Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

352 – Onslog

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

In which Onslaught: Phase 2 does not live up to the promise of Phase 1; Hulk is not the most trustworthy individual; Miles is his own best audience; Sentinels know their continuity; and true heroism is scored by James Horner.


  • The Phoenix Five
  • Onslaught thus far
  • The Incredible Hulk #445
  • Invincible Iron Man #332
  • Avengers #402
  • Pea Soup Hulk
  • Falcon’s late cousin Jim
  • The word “ebon”
  • Tunneling logistics
  • An uncomfortable lesson
  • Immortal Hulk and why you should be reading it
  • Fancy hats
  • Science Made Stupid
  • Teen Tony Stark (more) (again)
  • Sneaking
  • Onslaught’s best epithet
  • The sound of heroism
  • Thor’s “shirt”
  • Headgear

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  1. Much love for that title! I love a bit of wordplay, especially if it gets the point across.
    Did I hear a Tim Zahn mentioned in the credits of one comic? Inker? Colourist? Couldn’t be the one best known for Star Wars novels, right?
    Finally, that Hulk voice reminds of Kylo Ren from Auralnauts. Anyone else hear that?

  2. I think there may be a X-character with at least as many aliases as Kitty Pryde: James Howlett AKA Logan AKA Weapon X AKA Wolverine AKA Patch AKA Black Dragon AKA Death…

    1. If “Kate” and “Kitty” count as two separate names, then you could probably count “Weapon X” and “Weapon Ten” as separate aliases for Wolverine, too. Plus, at least one version of him was Apocalypse, with the “A” belt buckle and everything. That should put him in the lead.

  3. Spider-man, Peter Parker (Pete), Web-head, Wall-crawler, Web-slinger, Hornet, Prodigy, Dusk, Ricochet, Spidey, Spider (Black Cat’s nick name). Of course, he has clones (Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spider, Kaine), alternate universe versions (Spider-Woman, Spider-man Noir), and names for his many many many costumes (Iron-Spider, Symbiote Spider-man, Bag-head Spider-man), but I don’t think this is what you meant by multiple names. Do you folks think the nicknames or other versions count?

  4. Understandable that he doesn’t merit a mention here but seeing as how it is always Inferno somewhere.

    I do think there is an interesting parallel here between Jason Macendale the Hobgoblin approaching N’astirh sniffing for power and becoming/merging with the evil Demogoblin during Inferno….
    And the erstwhile heroic Green Goblin Phil Urich getting nearly killed and entirely humiliated by Onslaught’s Sentinels in this crossover, which results in his gradual shift to the despicably villainous Hobgoblin /Goblin Knight.

    There’s Something about X-line events where, if they get big enough to attract Goblins, the Inevitable result is sliding that goblins D&D alignment a few stages towards (or deeper into) evil.

    I can only imagine that somewhere, wherever he is, on the night of the Gala Dr. Bart Hamilton (briefly green goblin) looked up at Mars and decided to become a Libertarian.

  5. Lessee….

    Rachel Summers, Rachel Grey, Phoenix, Prestige, Marvel Girl, Hound, Warrior White Princess of the Hellfire Club, Starchild

    Anyway, for an ep that seemed about how much of a slog these issues were, you two were actually pretty nice about them (which was a nice surprise). The Iron Man issue is definitely he roughest of the three, but I’m definitely a fan of the other two. The Avengers one is cheesy and maybe doesn’t earn all its moments, but – as I’ve said in the comments before – it’s a curtain call moment for the silver age Avengers in my mind (and very much in some ways captures what I love about Avengers pre-2005ish when they were all hope and inspiration and less whatever paramilitary thing they seem to be since they became the Ultimates and then the MCU).

    Miles, for Immortal Hulk, can I go into that cold with issue 1?

    1. Immortal Hulk: yep! There are a number of nods to past continuity, but they’re all given enough context that you won’t be lost. As long as you know the basic premise of the Hulk, you’re good!

  6. I read the Hulk issue back then and liked it a lot. I remember thinking, *this* is how a malevolent telepath would fight, not hijacking giant robots or waving Mighty Hands about. And the comic’s willingness to deceive the reader about what’s actually happening helped convey a sense of how unnerved the characters would feel.

    (I realize Onslaught tried some similar tricks in the X-Men and Fantastic Four issues, but the impact never really landed with me. Maybe the art didn’t sell it, or maybe because Onslaught kept announcing how he was tricking people while doing it.)

    What the Avengers issue gets right, more than the other books, I think, is conveying the sense of general panic in New York. A lot of the art in X-Men focuses on the Sentinels and crumbling buildings, at a scale so large you can’t make out the people. Spider-Man issues, meanwhile, devote panels to swooping in and rescuing a single lost kid. Avengers gives attention to the masses, who are clearly terrified, and because of that Onslaught’s impact almost feels bigger here than in the core books.

    Which is not to say I buy for a minute Captain America being overwhelmed by the whole thing. This is a guy who remembers Dresden (in the comics, at least, I think Movie Cap got frozen too soon). New York is a mess right now, but we’re not at that level, so I agree his mounting sense of despair doesn’t feel earned. And anybody with Thor and the Scarlet Witch on his side has nothing to fear from villains who have to stretch to reach flunky status.

