Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

149 – Panning for Callbacks

Art by David Wynne. href=”http://particlefiction.bigcartel.com/”>Contact David to purchase the original!

In which Old Man Logan is probably better than it deserves to be; Steve McNiven is magical; the post-apocalyptic future probably belongs to the LARPers; Miles’s dad may or may not secretly be Hawkeye; all babies are supervillains; every movie should have a dinosaur chase scene; Emma Frost is our queen forever; and you should never trust a Hitler cosplayer.


  • Wolverine: Lord of the Vampires
  • Mark Millar
  • Wolverine vol. 3 #66-72
  • Giant-Size Wolverine: Old Man Logan
  • The Hooded Man
  • “Old Man Logan” vs. Old Man Logan
  • The difference between Logan and Wolverine
  • Old-timey apocalypses
  • The Hulk Gang
  • Old Man Hawkeye
  • The Spider-Buggy
  • Moloids
  • Hammer Falls
  • Ultron-8
  • Several generations of supervillains
  • How the world fell under darkness
  • President Red Skull
  • Some very cathartic violence
  • Narrative functions of the rampage

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  1. “Weaponized Toxic Masculinity”. Yeah, that about sums it up.

    Millar likes his ‘the villains won’ stories (see also: Wanted, Nemesis, etc.) Generally I see a lot of his stuff as going for gratuitous shock value in favor of actual story. I know I was hardly the only person who dropped The Ultimates at the exact moment the story doubled-down on Hank Pym becoming the ‘why you make me gotta hurt you, baby’ scene. Old Man Logan works better than most of his work for reasons of genre more than anything else…and that it has a much better ending (ignoring the special, which you rightly advise).

    If you haven’t seen the movie yet (and I recommend it highly), it mostly just cribs the idea of Old Man Logan more than anything else. It’s near future and no apocalypse happened (I’ll let you see the movie to find out what did as those are important plot reveals) There are some easter eggs and such, but the film is mostly a road-trip movie about a family…who just happen to be the most powerful telepath in the world, an unstoppable killing machine….and her grumpy, world-weary dad. It is moving and I will readily admit to getting misty-eyed at certain points.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

  2. This was a really odd story. On the one hand, you have all this bleakness and such, then suddenly, Venomised dinosaur chase! Very much your tonal whiplash.

    Also, beheading the Red Skull with Captain America’s shield really is a great idea. But it hit me, perhaps the only thing better for killing a Nazi would be a star of David shurikin. If anyone wants to use that in a story, go ahead.

  3. Miles, did you just say, “the old Clint Eastwood movie, ‘Unforgiven?'” I must object. A Fistful of Dollars is an old Clint Eastwood movie. Dirty Harry is an old Clint Eastwood movie. I saw Unforgiven in the theater, and I’m on the callow side of forty. It cannot be an old movie, unless I, too, am old.

    1. Speaking as someone bearing down fast on 50, I feel your pain. But it IS a quarter of a century old, man. I mean, I read Days of Future Past when it was new…and the far flung future of…2013.


        1. Can I join in? I remember reading Mutant Massacre and Inferno as they were being published.

          The issues I could get anyway.

          1. sure, pull up a chair… though the first X-Men comic I bought for myself was #130 with “The Dramatic Debut of the Dazzler!”, so whilst you won’t be at the kiddie table, no booze for you just yet! 🙂

    2. Unforgiven came out in ’92. That’s not old. A Fistful Of Dollars came out the year I was BORN. You want to call a western old, I might accept Stagecoach.

  4. Millar tends to be ok as long as he doesn’t go “TOO” Millar. So when he’s working within canon/guidelines, like in this, and to a certain degree Civil War and Ultimate X-Men, he’s actually tolerable. He has a really stark world view and so, if you’re into that, his work is pretty good. I will admit I enjoyed Ultimate X-Men’s opening few arcs under Millar. It feels like Millar at about 30%. (Then Bendis came along, and then the rotating door of writers and it got pretty iffy.)

