Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

101 – Not Bad, Just Drawn That Way

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 it’s pretty much always terrible to be Magik; Y is a sometimes vowel; Wolfsbane is a secret Disney Princess; feelings ruin everything; and Gossamyr may or may not be an allegory (but is pretty interesting either way).


  • What Lila Cheney is up to these days
  • New Mutants #67-70
  • Gratuitous space spelling
  • Gossamyr
  • Spyder
  • The Accountants
  • Magneto’s ongoing slide into supervillainy
  • A few fairly specific elements of teen-girl social dynamics
  • Wolfsbane’s greatest desire
  • Practical logistics of teleporting aliens into a sun
  • Approaching the X-books as a new writer
  • Who we’d put on an all-X-Men trivia team

NEXT EPISODE: BabyRace 2000; and Archangel vs. Cameron Hodge

Special thanks to Kieron Gillen for the X-pert consult; and to Arvin Bautista for the use of “I Will Steal Your Heart.”


  • Illyana’s descent continues
  • S’ym gains near-complete control of Limbo
  • First instances of possessed machinery and architecture

You can find a visual companion to this episode on our blog!

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  1. I absolutely loved that Lila Cheney issue of Captain Marvel. It was The Best Comic Ever. One of my favourite issues of that entire run, and of the year. It was so fun!

    There is some interesting stuff in this arc, but it is really tough to tell exactly what the hell is going on, on a metatextual level. If it was clearer what Simonson was trying to say, I think the whole thing would be a lot easier to enjoy. And there’s just a whole lot of really uncomfortable elements.

    I agree that Blevins draws some awesome creatures.

    I do find it interesting that Lila basically ghosted Sam. We find out later she survives teleporting into that sun. She could have gone back to Sam, but she decided to let him believe she was dead. Not cool, Lila, not cool.

    You could totally work a ‘Y’ into ‘Rachel’. You could do Rachyl.

    1. And yet, somehow, the fact that *it’s not my name and hasn’t been for months* makes that advice somewhat less pertinent.

        1. Thanks. I still get called “Rachel” enough to be a little on edge about it–it’s one thing to make that joke on the podcast, but it’s another when it keeps spooling out from there, y’know?

    2. The thing about the Y joke is that it has me yearning for a Somebodyorother Explains Y: The Last Man. Maybe people with Y already in their names can tackle that one.

  2. As regards the prevalence of “Y, the sometimes vowel”, you mention Spyder and Gossamyr, but we do already have “Sym” too. (Which isn’t a word per se, but is a substitution reference to Dave Sim)

    Extra points for remembering Lila and the NM’s cameo in the Spellbound miniseries!

  3. Is this the first time Miles has done a Lila Cheney Patreon thanks? Because I think it’s the best ever, it’s far outranked Doomvoice for me, which I didn’t think was a thing that could happen, but Doom doesn’t already have his own wonderful music video.

    And now the question of what kind of music video would be appropriate for Doctor Doom is going to be bugging me all evening.

    1. I read somewhere a quote which has always stuck with me. “If Doom is not posed in such a way that he looks like he’s about to break out into an operatic aria at any moment, they’re drawing him wrong.”

      So I would imagine less in a video, but more of a concert performance, with him standing in the middle of the stage (Where else), spotlight shining down on him (and him alone) as he launches, with a powerful tenor voice, into s selection from his favourite grand operas (All written by himself, he IS Doom after all)

      1. That is helpful. I imagine he uses sorcery or supertech to amplify his voice and the music so it’s directly into people’s heads, leaving them unable to think of anything else.
        Yeah, come to think of it, Doom’d use it as an excuse to put evil subliminal suggestions of loyalty into the song that play on repeat when Doom’s song gets stuck in your head all day.

        1. Well, the Latverian national anthem is

          “It’s Von Doom’s world after all!
          It’s Von Doom’s world after all!
          It’s Von Doom’s world after all!
          It is Doom’s, Doom’s World!”

          It may not be opera, but Doom knows a genius level earworm when he hears one and is not afraid to co-opt it.

          1. I feel he’d find that rather crass. He HAS shown to be a man of taste.
            I kind of imagining him hiring someone to tell his whole amazing life story as an opera, Doom the great leader, undoing the messes of that fool, Richards.
            Oh man, that’s it. The operatic That Fool Richards, a repeated theme sung through his entire life story opera, holding Doom, nay, Latveria, nay, the entire world back from its bright shiny future! THAT is the Doom I’m going to picture from now on when I’m thinking of him dramatically.

            1. There you go! 🙂

              (When Doom hums the lietmotif of “That Fool Richards” around Doomstad, all Doombots in the area are programmed to automatically start to harmonise)

      2. I’m going to fight you over something: I don’t think Doctor Doom would be a tenor. I imagined him with a much deeper voice. Opera voice classification is not just about how high or low you can go, it’s also about how dark or light your voice is. I can’t imagine Doctor Doom having a voice that could be reasonably described as light.

