Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

178 – Giant-Size Special #6

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

In which we enter a new era of X-Men; Magneto reluctantly returns to villainy; Jay tries to like X-Men volume 2; when in doubt, you should open your story with a space fight; Nick Fury has so many pouches; experimenting on babies unsurprisingly backfires; psychic powers are pink; Claremont deserved better; Producer Matt makes his on-air debut; and you (yes, you!) are once again the recipients of a Super Doctor Astronaut Peter Corbeau Award for Excellence in X-Cellence.


  • Loa
  • The 1991 relaunch of X-Men
  • X-Men vol. 2 #1-3
  • Chris Claremont’s departure from Marvel
  • X-Men vs. Uncanny X-Men
  • Blue Team
  • Gold Team
  • Why Magneto is emblematic of Claremont’s vision for the X-Men
  • Why there are so many copies of X-Men #1
  • How comics sales are counted
  • Our very different perspectives on X-Men #1
  • A space fight
  • Revision vs. reversion
  • What may or may not be in Nick Fury’s pouches
  • Daring loungewear worn well
  • Fabian Cortez
  • Flatscans
  • Disproportionate escalation
  • The Acolytes
  • Delgado, kind of, maybe
  • Several notable absences
  • The Magneto Protocols
  • That one time Magneto got turned into a baby
  • Some dubious science
  • A semi-invisible plane
  • Code Silver
  • Further miracles of magnetism
  • Producer Matt Hunter
  • Chiptunes
  • Podcasting about video games
  • The Fourth Annual Super Doctor Astronaut Peter Corbeau Awards for Excellence at X-Cellence
  • Best X-Toon holiday episodes

NEXT EPISODE: Havok gets a job!

Special thanks to Cordelia for her help on the episode opening!

Check out the visual companion to this episode on our blog!

Find us on iTunes or Stitcher!

Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men is 100% ad-free and listener supported. If you want to help support the podcast–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!

We’re in the process of migrating our official shop to TeePublic! Click over to check it out! (You can still find the designs we haven’t moved yet at Redbubble.)


  1. Thank you all for this amazing holiday gift to your fans! I wish you all the best this season and in the new year! I feel this milestone in X-MEN history was a significant point for many readers, and I have long anticipated hearing your thoughts on these issues that cemented the X-MEN as the paragon of comics for years to come, while sadly losing their greatest and most important creative voice.

  2. A couple of rambling thoughts on this episode:

    Thanks for the awesome opening Cordelia!

    Here’s to another year to come of your professional ridiculousness, X-Perts!

    Not sure if it was due to the studio setting for the Portland recording or due to other factors, but the episode sounded especially great. Great work Matt!

    I didn’t start reading X-Men with v2 #1 — I returned to X-Men comics right before it with the Muir Island Saga. When I did start reading the X-Men in the 80s though, I can totally understand how Miles felt about this release. X-Men even when I started seemed so big and sprawling, and seemed so planned due to Claremont’s ability “to Claremont” with plot seeds and revisiting them with payoffs in the long term, that it was awe inspiring. It was that sprawl that was a huge part of the appeal – this was so big, and so impenetrable, and so impossible to wrap around understanding it all, that it just had to be great!!

    It’s still weird looking back at this to see how unceremoniously Claremont’s departure was handled. He did deserve better, and it’s impossible for me not to feel that way even all these years later. This gif from The Office seems to crystalize how the departure was handled: http://i.imgur.com/4bUV7Ls.gif

    Super looking forward to the coverage of Peter David’s initial X-Factor run. It’s aged so well, and is such a nice contrast to the core X-books of the time.

    Happy Holidays X-Perts! Please stay safe in the snow Miles! Please remember to sleep Jay!

    1. Couldn’t agree more bud, Claremont’s departure was handled poorly, and I can’t wait to hear the sacred scribes delve into Peter David’s work!

    2. On Chris Claremont’s ability “to Claremont, let us not forget Louise Simonson’s hand in those plots, whom our hosts also had the chance to be on a panel with during this year. Sure, that same panel made us question how many of the Kitty Pryde costumes were Chris Claremont’s suggestions, or the Xtreme X-Men costumes, but there were upsides to it. As we move into coverage of 1992 and further superhero comic book marketability gimmicks, let us remember she moved on to the Death of Superman.

      1. Great point, and thanks for the reminder. I had no intention of minimizing or erasing Louise’s work on the titles or the era, she definitely had a huge part in shaping the titles and characters over this time period as well.

