Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

249 – The Parent Trap

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

In which Sabretooth is weirdly ubiquitous; Maverick is a terrible guest; not all second chances are equivalent; Graydon Creed is the red delicious apple of people; Mystique is the master of murder monologues; and the Darkholmes give the Summers family a run for its dysfunctional money.


  • X-Men Unlimited #3-4
  • Sabretooth (more) (again)
  • Emergency back-up Wolverine
  • Faces
  • A stained-glass window that is probably a metaphor
  • Evocation
  • Maverick’s nose
  • Maverick’s manners
  • Commcast (but not that one)
  • Sabretooth’s mind
  • The “mystery” of Nightcrawler’s parentage
  • Mystique’s murder monologues
  • Killing Eve
  • The skull of friendship
  • Several versions of Nightcrawler’s backstory
  • Glove magic
  • One way to get out of an awkward family conversation
  • The ‘90s X-Men cartoon
  • Character migration between media

NEXT EPISODE: Fabian Nicieza!

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  1. Great episode. Y’all were way more positive on #4 than I expected given its legendary status back in the day. At the time, usenet judged it a failure (myself included) but then Usenet tended to attract the most curmudgeonly readers (myself included). Now that I’m a little more on board with the “want to like things” attitude I should revisit and see if I like it more.

    That said, I cannot not share David R. Henry’s hilarious, venom-soaked rage dump that was everywhere when I first found the internet:


  2. The Sabretooth issue was not bad. I remember disliking it at the time. This was largely due to the somewhat static feel to the artwork and because it involved characters I wasn’t all that into (I’m looking at you, Silver Samurai). I rather like the line art, now, though it is rather stiff and too few panels include backgrounds.

    There’s also something about the pacing that feels a bit … off. The plotting and script seem to be going for a psychological thriller vibe, but the tension isn’t quite there. The colors seem to be the main hindrance toward building the mood. However, the characters are scripted well, and each is given something to do – except Gambit, who is just there to be cool and mysterious, as was so often the case. Professor X shows incredible grit, yet does not resort to the easy solution of mind-wiping Sabretooth or rewriting his memories to cure him. It is also nice that the story has real consequences for the X-men’s status quo.

    I do wish the argument about how to deal with the threat of Sabretooth was given a little more nuace. A third perspective would have been nice to hear from one of the characters, instead of repeatedly echoing the “kill him” versus “everyone has demons and deserves another chance” debate. How about, “he’s only killing other bad guys right now, and this isn’t really our fight” or “he’s irredeemable, so we should lock him up forever.” It’s a bit troublesome that our heroes never seem to consider any role for the criminal justice system in bringing criminals to justice. For all its real-world faults, it would still be the right thing to have these villains stand trial for their crimes.

    That said, the ending of X-men Unlimited #3 strikes just the right tone for me. Well done, Fabian. I look forward to hearing what you have to say about your X-men run next week.

    Scott Lobdell and company did not fare so well. Actually, nothing about issue four was good. It’s so sad that nothing better could have been made out of a story revolving around three of the most intriguing main characters. Rogue and Nightcrawler both came off as embarassingly dense and inept in the use of their powers while Mystique was cartoonishly bloodthirsty. The less said about this one the better.

    Hopefully, things will start heading in the right direction once we dive back into the main series again! I remember enjoying a lot of what’s to come.

    1. I have to confess that our hosts, who often convince me that something is better than I thought at first, failed with issue #4. I think the critical issue is that I can’t see that this is as consistent with Mystique’s previous characterization as they say. For instance, I don’t see a trace here of the person who, going back to her creation as a Carol Danvers antagonist, consistently prefers to work with others, and is good at it.

      I was curious about what happened to the Claremont version of the Kurt-Mystique relationship, and looked into it. Apparently, Lobdell says that he did know about it, but thought that it was too “silly” for Mystique to be able to turn into a man with reproductive organs that could father children. Umm…

  3. So, on a scale of 1-10 for Bad At Interfamily Conversations, with 10 being the Guthries, where do the various X families lie? Thinking of Logan’s clones/kids, the Summers, the Rasputins, Mystique’s tribe…

    1. Summers family, about 3, on a REALLY good day.

      Rasputin family – Depends on which members are talking; The eldest who has causally mass murdered, the middle child who ia incapable of coping with change, or the baby of the family who is a LITERAL queen of a hell dimension. Let’s average it out to a 5, as Illyana will at least always say exactly what she’s thinking, which lacks tact, but is direct.

      Logam – I don’t think he raised any of his kids, or even knew they existed for the most part, so we might give him a 0, but if you count the cluster of young women he mentored in a sort of big brotherly/avuncular way he probably goes up to a 6.

      Darkholme/Creed family… are we allowed negative numbers?

  4. The Sabretooth series I’ll skip over except to note that Commcast either uses the same shoe-shop as Power Pack, or is expecting to be captured and is very considerately already wearing his turbine cuffs on his feet.

    As I recall (vaguely as it was a long time ago now) the “Mystique is Kurt’s mother” reveal felt a bit of an anticlimax as, like Northstar’s sexuality, it was SUCH an open secret that the only way it could be a surprise is if she actually WEREN’T (or had been his father).

    Again this story raises the question of how long Rogue was actually raised by her two Mum’s. If the average age of power’s kicking is about 13 or 14, and she was still a teenager when she joined the X-Men, as I think was implied at the time, it’s a formative period, but not necessarily a long one, and given her parents were both still alive and she had not had a toxic relationship with them I find the idea she refers to Raven and Irene as her Mom’s to be a little odd. Charming, but odd.

  5. A few scattered thoughts about the Sabretooth story:-

    -I’m going to defend the “Kill, catch, eat” order. What Creed Sr. means is, if you can kill it, you should go ahead and catch it. I.e., confronted with something, you assess whether you can kill it, and if you can, it’s prey. Which is pretty much how Sabretooth behaves.

    -Mr. Nicieza! Mr Lobdell has established twice that Bishop uses “parameter” for “perimeter.” It’s an important detail about the dark future from which he comes.

    -But Nicieza does pull a rather good switch. 1) Have Maverick establish that Bishop is a “soldier” like him. 2) Have Sabretooth, who’s got that aura of infallibility about this sort of thing, “establish” that means Bishop won’t shoot if it means endangering a comrade. 3) “This time, I have a better shot.” Very nicely done. Well-written Bishop even makes a Sabretooth story readable!

    -But actually, this is not that bad a Sabretooth story. I think it’s one of maybe two or three good stories that you can do with him: the X-Men are there for even him, when nobody else would be. As the reader, though, I sort of feel that it’s trapped by the inevitability that it simply can’t take him off the table as a character. But if you could sell me on that as an actual possibility, this would be really good.

  6. Miles is right about the original plan for Mystique to be Kurt’s father and Destiny the mother. I’ve head Claremont interviewed about it

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