Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

90 – Ghosts of the Outback

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.


In which the X-Men move to Australia; O.Z. Chase is definitely not a werewolf; Dazzler is a smart, glittery laser cookie; Gateway falls into some uncomfortable tropes; Havok remains the king of terrible hats; Madelyne Pryor hacks the planet; Rogue makes a friend; Rick Leonardi draws the definitive Magik; Colossus’ secondary mutation is allegory; and there are a lot of great places to donate your old backissues.


  • Gateway’s probable origin
  • Wintry mix
  • Miles’s definitive X-era
  • Uncanny X-Men #228-231
  • O.Z. Chase
  • Vladimir Zaitzev
  • The Reavers (No, not those Reavers)
  • Bonebreaker
  • Skullcrusher
  • Pretty Boy
  • Children
  • Jessan Hoan (Tyger Tiger)
  • Gateway
  • Teamwork (more) (again)
  • The Siege Perilous
  • Cooterman’s Creek
  • Jay’s favorite mythic figure (and long-term career goal)
  • The best brother in the Marvel Universe
  • A really sad team-up
  • Favorite X-science moments
  • Where to donate comic books

NEXT WEEK: The saddest story ever

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  1. I remember reading these when they first came out, which was very exciting for an Australian. The X-Men were here! And Gateway was the first Australian native character that I had ever seen actually be drawn to look like one (as opposed to the original Talisman, the only other Australian native character Marvel had at the time.)

    Also, I have to quibble with Jay a little on this one. Gateway, to Australian eyes at least, is less (to get all TvTropes about this) a Magical Negro character and more a Magical Native Australian (which is basically the same trope as the Magical Native American). At least, that’s how I’ve always read him. While Native Australians and African-Americans are both referred to as ‘black’ by their respective white majorities, they are two very distinct groups in every other respect.

  2. For a UK perspective on donating comics and graphic novels to charity, you can also donate them to local charity shops. I’ve been volunteering for my local British Red Cross shop for a number of years now, and as the person in our book department with knowledge of comics I tend to sort them out, and they tend to sell out pretty quickly when we do have them.

    Your best bet is probably to find whichever local charity shop has the largest selection of books in general and ask the manager there – you may conceivably come across a shop that does not want them (they may not have the space, or may feel they won’t sell in that specific shop etc) but chances are a shop with lots of books will be happy to take more.

    If by some obscure chance you happen to be somewhere near Kettering in Northamptonshire, totally bring them to the Red Cross and I can hopefully get them a good home while making some money for a good cause!

    Also, if you are a UK taxpayer, it really helps us if you sign up to the GiftAid scheme with us (or whichever charity you donate them to) as it lets us claim 25% extra back in tax from the government on whatever you donate at no cost to you!

    1. And luckily for non-driving me, my local British Heart Foundation shop not only Gift Aid’s, they collect too! (Otherwise there’s a hernia somewhere in my near future as I hoik a coule of hundredweight of dead tree comics to them!)

    2. Charity shops or similar work well. I’ve donated TPBs to Value Village, and I’ve bought TPBs, issues, and even one omnibus from them. They’ll turn it around, give the charity a bit of cash, employ some people, and (depending on the store) make a profit all at once.

  3. A minor “um actually” on the Bishop/Gateway connection (though not one that fixes the “all black characters are related” problem). While the grandfather connection does get brought up in Xtreme X-men, I believe it was built on the Gen X story where Bishop in a haze recognizes Monet as his mother. Gen X then later retconned Gateway directly into Monet’s family.

    So the Bishop/Gateway thing was more of a backdoor retcon rather than a direct retcon.

    On the other hand 13 year old me thought M being Bishop’s mom was the coolest thing ever. 🙂

    1. Hmmm…though now I can’t find online support for this. Maybe I just pulled it out of my a**.

      First rule of “um actually” is to do the research first. I retract my previous statement. 🙂

    2. My head canon is thus:
      In Australian Aboriginal societies, elders are given the honorary “Uncle” or “Aunty” before their name, and everyone calls them this whether they’re related or not. If Gateway is hundreds of years old, his people might have made a kind of “super-honorary”, calling him “Grandad Gateway”. People outside of the tribe could easily mistake this name for being literal, to the extent of a Moroccan girl thinking he is her grandfather somehow.

