Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

308 – No Story Is the Whole Story

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

In which writing X-books requires a somewhat different approach to continuity than writing about them; time is weird; Jay overthinks fictional publications; Scott Summers is (at least sometimes) Autistic; Sinister is not subtle; and no story is the whole story.


  • Marvels
  • Marvels Snapshots
  • X-Men: Marvels Snapshots #1
  • Why Cyclops is worth caring about
  • Collaboration
  • Fictional publications
  • Intent vs. ownership of characters
  • Research
  • The difference between writing X-books and writing about X-books
  • The irreconcilable continuity tangle of Scott Summers’s childhood
  • Limitations of plaid pants
  • What ended up on the cutting room floor
  • Parallels
  • Other pitches
  • Cyclops’s best outfit


No visual companion this week; see above for links!

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  1. Hi, when Jay mentioned this comic being a trans story, was Scott’s trip to see Reed Richards talk a parallel to people (especially trans people looking for themselves) in the 60s going to a Christine Jorgensen talk? I ask because the parallel stuck out to me after reading Lou Sullivan’s diaries, in which he noted seeing Christine Jorgensen while beginning to explore his trans identity.

  2. I’m guessing I should wait to listen to this episode until I have my copy of Snapshots in hand? (Dang you, shipping times!)

      1. I’m glad I waited for it! Not knowing about the depth of the FF connection and other specifics before reading was welcome, but honestly the bigger part of it was being able to know exactly what you guys were talking about when the discussion turned to specific pages, panels or themes. Great comic, and an enlightening interview to go along with it.

        (Also I read elsewhere that the FF cutaways were composites of a bunch of stories rather than referencing specific events in canon, so….was that horn Namor was holding the same one that Doctor Doom famously tooted in an Electric Company tie-in?)

  3. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed both the issue and this interview

    Nothing witty or profound to add (so, nothing new there), just a thank you for a fascinating issue that somehow managed to add a new angle on Cyclops which fits within what exists, without requiring retcons or continuity backflips.

    And yes, that is directed to all the creators involved as the art, colour AND the lettering all played their own unique parts.

  4. I’ve struggled with depression for many, many years. In fact, I originally discovered this show while I was in treatment following a fairly serious breakdown, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that you guys were instrumental in helping me find my way back from that.

    I don’t think I’ve connected with a comic on such a deep, personal level as I have with this, and I definitely have never seen myself represented on either a page or a screen so perfectly. It was incredibly moving and super cathartic. I cried. I’m crying right now. In terms of an intimate, emotional journey through the eyes of a character who is profoundly lost, it reminds me of nothing less than Marjorie Liu’s X-23.

    Thank you so much for writing this Jay, and the entire creative team. It was beautiful.

    Also, as far as History of the Marvel Universe is concerned, Marvels is absolutely 616 canon. So there ya go.

  5. I really really hoped Jay would list Octopusheim as a favorite Scott look. My local comic shop doesn’t have it, but I’m ordering it. As a Scott fan I need your input on his history. Congrats!

    1. As far slightly odd looks go, early Silver Age Scott has an odd fondness for a shapeless green suit and fedora look that makes him appear to be about forty-five. I suppose Stan Lee did tell us that they were the strangest teens of all. Most people have black, blue, brown, and grey suits before they manage to acquire a green one.

      Scott sometimes does wear a blue suit, but that’s usually Xavier, although he too sometimes wears a green suit. I know that the banal but real explanation is that the colorist are coloring Scott’s suit differently from Xavier’s to differentiate them on the page, and that’s why it’s usually green, but I prefer to think of it as that they only have two suits between them, and Scott wears the one that Xavier isn’t feeling like wearing that day.

      There is obviously the moment when Scott suddenly develops ‘60s cool and adopts the classic turtleneck and blazer look (something which I have always regretted I can’t wear, because I can’t tolerate having anything around my neck), and immediately draws comments that he is a “hunk of male.”

      Paradoxically, Scott is also called, even though he has finally *stopped* looking as if he is middle-aged, as a “Lee Marvin type.” When that comic came out, Lee Marvin was forty-four and had white hair. Scott can’t win..

  6. I’m shocked Cyclops isn’t more popular with readers my age. He’s the guy that thinks fighting killer robots designed explicitly to murder him is easier than having difficult conversations. That defines like 90% of my peers, myself included.

  7. Loved this issue so much! I read it before listening and definitely had a lot of “Ring of Keys” thoughts while reading it, so happy to have some confirmation on that respect. I actually just did a guest lecture on X-Men and queerness (allegorical, subtextual, textual, and on the production end) and this ended up being one of the recommended further readings because damn, it works well.

  8. Here just to say: I fucking loved the issue. I need more.

    Also… “astronaut” “doctor” “super” and “Peter Corbeau”. I saw what you did there. Noice.

