Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

364 – Department of Pareidolia

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

In which we lie extensively about how comics schedules work; the Mystery School is clearly a backdoor pitch; the Wisdom family has a lot going on; red dyes fade fast; and we (roughly) calculate the odds of Cyclops having a good day.

X-PLAINED:

  • Marvel’s KISS comics
  • Pryde and Wisdom #1-3
  • Age
  • Cheerful hissing
  • Jardine
  • A serial killer
  • Department F66/The Mystery School
  • Stoats
  • Kill Your Boyfriend
  • Several skeletons
  • Harold Wisdom
  • Serial disambiguation
  • Inconsistent use of inhibitor guns
  • Romany Wisdom
  • A man stone
  • Distinctive hair
  • Some woman who seems important but never gets a name or follow-up
  • John Gideon
  • The Tube
  • The inexplicable evolution of Romany Wisdom
  • How not to end your miniseries
  • Forgotten friendships
  • The relative odds of Cyclops having a good day

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16 comments

  1. The first petrifying Marvel characters I can think of are Basilisk and Grey Gargoyle, and neither of them are mutants, so that might be a leap on their part.

    Eccles – Most likely a reference to The Goon Show, a groundbreakingly surreal radio show that Peter Sellars, Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine were stars of in the 1950’s. Eccles is a recurring character, described by one character as “He was the nearest thing I had seen to a human being… without actually being one” so make of that what you will. Pretty much every subsequent “modern” comedian, especially the likes of Monty Python, owes a LOT to the Goons.

    Constance Johanssen is perhaps my third favourite John Constantine riff, behind the Doom Patrol’s Willoughby Kipling (Who only exists because Morrison wasn’t allowed to John and so became his own, MUCH weirder character) and Ambrose Bierce in Phil Foglio’s wonderful “Stanley and his Monster” miniseries from 1993 (Ambrose is sick and tired of being confused with John, and has the terrific line when a passing master of “Jellomancy” (it is exactly what you’re thinking of) makes that mistake “S’not your fault. You learn the basics, have a hideous experience in a graveyard, they give you a trenchcoat and steal your razor. Like an assembly line really”)

    Drones Club – Probably a PG Wodehouse reference, it’s the name of the club of upper class twits that Bertie Wooster is a member of.

    As for the hotel room, they’ve been nearly bombed and already attacked, so the room is probably considered “pre-disastered”.

    Is a skeleton ever expressionless, given the big smile it always has? 🙂

    Speaking as someone who has tried to change tube lines in Kings Cross at rush hour, I can assure you a habitrail is EXACTLY what it’s like.

    Yeah, since 616 Storm isn’t a magic user, not sure Illyana would feel the same bond for her.

    That may be sleaziest background music on of Mile’s “Sexy…” characters has had yet. Well done.

  2. I’ve had the second and third issue of this series for the longest time and just finally tracked down the first issue this week. I enjoyed it more than I expected too.

    Warren Ellis had no illusions about Kitty’s age when he took over Excalibur. I remember an interview in either Wizard or Hero where he discussed making her eighteen. The gist was that he told his editor, “Kitty is going to f—.” The editor’s response was “…keep it tasteful.” Someone must have realized that that aged her up too quickly because, allegedly, editorial changed their minds but the issue had already gone to press.

    I get why Claremont wanted to de-age her but that kind of made things worse. She went to barely legal over night and suddenly she was a minor again. Not a good look.

    What’s curious to me was that the groundwork was laid by Lobdell before Ellis took over. I’m guessing everyone remembers Kitty saying “When I was a minor” to Xavier in Excalibur #71 followed by her marriage to Collosus in Generation Next. That obviously came out after Ellis took over Excalibur but before the infamous scene.

    I really wish I could track down that interview. I’m kind of hoping I mis-remember it.

    1. Yeah, first Jubilee, then Generation X as a whole taking Kitty and the New Mutants old spot as “spunky teenager(s)” in the X-verse made her having to be aged up seem obvious.

      And since Sunspot, previously one of the two youngest New Mutants (so a couple of years younger than Kitty) was now an adult, that should have ensured the writing was on the wall.

      1. Based on Jubilee’s entry in the Handbook of the Marvel Universe (which is always accurate, we swear!) Jubilee was meant to be a peer of Kitty Pryde as it has her age listed as 15 when she debuted. Scott Lobdell would then age her down to 13 and half for Generation X. Which leaves me wondering how old Rahne was supposed to be in X-Factor. She was still a minor in that series if I’m not mistaken.

        1. Rahne was the youngest New Mutant, so they had a little leeway with her though I’d have guessed sixteen or seventeen by the time of the first X-Factor run. (Also confusing is that she’s a US Government employee who is actually a foreign minor probably here on some sort of educational visa, or the world’s weirdest internship). And THEN she moved to Excalibur where she seemed to be an adult too, maybe 18 or 19?

          If you’re wondering how old she might is
          And other temporal facts,
          Just repeat to yourself “It’s just a book,
          I should really just relax *

          * Unless matters of legal consent are required in which case DON’T relax

          1. I always wondered how her membership in X-Factor worked. In which case, I just didn’t think about it.

            I wish I lived in the Marvel Universe. Then I could be perpetually 29. Or 58 is I was a parent to a main character.

