Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

162 – Naked In Canada

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

In which almost everyone is better than Romulus; Barry Windsor-Smith continues to draw the best naked X-Men; Jay has strong feelings about Wolverine’s origins; Miles still hasn’t seen The Prisoner; when in doubt, it’s probably Kang the Conqueror and/or Mystique; we remain unqualified to give bear-fighting advice; you should not hide out in a nuclear reactor; and the Coffee-a-Go-Go has probably been turned into a new-wave sushi bar or something.


  • The Professor (Truett Hudson)
  • Romulus
  • Jay & Miles at Rose City Comic Con
  • Marvel Comics Presents #72-84
  • “Weapon X”
  • Backstory attrition
  • A really good opening montage
  • Some very effective use of color
  • Healing hair
  • The original villain behind Weapon X
  • A retconned origin of Wolverine’s claws
  • Dr. Abraham Cornelius
  • Carol Hines
  • Terry Gilliam’s Weapon X
  • Audio vs. text-based mind control
  • An action figure in dubious taste
  • The Milgram Experiment
  • An adaptation we’d like to see
  • A bad place to hide
  • Subsequent “Weapon X” retcons
  • How Cyclops’s powers have (and haven’t) developed
  • Jay’s general failure at X-tourism

NEXT WEEK: More MCP, featuring “The Retribution Affair” and “God’s Country”!

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  1. This really is a fantastic story. Gorgeous art, a really dark story. I love the coloured caption boxes, it’s a good way of differentiating the speakers. And the whole thing is just so weird and uncomfortable. I oddly like Hines. I’m honestly not even sure why. She’s clearly a horrible person. I think it’s that she’s so professional and polite. It’s so much more horrifying, but also weirdly makes me like her.

    This is absolutely one of the greatest Wolverine stories. It is so dark and gorgeous and amazing.

    If everyone is either Kang or Mystique, does that mean Kang and Mystique are Summers Brothers? Are Kang and Mystique are the same person?

    1. I think the thing about Hines is, she’s an awful person, but of the three main characters (aside from Logan) she’s the least awful. So our sympathies gravitate to her, and are sort of validated when Logan spares her life. That’s a narrative moment that feels like she’s being rewarded for her kindness, even though she actually hasn’t really done anything to be rewarded for – and if you read what Logan actually says, that he spares her has nothing to do with her. Another thing that I think helps us sympathize with her is that this is basically a slasher movie, and Hines seems like she’s destined to be the Final Girl – so, again, we are cued to be on her side.

      This aspect of the story is really well-done. On paper, having everybody in the story be just terrible and have Logan be not really there as a person might make the story sound like it was going to be a parody of the grim and gritty era. But Windsor-Smith manages to keep us engaged with the main trio despite the fact that we really shouldn’t care.

      Part of this is that the Professor is so cartoonishly horrible, making not just Hines but even Cornelius somehow more acceptable that is really justified. And yet the Professor isn’t *boring*. This is one of the things that’s clever about how Windsor-Smith models him on Xavier – it gives the character an extra dimension as Xavier’s evil mirror* that helps with the fact that, if you summarized the character in isolation, he’d be a ridiculously over-the-top bad guy who’s just bad.

      *I know, I know, standard-issue Xavier is already his own evil mirror. And has an actual evil twin. And an evil stepbrother.

      1. Yeah. And I think there’s probably some social conditioning in there, too, making us more likely to see women as victims even when they’re awful. (Karla Homolka sure tried to make that angle work for her, back in the day.)

        Still, I hate that I like Hines.

  2. I have had a vague idea for a while on how to retcon Romulus into being something slightly less awful/nonsensical.

    Essentially, his specific animalistic mutation means he is genetically predisposed to be obsessed with the idea of “packs” and has pheromones that are particularly powerful when applied to other animalistic superhumans. He basically encounters Wolverine or whoever, and then gets super obsessed about them and begins to make up ludicrous stories to connect them together which they in turn are inclined to at least treat as plausible because of the pheromones he’s secreting.

    Basically, his mutation predisposes him to being a stalker.

  3. Regarding the question about Cyclops’ powers, didn’t he get a power up from Krakoa back in Giant Size? I haven’t read it in ages, but I seem to remember him saying his powers got stronger for some reason. Maybe Jean too?

