Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

95 – Earthfall

Art by David Wynne
Art by David Wynne


In which the X-Men finally follow up on a dropped plotline; you should probably not mess with abandoned star sharks; “Dawn of Blood” is a sometimes food; The Goblin Queen makes her first appearance; we debut a new podcast feature; and there may or may not be a frozen woman in the Xavier School basement.


  • The Providian Order
  • Uncanny X-Men #232-234
  • The Brood (again)
  • Several ill-fated campers
  • Harry Palmer
  • The Brood as horror antagonists
  • Why John Doggett is the best X-Files agent
  • Psylocke’s armor
  • Why Nestor Carbonell should play Gambit
  • Some deeply dubious codenames
  • Red Bee
  • Michael the Bee
  • Reverend William Conover and his Glory Day Crusade
  • The Mile High Diner
  • The strange case of Hannah Conover
  • One hell of a nightmare
  • A deal with a devil
  • InfernoWatch
  • The direct market
  • Ways to approach an endless serial


  • Madelyne meets and strikes a deal with S’ym
  • First appearance of the Goblin Queen costume

NEXT EPISODE: Evolutionary War

CORRECTION: In this episode, Jay recalled the direct market as having been conceived in significant part by Carol Kalish. It was, in fact, the brainchild of Phil Seuling.

You can find a visual companion to this episode–and links to recommended reading–on our blog!

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Buy prints of this week’s illustration at our shop, or contact David Wynne for the original!


  1. Using a bee to interfere with opposing counsel would definitely render the Red Bee subject to sanctions for professional misconduct and would likely also be obstruction of justice or a criminal contempt, in that he would be committing a breach of the peace, noise, or other disturbance directly tending to interrupt the proceedings of a court. The bee is essentially an instrumentality of the Red Bee (sentience or quasi-sentience aside) much like a police dog…

    1. What I want to know is how they could ever prove it. If you can’t show a link to the Red Bee and the actions of his bee beyond any reasonable doubt, is there even a case?
      Also wouldn’t bee identification be tricky?
      “I have never seen that bee before in my life, your Honour.”

      1. He’d look Michael right in the compund eye and LIE about their relationship? The cad! The bounder! I refuse to believe the Red Bee would be so cruel and heartless to his little bee buddy.

        I prefer to think that he’d rather risk disbarment than see Michael do his heartbreaking “dance of disillusionment” so that the other members of the hive would know his sorrow.

      1. Enthusiastic Agreement.

        I basically spent three hours last night thinking about what kind of a penal code you would need to deal with a capital murder charge against the Spider-Man villain The Swarm (in his original skeleton form)…

        Law & Order:Apian Justice

  2. This is my third runner up for best story of the Australian Era, because it’s so beat for beat “X-Men as a horror movie” and there’s plenty of memorably effed-up moments (that “we’re ALL of us Brood here!” panel) and some real icky Cronenbergian stuff in between.

    Also, Psylocke’s armor is really rad.

    Evolutionary War is up next? Awesome! I kinda love that goofy, misbegotten, crossover.

    1. One of the interesting parts of this storyline as a horror movie is that for the first issue, it’s the X-men that are cast in the role of the monsters, and Harry as the hapless victim…until the last page.

      Anne Nocenti is no longer the editor on the book, so perhaps the editorial-driven story of Madelyne Pryor took off. I always read it as S’ym putting some sort of mind whammy on her, so the proper thing to do would be to break the mind control. Sadly, Marvel just went the “she’s eeeeeevil” route.

  3. As a lawyer, uh, I assume Jay is right that using a bee makes the human culpable. I’m not going to go searching my law books (i.e., the internet) to find out because I’m doubting this specific scenario has occurred before, but the general principle is correct (I think the catch-all ethical rule 8.4 would cover it if you want a serious answer). However, I want to thank you for introducing the Red Bee. The world needs more lawyer superheroes.

    Have to say, that description of comic sales models is disheartening. I’ve switched from TPB to floppies with Marvel Unlimited as a backup. But I’m not sure I’m at the point where I feel comfortable pre-ordering. It seems that this type of model is very inefficient at supplying demand.

    1. Regarding preordering, some stores will make it worth your while. The store I go to offers a discount when preordering three months ahead of time (something like 25% off the Canadian price, which is currently way too high because the exchange rate is so bad).

      The store puts a spreadsheet with issue titles and Diamond order numbers on their website. You fill it out with the ones you want, and if you pay before the end of the month (for comics out 2-3 months later), then you get the lower price. I just paid for my comics that are coming out in April. I knew which ones I wanted because I read the April solicits, which came out in January.

      The upside is discounts! And a set pull list, so you’re never in a bind for books you really want.

      The downside is you might be gambling with new titles. By the time issue one comes out, you’ve prepaid for at least three, if not five or six. If it’s a dud, you’re out a bit of money.

      Not all stores do this, but if you find one that makes it worth your while to preorder, then go with it.

      1. My local comic book store doesn’t require me to pay in advance for anything on my pull list. And if something that’s on my pull list comes in and I decide I don’t want it after all, I don’t have to buy it. And they give me a discount too (though I think it’s only 15% off, not 25%).