        I also honestly didn’t know that Death of Superman is what she moved on to. Interesting.

        1. The Death of Superman era is an interesting step-up from Inferno/The X-Cutioner’s Song — three main writers (plus others) plus a boatload of artists all tightly integrating a single storyline across multiple books in a way in which the joins are much less visible than with the Simonson/Claremont collaboration.

          One suspects that Simonson was able to bring a lot of her experience as both writer and editor to the project. But one also senses also that the absence of anyone with as strong a specific creative vision as Claremont’s helped the Death of Superman to be a genuine “writer’s room” team effort, while also making the product a little bland.

          The best thing on the Superman: Doomsday DVD is the documentary about this,* with a picture of the whiteboard on which they plotted out the whole thing. On it, Simonson remained, even after all those years, remarkably emotionally moved by Superman’s death — it was clearly much more of a personal story for her than I at least would have expected. I don’t know if she had a personal history with Superman in her childhood that was still informing her reaction, but she clearly still found his death genuinely upsetting after a decade and a half.

          *The documentary does however have a real flaw in how it represents the speculator frenzy that drove up the sales of Superman #75, as, well, not a speculator frenzy. Still, it’s definitely worth a watch.

  3. I felt the exact same way as Jay when I got to these issues.

    My first x-men comics reading actually started with Schism, which I read a little after comixology included Marvel on android back in like 2009 or 2010.

    I had listened to the Rucka episode of the podcast about young cyclops and then found my way back at around episode 70-something and then i was hooked. I listened to every episode in about a month or two and I started reading on Marvel Unlimited at Claremont’s debut and read everything I could up until a little after the relaunch and it just wasn’t doing anything for me. So I put the tablet down and said, “maybe I’ll come back after Jay and Miles talk about it” and skipped to the Morrison era. I think there’s just something about the 90s style that I can’t get passed.

  4. Hey X-Perts! Not only was this my first issue of X-Men, this was my first comic book ever!

    I was born in ’88, so I didn’t read this the year it came out. I think I read it the summer of ’96. We were in the process of moving, and my whole family was staying in a condo that was much too small for us. I literally slept in a cupboard above the stairs like a reverse Harry Potter, and my siblings were jammed into a small bedroom together.

    I guess my dad felt for me. There was a video rental place a short walk from the condo, and that video rental had a spinning rack with all sorts of comics. He had read X-Men #1 when it was Lee and Kirby, saw the #1 and thought it would be cool to get for me with a smattering of Spidey comics.

    Yeah, I was totally confused, but I was also totally enchanted. My next step was getting the VHS copy of Night of the Sentinels (form the X-Men animated series) out from the library and watching it until the tape wore down. Within a year I was slamming quarters into the X-Men arcade game at the local bowling alley (this story is incredibly 90s). When I ran out of quarters I’d watch other kids play, or pretend I was playing the demo.

    The first X-Men issue I’d purchase proper was Uncanny X-Men #329, where they teamed up with Doctor Strange. I was pretty much all in until everything was swallowed by the Onslaught Saga, which even as a 9-year-old I recognized as trash.

    I stopped reading superhero books until college, when I friend got me Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man, and I realized how much I missed them. I went on Wikipedia and discovered Surge, Dust, Elixir, X-23 and a whole new generation of mutants had sprung up, which led me to getting back into comics, which led me to reviewing comics, which I do today on Multiversity.

    While these issues in particular were overwhelming, I saw what Miles sees. There’s so much potential and X-Men was so ubiquitous that this was a wonderful gateway. It could of been better, but it worked for me, and so many other 90s kids, and led me to a life of intense comics fandom. I agree with Jay that the issues themselves are… fine? But there’s something magical about them.

  5. GREAT episode. Cordelia’s intro made my heart grow 3 sizes. Jay feelings on X-men #1 mirrors mine closely. I own a ragged copy of Giant Size X-men #1, but my heart belongs to the Claremont/Byrne era that follows. X-men #1 was the end of my X-men, but it also precipitated my retreat from mainstream comics in general for quite a while. That single comic represented so much I disliked about that era of books: the violent plots that seem assembled by 5th grade boys playing with action figures; the Pro wrestling and sports illustrated swimsuit edition body styles; the greedy,venal fan exploiting speculators market; and, of course, the pouches. It just seemed a broad decision had been made to dumb down comics. And the X-men were the leader of the pack. My hatred for the books at the time was visceral.Even the words Acolytes and Fabian Cortez are enough to raise my hackles.
    It is going to be an interesting exercise to see if I can gain any appreciation for this period. I have to admit that Magneto rocks fantastic lounge wear. Happy Holidays!