    My favourite change to Cyclops, though, was becoming a cyborg (little c, not the Teen Titan) in the future Madrox went to in Peter David’s X-Factor Investigations run. That whole arc was great and old, cranky, cyborg Cyclops was a treat.

    1. That’s correct – Cyclops was powered up by Krakoa. Admittedly, since the power of his eyebeams wasn’t clearly defined enough for this to have any narrative effect, the only actual significance of it was to justify redesigning his visor.

      1. It’s certainly not on the level of Warren’s metal/fire wings, Beast’s fuzzy blue look, Bobby’s harder ice form, or, y’know, The Phoenix Force.

        1. I suppose, to be fair to Len Wein, it also serves as one of the main signals to the reader that these are not going to be like the X-Men you know from reprints of Silver Age material or guest appearances in Captain America arcs. Cyclops is the most important point of continuity between the two eras, after all.

  4. I read this as it was coming out. As I recall, it was not monthly, but bi-weekly then. Still, every time I got a new issue, I’d go back to the beginning and start again.

    What I don’t remember is what you guys identify as the setup/beginning stuff. To me, it started with Logan walking out to the car and being kidnapped. Maybe I missed the first issue? I kind of like it better that way, for many of the reasons Jay mentioned: it doesn’t give any idea what Logan was doing before or after: he walked out of a bar and into the story in the beginning, then off into the snow at the end. Everything in either direction is a mystery.

    1. MCP #72 was the prologue and chapter 1 wasn’t until #73 – maybe you started with the numbered chapters? I can see that totally working!

  5. Going back to this for the first time in a long time I kept expecting the Professor to, at any moment, yell out “Good news, Everyone!”

  6. I really hope this means we’ll be covering Ann Nocenti’s excellent Typhoid’s Kiss, another Wolverine MCP set, and 8 of the best random quarter bin buys I’ve ever made.

    1. I don’t know that the Sam Keith MCP stories would lend themselves to podcast, since my recollection is that the stories were somehow both thin and confusing, but Keith’s art defined Wolverine for me for a good while thanks to those. Also, one of those stories included the introduction of Cyber, one of the dumbest claws-and-adamantium characters in an era when there were many. And his name made no sense.

  7. I think the whole extradimensional sources thing (like where Cyclops’ beam supposedly comes from/goes) is a bit mistranslated from the old OHOTMU. I don’t think the idea is that there’s a dimension made entirely of red force, or one made entirely of Hulk meat (as disturbingly intriguing as that may be). I think the idea is there’s generic extra-dimensional energy that the various super people can access, which their bodies can then use to power their eye beams, green meat growth, or whatever.

    Also, I want to voice that I never liked the bone claws. They just make no sense. They do make more sense than them accidentally growing out of molten metal, but a lot less than them just being mechanical implants. I however respect the opinion of anyone who likes them.

    1. I must admit that the bone claws are one of the relatively few X-things introduced in the ’90s that I liked when I came back to superhero comics in the early years of this century. I find them really unsettling and sort of Lovecraftian.

      But it is odd that they didn’t just go with keratin claws. You could always explain that they didn’t break as an aspect of Logan’s mutation.

    2. Perhaps Logan’s healing factor was working overtime in an attempt to be rid of some of the adamantium, and deposited the metal into those three long, sharp shapes to mitigate the damage having excess adamantium would do? Think of it as almost a proto-version of Darwin’s “evolve to survive” power, in that his healing factor doesn’t just heal, but maybe does what it needs to for Logan’s body to be ABLE to heal – just to a more limited capacity than Darwin’s (in)famous ability?

      I had always assumed the bone claws were Logan’s body healing to REPLACE the metal ones, since they had become such a part of him that his body now sought to “fix” them. Obviously until they did the comic Origin and made them have always been there. It seemed to more deeply reflect the massive trauma and overall physiological AND psychological damage that had been done to him. Like even if you removed the metal from his bones, the process had fundamentally altered him and there was no going back. If he’d ALWAYS been an animalistic mutant with claws etc, the metal isn’t as defining a moment/change.