            What’s really amusing is that now the original New Mutants are probably only 2-3 years younger than the original X-Men.

  3. I’d always assumed Marvel was writing Kitty as 18+ as soon as she joined up with Excalibur. Minors don’t get to move overseas to live with a bunch of random weirdos just because all their other schoolmates got eaten by a reality void or whatever.

    1. Kitty was established as just turning 15 during the Cross Time Caper in the earlier issues of Excalibur. Somewhere around #16. 616 Marvel apparently haa very lax rules when it comes to minors.

      1. I think she had two fifteenth birthdays a couple of years apart, and I confess I had the devil of a job trying to imagine that Kitty was supposed to be fourteen turning fifteen by the time of the Cross Time Caper.

        Not helped by that issue having the not exactly subtle sort-of-seduction of Kitty by Sat-yr-9 (posing as Courtney Ross) . Red flags right across the board there.

  4. The Drones Club has to be a reference to PG Wodehouse, as noted by Icon_UK: it’s a pastiche of the members’ clubs that were popular from the 18th century onwards among wealthy gentlemen. Bertie Wooster was a member of the Drones, so named because its members were men who did no work and lived off the labour of others. It is based in part on the Buck’s Club, which still exists at 18 Clifford Street, London, and is where the drinks the Buck’s Fizz and the sidecar are thought to have been invented.

    I have never heard of anyone in the UK being called “Romany”. Please do not think this is common. The first time I encountered it as a given name was in this comic when I first bought it in 1996. I assumed the comic had been written by an American who did not know what British people named their children (I had not heard of Warren Ellis at the time, and did not know he was from Essex).

  5. I try not to post too much, but as this is the last Warren Ellis coverage for awhile (unless you plan on covering his arc on Wolverine, Not Dead Yet) I thought I would give a couple of final thoughts.

    I think Ellis was more familiar with continuity than he is generally given credit for. For one thing, he decided that Meghan was no longer illiterate, feeling that Moira would have taught her to read in the time they’ve been on Muir Island.

    And although it never came up in the podcast, The Soul Sword Trilogy wasn’t completely on Warren Ellis as Scott Lobdell was the one that came up with that story. I know he was credited in Part One, I don’t know if he was in the other two issues.

    I think this series worked better as a finale for Ellis’ run than than Excalibur #103 did, which feels more like an Epilogue than anything else.

    I am looking forward to the bonkers run of his Astonishing X-Men run when you get there in, about 5 years.

  6. Our hosts commented that this was from another genre. And that genre is Avengers* fanfic.

    I have a sense that Ellis’s thought process when he thought about writing Excalibur may have gone:

    I don’t really give a %^$# about any of this. But let’s see if there’s something that works for me. So, this character, this “Kitty Pryde,” she has ninja skills? Like Emma Peel? Right, let’s age her up so that I can make her Mrs. Peel and team her up with Steed. . Only, because I have to put a version of myself into every comic I write, this Steed will be a version of me. (Or a version of John Constantine, but I repeat myself.) Since she’s called “Pryde,” let’s call him “Wisdom.” Then I can write them as Steed and Peel, or Tara King, or whoever. Except that the two will be explicitly sleeping together, and my God, am I going to devote a lot of page space to that, because that’s the sort of self-insert Avengers fanfic that really speaks to me..

    At least, this miniseries, muddled and rushed as it was, communicates far more of a sense that Warren Ellis wants to be writing it than anything in his entire Excalibur run.

    *Not that Avengers, the other one

    1. I guess calling him Pete Prejudice would have been a little too on the nose.

      I imagine you’re pretty close to the mark on his thought process. Although, it now makes me wish for a new Avengers show that uses all the original plotlines but with Pryde & Wisdom instead.

      I’m also surprised he didn’t put Kitty into a black leather catsuit.

  7. Kitty was 110% below age 18 in these issues, Ellis chose to ignore it, and that fact has always been creepy.

    On the other side of things, two New Mutants were the same age as Kitty — Rahne and Roberto. The rest were older — Dani was about two years older than Kitty and Sam about three, while Xian was closer to Nightcrawler and Colossus’ age, already 18 when she made her first, pre-New Mutants appearance. Peter David in X-Factor was pretty clear in dialogue that Rahne was barely 16 and essentially the team’s ward, while at the same time Nicieza in X-Force either ignored it or was oblivious to it when he decided to have Roberto scooped up by Gideon to run a corporation. Also worth noting: Boom Boom is YOUNGER than Kitty/Bobby/Rahne yet Liefeld kept drawing her like she was 25.

    1. Kitty was 110% below age 18 in these issues, Ellis chose to ignore it, and that fact has always been creepy.

      Except she wasn’t, and we know that because Ellis said she wasn’t, which he (for all his many, undeniable and reprehenisble faults) had the power to do because he was the only writer using her character, which he had been doing for over two years, in the only book she had been appearing in for the previous eight years, and the editors had gone along with it.

      When you’re the only writer using the character you get to say they’ve aged and, if editorial don’t stop you, that’s not ignoring something, that’s setting a new status quo.

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