Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

145 – Remy and ‘Ro

Art by David Wynne. Buy prints at RedBubble, or contact David to purchase the original!

In which Val Cooper remains the club queen of U.S. Intelligence; the Shadow King is a huge jerk; Storm is a badass at any age; Gambit gets off to a surprisingly good start; “flesh and spirit” is the new “body and soul”; and we are guardedly optimistic about an upcoming release.

  • Unconventional evidence of nefarious influence
  • Uncanny X-Men #265-267
  • Storm’s early origins
  • The Shadow King
  • Deb Levin
  • A kind of pointless revenge plot
  • Trouble in space
  • A great deal of larceny
  • Counterintuitive costuming
  • The debut of Gambit
  • An unnecessarily complicated plan
  • Charm, and charm
  • Regrets
  • Our thoughts on the upcoming Legion series

NEXT EPISODE: Excalibur meanders, with guest X-Pert Elisabeth Allie!

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  1. Mike Collins is a British artist and writer who is still working in the UK, and who did a lot of work for Marvel UK and Captain Britain back in the day, perhaps most relevant to the subject matter of the podcast, he did a backup series featuring the surviving Cherubim, the team of Warpies who showed up briefly when Meggan first achieved her “glamour model” form.

    A lovely chap who is always fun to chat to at conventions.

  2. I have a really cool Flash commission that Mike Collins did for me at London Super Comicon and he joked that I was the only person who didn’t ask for Gambit. Apparently he has to tell a lot of people that he didn’t create Gambit. He got sketches from Jim Lee.

    Talking of Jim Lee I feel I should um actually the fact that the last issue you covered is credited to Homage Studios and is mainly pencilled by Whilce Portacio with Lee doing finished pencils and Scott Williams inking. I always consider this one as a fill-in with the Jim Lee run starting with the Cap/Widow/Wolvie flashback.

  3. Speaking of Gambit’s relationship with kids, I always wished we got more than we did between Gambit and Jubilee. They always had a fun big brother/little sister relationship that was decidedly different compared to how she was with Wolverine, the high point being the basketball game where they teamed up against Logan and Rogue. It’s nice to see him paired up with a teen who isnt as serious as Storm or Laura.
    Coming back to Marjorie Liu, she at least seems to have remembered how the two paired up, based on at least one phone call between them in Astonishing, and how excited Jubilee is to see Gambit in X-23.

    1. My main memory of Gambit interacting with a mutant child was with Marrow. The one which he saved from the Mutant Massacre when she was a little girl. There was an issue which occurred after her look was normalized (Marvel Database has that as Uncanny X-men 368-370). I cannot remember which issue, but I do recall being uncomfortable with 1.) realizing the weird aging which must have taken place and 2.) Gambit’s approval of her new look, if not romantic interest in her.

      Marrow’s costume improved in some ways, but I preferred Marrow being closer to the Cyclops end of the mutation spectrum.

    1. Pacific is three hours before Eastern, so generally in the vicinity of 9:00 PM our time on Sundays, but sometimes earlier or later. Our general rule is that they go up while it’s still Sunday on our side of the country.

  4. Gambit starts out so well and then so many people have no idea what to do with him later. So many people think that ‘charming and debonair’ is equal to ‘sleazy and creepy’. I think this is part of the same problem as a lot of people don’t have /any/ idea how to write things that are legitimately romantic, either. They often end up creepy and stalkery. That doesn’t even get into the fact that his powers change every five issues for awhile. Is he just charming or is it a mutant power? What can he blow up? What happens when he charges something?

    Agreed, though, Gambit and Jubilee and Gambit and Laura are amazing. Marjorie Liu seems to understand Gambit very well indeed.

    1. They don’t seem to have the problem with Nightcrawler though, to whom the description “charming and debonair” (with a side order of “flirty”) is rarely depicted as creepy.

      And inconsistent or overly vague power descriptions remain one of my bugbears about mutant titles in particular.