  4. Quick question for the X-perts or any other knowledgeable readers: Is Magik canonically left-handed? It just occurred to me that when she’s depicted with armor on one arm, it seems to usually be the left arm, suggesting that that’s her sword-wielding arm. But that could just be my impression; I wonder whether this is how she’s consistently portrayed and whether it’s ever mentioned in the comics.

    1. She’s holding a pen in her right hand in that fwiw, I don’t really know how consistent they are about these things. My guess would be the armor’s on the left is cause of the left hand’s association with black magic and the occult (but I’m an expert on none of those things so take it with a grain of salt.)

    2. I’d have to double check, but I think her left arm was the one the Demon Bear swiped way back in its arc of New Mutants. That arm was the first part of her soul armor to manifest, so that may have something to do with the armor being most consistently depicted on one arm rather than the other.

      Yup. Just checked the Visual Companion for the Demon Bear Saga (Ep 32): Illyana’s armor is on the left arm under the Demon Bear’s claw marks, and the soulsword is in her right. I’m not sure if this influenced future artists or why she would prefer to wear armor on her off-hand, but it’s something to consider.

      1. I don’t think it’s about preference–in the same arc you reference, she doesn’t have control over where the armor initially appears, and that’s the configuration it grows from over time.

    3. My guess is she’s ambidextrous, but her souldsword was always summoned to her left hand and the armour crept up that arm and across her body from there.

  5. I was just about to say that Magik in the picture looks badass while Colossus looks more like a swimsuit model before I listened to the episode… Way to go, David!

  6. Armour on the left arm is actually something you might do if you’re *right* handed. The sword in your hand protects your right arm, while the armoured left can be used as a shield.

  7. Regarding African-Caribbean Marvel scientists – Blue Marvel might be the most prominent, or at least most prominently presented as scientist first, super-hero second.

    Black Panther is a genius and has a PhD in Physics, though I don’t know if it gets brought up often.

    Then there is the… evil geneticist Centurius? I remember him from Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts, but apparently he has been around for a long time.

    Also, the late Bill Foster/Goliath was a biochemist.

    There must be more, and I’ll probably kick myself later when I remember them.

    1. What about Adam Brashear, the Blue Marvel? I actually don’t know his racial background (I presume African-American). But he’s a major scientist in Ultimates, and I think his son is the chief scientist or chief engineer in Sunspot’s New Avengers.

  8. Re: Donating old comics.

    I am in the PNW and would love some recommendations on where to give old comics too (near Seattle).

  9. While there’s a lot of the Australia Era that really never worked for me (The Reavers, Gateway–man, in 1987-88 Marvel and DC seemingly both had magical aborigines in major roles, which would have been fine, except for the fact that they never seemed to much besides be conveniently magical for white characters)there’s some indisputably great stories in this set of issues (coming up next, I believe) and the Colossus issue really makes you wish they’d gone more at the whole bitter separation from the world the X-Men have come from.

    A missed opportunity, that.

  10. Re: SCIENCE!

    I remember an actual book called “Science of the X-Men” or some such that came out a few years back, that tried to give plausible scientific explanations for how various mutant powers could manifest. No idea if it’s any good or not, though.

    1. If in doubt go to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluixe Edition. Page after page of glorious “Science!!” which is Mad, Bad and/or Dangerous to Know.

  11. I can’t remember where I read it, but I thought I’d heard Gateway was meant to eventually be a replacement Prof X figure. This was supposedly curtailed due to interference from Bob Harras (something that happens a lot near the end of Claremonts run). If that’s true it might explain some of why Gateway never gets as developed as he should be.

    1. With that in mind, I think it’s worth noting that these issues were the last Uncanny X-men’s solely edited by Ann Nocenti. Marvel.wikia.com lists 232 as being edited by both Nocenti and Harras while starting with 233, it’s just Harras as editor.

  12. Off-topic, does anybody here knows if Marvel is currently publishing any collected form of the Claremont/Byrne run (and maybe Claremont/Cockrum too)?
    I want to purchase it for my library, but we mostly work only with publishers, so ebay is not an option. 🙁
    Only thing I can find is the Dark Phoenix Saga and some other famous stories stand alones.
    I don’t want the next generation to grow without Kitty Pryde.

