Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

79 – Bear on a Boat

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 10/25/2015 at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 10/25/2015 at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.


In no one trusts Magneto; Dr. Druid is the comfiest superhero; She-Hulk wants to punch a meteor; Rachel and Miles are really bad at both nature and maritime law; boat fights are the best fights; everyone makes terrible choices; and James Jaspers should really have been disbarred by now.



  • Darkstar vs. Dark Star
  • X-Men vs. Avengers #1-4
  • Magneto’s narrative milestones
  • Dr. Anthony Druid
  • A most peculiar meteor
  • The Soviet Super Soldiers
  • Vanguard
  • Darkstar
  • The Titanium Man / Gremlin
  • Ursa Major
  • Floridian vs. Australian fauna
  • Crimson Dynamo
  • Dock parties with the X-Men
  • Secrets of Asteroid M
  • Cartoonish pursuit
  • The drinking rules of costume semi-destruction
  • The Laws of the Sea
  • Why you should put your multi-team brawls on a boat
  • An abrupt creative shift
  • The Light
  • Several miracles of magnetism
  • An ethical dilemma
  • The (other) trial of Magneto
  • Magneto heel turns
  • Picking which tie-ins to read
  • The Secret Convergence on Infinite Podcasts

NEXT EPISODE: Warlock vs. the Impossible Man!

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  1. Is “that’s what Magneto said” the new, nerdier, trickier and must more excellently fun “that’s what she said?”
    Also, the first 8 minutes – the Magneto milestone recaps? Best non-cold open cold open ever.

  2. Is it just me, or did anyone else think that She-Hulk’s comment about Ursa Major’s vulnerability (“No kidding”) sound like she was making fun of his genital size?

    Also, continuity question: have we seen Madripoor yet? It was always my understanding that Madripoor was a stand-in for Singapore (or possibly an amalgam of Singapore, Hong Kong, and various other urban islands in that part of the world), so it’s interesting that they use Singapore here.

    1. Madripoor showed up a couple of years before back in New Mutants #32 when the team was chasing after the Shadow King-possessed Karma – so it looks like we have both a Madripoor and a Singapore coexisting at this point.

    2. You can tell it’s not a book written by Claremont, because the Claremontian response by She-Hulk would have been “Yum!”

  3. Repre-SENT on THE SHADOW. That movie is the best 1940s Batman movie never made.

    Also, someone says “psychically, I’m very well-endowed” in a way that’s actually plot relevant, and outside of a Claremont comic, that doesn’t just happen.

    I have such love for the Soviet Super-Soldiers. Kinda heartbroken that glasnost rather mucked them up and Fabian Nicieza kinda threw them under multiple buses in that one-shot, but I always dug them.

    And I like the Gremlin version of Titanium Man. That is a swank armor design.

  4. Rachel, my recollection is that “Avengers Squadron Supreme Annual Vol 3 1998” has an awesome fight scene on a boat, and also off the boat (like in the ocean) that would support your hypothesis that all fights are better when on a boat. Maybe you should be the maritime lawyer!

  5. The thing that always frustrated me about this series is that cop-out with Captain America having “no trace” of prejudice. This always feels to me like a “silly minorities! Good people aren’t prejudiced! You’re just paranoid!” kind of thing. What has Captain America done to further the cause of mutantkind? It really allows systemic issues to be hand-waved away, as if Cap couldn’t possibly have been influenced by his surroundings. I don’t know; I just don’t like it. I would rather see Cap confronted with the fact that he maybe HASN’T been as open to the plight of mutants as he thinks he has. But maybe that’s just political bias coming through.

    1. Well, among other things, Captain America led a team with two open mutants* on it (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) at a time when the X-Men were all still hiding behind secret identities.

      It’s interesting to trace the evolution of the idea that the mainstream heroes haven’t done much about the plight of mutants – I don’t recall it turning up until Wolverine mentions it in “Secret Wars.” Now it’s a big thing, of course, but it doesn’t quite fit the early years, when the X-Men were often less hated and feared than some non-mutant heroes (like Spider-Man) and the idea of mutants as a race metaphor was not really full-fledged. But from a 1987 perspective, the Avengers’ record on mutants is pretty good, in some ways better than Xavier’s.