  6. I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t specify what Gambit kissed in issue 1. I want to see a timeline where Cyclops adresses all undesirable behaviors with explosive aversion therapy.

  7. Having just got to the end of the podcast can I just say that the weekly ritual of listening to this (and TLATS during the hiatus) has been one of my highlights of the year. Losing myself in reminiscence for the comics of my teenage years for an hour a week is a real antidote to some of the awfulness of 2017.

    Seeing people like me reliving the battles we thought we’d won against the bigots and the bullies has been a reality shock that I didn’t expect. I’ve had enough abuse over the years to know that homophobia hadn’t disappeared (and it’s allies like racism, sexism, disablism and transphobia) but I truly thought we had turned a corner legally and socially where our basic rights were inalienable. Maybe I was naive.

    You guys are one of the lights in my darkness right up there with my marriage and the fact that my brother-in-law is an ideal candidate for the Huntingdon’s treatment trial. You may not always be aware of how much joy you bring into the World but you need to know that we love you and stand shoulder to shoulder with you.

  8. There’s an old favorite Damage Control issue from the first mini-series that talks about repairing the mansion.

    Apparently some of the Shi’ar tech started stealing construction materials from the surrounding area to rebuild the mansion.

    1. Alright, but what’s Asteroid M’s deal? It had been destroyed by Warlock and then one of the pieces was destroyed in The X-Men vs. The Avengers, but it’s back without fanfare. Actually, I like Jay’s slip of the tongue. What if every time Magneto rebuilt an asteroid base he iterated the letters, and this really had been Asteroid N? Then Cyclops could yell at him that he should have used numbers.

      1. Seriously though (for a limited value of seriously), as I understand it, he’s had two Asteroid M’s. The first was impacted by Warlock and split up, some of the tech being recovered led to the Avengers encounter, and the whole thing was demolished.

        The one that we see in these issues is his shiny, posh new Asteroid M built whilst he was working with the Hellfire Club as a contingency plan, with more lounging space for a fatigued demagogue who just wants to kick back and relax.

      2. I’m going to head canon that all Asteroid M’s were potential world killers which Magneto corralled. As he’s not a PR person it’s never occurred to him to tell anyone.

  9. Thank god for xplainations – I’ve read this arc half dozen times and didn’t pic up on half the plot points. It’s kinda a big fun mess…

    1. Agreed, I was super-bummed when I read about the recent cancellations, which was hammered in all the more when they showed up as the most acclaimed current series by my favorite podcast. Even Astonishing is a limited series.

      1. At least Astonishing was always presented as a maxi-series, and the upcoming Rogue & Gambit, Legion, and New Mutants series are all being solicited as minis. I mean, I should have known better with regards to Jean Grey, Iceman, and Generation X I guess…

        1. Wait, Generation X and Iceman are cancelled? Why do I destroy everything I touch? …no, wait, that’s the X-Men: Evolution Rogue & Ladytron music video, not my exact reality.

          1. Did you also read (in alphabetical order): America, Defenders, Gwenpool, Hawkeye, Luke Cage, Royals, Secret Warriors, She-Hulk, Uncanny Avengers, and USAvengers?

            Because all these non-X-Men-related ongoings also got canceled recently. Every Marvel solicit is a metaphorical bloodbath for months. :/

            1. If I am to be responsible for Luke Cage, it’s only because the printer put half an issue of that in the middle of Monsters Unleashed.

              She-Hulk (“originally” Hulk) and U.S. Avengers, too? U.S. Avengers was the only thing with the word “patriot” in it which I had any sense of pride about this entire year. Squirrel Girl fought Hydra in Paris with Captain Britain. There was a power skrull who looked like the principal from Archie, was copying Gambit and threw a failing grade at the team. Red Hulk had a moustache while he fought a giant monster with Deadpool in an horror comic homage. Find these moments and treasure them. But most of all, U.S. Avengers #3 had the, “I need to know how you find the hope,” conversation between Roberto DaCosta and an alternate timeline Danielle Cage.

