Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

262 – Science Fiction Double Feature

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

In which the Phalanx would make pretty fun novelty candy; “B-Plot” implies that we only have 26; nobody will take Jubilee to the movies; Repo Man and Repo: The Genetic Opera are in fact two entirely different films; Storm is a fashion icon; Sabretooth is the monster in the basement; it’s really rough to be the kid on the X-Men; Yuko gives Gambit a shovel talk; and a number of familiar faces return to the page.


  • One of the many problems with Sentinels
  • Uncanny X-Men #311-313
  • Whether the Phalanx is squishy
  • Robo-Candy
  • Plotline disambiguation
  • A cult classic
  • Carl the X-Cutioner (again)
  • Creative use of Bishop’s powers
  • Storm fashion
  • Technical difficulties
  • A decision Iceman will come to regret
  • Bishop vs. Sabretooth
  • What If Vol. 2 #87
  • Variations on Iceman’s appearance
  • Early seeds of Generation X
  • A night out with Yukio
  • A heavily euphemized relationship
  • Xavier’s mutant underground
  • The Phalanx
  • A shovel talk
  • The return of Steven Lang (and some other people)
  • How Cyclops cries
  • Cassandra Nova’s signature look

NEXT EPISODE: Additional and Varyingly Literal Blasts from the Past

NOTE: Per our expert source Doctor Internet, what Miles knows as “water weenies” are mostly sold as “water wigglers” or “water snakes.”

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  1. Jay and Miles, love the show!! I have an ask for you two, tho: would it be possible to post which exact issues you will be covering in the next episode in the show notes? I like reading along on Marcel Unlimited but atm I need to wait until the week’s episode is posted to see which issues are covered.

    If this is an imposition that would require more work please don’t worry about it, but it would allow me listen day of instead of several days later, which I would quite enjoy!

    Thanks for all the hard work you two do!

  2. My usual clutch of random thoughts….

    Whilst fully appreciating it’s a humourous homage, I find myself a tad unsettled by the image of Jubilee as Frank N Furter surrounded by adult male X-Men, given the fact she’s very much a minor and this arc goes to some lengths to stress that.

    People who believe that heavily built people can’t be graceful have never seen Oliver Hardy dance. (Which also reminds me of old-school British comedienne Joyce Grenfell’s song “Old Tyme Dancing” about elderly ladies having to dance with each other

    “So stately as a galleon I sail across the floor,
    Doing the Military Two-step as in the days of yore.
    I dance with Mrs Tiverton. She’s light on her feet, in spite
    of turning the scale at fourteen stone, and being of medium height.”

    Which is apropos of nothing, but a lovely turn of phrase I thought. And if I have to imagine Sabretooth old time dancing, so do you!

    But I digress…

    Emma taking over Bobby’s body was a fascinating storyline, but suffers from the fact that in order to keep Bobby a relatively “light” character, he can’t be allowed to become super-effective, because he’d be pretty much literally unstoppable if you consistently had him use his powers that effectively. (It’s like Johnny Storm, who can have maturing experiences, but has to keep going back to being something of a juvenile idiot because FF plots work better when he is.)

    In the instance of Bishop and the snowflakes, it would have to be the impacts he’s absorbing, because snowflakes melting are an endothermic reaction, not exothermic so there’s no energy for him to absorb, in fact he’d lose body heat from each one that melts on his skin.

    It pleasing to know that the genetic power of the Ramsey hairswoop transcends death AND attempted assimilation by the Phalanx!

    I also have a whole theory worked out that the only reason the Phalanx are having so much trouble assimilating human mutants when they have the only known case of a human mutant who has undergone repeated transmode infection and separation RIGHT THERE IN AMONGST THEM, is down to that mutant having a brilliance with computer codes and a subconscious determination that the Phalanx are NOT going to win if he has anything to say about it.

    Since they ended up giving Douglock II about three different conflicting origins, worrying about whether he makes sense at this stage seems.. optimistic, but I admire you for trying.

    Just as the Brood are the Xenomorphs from Alien/Aliens, the Phalanx always seemed to be the Borg to me, with a touch of John Carpenters “The Thing” horror aspect.

  3. Moderately scattered thoughts:-

    -I checked, and unfortunately, Bishop is clear in UXM #311 that his story is about drawing on energy released by snow as it melts. So, I’m afraid that this is another thing that I’m filing under Scott Lobdell being too lazy to think things through. Our hosts supplied the easy fix — make it about kinetic energy.

    -Similarly, I like the character work on Bishop proposing that he and Jubilee split up, and her terror at the thought. But, umm, I hate to have to say it, but isn’t there a rather gaping hole in Bishop’s thinking that they have to split up because he’s short on energy? What exactly is that Jubilee can do, again?

