Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

Rachel & Miles Review the X-Men, Episode 61

Week of November 4, 2015:

In which we’re very guardedly optimistic about Extraordinary X-Men; Uncanny X-Men #600 is worth the wait; and the sunglasses come off.


  • Extraordinary X-Men #1 (00:33)
  • *Uncanny X-Men #600 (05:07)

*Pick of the week (14:23)

Jay came out over here on Monday: http://postcardsfromspace.tumblr.com/post/132414301818/in-which-i-achieve-a-state-of-perfect-self-parody

Here’s Brett White’s phenomenal write-up of Uncanny X-Men #600: http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/in-your-face-jam-heres-what-uncanny-x-mens-iceman-coming-out-scene-got-right

Come see us at Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival on November 7: http://www.vegasvalleycomicbookfestival.org/

Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men is 100% ad-free and listener supported. These video reviews–and everything else here–are made possible by the support of our Patreon subscribers. If you want to help support the podcast–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!


  1. Are you going to X-plain the numberings for Uncanny X-Men? I haven’t been caught up with current series for a long time and from my research I can’t seem to figure this out…how is this issue #600? I thought 571 was the last issue of Uncanny? If anyone is able to help clear this up or point me in the right direction I would really appreciate it.

    1. Volume 1 (the original that launched in the 60s) ran for 544 issues. Volume 2 (2011) run for 20. Voulme 3 (which just ended) ran for 36 (with issue 36 being #600).

      544 + 20 + 36 = 600


    2. Try figuring out how the last Wolverine special issue was counted. They included one-shots, but not ALL the one-shots and they included mini-series, but not ALL the mini-series. I think they even included a mini-series that wasn’t called “Wolverine” and didn’t star Wolverine (it was a Daken series). Very head scratching.

  2. Congratulations Jay!! I also teared up a bit reading this issue… I’m another gay dude who delayed coming out a couple of years and I could totally relate to Bobby. That frame where the teardrop “tinks” on the floor is what totally got me… It was certainly my frame of the week, although I totally loved the scene at the National Mall as well.

    I’d just like to add I’ve really enjoyed both of your videos and some of the podcasts (when I have a free afternoon or a long drive and the topics interest me) and I really hope you keep it up into the future. Peace!!

    1. That panel with the teardrop was a VERY close runner-up for panel of the week (Actually, the whole sequence, but). =D

  3. Best wishes Jay and Miles!

    So… I was going to post a rant about Extraordinary X-Men #1 on Facebook, but heck, at least 95% of my friends there don’t give a damn, so I might as well post it here. 🙂

    So my big complaint is the same thing that really bugged me with Uncanny Avengers #1 way back when. The art is pretty, but the visual storytelling sucks. What the hell is going on in the Nightcrawler fight scene? They’re in a sewer or something, and “Aries” has no idea where Nightcrawler is. Then Nightcrawler teleports in front of him, looking the other direction, wearing chainmail (?) and a sword. Third panel Aries is charging at what was Nightcrawler’s back a second ago and Nightcrawler is teleporting. Next page Nightcrawler has him behind his head and has ported him up into the air and Aries’s huge body seems to have disappeared? Also we’re suddenly over two characters who haven’t appeared before, with no frame of reference to how this location ties in with the previous one.

    The last three panels on this page aren’t quite so bad, but even so, the first of the (#3 overall) features Nightcrawler porting in right behind the guy, apparently for the sole purpose of quoting at him. Actually, this sequence would make sense if it was Nightcrawler getting him to overextend himself and then hit him from behind; unfortunately the last panel of it shows Nightcrawler attacking him from the front, and either the guy has turned back or the panel perspective shifted 180 degrees.

    Next page we again have a character who hasn’t shown up before, with no reference to where we were on the previous page. And … her mouth disappears and she stops Nightcrawler from teleporting somehow? And then she takes him out physically with one punch? Has he spent the last thirty years forgetting his acrobatic and fighting skills?

    And then the story kicker — Nightcrawler was trying to escape during the entire sequence, apparently. Would you ever have guessed that from the art? He’s a teleporter, why is he fighting these guys instead of just bamfing right by them? If he was a prisoner, how did he end up with chainmail and a sword he didn’t ever use?