              1. USAvengers is over, but it’s over along with every other Avengers title. They are being combined, or rolled into the main Avengers series, for a storyline called ‘Avengers: No Surrender’. I think it’s supposed to be a weekly title, Al Ewing will write it with Mark Waid and whoever was writing ‘Uncanny Avengers’ last (Jim Zub?). All characters from all those titles will appear.

  10. Surprised by the lack of commentary on Claremont’s editorializing against the direction of the book that was being forced on him and causing his departure. Look at Magneto’s dialogue during the fight in issue 1:
    “Have you X-Men all gone mad?! I said I meant you no harm, why do you assault me–”
    “So! Our comradeship means nothing–”
    “You choose to see me solely as the man I was. Is that then what I am?”

    And after:
    “…But Wolverine… I have fought by his side. For the brief time I worked with the X-Men, he accepted me wholeheartedly. If not as a friend, then at least as a comrade-in-arms. Why then has he turned on me? What has changed?!”

    Knowing what’s going on behind the scenes, this seems transparent commentary by the author. This doesn’t make sense with what’s happened with these characters. This only makes sense in a back-to-basics, editorially-driven mandate. Why did Wolverine attack Magneto? Claremont hangs a lampshade on the fact that it makes no sense. The only reason for the X-Men attacking is because the X-Men fight Magneto. If there’s a Magneto around, the X-Men’ll fight him. Everyone knows that!

    Claremont’s final raised middle finger to this rejection of his approach to the book (growing characters who come, go, retire from the life) is Moira’s explanation at the end of issue #3:
    “My process was a failure, Magneto– effective only so lon as the subject NEVER used their mutant power. The structures of the mind and the body have t’be aligned a certain, specific way for those powers to operate, in harmony, so t’speak wi’ your essential character. That’s why you all have such indomitable wills. No matter how deeply you’re ‘brainwashed’, each use o’yuir power reverts you to your natural, ‘default’ state.”

    You want heroes who never grow up? Who never leave that ideal vision you have in your mind? FINE, Jim. FINE Bob. HERE. They CAN’T grow up. They CAN’T change. Wolverine will always be a gruff jerk on the verge of a berserker rage who hates Cyclops and authority, because every time his healing factor neutralizes a beer, he goes right back to that. Just like he is on the lunchboxes, beach towels, and t-shirts. That’s your explanation for the comment on the show asking why Wolverine acts like that in these issues, by the way: I have no doubt it’s Chris giving Jim and Bob the broad caricature they asked for.

    My take, anyway.

    1. I think Magneto’s final words serve just as well if you think of them as Claremont speaking to Harras. I always thought this story’s ending would have been better if we had felt like Magneto was going to stay dead. The trope was already well established by then, and Claremont himself stated that he had no illusions that Magneto would stay dead.

    2. I can see that in some of the last parts of his speech: “Perhaps it’s best it end this way, Charles. For MY dreams to end in flames and glory here far above the Earth… I give you your dream, Charles. But I fear, in time, your heart will BREAK, as you realize it has ever been a fool’s hope.” It didn’t pop as hard for me as the “This story makes no SENSE!” lines, obviously, but I can see it.

  11. I will have to check out mechlo’s work. For others who have an interest in chiptunes, but might prefer exposure to a broad range of them (perhaps in podcast form), consider the Gamewave Podcast.
    The first episode of the original run had Machinae Supremacy, Phlogiston, Nullsleep, even Anamanaguchi well before they created the excellent soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Movie: The Game.

    On the comic, that retcon for Moira and Magneto doesn’t make any sense. Maybe I just need to listen to it, again, but we all know from The X-Men vs. The Avengers that it’s Magneto’s helmet which makes him Silver Age Magneto. Plus, he crushed that helmet and the costume was destroyed along with the rest of the piece of Asteroid M which they fought around. The outrage doesn’t make much sense, either, if Moira actually was Magneto’s legal guardian. Personally, I would just as soon forget that ever happened, along with the crotch which our hosts will apparently never stop not-talking about to the point it won an award.

  12. Jay and Miles, thank you for another great episode! Your podcast has brought me great joy and I look forward to it, especially when things are difficult.

    You mentioned in this episode that you wanted to hear from fans who picked up X-Men #1 wanting to start reading X-Men and *that was me* – I was a fan of “X-Men: Evolution” as a young teen and decided to start reading the comics. I read a few issues from the local library’s limited collection but then decided to go to the LCS. I asked for X-Men and was given four comics that were on sale. One of the four comics was X-Men Vol 2 #1. This was more than a decade after the comic was actually released.