      *Recent retcons have left everyone confused as to whether they are really mutants or just artificial mutants; I ignore this, because it makes my head hurt and isn’t relevant to the 1960s anyway.

      1. I disagree. Where were the Avengers when the Sentinels attacked? What did any of them say when the Mutant Registration Act was being bandied about? What did they try to do against Project Wideawake, almost always prefaced with “the technically illegal government project”?

        The Fantastic Four sent/recommended young mutants go to Xavier’s, but the Avengers never had that.

        I will give Captain America (Steve Rogers) some bonus credit to push him past the rest of the Avengers since one variation of the Secret Empire tried to use mutants. Captain America (John Walker) is another story.

        Of course, the real reason that we never saw anything from the above is the structure of Marvel’s editorial fiefdoms. Roy Thomas’s Avengers fought the Sentinels after the returned from (futilely) fighting the Sun.

    2. If literally *anyone* in the Marvel Universe is going to not be prejudiced against mutants, it will be Captain America. I didn’t think it was a cop-out at all.

  6. I read an interview once with Stern where he talked more about his planned ending, but unfortunately I can’t find it. I do remember that he was going to end it in such a way that Magneto could go on doing what he was doing in X-Men and New Mutants; he wasn’t going to stomp completely on the X-office.

    This is another example of the Silver Age fans at Marvel doing something the X-office doesn’t like. The resurrection of Jean was the one where the X-office lost, and that was done mostly by people like Stern (who remembered Busiek’s idea for how to bring back Jean) and Byrne (who has always preferred everything to be the way it was in the Stan Lee days).

    With Magneto’s reformation, any time he was mentioned in Stern’s Avengers or Byrne’s Fantastic Four, it would always be accompanied by doubt that he’d really reformed, or incredulity that anyone could think he had reformed. Writers with a Silver Age sensibility, like Morrison, always seem to prefer crazy evil Magneto.

  7. Dr. Druid’s name wasn’t Anthony Ludgate? Or is it a retcon? Or Druid as his name is a retcon? Or is it a name that the translators invented, like “Pedro Prado” to Spiderman?

    1. Apparently, he legally changed it from Anthony Ludgate to Anthony Druid! I’d imagine whatever state office dealt with that just sort of shook their collective heads and stamped APPROVED. (He still goes by Anthony Ludgate Druid sometimes, though.)

      1. I have some good friends who just changed their names, and it’s actually more complicated than that. In Pennsylvania, at least, you have to buy an ad in two newspapers (LEGAL NOTICE: Anthony Farmstone Ludgate, d/o/b 11/23/1952, hereby announces his intention to change his name to Anthony Ludgate Druid) and go before a judge twice to explain why you want a new name. Only then do you get to go down to the prothonotary and get your paperwork stamped by a jaded clerk.

        Totally worth it to be Dr. Druid, though, especially when your friends from your postdoc program are all named things like Dr. Strange and Baron Mordo.

        1. You need to go through the complex process to legally change your name, but I believe you can actually go by whatever name you want provided you don’t use it as a means to commit fraud or some other identity related crime.

          1. For a lot of purposes, yes, but you aren’t going to be able to get the new name on your passport, or borrow money under it, or get a driver’s license with that name, or a bunch of other things. You can use a stage name, or a nom de plume, or a superhero name without going through the process, for sure. Peter Parker didn’t go to the New York Supreme Court to get his name changed to Spider-man, after all.

            1. Can you imagine a story when Dr. Druid go to the state office to change his name? It would be amazing!

              And in Brazil we have at least two people who oficcialy changed their names to their nicknames: Xuxa and Lula. She was a kid’s show hostess and he was the fucking President. So Mr. Ludgate is not alone.

            2. Can you imagine a story when Dr. Druid go to the state office to change his name? It would be amazing!

              And in Brazil we have at least two people who officialy changed their names to their nicknames: Xuxa and Lula. She was a kid’s show hostess and he was the fucking President. So Mr. Ludgate is not alone.

