Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

258 – True Believers, Opportunists, and Crooks (feat. Lisa Winters)

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

In which Lisa Winters pinch-hits for Jay, we take a trip to the newspaper funnies and back, Spider-Man and Beast are natural BFFs, nothing good ever happens at the Brand Corporation, and “mutant” can be a pretty fuzzy concept.


  • Bessie the Hellcow
  • Spider-Man: Mutant Agenda (the newspaper strip storyline)
  • Spider-Man: Mutant Agenda (the comic book miniseries)
  • Spider-Man: Mutant Agenda (the cartoon episodes)
  • Four-color hoards
  • Three-panel newspaper comic structure
  • Sunday strips (and their Mark Trail deceptions)
  • Hero Jaws – a breakfast-based theory
  • Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
  • The Brand Corporation
  • The Beast (Henry McCoy)
  • Narratively convenient Spider Sense
  • Hobgoblin (Jason Macendale Jr.)
  • Goblin gliders
  • Picket signs (*air horn sound*)
  • Finger blasters (heh)
  • Laser cages
  • Arcade’s superpower flowcharts
  • Mutants: newspaper versus comic continuity
  • Coming home to the 90s
  • Lisa’s favorite X-Man
  • Beast’s versatile character design
  • Spider-to-X ratios
  • Dark, tortured heroes
  • Herbert Landon’s selective memory
  • Confirmation bias
  • Anti-mutant cancer goo
  • Ironic reversals
  • Wolverine, the most marketable mutant
  • Evil British accents
  • The most adaptable Spider-Man / X-Men crossovers
  • The X-Men and the newspaper funnies

NEXT EPISODE: X-Factor mourns and moves on.

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  1. One of the wilder things about this podcast is realizing just how many of the artists I associate strongly with the early-to-mid aughts or later were very active in the early 90s, just not as stars. Greg Capullo is the biggest star today (I don’t think I’d ever heard of him before he started working on Spawn), but Kolins popping up nearly a decade before the run on Flash that made him an artist people talked about is really surprising.

  2. And now that I’ve finished the episode, a little bit of Spidey Animated background:

    this was the first year that the Spidey show did ongoing stories. They tried to make it modular, with a beginning and end and 3-4 two-parters that came in between but could be watched in any order. This ep doesn’t do a great job of explaining that Peter is mutating further and legitimately afraid of turning into a giant spider, but before the season ends he’ll have grown (and lost) extra arms.

    Also, this is the first time I realized that Herbert Landon was a character created specifically for this story. In the Spidey show he’d been around for the entire season, replacing Spencer Smythe as Kingpin’s go-to science dude. When I was in high school, he was just another British-voiced Kingpin scientist, third in a series, but with the distinct advantage of being voiced by David “Sark/Ra’s Al Ghul” Warner.

  3. Welp–sounds like I’m going to be supporting a new patreon! I’ve always felt like Howard was the Rodney Dangerfield of comics. Except unlike Rodney, Howard deserves the respect he has been denied. Sure, whacky hijinks. And maybe he was initially a cross between Disco Duck and Kung Fu Fighting, making him super easy to mock, super ’70S. But there are some meaty stories in there and it went experimental in ways that were unique for the time.

    1. That’s interesting, My sense of how Gerber’s Howard the Duck is regarded is that its reputation is rather high. Admittedly, it might be that not too many people actually go back and read it any more, but I can’t think of any time that I’ve encountered anyone attacking it.

      1. I don’t think most of the opinions of Howard have anything to do with Gerber’s run. Unfortunately, even an obscure bad movie will shape opinion more than the comics they’re based on. Marvel corporate often doesn’t know what to do with the character. His MCU appearance made me swear out loud. We can treat Rocket with empathy, but Howard’s still a simple joke. Maybe Donald’s also partly to blame.

  4. Some thoughts, almost entirely about the newspaper strip. (I was not expecting that to be on Unlimited. Still, I’ll take it over our hosts’ description of Lobdell’s Excalibur any day,)

    -“He’s okay – – for a mutant!” Umm,..
    – “Women, bless ‘em! Always worrying about something!” And Stan Lee really does think it’s still 1963.
    -“Proof? Proof is for peasants! I’m a newsman! I’ve got Instincts!” J. Jonah Jameson, the Sheriff of Nottingham, same difference.

    -Our host and his guest commented on the fact that the color Sunday installments had to be disposable. I found myself fascinated with the various ways that Lee achieved that. Some work better than others. One of the more awkward ones is Mary Jane’s “Oh thank God! It was all a dream” sequence.

    – Ah, the speculator era and its bottomless well of ridiculous hype. “The greatest multimedia event ever!” I don’t know that this even qualifies as “multimedia” in the first place. But Marvel, please, please, please never lose your unerring instinct for latching onto whatever buzzword is going around, plausibility be damned,

    1. Newspapers are a media format, monthly comics are a media format… okay, this might better be described as a bi-media event, but it’s getting there. 🙂

  5. I love the fact that the scientist is named Everett Burgos after the creators of Namor (Bill Everett) and Human Torch (Carl Burgos). I love those kinds of references.

  6. Interesting bit about Hobgoblin craving respect. I`m assuming this was before Inferno? Craving respect is why Hobgoblin hijacked Green Goblin`s deal after finding a cache of his stuff. And then fruitlessly hounded Harry Osborn to get the Green Goblin formula. And then made a “deal” with N`astirh which went very badly.

    I`m just saying it`s in character.

  7. I know I missed a few years of the comics here and there, but is Hank’s green-haired lady with whom he has a history any relation to the corporation with whome he has a history?

    1. I think you’re probably referring to Abigail Brand, who’s a more recent character with no connection to the Brand Corporation, despite her name. She’s head of SWORD (government agency, does space/alien stuff, hasn’t been mentioned much in recent years, I think).

      Hank did have a love interest connected with the Brand Corporation, Agent Nine, but she was blond (and also a ruthless secret agent). That story was wrapped up in Englehart’s Secret Empire storyline, which our hosts might think of covering some day. It is very possibly the single most important X-Men story in the history of the franchise.

      Incidentally, the Brand Corporation almost certainly should be the BRAND Corporation, it being modelled on the RAND Corporation. Since everything in the original comic was in capital letters, that was easy to ignore in later appearances.

      It raises an interesting point though. The original BRAND Corporation in the ‘70s was clearly meant to be a non-profit, like its real-world equivalent — it’s described as a think-tank, and it doesn’t have the trappings of a major for-profit corporation. By the time of the Mutant Agenda, though, that’s changed — Steven Grant has forgotten/is unaware of/has chosen to erase its original identity in favor of the Brand Corporation being a Generic Evil Business Organization. I assume that there’s a history of how that came about in the use of the BRAND/Brand Corporation in the ‘80s.

      It’s a bit of a shame, really — evil publicly traded companies are so common in the Marvel Universe that they probably have their own index, and there’s no particular advantage to losing what was distinctive about the original concept.

      1. Gotcha. Thanks. Was just curious if Beast’s writers were staying on brand. ?

        Sorry. Dad joke. I’ll go now…

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