    To this day, I consider X-Men #1 the reason why I gave up on comics for a long time after that initial attempt. It wasn’t until listening to your podcast that I’ve given X-Men comics another try, specifically currently reading the Claremont era. Been meaning for a while to write something about this experience, to give a perspective of how confusing it can be for new readers to get into X-Men and give suggestions to long-time fans on recommending starting points for new readers.

    Anyway, thank again for a great podcast! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

  13. GAMBIT & ROGUE ARE THE PERFECT MATCH: LOL yes, Gambit is usually all sleezy & rapey, and they are the perfect match cause he cant well, rape her :P. i never thought of it like that.

        1. Are the Marvel X-Movies, ARE going to have 100% new actors in those roles right? I hope there is no chance of them using any of the same actors.

      1. I am fairly certain it is unique, at least on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. Emulators of the console either have the ability to perform a soft reset specifically for this game, or they don’t which makes it impossible to finish without that feature.

    1. Is “rapey” the word to use here? The fact he can’t rape her is incidental to the fact he should never rape anyone, ever. They don’t give out cookies for NOT being a monster, it’s sort of expected as a bare minimum

      1. Yes, I agree. Just because you can’t accomplish terrible things to another party does not mean you should be in proximity to them. For example, just because Deathstroke the Terminator cannot kill Deadpool doesn’t mean they should work together. Deathstroke should do so when it is amusing that he can’t kill Deadpool, as it was in Mike Galusick’s fan series on YouTube.

        Anyway, Rogue stranded Gambit in Antarctica one time. Not the Savage Land, but the part which is inhospitable to humans. Leaving someone to die is probably a sign that the relationship is less than ideal.

        1. Gambit in general is a character who is so thoroughly meant to be put together from things that a teenage boy might think to be cool that I have never warmed to him. (And his interactions with Rogue come across to me as part and parcel of that strategy to me. They’re about helping the young male reader to read Rogue as fantasy girlfriend.)

          We all seem to agree that all those other Kewl 90’s characters were cringeworthy and awful. Why this one has come to seem so essential to the X-Men is a bit of a mystery to me. Especially now that I am reading the stuff I missed along with the podcast, and I can see that when Claremont introduced Gambit, he was no better. Frankly, Gambit is for me one of the strongest arguments that Claremont would have been better off leaving the X-books sooner than he did.

          There’s no there there — Gambit just seems to me to be a collection of surface attributes meant to appeal to some of the worst instincts of the young male comics reader. What am I missing?

            1. I found Gambit to be more impressive when I was a pre-teen than at any later point. However, in the unfortunately rushed X-Men: Destiny he’s basically a spymaster, which is a direction I wish someone would take him again.

  14. I have such fond memories of this era of XMen comics.I was the right age for the cartoon and watched it but hated on it because I was obsessed with the comics.The cartoons art sucked, stories fell short,charcters were pale imitation

  15. love the podcast but hate the presentism. I’m very liberal but it seems that both hosts are a little sensitive about 30 yr old fictional characters.Xmen has always been progressive for its time.

    1. Sometimes it has been yes, but things like Gambit’s behavior has always been more than as bit sleazy, and things like Psylocke’s transformation into an Asian woman, instead introducing an actual Asian woman to be on the team raised eyebrows 39 years as go too.

      1. Yeah I feel the same way about legacy characters like Captain Marvel,X23 Wolverine and Jane Thor. I think it’s so much more interesting to have these characters stand on there own with original identities instead of taking indented from popular male characters.

        1. There so many great original female characters like Elektra,Storm,Rogue,Invisible Women etc.The female characters they choose to push like squirrel girl and Ms.Marvel are C list at best.Id like to see these great original female characters get a focus over watered down female versions of male characters. It’s weak an unoriginal.

        2. Gotta strongly disagree with you there – in my opinion, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, All-New Wolverine, and The Mighty Thor are four of the best books Marvel is currently publishing. Plus, Squirrel Girl *is* an original female character, and while Ms. Marvel is in part a legacy character, it’s primarily the legacy of another woman, Carol Danvers. (Mar-Vell hasn’t been significant in many years.)

