Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

224 – Fix the Future

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

In which Alan Davis performs his pièce de résistance; the personification of Death is surprisingly supportive; Rachel Summers is the One True Phoenix; Kitty Pryde goes full ’90s; syntax saves the world; and the first Excalibur series should really have ended with #67.


  • Origins of Phoenix mythology
  • Excalibur #61-67
  • The Phoenix Force (more) (again)
  • Rachel Summers (more) (again)
  • Earth-811 (more) (again)
  • Phoenix vs. Galactus
  • A pep talk from Death
  • The One True Phoenix
  • The dark, distant future of 2013
  • The dark, even more distant future of 2015
  • The extremely complicated future of Kate Pryde
  • Rory Campbell / Ahab
  • What may or may not be Ahab’s theme song
  • Moby Dick, kind of
  • That one time Widget was a car
  • Resistance Coordination Executive
  • Dark Angel
  • Killpower
  • Albion
  • Grace
  • Tangerine
  • Arthur
  • An Excalibur #54 callback
  • Excalibur (the gun)
  • Kitty’s new image
  • How to hack the robot apocalypse
  • Saved by the Bell: The College Years
  • Where Excalibur should have ended
  • Tactical use of Magneto’s hat
  • Anti-assimilation stories in X-Men

NEXT EPISODE: The Passion of Butter Rum (feat. Austin Gorton)

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  1. We do sort of see Tangerine one more time, in the Warren Ellis Excalibur story “Days of Future Tense” where we see another timeline branching out of Days of Future Past (Earth 9620 apparently thank you google).

    There she, sadly sans afro do, works with Psylocke, Captain Britain and the survivors of future Excalibur, to try and locate the missing Douglock.

    It does not end happily (Surprise, surprise)

  2. No good guys named Nigel? Try HRH Prince Nigel Cluim Gwydion Rhys Haldane, Prince Regent and Duke of Carthmoor in Katherine kurtz’s Deryni books.

    1. Standard hero’s name in the 19th century: both Scott and Conan Doyle used it.

      Looking it up on, well, Wikipedia, I learn that the name was essentially not used between the Middle Ages and the Victorian era, and was revived in the latter as part of Victorian romantic idealizations of the medieval period. So, yes, back then its associations were highly positive.

      1. I’m very taken with the promise that we listeners will get to pick the sea shanties for next week.

        It’s enticing in itself, but because we know that our hosts bank these episodes in advance, it means that we will be using time travel. And, as every reader of superhero comics knows, that can only mean one thing: our hosts are going to send us back in time to get Blackbeard’s gold. And see, it all comes back to sea shanties.

        (But, seriously*, can Miles sing “Drunken Sailor” for us?)

        *Not actually seriously.

  3. I know this is an unpopular thought but I just don’t see what people seeing Ellen Davis’s are it at all. I can’t stand it I don’t like it. If he’s the artist I Skim or skip a book. That’s the biggest thing for me that I just don’t get that the majority of X-Men fans like, I just don’t get the Alan Davis art love. Just being honest.

    1. Well, it depends on what you’re looking for, I suppose.

      If you’re looking for heightened, over-the-top,operatic, exaggerated emotion and Big Dramatic Moments, then David is mostly not going to be your cup of tea. You definitely have to be comfortable with whimsy – Davis comes out of a British nonsense tradition going back to people like Edward Lear. If you don’t like too smooth and clean a look to your art, he wouldn’t be for you. I’ve also mentioned here that I do feel that people who would usually be quick to call out an artist for cheesecake maybe give Davis a pass when they wouldn’t be so forgiving of a less capable artist. He’s not by some distance my favorite of the classic 2000 AD artists (that would be the late Carlos Ezquerra).

      But Davis has virtues that are not universal in superhero comics. He is good at doing human bodies and faces that are simultaneously idealized and distinct from one another. Almost everyone in a Davis comic looks pretty, even the ones that are supposed to look like monsters, but they don’t all look the same. He does excellent facial expressions. His anatomy is always solid – he may sometimes make women strike unnecessarily sexy poses, but my God, they’re always anatomically achievable sexy poses.

      He’s got that rock-hard sense of storytelling in panel progression without wasting time that short British comic strips drilled in to their artists. Every panel does something in a Davis comic, and nothing is there just for him to create a showy, striking image, which is part of why he isn’t so big on the heightened dramatic moments.

      I mean, Davis wouldn’t be the best artist for From Hell or something like that. He’s better at shiny happy. If we look at the comics that our hosts reviewed, I think it’s fair to say that another artist might have communicated a more intense sense of dark hopeless despair and horror when depicting the DOFP alt-future. Davis can’t help but charm us with a creation like Tangerine.

      But Davis is fantastic when he’s doing action-comedy with strong characters, especially with an element that allows him to indulge his abilities in creating visually inventive, whimsical, fantastic creations with a surreal air drawn from (as noted above) Victorian nonsense literature. In some ways, Excalibur’s not even ideal for him, because it’s got this tense (but by the same token interesting!) relationship with its status as a “sort of” X-book that constrains him a little.

      Still, It’s been a tremendous relief for me, reading along with the podcast, to turn from the muddled show-offy posing in other X-books to turn to reading something where the fundamentals are so reliably present. Oh, and “D.R. and Quinch Have Fun on Earth” will always the best of the Time Twisters, and it wouldn’t have worked anything like as well with a different artist.

        1. Well, I didn’t want to be all, “If you weren’t a kid in the ‘80s reading 2000 AD, you don’t get it, man!”

  4. Ah, now I see the connection. All the points you referenced as “anti-assimilation”, things that led Scott down his dark path, are the stories I distinctly remember as being where modern day X-Men comics lost me. The X-Men were sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them. That meant saving the lives of people like Robert Kelly and Henry Gyrich from supervillains (usually mutants themselves) so that they could go on to hate and fear them another day. Even a coward will fight for self-preservation. When you turn it into an “us VS them” situation you give them a reason to hate and fear you. The goal should always be unity, oneness, equality. Even at the expense of your life. THAT’S what makes a hero.

    1. Except the X-Men continued to save the world and all it’s incumbent assholes even when Utopia was a thing, they were just more defiantly visible when not doing the saving.

      At some point they decided that they were tired of doing all the saving and being treated like toilet roll* anyway, and that unity would never be achieved by invisibiilty because iy made it too easy for the “fear and hate” crowd to ignore them,

      By establishing themselves as nation and a very visible subculture they were basially taking a “We’re here, we’re X-gene positive, deal with it” approach which is a perfectly legitimate and valid standpoint to take for an oppressed minority.

      * “Soft, strong and disposable” as Madeleine Kahn so memorably put it in “Clue; the Movie”

  5. I remember the old “E-Man” series used “Albatross” in their X-Men spoof but “Flamingo” is so much better.

    In fact, I suspect it might be a fun game to reread the old X-Men series, but substitute the word “Flamingo” wherever anyone refers to “Phoenix”, especially during the classc “Dark Flamingo Saga”

    1. My favorite parody back in the day was in Alf comics. It was called the Dark Kleenex Saga… mainly because Cyclops was called Snot Bummers! ?

      1. In E-Man, they were the F-Men, including Zitpops (Please, do NOT ask me to describe his powers), Drizzle, Clodhoppus, Slimesquirmer, and recent addition Airhead.

  6. Tangerine did have another appearance in Excalibur #94 many years later. That issue centered around earth 9620. She was also one of my favorites and I really wish they had done more with her. The 616 version has yet to make an appearance.

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