Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

239 – Rap and Rumble (feat. Max Carleton)

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

In which we enter the era of bomber jackets; the covers are the cards; Genosha remains neither green nor pleasant; the A is for “Avengers,” not “A-list”; Henry Peter Gyrich is the straightest of men; Cyclops sets an important precedent; Exodus is a huge jerk; we speculate about movies we have definitely not seen; Stephen Strange is not a qualified OBGYN; the Avengers are really weird even by our standards; and Max manages to connect two of Marvel’s most complicated family trees.


  • One way to name babies
  • Blood Ties
  • Infinite bomber jackets
  • Avengers #368-369
  • X-Men #26
  • Avengers West Coast #101
  • Uncanny X-Men #307
  • Several very fancy covers
  • A shadow government, but not that kind of shadow government
  • Genosha (more) (again)
  • The Avengers, as of 1993
  • A special delegation
  • The Genoshan resistance
  • U.S. Agent
  • A time Cyclops told someone other than Dracula to follow their heart
  • The many belts of Nicholas Fury
  • Several members of the Maximoff family (more) (again)
  • Black Knight (Dane Whitman)
  • Sersi
  • A very drawn-out fight
  • Roy Thomas dialogue
  • The racist icing on the racist cake
  • Exodus (Bennet du Paris)
  • Diplomacy, kind of
  • Apolitical avenging
  • Magneto’s dream
  • A green and pleasant beverage
  • Yet another energy-dome-enclosed crisis
  • The giant, angry disembodied head of Charles Xavier
  • What is definitely the actual plot of the Purge movies
  • The surprisingly torrid private lives of the Maximoffs
  • Scarlet Witch and Vision’s kids
  • Master Pandemonium and his weird baby hands
  • Damian Hellstrom
  • How we’d handle Magneto’s family in modern Marvel
  • Robopaternity
  • A possible link between the Summers and Maximoff families

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  1. Bacon Number… are we playing my Marvel Universe version?

    Ie. How many steps does it take to reach Loki’s bacon from any given character.

  2. Unfortunately, whilst the UK does have a Shadow Cabinet made up of positions equivalent to the actual Cabinet, the head of the opposing party is simply known as “The Leader of the Opposition” rather than “Shadow Prime Minister” or “Prime Shadow”, both of which sound a LOT cooler.

    This is going to be a bit longer than normal, but the USAgent originally being Captain America leads to one of my all-time favourite creator stories.

    Quick summary: John Walker was created by the legendary Mark Gruenwald, and started out as a former soldier turned superstrong wrestler (Thanks to a guy who sells super powers called The Power Broker) turned vigilante who called himself “The Super-Patriot”, who sought to promote a more right wing viewpoint than Captain America who he felt had gone soft, and wanted to discredit him. He toured the country, gave rallies and speeches etc etc..

    His former army buddy Lemar Hoskins, an African-American, played up the role of the “Bold Urban Commandos” aka “Buckies”, who were strawmen opponents who attacked Walker at his rallies and were always defeated, to build up his rep (in the manner of pro wrestling).

    After Steve quit because he had lost respect for the Government (and who went on to become known as just “The Captain” for a time), the Government appointed John Walker as the new Captain America (since they owned the name, and the shield), and Lemar became a new Bucky wearing a recreation of the original Bucky costume.

    Walker was rather right wing, and rather rigid in his thinking, but he was not a political extremist per se (some of the people he worked for were) and he wasn’t inherently _bad_, just a lousy choice as Captain America.

    But Lemar was where the trouble started. Some fans were not keen on the whole plot, but creator Dwayne McDuffie (future founder of Milestone comics etc) had bigger issues.

    Another creator, Gregory Wright, recalled what happened next and this was included in McDuffies commemorations:

    “While we were both assistant editors, Dwayne quietly pointed out to me that my boss Mark Gruenwald had written something particularly racially offensive. He had created a new partner for the wannabe Captain America, USAgent. He was an African-American Bucky. At the time, I didn’t quite get what the problem was, but Dwayne explained it to me, and said that this made him lose some respect for Mark. I explained that Mark couldn’t have done this on purpose, and would be very upset at this mistake. Dwayne was dubious. Mark was far too intelligent to not know what he was doing. So I decided that Dwayne should speak to Mark.