        My point: not all stores have the same policies as Andrew’s store, some stores have very customer-friendly policies, so if you’re thinking of pre-ordering (a.k.a. starting a pull list), check out your local store — you may find you like it!

        1. That’s a pretty good deal too. The store I go to values the definite preorder, and I can respect that. Especially after Jay’s explanation.

  4. RE: Psylocke’s armor, I was positive that she received it as a hand-me-down from Lindsey McCabe. (I have NO idea who Lindsey McCabe is but somehow I’ve always known that the armor came from her.) I’m also fairly certain this exchange is shown on-panel somewhere at some point but I also don’t know where it would have happened if not in the pages of Uncanny X-Men. (Maybe an annual?)

    I also must be clear here that I LOVE PSYLOCKE’S ARMOR. No, I really love Psylocke’s armor. Who else but Psylocke herself could make the color combo of lavender and HOT PINK so stealthy and mysterious and dangerous?! All of Psylocke’s outfits are fabulous in their own way but the cloaked armor is the most fabulous by far. And so underappreciated!

    If you ever do a podcast devoted to Psylocke’s various iconic/idiosyncratic/controversiial fashion statements/lifestyle choices please invite me on as a guest. So much to unpack and consider.

  5. Psylocke’s armour: I just checked. It came from Wolverine #5. Lindsey McCabe (along with Jessica Drew and Tiger Tyger) went to a Madripoor branch of Landau, Luckman and Lake. The guy there gives the armour to Lindsey, saying it’s part of an order placed by Wolverine for “a colleague.” So he actually had the armour made for Psylocke, but Lindsey used it temporarily. Fortunately, Lindsey, Tyger and Psylocke apparently all have the exact same body type, because all three of them were able to wear it comfortably. So, the implication would be that the Wolverine arc takes place before this story, chronologically.

    As for this arc, it’s a good one. It’s really fun. There’s some great horror stuff, and some great comedic stuff. And I have to say, Maddie’s dream sequence is really creepy and awful. And awesome.

    For Hannah: If she was in Xavier’s basement, then her cryo tank has probably been destroyed by now. But hey, maybe she did get moved to Muir Isle! If that’s true, then . . . her cryo tank’s probably been destroyed by now. Damn.

    Evolutionary War next? Oh, joy. That’ll be . . . ugh. Though, actually, the X-Men Annual tying into it was actually pretty fun.

    By the way, while pre-orders for single issues are ideal, pre-orders for TPBs do still help. If someone prefers trade-waiting, it’s fine. I think Marvel (and the other publishers) do factor that in when determining whether to keep a series going. Or, at least, that’s what people at the publishers claim. People should not feel obligated to buy the single issues, or to feel guilty for trade-waiting. Anyone who wants to trade-wait, go ahead, you’re OK.

    1. I’m wondering if maybe Hannah’s cryo-chamber still exisits, as in…maybe it’s slightly off-site in the Z’noxx chamber? “Uncanny” 334 I think shows that to be sort of a trek from the rebuilt school, Jean and Juggernaut had to travel through the mansion’s sewer system.

  6. The delay between intro of the Brood and their appearance here drove me nuts back in the day.

    I wonder if Harry Palmer is a nod to the Len Deighton’s spy character of the same name, the “anti-James Bond” of “The Ipcress File” and other books, and movies (where he was played by Michael Caine)

    I am also so relieved that I was not the only one who found the Brood’s random-ass codenames to be hilariously bad.

    I looked them up and the full list is Blindslide, Brickbat, Dive-Bomber, Lockup, Spitball, Temptress, Tension and Whiphand. These are the sorts of names that Transformers from the fourth wave of the third year of their version of the line would be backing quietly away from going “Nooo… Thank you, but no.. I think I’ll just stay “Miscoloured Seeker #5″ for now, the fans will name me sooner or later I’m sure and I’ll be fine with that.”

    It being an American term, I had no I idea what a “brickbat” even was…. but then again I had no idea a “nightcrawler” was a thing until years after i started reading X-Men, I just thought it was a cool sounding name, which if you DON’T associate it with a creepy-crawlie, it is.

    I remember that apparent healing of the arthritis of wifes arthritis and assumed it had to be down to her being Brood infected, but I was long gone from the main titles before she returned, so I’m glad it was at least eventually dealt with. And someone using “the laying on of hands” as cover for Brood egg implementation is a brilliantly creepy idea.

  7. Ahhh so much good here! First: Good episode as always. This Brood story was always one of my favorites. The Genosha one that comes next, not so much … Genosha’s never been my favorite concept.

    And with Maddy’s story, so the march toward “Inferno” begins! “Inferno” is I think one of my favorite X-Men crossovers and X-Men stories in general so I’m getting pumped for your coverage of it.

    I’m kind of eagerly wondering HOW you guys will tackle “Inferno,” episode-wise. While “Mutant Massacre” and “Fall of the Mutants” are the type of crossover with multiple separate-but-related stories, and “X-Tinction Agenda” and “X-Cutioner’s Song” are the traditional every-other-issue type of crossover, “Inferno” is sort of a hybrid of the two — “Uncanny” and “X-Factor” officially crossing over as one story and “New Mutants” remaining isolated. Will you do two separate Inferno episodes?