          Would I like to see more non-legacy female characters? Sure. But the comics market is a cautious and hidebound one, and books about truly original characters tend not to sell and are thus quickly canceled. I’ll happily accept female heroes as legacy characters if that’s what it takes to get such amazing comics out there.

          1. Thank you for phrasing that better than I could.

            And of course, I’m so old my default is to remember when Marvel first chose to reuse the Captain Marvel name, and went with the awesome Monica Rambeau, who was a name-only legacy and who was amazing! But who has since had to change her name at least three times, and twice because the same white guy started using a name she was already using.

  16. My first contact with the X-Men was Uncanny 167 and a half of 168 (that’s how is was published in Spain, and how we got those comics in Argentina). And I kept reading until (a little after secret wars) the man of the newsstand where I got my comics, tired of me asking almost everyday for a new issue I guess, told me the series was canceled.

    But then came the first (Burton) Batman movie, and comics from DC were everywhere.

    Years passed.

    And then, in 1993, in a day unlike any other, I saw X-Men #1.

    Ororo and Piotr were on the background, Scott, Rogue and Wolverine felt like boring and stupid doppelgangers, Kitty and Madelyne were not around and everyone seemed to be OK with that, I didn’t knew the rest of the characters and nothing here made me care for them, I didn’t like the art (I still don’t) and I totally didn’t like the writing (a very bad translation didn’t helped) (also, at the time I was reading some amazing stuff from people like Moore, Morrison and Gaiman to name a few and THIS Claremont didn’t look very good against those).

    My hate for this issue still burns with rage today.



    That 7/8 years old kid I once was found the X-men again. And he never left them go.


    I started to listen this pod like a year ago, in mixed order (because that was my X-men X-perience with this era and I wanted to repeat that because reasons) which led me to untangle the continuity of your personal lifes (I find your lack of clones and time displaced guests that never leave… highly disappointing), and, the best part, made me re-read a lot of this stuff again. Mostly Uncanny and New Mutants.

    So, thank you Jay, Miles, and all the producers and guest stars, for an astonishing nerd as fuck year.

    1. I feel like this is one of the best compliments which can be given to superhero comic fans. Good job, JFO777! As you are experiencing Jay & Miles in an order which sounds as confusing as Marvel UK imports, just wait until you get to Giant Size Special #2. Not only was that tabletop role-playing game session based upon the animated series (which itself was based on the X-Men relaunch), therein Jay and Miles discussed their X-Men ’92 counterparts. Also, if you have more to say about Spanish and Argentine comic book experiences, I know I would be interested.

  17. So, thank you for xplaining this mess. My wife has been watching the 90s cartoon while knitting and she asked me to explain what was happening when they did this story, and I just had to kknda ramble and trail off with “. . .Fabian Cortez is a dick. . .”

    1. Don’t feel too bad, if asked to summarise Fabian Cortez, I think most people would go for exactly that phrasing.

  18. Great episode as always. Listening to your podcast is always something I look forward to!

    You really made me want to dig out my old trading cards. I have a bunch of the 1990 Marvel universe set, the entire 1991 set as well as the X-Men set which the Jim Lee art. They are in a binder that has a list of all the bands I liked at the time listed on the front and the bands I didn’t like on the back. I think there is also a hole punched (bad idea) copy of New Mutants #34 in there. Ah, childhood memories.

    1. For double X-tra 90s upbringing bonus points, were the trading cards pulled out and looked at later while listening to “In the Garage” by Weezer?

      ♫I’ve got Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler, too. Waiting there for me. Yes, I do. I do.♫

  19. I think Cortez also was killed by Exodus in Bloodties, right? Villainous betrayals don’t seem to do Marvel characters much favors…

    I do get what you guys are saying about the book becoming more action-centric with Jim Lee co-plotting, but you know, it still feels like a very Claremont story to me, and perhaps one of his most meta. This is essentially Chris’ second trial of Magneto, only this time, it’s Claremont’s entire 17-year run with the character that’s being called into question. I suspect “Rubicon” was in part Chris’ response to the people who disagreed with the way he had portrayed and developed the character– including former peers like Roger Stern and John Byrne himself– and folks who just wanted to see Magneto as a villain again, like Jim Lee and Bob Harras. At times in this story, especially in issue #1, it feels like Chris was speaking directly through Magneto (without breaking character), expressing his disapproval of where other creative forces wanted the character to go, and that’s why it still feels like such a personal story, at least to me. And it all comes to a head in issue #3, where Claremont uses the plot to validate his Magneto and essentially say, “What I did with the character counted. What I did mattered.” All while finally reconciling his Magneto with Stan and Jack’s.