        1. You make a valid point. 🙂

          Of course my contrary nature now wants to see Doom as less a bass or basso profundo, but singing more like Tiny Tim, accompanying himself on the ukelele (which he taught himself to play… badly).

  4. So who would be the worst X-men trivia team?

    Assuming no powers I feel like Cable’s a natural fit (growing up in a dark future, where modern pop culture is merely myth and legend), but other than that?

    1. Cable is a definite, yes.
      Quentin Quire could do decently, but with Cable on the team he’d sandbag just to piss the guy off.
      Sunfire has a limited area of expertise, plus he’d get outraged whenever anybody second-guesses his answers and stalk off in a huff.

      1. The thing is, rewatching TOS recently, it’s amazing how Kirk’s original background and personality was as anything BUT Han Solo-esque.

        His peers refer to him as someone who had been a complete bookworm at Academy, a deadly serious kid with no time for parties or relationships of any sort. A loyal friend, but not terribly social, and committed to graduating, making Captain as fast as possible.

        That was toned down a bit over the years, and the movies, and was completely jettisoned in the Abram reboot, but I do find it fun to compare.

  5. Have the ages of Lila and Sam ever been stated? Even relatively. Lila just seems like she’s older than Sam by some margin.

    1. She is. Sam is somewhere between 18 and 20 at this point; I think Lila’s supposed to be in her early-mid 20s.

      1. Sam’s only about 3 years older than Kitty Pryde so he should be closer to 17-18 at this point I think. We were lucky enough to get relative ages for all the New Mutants and most of the X-Men under Claremont and can basically use Kitty as the rosetta stone to figure them all out at various points.

        Not sure about Lila but in my head I put her closer to Dazzler, who was in line with the O5 age wise. It seemed like a pretty inappropriate age gap to me, but even then I was used to that as an X-fan after Peter & Kitty, Betsy & Doug, Brian & Meggan, etc.

  6. Re: trivia teams. I’d say that any of the Mojoverse crew would be good, seeing as everyone from there are massive media consumers.

  7. Rahne’s attraction to Sam doesn’t work for me in this arc, because we’ve seen her have a crush on him before, and then move on and she only just asked if she could be his little sister back in 60/61. To move on from there to romantic focus just seems weird.

    As for suggesting that the Doug/Rahne relationship was one sided, though personally never a fan of it, I have to disagree as it it’s certainly one that Rahne always remembered as being mutual, going so far as to describe Doug as “the first boy I ever loved” in her X-Factor days (A bit hyperbolic, but she was repsonding to a tactlessly phrased question from a human reporter about whether mutants were even capable of love), and likewise in “Tribute the Second” where she still visits his grave (the only member of his team who does) and asks him up in heaven if he minds that she wants to be with Rictor now (Love that story, it’s a lovely, trope-twisting, reverse ghost story). It’s also referenced in other, non-Peter-David-written stories.

    It’s interesting hearing Jay’s assessment of Gossamyr’s action, I think I’ve always read it much more in the same ways as Miles did. Still not a fan neither of the story nor Gossamyr’s characterisation, but I appreciate the alternate take.

  8. I didn’t like the arc when I read it, but you did make it more entertaining, and I loved the character moments. Raine is such an endearing chracter. That’s make me even more pissed of Rob Liefied for sexualizing her! Why, Liefied?!

    On a lighter note, I do think that you should totally end every episode with I Will Steal Your Heart.

  9. On the one hand, wow this whole arc felt like a big digression and my main takeaway was “wow, Gossamyr is pretty much everything Bret Blevins wants to draw all the time, forever.”

    On the other hands, this arc was where I first encountered the term “effluvia,” so you can learn a lot of stuff from comics, even if the overall arc leaves you cold.


  10. I haven’t finished the podcast yet but I had to say this:

    Damn, David Wynne is seriously surpassing himself lately. The colors this week are amazing.

  11. Here’s how I read the scene with Gossamyr winking. She wasn’t trying to be friends with anyone, she was deliberately torturing everyone on the team in a sociopathic, manipulative way, all the time. She knew Rahne was very repressed, so she put on a bit of a show of her own wanton sexuality, knowing it would torment her. She followed this up by laying temptation in Rahne’s path with the Sam illusion. Likewise she manipulated Magik’s anger, Sunspot’s machismo, Cannonball’s feelings of ineptitude, and Mirage’s meddling/control issues. That she interwove all this so that each attack interacted with others is a triumph of plot-writing, even if the actual execution of the story was a bit wanting.

    Another nice bit of plot that kind of failed in the delivery was the various reflections. White Queen and Gossamyr were both manipulating things for their own gain, but unlike the New Mutants, Magneto fell to his more base characteristics. Likewise the whole turning into monsters due to external manipulations, down to the cocoon releasing the ultimate form that the aliens went through is very much like the journey Magik would take in Inferno.