        1. April hates her family, so they probably don’t speak.

          “Look, don’t invite me to your stupid stone circle meetings. They’re boring and I hate them.”

  8. Actually, the first question in the ending of the episode was really related to the episode, in my taste. This crossover, for example, wasn’t by any means a good read. And also, continueity-wise – I’m not sure if it had any impact. Even listening to you go through it was cringeworthy for me, as I felt like everything that I like and hold dear in the classic X-Men run is being slaughtered. This series felt like it was written by an Avengers fan who didn’t really dwelve into the depths of the X-Men storyline in the last 15 years. It’s oversimplification is painful, and the use of Cap as the katalysator for Magneto to reconsider his ways? Come on! I understand now why I held so much hate for Cap in my early years as a comicbook reader, and always saw him as a symbol for patronism and as an oversimplefied jerk (and generaly a Mary Sue). It’s because of moments like this.

    So I guess what am I saying in conclusion… Well, I love you guys, I really do, but some of what makes this podcast special, in my taste, is that you always go through the issues and the stories that you like, and the amount of time and focus that you give each story is based by the amount of love and meaningfullness that you hold towards it and it’s relation to to the bigger picture: That is the X-Men as a series and as a symbol.
    Now, judging only by listening to this episode I could not but wonder what is the thing that you saw in this crossover, continuity and thematically-wise, or even as a matter of plain entertainment, that made you want to focus on it?

    I’m really trying not to sound rude! It’s not my intention at all! I’m only asking because it’s sound from the episode like Rachel, at least, didn’t hold a lot for this crossover, and so I wonder what you guys DID found in this story and what could make it be noted as significant or just plain positive.

    Thank you (and sorry If I was out of my place). 🙁

    1. That’s a valid question, ray.

      We go back and forth on how much focus to give each set of issues we cover. Speaking only for myself, I thought this was an interesting series in part because of some of the things that don’t work: the drastic creative shift with issue four due to editorial disagreement and the interpretation of Magneto that clashed with how he’d been portrayed by Claremont. (I, personally, found some things to like about it despite its problems, but that’s just me.) Of course, whatever coverage and focus decisions we make won’t always be everyone’s cup of tea.

      Part of our challenge as we start to leave the X-line’s golden age is finding ways to engagingly discuss stories that don’t hold up as well. Consider this our practice for half the comics in the 90s. 🙂

  9. “Talk to the bomb. You have to talk to it, Doolittle. Teach it PHENOMENOLOGY.” Commander Powell, from DARK STAR (not Darkstar)

    1. Which is actually more or less exactly what Warlock did with a couple of smartbombs in the most recent New Mutants series! 🙂

  10. Upon rereading this series over 20 years later I find its failing in the mutants the Light has been hiding. They are just horribly massacred by what I assumed was their government and no one looks upon this as an injustice ( very out of character for both Captain Marvel, Captain America and Magneto). I could see this event as the moment where Magneto would return to being a “villain”.
    Magneto up to this point has been questioning his actions from the past but see the Light as someone he inspired to action and he helped mutants without violence, these mutants are slaughtered once Magneto has given himself up for judgement. He could see at this moment that if he let’s world governments take someone like him away then there will be no one to protect mutants at all costs.

    1. Agreed, it sat a little oddly with me in the podcast when they mention that mutant numbers are at a lowpoint due to the Mutant Massacre, when my first thought was… actually no, that’s not really true.

      The Mutant Massacre was an abomination, but it happened exclusively in (or rather under) New York City. That’s one city in one country in the entire world and that made me wonder about how little attention was paid to the rest of the world by the series. Does Sotrm ever ponder just how many mutants are being born in African countries and left there (as she was until Xavier sought her out), or Kurt about Germany (East or West as at that point in time)?

      They are an international team, but some minor sidetrips (for some exotic backgrounds) to one side there’s not a whole lot of mention of mutants as a genuine global population.