    Ultimates is Millar going a little more Millar, probably hitting 50% or so, and while I enjoy a bunch of the ideas in it, he handles people really badly, and basically all the best bits got mined for the MCU.

    When he cranks it up from there, be it Kick Ass, Wanted or any of the other stuff he’s done, when he goes beyong about 70% Millar, it just becomes awful. Rape as a joke/punchline. Gratuitous murder and violence. Just horrible stuff. Obviously if you’re into it you’ll love it, but personally it becomes quite distasteful.

    Basically I feel like “Don’t go full Millar” should be advice for writers and readers alike.

    1. My favorite Millar work has always been “Red Son” which is maybe Millar at like 20% His work generally gives the impression that he HATES superheroes and his only joy is in tearing them down and watching them suffer. “Red Son” and “Old Man Logan” are the only works of his that give you any sense that there is something about superheroes that he likes.

  5. I really thought his name was pronounced MIL-luhr not mi-LAR. I assume you guys are right and I’m wrong. It took some adjusting.

    1. I’m 85% sure it’s pronounced the same way as Frank Miller.

      I’m not saying if I pronounce it Frank mi-LAR or not…

  6. I thought than Miles Stokes was a pretty sweet name… then Jay dropped STEVE STOKES … post-apocalyptic western super hero.

    Does all his own stunts too!

  7. The question about what makes an alternate character is pretty interesting, and I think Jay’s answer that it’s about finding a genre that matches up with some of the character’s existing traits is spot-on. It’s interesting to note there’s a long history of dialogue between the Samurai and Western genres (e.g. Seven Samurai being remade as the Magnificent Seven). Since a lot of 616 Wolverine’s mythos is drawn from Samurai movies (Wolverine-as-Ronin), it makes sense that a Western version of Logan resonates.

    I’m also reminded of the another genre that features flawed loners attempting to do some small about of good, namely hard boiled detective shows. There must have have been a hard-boiled Wolverine story or two, right? I would love to see a version of the Glass Key with Laura Kinney as the main character.

  8. I feel like Old Woman Laura needs to have Finesse in some role in the story. Avengers Academy (much as I love it) didn’t get quite the mileage out of their friendship and its implosion as it could and should have, and having them meet again decades later when Laura has grown and Jeanne-Marie has regressed further could be a cool side note in a bigger story.

  9. (Sorry, commented on wrong post I guess.)
    Now that I’ve seen it, it seems less based on Old Man Logan than it was based on The End. If it was based on anything at all…

  10. If you want 110% Millar read The Unfunnies (so many trigger warning for this one).

    I still laugh when I think about Trouble being published too.

    1. Or Nemesis: it’s about a terrorist who gruesomely kills people and gets the kicks out of it.

      I’m not even kidding!

      1. It’s worse than that…it’s photo-negative Evil Batman, artificially-inseminating Commissioner Gordon’s daughter.

        UGH. So BAD.

        1. Was that the one where the artificial insemination was by way of the female characters brother, AND boobytrapping her womb? All to humiliate her hypocritical “family value” politician father?

          Hard to believe that the same writer who wrote a fairly well-received run on the “Superman the Animated Series” comic book as well as “Superior”, a rather uplifting mini about a boy with MS with a Shazam style secret identity.

          1. That scene is the point I stopped giving Millar a chance (though I went on to finish buying all of Kick-Ass, to my shame).

            I’ve read some of his (surprisingly good) new stuff, but only by borrowing it. He’s not getting any more money from me because of Nemesis.

  11. Yeah, I used to be on board with Millar. Figured the racism and mysoginy was because the characters were assholes. Then I read Kick Ass, where the character is a nice kid, if misguided. Nope, it’s all about women and black people emasculating white dudes (amongst other things). Fuck Millar. He’s a good writer, but a terrible person. That’s worse.

  12. Millar my highlights are Red Son and his run on Authority. That being said, I haven’t read those since roughly the time they came out, and I think probably the past 10-15 years would change my view on, for example, how he depicts rape in Authority.