  12. I think you did a very good defense of this arc. I agree about Gossamyr. I thought she was an interesting character but walked that line of being really interesting and really annoying. It does fall apart completely, though. I did like the themes it explored (a simpler theme, of course, would be teenage emotion).

    My biggest complaint about the arc to me is it felt small potatoes. Uncanny X-Men and X-Factor is clearly building towards Inferno. The New Mutants, on the other hand, go to space. I love the small moments that lead there but it felt like this would be number three in importance when Inferno arrives when it should have been the flagship book.

  13. It was the first issue in this arc where I jumped off New Mutants. I hadn’t been happy with the direction since Louise Simonson took over, so I pulled the plug.

    I was a little disappointed to not hear a comparison or reference to the other empathic manipulator that had appeared in the book. It’s interesting that Empath was getting fleshed out and humanized, and just a little while later, Gossamyr seemed to take up his role.

    1. There were a lot of emotional manipulators around at the time; Empath, Ariel Gossamyr and more-or-less one-shot’s like Temptress and Snitch, they’re an easy source of introducing conflict in a team book, and they ALL felt rather skeevy to me (Mind influencing like that creeps me out on principle).

      (For some reason I keep thinking that it was hinted Gambit had a power along those lines in terms of unsual levels of charm, but I may be misremembering horribly and I can’t find a reference to it online)

      1. I remember the same, but likewise can’t recall a specific source. Something to keep an eye out for as we go back through!

      2. There was a lot of flex in Gambit’s power set in his first few years. There was a ‘unconcious charm’ power that was mentioned a few times but dropped but it keeps coming back. Hell, even right now his entry on Marvel.com has it: http://marvel.com/universe/Gambit.

        “Gambit also possesses a hypnotic charm that allows him to exert a subtle influence over any sentient mind. This power allows Gambit to compel others to believe what he says and agree with anything he suggests. More powerful minds have proven immune to Gambit’s charm.”

        Personally, I always thought this is one of the reasons why Remy ended up sticking around with the X-men since they’re all used to resisting this sort of stuff, due to the psychics around him. I can’t recall him /actively/ using it at any point but I forget thigns and I’m pretty sure I haven’t read all of his appearances, as much as I tried there for awhile.

        1. Many thanks for the info, glad to know that my aging trivia-saturated brain cells CAN still function! 🙂

            1. I remember a scene – I think it’s just after Gambit was introduced, maybe even in his first issue – where Remy saves kid Storm from… Shadow King’s puppets, I believe?

              They’re confronted by Shadow King himself and Gambit tries talking him out of chasing Storm. Shadow King laughs at him, while also commenting that his Jedi mind tricks won’t work on a mind such as his. Not in those exact words, but… you know.

              Anyway, my point is that the scene read as if ‘mutant charm’ was something Gambit was actively using.

  14. And since I know you love loosely-related tangents (“but we digress” should really be part of the drinking game yawl…) what does everyone think of female Ghostbusters? Cheap gimmick to milk an unneeded sequel or valid exploration of character roles if handled properly?

    Talk amongst yourselves…

  15. Glad to get an overview on this arc (also: glad I didn’t need to read it to know what happened lol). This arc (and the last one) aren’t on Comixology yet, so when I first read Inferno last year, it was weird to switch so suddenly from Fall of the Mutants to New Mutants 71. Who is Gossamyr? Why does Illyana look like that? This gives the perfect amount of background, without having to subject myself to hunting it down and reading it.

    Also: I’m digging Inferno Watch! I just re-downloaded Inferno to my iPad to follow along ($29.99 USD gets you X-Factor 33-40 and the relevant story from Annual 4, Uncanny X-Men 239-243, New Mutants 71-73, and X-Terminators 1-4; buying those separately would be around $42 USD). I hope Watch becomes a thing (the next big one is X-Tinction Agenda, right? Does it have a lot of buildup that can be mentioned like this? Or is Inferno unique?)

    1. My penultimate sentence was meant to read “I hope (Major Crossover) Watch becomes a thing(…)”. I used triangle brackets instead of round parentheses and the forum assumed it was some kind of HTML code, I guess.

    2. Sadly, Inferno is the last time that Claremont and Simonson will be able to set up a big crossover that pays off long-running plot threads in all the titles. X-Tinction Agenda, for instance, is an X-Factor event that only features the other teams because they needed to call in backup. X-Cutioner’s Song was basically thrown together at the last minute, so it has no buildup at all. And past that it’s the Lobdell era, where almost all the books are treated as extensions of a single enormous plot line anyway. (Even Excalibur becomes X-Men Europe for a while.)

  16. Interesting take on the underwear scene. I didn’t read anything into it, personally. I thought it was actually kind of cute (namely cuz Warlock is such a good pal), since it shows Rahne being Rahne while the others have no issue just dropping their clothes in front of each other. Rahne’s body language and the way she’s framed is also, to me, just a kid putting on clothes in her own way.

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