293 – The Monster Under the World

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

In which not all Mondos are created equal; the kids are only rarely all right; the Age of Apocalypse is not Magneto’s fault; Sugar Man is the stuff of universal nightmares; “cartoonish” is not necessarily a plus; and the Age of Apocalypse is not particularly sustainable.

X-PLAINED:

  • Generation Next #1-4
  • The tradition of YA horror in X-books
  • Bachalo unchained
  • Whose fault the Age of Apocalypse is
  • Adaptive technology vs. Apocalypse
  • Chamber of Earth-295
  • Husk of Earth-295
  • Skin of Earth-295
  • Mondo of Earth-295
  • Vincente Cimetta
  • Know-It-All (Claudia)
  • An abysmal training exercise
  • Colossus of Earth-295
  • Shadowcat of Earth-295
  • Gardner Monroe (Flashback)
  • Quietus
  • Sugar Man
  • The Portland and/or Seattle Core
  • Illyana Rasputin
  • Ace
  • Human collaborators
  • A gratuitous Monty Python reference
  • The difference between mass and volume
  • Number Six
  • The fall of Generation Next
  • Growing up in the Age of Apocalypse
  • Illyana 2.0
  • Subtext vs. queerbaiting

NEXT EPISODE: X-Calibre!


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11 comments

  1. Will says:

    Very enjoyable episode – and I agree this art really stick with you.
    Just a thought from your discussion of Quietus: I can see the case for his design being drawn from Jewish stereotypes. However, it seemed to me that he is a caricature of the Slash from Guns n Roses. The rest of the art and character design in the issues also suggested this for me, lots of leather and goblins and graffiti, giving it a very early 90s metal aesthetic.

  2. Rey Neremani says:

    I have to say that I really, really love you guys. I keep coming back to the fact that we were all born the same year, and seem to have the same arcs and stories resonate with us. Being a 13 year old reading AoA was exhilarating and infuriating all at the same time (since we had no internet or spoilers to let us know that everything would go back to normal four months later). Much like the AoA itself, I find myself initially missing regular 616 coverage until you take a step into AoA and realize it’s AMAZING all on itself, and you’re actually in no rush at all for it to end.
    Lastly, I will end this by giving Jay massive props on his answer about queerbaiting. When I was younger, I may have wanted to dismiss it as a cheap ploy to get queer patrons to consume the product for the desperate hope of representation (since, there’s truly so little), only to ultimately be disappointed and feel used in the end. However, after getting the perspective of a queer creator, and hearing how the effort to include queer subtext is completely earnest, and is usually limited by corporate mandate is incredibly brave, and laying the groundwork for future creators that don’t have far fewer limitations, has given me a completely new perspective throughout the run of this podcast. Iceman’s eventual coming out is proof of that (since he’s always read queer to me, and his eventual coming out felt organic to me, even if it was clumsily handled initially). Thank you guys for continuing to create this wonderful, enterntaining, informative podcast of this X-universe that we all love so much!

    • Jennifer L Wolff says:

      Hi Rey,

      I was also 12 or 13 at the time. I was the one who was infuriated and felt betrayed when the Age of Apocalypse ended. I felt like this was an amazing chance to be there at the beginning of great world building. Finally I knew just as much as the readers who’d been there since the 70s and didn’t have to worry about filling in back issues. This could have meant that the world felt shallow, paper thin, but it didn’t. And I loved this dark world. I was all in.

      (Of course, I know now that those back issues help fill in your appreciation of the way an alternate timeline dips and turns and twists. )

      • Rey Neremani says:

        Hi, Jennifer,

        I was only initially upset about the change over to AoA, but I was totally onboard after just reading X-Men Alpha. At that point, I was fully prepared to go on whatever journey the writers and artists were willing to take me on. By the time the series was wrapping up, I didn’t want it to end! I was thrilled that my initial misgivings were completely unfounded. AoA still stands as my favorite alternate universe of ANY comic book series, and just a great series overall. Thanks for sharing. I love hearing other X-fans’ experiences with the books! 🙂

  3. Sinister Pryde says:

    Bachalo was definitely one of my favorite artists in the mid ’90’s and this series was a big reason why.

    Surprisingly, Sugarman never bothered me much. It was (and still is) Quietus that bothered me the most. Largely because of the way he reads to me, the specifics of which I will not go into here.

    Also, this whole series as a whole reads more like a nightmare than anything else in the Age of Apocalypse. Lobdel uses the age old tradition of opening the story with a scenario we’ve seen many times before: one of the students is in a training session where things aren’t right. We, the readers, have grown accustomed to these kinds of openings and expect our narrator to wake up by page 3 or 4. Only, it never happens. I think it’s probably the best set up any of the AoA stories have.

    I always read the last scene as Collosus seeing the reality of the situation and giving up without ever trying. And finally admitting to himself that he was never going to.