    Yes to toxic masculinity. Can we all pause for a moment and note that the one time before EVERYONE DIES that Wolverine gets close to popping his claws is the insinuation that he and Hawkeye may be gay?

    As for Old Man Logan, I just read it yesterday after skimming the comments in the podcast. And yes, ending with the end of the 7th part is actually a great finale. Everything htat happens in part 8 can be imagined by that last beat in part 7. So thanks for that!

    It’s interesting hearing the parsing of the logic behind this world versus what Jay is currently talking about on their Twitter, i.e. can’t untangle Hydra from Nazis and can’t treat Nazis like “movie monsters.” I understand the “rule of cool” justification for OML but that justification seems to at least butt up against the other critique (if making the Red Skull and other villains team up because it’s cool, it’s at least allowing Nazis to simply become another variety of sci-fi supervillains). I will admit that moment in OML did take me out a bit of the story and I wonder if using – for example – Mr. Sinister/Apocalypse instead of Magneto and Green Goblin or someone instead of Doom – would have been better for the world without losing anything notable.

    (I’m guessing this is not so much a contradiction as something that I’m just missing the clear delineation between the two)

  13. I’ve read little enough of Millar, but I’ve read enough about Millar to have no interest in reading more Millar, because his work sounds idiotic and edge-lordy.

    Old Man Logan is pretty awesome, though. It’s a fantastic story. For the most part. Still has a little too much Millar in it, but plenty of great stuff. The incest? Not great stuff. The reveal of what happened to the X-Men? Really great stuff. The Spider-buggy? YES. The treatment of female characters? Nooooo. That final claw pop? Holy shit yes.

    I actually disagree with your take on the claw pop. You say it’s him returning to being a superhero. I interpreted it as him just giving up. He was living for his family, and with their deaths, it killed Logan. All he had left was the killer. It was after he found the baby that he turned back towards being a superhero.

    Logan is a fantastic movie. Dafne Keen deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance as Laura. Logan and Xavier bickering is delightful.

  14. I’m sure you guys know, but Old Man Logan ties back into Millar’s run on Fantastic Four. The Banner Baby Logan saves at the end is the Banner Jr in FF that comes from the future.

    Millar gets a lot of well deserved heat, but a lot of his recent work has been surprisingly sweet. It’s not really edgy like his reputation would make you believe. I mean, I’m not willing to go out of my way to give him any more money than I have in the past, but I’d say Starlight is a really good space opera ala Flash Gordon and Huck is an uplifting (if a little cliche) superhero tale.

    1. Funnily enough, Man of Steel is responsible for Huck. Millar thought Man of Steel was a shit movie, with one of the worst takes on Superman he’d ever seen. He also realized that he was partly responsible – he was a huge voice in the Dark’n’Gritty superhero trend of the 2000s. So Millar decided it was time to tone himself down and do a legitimate superhero story. Huck is what he thinks Superman should be.

      So yeah, the only reason his more recent work has been sweeter is because he figured out he bears some of the blame for Superman killing people.

      1. It’s weird looking back at when Millar first started writing US comics, back in his time at DC. He had an extended (and very good!) run writing Superman Adventures, the all-ages animated series tie-in comic. He co-wrote a year of The Flash with Grant Morrison, and Morrison helped him start a very good run on Swamp Thing. Then along came his run on The Authority, when he alienated Morrison from their long-time friendship, and all of his worst instincts came pouring out. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to read and enjoy any of his new work. (I recently tried Starlight, referenced above, and while it wasn’t as egregious, it didn’t do anything for me.)

  15. The first X-Men comics I bought were 123-124, the Arcade two-parter. The first issue I got in the mail when I subscribed was 137. I am the fogiest.

    1. I have you beat by a month – I bought 122 (Cry for the Children) at the local drugstore, probably the worst possible jumping on issue, but I read it over and over and I was fascinated. I bought #124 and #125, and my subscription started with #129.

      And then, I started looking for back issues…

  16. I had way too many thoughts while listening to write anything short enough for anyone to want to read, so, since no one’s gone there yet, I will just say…

    Mark Millar Licks Goats.

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