Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

305 – The Sleep of the Wicked

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

In which X-Factor gets its own roster shakeup; most bartenders will look at you funny if you order a flight of superheroes; Kaboom is a great name for a nightclub; we lack significant feelings about the clone saga; Yukio probably sends love to everyone’s girlfriends; Forge has terrible coping mechanisms; and Jay’s current life is not conducive to consistent acoustics (sorry!).


  • Mystique’s powers
  • X-Factor’s new roster
  • X-Factor #112-114
  • The word “wreak”
  • The issue that made Miles stop reading X-Men
  • Wild Child (Kyle Gibney)
  • Wolverine as a role
  • Cyburai (more) (again)
  • Unethical management practices
  • One way to be drunk on power(s)
  • Scarlett McKenzie (again)
  • Club Kaboom
  • Yukio (again)
  • Fatale
  • Summers Problems(TM)
  • Marvel’s 1996 reader survey
  • A bondage harness that may or may not be made out of dryer tubing
  • Alex Summers vs. his own powers
  • Sugar Man in the 616
  • Several potential but unexplored story hooks for Scarlett
  • An implausible implant
  • Mystique’s new costume
  • A deeply dysfunctional but narratively plausible ship
  • A Random tangent
  • RPF on Earth-616
  • Forge vs. Tony Stark

NEXT EPISODE: Things get Uncanny!

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  1. Question (appropos of this episode, as we’re in a period of X-Factor I just do NOT remember)for the Xplainers: How many of y’all post-AoA dropped off a LOT of second-tier xbooks?

    Because while X-Force lingered for a bit, stuff like X-Factor, Excalibur, et al just dropped off my radar due to the inertia of the early 90’s finally running out.

    And issues like this explain why–this book, post-David is really flailing for direction and I think I’d just run out of patience for them marking time as they tried to justify it, and it stopped being worth the hassle of picking up a copy to see if this month was the Start Of A (not bold or new, the situation is far too desperate) Direction

    But I’m with Jay: Mutant X was. . .bonkers. It’s literally the comic version of “It’s always Inferno,” innit?

    1. Me. After AoA I only read Uncanny and maybe Generation X here and there for the longest time, I didn’t even pick up adjectiveless until close to Onslaught. But I never bought X-Force or Excalibur again. Which reminds me, I wonder why Uncanny 322 hasn’t been covered yet on the show since the return from AoA since chronologically it takes place earliest following X-Men Prime?

    2. I had a look through the titles, but continued to only pick up Excalibur regularly, for the ensemble cast and Warren Ellis doing something actually different with the team.

    3. Most of the line at this point seemed to be spinning their wheels until the next big crossover. X-Factor and Excalibur were the first two I dropped with everything else following soon after. I’ve read enough to know infer that Marvel wasn’t really sure what direction to take with the X-Men at this point. It’s why the line burned through writers for most of the rest of the nineties until Grant Morrison.

    4. I actually jumped on a lot of the X-titles after AoA, as it was after a rough semester of college and I’d dropped out for a while. So I remember the Joe Mad era of X-Men as well as the long long….LONG road to Onslaught that eventually consumed my pull drawer in 96-97 and then I dropped out again during OZT.

    5. Commenting for the first time because this was also my experience! The four months of AoA roughly corresponded to kind of a dark, cynical period in my adolescence* where I dropped other superhero titles for edgy small-press and creator-owned stuff (and what little manga was around), but I rode out AoA out of some sense of obligation (and in hindsight, there was edgier stuff available than Too Much Coffee Man or Flaming Carrot, but I was all of 13). At any rate, X-Men Prime just felt super tepid after all that, y’know, genocide and world-ending, and I thought the retcons were asinine. I stuck it out with Gen X through Bacahalo’s eventual departure (maybe also X-Man for a few more months out of morbid curiosity?), but dropped everything else HARD, and actually forever until I got into fleshing out the Claremont years with reading copies and Marvel Essentials as an adult. At the time it was a pretty traumatic break though, after coming of age as an X-Men obsessive, and I stayed so mad at Marvel for the longest time.