  8. I just wanted to mention that when this came out MCP was weekly or bi-weekly, so it wasn’t quite as bad as waiting a whole month for the next 8 pages. Also, BWS was critical of the coloring in the collected editions. The bright colors were to overcompensate for the low quality printing and paper. He wanted to adjust the colors for the trade but Marvel wasn’t interested. The reprint colors are much brighter than he intended, but everyone else seems to like them, including myself.

    1. Each to their own, but I’d like to have seen BWS’s colours for the collected editions, he’s such a great colourist. I’d also really like an IDW artist’s edition of Weapon X, with X-Men #205 thrown in. It’s cover seems to be where BWS starts to put these ideas together. Also, on colour, Miles recommends the Conan work. Imo, the Dark Horse reprints are poorly and unsympathetically recoloured. A reasonably affordable alternative are the Conan Saga bw magazine reprints, issues 1-9 have the Barry Smith work.

  9. Completely with you on Nolan’s Batman…particularly his Joker. I got into so many nerd arguments back in 2008 over the fact that the film relied on the police having the combined intelligence of a teen in a slasher film because the film couldn’t rely on the Joker having hidden laughing gas or something else to get out of various situations he was legitimately beaten in.

    Anyway, now I really want to go back and reread this. I definitely think I was too young to appreciate “mood over story” when I first read it and as a result it never was much on my reread radar afterwards.

    1. There’s a poster for one of those movies and instead of Batman dominating the cityscape as per usual, there’s a shot of him standing in front of this vast cityscape being completely dwarfed by it and I was just left thinking that yes that’s what it would really be like in terms of scale, but it just seems to emphasize the futility of his mission, rather than stress his heroic nature

  10. I remember that this came out when I was in college and not reading MCP regularly, so the random chapters I saw mostly baffled me. (I also remember seeing the bald guy called “Professor” and wondering why Xavier was wearing glasses and acting extra-evil…)

    The description of the bear being decapitated by Logan amused me, because just yesterday I watched the Rifftrax version of “Grizzly”, where a number of the bear attacks are depicted as “bear waves paw in general direction of victim, unconvincing model of victim’s head lands on the ground” and I couldn’t help but picture the panel looking like that.

    Props for the Orpheus reference! That game doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves.

  11. So with Jay on origin stories being self-defeating. Does anyone really regret that this isn’t ‘How the Wolverine got his Adamantium’, oh best beloveds?
    Okay, let’s go on to BWS’s use of religious and homoerotic iconography in this series. Cover of MCP#72 the background is a techno crown of thorns. Windsor-Smith is a storyteller who clearly and concisely tells us the sort of story he’s telling. Primed by Jay’s recent comments on the possibility of gender fluid Logan, I found myself constantly reminded of images of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. Logan’s nudity and the repeated piercing of his flesh keep telling us of his vulnerability. Sure, he’s tough, but oh boy, he’s vulnerable. Oh and all the bondage, cover of MCP#75.
    It was good to hear your enthusiasm for BWS’s art, it’s an enthusiasm I share. I’d happily argue he’s drawn the best looking X-men comics, while accepting there are good arguments for other contenders. However, one of the inspiring things about him is he also drew one of the worst looking ones. X-Men #53 is pretty bad and Daredevil #50 might be worse. It’s kind of hard to look at those comics and say it’s about some inbuilt talent that he got so good.

  12. Oh man, oh man. I’m so glad this was covered. Thanks to some trades with friends on the schoolyard, I lucked into issues 72 and 74 of Marvel Comics Presents. Aside from the ’92 cartoon and trading cards, they were literally my first exposure to the X-Men.

    It blew my 8-year-old mind. About as much as my second X-comic-related find… X-Factor 60, aka part 3 of the X-Tinction Agenda. Yeah, that was a fun one to stumble in on.

    I mean, a lot of it was from context. After all, I only got the prologue and the chapter where Logan got his claws and gutted that poor man. But it was enough to completely blow my mind away from the implications – and made me wish for the rest.

    Which didn’t come until I read through a library copy about… oh… 20 years later. I don’t know if the full story lived up to my fevered imagination, but it was a damned good ride.

    Also glad to hear that you’ll cover the completely random Cyclops story from MCP as well. I really liked it when I stumbled across it a few years back.