    (Also, I have no idea who any of these people are, nor what their powers are other than somehow stopping Kurt from ‘porting.)

    As for bigger points of story: why would sterile mutants mean no more mutant births? Weren’t the vast majority of current mutants born to non-mutant parents? (Obviously sterile mutants would be a bad thing, it’s just a very different bad thing than they’re worried about.)

    Jean: “You are, and have always been, the heart of the X-men.” As a reader from the 80s, that’s just bizarre. She was never once a member of the X-men while I was a regular reader of the book. (Obviously she was a member of X-Factor in the second half of the 80s, but during that time period they were more or less defined as the mutant team that never ever talks to the X-men.) And of course, even accepting what Storm says as true, she’s talking about a different Jean than this one.

    Cyclops: Ha! I haven’t been following (pre-SW) current X-books, so I just assumed they were referring to something Cyclops had done before Secret Wars. But no, it’s not explained at all? That strikes me as Heroes (TV show) storytelling, which is usually a bad thing.

    1. I agree with much of this, and with Miles and Jay’s thoughts on #1. I’m going to stick with Uncanny for a few more issues and hope it gets good, but I’m worried.

      Who’s the “heart of the X-men”? I feel like at different points, you could say that Jean, Cyclops, Kitty, Storm, Wolverine, or Nightcrawler was the heart. I’m not sure why Storm would be telling Jean (particularly teen Jean, who doesn’t have a lot of history with Storm, since Storm wasn’t around in the Silver Age, not did she play a big role in ANXM) that she’s the heart. That felt a bit wrong to me, but I wonder what others think about it.

      1. I was thinking the same thing. I would call Storm the heart of the X-Men before I would refer to Jean that way.

    2. I found the Nightcrawler fight scene to be confusing as well. And it’s a bad time to name a character “Aries” right as Marvel is bringing back Ares. At least she’s female so there should be less confusion.

  4. I thought #600 was great, but it packed a hell of a lot of big character moments into a single issue (old Beast vs everyone; the Rasputins; Kitty and Colossus; Jean and young Beast; the Icemen; the big rally; Cyclops and Magneto). That seemed odd to me, pacing-wise. Any one of those scenes could have been the emotional center of an issue of ANXM or Uncanny by itself. Why leave them all until the very end of Bendis’s run and then cram them all in together?

  5. Eleven. Eleven variant covers for Uncanny #600. Believe me, I am now INTIMATELY familiar. Adams, Anka, Christopher Action Figure Variants A (Jean), B (Iceman), and C (Emma Frost), Coipel, Hughes, Leonardi, McGuiness, Smith, and Yu. Also, the Campbell variant for Extraordinary #1 filled me with seething rage. Just needed to get all that off my chest.

    1. I didn’t see the Campbell variant until now. It filled you with rage because Magik’s waist was the size of my wrist and her breasts were the size of my head I’m guessing?

  6. Congragulations, Jay!

    About Uncanny X-Men 600 I loved the issue, a lot, it’s just.. a part of me was really, really disappointed that it gave NO answers at ALL regarding the stuff that happened in the Avengers 8 Months Later storyline. Where did that Pheonix Egg come from? Why does Cyclops have sentinels at his beck and call? What was Nation X? I was really hoping to get some sort of answer here, but apparently it’s going to be a thing that happens in the post-Secret Wars 8 months as opposed to the pre-Secret Wars 8 months…or did I miss that explanation actually happening somewhere? It’s driving me nuts.

    1. Don’t quote me on this, but the nice Scottish men on House to Astonish were talking about this a few months ago, and apparently Marvel writers were given a choice to either line up their books with what was going on in Hickman’s Avengers titles, or not. Bendis opted not to, and somehow, what with there being only eight x-titles or so at the time, no one could find room in the x-line to explain all that stuff that Hickman hinted at.

      And no, as far as I can tell, the 8 month gap will be filled with something else then what Hickman was doing in the margins of his Avengers playground. My guess would be that as soon as the Terrigen Mist was confirmed as harmful to mutants, Cyclops attacked the Inhumans… Some of Beast&Medusa’s dialogue in ‘Uncanny Inhumans’ points towards that.

