252 – Snakes on a Trolley

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

In which Miles invokes Freddie Mercury; Polaris is more competent than the rest of X-Factor put together; Armageddon theology does not intersect well with superpowers (or politics, or anything else); Val joins a cult (kind of); Random joins the team (kind of); Haven is a surprisingly nonviolent mass-murderer; Havok is confused by women; and good guys don’t have orbital lasers.

X-PLAINED:

  • Hope across the multiverse
  • X-Factor #97-100
  • Haven (Radha Dastoor)
  • Man, Mutant, and the New Humanity
  • A very fashionable outfit
  • One of the greatest Marvel art submissions of all time
  • Trinket the cat
  • Catalogs
  • A dramatic entrance
  • Mahapralaya (kind of)
  • Jamie Madrox vs. Jamie Madrox vs. the Legacy Virus
  • The Trolley Problem
  • Possession
  • Orbital lasers as a metric of morality
  • Monsoon (Aloba Dastoor)
  • The apparent death of Jamie Madrox
  • Our favorite takes on the Phoenix
  • Who our X-Universe counterparts should be

NEXT EPISODE: A very short engagement!


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7 comments

  1. Icon_UK says:

    I’ve not heard all the way to the end, but is it possible to discuss Freddy Mercury AND religion at the moment and NOT work in a reference to “Good Omens” along the way? 🙂

  2. Staffan Johansson says:

    To be fair to Alex, he just saw Haven do something to Rahne that reshaped her and broke the genetic bonding she had with him. Rahne then said “No, I’m on her side now.” Suspecting some kind of mind control isn’t completely uncalled for.

  3. 90sRF says:

    OH MY GOD YOU MENTIONED ME! This made my day! Like my day was already made because this was a Haven episode but then YOU MENTIONED ME OMG! I’m so glad my comments were helpful!

    Yeah, I am a HUGE fan of Haven (probably her biggest/only one) and I’ve been looking so forward to you guys covering her!

    Okay, so Havok and the rest of X-Factor barging in and attacking Haven on stage has always REALLY bothered me. You’ll notice that Havok actually fires on her BEFORE saying she’s under arrest, iirc, and uses said force without her having tried to resist at all. And surrounded by civilians. That’s awful enough, but given that Havok is in the employ of the government, it’s basically a cop firing on an unarmed woman who isn’t resisting or threatening anyone, and if Haven hadn’t gotten away from that exploding podium she could have been hurt or killed. The fact that Haven is a foreign brown woman with an “odd” non-Christian belief makes it even worse. The fact that Havok turns out to be “justified” in this because it turns out that oh the government is right and totally telling the truth, she really IS a terrorist after all, makes for the ultimate in Unfortunate Implications in my opinion.

    Also, I love that Haven does NOTHING about this. She makes no attempt to defend herself or attack X-Factor back or anything. She finally just stops things because she says she doesn’t want to see X-Factor fighting each other! And we see that she can wipe them out of EXISTENCE if she wants to. I just really love this god-tier reality-warping pacifist supervillain, you guys.

    I think she really suffers from a case of offscreen/informed villainy. It’s really hard to root against this character when we never actually see her or her cult do ANY of the things they’re accused of. Like I think they definitely happened, it’s just hard to get an emotional impact from thousands of offscreen deaths just mentioned in text boxes, versus, say, killing a single established character onscreen or something like that. But I also kind of have a theory on that? I feel like Haven couldn’t directly make herself commit violence despite the Adversary’s hold on her mind. That’s why she never hurts X-Factor despite the fact that they were trying to stop her, and why she seems to need a cult to do these things when her powers should be adequate. If this was all her own doing, I’d say she just didn’t have the stomach to practice what she preached and find it contemptible that she had others do her dirty work, but given that we find out she’s indeed possessed, I think it’s pretty admirable that she retained her nonviolent persona despite this.

    OTHER STUFF, SORRY I HAVE A LOT OF THOUGHTS

    – MONSOON HAS GRUMPY CAT FACE AND I LOVE IT

    – I think the reason for her weird eyes to indicate early to the reader that she’s possessed or otherwise in some ways supernatural. I also think it might be something only the reader can see, given that no one else comments or reacts to them. I think that might also be why she’s drawn with sinister-looking expressions when she’s just done something kind with no ulterior motive, like when she healed Wolfsbane—-it’s meant to keep us guessing what’s really going on with this woman, what her deal is, til the big reveal of why and how someone like THIS could be doing all this horrible shit.