    But I can say nice things about Lobdell this week! Well, eventually.

    -The caption when Yukio is introduced says “The clothes are the same.” They’re really not. Back in UXM #172-3, Yukio didn’t dress like this at all.

    Our hosts commented on the unplanned shift between Romita jr. and Madureira as permanent artists. Mostly, I’d be a defender of JRjr. I think Miles was right to draw attention to how good he can be at communicating weight and solidity. Plus, I have a soft spot for artists who are *really* into fashion.

    But sometimes, one’s strengths are one’s weaknesses. And Romita’s love of fashion betrays him here. He also makes Yukio look a little too pretty. It’s one of those moments when one sees something that works really well only when a different person messes it up — I acquired a whole new appreciation for how Paul Smith tells a love story between Storm and Yukio without ever depicting Yukio as primarily an object of desire for the (in most cases, straight male) viewer.

    There’s an additional problem. Both language and art misread the original Storm-Yukio relationship in UXM #172-3. It’s not that Storm met Yukio and decided to dress like her — Storm’s black leather and mohawk don’t bear a particularly close resemblance to Yukio’s clothing in that story. It’s that Storm met Yukio and was inspired by Yukio’s outlook to find out who *Storm* wanted to be. Since that’s obviously more resonant in terms of a coming-out narrative, rewriting it is awkward. Again, this is Lobdell using the past in a lazy fashion, without really engaging with it.

    -What’s amusing, though, is that Madureira clearly did go back and look at Paul Smith’s Yukio and model the way he was going to have her dress on that. This means that Yukio manages to change her outfit in the couple of seconds between being confronted with the Phalanx at the end of #312 and leaping out a window at the beginning of #313.

    -Yukio’s language has also completely changed. The way Scott Lobdell writes Yukio suggests that he only has one way to write devil-may-care, and he’s already been using it on Jubilee for years.

    However (this is where I start to say nice things), it’s arguably better than Claremont’s version of Yukio’s language in some ways, which suffered from the fact that it was, well, Chris Claremont writing a Japanese person. And, for Claremont, no Japanese person could ever speak in a manner that really suggested that they had a sense of fun.

    So it’s refreshing to have someone write Yukio who’s free from Claremont’s view that all Japanese dialogue has to stay somewhere in the neighborhood of terrible stereotype.

    -And I’ll even take back what I just said about it Lobdell’s version of Yukio’s voice being a bit close to Jubilee’s. Because that’s doing something. And by juxtaposing Yukio, for whom the bravado isn’t just bravado, but a genuine reflection of who she is, with Jubilee, he underlines that, in Jubilee’s case, this is a facade that is crumbling under the weight of unbearable and horrific trauma.

    Overall.Lobdell remains at his best when writing Jubilee. It’s like the one thing that he’s both genuinely interested in and sensitive about. In fact, I’m going to say something that’s a bit shocking to me – I think Lobdell’s Jubilee is in some ways not only in dialgue with Claremont’s Kitty Pryde, but might even be a more morally sensitive character. (It is obviously, no accident that our hosts compared the two.)

    Kitty tends to be pulled into specific roles for the teenaged reader. She’s a point of identification, the person who has happen to them the fantasy of “What if I left my boring family in the Chicago suburbs and got to be an X-Man?” She also has an element of being a fantasy girlfriend for the reader (although, granted, Claremont did get around to making that not just the straight male reader). (This might be why straight male creators who grew up with ‘80s Kitty are *so* keen on getting her back with Peter.) On both counts, Kitty tends to be a bit of a wish-fulfilment fantasy.

    Now, Kitty is a brilliant wish-fulfillment fantasy, one of the greatest characters that Claremont ever created. She works tremendously well.

    But that doesn’t mean that there’s not stuff in what the reader is encouraged to do there that it’s interesting to yank out and subject to scrutiny. Part of the wish-fulfillment aspect of Kitty is that one has to suppress mortality and psychological trauma. It’s not, I think, an accident that Kitty’s power consists in large part of invulnerability.

    Of course, this suppression of trauma isn’t total – no character goes through years in an action genre without being in danger fairly often. It’s a matter of degree. And in terms of stories which foreground this sort of thing, Claremont did eventually get round to a science-fiction version of confronting Kitty with real mortality. But it’s notable how he used that to move her into the consequence-free comic world of his Excalibur — Kitty is a character that he protects.

    And Lobdell is really interested in not doing that *at all* with Jubilee, but the reverse — bringing to the reader’s attention that for any teenager that one views as an actual person, being around the X-Men would be utterly traumatizing. (I suspect that this might have something to do with the aging of superhero-comics readership.)

