Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

Rachel & Miles Review the X-Men, Episode 72

Week of February 3, 2016:

In which we are pleasantly surprised by Greg Land; Magneto makes some valid fashion choices; Jay has a lot of feelings about universe-splitting; and Worst X-Man Ever ends in the only way it ever could.


  • Uncanny X-Men #3 (00:26)
  • *X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever #5 (06:07)

*Pick of the Week (11:33)

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  1. I actually found UXM #3 really dull and bland. Land’s art is less awful than usual, but I still loathe Land’s art. I will still refuse to pay for his work – I use digital codes for this series. But the big problem I had with this issue was the fight. It was a really boring fight, with no action. It was Magneto and the Dark Riders just looking at each other. It needed more action, to be more dynamic. I probably would’ve cut the Psylocke panels during those pages – keep her dialogue as caption boxes – and instead used the space to show Magneto and the Riders actually fighting, with Magneto throwing things at them.

    Also, Shen Xorn? Do we really want to get back to that? Though Bunn does do a surprisingly good job with him. I hope he does get to offer the Riders some tea.

    Worst X-Men Ever was great. So much fun. It was obvious how Bailey’s story was going to end, but obvious in a good way, because you’re just waiting for it. And then the story itself ends in such a weird, clever, great way.

    Also: A-Force has Roller Derby Dazzler! Dazzler doing roller derby! I love it! It is amazing and perfect and I love it. I want that to be an entire series. I would read the hell out of it. So I am so happy about that.

  2. I love meta-commentary and absolutely want more comics miniseries free of imperial–err–continuity entanglements, where the writer is free to pick and choose versions of the backstory a la carte.

    That said, I had a very different reaction to “Worst X-Man Ever,” from the first issue to the last. I think the reason is summed up by the snippet of the pitch included here, which describes the main character as a ‘a pretty regular “bro-ish” teenager.’

    I’m tired of bro-ism being normalized. Of stories that begin with dudes making lists of girls who are “out of their league” like they’re talking about baseball cards, where these ostensibly “average” protagonists spend a lot of their time being jealous of douchebag creepsters. Here we have Gambit the creepster becoming Gambit the creepy old teacher. The commentary wasn’t sharp enough to feel like social satire. It just felt like mean humor, the kind that makes the bro-ish dudes reading this say to themselves, “See? I’m a nice guy. I’m not like that REALLY creepy dude.”

    Miles saw the series as exploring how you build identity even when the odds are stacked against you, and why power fantasies don’t work and why they do. I didn’t really find any of that in my reading. I saw a lonely young white dude, apparently straight, being depressed that he never gets to be Cool or Get the Girl. (Though of course he still gets to make out with Mystique, because it’s still a little bit wish fulfillment, right?) He doesn’t really learn or grow, he just watches the world gets worse, and we’re supposed to be sympathetic to him because nearly everyone around him is worse and he notices that fact, not because of anything he actually does.

    The best X-Men stories examine how different kinds of people fit into society. But there’s also a history of really problematic moments that come from white male writers who don’t recognize or understand their own privilege writing We’re All Outcasts stories. Remender’s whole “Don’t use the M-Word” bit in Uncanny Avengers, for example.

    I’m thirty-something white dude myself. I always knew objectifying women was a problem–I was raised with and retained a generally feminist outlook–but I still had a certain amount of “why do girls like bad boys?” bull$#*% thinking in my teens and early twenties that makes me cringe in retrospect. So I look at stories like this, protagonists like this, which have been everywhere my whole life, and think – no. We need better examples. Normal needs an upgrade.

    Oh, and–the classic arcade game asside–the idea that there’s a universe in which Kitty Pryde is anyone’s hostage to motivate her man? PLEASE.

  3. Don’t forget, Psylocke and Magneto had some pretty interesting exchanges and dynamic in Keiron Gillen’s Uncanny, and Magneto knew her “secret” regarding Tabula Rasa… I’m intrigued where this is all going. Psylocke has finally had some awesome character work in the 2010s, after some 20 years in the doldrums being a confused mess! Just goes to show, no bad characters, just bad writers… Possibly 😉

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