      *This is also around when I got heavy into Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, dots I hadn’t connected until Miles’ Jimmy Carl Black joke this episode hit me super hard.

  2. I hate to be a “but actually” guy here…but my second favorite X-Men story of all time got name-checked so I have to chime in. Alex didn’t voluntarily go work for Larry Trask. He was kidnapped by Sentinels, forced to wear the black suit to monitor his power output, and then blackmailed by Trask so he (Trask) wouldn’t harm an unconscious, not-quite-yet-Polaris Lorna Dane. And then Trask sent a Sentinel to blast Lorna and Iceman anyway, so Havok turned on Trask right away. It’s kinda the white knight move that started the Alex/Lorna flirtation.

    Sorry to be a know-it-all but it’s literally one of my favorite scenes of the O66 issues. The Adams/Palmer art …. *sigh* spectacular.

  3. So, with my whole contextualizing western comics through anime & manga thing, I have a weird thought that always pops up with Yukio being described as a “Ronin”.

    Now, western creators at the time this issue came out are generally using the term in the context of “Masterless Samurai/Ninja/Whatever” through what is probably an orientalist lens – and certainly that’s partially what the term has historically meant. However, Ronin has *also* been used more recently (historically) in Japanese slang and pop culture to refer to students who have graduated from college but failed the placement tests for their preferred university and are studying to re-take the exams.

    Also, “A Romantic comedy but with *explosions*” can describe a lot of anime.

    1. I know! It’s always driven me nuts every time that Yukio shows up. It’s always made me giggle. She’s probably staying at Maison Ikkoku.

  4. When Miles described Dark Beast as an “escapee”. I definitely heard it as an acronym SKP, it took me a second to correct my perception but also reminded me of the acronym SCP, if you’re not familiar thats a large collaborative writing project that compiles fictional case files on paranormal objects/people/events, and now I definitely want to read an SCP about Dark Beast or various other X-characters…

  5. Having Mystique on a team is so inherently corrosive to any sense of team work or collaborative effort, I genuinely can’t see a reason anyone would think it a good idea to put her on a team at all. Mass resignations would be the likely outcome, and rightly so. (Especially as X-Factor isn’t a superheroic team in the usual sense, it’s literally “a job”.)

    I always saw Havok signature as being bubbles, that’s why they always look perfectly circular no matter how he’s standing or viewing him, these three dimensional bubbles are radiating out from his torso.

    And I alsways have a soft spot for the eggbeater head-dress because Neal Adams does know how to make a visually memorable ensemble.

    Maybe I missed it, but Was any reason given as to WHY Alex’s powers went out of control this time?

  6. I would be super curious to hear more of John Francis Moore’s unrealized X-Factor plans! Where is that info from?
    I agree with some of the other posters that after the high of AoA, it was an easy jumping off point when the books failed to incorporate much of the interesting new aspects of characters, relationships or design we had seen there. I quickly dumped X-Factor under Mackie, Cable and X-Force under Loeb, Excalibur after Ellis. I stuck with Hama to the end of his Wolverine, and with Generation X for the diverse cast until Bachalo left. And yet being the x-fan I am, I’ve filled in most of these runs from quarter and dollar bins as an adult.

  7. It just occurred to me that Scarlet first appeared in Meltdown which, chronologically speaking, takes place immediately after Uncanny X-Men #245 (“Men”). In that issue the aliens have the Jean Bomb which doesn’t get mentioned again after the initial gag. Maybe Scarlet is actually the Jean Bomb?

  8. Okay, I *love* Jay’s theory on Scarlett because the most logical explanation of why Sugar Man would make her specifically is because he knew she was able to seduce Havok in his own timeline. That makes her AoA version canonically the original and the 616 equivalent a copy, which I’m not sure applies to anyone else.

    1. OH, DANG. I did not even think of that aspect; and it makes me like the idea even more, because I am all about some retcon echoes!

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