    1. I think that partly the case, but to me, it comes across as also having a dose of Claremont being a consummate professional and even perhaps a bit of a company man and just trying to make this mandated plot development and make sense without violating where the character has been for years.

      Similarly, I think he offers an interesting depiction of Beast in these issues and even more the X-Factor issues that he did (where Beast is inevitably more of a presence). I have the sense that Claremont is trying to reconcile the Beast that appeared in X-Factor (who displayed a certain reversion to his Silver Age self) with the fun-loving Beast as he was depicted in the Avengers. The “fearless leader” stuff, for instance.

      You have a sense of a person who has matured over time: who was one thing as an insecure teenager, then reacted against that and went a bit crazy in his twenties, and has now grown up and becoming genuinely relaxed and angst-free about his intelligence and intellectualism, without being someone who didn’t go through his “wild and crazy” phase at all.

      1. I think you’re right– Chris was also trying to make Magneto’s mandated return to villainy work with the way he’d written the character previously. And I think he succeeds by going a step further and actually turning it into both a scrutiny and affirmation of the journey he’d taken Magneto on for nearly two decades. In the end, it’s really Chris who gets the final say by having Magneto go “down with the ship”– it’s like he’s saying, “I’d rather remove Magneto from the board entirely, on my terms, then let you (Harras, Lee, et. al.) move him in a direction I don’t agree with.” Sure, Erik’s brought back later as full-on villain, but at least Chris got to give him a send-off that felt right to him.

        Jay talked about the characters feeling a little more two-dimensional in this story than usual, and I understand that perspective, but I’d say they were written in a more “introductory” manner than two-dimensional. This was, after all, the start of a new series, which in theory is usually a good jumping-on point for new readers. With a cast so massive, I can see why Chris would decide to focus on his team’s most definable traits: it’s a good, quick way of letting new readers know what each character is like. Charles is hopeful, Beast is erudite and witty, Logan gets the job done but does it his way, etc. If Chris had just written this in the same style he’d usually written Uncanny, chances are a lot of new readers would have been more than a bit lost.

        1. I believe that Byrne had already been using Magneto as a villain in West Coast Avengers at the time with the then-evil Scarlet Witch, and he showed up doing evil stuff in Acts of Vengeance. I have to agree that keeping Magneto away from other writers who wanted to use him as a villain was part of it too.

          As for the question in the podcast of “why reference the Mutant Alpha story of all Magneto stories”, I think it was the last Magneto story that was written before Claremont wrote the X-men. I think it contrasts with the character growth that happened for the character since then and also as a way to say, “THIS is how you end a character.”

    1. Came here to say this. It’s what Earth’s magnetic field does all the time and the plasma from the Sun (solar wind) that gets through is responsible for the Aurora Borealis.

  20. One thing I noticed was how Chris’s characterization of Magneto here echoes Alan Moore’s characterization of him in Heroes for Hope. Both stories have Magneto being pushed into action by his followers, as opposed to the take-charge Magneto of the silver age.

  21. I too was one of the many confused children who stumbled into X-Men with vol. 2 #1. And man, it was BIZARRE.

    My primary exposure to X-Men at this point had been through a single issue of Wolverine, after which I was forever forbidden to read comics because there was an ad for Dungeons and Dragons in the back. Luckily, my grandparents picked me up those awesome randomly packed packets of comics you used to be able to get at Toys-R-Us all the time – and in one of those packs was this comic.

    To make things even worse, there was also an issue of Excalibur that primarily starred Technet. It does not surprise me at all that I ran screaming away from X-Men to the other franchise in that pack (Thor) as quickly as possible!

    1. To think that Elizabethan Norse gods in space, including one who turns into a doctor while not flying by throwing a hammer and grabbing onto it (except when he doesn’t, or he’s Eric Masterson or a frog), are more straightforward than X-Men.

  22. I sure am glad that they stopped publishing X-Men comics with Adjectiveless number 3. Why they would pull the plug at the height of their popularity is mysterious, but at least they ended on a majestic note with Magneto’s death, instead of dragging things on ceaselessly and senselessly.

  23. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I missed this when it came out! I love the Acolytes, I love that dickbag Fabian Cortez, I’ve been waiting forever for you guys to spotlight them!