    Not only that, but “Inferno” was sort of an unofficial linewide event, with a bunch of tie-ins that I’m sure you won’t cover but maybe brush on… but also there’s an 8- or 9-part Spider-Man Family crossover as part of this as well.

    So in your listener questions, one listener asked about monthly buying vs trade waiting and the concept of a comic as a complete run/story was brought up by Jay. Honestly, both the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne co-plotter era of “X-Men” and the Claremont-solo-plotter “Uncanny” run are two of the best examples of comics as a novel with a close to finite ending, I think.

    But Marvel has a bunch of near perfect novel-esque runs like this: Byrne’s “Fantastic Four”; Simonson’s “Thor”; David’s “Incredible Hulk”;Busiek’s “Avengers”; Lee/Kirby “Thor”; Stern’s “Amazing Spider-Man”; Lee/Kirby “Fantastic Four”; DeMatties “Spectacular Spider-Man”; Gruenwald’s “Captain America”; Englehart’s “Avengers”; Conway’s “Amazing Spider-Man” … those are just some of my favorites that read as if they are a finite novel … and that’s not even counting stellar creator-owned projects like “Walking Dead,” “Bone,” “Love and Rockets,” etc. etc.

  8. Thank you, Jay, for sharing your love of John Doggett! As an original X-Phile, I’ve been feeling pretty lonely lauding his virtues to an incredulous and largely apathetic mass. Dang it, the man actually wanted to catch criminals and stuff! In the FBI! Imagine that!

    Plus, he’s objectively better than Mulder. In one episode, Kersh justifies keeping Dogget on the X-Files because he’d already made more arrests and closed more cases in his short tenure. His superior awesomeness is canon! CANON!

    Okay, I’m done. Sorry for the digression. Back to that other X-Business.

    1. Never apologise for singing the praises of John Doggett, especially when comparing him favourably to the probably only kept around because of nepotism, Fox Mulder.

  9. What bothered me the most is how easy was the transformation of Madelyne into the Goblin Queen. I mean, can demons give extreme superhuman powers to just anybody on earth who is willing to take it through a dream? If that’s so, I’m sure there would have been by now many many more Goblin Kings and Queens and the world would be abolished by them only. No need for Inferno when you can have Infernoes.

    This bothered me to the point where I wasn’t able to enjoy any of the Inferno content, feeling the whole premise of the Goblin Queen is cheap and unreliable, feeling the building towards it was unstable and unsound.

    To this day I’m still waiting for someone to explain me this plot hole.

    1. Best I can suggest is that, as a clone of Jean Grey, Maddie had much easier access to latent superhuman abilities on an extraordinary level.

      So Sy’m would have had a lot less work to do to turn her into the Goblyn Queen than he would to give a baseline normal human.

      They might be able to do the same with any human going, but given the amount of energy the demon might have to sacrifice to make a normal person a superbeing, then it might not be worth the effort.

      1. Yeah, Maddie presumably had the potential in her that could be unlocked. Giving her that power presumably also required she agree to it – deals with devils plenty of precedent, don’t forget. If she’d chosen the other path in her dream, or if she’d chosen a different self on S’ym’s nails (and by the way, we really should give some praise to S’ym’s manicure there, that’s some fancy nail-painting there), then he couldn’t have made her the Goblyn Queen.

  10. IIRC, Hannah Conover’s body was last seen in a SHIELD facility in a Punisher series. During John Ostrander’s run on that character and after the Frank Castle as reluctant mob boss story didn’t pan out (love Ostrander’s work, but, really, he should have known better)they tried Frank Castle reluctant SHIELD agent. Castle worked with the X-Cutioner to protect Rev. Conover from terrorists planning to make him a martyr to the cause of mutant acceptance. Hannah’s body was seen at a SHIELD facility.

    1. That makes sense to me. Ostrander wrote the “X-Men vs Brood” mini, and the concept of Marvel writers having a “pet character(s)” was still very much a thing in the mid-90s. That seems to have mostly gone away at current-day Marvel.

  11. Regarding the pitfalls of the direct market, is there a reason companies can’t send out early solicitations for trade collections at the same time as the first issue they’re going to collect? It’d be bare-bones for obvious reasons, but it’d be something and if trade readers could lock in their support for a title at the same time as the people buying floppies that would benefit everybody….wouldn’t it?

  12. Aw, I kind of actually like Channing Tatum. He seems like a really nice person, and is actually a pretty decent actor; he was good in ‘Foxcatcher’ and ‘Logan Lucky’. I think he definitely has potential as Gambit, with the right director and writer.

  13. Another wonderful episode.

    This may be covered later on, but do we know when it was decided that Madelyn was a clone of Jean Grey? I may be wrong, but I don’t think it had was determined at the same time as they brought Jean back.

    Does anyone know whether the plan for Inferno, and Madelyn’s role in it, had been determined by the time of the fall of the mutants?

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