Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

160 – Hank McCoy and the Hickey of Destiny


Art by David Wynne. Wanna buy the original? Drop him a line!

In which the ladies love Hank McCoy; feelings are terrible; wereStarlins stalk the night; Stan Lee is definitely trying to sell you a car; Iceman has a lot to prove; we bid a reluctant farewell to Louise Simonson’s tenure on X-Factor; and yes, video reviews will be back eventually.


  • The Intelligentsia
  • Jay & Miles at Rose City Comic Con and New York Comic Con
  • Prestige Format comics
  • X-Factor: Prisoner of Love
  • X-Factor #63-64
  • A possible cameo
  • Synthia Naip
  • Several ways to identify individuals from outer space
  • Visual conceits of supernatural noir
  • A deeply unhealthy relationship
  • The mysterious wereStarlin
  • The hickey of destiny
  • Whether Starfox would fuck a crystal
  • Cyburai and/or cyberpunks
  • What makes for good team costumes
  • Post-Iceman cleanup
  • The secret origins of Opal Tanaka
  • Tatsu’o
  • Hiro
  • The Gal Pal Squad
  • Assorted macho bullshit
  • The end of Louise Simonson’s involvement with the central X-line
  • Where to find Dr. Nemesis
  • Magneto’s D&D alignment
  • Whether and when video reviews will return

NEXT EPISODE: Girls’ School from Heck!

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  1. “Prisoner of Love” just makes me think of the musical number at the end of “The Producers”…

    “Prisoners of love
    Blue skies above
    Can’t keep our hearts in jail!”

    If there’s a scene set in a bedroom, and the hero keeps passing out unexpectedly, and getting weaker every time as if the femme fatale has been draining him somehow, I might start to wonder about some seriously iffy consent issues.

    1. You know, in retrospect, I’m surprised we didn’t talk more about the comic’s consent issues – I guess we were too distracted by space crystals and such. But yeah – there’s definitely some Not Okay going on there, entertainingly bonkers or not.

      1. I think we made some global comments about them but didn’t really revisit, because it’s *so* consistently creepy and nonconsensual; but, yeah, that was probably a point worth emphasizing.

  2. You guys sound so good this episode! I was impressed you managed to keep going at all with the movie, and now the podcast sounds really close to what it sounded like when you recorded together.

    1. Wanted to add similar thoughts. The podcast has always been really up front if the audio isn’t up to the usual top shelf standards, so credit where credit is due — this episode sounded great! Whatever you changed up in efforts to iron out some of the cross-continental challenges worked very very well.

      Looking forward to seeing you both at RCCC!

      1. Yep, the last two weeks had a few issues (which, imo, were easy to get past). This one was flawless. Hooray.

  3. My personal favorite appearance of Dr. Nemesis? The cosplayer who came up to me after the Legion panel at my home con, CONvergence this summer to talk about Jay and Miles after seeing my shirt. (I don’t think I’ve ever read anything he appears in.)

      1. Pristine on SUNDAY, the 4th day of the convention. Even many of the hardcore cosplayers use it for pj cosplay.

  4. Does Hank has any biological children…. well, if I remember correctly, in the timeline of the X-Men: The End mini he married Cecilia Reyes and they had 3 kids.

  5. So, in the CountZero Contextualizes X-Men through Anime file:

    Probably the Cyber-ai would be more like an Idol Group – they wouldn’t even need to change the name, since “Ai” in Japanese means “Love” (hence the pun in the episode of Evangelion – “The Beast who shouted ‘I’ at the heart of the word” – punning off the Harlan Ellison story). That, or they’d run a Host Club.

    Also, the description of Bob Harris is reminding me a lot of a bit from a recent anime series – [i]Shirobako[/i] (an anime about the making of anime). The second half of the series involves the animation studio making an adaptation of an author’s successful manga, and contending with an editor who was causing real communications issues which in turn really hurt the production, much like what Simonson was saying about Harris (though I doubt Harris prefaced his statements with “Funny story…”).

      1. Oooh, ooh, we can come up with a voice cast for the Cyber-Ai from existing Vocaloid voices!

        Going from the pictures, Len is probably out of the question. There is still Kaito, and Gackt has done a Vocaloid voiceset (appropriately named Gackpoid) – so that’s the Sweet One and the Rebel. We just need three more.

        Also – with the Host Club – two of them look kind of twin-ish in the picture in the “As Mentioned As” post, so that gives three of the archetypes from Ouran High School Host Club, with the fifth member either actually wearing glasses (making him Glasses-boy, or the fifth looking and acting younger than they are, making them the equivalent of Honey from Ouran.

  6. So… something bugged me about this episode, and I hope I can articulate it clearly – is every Iceman appearance from here on out going to riff on this assumption of forced/performative heterosexuality? I can’t help feeling like it might be somewhat disrespectful towards Simonson and subsequent writers that Bendis’ retcon takes precedence when it comes to how you’re reading these issues, and dismissing as insincere any storyline involving Bobby and Opal (or Mystique, or Lorna, etc.). It’s pretty clearly not how he was being written at the time, any more than Claremont intended for Phoenix to have been an alien clone – shouldn’t that dissonance be acknowledged?

