Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

337 – Wild Genes and Old Magic

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

In which Excalibur is beset by shady organizations; Nightcrawler gets a new look; nobody hates Pete Wisdom as much as Lockheed hates Pete Wisdom; Brian Braddock should not be allowed to dress himself; Excalibur invades Black Air; and Onslaught continues to lurk.


  • Some countries Magneto has invaded
  • Excalibur #96-99
  • Black Air (more) (again)
  • The London branch of the Hellfire Club
  • Nightcrawler’s new look
  • Meggan’s new look
  • The return of Alistaire Stuart
  • How not to dress for the Hellfire Club
  • The Shadow Cabinet (a little)
  • Hacking
  • Agent Scratch
  • Avengers vs. Avengers
  • Addiction recovery
  • Accreditation of the Xavier School
  • Developing a library X-collection

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  1. The Shadow Cabinet is not exactly part of the Government. It is the name given to the leadership of the main opposition party currently Labour, each cabinet member has a shadow on how gets some additional money to run their office, and who would normally give the responses to the minister in the commons and hold them to account. So if the Home Secretary is making a statement to Parliament on the illegal activities of Black Air, then the Shadow Foreign Sec. will get the first right of response.

  2. Kurt’s new look was one I was ambivalent about. He looked okay, I assumed the tabard was attached to the belt so it wouldldn’t flap up in his face, and I did like the formal addition of a sword to his gear, but the soul patch did seem a touch silly for someone who is already furry.

    Meggan’s outfit I actively disliked, mostly because even I know that’s not how boobs work, empathic metamorph or not.

    I also always loved Ellis’ explanations of how Meggan’s powers work, subtracting power from electrical systems by asking it nicely to leave feels very in character.

    I knew Black Air were bad news, but having them dissect the Warpies was a definite low point, even for them, and the point at which I wished Excalibur luck in dropping them into an active volcano. I

    It did feel a bit TOO grimdark to be honest, too “setting fire to the puppy farm next to the orphanage” in a “look how dark and evil we have people being, isn’t it cool?” way for my tastes but this IS an Ellis title in the 90’s.

    In story, it seemed especially cruel as the last time the Warpies appeared it was mentioned that they were all reverting to their original human state,s since the Jaspers Warp energy which had changed and sustained their altered forms was fading away, so it was as pointless as it was vile (not that killing kids can ever HAVE a point, just to be clear)

    Poor, poor Douglock. This is why the reveal he was Warlock all along (Cue “Agatha All Along” theme) seemed unduly harsh, because Douglock was becoming his own person, distinct from Doug and Warlock, and he (and we) had such a short time to find out who that was. (Though I am not a fan of Raab’s upcoming work with Douglock either, for reasons we can discuss when those issues come around.)

    I like the London Hellfire Club having Black and Red Lords Cardinal, rather than Black and White, it adds to the old fashioned “Through the Looking Glass” feel of them.

    “Emma Steed” seems a bit on point as a name, but I always found it a little odd that Emma Frost was not physically based on Diana Rigg the way all the other original Lords Cardinal members were patterned after famous actors, though I suppose none of them were based on Patrick MacNee either. Was Emma Frost’s appearance based on anyone that anyone knows of?

    Aside from him perhaps not being permitted to wear the silly outfit until he had formally claimed his position as Black Bishop and been accepted by the Inner Circle, I really like Brian’s deliberate “Sod you” choice of clothes when he meets them.

    I’m torn between believing his outfit was either as close to off-the-peg polyester as he could manage, just to show them up, or else absurdly expensive designer wear (hideous, but designer) that cost more than the rest of their outfits, and probably their mansion, put together, just to show them up. Either works, I think.

    Brian “just wanting to build things” is a great change of pace too, but it does make for a slightly odd shift, given how his academic studies were Physics focussed, not Engineering, but I’ll take it.

    I know a lot of people disliked Lockheed talking, but his and Wisdom’s Tom and Jerry style relationship was always fun, especially Lockheed running to Kitty whenever that nasty mean man threatened him, then smugly grinning at Wisdom over Kitty’s shoulder as she cuddled HIM.

  3. 1) “Sir, this is a Nando’s”
    2) I’m glad you are aware the UK does have a spooky ghost government. But actually we call them Tories.
    3) The House of Lords are different types of ghosts. Like liches and poltergeists.

  4. ‘Lot’veria’? ….’LOT’VERIA’?! It’s not pronounced ‘lot’veria’, it’s pronounced LAT’veria.

    1. It’s a shibboleth to spot Symkarian spies, who can only pronounce it “Lotveria” due to their accent.

      Alert the Doom Drones!

      1. Jean*.

        Where Mimic was going to school at the same time.

        And where Jean would enjoy ‘big orange drinks’

        1. Metro College.

          ESU (a thinly-veiled stand-in for NYU) was where Peter Parker and the Human Torch went to college. I have a vague memory that in some early UXM issue (it might be the one with the Cobalt Man?) there was a poster indicating that Metro College was going to play ESU at football.

          Given the Silver Age X-Men’s love of hanging out in Greenwich Village, and the love of ‘60s Marvel for tying everything together, it’s a bit odd that Jean didn’t go to ESU.

          1. Correction: Just looked up Metro College, because I became curious about where it was supposed to be, and according to the Internet (which cannot be wrong), Johnny Storm went to Metro College and not Empire State University, at least back in the ‘60s. (I think he might have been at ESU briefly later on?)

            1. Brian Braddock also spent some time at ESU (after he became Captain Britain, somehow) on a visiting scholarship or something, when he and Peter Parker were room mates for a time.

  5. Initially, I didn’t start reading Excalibur regularly until the Phalanx Covenant crossover, so I had no idea that Ellis’ run was atypical. It was quite the surprise for me when I bought some back issues and found a completely different tone.

    In hindsight, I appreciate these issue as being the most “Ellis’ of his run. It certainly contains many of the themes he’ll be returning to in the rest of his career. I also think these issues are stronger than his later run on Astonishing X-Men.

  6. The cover to Excalibur #98 is literally what made me realize I was gay. I was very happy to hear you discuss it. Even though that costume was impractical, it certainly served a purpose for me! Haha

  7. AAAAH I LOVE THE LONDON BRANCH! I’m a big fan of the Hellfire Club in general, so I’ve always hoped these guys would come back (we do see Ms. Steed in a Bobbi Morse story a few years ago) or that writers would remember that branches other than the Manhattan one (Shaw, Emma, etc) exist at all. Supposedly there’s a Paris and Hong Kong branch as well but we never get to see them and I so very much want to!

    Fun fact, the Red King’s name is Alan Wilson, the Black King was Quentin Templeton, and the Red Bishop was Conrad Strathdee, but these names were only revealed in one of the post-2000 Marvel handbooks 🙂 I would like to see Alan come back in particuliar, a super-rich Maori (which I think his tats are meant to indicate) swordsman is such a cool concept. Same for Benazir Kaur of Shinobi Shaw’s one-issue Inner Circle, I always want to see her come back!

    I, too, love Meggan!

    SHINOBI SHAW IS MY FAVE but you knew that!

    And I enjoy Mountjoy too!!!

    wasp bishop of the yacht club dgjdfgjfsdj

    I like to think only the American branch does the weird colonial shit because they never updated the dress code

    I think a better name for Emma Steed would would have been Diana Steed, since the actress who played Emma Peel was named Diana Rigg. So the reference would still be there, but not cause confusion with Emma Frost.

    It’s honestly so disappointing (and kinda racist) to me that Margali, originally depicted as not actually evil just wanting vengeance for the son she thought Kurt murdered fin cold blood, just basically became this generically power-hungry manipulative evil witch. She’s got like all Mystique’s shittiness but none of her nuance, and there’s no real reason for it. You could definitely explore how her oppression as a poor Romani woman drove her to try to use the only power available to her—her magic–to the greatest extremes she could for her own gain because she has nothing else, but that’s not it. She just was originally a grieving mother who went too far but then relented when the truth was reveal. . . and then she’s this, and I don’t think we ever get a motive for it, for why she wants this kind of power so badly. It’s just so shitty and shallow and, again, questionable at best from a Romani representation point, in my opinion.

  8. I always thought Damask’s name in this story was a nice tip to the Avengers episode A Touch of Brimstone that I think comic lore says introduced the concept of the historical Hellfire Club to Claremont and Byrne. Since Ellis here creates a London branch feels appropriate.

    I too have wanted to see more of the other Hellfire clubs for the past couple decades. Well you never know who might pop up on Krakoa…

  9. So I’ve still no explanation of why in that issue of Journey into Mystery #109 where, while Magneto and Thor battle, the rest of Brotherhood are beset by X-Men who are not shown. It’s a side aspect of the story, apparently to acknowledge Mastermind, Toad, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver as usually hanging with Magneto, but removing them so Thor and Magneto can go one on one. What we see of the X-Men is Cyclops force beam (the BoEM underfire), Beast’s hands and Angel’s shadow. Also what might be the only appearance of an X-submarine in the Silver Age. My head-canon is Jack is entertaining himself with this odd staging and maybe fucking with Stan a little, but that’s just what I make up.
    Since that episode of the Avengers TV show has been mentioned in an X-related context I am obliged to turn up like some ghost of gothic romance past and reference Still She Wished for Company by Margaret Irwin. I’m pretty sure I’ve reported it has time-slipping heroines, the Hellfire club, sinister and manipulative men already. Did I say (further spoilers for this novel from nearly 100 years ago) there’s a scene where people’s true identities are revealed by their cast shadows, you know, like Mastermind at the disco? Admittedly, no one is running round in their pants (British pants) and a bustier (to the best of my recollection, it was 50 years ago that I read this) so this is likely just a collection of coincidences and not an influence on the DPS.

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