Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

Jay & Miles Review the X-Men, Episode 118

Week of 4/5/2017

In which All-New Wolverine starts a new chapter; X-Men Gold begins; and we have a lot of opinions about corner boxes.


  • X-Men: Gold #1 (00:28)
  • * All-New Wolverine #19 (10:48)

*Pick of the Week

Filmed at Books With Pictures in Portland, OR.

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  1. I’m hoping we’ll see you two address the controversy over the artwork in X-Men Gold #1. I don’t think that was all made public yet when you recorded this, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

  2. Gold… I was so disappointed by this book. Yeah, Prestige is a name I’ll have to get used to, and her costume needs to be reworked. I’ll be happy to see other artists work on it. I was SUPER bummed by Kitty and “Old Man” Logan chatting. It just feels like she’s talking to normal Logan. Has Kitty actually MET Old Man Logan before this? He’s meant to be damaged and old and cranky? Here he’s just kinda grumpy in a friendly way. It’s terrible. And STORM! Jeez. SO blank. “Prime” established her new, interesting place in her life (even if I was disappointed she didn’t leave) but there’s nothing here.

    I really hope Guggenheim can pick this one up. More of the new kids (cool to see Armour but why isn’t she on board?). And not just boring retreads of old stories.

    1. I felt the same way about Logan. I mean, I assume Kitty and Logan met at some point off-page before this issue and hung out but still, to anyone who doesn’t know this Logan’s from an alternate future, it just looks like regular Logan has white hair now, which feels like a cheat.

  3. The first think I thought when I saw the new costume for Wolverine was a heavy-weight biker jacket; the sort with the hard plates under the outer leather shell. It’s also a three-piece outfit: There’s a sleeveless full-body suit, a jacket worn over that, and her cowl is actually more of a helmet (makes sense to protect her from being shot in the head; one carbonadium round to the noggin and she’d be done). I really like the combination, as the body suit lends a little sexy without being blatant about it, while the jacket offers a variable visual element in that it can be worn both open and closed

  4. I’m asking out of genuine ignorance, I’m not trying to make a point here, it’s something I want to understand better – Colossus Logan and Nightcrawler are each from different countries. They’re white males, yes, but why doesn’t coming from different countries count as diversity?

    1. Logan, Piotr and Kurt are each going to have a specific way of people seeing them as they exist within a societal structure. To an outside perspective, they are all white, straight, cisgender males and will be treated as such (not counting Kurt’s blue-ness but that stems from the fictional Mutant aspect rather than the racial side of things). Kitty, as a white Jewish woman is probably going to receive more of a distinct reaction and set of prejudices than Piotr would from Logan. You wouldn’t even know they were each from different countries until you were told or heard their accents. And that’s not even to consider that someone coming from those three imperialist, white majority, capitalist nations is going to have largely the same set of ideals. Yeah, a farmer from Russia will have differences to a circus acrobat from Germany, but even then, it’s mostly their occupation that makes them different.

      And a black circus acrobat in Germany is going to have a far different life than a white one. (Or in this case a blue one but yeah, that cannot count.) And that breadth of experience, that breadth of voice within the book is the diversity it is currently lacking.

      So yeah, that “diversity” is important. Granted, but (as I think is mentioned during Jay & Miles’ interview with Sina Grace) one diversity doesn’t mean you don’t need the others. So far the book is 50/50 on gender! Yay! But aside from Kitty and Rachel’s “never mentioned but largely assumed” sexuality, everyone is straight. Storm is the only person of colour. It can – and should – be so much better, especially coming from a book that is supposed to be talking about this stuff via it’s in-built conceit.

      1. Kurt is literally not white and was raised in a minority family not a white one. He had a Romani family, which is a distinct ethnic group, often considered nonwhite or at least other by Europeans. Just because you think he should be counted as white does not mean the other characters see them that way or the fact that he was brought up in a culture that would have seen a lot of discrimination against regardless of Kurt’s blue status. Also Germany hasn’t been a truly “imperialist” or “capitalist” country since the second world war.