  7. Best wishes, Jay! I’m proud of you!

    This may, for now, be the only place on the internet where I say how much I liked Uncanny X-Men #600, and how happy I am that Bobby Drake is gay.

    I feel weird admitting how happy I am, partly because almost everyone I talk to online about X-Men stuff have been furious about it for the last 6 months because of how it was handled. Some of them, to this day, insist Bobby Drake is bisexual, he MUST be bisexual, and to believe otherwise is bisexual erasure. A few of them have completely disowned all character development that’s happened during the last several years of Uncanny X-Men. As far as I’m concerned, that’s okay. Their feelings are completely valid. Still, for the past 6 months, I’ve been afraid that it was wrong for me to be happy that Bobby is gay. The other reason why I wasn’t sure what to think is because my best friend is bi, and I was afraid I was betraying her by being okay with something many people see as a deliberate act of erasure.

    Three things happened at the same time last May: I realized I’m definitely not attracted to men at all, and I found out Bobby is gay, and I was bombarded with anger about the fact that a character who previously thought he was straight is actually gay. I didn’t really talk about it until today, the day after I read Uncanny X-Men #600. I talked to my best friend about Bobby being gay, and how a lot of what adult Bobby said is relatable for me, and then I told her that I didn’t know how to feel because the internet circles I run in were mostly negative about it. She told me she doesn’t see anything wrong with it, and she thinks it’s good that there’s another canon gay character in comics. That was the go-ahead I needed to allow myself to be excited that not only is Bobby Drake gay, but he’s gay in a way I can strongly relate to.

    I have other, less personal feelings about Uncanny X-Men #600, but I’m not going to say them in this comment. It’s long enough as it is.

    1. I just realized I made a mistake! I should’ve said “I realized I’m only attracted to women” instead of “I realized I’m definitely not attracted to men at all.” The way I wrote it presents gender in a very binary way. I’m sorry! I still accidentally do that a lot, but I’m working on it!

  8. I actually picked up UXM 600 as the first of either run I’ve read! (For context: the first time I’ve picked up a mainline X-title since… oh, M-Day?) I mainly got it because I got curious about the Iceman scenes, but I really enjoyed it, despite not knowing what the hell was going on for a lot of it 🙂 Gotta collect all the trades now!

  9. 1) I said it on twitter and I’ll say it again here; congrats, Jay! I’m a straight cis guy, so totally just a cheerleader for this sort of thing, but it’s still great to see.
    1a) Also, I feel like I should congratulate you for staying completely on-brand by coming out entirely through the medium of Speed Racer.

    2) Damn, Miles can rock some mirrored sunglasses.

    3) Man, what happened to Humberto Ramos? I think of him as a gold standard for visual storytelling thanks to his run with Mark Waid on Impulse, but lately not so much (and apparently especially on X-books)

  10. I didn’t cry when I read UXM600 but just did while reading Breet’s story. Probably because it is so similar to my own coming out (which is still happening).
    Congratulations, Jay. I know how hard it is to allow ourselves to be who we are, specially when we’re in our 30’s. It’s actually been a mix for me. It’s easier because I’m in an age when I know exactly what I want and the kind of people I want around me but also a huge exercise of humbleness to admit (to other and myself) that I’ve been hiding all these years. A little bit of regret too, but I guess that’s part of everyone’s life. Having great role models as you guys definitely helps!

  11. I didn’t cry when I read UXM600 but just did while reading Breet’s story. Probably because it is so similar to my own coming out (which is still happening).
    Congratulations, Jay. I know how hard it is to allow ourselves to be who we are, specially when we’re in our 30’s. It’s actually been a mix for me. It’s easier because I’m in an age when I know exactly what I want and the kind of people I want around me but also a huge exercise of humbleness to admit (to other and myself) that I’ve been hiding all these years. A little bit of regret too, but I guess that’s part of everyone’s life. Having great role models as you guys definitely helps!

  12. Hi, there!

    I’ve been following the podcast for over one year now, and during this last year, I’ve probably listened to your voices more than I heard from my dearest friends. By now, even though I don’t really know you too, there’s definitely a spot in my heart for the both of you. These days I can’t read an issue of X-Men without thinking “I wonder what Rachel and Miles would say about this?”