    (Note that Cap’s attitude *could* be explained; Onslaught telepathically demoralizing everybody in the city is another thing that a malevolent telepath would do. But I don’t think the storyline ever suggests it.)

  7. For sneaking songs, Two other things came to mind for me. The first was the bit in The Emperor’s New Groove where Kronk is sneaking through the city with the Llamafied Kuzco while humming the “score” of the scene, complete with tension music when someone walks past him while he’s hiding in an alley-way. The other was from Order of the Stick, where Elan has a collection of songs he sings to assist with skill checks which describes what the party is trying to do, capping off with “Bluff, bluff, bluff the stupid ogre!”

  8. What better way to improve a so-so day than to get name check on one of your top 5 podcast listens! Thanks for the shout out and glad I could be useful. (I’m also the jeffwontshutup on Twitter that sometimes tweets you guys what X-Men related stuff I’m reading … currently my 5yo daughter is reading Lee/Kirby/Roth X-Men for the 1st time with me at bedtime and Jean is already her favorite character).

    One other piece of Hulk context while I’m on a high … a lot of the animosity towards Hulk here has been building throughout PD’s Hulk run, and it came to a head about a year or so before Onslaught… there was a recent story where the Punisher “killed” Nick Fury, and the Avengers blamed Hulk for not stopping him for … reasons. There’s a Hulk issue right before Onslaught that features Nick Fury’s funeral and the Avengers attack Hulk for literally no reason.

    You also mentioned Black Widow not getting sucked into Heroes Reborn. That’s actually going to be a major plot point in the non X-books in the interim. Three active Avengers survive Onslaught: Widow, Quicksilver and Hercules. I think the Quicksilver/Hercules angle gets touched on in adjectiveless X-Men, but the Widow stuff is covered in Daredevil under (I believe) first Warren Ellis and then Scott Lobdell.

    Will you guys be covering the super ancillary Onslaught tie-ins like Spider-Man, Punisher and the very weird Green Goblin title? Or is that something you cover in … like a sentence?

  9. Regarding The Flash’s (and various other DC heroes’) shortcomings, there’s of course the Birds of Prey song, written by none other than Gail “I’m not a bear” Simone:
    Flash’s foes, they finish last
    (Too bad sometimes he’s just too fast!)
    The rest of it can be enjoyed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAFP0IoMfsA

  10. Devin may be happy to hear that I am still not seeing what is supposed to be so terrible about Onslaught.

    I can see the point about there being these tie-ins that don’t really affect the plot. But it’s a line-wide crossover. Is Onslaught really any worse than most line-wide crossovers in this respect? Don’t they all, pretty much, have to find something for many of the tie-ins to do, something that, when you look at it, is not really critical to the story?

    Isn’t that something that, for better or for worse, one learns to relish about such events, the stories like the Hulk one here where nothing of significance happens (plot=The Hulk sets out to do something, and then doesn’t do it) — but one has an interesting look at “OK, what is this particular character doing during all the OTT grandiose crossover end-of-the-world nonsense?”

    I’m not actually all that big a fan of line-wide crossovers, and I think that Marvel has settled into a tedious pattern where they have to recur at regular intervals, draining all sense that they are special events from them. But what I do like about them are most often these fun little digressive stories, and rarely the main plot.

    Is there an element of X-fans having been used at this point to several years in which the X-books were off in their own little X-corner of the MU and having X-exclusive crossovers, and finding what seems (to me, at any rate) like normal crossover stuff jarring?

    The slight weirdness about Onslaught, perhaps, is that normally one assumes that there is at least some element with tie-ins of encouraging people to sample a title that they might not have, because it ties in with an overall story that they are following — it’s a little odd to use tie-ins to *end* series. These three actually did get me interested in what the Avengers were like at this point and also in the much maligned Teen Tony. Which obviously wasn’t part of the goal, but in a normal crossover might be.

    (Probably would get me interested in the Hulk, but I’ve read enough of David’s work on the Hulk to know that it doesn’t grab me for some reason, even though I see why it’s so admired.)

    1. The thing that makes these tie-ins such an onslog is that unlike most of those other line-wide crossovers Onslaught ends up being *about* the Avengers and FF as much as the X-Men. It’s not Daredevil fighting a vacuum cleaner while Inferno rages in the background, these are the heroes who are going to end up striking the final blow (not to mention how much of a focus Franklin Richards becomes).

  11. Yes, I have to say that Onslaught is just so tediously uncreative in his abilities. He’s powered by the most powerful telepath currently active on Earth and he uses pretty much NONE of the wide range of abilities that that should make that such a dangerous threat: Facing someone whose powers include psionic influence, illusion, delusion, uncovering phobias and traumas, even threatening secret identitiy reveals and the like… And does he do ANY of that? Nope, apart from in the Peter David story, which doesn’t surprise me.

    Of course, that would have required Onslaught and this whole event to be about something, rather than being the reason for Marvel transferring their IP to a third party.

    I’m also a little disappoointed that the protective hat’s aren’t literally made out of tin foil.

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