Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

135 – Kurt Wagner, Warlord of Mars (Cross-Time Caper, Part 2)

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 Cross-Time Caper continues; alliteration is awesome; someone else’s geopolitical conflict is not an appropriate place to play out your pirate fantasies; we are definitely not actually going to eat Alan Davis’s brains; Jamie Braddock is Evil Rex Racer; Widget eats a car; Rick Leonardi is the definitive fill-in artist; the problem is patriarchy; and everything’s sticky in Madripoor.


  • X-Manga
  • Excalibur #16-19
  • Crosstime
  • A John Carter riff
  • A mysterious and dubiously reliable narrator
  • A terrible pick-up line
  • Kymri
  • Anjulie
  • Gender-neutral fantasy armor
  • Implicit fellatio in several media
  • Space Fred Savage
  • An alternate Jean Grey (and her untimely demise)
  • Tullamore Voge
  • A grand tourney
  • A deeply disappointing pastiche
  • ORZ-1
  • Dirty Pair (and a sustained riff thereon)
  • What makes a train sexy
  • Wolverine’s table manners
  • Jim Jaspers vs. Jamie Braddock vs. Jamie Jeffers

NEXT EPISODE: Fill-In Frenzy!

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  1. In quick response to the discussion of John Carter of Mars, and the lack of full nudity (particularly male nudity) in adaptations and comic riffs, there is a Carter pastiche which does contain full nudity – Richard Corbin’s Den. The title character of the series, who is male, spends effectively the entire run of the series entirely nude, and the movement of particular portions of the anatomy are used to help represent the illusion of movement the same way that capes are used in comics.

    Also, we have a destroyed celestial body, so I’m calling it an accurate Dirty Pair pastiche.

  2. I agree with so much of what you’re saying about the missed potential after Alan Davis stops being the regular artist – I met him in Bristol recently and let him know how highly you speak of his work on the podcast, and encouraged him to give it a listen. 🙂 I’m a bit young age English to have had the chance to watch Speed Racer, but I’m pretty well-versed in anime in general. Is the traffic cop thing an attempt to shout out to You’re Under Arrest? Also orz is cultural shorthand for dismayed failure – it’s a figure with its head bowed in shame and despair. I had no idea it was around so early.

  3. I can think of another reason for not letting Kitty drive the race car–according to Mojo Mayhem, she doesn’t know how to drive stick. (I’m guessing that ORZ-1 was a nod to Tom Orzechowski?)

    I’d forgotten that the characters spent months in at least one world during the CTC. Do they establish if time is passing at the same rate for them as on 616? Either way, it exacerbates the issue of Kitty’s age–if it’s passing faster for them, she’s older than her calendar age, and if it’s the same or slower, then the amount of time between her birthdays is even more disbelief-straining.

  4. Even as a cold open topic the mangaverse gets pretty much forgotten. Yeah it kind of sucked, and you can’t really pretend otherwise, but there was enough weirdness there for at least another minute. So sad.

    I guess I really was the only person who was sorry we didnt get a Mangaverse tie in during Hickman’s Secret War.

    1. Likewise, though IIRC we did get a Mangaverse tie-in in Spider-verse* as, to be fair, Legend of the Spider-Clan was probably one of the best installments of the Mangaverse. (Along with a more anime-influenced character in SP//DR, and Takuya Yamashiro from the Toei Spider-Man series).

      Also, I was kinda disappointed that when the manga X-Men books were brought up, Tsutomu Nihei’s Snikt didn’t come up.

  5. You know, one of my favourite things about #16 is Kitty just casually mentioning that she’s a ninja. I just find it hilarious. But this story is just fun in general. It’s goofy, silly fun.

    Can I just praise Brian for “May the best entity win”? I appreciate that degree of inclusiveness.

    The Dirty Pair arc was a bit odd. It didn’t work for me. I might enjoy it more if I read/watched Dirty Pair, but I kinda doubt it.

  6. I haven’t listened to the show yet, was just reading the comics before I listened and I come to issue 18 and I’m like, “OMG, Dirty Pair! (Also, OMG, the art in this issue is like a terrible self-published anime fancomic, but mostly OMG Dirty Pair!) I can’t be the only one who noticed this!” Then I read your X-Plained list and see Dirty Pair on the list, and of course you two noticed and pointed it out 🙂

  7. Some of my favourite comics. A really enjoyable recap episode, thanks 🙂

    Several observations!