    Dwayne was not thrilled with this, as he was already that subversive guy to some. And this could get him in labeled something else. I told him Mark was different, and besides, he didn’t think DAMAGE CONTROL was subversive. He loved it. Dwayne very calmly expressed his view to Mark, who was absolutely horrified. He had no idea that “Bucky” was an offensive term. He quizzed Dwayne for a while on the history of the offensive nature of the term and asked him to help him solve this problem in the most sensitive way possible. So the very next issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA that Mark wrote, Bucky became Battlestar. And Mark and Dwayne had a newfound respect for each other.”

    So, in the story published a couple of issues after their talk, Lemar is faced with a group of African American civilians who are not keen on seeing a grown black man wearing the uniform and name of a dead white kid from WWII. They make it clear they respect who Bucky had been, but that Lemar would matter a great deal, given his prominent role, as his OWN hero, in his OWN costume, with his OWN name. Also, that given that a “buck” is an old school racist name for an African American dating back to slavery days, it was a deeply poor choice for an identity. Hence Lemar being the one to choose a new costume and name for himself, with Walker’s support.

    And THAT’S how such things should be handled IMHO. respectfully, but organically, and acknowledging the problem in providing the solution.

    1. Ah, for the days when Marvel was staffed by actual adults instead of people who never matured past Wizard…

  3. You may know this but I recall they originally announced “Bloodties” as a crossover that would feature Magneto, and play up his relationship to Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in a way we had never really seen before (Claremont essentially ignored the retcon that he was their father).

    Then “Fatal Attractions” took Magneto off the board, and Harras had in effect shot himself in the foot as a writer, since his Avengers crossover now had to use Exodus instead of Magneto. I think that’s why this event is so short on story.

    Quicksilver was Harras’s pet character, and he’s probably the only writer/editor of whom that can be said. He used him as a regular in X-Factor, then put him back on the Avengers roster for the first time in a long time, then used him as a key player in “Age of Apocalypse,” and finally gave him his own ongoing (which failed, but, I mean, it’s more than anyone else ever gave him). He seemed really interested in the question of whether Pietro, or “Magnusson” as Acolytes kept calling him, would follow in his dad’s footsteps or not. But it never really went anywhere and in the end Pietro returned to the role of jerk who sometimes is on the Avengers but mostly not.

    1. I think Quicksilver’s biggest problem is he’s a wonderful character but a terrible superhero serial comic character. You can’t give him angst or nobility, you can’t have anyone hit him, the only thing left is to play with the formula, and you have to be a very good writer to pull that off more than once or twice without breaking the character.

  4. My solution for the Maximoff retcon is actually pretty simple: Wanda and Pietro were Magneto’s children. Then Wanda altered reality and now they never were Magneto’s children. Everything in the past happened the way you read them and you can just reverse the spell at any point you want to make them Magneto’s children or pick any other reality you want to go with instead.

    To add to that Vision miniseries art, apparently something on Marvel’s website says they’re Magneto’s children and they’re releasing a new toy set with them as a family. So I’m not sure how Marvel’s promotional side is committed to the new status quo.

    I also want to add some more Maximoff comments for the Darker than Scarlet story. First of all, it’s an awkward story involving Wanda sexually assaulting Wonder Man. John Byrne’s retcons throughout his run feel almost vindictive. But one fun thing is that Quicksilver is on Team Evil Wanda with Magneto as well, but he’s secretly a good guy. This works because it wasn’t all that long since he went crazy evil after his wife had an affair and started plotting to kill the Avengers (it was ultimately revealed in that X-Factor Annual that Maximus the Mad may have been mindcontrolling him).

  5. Hawkeye in this era is also the guy who not only lost his wife Mockingbird recently, but had divorced her because he couldn’t reconcile her choosing to not save the life of the man who had just drugged her, messed with her memories, and raped her when she had the opportunity to do so, and the story tended to side with him more than her in terms of whether it was the right thing to do.

    It was an uncomfortable time to be a Hawkeye fan.

  6. The crossover also missed most opportunities for X-Men/Avengers interaction, though as a Scarlet Witch fan I did like seeing her turn Jean’s own telepathy against her, not so much for the scene itself as because it kicked off a strange, unplanned pattern where Wanda always beats Jean no matter which versions of the characters are being used.

    Later examples include the two facing off in “Ultimate X-Men” (Wanda teleports Jean to New Jersey), “All-New X-Men” (616 Wanda buries Teen Jean in quicksand) and Claremont got into the act in “X-Men Forever” where Wanda zaps Jean to the ground while ClareMonologuing: “IMPRESSIVE though your MENTAL POWERS may be, Jean, they are NO MATCH for my HEX BOLTS.”