    – I always liked that Haven is one of the few humans we see express public pro-mutant sentiments.

    -I think it should be noted that she also cites the hatred between Hindus and Muslims as sorrowful and senseless; this came out the same year as the Bombay Bombings, and the subsequent Bombay Riots. Haven herself is from Bombay (now Mumbai), though her birthplace is cited here as New Delhi. But she shows her background as from Bombay later, Anyway, a woman from Bombay, raised with a Hindu parent, speaking out against Hindu/Muslim hatred and then human/mutant hatred, seems to me like it wasn’t a coincidental choice by DeMatteis.

    – I always wondered what the pink bordered word balloons were supposed to indicate! Unusual word balloons usually indicate something very unique about how the person’s voice sounds, like the Vision’s being square instead of round to indicate robotic speech.

    – Okay but I love that Random is essentially a huge parody of grim-dark hyper-macho 90s antiheroes and Haven literally reduces him to goo by asking him to talk about his feelings and have a good cry with her

    – This is probably reaching, but I notice that the people most aggressively against Haven are the most aggressively masculine characters, meaning Havok and Strong Guy. Whereas all the people who side with her or give her the benefit of the doubt are women (Lorna, Rahne) and Jamie’s dupe who wears a pink crop top with “Stop The Hate” on it. So women, or “feminized” men are on her side, while dudes are against her in specifically violent ways. Like Val is a woman and she’s against Haven, but she doesn’t go about it in a hyper-aggro attack way, know what I mean? IDK, like I said I might be reaching here. It’s probably coincidence, and if it’s not, I’m not sure what it’s meant to MEAN.

    – I definitely think the costume is meant to be snakey, because snakes are, of course, symbols of evil in western Christianity, but symbols of wisdom (especially cobras) and benevolence in Hinduism and Buddhism. Her shoulder-blades remind me of eagles though, which I think is a nod to Zoroastrianism. As a note on her costume, the boob window has always bugged me even more than boob windows usually do. She’s not a “sexy” villainous in the slightest, and when we learn her backstory and the shame she felt, and still seems to feel, for breaking the purity taboos of her culture just ONCE, it seems like a really out of character choice. I get that she’s possessed, of course, but I don’t see why the Adversary gives a heck about showing cleavage.

    – SHE SURRENDERED HER FIGHT WITH X-FACTOR TO HEAL ONE OF THEM, I COULD CRY

    – I appreciate she asked for consent before administering medical treatment (of a sort) to Jamie

    – I’ve always headcanoned that “her” powers actually *could* have healed Jamie, but since they’re actually the Adversary’s powers, the Adversary didn’t let them work. He probably figured that if X-Factor joined Haven, they might figure out what was really up with her and exorcise him or something. “Killing” Jamie ensured they wouldn’t join her. (Also it’s shitty they got mad at her for “murdering” him when he was literally already practically dead and her powers just couldn’t heal him) Then again, it seems that the Adversary is also the one who told her that X-Factor should join her. But my headcanon is also that the Adversary was just fucking with her to cause mass evil and pass the time til it’s rebirth, so it didn’t need to be consistent. That’s the most sense that I can make of a lot of Haven’s stuff a lot of the time— “Adversary is a troll”.

    Looking forward GREATLY to when you cover her backstory and the reveal of the source of her “Voice”!…that I have already spoiled, sorry.

  4. Voord 99 says:

    I think a definite possibility for the character best suited to do an in-depth podcast exploring the history of the X-Men is Bishop. And we know that he works well with Sage, too.

  5. RANDOM COMMENT: Ooo!Ooo! I just thought of this… Are you guys ever going to cover X-Statix?? PLEASSSE do.
    There’s going to be a new series of ecstatics in July if you haven’t heard

  6. John Derrick says:

    I am 100% with you guys on the “Jamie is better without the concept of Jamie Prime” train. (Trolley?) X-men Disassembled really lost me in the moment where X-23 was gleeful about killing dupes because they’re “not real.” That felt like a disservice to both Jamie and Laura Kinney.

  7. Karl_H says:

    A bit late to this party, but speaking of representations of the Phoenix force, “Odin’s hot mistress circa one million BC” is godawful.

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