  9. Marvels Snapshots Cyclops was a joy to read! It perfectly captured the Scott Summers who has always been one of my very favorite characters, a person who cares so much about doing the right thing and helping.

    I’ve always seen Scott as of a kind with Clark Kent, Steve Rogers, and Luke Skywalker in this way, and was frustrated that a lot of fans didn’t give Scoff the same credit. In your discussion in the episode, though, I realized a key difference. The fact that Scott is a mutant, that he’s coded in a lot of ways that are not straight white neurotypical able bodied male, means that he doesn’t have the same certainty those other characters share that his actions can change the world. It makes him more existential, Sisyphean, when he keeps going anyway. I love that about Scott. And it makes him maybe the peak 2020 superhero.

    Also, regarding the nebulous Marvel timeline, it’s been a while since I read Al Ewing’s Ultimates, but I seem to remember that series suggesting that as superheroes function to protect the universe, the time space continuum keeps pulling heroes and the events they’re involved in forward in time. I thought this was a brilliant way to incorporate the sliding timeline into canon in a way that made sense of Marvel reflecting real world events while the heroes age differently from the rest of the populace. It also fit well with jokes in the Bendis run about whether or not the original 5 had come from the 60s.

  10. I’m also curious to hear more of Jay’s complaints about the Brian Vaughan Cyclops miniseries. I don’t remember a lot of it, but remember finding it bland at best. I also felt like the ending was written from an expectation that Morrison would be wrapping up Scott and Jean’s issues in his run in ways that definitely didn’t play out in that book.

    On the other hand, I remember loving BKV’s Chamber solo series from about the same time, and also loved his take on Ultimate Scott and Jean. (BKV’s run on Ultimate X-Men is my favorite of that series in general, which seems to be somewhat unusual among fans.)

    1. That’s roughly my issue with it, actually: it reads like a very generic solo adventure with Cyclops slotted into the very generic protagonist role and accompanying voice and personality.

      1. That tracks. I remember it being one of the many stories that roughly went like this:

        Protagonist: “I am experiencing difficulties in my personal life. I am overwhelm!!”

        “Now I shall Run Away From It All. Maybe avoiding my problems will solve them?”

        “Oh noes! A villain! Guess this is a fightcation now.”

        “I have defeated the villain! All this running for my life has totes been conducive to reconsidering my problems. Instead of being even more overwhelmed and exhausted, I am rejuvenated and ready to go home and Fix Everything. Sweet!”

        I mean, sure, sometimes tackling a completely different problem can put things in perspective, but still.

        1. “I mean, sure, sometimes tackling a completely different problem can put things in perspective, but still.”

          You only need to take that one step further to get the perfection that is Jason Mendoza’s Molotov cocktail philosophy.

  11. Extremely good comic – meaningful and beautiful. Cyclops has most often been pretty boring to me (sorry); or the straight man around more interesting characters. I wouldn’t normally be in the market for a solo Cyclops story; but it’s a one shot and I’m very glad I read it.

  12. I’ve read it. It’s fucking phenomenal. It’s everything that I expect from a X-Men comic, from a superhero comic and specially from a story about the most misunderstood character in X-Men canon. It was truly a love letter to Scott and to everyone who identifies with him. It was all kinds of amazing, and I recomended it to everyone that I know that likes X-Men. Truly upstanding job, Jay.

    And also, Scientist Astronaut Peter Corbeau.

  13. Jay, fabulous issue! I rarely buy floppies (usually just trades and digital), but I had to make an exception for you! This was spot-on and so fun. Also… THAT ART! Wow. Totally knocked my socks off.

    But the real reason I’m writing is that, since you mentioned Kurt Busiek, I’m hoping you’re eventually going to do a part 2 of an interview with him, so you can finally talk about Marvels #2. It’s only been six years; I’m sure you’re going to get to it someday… right? 🙂

  14. I’ll join the chorus of appreciation for Jay and the rest of the team on this book. It’s heartfelt, although unoriginal, to affirm this is a good comic.
    Jay’s appreciation of Tom Orzechowski inadvertently tipped me down an odd rabbit hole. My memory went ‘I remember first noticing his work…Captain Marvel #27.” I checked Marvel Unlimited and found it said Tom starts on the title in #28. John Constanza is listed as the letterer of #27. My memory is fallible and I was close, but…there’s a huge change in the lettering from #26 to #27. #26 is credited to Constanza and is the kind of capable, professional lettering I associate with his work. #27 uses a variety of lettering fonts, creates special speech bubbles for Thanos, in general there’s a huge change in how the book is lettered. Then the next issue Orzechowski starts and does a dead-on imitation of all those fonts and styles. Was this an editorial error? Did Tom start on CM #27, or is this just me being cranky and defensive?

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