    1. As I think I mentioned in the episode, I think Iceman’s issue in this arc is less performative heterosexuality than performative heroism. He seems to have a very specific idea of what it means to be a superhero–let along a superhero boyfriend–and he’s gone into both the relationship and the idea of a solo rescue mission like he’s got something to prove.

      I’m really curious as to whether that’s something that’s going to stay consistent when he starts dating men. Iceman’s a character with a lot of role insecurity in general, and how much of that is the result of pretense vs. fundamental nature is going to be really interesting to see writers suss out in the coming months/years.

      1. Agreed – and I’m sure Sina Grace is up to the task. 🙂

        I’m curious, though: admittedly, my memory’s not what it used to be when it comes to the X-books, but I remember that when Peter David retconned Rictor, it felt a lot less abrasive (for lack of a more accurate term) than how Bobby’s rewrite turned out. Did David actually do things differently at the time, or was it just that the groundwork with Shatterstar had already kinda-sorta been laid out by earlier writers?

        1. I suspect with Rictor there was just less backstory to deal with. Rictor was mostly known as a young kid who had had a couple of (hetero) crushes during his teens but no long lasting relationships. Him coming to a realisation about his sexuality was less of a shock.

          Bobby has had literally 50+ years of being a girl-chasing guy, without any internal monologue about that not being what he really wanted, or that he was actively over-compensating.

          An adult coming-out story is a perfectly valid thing to write, but Bobby was _always_ going to be a tough sell in that role, because we have so many examples of him expressing interest only in women, so to have him reveal that he had known he was gay since he was a young teenager seems (not even bisexual, but full on homosexual) was more of an “Oooh…. kay” moment for many.

  7. X-Men costume discussions! My favourite!

    The major problem with the new uniforms from these final two Louise Simonson issues is that really only Scott, Jean and Bobby are wearing them. Beast is still wearing his trunks and Warren is still in his cool Archangel costume. Identical costumes would only work if ~everyone~ was wearing the same thing. Like in the Silver Age O5 days.

    X-Factor over the years (O5, the Government run team, Investigations, the whole lot) are a pretty good example of the various kinds of uniform schemes, of which I can identify three main groups. The “everyone wears the same thing” such as the Silver Age yellow and blue pyjamas, the “variations on a theme” as Jay put it so eloquently and seen regularly throughout X-Factor’s history, and “everyone wears whatever the hell they want” favoured by the Excalibur and X-Force teams.

    X-Factor works best with the “Variations” look because they are, generally, an actual organisation/team/group brought together. There’s an actual sense of them being on a specific mission. When Val Cooper brings together her team, they are all employees, and the variations unites them, while discerning them as separate individuals. Even Madrox’s investigations team had something of a general theme going through it – more in shapes and colours than stylistically (at least originally) – and that identified his employees doing the detective work (ostensibly).

    When Simonson does come back for X-Factor Forever the costumes there are all variations on a similar “large x bodysuit” theme and seem like a better version of what the five were wearing in these issues.

    And yeah, the current X-Men Blue Displaced O5 team costumes are the best. Didn’t Jamie Mckelvie do the designs? The lines on Jean’s look a little off sometimes, but put that jacket on her and you’re good 2 go. It’s been a great book and the costumes are perfect.

  8. The Prisoner of Love story, including the art, reminds me of another, older, story I read not too long ago. My memory is very hazy unfortunately and playing with Google hasn’t gotten me any results. I think it was Avengers but it might have been Defenders. Either way it was a one-shot written (I’m pretty sure) by Mr Starlin, who wasn’t writing the main series at the time. The theme was reminiscent of Prisoner of Love, and I would have paid a lot more attention if I knew of this one. Can anyone give more detail? Please? My hippocampus has an itch I can’t reach.

    Speaking of Avengers Beast, he had an extremely active sex life in those days, and women were constantly shown as being hot for him, some kind of animal attraction thing. It may have been a running joke but nevertheless it was a big part of the character. There was actually a story where Beast couldn’t get to a fight because he landed on the street and was immediately surrounded by lustful women. The character was pretty much unrecognisable to what came later.

    Finally, I have a headcanon theory that explains a lot of your comments about Iceman’s powers. I say he has a very specific form of telekinesis, wholly keyed to H2O (aquakinesis?). He’d have to absorb the heat released by turning vapour/steam to solid ice, which would be a handy fuel for his other powers, if it isn’t shunted to some other dimension for fire-power mutants to use. The reason he can move when encased in ice is he’s constantly rearranging the molecules, constantly in control of every single molecule of H2O in his body. He could pluck an icicle from an eave and tie it in a knot if he wanted. His slides are actually an extremely lightweight lattice that is mostly air, held together by his telekinesis and not actually bearing his weight at all. Because even thick ice wouldn’t support him like that. He’s propelled along not by sliding, but by him telekinetically moving the ice about. As soon as he stops focusing on the slide, it collapses into a fine sprinkling of frost. Remember in X-Terminators when Boom Boom blew up a slide and light snow plopped on the snobby rich students? Not chunks of jagged ice? This was when his powers were out of control because of Loki, so the slide was probably thicker than normal. It also explains how he can make so much ice out of mere air humidity – there’s not actually that much ice there. His armour/body is much more dense obviously, but probably still not literally solid, which is why he isn’t transparent like pure ice. So maybe when he freezes someone in an ice block, it is porous, most of the toughness coming from his telekinesis, the loose lattice allowing some air to flow through, and while very cold, not crazy killing cold.

