241 – Conducive to Moral Subversion

UPDATE: Jay initially linked to the wrong episode here. Link now leads to the actual Episode 241. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Dave is moving this week. We miss you, Dave!

In which Quicksilver wants you to know that he’s not cool; X-Factor gets a new government liaison; a danger room on a jet is a terrible idea; this team is bad at feelings; Forge is a pretty okay boss; and it remains exceptionally difficult to be Rahne Sinclair.

X-PLAINED:

  • Several deaths of Scott Summers
  • X-Factor #93-96
  • X-Factor (more) (again)
  • A somewhat tragic meeting
  • A costume and the response thereto
  • A very brief adventure
  • A political reference
  • Feelings
  • Art therapy with Quicksilver
  • Random (more) (again)
  • Mr. Dibbles
  • Havok’s hair
  • The new boss (as literally and idiomatically distinct from the old boss)
  • Some history
  • Haven (kind of)
  • Navigating mental health triggers in comics
  • The difference between isolation and quarantine

NEXT EPISODE: A Threat and/or Menace!


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31 comments

  1. John Ward says:

    GEtting episode 204 again on both this site and Patreon. Sad face.

    • John Ward says:

      Uh, 240 not 204.

      • Voord 99 says:

        As with the silent episode, maybe it’s commentary? Although then I suppose it would be an Inferno episode.

        But an “Aagh!” from me too. These issues aren’t on Unlimited, so today was a day where I had no homework and could go straight to the podcast. Which is always nice, even when, as here, I was quite looking forward to seeing what the post-David X-Factor was like.

        (Really, Unlimited — you give me Stryfe’s Stryke Fyle, but you give me J. M. DeMatteis doing X-work. You have very odd priorities.)

        • Voord 99 says:

          “Can’t give me J.M. DeMatteis doing X-work.” Caught that one just as I pressed the button, but, alas, too late. Probably good that I don’t work in a nuclear power station or something like that.

    • Miles says:

      Fixed – whoops!

  2. Icon_UK says:

    The download link for #241 gives us last weeks episode, #240.

    I mean, #240 was a great episode, but I don’t think I want it twice! 🙂

    • Jim Roberts says:

      Yeah, looks like an upload error.

      Happy April Fool’s Day, everyone!

    • Miles says:

      Fixed! Sorry about that.

      • Jim Roberts says:

        Could this take a while to fan out to podcast aggregators? I use Podcast Addict on Kindle. This might well be a question for them, of course, in which case, feel free to ignore me, or make fun of my hair or something.

        • Miles says:

          It should be pretty instantaneous, but it depends on whether Podcast Addict checks for modifications to existing episodes. If deleting and re-downloading the episode in your app doesn’t work, that probably means they don’t check, in which case I’d recommend contacting their support.

          • Jim Roberts says:

            Had to unsubscribe and resubscribe, so I’ll be sending them a note about improving that function – and right after I’d caught up on all your episodes from the beginning.

            BTW, I have little extra income, so I can’t Patreon, so where’s a good place to get you folks some reviews?

  3. 90sRF says:

    So, Haven is actually a huge fave of mine and I have a ton to say on her, but I’ll try to restrain myself to when she gets covered. What I will say is that it’s really chilling reading her issues, wherein X-Factor attacks her when she’s not even doing anything, because the brown lady with the funny religion MUST be a terrorist because the government says so…and they end up being right. And how her backstory ends up being a Victorian morality tale about how this perfectly good woman’s life was ruined (and, eventually, is ended horribly) because she broke purity taboos just ONCE. And how she’s the first Indian/Hindu character (technically Hindu/Zoroastrian/pan-religious, but) and her religion is represented as a direct part of her (involuntary, as it turns out) villainy.

    Also, New Age was a fascination in the 90s, and by an extension, India and its spirituality was really in-vogue, so you got celebrities jet-setting off to there, Madonna did her “Ray of Light” song, etc. So that’s probably where a lot of Haven’s characterization comes from, and how it characterizes her Hinduism. That said, considering her philosophy does end up being based in actual aspects of Hindu religion, albeit twisted around, and she is a born-and-raised person from India, it seems kinda insensitive to be making jokes about patchouli and sage and Portland, much like when Guido makes similar remarks later upon visiting her base. White hippies didn’t actually invent the concepts she discusses, even if we associate them with it due to their appropriation. I know you guys are usually pretty sensitive about that sort of thing, so I just wanted to point that out.

