Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

317 – Acquaintances of Humanity

In which Nicholas Cage is more of a concept than a human being; Rogue’s angst-fueled road trip continues; Gambit and Sinister have complementary aesthetics; there are a lot of Guthries; the Trasks are never up to any good; and whether or not it is canon, Ghost Rider has definitely teamed up with Johnny Cash.


  • Ghost Rider (film)
  • Nicholas Cage
  • Rogue and Gambit
  • X-Men #45
  • Uncanny X-Men #326
  • Uncanny X-Men Annual 1995
  • A gratuitous gatefold
  • Alliteration vs. consonance
  • Osmium
  • Fancy captions
  • Aesthetics
  • Shorts
  • Gambit vs. Sabretooth
  • Questionable medical policy
  • AIDS and the Legacy Virus, revisited
  • Humanity’s Last Stand
  • Guthries
  • Preacher
  • The evolution of killer robots
  • Superhero-musician team-ups
  • Otherworld vs. the M’Kraan crystal


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  1. “What would be dense enough for Rogue to bench press and would give her a workout?”

    You know you’ve been watching a lot of current anime when the mental answer you give for that question is “Bakarina” (aka Katarina Claes from “My Next Life As A Villainess”)

    I do remember that the Bastion Narrator was available at one time as a DLC narrator for DotA (along with GLADOS).

    As far as Arlo Guthrie is concerned – I recommend listening to the re-recorded version he did later, The Massacre Revisited, which includes a bit where Arlo ends up getting invited to the White House for Jimmy Carter’s inaugeration, and learns that Nixon had the original release of Alice’s Restauraunt in his record library, and that the length of the song was the exact length of the gap on the Nixon tapes…

    1. I hear “Bastion” and I keep thinking “Bastian” as in “The Neverending Story” which is quite the gear shift in terms of character and story.

    1. Well, I’d say that Alex Navarro of Giant Bomb (formerly of Screened), tried to do a rewatch blog of all of Nicholas Cage’s filmography, and while there’s a lot of good stuff from the career of America’s Greatest Living (over)Actor – once you hit the “I owe how much in back taxes?!” phase of Nicholas Cage’s career, it becomes a lot less fun to watch (with some exceptions, like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans).

      1. Lila Cheney and Joan Jett! Maybe in a mistaken-identity story, because the influences on Lila’s creation were not subtle.

  2. Thinking about it (Why I was thinking about it I have no idea) Lewis might very well still be a mutant.

    If the only suggestion he ISN’T comes from Dark Beast not being able to activate an x-gene post-Decimation, then that’s sort of a false positive, as he might have lost his x-gene the way all the other former/potential mutants did. Unless I missed a trick about M-Day and Dark Beast which is, in fairness, a distinct possibility.

    I stand by my theory about the variable Guthrie siblings, for which, see


    1. I considered that, but wonder if one of the Guthrie kids being an unrecognised reality warper might not be the case. Someone wanting more siblings at times, for games, for company. That covers the not noticing.
      Also (and this may have been covered) are Ma and Pa Guthrie X-gene recessive? Also is that a thing in the Marvel Universe. It would explain a lot and be a story engine, but plainly Marvel genetics do not work like ours.

  3. The Legacy Virus storyline never felt like an actual threat. Obviously none of the marquee characters were ever going to get it and the transmission of it seemed so arbitrary even within the storyline.

    I really dislike when mainstream superhero comics take on these kinds of storylines. Even as metaphor. It came, it went and all the characters it took down are back. We can make an argument that Illyana is, technically, still dead from it but I feel like we’re being pedantic at that point.

    Even worse, aside from some c-list characters in the first year or two it kind of just stops being even a minor threat. Most of the time, I forgot that it was even a thing unless the characters talk about it.

    I feel like for the story to have really worked, Marvel would have had to show some courage and kill off one or two of their major characters with an edict that those characters could never come back. I know that’s unrealistic and I don’t really expect that. I just think that if you’re not going to commit to they story you’re telling, just don’t do it.

    That aside, I absolutely loved X-Men #45. I thought it was a gorgeous book and I actually liked the (gratuitous) gatefold cover.

    1. There are problems with the Legacy Virus that go beyond what you’re saying, obviously, but you’re definitely right about these problems. (The LA Review of Books discussion that’s been posted a couple of times here is good on how compromised it is as an AIDS metaphor even if it were handled better as narrative.)

      The thing is, viruses are like zombies from a storytelling point of view, but more so — they’re inherently very boring in themselves. All the interest comes from telling the story about how human beings respond to the virus. And in something like the X-books, where there is a definite hierarchy of characters who matter and characters who don’t, if you exclude the main characters from mortality, then you are shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to telling one of the main, maybe the main, storytelling possibility.

      Among the other problems: what is scary about viruses is that they operate according to an inexorable logic of reproducing themselves. This relates to one of your points, the intermittent nature of its appearances. Telling a virus story in which the whole element of it being a potential epidemic does not really feature is well, daft.

      And we come back to a big problem that I have with the Legacy Virus, which is that at no point has anyone sat down and sketched out the logic of how it reproduces itself, the most basic things about how it is transmitted, how infectious it is supposed to be, and so on.

      I get that on some level that’s because it’s an AIDS metaphor, and they want it to be metaphorically sexually transmitted. And that would have been understandable if this had been handled on a very subtextual, emotional level – say if you had stories about the experience of people who contracted it from their partners and left it deliberately ambiguous how exactly that had happened, to evade Marvel coming down on you for telling the story. But that is not at all the direction in which they went, so I think that defense fails.

      This failure to define what the Legacy Virus is relates to the whole trick that Beast and Xavier pull on the public — they have no idea how irresponsible that is, because the story itself has no idea. Leaving aside the question of whether that sort of deception is ever ethical (which is how the story frames it), it’s obvious that before you did it you would want to know whether it would lead to the Legacy Virus spreading more widely and killing more people.

      For instance, mutants out there are going to hear “Charles Xavier, the world’s leading expert on mutants, says that it might well be the case that only people with pre-existing conditions are vulnerable” and conclude that they don’t have to take precautions. Beast and Xavier have just signed many mutants’ death warrants unless it is in fact the case that the Legacy Virus for some reason does not actually pose a serious threat.

      More broadly, there’s the short-termism of minimizing the risk in order prevent a panic when you have not established what will happen if people take the threat lightly — what does Xavier think will be the reaction if this starts spreading like wildfire? For a person who can literally read other people’s minds, he seems remarkably poor at thinking a step ahead about how they might react in possible future scenarios.

      It all comes down to the fact that I can’t take the Legacy Virus seriously, because the people telling the story don’t take it seriously. And given that they’re being so unserious about a metaphor for *AIDS,* that renders this one of the most morally ugly things ever to appear in the X-line.

  4. I have to be honest, I never took the metaphor to it’s logical conclusion about being sexually transmitted. Probably because Illyana was the first victim I read and that has some disturbing implications.

    You also bring up other points that I hadn’t considered, so I thank you.

    It’s obvious that the writers b(I’m guessing Lobdell, though Nicieza was responsible for the X-Cutioner’s Song outline) thought it would make a great long term threat with no real plans for it outside of the occasional death.

    There are places where superhero stories can handle tough topics metaphorically but this obviously isn’t one of them.

  5. I’m way late in this discussion but there is in-comic proof that Rogue works out. In one the issues leading up to Fall of the Mutants she’s at this gym using a piece of equipment that was designed for the Thing. The gym owner said he bought it as a novelty or tourist attraction, and that he never thought anyone would ever use it. This is the same scene where Mystique tries to convince her not to go to Dallas.

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