    I love the Alan Davis art. He’s the only one who can really balance the humour, the pathos, and the general weirdness… If you ever do get him on the show, I’d be intrigued to know why he left in the middle of the House Of M issues of Uncanny Xmen. Again, I think it was due to workloads but I also get the sense of some kind of editorial interference? Which was such a shame as those issues were like an Excalibur greatest hits in terms of cameos! His website is fantastic too in terms of info. He was never impressed by Psylocke’s body swap.

    I never did notice that the cliffhanger of the previous issue is quietly dropped…

    This swashbuckling Nightcrawler is my favourite. 🙂 I agree with Miles, the bathtub scene with Anjuli is rather smoking hot!

    Kymri returns in later 2000s Uncanny Xmen and Nightcrawler solo series too, does she not? It’s all rather unexplained though, similar to Tulliver Voge. I think Claremont is at inconsistent at that late stage, or maybe suffers from lack of editorial rigour. But it’s so strange if it wasn’t another dimension!

    Kitty definitely kills Anjuli. It’s next referred to in God Loves Man Kills 2, I think… Kitty is forced to kill again, in self defence. Strangely Kitty doesn’t seem to refer to it until then??

    On Meggan and Rachel, I really like their psychic rapport. They are both quite similar characters in that they don’t know their true pasts… It really gets nicely resolved in the issues in the mid 40s.

    One thing I’m surprised you guys didn’t mention though: the scene where Meggan transforms into all the Xmen (cool fight scene btw!), she’s scared to give Rachel control of herself. But Rachel nudges her into it, as I recall. I could never decide how willingly or not Meggan was coerced.

    But I do like the fact their relationship is developed, and it’s clearly so different to Rachel and Kitty… What is great with this team is that you can clearly explain how all the different characters relate to each other. It’s rare to get that these days. The last good example I can think of is Runaways. Or Spurrier’s X-Force (all the characters have nicknames for each other!).

    Anyway, I could go on… Btw, Alistair is doing a traditional highland sword dance during the party, what with him being Scottish and all 😉 I like his makeshift kilt. And the face he has matchstick legs because he isn’t a superhero! Not often art reflects that.

    Yes, my love for Excalibur is boundless!

    1. I’ll agree with you on the House of M issues. They’re my favorite issues of that Claremont/Davis run, precisely because they read like issues of Excalibur. Even worse, Marvel shot down a proposed Claremont&Davis Excalibur miniseries a few years later because they didn’t perceive a demand for it.
      Although Excalibur 17 represented the end of Alan Davis’s first Excalibur run, it didn’t feel like it at the time. After 5 fill-in issues he came back to finish off the Cross-Time Caper. Although he was technically a fill-in artist, it seemed like he had just taken a short break. Those last two issues show just how much he brought to the table, and aside from Girl’s School from Heck, I didn’t buy another issue until his return.
      I’ll agree with Jay in defense of the Cross-Time Caper. Some people say it went on for too long, for me it didn’t go on long enough. It was definitely one of the funnest, most imaginative stories in all of comics.

  8. “You’re full of lies.”
    “Nope, nope, all true…”

    Barring the electors doing their intended-if-outdated jobs, we’re going to have enough lies and fabulists in the future. Must we start now?

  9. I think these set of issues are both my favorite and least favorite ones of this Excalibur run. My parents had a longbox with all of Excalibur and I remember trying to read through them all in a weekend. I don’t think I really paid attention to the creative team, but even my kid brain could tell when the art changed. One moment you had this great swashbuckler adventure and then you had really bad anime art.

    I don’t want to rag on Denis Jensen, since I’m sure he’s done good work elsewhere. But that one issue feel like he was given descriptions of what manga art was supposed to look like and wing it. It’s definitely the low point of the run for me, but fortunately we got the boarding school arc next, which brings it back around.

  10. When this issue came out, I saw it on the stands and assumed the art was a parody of First Comics’ Mars series, but I hadn’t yet discovered The Dirty Pair.

  11. Do Jay and Miles ever post a list ahead of time of what issues the next podcast will cover? I’m finally caught up and I enjoy reading the issues the week before, which is usually easy enough to figure out, but fill-in episodes (like next week) could be a more random collection.

    1. I’m pretty anal about this stuff too, but it’s been telegraphed pretty well. There are three fill-in issues that have been skipped so far, one each of Excalibur (#20), X-Factor (#47), and New Mutants (#81). I think the upcoming episode covers all of them. I am also thinking it might cover Excalibur #26, which was a pre-CTC filler story like #20, so it fits in with then even if it came out much later.

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