253 – Autumn in the Uncanny Valley

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

In which an engagement begins; Jean Grey’s Walden Puddle counterpart is definitely Nicole; Cyclops is the telepathic equivalent of a pit trap with spikes at the bottom; Charles Xavier’s subconscious is very dialogue-heavy; nobody ever has appropriate professional boundaries; Cable dabbles in passive aggression; and the best is yet to come.

X-PLAINED:

  • Some of Blaquesmith’s recent activities
  • Uncanny X-Men #308-310
  • A very sweet retcon
  • Thanksgiving “traditions”
  • How to scare crows
  • Emplates
  • Feelings and telepathy
  • A proposal
  • A misprint
  • Thanksgiving at the Xavier School
  • A somewhat alarming manifestation of a conscience
  • The lies Charles Xavier tells himself
  • Xavier’s depression beard
  • The evolution of Amelia Voght
  • Angry Claremontean Narrator: The Movie
  • The anticlimactic return of Carl “X-Cutioner” Denti
  • An unexpected resolution
  • Foreshadowing
  • Trans voices in the larger comics conversation

NEXT EPISODE: The wedding!


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17 comments

  1. I got UXM 308, X-Men 28, X-Factor 99 and X-Force 30 all for Xmas when I was a kid because they came out all at the same time. They weren’t my very first issues of X-Men (that would have been Heroes for Hope, and then a couple random issues of X-Cutioner’s Song), but that was when I knew I was going to be a fan for life. I still think 308 is one of the best issues of any X-title ever.

  2. Icon_UK says:

    Was Jean really that socially isolated? She did grow up with a sibling, which none of the other X-Men did, so has that as an advantage.

    I now cannot unsee Cable as the one scattering the rose petals at the wedding. I don’t care if it happens or not.

    I’ve probably harped one about this before, but I believe the original intent was for Xavier to be significantly younger than he later came. He originally states that he was an early mutant because his parents were involved in the first atom bomb project, which in 1963 would make him in his early 20’s at most, and his baldness makes people assume he’s older than his is.

    His use of “my child” and the like sort of argues against it a bit, but I think that, though it’s absolutely NOT something a teacher should EVER think, it’s not quite as creepy as it becomes the older he’s thought of as being at this point.

    What was the music that was playing over Miles… I mean “Magneto’s” speech at the end?

    • Voord 99 says:

      I think the other thing about that one panel in the Silver Age is…

      …Well, I think the other thing is that it was one panel in the Silver Age and could so easily have just been left there, like so many other things.

      But the other other thing is that it was the 1960s. There were romance movies about teacher-student relationships: The Nutty Professor; Nanny and the Professor. And it happened all the time in real life that male faculty in the US to married their female students. It would not surprise me if that was the largest single category of academic marriages at that time, frankly.

      Was that OK? No, really, really no, it was not. But it’s not like that particular panel of Uncanny X-Men is doing anything that was egregiously awful in its original context. The awfulness *was* the context.

      Reviving the idea is like reviving other aspects of 1960s sexism that are all over early Marvel. If you wouldn’t revive those, why revive this one?

      • Voord 99 says:

        Self-correction (no, not about the formatting). For Nanny and the Professor</i<, read Tammy Tell Me True. Nanny and the Professor is about an actual nanny, apparently,

        Incidentally, did Tammy murder her love objects between movies, clearing the space for her to have a new romance at regular intervals?

  3. John Derrick says:

    308: one of my all time favorite issues as well. I have to say, while I understand the pit trap argument regarding the mind of Scott Summers, X-Men: Season One gave me a particular appreciation for why Scott would be so reassuring to a telepath like Jean. He’s probably already an attractive contrast to their generally loud and loquacious classmates, and I think Scott keeps his thoughts similarly focused. It’s the zen of Scott Summers, and stands out especially around other teenagers, especially those socialized as young men. For more contrast, see this scene from Ultimate Marvel Team-Up: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-s4Lj2ewc8pQ/Vnp9nzzZ0YI/AAAAAAAATKo/a-5LAtEW1Zo/s0-Ic42/RCO008.jpg

    309: I really like the core idea of Onslaught, of Xavier’s repressed frustrations becoming their own villainous entity due to his telepathy. I agree that his “feelings” for Jean should never have been brought up. I can’t find the source now, but I’m sure I’ve read that Mark Waid referencing that infamous silver age panel was specifically why Lobdell insisted on retconning some “psychic contamination” from Magneto into the Onslaught mix.

    • Voord 99 says:

      That’s like Mark Waid’s own dark side – a dark twisted undercurrent to his encyclopedic knowledge and love of (admittedly usually DC) continuity – coming to the surface and expressing itself.

  4. Voord 99 says:

    Reading Scott Lobdell’s UXM run along with this podcast has turned me from someone who was vaguely aware of Lobdell’s work into someone who generally dislikes it.