    I’m writing all this so you know I’m sincere when I wish you two the best in what may be a difficult phase – though I really hope it isn’t. Jay, you are my favourite live-action version of Cyclops. Screw James Marsden.

  13. I’m not gonna lie, I started welling up during the scene with Bobby. What he said there was pretty much my coming out.

    Jay, congratulations. I’m actively terrible at the pronoun thing, so please don’t hate me if I screw it up in the comments.

    Miles….your face just as Jay was about to begin the announcement. You are just a fantastic guy. Jay is lucky to have you.

  14. Let me join the chorus, because it’s too important not to. Congratulations, Jay! For what it’s worth, this stranger on the internet is sending lots of good vibes your way. Thank you for sharing “the whole you” (as Jean Grey put it) with us fans of your podcast. And Miles, seeing that gesture of support you gave Jay warmed my cynical, broken heart. You two are adorable.

    And if anyone gives you a hard time about your preferred pronouns, history will back you up! I believe Jane Austen used “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun something like 87 times.

    Back to X-Men and podcasts: oh, Bird Boy week. That’s, uh. Yeah. Bird Boy. He sure is something.

  15. I enjoyed UXM600. The Iceman scene was decent. It was reasonably well-done. I’ve never been a fan of Iceman, so I had trouble caring one way or the other. I loved the Kitty/Peter/Illyana scene – that was really sweet and touching. The rally was amazing – it’s the kind of thing I want to see so much more of in X-Men comics. It’s the kind of thing that happens with real civil rights movements, and X-Men comics always forget that sort of thing.

    Then EXM dumped all over it by rehashing old stories. A mutant plague? Legacy Virus. No more mutants? M-Day. Mutants hated and hunted and lynched? So many stories. We’ve seen all this before. And it goes back to just absolute misery and cynicism. It ignores the reality of civil rights movements: That progress is a thing that actually does happen. The X-Men franchise always ignores that reality, in favour of mutants always having to be on the edge.

    So EXM not only disappointed me, it angered me.

    And, of course, congratulations, Jay.

    1. “The rally was amazing – it’s the kind of thing I want to see so much more of in X-Men comics. It’s the kind of thing that happens with real civil rights movements, and X-Men comics always forget that sort of thing.

      Then EXM dumped all over it by rehashing old stories. A mutant plague? Legacy Virus. No more mutants? M-Day. Mutants hated and hunted and lynched? So many stories. We’ve seen all this before. And it goes back to just absolute misery and cynicism. It ignores the reality of civil rights movements: That progress is a thing that actually does happen. The X-Men franchise always ignores that reality, in favour of mutants always having to be on the edge.

      So EXM not only disappointed me, it angered me.”

      This, exactly this.

      I was talking to a friend after we read these, and was reminded of this essay about the difference between conceptions of power in Man of Steel (written by wealthy Hollywood straight white men) vs. Supergirl (with a pilot script written by a woman): http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2015/10/27/the-one-thing-that-makes-supergirl-better-than-man-of-steel

      The idea of civil rights struggles that has coming out of the X-Office ever since M-Day has been virtually all lynchings all the time. Marvel is so focused on the “hated and feared” tagline that story circumstances have been engineered in a way that undermines much of the franchise’s relevance. There aren’t enough mutants any more for the X-Men to live as examples to a larger minority population, and most of the time the few mutants left are clustered together in one school/haven, rather than having to try and live in the larger world.

      I think the X-Men would benefit greatly from more diverse creative voices, in the same way as we’re finally starting to see a real effort to have characters of color and women written by people who have lived those realities.

      Of course, more diverse voices benefits everyone and all our stories anyway. But yeah, I’m wearied by the X-Office’s umpteen remakes of “Mississippi Burning: Now With More Sentinels!”

  16. Congratulations Jay! I love you and Miles as a couple, partners, and friends, as much as you can love internet strangers, and I hope for the best for both of you!

  17. First, most importantly, let me add my huge congrats and Internet high-fives to Jay!

    Second, re: Uncanny 600, was anyone else thrown out of the narrative a bit when Cyclops was referring to every mutant in the world being at the rally? Was this just hyperbole? It was emphasized to a degree that made it read to me like it was intended literally, or very close to it, but without a really good story explanation it’s hard for me to imagine a situation where that happens, where a whole lot of mutants aren’t thinking, “Yeah, this looks like a set up for something bad, I’ll just sit this one out, k thanks.”

