Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

290 – The Obvious, the Silly, and the True

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

In which it’s kind of a relief to be talking about a fictional apocalypse right now; Joe Madureira defines the look of the mid-late 1990s; Sunfire is less cheesecake than crepes Suzette; it all comes back to capes; Wild Child is more than he seems; Holocaust sucks about as much as you’d expect of someone who picked that code name; Jay has surprisingly strong feelings about Morph; Miles is all about judging some babies; resistance is fundamental to the X-Men’s identity within a superhero-universe paradigm; nobody deserves to be quarantined with Quentin Quire; and our two-week lead is making proofing these podcasts an increasingly surreal experience.


  • Several things Blink might have done but did not.
  • The status quo as of mid-March, 2020
  • Earth-295 (more) (again)
  • Astonishing X-Men #1-4
  • Our coverage of the core Age of Apocalypse series
  • Age of Apocalypse as proof of concept
  • The best character design of Earth-295
  • Some guy named Rex
  • A lake of blood which may or may not be figurative
  • Sabretooth’s last-ish stand
  • The revolutionary value of silliness
  • Jay’s favorite Orwell quote
  • The Infinite Processing Plant
  • DefCon Armageddon
  • A very cool fight scene
  • Catharsis
  • Mutants without the metaphor
  • Best and worst X-Men to be quarantined with


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  1. Astonishing X-men was my favorite AoA book. It had that great Joe Madureira art, the incredible character design of Sunfire, a very cool take on Blink, and most importantly … Morph.

    When these books first started hitting the stands, I was perturbed that so much real estate was given over to the slapstick of a screwball character who wasn’t even in the main universe. But, by the time that issue 4 came around, it became clear how the juxtaposition of his levity with the horrors of the world made each more poignant and more palatable. A great point of comparison is Generation Next, which also had spectacular pencils and a story by Lobdell, but with an unrelentingly dire tone. I cherish both titles to this day, but for very different reasons.

  2. The Infintes process sounds a bit like the Homworld “Body Banks” from Micronauts, but instead of trading in organs, this has more of a “meat paste” aspect to it (Which also reminds me a little of the method that Daleks used to repopulate a time or two)

    I agree that Morph was a much needed but of comedy relief which I think a couple more series could have done with for the contrast (Plus I love the idea of imagining Warren Ellis’ reaction/face if he were asked to create a whacky character (no cynical humour or sarcasm allowed, just slapstick) character for ANY reason, never mind in AoA!)

    Bonus reason for having Cypher as your companion would be you could watch foreign films that might not have subtitles and he could pass the time explaining what was going on. Or we both write down what we think is going on and compare notes at the end, which might be fun.

    Or have him watch tapes of Eurovision and ask him to translate the various entries, and then just watch him look more and more baffled until the only solution is alcohol and plenty of it.

    I suspect video games might be a little one sided though.

  3. I had a realization this morning that Corona, a word I had on my list of potential D&D npc names, is ruined for the foreseeable future. (I default to flavorful words to avoid hard to remember gibberish or real names that sound to anachronistic. Dusk, Meander, Henna.) Never considered naming someone Holocaust.

    Being quarantined with any telepath would be *interesting* but I’m not sure if it would be in good or bad ways. They could entertain you with tales of your neighbors. Some of them would appreciate the time away from crowds.

    I can imagine sending nightcrawler for clandestine late night grocery runs while the store is closed. He’d leave an itemized list and the money he owed on the cash office desk.

    Colossus seems like he’d also be good with the companionable silence, and we could pretend we were a miniature artist commune.

    Are any of us sure our roommate is not secretly Mystique? 0_0

    The emotional effects on Longshot would be fascinating. Theoretically there’s a good chance that he’d just be immune, as an alien, but deciding what the least selfish response would be is complicated. Domino, on the other hand, would be fine until the cocktails ran out, and then she’d go stir crazy and decide to take her chances.

    Multiple Man sounds like a good idea when you want to play a game that needs more people, and then you think about it more and it all goes wobbly.

    Apparently Astonishing X:Men vol. 2 is about trying to identify a Skrull infiltrator in the X-ranks.

  4. – I’m fond of Rex. I like flunkie type characters.

    – Word of God confirmed years later that Marco Delgado was the Acolyte, Harry Delgado was the SHIELD agent. So, same name, different guy, needless confusion! Why, Claremont?

    – “Atomic Angel” is SUCH a great phrase

    – My favorite X-Men alternate universe is also one most people don’t talk about. Probably because TECHNICALLY it is a New Warriors story, Forever Yesterday, but it features a lot on mutants—they’re more oppressed than in 616, there’s no Xavier, and there is a Mutant Liberation front (not to be confused by Stryfe) led by Magneto, with Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw as his lieutenants. He’s also a couple with Emma iirc.

    What makes it extra interesting (besides that dynamic, which is pretty cool in itself) is that history diverged at a VERY early point, in Ancient Egypt. Egypt has been a world superpower since then, leading to a very different society worldwide. The United States of America is the United States of Assyria, and the Avengers are made up of Captain America (a black man), Iron Man (also black), Storm (despite mutants as a whole being oppressed), Nova( also a mutant and the only white member of the team), Horus (instead of Thor)(who is also married to Storm), and Sceptre (this universe’s Monica Rambeau) Race relations are reversed, with people of African descent being structurally privileged over whites, and a lot of characters being racebent (Cloak and Dagger, for instance, are raceswapped). And it’s all ruled by a superpowerful immortal Egyptian woman called the Sphinx.

    It’s an interesting setup to say the least. I do dislike that they put “mutants are even more oppressed” with the “race relations are reversed” in the same setting, that seems iffy to me, and it is PROBABLY a good thing that it only lasted a few issues, as I think white writers would have really made some problematic shit with it, but we saw some neat ideas, like everyday civilian clothes in the USA being based on Pan-African styles instead of jeans, t-shirts, business suits, etc. And we glimpse Catseye among the MLF, who I’m always happy to see.

    So yeah it’s not well-known, did not last long, technically is not even from an X-Men story, but it had a really interesting premise and world that I would be interested in seeing the RIGHT person revisit.

  5. At the time these were released Generation Next was my favorite series while this was my second favorite (I’ve always loved “dark” stories and GN was super dark for a mainstream title). Joe Madureira was probably 80% of the reason I loved Astonishing.

    It was interesting seeing the Magneto/Rogue relationship but I seem to remember being annoyed at the same time since I was a huge Rogue and Gambit fan. You can imagine my feelings when the regular books looked like they were going to follow that path as well.

    I know part of the effectiveness of this event was how tight and short it was but there’s a part of me that wishes that this had been the status quo for a year instead. It would have been interesting to see this universe play out for a few months before Bishop shows up to kick things into high gear. The rest of me realizes that this would likely overstayed it’s welcome and would be derided instead of being a fondly remembered classic.

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