    Jubilee “thought it would be a trip.” Which is to say, she thought that it would be like it was for Kitty.

    This makes me at least somewhat optimistic about Generation X (which I’ve never read), especially that Lobdell seems to be taking these themes as a mission statement for that book.

    -Bobby. For God’s sake, I don’t care how we’re reading your sexuality. You are *not* allowed to use the expression “über-babe.”

    -“As if the entire complex has suddenly …. died.” Scott Lobdell must be *terrified* of blackouts.

    -“It is a scream that is torn from somewhere beyond the center of Bobby Drake’s soul.” So, that would be towards the back of his soul, then?

    -The title of 312 is “Romp.” ???

    -Madureira draws some very big arms. Sometimes this works as a stylistic cartoon-y feature (Bishop looming behind Xavier), sometimes (tiny-headed Beast) it doesn’t.

    1. Voord,

      I really loved that meta analysis of Kitty’s role in the comic, her powers, and how Claremont works to keep her ‘safe’. I was persuaded!

      I remember how letter pages of the time used to be full of “who is best, Kitty or Jubilee” debates. There’s room for both ?

      1. Where, we who didn’t get letters printed (mostly because we didn’t post them) always knew the REAL argument was between whether Jubilee and Boom-Boom had better powers!

  4. Not sure if it’s just me, but whenever I’ve left a comment here for the past couple of weeks, it hangs a bit and then tells me it’s a duplicate entry (though it isn’t). The post itself is fine ocne it appears, but it seems an odd sort of error message to get so I thought I’d mention it.

  5. 1. In some ways, Joe Mad may be MY platonic form of X-Men artist. At least, he defines to me the period in my childhood when I was still SUPER into X-Men (rather than returning to X-Men) and relating to it more via the comics than the cartoon. As much as other looks of characters are more classic, some of his costumes just hit me in a very “Oh, hi childhood” kind of way (thinking particularly of his Bishop and Storm costumes around the Onslaught era). Also, the hair he gives Warren is some of the best X-hair.

    2. YESSSS to everything you two said about how gay Storm/Yukio are in this issue.

    3. Love that Jay mentioned Thursday Next’s riff on Rocky Horror.

    4. So, re: Miles thing about what young readers must’ve thought about all the Phalanx stuff – yeah, it was a bit of a mess for me, but I remember thinking it cool. I think I had just assumed they were new villains vs. established ones (and that Hodge was like a retconned in old friend of Warren’s or something who was created by the comic to be a technoorganic villain). That’s weird typing out now, but that’s how young Devin’s brain worked.

    Granted, I also once was reading an X-Men Classics issue and Storm said something about “low spirits” or “lack the spirit” and I didn’t know that use of the word “spirit,” so I asked my mom if spirit meant something other than “ghost” and she said “alcohol”…so I also read a lot of old X-Men assuming they were always talking about alcohol.

    5. Not only did Jubilee’s first X-Men adventure involve crucifixion, but her first time with the larger team involved being put on trial with capital charges after being forcibly imprisoned in an apartheid state that forcibly transformed people into genetically altered slaves…AND the adventure ended in one death and semi-permanent transformation.

  6. Richard O’Brien, he of Rocky Horror fame who you don’t mention by name, also composed the memorably good number “Name Yout Poison” from the otherwise memorably awful “Return of Captain Invincible” (Sung with operatic verve by Christopher Lee, no less)


    And it’s true that the Rocky Horror Show has a devoted (if perhaps slightly aging now) fanbase especially in the UK. There’s usuually a national tour every couple of years (There’s a 45th anniversary world tour going on at the moment I believe, or recently ended).

    There was also a memorable West End revival with Anthony Stewart Head as Frank back in… oh bugger 1991!!! (It’s now longer between it’s launch in 1973 and that performance than it is from that run to now… I feel OLD).

    1. Also, Anthony Stewart Head was in Repo The Genetic Opera.

      Come on Jay & Miles, ageing millennials know about Rocky Horror.

  7. Hello all,

    The whole “Professor X’s Network Of Agents” also reminds me somewhat of the Pulp version of The Shadow (Kent Allard). Allard also had a globe spanning network of agents who could perform a variety of tasks from the mundane to the perilous.

    Also, speaking of body-horror monstrosities, the Phalanx reminds me a lot of a more technological version of The Many from System Shock II (in other words, how SHODAN intended, but without being under their control).

    I don’t know if I’ve asked this already – but did anyone ever try tossing Cameron Hodge into a Black Hole?

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