    1. There is a new printing of Uncanny X Men Omnibus vol 1 coming later this year according to Amazon UK, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Uncanny-X-Men-Omnibus-Vol-Printing/dp/1302900838/, and a new printing of Uncanny X Men Omnibus vol 2 according to Amazon USA, http://www.amazon.com/Uncanny-X-Men-Omnibus-Vol-Printing/dp/1302900838/, while both sites have listings for Uncanny X Men Omnibus volume 3. The volume 3 omnibus apparently include the Magik miniseries too, whick is a bonus.

      I would assume that means the books will be available through library acquisition channels too.

      1. I’m just noticing that the UK and USA entries both have the same item code, so one of them might be the incorrectly listed.

      2. Thank you!
        I hope my bosses won’t crucify me for the prices. They don’t really like Omnibuses (if someone snatches the book it’s a lot more price to retrieve it), but what can you do? It’s friging Claremont X-Men run! How can you have a solid library collection without it?

  13. I totally agree about X-Treme X-Men Dazzler! It was the first version I’d seen that I really felt lived upto the awesomeness of her first appearance-the others were not quite there.

    I’d totally forgotten that UXM228 happened (there’s not a lot of reason to remember it really I guess.) I really liked OZ and Cerberus in the final few issues of the Dazzler comic, shame this one couldn’t be more interesting since I’m guessing we don’t ever see them again.

    1. I’ve got that monologue at the end of 228 saved on my computer as the strongest canonical piece of evidence that Dazzler should/will run for President.

      Other than that, pretty forgettable.

  14. And list of scientist of colour in MU should include Doctor Nightshade, sometimes known as Deadly Nightshade, other times just Nightshade. (I also see she is also known as “Queen of the Werewolves” but that’s a whole ‘nother thing I suspect).

    She’s a brilliant biochemist (with a penchant for transformatative techniques), but is also a genius in the fields of genetics, cybernetics, robotics and physics too!

    She’s a Captain America baddy mostly, but was more recently seen in MODOK’s 11.

    Also, she had the most amazing… I’m going to show my complete lack of knowledge about any and all hairstyles and say I THINK it’s called an “afro puff”.

  15. Hmmm, the Australia era… I wish I could like it more. Again I can mostly only go by my, perhaps slightly fragmentary now, memory of buying the issues at the time.

    The convenient “invisible to cameras and electronic observation” thing always seemed slightly skewered from the get-go by the fact that they had a member whose eyes were entirely bionic, and WERE cameras and they were unaffected. I know that Mojotech was probably immune, but to me, it might have been interesting (if hard to keep going regularly) if the status quo was that Psyclocke couldn’t actually SEE the other X-Men, but could “see” them through her psionic abilities tapping into other people’s eyes. (whenever I think of pre-ninja Betsy’s powers or storylines, eyes always feature heavily)

    The X-Men sacrifice their lives (and that is a noble thiong to have done) and instantly return, none the worse the wear for the experience (compare with Roma and Merlyn’s other revivals like Brian Braddock, or what the Beyonder did to the New Mutants). Dying should have had some impact on them and their personalities and worldviews, but they seem to treat the whole exposure like it was nothing.

    The fact they instantly gained a set up which was in many ways functionally superior to the X-Mansion also seemed too convenient.

    They inherit their own private town, where they can do what they like without fear of being observed by the locals.

    Their base has a terribly convenient, hyper-advanced computer and communications system from the outset, which is also conveniently set up so that a non-techie (A skilled pilot and mechanic, but not a computer tech AFAIK) can use it to become a combination Oracle and Cypher almost instantly. (Was the origin of all that tech ever really addressed? I honestly don’t remember)

    They also instantly gain a global scale teleporter at their beck and call to take them wherever they want to go faster than the Blackbird ever could.

    I dunno, it seemed too much, too quickly for a team which was supposed to be starting anew, and without any sense of them actually _earning_ all the additional benefits short of punching the Reavers (Not that punching the Reavers wasn’t an entirely laudable act). The most they have to do beyond that is some housecleaning.

    Gateway was, as others have noted, always a slightly offputting trope from the outset. The silent native who had no real personality on show, and his lack of speech or expressiveness about just about anything grated. (I think the first time he speaks aloud might have been many years later in Generation X, but could be wrong there).

    All in all it seemed to make him little more than a useful plot device rather than anything like a person, and even having his power focus being a culturally secific and sacred item like a bullroarer (after I’d gone and looked up what one of those was at the library) seemed a culturally obsessive trope too far.