    Maybe I just wanted to see more of the set up-how the call for this gathering went out, and what it looked like.

    1. Yeah, while I was reading I thought that, though it was a very beautiful and simbolic moment, it felt kind of out of nowhere, specially because Cyclops’ change of mind came out of nowhere in the end of The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier (since Tempus changed The past, The whole saga summed up to both teams reuniting to read Xavier’s will and then Cyclops leaving. After the whole saga where we saw him trying to convince the most dangerous mutant to join his revolution, it’s weird to see him give up that easily). It feels like after the The will and testament, everything was rushed to fit the limited issues Bendis had.

  18. Jay and Miles,

    Thank you, as always, for the reviews. Congratulations again on coming out.

    Despite my initial hesitations, I’m optimistic about Extraordinary X-Men. Although I still feel that the whole situation could go in an odd direction if the mutants leave Earth (since so much of the story is about them facing discrimination and fighting against it), some parts of this issue were really touching. I really like the idea of X-Haven as a place for mutants to go for safety, since the X-Men have been a family and the school a home for those who had to leave their homes.

    Uncanny X-Men 600 … Regarding the issue as a whole, there were definitely parts I liked more than others. The various personal stories I liked more than the main Beast Intervention.

    THAT SCENE with Bobby and Bobby was just so moving. As someone who’s been in the closet for 14 years (that’s 14 years after realizing/accepting it in own own mind), reading this issue and also reading your article Jay gave me hope regarding the possibility for happiness even for people who come out later in life.

  19. Congratulations Jay, I wish you all the best luck. I hope it won’t be a problem if I say something about me here. As someone who is not out of the closet (both in terms of sexuality and gender identity) and is inching closer to their 30th birthday, your coming out and Bobby’s story in Uncanny were both pretty emotional moments for me this week. I know it’s not the best to group together fictional and real stories but I just wanted to know that both of these things have given me a bit of hope and courage for the future. Best of luck and keep on being awesome!

  20. I’m not gonna say I dislike the Bobbys scene in 600, but It just didn’t have the same level of realness for me that kid Bobby’s scene in All-New did. Part of it is that I really wanted to see a version where this conversation didn’t happen. Where kid Bobby just came out and adult Bobby just had to deal with the reality of that and how weird and confusing it is that another version of you identifies as gay.

    Of course, as I type this, I realize it’s really just me wanting to see my own specific experiences reflected in comics. After all, when DC comics made the new52 Alan Scott gay, I didn’t have the opportunity for a sit-down talk with the fictional character whose name I happen to share. It was a pretty surreal experience for me, and I was already out to myself and the world at that point. Me wanting to see this storyline resolve without the issue 600 hug-and-cry is partly just me wanting to see what would have happened if DC had made that change in 2005 instead.

  21. Jay and Miles, unabashed love from an unabashed fan from Australia. I wasn’t expecting my mid-Monday morning internet procrastination time to come with so many feels! As a life-long x-obsessive I get so much selfish pleasure from your podcast and videos; the fact that your audience also gets to share in this monumental moment in your lives is quite overwhelming for me.

    Congratulations on coming out Jay, and thanks to both of you for being the podcasting and relationship exemplars that you are.

  22. Congrats Jay! Thank you for sharing this with us all. I’m so happy you and Miles have been able to find/create this community that you trust. I hope the trollish underbelly of the internet stays away. I realize that your effective modding means that the worst comments are usually gone before I see them. Bravery shouldn’t be required here. Not by my podcast OTP.

  23. The moment at about 5:35 where Miles puts his arm around Jay as they take their glasses off, I may have teared up just a little at that and I’m a cynical old bastard with a heart like toughened leather!

  24. I thought you had blue eyes! And it reminds me when the Phoenix Force impersonating Jean Grey (because, X-Men), take Scott’s visor and be surprised by his eyes been brown. Good look, Jay!

  25. And Iceman coming out of the closet (finally!) changes a lot of the meaning of the character story. The stress that he feels when Emma Frost changed body with him (and I believe that she even commented something about secrets at the time), all the confusion with Cloud and Mystique, he faking lose his powers after M-Day and the triangle between Anne, Bobby and Northstar. Iceman never gets much of spotlight, but when you add all ihs storylines, it seems really clear that he was in the closet.