      1. When this issue came out, I definitely saw Gambit filling the Nightcrawler role. I also felt Longshot was along those same lines, albeit much more “innocent”.

        1. To me, the progression was always clear: Gambit filled Longshot’s void the same way that Longshot filled Nightcrawler’s void. Actually, when Gambit first showed I remember I thought “It was so easy to create such a character, I wonder why they didn’t do it before”.

          Fact is, it seems as if there’s always a need of a lithe sneaky attractive male character, so it’s a short time till this role is occupied again. With all due differences, ’cause (fortunately) Gambit is not Longshot neither Longshot is Nightcrawler neither Nightcrawler is Gambit.

      2. I think that part of it is Kurt swung more toward angsty or pious. When they aren’t sure what to do with Kurt, he heads toward those two things. When they aren’t sure what to do with Longshot, they just have a memory wipe. Also, both of them had the benefit of having Claremont solidify their personalities before being cast to the winds.

  5. Hey — not cool. NOT COOL AT ALL.

    The town at the tip of Illinois, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, is pronounced KAY-roh. (If you are from Southern Illinois, you can get away with KERR-oh. [That’s “ERR” pronounced like the word that means “to make of mistake.”) It is not pronounced like the capital of Egypt, and every time you did so, it was like an ice pick in my gut.

    I don’t come out there and say the river running through Portland is called the Will-uh-meet because I think that’s the way it looks, and I don’t get to unilaterally decide New York has a Hyoo-stun Street.

    It also amuses me that Claremont thought there was a fabulously rich class of people in Cairo — a town of less than 5,000 people in 1990, a town that had a median family income of $28k or so in 2000. If I remember correctly, Cairo was depicted as a town with tall buildings (it’s not) and without many African-Americans (it’s 60 percent African-American).

        1. Perhaps there will come a time when we can all get mad about the Anglicized pronunciation of Bourbonnais, or it turned out Chris Claremont or Peter David wrote a story with the Vulture set in Peru, Indiana.

        2. Well, it is the X-Men. Should I be apologizing for drama around the X-Men?


          But I’m from Southern Illinois, and Cairo is about the only place from the area that gets mentioned. I’m not saying Southern Illinois deserves more attention, but just as every character is someone’s favorite and deserves a modicum of respect from creators for that, every real place has real people from it.

          (Well, Sparta, Ill., appears in a couple of comics — a Secret Wars II issue and a Peter David Incredible Hulk that features X-Factor — but that was because Marvel comics were published in Sparta from the late ’70s to the early ’90s.)

          1. Yyyyeah. “IT’S LIKE AN ICEPICK TO THE GUT EVERY TIME SOMEONE MISPRONOUNCES MUH TOWN!” It’s fine to be proud of your home, but not everyone knows the unusual pronunciation, so how about just politely correcting them?

    1. In fairness, they acknowledge that it’s not pronounced like the Egyptian city. However, the entire reason Claremont sets it there is so it reminds people of that city. So the pronunciation makes sense (particularly since people can’t read along and see the spelling).

      I’m with you as a general rule. There are a couple ones that bother me as well, but I think it’s a necessary mispronunciation here.

  6. I only read x-men sporadically in this era, but for some reason I got the idea that Nanny was a rebuilt version of Magnetos old robot. Was that a theory anyone else had before her origin was revealed?

  7. Fun Fact: Dark reds can actually be better clothing for hiding in the shadows than black. True black has a tendency to stick out, because it’s darker than the darkness itself, so something that can more smoothly blend in with the natural color tone of shadows is a better choice. Red is one of the best colors for this, based on testing.

    Of course, The Hand wears a significantly brighter red than this typically, so this point is moot, but I thought it was worth noting.

    1. I’d always read that dark blue blended into the shadows better than any other shadow. Since purple is fairly close to dark blue, Psylocke’s outfit would probably be great for stealth if she wore pants.

  8. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m getting this weird audio glitch where the discussion of Gambit’s costume sounds like criticism instead of exuberant praise.