    • Miles says:

      I’ll admit that I barely remember Haven – I haven’t revisited the next X-Factor arc in many years – and your points are well taken. Thanks for the insight and the post!

      • 90sRF says:

        Thank you! I figured you guys would be cool about it and that it wasn’t on purpose, since one of the things I like about this show is your usual conscientiousness ^_^

    • Mike Murdock says:

      I tend to agree. I can’t say I love Haven because there are a lot of issues with the character, but I liked that she seemed to offer a genuine philosophy. If done right, the character had potential to be on the Xavier-Magneto level. But it was always poorly handled.

      • Voord 99 says:

        Re; Hindu/Zoroastrian/pan-religious. This is not something I know much about at all, and it definitely does have the white hippie factor.* But J. M. De Matteis has made several statements about how he considers himself a follower of Meher Baba.

        So I think Haven is quite directly meant to be things that the author believes gone wrong. I suspect there’s something in there about the dark turn in ‘80/‘90s comics — De Matteis has talked about how he found that at odds with his personal beliefs.

        I’d be really interested in hearing 90sRF expand on this.

        *De Matteis is the sort of person who hears a retrospective about John Lennon on the anniversary of his death on the radio while driving and bursts into tears all over again, decades later. (He wrote about that on his blog.) He remains to a remarkable degree profoundly a person whose outlook is shaped by the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

        • 90sRF says:

          I knew about his devotion to Meher Baba, and I do think his creation and writing of Haven had a lot to do with it.

          As far as what I can expand on it…

          Haven’s villainy comes simply from the fact she’s possessed by a demon, specifically the Adversary, which the X-Men defeated previously. She’s actually a very good woman, who prior to her posession worked in the streets of India caring for impoverished and ailing people. Her very name, Haven, actually came from how she renovated a children’s hospital and the kids there started calling her that.

          A lot of her goodness comes the fact she’s a very religious person. Her parents were both wealthy, and both very faithful. Her father was a Hindu, her mother a Zoroastrian, but she says they raised her to embrace all major world religions as long as the core was “love of God through love of man” and she lives by this pretty well. Even when possessed, she’s still one of the few humans we see publicly speak up for mutants.

          So, getting to her philosophy—she wants to bring about the Mahapralaya. The Mahapralaya is kind of a Hindu version of the Apocalypse, wherein all the worlds are completely dissolved, except instead of everything just ending, it starts over. It’s circular, not linear. That is an actual part of Hindu cosmology, though what I’ve described is a VERY simplified version. I should probably note now, I’m a white Western person who only learned this stuff BECAUSE I was interested in Haven and wanted to understand what she was about, so I may get stuff wrong here.

          Anyway, the way this gets used with her is that the Adversary talks in her head for 20 years and convinces her that she can bring the Mahapralaya early, and that after it will come a better world, a golden age free of pain and suffering. Naturally, being a humantarian whose entire life has been about alleviating the suffering of others, Haven is tempted by this. The catch is, in order to bring the Mahapralaya, she has to cause a great deal of suffering now, destroying 3/4 of the world, so that thousands of years of future suffering can be skipped and the Mahapralaya can arrive now.

          She seems utterly convinced by this, but it’s also worth noting that as fervently as she believes, she never actually attacks or harms the heroes in any way, even though they repeatedly attack her. It’s unclear how much agency she really has here, but my theory is the reason she relies on a cult to do a lot of her work, despite having godlike power herself, is that as much as the Adversary has her mentally, it still can’t seem to make her do it herself. That’s just my theory.

          Anyway, I think what DeMatteis was going for with that, is that even the very best of people (like Haven) can be misled and have their faith abused and corrupted by people who will sell them a twisted a version of it, or who will indoctrinate them by presenting them a familiar version of their faith but then twist it around into something that’s really the opposite of what their faith is about, as the Adversary does with Haven, taking what motivated her to be a saint and using it to make her a supervillain.