    I’m enjoying your enthusiasm about the set up though.

  16. I know Storm’s new outfit is hated by many but it’s one of my favorites, probably because she was wearing it in the first issue I ever read (drawn by Jim Lee it actually looked good). And I always loved the lightning because it made so much sense for her. Just like the bat in Batman’s chest or the “S” in Superman’s (and I love the way it is not just decoration and she can open it on the front). And it actually makes sense that she’s covering her whole body: She doesn’t feel hot because her body adjusts to the weather but her power doesn’t protect her from the sand, so her clothes have to!
    The outback era is my favorite. It’s just a pitty it means it’s getting close to the end of the first Claremont’s run.

  17. The best science comic is definitely Spider-Man And The X-Men. He is sent in to be a schoolteacher and has a science-off with Beast’s class. And it contains the best lines on Marvel science:
    “You can rewrite DNA on the fly, and you’re using it to turn people into dinosaurs? But with tech like that, you could cure cancer!”
    “But I don’t want to cure cancer. I want to turn people into dinosaurs.”

  18. Hey Miles, “Science” actually comes out weekly: http://www.sciencemag.org/

    (I love that one of the most important scientific journals in the world is just called “Science.” “Hey, did you check Science this week to see all the new science? That’s some good science!”)

  19. WRT donating comics…

    I happen to know Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University (and triple-Hugo winner!) Lynne M. Thomas, and I know NIU takes donations of comics.

    I asked Lynne, and she said that if you want to donate comics to the collection, the main thing you’d need to do is provide her with a list of what you intend to donate, so she can avoid duplication. You can send that information to her at .

    If you want to see what the NIU comic collection is all about, you can find information at http://libguides.niu.edu/comics

    Hope this is of use.

  20. Yay, I finally caught up to the podcast with my reading of the X-Men comics!

    First off, while Deadpool is my favorite Marvel character, Magik is my favorite X-men character. Teleportation has always been the power that I wish I could have, and when I first met her in more current storylines, she’s got a big huge giant Final Fantasy VII Cloud sword and that is so freaking awesome! So badass teleporter with giant sword, how could I not love her?! And when I thought I couldn’t lover her any more than I already do, I started listening to your podcast and find out she’s a demon sorcerer with a tragic backstory.

    X-Men 231 is probably an issue I’m going to reread a lot. I think I’ll try to track it down, I really liked it a lot.

    While reading the issues and listening to your show, I’ve always sort of wondered why Magik was put on the New Mutants and not the main X-Men like Kitty. Well, besides obvious out-of-story creator decisions. I have decided to headcannon that patriarchal Professor X decided that Magik was too damaged by her 7 years in Limbo and that since she lost her childhood, maybe putting her with other kids might make up a little for that. Still, I can’t help but feel she’d have been better off with the big team. Kitty has been her best friend and the person she has felt closest and able to confide in the most. Plus, the grownups would have probably been able to help her learn and control her powers and keep an eye on her. Oh well, much like her decided not to have Magneto kill Sym for her, what we know now…

    Anyway, speaking of knowing things now, Psylocke… I am more familiar with her ninja badass version in Uncanny X-Force and never really cared for her. I didn’t hate her or anything, but I had no interest in reading her if I wasn’t following Deadpool. (I love Deadpool, have I mentioned that already? 😉 ) Anyway, imagine my surprise reading these early series and listening to your podcast that she used to be so awesome! I LOVE the whole “looks like a pretty princess aristocrat but is really strong and badass underneath”. I wish they’d kept her like that! We can have different types of badass women! They don’t all need to be sexy ninja! We can have a girly girl who is tough! Oh well.

    1. Magik being a New Mutant made sense to me. She wanted training in getting her telportation powers under control since her aim, both spacially and temporally, needed work.

      I can also see where Prof X would think that being amongst a team of kids her own (apparent) age would be very important to Ilyanna the young person, as opposed to Magik the demon sorceress as she deserved the chance of a childhood that Belasco denied her. The New Mutants would be a better bet than the X-Men for that.

  21. I’m so excited to reach this point in Uncanny. Issue #229 is the first X-Men comic I ever owned. I was aware of the team just from being a comics fan, but I pulled 229 out of one of those discount store packs of comics and I was blown away by it.

    I was 12 at the oldest at the time and this comic was a revelation. The incredible cover, child murder on page two, kidnapping, enslavement of a minority, the Reavers’ incredible creepiness (especially Pretty Boy), Wolverine doing Wolverine things, the craziness of Roma and the Siege Perilous – man, was this thing an eye-opener.

    And it set me on the path of the X-Men forever. God bless it.

  22. One thing slightly bothered me about the scene with Rogue and Gateway… How does she know he could play the flute? Giving someone a musical instrument when you don’t know them is a tricky thing to do.

    The scene was it played out was a nice Rogue moment, but it might have given Gateway more of a character if he’d looked at it, smiled, turned to Rogue and said “That’s lovely, thank you, but I don’t know how to play one of those. You wouldn’t happen to have a bass guitar would you? I can REALLY shred with one of those!”

    Or even a little thought bubble with “Four years of classical cello training my mum sent me to, and she gives me one of these?”

    Okay, I know it was a thing that he was basically non-verbal, and we got no thought bubbles, but even so… 🙂

  23. Hey guys! This was a great episode and a wonderful era, an amazing spot for the x-men where they each really develop they’re characters a whole lot. A couple things I wanted to point out were A) Issue 231 is the first reveal that Gateway’s teleportation is interdimensional and not just geographical, which I thought to be an important note.
    Also 2) Steel has iron in it, so not just “good enough”, Collossus’ organic steel presumably is part organic iron

  24. I agree Leonardi’s a great artist. One of his notable features is how fully formed his style was from the first I was aware of him. Most super-hero comic artists have their influences showing in their early work, but I don’t see his. I’ve read him name-checking Steranko, but whatever he got was so fully integrated I’ve never spotted it. Also, looking at him in Essentials, more than most other artists at the time, he leaves room for the colourist. I don’t know if he just trusted Glynis Oliver and was different on other books, but he clearly leaves her lots to do.
    Miles talk about Australia under water reminded me of the opening sequence of ‘The Last Wave’ by Peter Weir. As a privileged, white guy, I remember it (from the early 80s)as an interesting film about the Dreamtime and native Australian mysticism.
    Always good to hear praise for Tom Orz. Surely one of the most challenging lettering gigs in comics, done so inventively for so long.

  25. The obvious African American scientist from Marvel is surely Blue Marvel. In terms of good science moments starring non-white scientists, pretty much all of the new Ultimates run. It’s a predominantly non-white team, and their whole remit is awesome superscience. Amadeus Cho, who’s also currently the Totally Awesome Hulk is another non-white genius scientist. The Maker aka Evil Reed Richards is good for taking over the world moments. I don’t know if David Alleyne has any especially good f*ck yeah science moments, but he’s a gay african american teenage scientist, so as role models go he’s pretty awesome. Kavita Rao is a regular X side character who’s also the first scientist from the Indian subcontinent I can think of. The recent run of Wolverine and the X-Men is just full of awesome science moments from Beast, Broo and Max Frankenstein (genius child scientist supervillain). Hope that helps, awesome science teacher person!

    1. Just to note (politely I hope), David Alleyne is explicitly a bisexual African-American teenage scientist, rather than a gay African-American teenage scientist.

  26. My favorite bit of X-Men science is from Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #544 and Uncanny X-Men vol 2 #1-3. There’s *a lot* of dubious evolution in X-Men stories, but this story actually gets something right about evolution.

    Mr. Sinister understands that natural selection can be a search algorithm, which means it can be used to solve optimization problems. Sinister’s optimization problem is finding the best predictions of future X-Men behavior. He uses natural selection on himself to find that best predictor, using past X-Men behavior to validate it. All well and good; textbook “big data” analysis.

    And yet, Sinister fails. He also makes a textbook mistake. He only uses one training set, which his predictions match perfectly. He “overfit” to that training set, and consequently his predictions failed to handle new scenarios.

    In evolutionary terms, this is partly why selection doesn’t produce a single “fittest” species. An organism perfectly adapted to past conditions won’t necessarily be prepared if conditions change in the future. Diverse populations are more likely to contain individuals that can handle those new conditions.

    A system that’s just Sinister is one that’s stuck in the past.

  27. Are you telling me that Agent Zaitzev, whose name sounds a lot like the Russian word for bunny, gets mauled by a dog at the end…

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