  9. The 2008 Get Smart movie has a bad reputation and did poorly in the box office, but people who actually watched it seem to agree that it’s really good. It’s not the TV series, and doesn’t try to be, but it’s absolutely in the same spirit. I highly recommend it.

  10. Gambit’s costume was a “Seriously….?” for me when it debuted and then, as he never seemed to change it or wear anything else, I sort of had a headcanon that he just had the one change of clothes and it was just getting more and more rank as time went on.

    A little surprised you didn’t mention him possibly being a third Summers brother (due to his eyes)

    I’m sure I remember reading an interview with Claremont that his original intention was that Gambit would not be physically attractive, but would be between “plain” and “actively ugly”, but his charm ability would compensate, but I’m darned if I can remember where.

  11. Ok, is it too soon to start talking about next week’s episode? Excalibur 25 was my first issue of Excalibur – purchased almost 25 years ago as a back issue. I had Nightcrawler and Phoenix trading cards which I thought were super cool. I had no idea what Excalibur was but knew they were in it. Excited doesn’t begin to describe how I feel!

  12. Also, Jay & Miles did point out the proper pronunciation, both in this episode and episode 138. They were highlighting that Chris Claremont wanted to put Storm and the Shadow King in a city spelled Cairo, again. If anyone would have required the correction, it might have been Claremont, but I think he knew what he was doing for the sake of word-play.

  13. I kinda like the L’il ‘Ro arc. I think it was pretty fun. Weird, but fun. And the ‘Ro/Gambit dynamic is wonderful. They play off each other so well. A mini detailing their adventures together would be great to see.

    Gambit’s costume really is . . . something. Speaking of his Sinister connection, though: The set of minis, X-Men: The End, came up with the idea of Gambit being Sinister’s clone. X-Men: The End was . . . an odd story.

    I love that sarcastic voice Kids In the Hall sketch! Such a great sketch. Such a great show. I loved KItH so much.

  14. Caught up! (I’m actually skipping the Excalibur recaps for now…my plan is to listen to them after I actually read Excalibur since that’s a series that’s more or less a blank for me and also not as tied into continuity – unlike New Mutants, which was also a blank for me)

    I’m enjoying what is essentially the long transition to the 90s. It seemed like Inferno was the end of the 80s and now there’s an interesting liminal period before the 90s officially begins. It appeals to the English PhD side of me that thinks about periodization but only in so much that periodization is made up stuff that we fixate on anyway.

    I agree with all of your hallmarks, but I’d probably go as far as to wonder if the 90s don’t officially begin until late 1991 – when X-Men #1 and X-Force come out, the team gets new costumes, the original five are X-Men again with Prof X leading, and Claremont leaves. This may be my 90s kid upbringing, but New Mutants, X-Factor not being led by Havok, the non-Jim Lee costumes, and Claremont still on board all felt very much of the prior decade. Needless to say, I’m excited to hear your commentary as we approach these final moments of 90s-transition.

    Anyway, it’s been a fun binge the past two months, and you’ve definitely gained another loyal listener!

  15. I had two theories on Gambit’s “charm” that always came across so sleazily.
    1. The charm definitely is a power (in the Overpower card game, it was his super special card!), and, sort of like Empath in the New Mutants issue where he and Magma get lost in the jungle, Gambit was always self-conscious that people only liked him because of the charm power, rather than his personality, so he tried to develop a super-charming personality and never got it right. He doesn’t need to use the words to charm people, but it makes him feel better if he does, because then he thinks/hopes that he’s genuinely charmed them rather than just using the power.
    2. He’s not charming. At all. He’s just sleazy, and we’ve all misinterpreted him. All the women his charm has worked on (Belladonna, Rogue, Genevieve in X-Men 33) are young, naive and kind of desperate and Gambit has been their first boyfriend that they get out of their system and use to learn some lessons. His charm never seems to work on Jean, Psylocke, Storm, Moira, or anyone who is a proper grown-up.

  16. Relistening- Gambit as a kid’s childhood friend now gives me a mental image of Gambit as played by Matt Smith. Anyone else?

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