    A few things:

    – This was the first X-Men issue that I read! I was around 11 or 12 and had been introduced to X-Men via the Evolution cartoon. I was basically confused and then forgot about it for years, only for my love for this bunch to suddenly return in college when I revisited them with more context for the series as a whole.

    – Actually, the Delgado thing did get sorted out. There were two Delgados. The mutant Delgado who was a member of the Acoltyes is Marco Delgado, who posessed the powers to grow bigger, strong, and faster (his comrade Chrome helped by using his own transmuting powers to coat him in rock-like armor) The SHIELD agent was Harry Delgado. I don’t know why Claremont put this confusing-ass thing in, but that’s the situation.

    – There was indeed an Acolyte with offscreen telepathic powers! Anne Marie! She never used them on-panel but they were confirmed in supplementary source material, and she was using them constantly to keep a SHIELD agent named Nance Winters prisoner on Asteroid M.

    – The whole “X-Men not listening to Magneto trying to convince them he’s not a villain” and “everyone’s the bad guy here” thing comes, I think, from Claremont trying to talk through Magneto as his self-insert. This whole thing really does read to me as Claremont feeling the X-Men he loves were being taken from him, so he writes Magneto, one his favorite characters, as the victim of the X-Men turning on him. Unfortunately, it does make the X-Men look like the “real” bad guys and Magneto the true tragic hero.

    – The idea that Claremont based Fabian Cortez on Fabian Niceiza is a fan theory that has been around for a long time, but as far as I know there has never been confirmation on it. However, there’s a lot of reason to think it might be the case. Firstly, of course, the name. Claremont has admitted to naming many characters after real people, such as Senator Robert Kelly (named for one of his professors at college) and Lourdes Chantel (named for Lourdes Ortiz, who translated for him at a convention in Barcelona) Secondly, there’s the way Fabian usurps and takes over Magneto’s role, just as Niceiza replaced Claremont at Marvel, and Claremont’s obvious at ire at this if we go with the idea (which, again, is just how it seems to me) that Magneto is Claremont’s mouthpiece in a lot of this. Thirdly, his sister is named Anne Marie (she’s mentioned as his sister in the second issue) and Fabian Niceiza has a brother named Mariano, which is the masculine form of Anne Marie. Fourthly, when Claremont wrote X-Men Forever (incidentally using the same title that Niceiza had used for a previous series…) he pretty much just does the worst shit to Fabian and makes a note in the narrative boxes about literally no one caring that he does. It just feels to me like some very personal spite going on. Which I love, because Fabian Cortez is just legitimately despicable (in a fantastic way I love) and this just makes it funnier because EVEN THE WRITERS HATE HIM!

    Thank you so much for this episode, I loved it!

  24. Now I wish Claremont had titled one of these issues ‘Brave New World!’ It doesn’t map perfectly, but would anyone else like an X-Men fairytale version of this story as The Tempest?
    I’m glad for everyone who’s thrilled by these issues, but these were my last issues the first time through. I failed to muster the enthusiasm to get more than a few pages into #2 on Marvel Unlimited this time. I recognise Lee’s skill, enthusiasm and hard work, but his art just doesn’t work for me. I think I’m going to be someone who follows your show, but isn’t reading along for the main X books for some time.

  25. After a 5 minute disclaimer of how much you don’t like the volume 2 there is a lot of awesome in these books. The over the top dialogue, the awesome art that is so 90s and the ridiculous outfits! I agree it’s not a masterpiece soap opera that were the X-Men books before but this series was so entertaining! It was my very first X-men book and thanks to it 11 year old me was hooked! I became an X-Men fan! Thanks for reminding me how silly and great the 90s were.

  26. Because my favorite X-Men as a kid were Iceman (from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends), Storm (from her light up aciton figure), Beast (because he was smart on the cartoon), and Jean (because she baked Beast cookies in prison and that just seems like a decent thing to do), and because I was the type of kid that picked Tails over Sonic, Vanilla over Chocolate, etc., I was all about the Gold Team. It was actually my biggest problem with teh Genesis game (that I couldn’t play as any Gold Team Members). Oh that and that that game was hard AF.

  27. I’ve been binging the podcast for the last 2 months. Almost caught up! I’ve been wanting to ask: what is the source of the Peter Corbeau “theme music” you guys play during the awards and Corbeau references? It gets stuck in my head and I want to hear the full song. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *