Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

322 – Do More Crimes

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

In which the X-Babies fail to charm; clones are people, too; Iceman doesn’t (quite) come out; Gambit and Bishop bond; Joseph comes into ambiguous being; and Principal Nezu and Charles Xavier would probably get along okay.

X-PLAINED:

  • Inconsistent quality
  • X-Men #46-47
  • Uncanny X-Men #327
  • The X-Babies (more) (again)
  • Sfogliatelle
  • Gog
  • Gog’n’Magog
  • Politics of the Mojoverse
  • Personhood of constructed entities
  • What makes an X-Babies story work
  • Jay’s favorite episodes of The Muppet Show
  • Age-appropriate literature
  • Fictional books
  • Fun with Bishop
  • Several restaurants
  • Hypothetical casting
  • What Magneto’s been up to
  • Joseph
  • Sister Maria
  • Why Magneto gets de-aged a lot
  • Amnesia
  • Various orphans and individuals affiliated therewith
  • How to keep up with upcoming X-titles
  • A cross-media friendship
  • True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee

NEXT EPISODE: HAWK TALK

THE ONE AFTER THAT: MORE X-BABIES SO MANY X-BABIES


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17 comments

  1. Huh. I didn’t remember Joseph going full villain when the big reveal during the Magneto War stuff happened (then again, Magneto was already ably doing that by himself) but I suppose it might have been later on or something.

    1. Ditto, I thought he was the self-sacrificing solution, not part of the problem, but I’m likewise hazy on things.

    2. You two are probably right – my memories of this period are hazy. We’ll be sure to give Joseph story justice once we get to that arc!

  2. I’m thinking about the X-Babies and the best way to write them – and what with my contextualization of the comics I read in terms of anime and manga (which is what was, for the longest time, I read more than superhero comics), the right way to take them would be in the forms of SD (SuperDeformed)/Chibi characters.

    Often times, those versions characters generally show up in very short gag strips, often in the back of collected manga volumes, sometimes in the 4-Koma format, sometimes not.

    So, if you’re not doing them in that context, then the only reasonable alternative is to basically have them be the Animaniacs – mischievous characters who work on cartoon logic who inject themselves into a situation and flip everything on its head due to their presence.

    One other thing – with the Hero Academia reference – I wrote an essay on my blog talking about the Disability metaphor I saw as an Autistic person in Hero Academia with Deku. I’m going to hold off on linking to that here because I don’t want to overly toot my own horn. However, there’s probably a larger discussion to be had with that show and how quirk relates to disability, and also contrasting language based around powers in HeroAca and in the X-Men universe (i.e. Quirks vs. Mutations), but I’m probably not particularly qualified to write that essay.

  3. Haven’t gotten very far into the podcast, but I can’t resist a terrible, terrible, “Umm, actually” — that’s not how sfogliatelle are pronounced from an Italophone perspective, either, at least not that of standard modern Italian (which has a very sane and consistent spelling system). I’d guess that it’s what a Neapolitan pronunciation became after a couple of generations in America.

    Just in case anyone is in Italy and wants to order one and gets a puzzled look.

    1. omfg i was thinking the same thing HAHA. i was cringing so hard as a frist-gen italian. it should be pronounced “svoy-ya-tell-ay”

      1. Oh entirely. The pronunciation is correct as an American English pronunciation in the context of the relevant community, which is the only way in which pronunciations are or are not correct.

        It was just the misleading implication of “Anglophone” that was concerning me. It’s not the world’s most important cultural-sensitivity issue, but it falls under the same heading as making sure to call yourself a hyphenated American when you’re in the ancestral country with which you identify.* Also, I personally would be sad if someone who wanted to learn Italian acquired the impression that Italian spelling is difficult to understand and this deterred them from learning the language.

        * It’s not so much that you’ll offend people, but there’s a real chance that they’ll think you’re an idiot. From the perspective of that country, you are primarily an American. I’m a bit careful about calling myself Irish when I’m there, mostly because I’ve lived in the US for over two decades, and generally say something like “I grew up in Dublin, but I’ve lived in America for a long time, and am pretty Americanized now,” because there are ways (esp. my strange transatlantic accent, which I share with, I don’t know, seagulls?) in which I do not read as Irish any more.

  4. I confess Miles, you didn’t disappoint me because you got Alan Davis and Art Adams names mixed up, that’s just how things go sometimes.

    What disappointed me was that for a moment or two I thought that meant there was an actual Alan Davis drawn X-Babies story out there which I’d never even heard of, because that would be a thing to treasure!

    I hope the Muppet episodes on Disney Plus are the UK versions, which I think were on the US DVD releases (Which I still have, thankfully, even if I did have to import them).

    The UK versions were several minutes longer than the US ones because they needed morre material as the UK didn’t allow as many adverts as the US.

    It was usually an additional musical number, often ald music hall/Vaudeville numbers including some of my favorite moments on the show. Like

    Rowlf singing “Tit Willow” from “The Mikado” (With Sam the American Eagle providing the actual “Tit Willow”‘s)

    Floyd singing “New York State of Mind” with Dr Teeth and Zoot on insturments.

    And Gonzo singing “Memory Lane”

    Ah, those were the days… 🙂

  5. I must confess, at the time these issues were released, I hadn’t read any of the previous X-Babies appearances. My initial reaction was that these characters were overly “precious” and it annoyed me to no end to have these types of characters in the more serious X-Men title. I have since read their earlier stories and find those stories to be highly entertaining. Particularly “Mojo Mayhem”. I still find the two-parter in X-Men to be boring and annoying.

    It’s fun to revisit these stories having now read all the older comcis and comparing what I remember to what it is having the context. I enjoyed Onslaught when I initially read it and I am very much dreading a revisit. Kind of like going back and watching that Masters of the Universe movie just a few years ago. Yikes.

  6. That was an impressively elaborate Sexy Joseph bit at the end.

    Beyond that, scattered thoughts:-

    – I think Jeph Loeb’s evil plan to make me think positive thoughts about Lobdell’s writing might be working. Because for the first time in a long time, I disliked something less than our hosts did. There have been things that I’ve liked more than they do, but I don’t know when was the last time that they disliked something and I went, “Oh, it’s not *that* bad.”

    In this case, it’s the X-Babies. I suppose it’s true that they’re not the proper X-babies, but, you know, it’s the X-Babies — I don’t really care deeply about getting them right. And seeing these books go for the goofy after so much portentousness and miserabilism was a welcome change of tone. Which was admittedly a bit discordant given the other material in those issues, but I can live with it — by the end it was even working for me as one of those strange mash-ups of things that don’t fit that are part of the appeal of superhero comics. And I absolutely would defend the deus ex machina ending as a shaggy dog story ending.

    Also, there’s a lot of Bishop here, which I like. Bishop even makes Gambit more tolerable for me. That’s a real superpower.

    “Your ‘mon ami’”. Come on, Bishop would know what “mon” means.

    – Umm, Jean? You’re more of a ”full-service psi” than Charles Xavier is. You have two psychic powers, he only has one. Granted, his one has a history of extending to some very strange things, but you still can do more than he can. I appreciate that you, like the other X-Men in this period, have accepted Charles Xavier as your personal Christ allegory, but Xavier can’t actually turn water into wine or raise the dead — he just does ethically uncomfortable things with other people’s minds.

    – “Stuck in the middle with you.” Ah, there’s a cutting-edge reference designed to appeal to the Youth of 1995. “Hoppingest” — well, I suppose one can’t say that Lobdell is not committed to trying to sound like a fifty-year old man attempting to be cool.

    – Wait, so X-Force #48 was supposed to happen after Boom-Boom had a long talk with Xavier about Sabertooth in which he explained everything that Jean had discovered? That was not remotely clear.

    Re-reading it, I see that there *are* (as I’d forgotten when I commented last week) references to repeated previous conversations – which to be fair to it would suggest that the intervention is coming after a lot of more reasonable behavior that I don’t think we’ve seen. But there really doesn’t seem to be a sense of “Oh my God! We’ve just found out that Sabertooth has been faking it, and Professor X told you!”

    – Charles Francis Xavier — is the middle name new? And has it been suggested that he’s Catholic before this? This goes beyond just having Xavier as a surname, after all.

  7. 1. Okay, I’ll be the pro-Onslaught guy. It definitely hits me in the nostalgia area (I remember that summer buying ALL the crossover stuff). But I also will kinda legit defend it. Why? I follow X-Men for feelings and Onslaught is essentially nothing but a giant, armored mess of feelings. The one thing is I MAINLY remember Onslaught in JMad art, which is kinda perfect for “giant armored mess of feelings and people having feelings about that giant armored feelings mess” story…so that also helps

    Even the cringy Jean-Xavier memory part (which, to be fair, was Kubert I think), strangely kinda works for me. It kinda works as both an anxiety dream of Xavier of “oh god, what if everyone could hear every horrible/gross thought I had” and an interesting position to place Jean in where she’s both embarrassed for him and rightfully grossed out (I’ve described it as finding someone’s browser history, but it’s legit icky). Also, like, it’s a “swing for the fences deal with weird Silver Age shit” moment, which I have a weakness for.

    2. I wonder if Storm sent Bishop to hang out with Gambit to distract him by putting him in “normal Bishop-level paranoia” vs. “post AoA-level paranoia.” I seem to remember an ep of DS9 where the crew has Quark act suspiciously to distract Odo and cheer him up, but can’t remember the exact one.

    1. I don’t love the Onslaught saga exactly, but I don’t hate it either. It’s got a really strong core concept, and while the execution fumbles all over the place, it’s easy for me to imagine a movie or tv series adaptation some day turning it into something spectacularly good.

      The idea of Xavier repressing all his rage and frustration over the treatment of mutants for years until his psychic powers manifest those emotions as their own vengeful spirit is super cool. The idea that the bad parts of Onslaught come from Magneto as a sort of psychic infection, to preserve 90s Xavier’s imagined sainthood, is silly at best. (And I say that as a person who came into the x-line in the 90s and for years thought of Xavier mostly as the good teacher/good surrogate Dad Sir PatStew tends to play in the movies. I now see all the ways Xavier is a shit, and I still like that version best.)

      I know per Comic Book Legends Revealed that Mark Waid wanted Onslaught to just be Xavier’s dark side alone. I seem to also recall hearing that it was Lobdell who made Magneto part of the mix, largely because Waid had referenced Xavier creeping on Jean in the Silver Age, and Lobdell wanted a way to explain away Xavier being that gross. I couldn’t find the source for that part of the backstory, which certainly holds extra layers of irony given what we now know about Lobdell’s own failures as a human.

  8. I just don’t understand the rationale for de-aging Magneto again at this point. He wasn’t that old — per Uncanny X-Men #200, he was biologically in his early 30s at his trial. That’s plenty young enough that he can pull off a romantic lead role, and Marvel artists were drawing him as young and muscled anyway.

    So the decision to make him a clone rather than the real thing makes more sense — as much as clone stories ever do, anyway.

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