  13. So, you mentioned Elliot from Leverage last week as that show’s Wolverine. That link reminded me, this week, that Leverage show-runner John Rogers stated several times that we would never see Elliot “run into the woods in his poncey nightshirt”, referencing the eventual mess of Wolverine’s overly detailed back story. Which is to say, he agrees with you on maintaining mystery for this kind of character.

  14. On the Apocalypse thing. I really thought the Remender Uncanny X-Force was going to reveal he was behind the weapon plus project. Weapon Plus and Apocalypse both kind of thread throughout and it seemed like there’d be a connection but it did not appear.

    1. It’s something where it makes total sense in plot terms, but seems like a bit of a clash aesthetically, because all the Egyptianizing stuff that’s come to hang around Apocalypse, and the biblical stuff that’s been there since the beginning, doesn’t blend well with the Secret Government Project in a Basement with Lots of Tubes and Wires.

      It would be interesting to know in what direction Claremont would have liked to have taken Apocalypse. Ancient Egypt isn’t, I think, something that he ever displays much interest in, nor ancient Israel (or the ancient Near East more generally). When Claremont likes to hang out in ancient cultures, it seems pretty much always to be ancient Rome – to the extent that (and this bothered me even when I read New Mutants at a young age) the alleged Inca/Roman hybridity that Nova Roma is supposed to display seems pretty much to boil down to being exacly like ancient Rome,* but in South America.

      He also loves classic space-opera, so at a guess we’d have gotten a more science-fictional Apocalypse, with a lot more of contact with aliens à la Ship, and at some point a time-travel story in which Apocalypse would have turned out to have been the Emperor Augustus or whatever.

      *Right down to the life-stealing mutant goddess. The ancient Romans had those. Cicero talks about it.

      1. BWS does draw Wolverine in aN open-top sarcophagus surrounded by wires, so I think he’s having a go at making that aesthetic work.

        1. I think Claremont must have intended him to be involved along with Apocalypse. Isn’t it Sinister that triggers Wolverine’s partial memory in Inferno? Or am I misremembering? I didn’t read along with the podcast for those issues.

          Dammit. I really do want to know what Claremont’s vision for Apocalypse was and what he would have done with the character. Has he ever discussed that in detail anywhere?

  15. This has been a favorite since I picked up the trade, years and years ago. I was collecting and aware of this when it first came out in MCP, but I didn’t pick it up then. I bought the first several issues of MCP (yeah, I was a Wolverine fan), but I finally tired of spending money on comics that only featured 1/4 of what I wanted, with 3/4 filler. So by the time this came out, I saw it, knew it was awesome as soon as I saw it (I loved BWS from his X-Men stuff, particularly the Wounded Wolf story), and decided I would wait till the story was collected later on. Probably the first time I actually “waited for the trade”. Probably my second favorite Wolvie story, second only to the original limited series.

  16. [ i see now this is the real episode thread. copy & paste: ]

    The real WeaponX:

    Wow, Congratz on being the first of the X-Pods to cover this ! finally, ive been waiting and wondering why none of them are covering it.

    when I think of what deserves to be on the WOLVERINE MOUNT RUSHMORE, this would DEF’ly be on it & the Miller/Claremont LS (& 2more).

    WOLV1movie: a HUUUGE diff from the WEAPON X procedure in the comix & in the movie is: in the comic, he was just living his life and got grabbed off the street and taken there and operated on and kept there all AGAINST his will. That’s part of what made it so powerful. and in the movie, he freely CHOOSES to get the procedure done. f which is a huge difference to be noted. Guess A PG movie couldn’t come at it from that angle.

    APOCALYYYYYPSE!!!!?!?!?!?!?! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEtRoZ5FWNc how no way. cool factoid.

    I’m saving up to get that operation. Anyone know where I can get some Adamantium for cheap?

    I LOVED seeing the WEAPX part in XM-APOCALYPSE (movie). though I was bummed out they didn’t have a shot of him, stabbing and lifting a guard above him, like the iconic TPB cover.

    I gotta use that family guy link again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEtRoZ5FWNc . WHAAAAAT?! I’d never read WEAPONx b4 Miles. But…like…HOW COME?! ?

