Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

338 – Chomp and Stomp

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

In which X-Factor’s lineup shifts further towards villainy; Wild Child is neither wild nor a child; bureaucrat Val Cooper > action Val Cooper; Marvel invests in Bastion; and foreshadowing works better in some titles than in others.


  • How Wolverine got his adamantium back
  • A marriage of convenience
  • X-Factor #122-124
  • Amalgam comics
  • A clever workaround
  • Several new looks
  • Belle Fourche (again)
  • Several ways to fail to control supervillains
  • The Hound
  • The Hazard Chamber
  • Different titles’ relationships to dark futures
  • Statting up Beast in D&D
  • Characters with more narrative impact dead than alive

NEXT EPISODE: Wolverine makes it weird.

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  1. Yeah, gotta say, once you have Mystique on a team, it’s complete failure is a only a matter of time, because the moment it doesn’t align with her goals, everyone else gets tossed under a bus (or tossed over a waterfall in at least one case)

    (Did they ever suggest that Raven had built up so much interesting dirt on pretty much everyone in her time as Raven Darkholme when she was rising to the position of Deputy Director of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, that she could ensure she had a Government position of her choice for life, be it Freedom Force or X-Factor? Because that would seem like her style)

    Add Combat Barbie clad Val Cooper, AND Sabretooth, and this is NOT a healthy team to be on or around.

    Val’s shift in tone sort of reminds me of Heather Hudson leading Alpha Flight very effectively as a civilian in Byrne’s run, but the moment a writer changed she was flying around zapping enemies in the Vindiciator costume so quickly it would cause narrative whiplash.

    1. It does feel like those old Alpha Flights, yes. (But worse, b/c at least I liked the Vindicator outfit.)

      At least when Professor X tried to lead the team in combat everybody made it clear that he was terrible at it.

  2. I think this was definitely a case of leaning in too hard on trying to capture some of the Age of Apocalypse “coolness” into the regular ongoing X-Factor. I think a huge part of my problem is that none of it feels organic. It was basically bending the characters and the plots to fit the ultimate goal and it makes these issues less interesting because of it.

    Not that I’m a huge fan of government controlled bad guys on a team anyway. It was a huge point of contention for me during Civil War as well. It always feels like the writers trying to show how desperate the times are but it never feels genuine. It would be like giving John Wayne Gacy a badge and a gun to track down Jeffery Dahmer.

    I’m not saying that these things couldn’t be done well. There are certainly villains (or antagonists if you prefer) who have been able to walk that line before but, again, it always felt organic and earned.

  3. I’m not sure I’d say Destiny was fridged, since I typically think of fridging as killing a woman for the purpose of solely providing the next beat in a man’s story. Destiny dying was definitely a part of a larger story, but she seemed to have – if not full agency – types of a say in her death and was focal at parts. Furthermore, it mostly affected another woman. Yes, I’m being nitpicky, but I also think some distinguishing should exist between Fridging (a very real problem in narrative to this day – literally was complaining about this last night with the book we’re reading for my book club) and characters having very genuine and real reactions/mourning to a character’s death (which will happen in narrative, especially superhero ones).

    All of that said, I do agree that Destiny has had serious impact while dead…and I have often wondered why she’s been one of the few X-characters to stay dead, whether it was because her powers are harder to write, because of the impact it had on Mystique, or good ol’ fashioned homophobia or ageism.

    1. I think Destiny staying dead probably offers a lot more dramatic opportunities than a living one, even though it deprives us of one of the great unsung relationships of X-Men history. I’d prefer she was brought back if only to give us that relationship in current stories instead of referencing a relationship we only saw a small corner of.

    2. By keeping Destiny dead, they also keep Mystique available for other romantic subplots, even if most of those end up with a knife in her partner’s back.

      But the chief reason to keep her off the board is that her powers don’t play well with long-term serial storytelling. When the writer doesn’t know what’s going to happen a year or two out — and that’s clearly been the case at times in the X-Books — you can’t have a real-live prophet hanging around as a regular character. (In this regard, the Age of X attitude toward Destiny is a bit meta: Precogs will wreck everything.)

      And you can’t keep Destiny alive but out of the story indefinitely if you want to use Mystique, unless you want to split them up. And nobody wants that.

      In contrast, a dead Destiny gets to leave her prophecies around where other characters can bounce off them in the same way as they do the philosophy of a dead Xavier, as Jay mentioned. And you can bring her back in flashbacks, as Hickman did, when her powers serve the interest of a self-contained story.

      1. Yes, I was always surprised when they amped up Destiny’s abilities so they could retcon in her prophetic diaries which she’d written decades before and yet still be plot relevant because of their accuracy.

        Previously, I think she’d had fairly limited precognitive range, which is much easier to deal with plot wise. A few minutes for anything accurate, and the further into the future she saw the more vague her predictions became because of branching timelines from every decision from everyone involved being variable.

        I think she had specific flashes of futures about people she cared about, like there’s an entire “What if…?” issue where she see’s a future where Rogue not only absorbs Ms Marvel’s powers, but Thor’s as well. (It sticks in my memory both for the idea, and knowing that Simon Furman had to write monologues for Rogue switching between her usual accent and Thor’s cod-Shakespearean prose.)

        But yes, temporally omniscient Destiny would make plotting very tricky.

  4. Hey sorry I have gotten a little bit lost- probably because these stories are themselves very confusing. When was Havoc covered leaving the team and being kidnapped? mindcontrolled? Which episode number?

    1. Understandable – it’s been ages since we covered that! Havok was kidnapped in X-Factor #118, which we covered in episode #314. The mind-control part hasn’t happened yet, but we’ll get plenty of that soon. Sort of.

  5. I know why Sabretooth collar malfunctioned: It was acquired through a bidding contract with the government, right? And who has a contract with the government to supply anti-mutant paraphernalia, including Sentinels? Shawn Industries. And we all know that Shawn is corrupt. He probably overpriced the contract and give subpar equipment to the government.

    But, wait he was supposedly dead during this era. So was Shinobi Shaw who supply the collar. So probably his motivation was something Upstarts related, so nobody knows and nobody cares.

  6. I think Magneto works much better alive than dead. Unlike with “Xavier’s dream”, his status as an antivillain is so wrapped up in his specific Holocaust origins that anyone else who tries to walk that fine line kind of automatically falls into pure villainy.

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