Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

X-TRA – FlameCon 2017 Sofa Special, feat. Sina Grace, James Tynion IV, and Niki Johnson

Thanks again to James and Sam for letting us use their hotel room for this ridiculousness!

WHAT?! Less than a month back, and it’s a brand new mid-week bonus episode!

In which Jay, Niki, Sina, and James drink fancy Scotch and talk FlameCon; what X-Men means to us as queer readers and writers; the difference between the bat family and the X-Men; mutant metaphors; favorite ‘ships; and more!


This episode comes courtesy of our rad Patreon subscribers. If you want to join their ranks and help keep us on the air and ad-free–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!


  1. Thank you so much for this episode! I want to second everything that y’all said about FlameCon. It was such an incredible experience. In some ways it was the most I’ve ever felt at home in a geek community.

    One thing that came up in this episode and in pretty much every panel at FlameCon was how meaningful it is for us to see queer representation in media. I feel like a lot of the queer pop culture fans I know tend to be overthinkers in that we’re not really “it’s just a comic; don’t worry about it” folks.

    It can be really frustrating trying to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t really care about the cultural context or implications of media because, in their view, it’s all just entertainment and doesn’t have any real impact on the world. This con felt like the opposite of that: it was a place where we as queer fans could say, “No. This stuff matters. WE matter. And we belong here.”

    We care a lot about how our experiences are represented, and we’re almost desperate to see characters like us reflected in media. Maybe it’s because a lot of us have had to grow up without any real queer role models IRL whom we could look to for guidance or ask for support. So in a lot of ways the queer characters we see in media are the only guideposts we get—and it really sucks when we see characters who are SUPPOSED to be like us but their experiences don’t reflect ours at all.

    And like you said in the episode, it’s just as frustrating when we DO find queer narratives we can relate to (Iceman is a great example) and then other fans complain about how this ruins the character for them.

    FlameCon felt like a chance to reclaim a space for ourselves in the geek community and in the larger conversation about media. (Side note: for all the folks who couldn’t make it to FlameCon, check out their Facebook page for videos of some of the panels—they’re worth a listen). Plus, it was great to see so many creators there promoting their work. I just wanted to buy everything from everyone (alas, I had to save at least a little bit of money this month for food).

    Not really related: I was unaware that Piotr’s beard was a thing until I saw Kris Anka’s redesign of Magik and Colossus (which might just be my definitive versions of those characters, by the way—I’m hoping he’ll post them online soon). Piotr, that beard? Yum.

    p.s. Jay, I am 100% with you on “In Memoriam A.H.H.” It’s such an excellent poem.

  2. Ok firstly, Jay: thank you for your description of Scott and Emma’s relationship! I have always loved it but have never been able to properly explain it as you did.

    Secondly, I always read Sunspot as queer in some way. Sort of in a way that he would casually mention having hooked up with Richter for years and wrestled with Sam a few times. And in line with that, it strikes me that there are many female characters with subtext but very few male.

    1. Glad I’m not alone on Sunspot, I always thought it was just because I’ve always found (the adult) Sunspot extremely sexy, and that he also reminds me a lot of my boyfriend from college. I used to ship Roberto and Sam but now just appreciate their platonic love for each other.

      However this always makes me think of your other point about the lack of queer subtext between male characters when compared to how easy it is to find multiple, almost but not quite explicit, examples between female characters. I credit this to what Jay pointed out regarding zero queer representation in the editorial end of things with the X-books, and let’s face it, it wasn’t too long ago where the most widely (if not only) accepted representation of queer affection was via the sexual exploitation of “hot lady on lady action” and everything else was icky or threatened the bad-assery of male characters.

  3. God, so many ‘ships…

    For the girls: Kitty/Rachel, Storm/Yukio, X-23/Mercury

    For the boys: Cypher/Warlock (seriously, don’t even get me started on all the subtext there), Anole/Prodigy, Iceman/Hercules (pleasepleasepleaseSina?)

    1. First off, “Iolanthe” reference for the WIN! 🙂 (That’s why I love this podcast, the sheer variety of references) ANDsome love for Stevie Hunter…

      Great conversation there and some interesting POV’s

      I will always love Whedon for his Scott/Emma, but I will always blame him for raking up the long dead corpse of the Kitty/Piotr not-relationship and making it actually “a thing” when other writers had done a better job of having them NOT be a couple.

      1. Something that occurred to me that I haven’t heard addressed vis-a-vis Rachel and Kitty: Has there been any exploration of the relationship between Rachel and the adult Kate in her original timeline? How Rachel thought about Kate would have to have an impact on how she thought about Kitty, but I don’t have much sense of how they interacted; was it ever addressed in Excalibur?

    2. Oops, sorry, I did want to reply to your post, but I also wanted to make a general post and I think I messed up the posting.

      I would love to see Dani and Rahne reunited, their lives have taken such interesting paths. (It might involve ignoring whatever the heck is currently going on with Rahne and her bizarre secondary mutation, but I’m prepared to make that sacrifice)

      As for Cypher and Warlock, preaching to the choir on that one! 🙂 They’ve been a favourite double act of mine since the 80’s.

  4. Fun episode. I really wish we’d have a little more time for James IV batsplaining the bat family and their queer subtext, though.

    I grew up reading the Tim Drake Robin books, and his subtextual gayness reflects my experience in a lot of the same ways that others have latched onto the subtextual queerness in x men.

    1. Agreed that the Batverse bit would have been nice to see expanded. Tim is very easy to read as gay (I miss him and Conner!), and Dick as as close to bisexual is an established character is likely to get.

  5. Man, I love how you talked about Scott and Professor’s relationship in Wheddon’s run. I think you’re right in that he really gets Scott in a specific way that I don’t think anyone else had got him up until that point.

    As an aside, Dammit Wheddon. Why do people that I like turn out to be jerks?

  6. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR THIS! This was a great discussion, every one of your guests was awesome, and, well, language just fails me in expressing how much I loved all of this!

    Sorry this is probably creepy but… I want to add a bit of an obtuse ship that has been teased a couple of times, but I’ve always wondered… Jamie Madrox and… Jamie Madrox?
    Anyone? Anyone else? Yeah, sorry, I know…

      1. whew… glad I’m not the only one to ponder this… but I’ve always had a thing for Madrox so given his power set it was inevitable the thought would manifest.

        Also, loved the pics you posted from the con! Best Havok and Polaris cosplay I’ve ever seen!

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