  26. On Iceman coming out as gay, a little bit of me is disappointed that he’s not straight, or bi… It would be interesting to explore a bit of nature vs nurture, old iceman versus young iceman. But then that would be a copout, following young Iceman’s revelation!

    Ultimately I’m glad Iceman has come out – as has been observed above, it really fits his narrative arc overall. And frankly, it makes Bobby a bit more interesting (iceman and Angel have always felt a bit second string to me, and in need of more screen time or development in contrast to Scott, Jean and Hank). It’s good for the xmen line to have such a prominent character be gay too – despite the fact we already have Northstar, Anole and Karma, all characters I love dearly, they are more minor and tend to be shuffled out with alarming frequency. Bobby feels that he may have more staying power, and also there’s the chance his story will be explored more. And now there’s more of a tapestry of gay characters, there’s also chance for more drama which as X readers I know we all love… Will Northstar be regretting getting hitched so soon…? 😉

    As for youngJean being present, I still find her invasive mind reading quite douchey, but then again that’s an established character trait for her now, so I can forgive it. It is also probably something that a telepath would pick up on.

    I’d also like to see kitty’s reaction. Fair enough, her relationship with Iceman was always doomed as his name isn’t Peter, but I feel kitty is a sympathetic enough character that we can see her reactions “in the round” and not feel she is an awful person – initial sense of betrayal and anger, followed by realisation of Iceman’s predicament and then acceptance? Kitty is often plays this kind of role (think of her initial fear of nightcrawler, for example), and if some reaction isn’t portrayed on the page to some extent, it wouldn’t feel true to life.

    Also big shout out to Jay – your story strikes a chord with me too! 🙂

  27. First of all, congratulations Jay. I wanted to ask if anyone stop to think that maybe the whole Iceman is gay plot wasn’t just something to do with this character who I always thought was solid but wasn’t written correctly and to be honest, it’s a little confusing. It’s not the fact that Bbby came out its the fact that Jean Grey took it upon herself to just blurt it out. Looking back one very Iceman story and I don’t see it. He says that he devoted so much of his life to the cause but he hadn’t really. He left a bunch of times and then there was the whole Northstar having a crush on him which I thought would have been an indication but all in all I didn’t care too much for that plot line. The trial of Hank McCoy, I really enjoyed because in my opinion he was acting like a child the entire time but something I think a lot people tend to forget was that when he brought the O5(Original Five) to this timeline everyone was estatic. They thought it would ‘knock some sense into him’ when they were brought in on second hand information and they didn’t even explain what happened to them like with Warren, no one ever sat down and talked to him about his future at all. I’m sorry but they way Bendis has treated Scott has been really disheartening as I always thought of the X-Men as a family and when they turned on him it was kind of a slap in the face where was this solidarity when Xavier went crazy(pick any time). I guess my main gripe with this was that I felt that the X-Men at the school can turn a blind eye to Wolverine’s mass murders, Storm being a very ineffective(Honestly, she’s more of a face who talks more than she leads) but let Cyclops kill one guy and they lose their minds. Jay you said it before Xavier is a dick and who should have been put out to pasture a LONG time ago. To me it looks like the X-Men like having Cyclops repressed and unsure of himself because that’s their constant but when he worked through his issues, they don’t like it because he shows he’s not a wimp he’s a warrior who sees the big picture. I don’t like how they made him villainous but if you think about it, what did he do that was so different from any other X-Leader? Cyclops for president

  28. Congrats, Jay! As someone who has recently discovered your podcast and been rapidly catching up (I’m around episode 40 – and many thanks for my commute much more entertaining), I just found my way here after a moment’s confusion about the “sudden” rebranding.

    It seemed like a good a time as any to express my appreciation for you both and the effort you put into xplaining the xmen, on a 5 month old blog post. As someone who will happily expound on the Summers family “tree” given the slightest excuse – well, I’m glad you do what you do – it’s been a real treat.

  29. Ah. This explains the shift. (Still catching up on X-plain the X-Men continuity, I guess.)

    Much belated congratulations, Jay.

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