    DIGITAL COLLAGES OF THIS: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B04CFmLs1ApDLS1FRDBNd214RW8?usp=sharing

    WOLV V2 50 for other listeners to check out: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B04CFmLs1ApDZ3VlZlpXeDVCelk/view?usp=sharing

    as much as I love this comic….obviously in real life terms, that whole adamantium’afying procedure makes no sense. so it’s saying that they put a thin coating of it over top of the exterior of his entire skeleton. the metal would have to be melted into a liquid and you would have to painstakingly operate on one section of the body at a time. pull part completely all the tissue etc to get each section of the bone totally exposed get the bone coated, and then put all the tissue back. and start on the next section. all that molten hot liquefied steel, if he pumped it into his body wouldn’t his body just melt off instantly?

  17. I’m so glad you guys dwelled on the coloring a bit in this episode – this story in particular was my coloring watershed. I’d started out reading modern comics and so was pretty unimpressed by classic comics coloring. (I know, I know) I read this story once and loved it, but was baffled by the colors. Why was it so…weird? And then I reread and fell in love with both these colors and older coloring styles in general.

    On that note I did not like the Logan cameo in Apocalypse because I’m not a fan of seeing this era out of the context of the weird colors and confusing dreamlike atmosphere. I really like this story but if you try to pin it down in reality the details fall apart. Hard to explain, I just had a visceral ‘nope’ reaction to that cameo.

    A great episode, listened with my sister (she hears a few every year when I play them while cooking) and she seemed to enjoy as well.

    1. ‘NOPE’ REACTION: No? You didn’t like it? ahh, I just thought it was so cool that it was even in there. I mean it wasn’t as good as the comic, but hey, ill take what I can get. at the end of the day, id rather have it in there as is, then not at all. don’t u think..no,,?

  18. Is it bad that I was unreasonably excited about the Shinji Ikari reference 🙂 And really if you can be anyone be Yui Ikari. Actually, don’t be Yui Ikari, because that would be bad, or end up having really strange somewhat Oedipal overtones.

    Anyways. Almost caught up to present. Yay.

  19. I always assumed that Dr. Cornelius was modeled on John Byrne as a nod to one of the “creators” of Wolverine, but I could never figure out if the Professor or Hines was modeled on anyone.

  20. I respect Jay’s preference for how Wolverine’s backstory should be handled but honestly I don’t think it holds much water.

    A character like the Joker could get away with being mysterious in his back story because for starters most of his pre-Killling Joke history never concerned itself with who he used to be or what made him the way he was.

    He was just the Joker presumed to be some random criminal beforehand.

    He was not a regularly recurring character let alone (outside of some very short lived series) a starring protagonist.

    But Wolverine was and hints about his backstory and it’s mysteriousness were floated to the reader relatively often.

    Claremont might say ‘where’s the mystery’ if that mystery is resolved but it is pointless and shallow to just tease a mystery that never ever goes anywhere but is often the subject of stories inspite of that.

    Wolverine’s past being a mystery even to himself is NOT something a good storyteller in the long run just leaves hanging.

    In a narrative like Doctor Who where usually our way in to the world of the Doctor is through the eyes of his companions his past being mostly a mystery is more logical but even then it’s not that relevent because few stories revolve themselves around his past whatsoever. In particular his name is his biggest mystery but as 2013 proved to us his real name just doesn’t matter at all.

    Who Wolverine was before he was Wolverine, what shaped him into who he is though? That IS an important question and when it’s dangled in front of readers repeatedly across 20 years to entice them then yes you do HAVE to eventually resolve it.

    And besides it wasn’t like the resolution we got was bad. Jenkins’ Origin comic for the most part is very good.

    I also take umbridge with Jay’s objections to Nolan’s approach to Batman and the realism it displayed.

    I feel that approach doesn’t work for every character but it most certainly worked for Batman in those movies at that time as their financial and critical success are testament to.

    Batman due to his lack of powers DOES exist in a comparatively more grounded reality to other heroes and so playing things for relatively realistic really works, it especially worked in helping superheroes go even further into the mainstream as the first step to that s to present them in a way that tones down their fantastical nature and then once people are on board with that work it back in.

    That’s what the first X-Men film did and that’s also why now we can make TV shows about the Flash that get critical acclaim when 10-15 years ago such a thing would never have worked

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