  11. Tigers can change their stripes, but tigers are not people. Sometimes bears are people. And wolverines are tiny wolves.

  12. Wolverine is probably right about the law of the sea question. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides that ships on the high seas are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the flag state (Article 92). There are a couple of limited exceptions that might bear (if you will) here.

    First, how did the SSS’s get to the ship where they attacked the X-Men? Did they come on a boat? Was it a Soviet government ship? If so, then they are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Soviet Union for everything they do as an extension of that ship (Articles 95 and 96).

    Second, is Magneto a pirate? He sunk that Soviet submarine at sea way back whenever, so you could make an argument. Article 101 defines piracy (in part) as “any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed… on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft.” Is Magneto an aircraft? He can fly. And sinking a nuclear submarine with all hands is definitely an illegal act of violence. Pirates can be seized anywhere by anyone (Article 105).

    If the SSSs did indeed go after Magneto as a pirate, the question of whether he was one (or at least whether they had reasonable basis to think he was) is definitely going to get litigated, because Article 106 of the UNCLS provides for the Soviet Union paying damages to Holland for the damaged caused if they seized without “adequate grounds,” and obviously having sunk the whole ship with whatever cargo was aboard was presumably an expensive error.

    There is also a right of hot pursuit (Article 111), but I think for that to apply the pursuers would have to be Singaporean authorities, not Soviet ones. It would be fun to apply, though, since Article 111 uses the term “mutatis mutandis” not once, but twice.

    Of course, in a world with superheroes acting in a quasi-official way, there is probably some kind of superhero carve-out in the Marvel Universe Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    Of course, I am not a maritime lawyer. Just a regular land lubber lawyer.

  13. I’ve always felt that while Chris Claremont had characters he liked more (Storm, Kitty Pryde), he was most proud of turning Magneto from a one-dimensional Silver Age caricature into a fleshed out character. While the original ending wouldn’t have changed Uncanny X-men too much (Magneto was essentially out of the book after 219), it would have affected the New Mutants. It’s more sensible the original ending wasn’t used, even if it didn’t sit well in the story.

  14. I know they’re trying to play with these ideas now in stuff like Uncanny Avengers (to varying degrees of success)but this series does highlight something that’s always problematic when the avengers or the ff, especially Captain America, interact with the X-Men. If Cap doesn’t stand up to people and say “mutants are just like everyone else and you shouldn’t be prejudice” then it feels like he’s standing by while people are getting hurt, but if you have him intervene it becomes a major shift in his story. It was always weird to me that in the New York City where Captain America lives there is a persecuted minority that he never talks about.

  15. I am most impressed by two things

    1) You managed to NOT make reference to the seminal Paul McCartney and Wings classic “Magneto vs the Titanium Man”

    2) You also managed to resist any reference about Ursa Major reverting to naked human as being “From bear skin to bare skin”… which now I see it probably works better typed out than spoken, but you could have done something with it, I’m sure. 🙂

  16. The Maritime Law stuff has pinged me to the whole Freemen on the Land movement, where from what I’ve read they’re really big on Maritime Courts and Laws of the Sea, and I’m giggling to myself as they’re so the opposite of Wolverine… Wolverine taking that new tack of endless lawsuits… and THIS is why he’s never told us his name!

  17. Since I know you guys record these a week in advance, I wanted to post this before you guys got to Fall of the Mutants (when are you guys getting there? 😉 ). I’m going to put in a plug for Daredevil’s issue. Does it advance the story? Absolutely not. Is it a pretty good story that fits what’s going on? Yeah. It’s Nocenti at her most Nocenti-ness and, like I said (and unlike Mutant Massacre) the tie-in is actually pretty good. It’s basically the human, New York reaction to what’s going on to the apocalyptic (no pun intended) disaster.

    Certainly not essentially, but I hope you consider it.

  18. As far as Crimson Dynamo being a dick is concerned, have comfort that he gets his comeuppance in The Armor Wars when he is killed (unintentionally) by Iron Man as part of his effort to recover or destroy any stolen Stark Tech.

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