          This could, of course, be done with any religion, so I think it’s unfortunate that he picked Hinduism, as there were no Hindu characters in the X-comics at this time, and never had been before. It’s also exceptionally unfortunate how slut-shaming and misogynistic Haven’s story ends up being, since the way she got possessed is that she was distracted from her charity work just once by falling in love. She got pregnant, was abandoned by her lover, fell deeply into shame, and then the unborn baby gets possessed by the Adversary, masquerades to her as her unborn child speaking with a divine voice, keeps her as an incubator for twenty years during which time it makes her turn her back on everything she stood for, then she dies alone giving birth to it, having realized the horrible truth too late…and the goddess Roma shows up to tell her she brought it on herself.

          The dude who knocked her up and ran, by the way, never got any kind of comeuppance that we know of.

          Remember kids, don’t have sex! You will get pregnant and you will die!

          • Karl_H says:

            “I think what DeMatteis was going for with that, is that even the very best of people (like Haven) can be misled and have their faith abused and corrupted by people who will sell them a twisted a version of it, or who will indoctrinate them by presenting them a familiar version of their faith but then twist it around into something that’s really the opposite of what their faith is about”

            This is very much the sort of thing DeMatteis likes to play with. His big Defenders storyline from the 80’s had a bit where a Jesus-like messianic figure turns out to be the unwitting pawn of a demonic cabal called the Six-Fingered Hand. I’m sure there have been other examples.

      • 90sRF says:

        Definitely agree on the poor handling! I’m forever mad about that.

        I tend to love characters more for what they COULD have been than what they are/were, I’m sort of a magpie for shiny bits of lost potential ^_^

  4. The Lonely Sand Person says:

    Of course, Maddri would only be correct if he was a Maddrus. The correct plural of Maddrox is Maddrices.

    Or Maddroxen.

    • Voord 99 says:

      I like Maddroxen. Definitely gets my vote. In fact, let’s use it for all superhero comics character whose name ends in -ox.

      Although right now I can’t think of any. Odd. You’d think there would be hundreds, given the tendency of creators to resort to the letter -x at the end (see Terrax, Imperiex, Drax, Martinex).

      I mean, there are the Z’nox, but I think that’s already the plural.

  5. Icon_UK says:

    I have to assume that Alex’s facial buttress has built-in hair extensions, because his civilian hair seems a lot less… extensive.

  6. Ryan Fryer says:

    On Stitcher the link for #241 still takes me to #240.

    • Miles says:

      Weird – the site is returning the correct episode for me. If you’re using the app, try deleting and re-downloading the episode. If you’re not, let me know where you’re seeing the incorrect link and I’ll see what I can do!

  7. Plumcha says:

    Thank you for answering my Tumblr question (I don’t have a Tumblr account so I had to ask anonymously). But as a follow-up, while AO3’s readers are great for that service, what do you do about social media? Twitter only lets you mute so many things, and when everyone else is insisting a recent work that wallows in suicide contagion imagery is actually not dangerous & you’re the one with the issue, how do you respond?

    I get exhausted with people finding that my problems, that I fight against every day of my life, are their fast track to undeserved praise. If you truly care about depression & suicide, don’t shill for useless hotlines, don’t brag about how your whole writing career is built around “trauma” & pretend it’s a coping mechanism when it clearly isn’t, and don’t condescend to people who are genuinely hurt by these works/actions you’re insisting are “raising awareness” of something I’m all too aware of already. You’re just hurting people by addressing something you don’t & never will understand, and you don’t care about anything except pats on the back for doing it.

    It’s bad when you can’t read X-Men anymore because the writer is proud he’s basically recreated 13 Reasons Why in print form and people who should sincerely know better are celebrating him for it. I’m including actual therapists like Dr. Letamendi and people who purport to be fellow suicide survivors. And sadly, this writer isn’t alone in being awarded for trying to shove people off the cliff and summoning their fans to help. But he DID lie about donating to over a dozen highly useless hotlines (ask anyone who’s called – my experience being blown off is SOP for these services) and rallied people to paint him as a sensitive “survivor” instead of an exploitative liar.

    How do you combat THAT? Disconnecting isn’t an option, but neither is continuing to consume a media & be part of an audience that seems to have decided your pain & struggle is their award-bait entertainment. For many of us, social media is our only non-work, non-family social connection, and while I recognize how intensely unhealthy that is, it’s the only option unless I’m looking for a hook-up (which I am not).

    I’m sick of feeling alienated, and I’m sick of people expecting me either to magically know where the land mines are or to jump on them, with them thinking it’s hopscotch. Beta readers aren’t going to fix that.

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