    I’m also surprised you didn’t get into the fact that Collosus and Shadowcat are married in this timeline. Especially since Warren Ellis is often credited for aging Kitty up. The first issue of this series is 8 months (our time) before the infamous Excalibur #90, where she first sleeps with Pete Wisdom.

    • Sinister Pryde says:

      I also used to arrange my comics on the floor to organize, something I had to stop when my collection got just a little bit bigger.

  4. Devin says:

    I think I read that Quietus is supposed to be based on Howard Stern…which definitely would make him a Jewish caricature, but I *guess* better in the sense that it’s more a celebrity caricature than just Random Jew?

    Unlike all you lucky folks who read it at 13 or so, poor little Devin was 8 when he read this and, yes, this was DEFINITELY nightmare fuel. I’m pretty sure for a year or two, AoA was in a spot similar to Miles’s Dracula paperback for this exact reason. (Little Devin was also sensitive and didn’t understand why all the What If? stories had to end with characters he loved dying). Granted, as I got older, this quickly became my favorite AoA story.

    Miles, I know you bring up Action Figures/Trading cards a lot, so I was wondering if you were also confused as a teen (as I was as a kid) by why Mondo seemed to be a Gen X action figure WELL before he was in teh comics. I get now that he was simply a great inspiration for an action figure idea, but as a kid, it was definitely one of those cases where I felt like he was supposed to be a lot bigger than he was in early Gen X.

    Thanks for answering my question, guys! As for queer-baiting v. subtext, I thought Jay put it quite well. I often use a party comparison. Both are an open window at a party for people to sneak through. If you’re using subtext, it’s because you’re either the staff at the party or a low-level guest and this is the best you can do to let others in. If you’re queerbaiting, you’re hosting the party but telling some guests they have to sneak through the window. One is a solid in a shitty situation. The other is just shitty. The example I tend to draw is Oscar Isaac playing Poe as in love with Finn vs. lines in Last Jedi with Poe being interest in “Finn?! Naked?!” when later parts of the script will work to begin pairing both off heterosexually. The former was an actor giving a character a romantic plot that offered up queer rep, whereas the latter was turning queerness into a nudge-nudge joke.

  5. I’m surprised that there was so little discussion about Colossus’s choice at the end of this book. I think it reads eminently clearly that Colossus is not a leader who is equipped to teach the next generation of X-Men. He chooses to stay with his sister rather than sacrifice himself for his team, all while his sister’s narration is overlaid, talking about how her big brother is a hero who would do anything to save his team. I don’t think this is an ambiguous take on Colossus’s character.

    On a related note, the ending is one of those few scenes that I can “hear” as much as I can see it. The quiet moments directly leading into the chaos Colossus witnesses within the giant metal doors just screams out so audibly in my brain, I want to cover my ears when I read it.

    • Icon_UK says:

      Agreed on Colossus at the end. I don’t remember him ever actually impressing me as team leader, and his final choice didn’t surprise me remotely. It appalled me, but it didn’t surprise me.

  6. Icon_UK says:

    I agree that, though I’m not a huge fan of his work on 616, Bacchalo’s style works very well in the more fantastic (in terms of being more akin to a fantasy) world of AoA. Things CAN be turned up to 11 because the world is.

    This is one of these cases where I wonder if the distance shifts the perceptions a bit as this did seem like far too soon into GenX for an alternate time line to have the impact it could have done even perhaps six months later.

    Some of the characters we barely knew had personality shifts, but we’d not seen enough of their personalities to be sure so it wasn’t “Oooh! They’re different!” as “Okay… will we see this in their original selves? Or not?” (With Know-It-All being the most obvious, but Mondo seeming, in retrospect, like a bizarrely placed red herring for his 616 self’s eventual villainous reveal)

    Like yourselves, I did wonder why we didn’t see more kids in the AoA, especially something like an AoA version of the Hellions (or similar) of Apocalypse Horsemen in Training…. The “My Little Ponies” of Apocalypse if you will. 🙂

    Also a little disappointed that Vincente only came back as a minor villain, as I found his powers to be weird, but interesting.

    And I’m so glad Jay wondered about Quietus, beca

  7. A.S. says:

    Very long time listener (and lurker), first time commentator. I’ve really needed your show lately guys and I thoroughly appreciate it all the more at the moment, so thank you so much for putting this out with all the enthusiasm and insight you always do.

    On the back of this episode I really felt like I needed to track down this story. After managing to find it and flicking through the amazing art (I see exactly what you mean Jay, about the inking and claustrophobia from the panels and amount of black on the page), when I started reading it, I kept half cringeing and half laughing at Chamber’s transliterated accent/dialect. As a native British speaker, I have to say it falls into Banshee levels of bad at times. It’s like the comic book equivalent of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, by that I mean nebulously cockney but somehow kinda Northern at the same time, cringe. Apart from that the first issue has been great and I think I can overlook Chamber’s dialogue!

    Stay safe and take care guys, thanks for the weekly bit of apocalyptic dissection I can stand to hear about lately.

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