). It’s all very confusing.

    • McArdle says:

      And of course Dr. Henry McCoy never goes by Doctor Beast. Maybe that is to avoid rubbing it in for Near-Doctor Havoc, ABD.

      • McArdle says:

        It isn’t, on reflection, like the conditional/situational use or disuse of the doctor title is a new thing in literature. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were, after all, fundamentally the same person.

        So, what did you do tonight? Oh, just watched the steelers and had a conversation with myself on the internet about the educational attainments of fictional people.

        • McArdle says:

          Also, is Hank McCoy a medical doctor (sometimes he seems to be) or just a Doctor of All Sciences Real and Imaginary like Reed Richards, Hank Pym, or Bruce Banner?

    • Icon_UK says:

      He couldn’t decide between “Doctor Despicable” and “Doctor Dislikeable”, so decided that, though he’d worked long and hard on that doctorate, he’d be better goign with what sounded right and opted for “Mister Sinister”.

      Otto Octavius definitely has a doctorate, possibly more than one. He was a respected (if not actually liked) scientist in the field of nuclear research and cybernetics (His arms were originally designed to allow direct interaction over safe, remote, handling of nuclear materials)

      Doom might have been working on Post-Doctoral research when he met Reed, but I don’t think it was ever stated as such, and besides he probably gave himself an honorary doctorate from the University of Latveria 0 President, Chancellor, Senior Lecturer and sol Student: V Von Doom. (And God, that must have been one helluva sad graduation ceremony… even if I can see Doom throwing his mortartboard in the air in celebration)

    • Art says:

      I just want to add that it was a huge misstep when that female Sinister showed up during Carey’s run and they called her “Miss Sinister”. It should have been “Sister Sinister”!

      I fell off the wagon during Carey’s run. What was the deal with Miss Sinister, and what became of her?

    • Joe Iglesias says:

      Let’s not forget that Thor graduated from med school and even had a practice, though I’m pretty sure he’s let his license lapse.

      • Rachel says:

        Did he? I thought Donald Blake was basically generated fully formed.

        • Joe Iglesias says:

          Hmm. That’s a good point, and my early Thor lore is a little hazy, but he clearly had/has the appropriate memories, skills, and paperwork. If someone gets a medical degree but no one’s there to see it, did it really happen?

  8. Loki says:

    You know, until I listened to this podcast, it never occurred to me before that Dazzler is the mutant David Bowie.

  9. Paul says:

    The story goes that Fall of the Mutants (and Mutant Massacre too) would have been part of a story involving Captain Britain villains, which would make the new Adversary character a late sub-in for the reality warping Sir Jim Jaspers.

  10. ray says:

    Just finished listening to this week’s episode and man, it was a great episode! I vaguely remember the Fall of the Mutants storyline and even so I was left with my mouth stretched wide open and was infuriated with you guys for leaving us with such a cliffhunger to wait till the next week (or month?).

    Regarding some of the issues that came up: I have to climb up the Mr. Sinister admiration train. It connects to the things L’Andrew wrote in his comment and Miles response to him, as I also was watching the 90’s cartoon before reading the comics, hence I had this great picture of him with his awesome Christopher Britton voice (or his Isreali equivalent voice-dubber, who was also quite good). So reading this said scene in the comics was a great introduction for a truley terrifying villain for me.
    I used to picture the main X-men arch-villains for a long time as Magneto, Mr. Sinister and Apocalypce. And Mr. Sinister had always been defined by his cool, somewhat polite arrogance. Like he wasn’t really interested in fighting you. He didn’t even treated you as a nuisance like someone on his league would be expected to do. He was just addressing you as a person, explain to you the things he had been doing and ignore you while you try to attack him. Mr. Sinister isn’t inherently cruel. He just does what it takes to accomplish his goal. He has a very clear and adamant observation on what need to be done and so he does it. This subtle thread of characteristic has been somehow kept through the times till the 2000’s, even with writers that I really didn’t expect that from them. It also can be seen in the AoA while comparing Mr. Sinister and Dark Beast. and when you think of it, Beast does have this passion that can be used in a good way but can also lead him to the corruption and sadomasochism that define Dark Beast. In the meantime Mr. Sinister is purely rational. Ruthless, but rational. He doesn’t feel any kind of pleasure out of doing evil dids, nor does he let his “work” disrupt his other qualities, like his classy style or his manners. This is what maked even Peter David first X-Factor run’s Mr. Sinister, which had a sense of humor and was willing to even speak to those uncivilized nasty boys to work for me.
    So shout out to you, Mr. Sinister! You’re still a pro in my book.

  11. Elliott Kay says:

    re: Doctorates vs not:

    Those Handbooks of the Marvel Universe, Wikis & such are usually really good about describing a character’s fitness level and combat skills, but they almost never tell you anyone’s college major or even if they graduated high school. I always find that disappointing.

    • McArdle says:

      A brief focus on my own profession: Are there any lawyer X-Men? I know there are other lawyer superheroes in the Marvel universe (Daredevil does mostly criminal defense, She-Hulk on the civil side), but I can’t think of a lawyer X-Man.

  12. […] X-Men villain Mr. Sinister in a future movie for Fox. (For those unfamiliar with the character, this might help.) “It intrigues me to be able to play a character that hasn’t been on film before, so you can […]

  13. […] X-Men villain Mr. Sinister in a future movie for Fox. (For those unfamiliar with the character, this might help.) “It intrigues me to be able to play a character that hasn’t been on film before, so you can […]

  14. […] X-Men villain Mr. Sinister in a future movie for Fox. (For those unfamiliar with the character, this might help.) “It intrigues me to be able to play a character that hasn’t been on film before, so […]

  15. Katrina Lehto says:

    Oh Madelyne.

  16. Justin Kaye says:

    ‘Hawkhawk? Guys. GUYS…

    ‘Rohawk.

  17. Theo says:

    In defense of Superman’s secret identity; I would argue it’s human nature to explain away certain things. Like if you knew someone or were friends with someone who looked like a celebrity, you wouldn’t immediately think ‘they must be that celebrity!’ You’d just think they had a passing resemblance to them.
    To everyone who ‘knows’ Clark, he just kind of seems like this mild mannered, clumsy, kind of awkward individual. Not someone who you would immediately equate with a super strong god-like superhero.
    As for random people not figuring it out; it’s kind of regularly hinted in the comics that Clark isn’t that great of a reporter. He wouldn’t realistically be a household name or public figure. At most, he’d kind of be known for being Lois Lane’s husband, but that’s probably it.
    In reality I doubt most people would connect the dots of ‘this Amazing Flying Man’ is in reality this average Joe whose working a 9 to 5 job. It’s kind of like trying to imagine a celebrity on their down time being a plumber or writing Buzzfeed articles and quizzes under a pen name.
    I have the same opinion when people argue over Scott not figuring out Madelyn was a clone of Jean. After investigating it and finding nothing unusual, most people probably would have just assumed she just weirdly kind of resembled her and that’s it. Whether someone would WANT to date someone who looked like their dead ex is entirely another question, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable that Scott didn’t figure it out until Maddie disappeared.

    • Hayler says:

      I literally just listened to this episode, and had some thoughts too.

      While I agree with the Superman stuff, I don’t think it applies to Scott, who has significantly more experience with shapeshifters and weirdness than your average DC random. He should have been /slightly/ more suspicious, I think.

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