    But for once I can join in our hosts’ praise. These three issues are solid. I don’t think they’re quite as flawless as our hosts seemed to think, but they’re good stuff. In particular, I think Lobdell deserves credit for choosing to write two issues in a row in which there is essentially no “action” at all: quiet talky issues are obviously an X-Men thing, but had Claremont ever dared to follow one with another one? And while the third issue does have a sort of fight in it, as our hosts point out it’s pretty throwaway and meant to be take as such.

    Even the stuff that I don’t like is largely a matter of the overall style of the X-books in this period. Or else it’s something like I find that Lobdell dials Fun Beast up a little too high — where, OK, I think one might want a lighter touch, but I can see that it’s there to set up his “There’s a time and place, Jubilee” moment at the dinner.

  5. Adam says:

    This was my formative period of X-Men after the cartoon and they form a cornerstone of what I feel like the X-Men represent best.

    In particular this was interesting for me as Jean popping the question to Scott was my very first moment of a seeing a woman propose to a man, in literally any context. I don’t see it being all that common even now so back then it was kinda mindblowing to me as a kid.

    Her sudden bought of silence in the very next panel made it all the more confusing. XD

  6. Ray says:

    If there is one issue from the whole history of X-Men that I’d choose to represent the start of Charles Xavier’s character arc of redemption it would be this issue, 309#. It’s so easy to imagine him going from this point on a self journey for realisation, owning his past sins, figuring out his faults, standing up for them and trying to atone by being a better person who owns his own weaknesses. He could easily be one of my favorite characters of X-Men had he went this way. He’s such a unique character already, with interesting past and glaring flaws that could actually be endearing if treated well.
    Alas, we never got this Charles Xavier. Like Miles said, we got Onslought instead followed by Deadly Genesis. This is such a bad way to treat a character that complex, such an easy road and such a waste. I actually rooted the Charles Xavier in the early 90’s era and really wanted him to come through as a fully realized mature character and I feel that what have been done to him over the years after that have been a complete and utter character assasination. Shame that.
    I will always remember the Charles Xavier of 309# as a representation of the character in my head like he should have been.

    • Voord 99 says:

      I’m curious about this. I’m not sure that Lobdell really sees this Charles Xavier as all that much in need of redemption (as distinct from being a character whom he very wants to explore in greater depth than has been done before).

      This story reads to me as the answer to the following: “OK, I want Xavier to have had this one and only one time when he abused his powers. It has to be a clear case of abuse of power — no mitigating arguments about being possibly necessary to prevent something terrible, like when wiped Magneto’s mind. But it has to be the most minimal case within that range: momentary, on impulse, immediately taken back. And I want this to be Xavier’s deep dark secret that wracks him with guilt so much that he represses it.”

      At the end of the day, that doesn’t look terribly negative. In a sense, it answers the interesting and disturbing question that was raised by Lobdell’s earlier story with Storm, whether any of the X-Men can safely feel that any of their decisions are their own, by saying “Of course they can. Charles Xavier has done something like that exactly once in his entire life, and it was only for a moment.”

      I’ll admit that my reading is probably influenced by Lobdell’s Jean-and-Mastermind story, though, which seemed in general to want to minimize the moral significance of personal violations like this. I’ll note that our hosts read this issue as presenting a Xavier who was a much less positive figure than the one that I see Lobdell as presenting.

      (Who is not “my” Charles Xavier, to be clear about that — I don’t really have one, because he’s a character who’s had too many different takes for there to be one of him for me, and in any case he’s not a character whom I care about very much.)

      So thoughts?

  7. Whoa, did I hear right? Did you say that beast was stoned when he was an avenger a lot of the time? Is that just a joke or was he actually on page shown as being high?

    • Voord 99 says:

      It was what Englehart intended when he brought Beast onto the team with new characterization. Englehart had to code it to get away with it in 1975, of course: “read some Castañeda.”

      There’s a nice caption in Avengers #137 (the issue where Englehart introduced Beast): “He claimed to have been laid back, but there is no hitch in the smooth rhythm of his motion!” Yes, Mr. Englehart, “laid back.”

      I’ve wondered what Shooter made of all this when he took over.

      • Cool info. Thank you Voord 99.

        So that’s it though? thats as close as they got to making it explicit, just using the term laid back once? not too conclusive.

        Whats this mean? Castañeda

        I bet Beast would do mad bong rips and then go super hero’ing

  8. Striking that one panel of professor thinking about jean in the silver age from the record….

    Yeah what was that all about? What was Stan Lee thinking. Cop it up two times were different back then? I wonder, has anyone ever called stan on his shit for that and straight up asked him about it??

  9. Haha, magneto thing was great 😀

    Great EP \ thank you’s!

  10. Icon_UK says:

    The description of the aging of female characters always makes me think of the line from “I’m Still Here”, in Sondheim’s “Follies” (Sung, notably, by the likes of Eartha Kitt and Elaine Stritch)

    “First you’re another sloe-eyed vamp,
    Then someone’s mother,then you’re camp
    Then you career from career to career”

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