    1. Ah, it was Avengers #178, written by Steve Gerber. All about visions and illusions and seductions and the reader never quite knowing what the hell is going on or why. Great art.

      1. Oh, that issue is gorgeous, Carmine Infantino inked very heavily by Rudy Nebres, but Jay and Miles description of what’s happening in this story sounds positively coherent compared to my memory of this other weird Beast story. Steve Gerber generally wasn’t shy about letting you know what was the point of his stories, so I suspect editorial interference with that one.

  9. I remember when I first read Prisoner of Love, I thought I was just too dumb to figure out what happened. I’m glad to hear that it wasn’t me and there was no ‘deeper meaning’ I missed.

  10. Because I was doing dishes and couldn’t look at the As Mentioned it took me a weirdly long time to realize that Cyburai meant “Cyber Samurai” and not “an atypical way to pronounce the plural of Cerberus.” I didn’t know why Opal was being forced to marry a Cerberus, but I mean, that would hardly be the strangest pairing this show has ever seen.

  11. I always thought X-Factor #63-64 ruined what was cool about Opal. Marvel has historically had a problem where virtually all of its Asian characters are connected with some sort of martial arts, ninja, samurai, yakuza, (etc.) thing. And then Opal comes along and it’s like, finally, and Asian character who is not those things! She’s just a hipster who works at a record store. And then in X-Factor #63, the big twist is Opal is connected to Japanese mafia samurai! Ugh.

  12. Prisoner of Love is definitely something. I can’t say I enjoyed it. It has some good stuff – some gorgeous art – but there’s also a lot of cheesy stuff.

    I agree that the Cyburai arc is stupid and kinda racist, and actively hurts Opal’s character. It was pretty painful to read. Her attitude is enjoyable throughout, but still, it’s probably not a story that should have been told.

    On the current X-titles: Generation X is fantastic, Generations: Wolverine is phenomenal and sets the bar for the Generations line, Astonishing got off to a bit of a by-the-books start but the second issue was very good, X-Men Gold has been so bland and shallow, X-Men Blue has had way too many sub-plot but is still mostly good, All-New Wolverine is still excellent.

    1. Ooh, I want in on talking about current titles. All-New Wolverine is still the best. I’m pretty indifferent about Deadpool, but him and Gabby becoming BFF’s was pretty fantastic.

      The second issue of Astonishing X-Men definitely got me much more interested after the first one left me unimpressed.

      X-Men Gold has been pretty bland, but I enjoyed the recent one that focused on Piotr/Kitty and Kurt/Rachel. (Soapy, inter-personal drama is so necessary.) I really want that whole story to end up actually putting Kitty and Rachel together finally, and I think anything else that happens is just going to leave me unsatisfied.

      Generations: Wolverine was fantastic, and Generations: Jean Grey was decent.

      I’ve found I’ve enjoyed the recent issues of X-Men Blue more now that I’ve read Secret Empire, but I’m so completely uninterested in having another male Wolverine-spawn running around. I would much rather have Laura back hanging around with the O5.

      Jean Grey and Iceman have booth been good, and getting better as they go. Iceman and Daken flirting has kind of been my favourite so far.

      I really want to give James Robinson the benefit of the doubt and like Cable, but I just haven’t been able to yet (although I think it’s getting better as it goes).

      Which just leaves Weapon X (I’m way behind on my Old Man Logan). This book has consistently surprised me by being my favourite x-book the weeks it comes out. I didn’t like the premise, and I don’t like Greg Land’s art, but I do love Greg Pak, and he’s made it a really decent book so far.

      Thanks, if anyone actually read that. I never get to talk X-Men like this with people I know. I’ve been listening to the podcast for a long time now, and finally decided to try this as a place to fill the X-Men conversation hole in my life.

  13. Portacio’s art is not really for me. There’s something wonky and uncanny valley about his figures. I think he’s being a little helped here by Art Thibert’s inks softening some of what I find odd and Glynis Oliver’s colours always gave srtists of the time great support. His settings and machines work better.

  14. Wait a sec. Opal, Karma, Mariko…are there any women of asian ancestry in X-men who don’t have a secret crime-lord relative? Why, if you were writing this and you noticed it had happened twice, would you go ahead and do it a third time? ugh.

    Anyways, welcome back + great episode guys. Fell out of the podcast habit while you were gone and now I gotta catch up.

      1. Jubilee’s aunt Hope was an assassin who did contract hits for mobsters.

        Armor and Surge’s families are largely unexplored, so no crime connections we know of, anyway.

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