    I have no idea why this pattern emerged, since they’re such similar characters and Wanda was not usually portrayed as being more powerful than Jean. But I find it kind of amusing.

    1. Perhaps it’s at least partially explained by the notion that Wanda has learned to resist telepathic attacks (especially following the whole “possessed by Elder God Chthon” incident), but Jean has no real defence against someone whose power is probability warping chaos magic (Well, telekinesis would help, but maybe not as much as it would against something mofd predictable).

  7. Personally I’m of the opinion that well enough should be left alone and Magneto should never be the Maximoffs’ father again.

    He has become an albatross around their necks at this point. Especially under bad writers. Parentage as fuel for character assassination.

    But I find that the obsession with the twins’ ‘real’ father obscures the fact that Magneto did jack all to raise them.

    The otherwise good Avengers Academy has Quicksilver relate a story of his childhood featuring Magneto and also the killer robots that Magneto sent to attack Pietro while he was sleeping. But what of Django Maximoff?

    The man who actually raised Pietro. In all the various retcons when a strange flying armor man dumped two babies on Django, he raised them as his own regardless of their parentage. He gave them their names. He died for them. And who yes turned them into dolls once because phones are hard for X-Men adjacent characters.

    But when people talk about ‘real’ fathers, its only always Magneto. Genetics is end all and be all.

    Where is the justice for Django?

    1. I feel like the puppet thing would be a pretty significant even horizon in most families.

      (That said, I think your point about biological vs. adoptive families is both excellent and one the comics would do well to remember.)

  8. Scattered thoughts:-

    – One thing that I think deserves comment here is the extent to which this crossover is about contemporary events in the former Yugoslavia — explicitly in the text, but it would be rather obvious even if it weren’t.

    One aspect of that is that this all seems very different from our current post-Iraq War perspective — history has sensitized us more to the potential pitfalls of liberal interventionism, and if this were being written today, I suspect that it would less clearly be on the side of the Avengers’ frustration with the UN.

    Another aspect, though, is that this is being done by repurposing something that used to be a South Africa metaphor. The people who used to be the equivalent of black South Africans are now being explicitly treated as the equivalent of Bosnian Muslims. This is a somewhat odd move, which I can only imagine was primarily motivated by the desire to blend an ongoing Avengers theme (the UN stuff) with the standard X-themes.

    That’s elegant from a thematic standpoint — this definitely feels like a story where both teams have a good reason to be there. But it has a really serious downside from a political standpoint, unless you can manage to disregard the fact that Genosha used to be a South Africa metaphor, because it translates to a statement that South Africa must inevitably in the post-apartheid era descend into being a humanitarian disaster like former Yugoslavia. Which is *very* close to the kind of dire predictions of imagined horrors that were used to defend apartheid. As a statement for anyone to make in 1993, that’s extremely ugly — think about who Nelson Mandela’s equivalent is in this story. And as always, there’s the fact that this sort of statement has a parallel history within the United States as an excuse for slavery and segregation.

    Of course, I think the charitable interpretation here is probably that the creators were repurposing a piece of existing continuity to fit something new, and not thinking about the implications for its previous use, and one probably should try to read this as exclusively a Bosnia metaphor.

    – “Green and pleasant land.” I find it amusing that no-one involved in the X-books seems to have ever been aware that the phrase has a very particular referent and isn’t just a generic way to talk about a place being nice. (And that it has crazy British Israelite origins.). Next up: this sceptr’d isle will turn out to be Nantucket.

  9. I’m a bit behind, so I’m coming in late on this, but I couldn’t let the subject of Erdős numbers go by without comment.

    A) If you’ve got two people whose Erdős numbers add up to 69, at least one of them is desperately looking for some kind of validation for their lives.

    B) The most important thing about Erdős numbers, particularly when one compares them to Bacon numbers, is the fact that THERE IS SUCH A THING AS AN Erdős-Bacon number! This applies to people who have both an Erdős number *and* a Bacon number. Natalie Portman, for instance, has an Erdős number of 5 and a Bacon number of 2, giving her an Erdős number of 7. Mayim Bialik also has an E-B number of 7, while Colin Firth and Stephen Hawking both have a 6.

    Note: It’s possible some of those numbers may have changed recently. I’m getting my data from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erdős–Bacon_number

  10. Update: I have been informed that Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath numbers are *also* a thing. Apparently, Stephen Hawking an Tom Lehrer

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