        Petey was born on a soviet collective in a nation that was at the time Communist rather than saying he is from a capitalist nation. Someone coming from Russia is going to have a more different experience to an American than a black American will have to a white one.

        Then you can consider Rachel literally lived in a concentration camp, Kitty is an ethnic minority, and you really only have Logan who ticks all the boxes of the straight, white, man from America.

        So to say there is a lack of diversity is really just taking away the gypsy and jewish identities of Kurt and Kitty and ignoring the fact 2 characters are literally not even from this universe and thus had vastly different experiences than the rest of the cast.

        1. Great points, all of them. I was terribly disappointed by this book. The writing is infantile. Only the bureaucratic villain from City Hall was interesting. Why aren’t there any trans mutants? Why don’t more mutants identify as homo sapien? Why don’t more humans identify as homo superior? Why aren’t there any casually racist X-men? Why aren’t there more X-men who abuse their power for personal gain without necessarily being considered villains? Why aren’t there any intellectual X-men? Why isn’t education the focus of X-men? Why don’t the X-men have more sex? Why aren’t the X-men more militant in their political views? Why don’t the X-men live on a farm? Why don’t the X-men have more non mutant, non superhero allies? Why do the X-men have to be superheroes? Why aren’t there any mutant public servants? Why hasn’t Mystique infiltrated the U.S. Government at the level of President? Why do the X-men have to be based in America? Can someone that cares about these characters, cares about intersectionality, cares about radical love and cares about good storytelling write an X-men book?

          1. Isn’t Beast an intellectual X-Man?

            Also I imagine the X-Men don’t do a lot of those things like be casually racist because you know…they’re supposed to be superheroes.

            You know…the good guys you want to root for and trust can/will try really hard to save you.

            1. That’s precisely what I’m questioning, though. Why are the X-men still superheroes instead of community leaders, educators, and public intellectuals advocating for tolerance in the face of bigotry and hatred towards mutants and other institutionally oppressed peoples? I want to see more stories about mutants that have their own prejudices as a representation of negative intersectionality. I want to see conflicts in principle and philosophy among teammates adn friends. Remember the time Bobby exhibited transphobic behavior toward Cloud in the New Defenders? Why aren’t the whitest of X-men thinking through their relative privilege and pushing for outreach to other disenfranchised communities? Why aren’t humans admitted into the Jean Grey School, or X-haven or whatever it’s called now? Why are the X-men willingly ghettoizing themselves? Beast is written as any other cartoonish genius in the Marvel Universe, not as an intellectual, not as a thinking being. He invents amazing contraptions but doesn’t seem to care about ideas. Where is Quentin Quire? I wish the X-men would stop using there fists and start using their minds. Get some competent writers. In 2017, it’s untenable to be reproducing the superhero status quo. Why can’t the X-men fight a real threat like famine,gerrymandering or selfies?

              1. One of the issues with the X-Men is that they function in the roles of superheroes because that’s what Xavier trained them for and they have usually gravitated towards that.

                I would LOVE to have seen someone graduate from the X-Men and then decide “Thank you for helping me control my acid breath power, now I’m going to go and join the Management Training program at Spatula City because when I come out as a mutant I want people to see that we ARE just regular folk (And you know I’ve always REALLY loved the retail spatula market).”

                Bobby came closest when he kept his identity secret and became an accountant, Scott sort of did when he resigned from the X-Men, but other than that, not really something we’ve seen, which is a shame.

                The later cadet teams like the New Mutants and Generation X were at least kids learning to use their powers who got caught up in adventures rather than deliberate heroes.

                Xavier’s isolationist policy for those many years was both understandable, and unfortunate. (And the fact that the standard graduation gift was a superhero costume never quite sat right with me)

                1. Yes. It’s never quite sat right with me, either. I understand that the X-men need to fight bad guys in order to sell books, but I also reject that conflict needs to be externalized or exclusively physical. What’s sexier than watching characters thinking together, not just throwing punches and delivering exposition? Or even better, thinking WITH characters? Especially now in these bizarre, dreadful times, the X-men should be so much more complicated than what was presented in Gold #1, and I love those characters. Storm, Piotr, Kitty, Kurt and Wolverine are who I think of first when the X-men come to mind. They are family, but they are squandering their gifts. I reject everything that’s happened canonically since Uncanny #600. Cyclops’ speech was the perfect moment to steer the X-men in a truly radical, utopian, reflective, and potentially pacifist direction. The last thing they need is another Danger Room session. How about a Consensus-Building Room session?

        2. Dude, even ignoring some maaaassive historical and continuity errors in that argument, the fact that someone’s experiences are different from average white Americans’ does not actually make that person not white. Race is a thing that can intersect with other vectors of identity.

          That’s like saying that if you’re not Catholic, you must clearly be Baha’i.

          1. But in what way is Nightcrawler white? Outward appearance he is blue and culturally he is Romani. Why would someone look at Kurt and just go, “Oh he is a white dude”.

            Rachel is biracial being half cosmic entity half white who presents as white.

            And Kitty is jewish who presents as white.

            The argument in this sake is not an argument of diversity or difference in ideas or up bringing. It is one of there are too many “white faces”. Which does reduce the identities and experiences of the different characters or even real people if you take their identity and make it just about the shade of their skin.

            1. Nightcrawler as Romani I’m looping into the same category as Iceman being half Jewish (as mentioned by Jay in their talk): it’s an identity that relies on way too much research.

              Jewishness and whiteness is a tricky area, though ultimately most race and ethnicity studies (as well as Jewish studies) writing will place antisemitism and racism as distinct categories. In short, someone can be white and Jewish or black and Jewish and it’s another point of intersection (as Jay mentioned in the video).

              No one said these characters haven’t had different experiences than normal humans (though I pity the reader who identifies with the Summers family tree). But as a POC picking up this book, you do not see yourself directly (merely allegorically) except in Storm. Blueness is not blackness or Latino-ness or Asian-ness, etc. It doesn’t carry the same cultural connotations and Nightcrawler’s growing up blue would not have the same social structure as growing up black, Latino, etc.

              Biracial has a connotation that is in no way connected to fictional bird entities or growing up in dystopias. Not saying we can’t have biracial characters that do both (and yas to a POC Phoenix host) but it’s as nonsensical as saying that a bear is a dog because it is a mammal. Difference of experience DOES NOT interchangeably fit into all subcategories.

              Caring about race reprsentation is not “reducing [identity] to a shade of skin” any more than any instance of caring about one part negates the whole. But it IS a part. Race shapes experiences. It doesn’t SOLELY shape experiences and personality, but it DOES have an effect and assuming you can have identity divorced from race is an assumption reliant on the privilege of not having to confront your racial identity on a regular basis.

  5. Corner boxes! I actually was wondering if either of you knew why they went away. I noticed that they seemed to disappear in the mid-nineties from X-Men (replaced by a totally 90s CGI X) then came back then went away (till now) in the Morrison era. Was there any clear reason for this? Also…was there a reason for them in the first place (aside from being cool)?

    1. That’s what I wondered. I think the way they’re doing them now is cool, but I genuinely do not understand and never understood why they existed in the first place.

      1. My guess that they were there to make the titles easier to pick out in news stands with other books on top of them. As long as you leave the left corner free, you can stack books on top of each other and they’re still somewhat shoppable. But that’s just me guessing. No idea if that’s the actual history.

  6. I find the criticism over racial diversity flawed.

    Of course we should have racially diverse books.

    However the entire point of this book and X-Men Blue and the Resurrexion initiative is to rediscover the X-Men’s roots through the classic characters and dynamics. From a creative and financial POV this is frankly in dire necessity for the X-Men and for Marvel as a whole (especially since DC cleaned up with Rebirth).

    This unfortunately creates a problem. Most of those classic characters and dynamics were about white characters mainly.

    This isn’t therefore a fault of modern creators so much as an inherited problem of the series as a whole. One could argue Xavier and Cyclops being white is problematic but they are always going to be foundational to the X-Men lore no matter what so what can you do.

    Essentially the dilemma is diversity vs the story you want to tell vs the story you need to tell.

    And like I said, whether the execution was good or bad, X-Men Blue and Gold as initiatives absolutely NEED to be told.

    If we start reprimanding creators on the grounds that theycannot or should not do certain stories, not because they themsleves intrinsically racist but because they do not have enough diversity then we are handcffing them. And these are suposed to be good stories first and foremost at the end of the day.

    Basically we cannot shame someoen for wanting to explore dynamics of the Byrne era in new ways because there are simply too many white people in doing that story.

    Speaking personally I also feel that if you are doing one of 2 major X-Men titles then it sure as hell better have the classic characters in there in some configuration. And again unforuntately most of them are white but I’d love to see Bishop get more play or even Warpath.

    1. Appeal to history is no excuse for repeating its mistakes. Knowing better means the obligation to do better.

      1. The mistake was creating the characters white in the first place. Outside of a continuity reboot if anyone wants to use those characters and those dynamics they inevitably use that many white characters. Thus it is not a repetition of mistakes.

        If you wanted to explore a team involving Colossus, Shadowcat and Storm inevitably you have 2 white characters and just 1 black character. That isn’t a mistake on the part of modern creators it’s an inherited problem from the people who opted to make Kitty and Peter white characters.

        And again, this is intended (though not necesarilly successful at being) an appeal to history. It’s trying to get back to classical touchstones of the franchise in an age where, for the industry as a whole, moving so far away from that has hurt more than it’s helped.

        I also reject the notion of obligation. Outside of instances of say something along the lines of Storm’s first appearance no writer should be obliged to use or not use certain characters if they wish to tell a certain story or explore certain characters.

        That handcuffs creativity (and choice) which is the entire point of the stories’ existence. Of course they can do that AND be diverse too.

        What they could have/could do int he future is feature this roster but also include more poc members of the team too, like Bishop or Warpath. Those are classic characters too

    2. This reads like – Well, that “Whites Only” sign was put up by the previous owner, so, like I can’t respect the institution without respecting the opinions of the previous people to work here.

      Claremont’s X-Men era was doing one thing constantly – Moving Forward. And Kitty gives this lip service during the issue, then has a team consisting entirely of the old guard. I HATE Rockslide as a character, but dammit if I wouldn’t rather have him be gruff and angry than having Old Man Logan be gruff and angry. Maybe if the creators wanted to honour the 70’s/80’s era Claremont oversaw they should honour the ideas he was putting forward, not just blindly ape the “look” of the books in question?

      1. I agree and disagree.

        You can have the same characters and relationships but explore how they’ve evolved (another key X-men idea) in the intervening years whilst eeveloping them. Much like say the Trinity over at DC or the FF.

        I don’t agree with outright just trying to recreate it for the sake of recreation. Like using Old Man Logan as a Wolverine substitute is wrong because he isn’t THE Wolverine we know and love.

        But if you have him there and try to explore his experiences in juxtaposition to the Wolverine they know, showcase how that dynamic with say Storm or Kitty is similar, yet different is fine, even encouragable.

        But if he is there to just be ‘the gruff dude’ and fill th Wolverine spot then sure.

        If the idea of X-men Gold was to take the archetype personalities of the Claremont X-Men and recreate that then it would’ve been better to have done that with different or new characters (which could’ve included more diverse characters).

        But if the idea is less to have a strong female leader, a gruff dude and a kind hearted super strong guy but more ‘We should have Storm, Kitty, Wolverine and Colossus’.

  7. Miles’ shirt makes me think… we haven’t visited Miles’ THORner for a while. With the Ragnarok trailer out, what are your thoughts on Hela’s big screen debut? The trailer overall?

    1. The short version: FUCKING AWESOME. I can’t even describe how excited I am about this. As different as this movie looks from any of the comics, it may be the first adaptation to capture the mix of earnest epicness and over-the-top silliness that is Marvel’s Thor.

      More to come in the near future – keep listening!

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