Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

371 – Beware of Psychodrama

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

In which Douglock is Douglock; Kitty Pryde gets lost in nostalgia; it continues to suck to be Colossus; Professor Xavier is a jerk; the MLF makes one and only one valid point; Ben Raab’s Excalibur run begins; the Acolytes try to get the band back together; and the land mines are a metaphor that are also real land mines.

X-PLAINED:

  • Exodus
  • Excalibur #104-106
  • The current state of Excalibur
  • Douglock
  • B.P.R.D.
  • New Mutants #64 callbacks
  • Wolfsbane’s default form
  • Nostalgia
  • The Xavier Protocols (again)
  • The MLF (again)
  • The Mysterious Moonstar
  • Selby
  • The Prodigy
  • Character shifts between writers
  • Age of Jay and Miles
  • How not to write a letter in a comic book
  • Assless chaps
  • Land mines
  • Unuscione
  • Scanner
  • Mutant lawyers
  • Cyclops’s color vision

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15 comments

  1. My favorite thing about the Acolytes in this era is Exodus gaining the power to resurrect people because John Ostrander was given a list of Acolytes to use in Quicksilver that had lots of dead people on it. I’m not trying to be ironic or dickish, that kind of kludge is one of my favorite little things about shared superhero universes.

  2. I gotta say I’m entirely on Douglock’s side in this story

    I agree with Jay that this might have worked if it had been a LOT earlier in Douglock’s time with the team, but it had literally been years since he’d joined, and Kitty had had no problems relating to him as his own person for a very long time.

    I mean, the Kitty/New Mutants scene post Doug’s death didn’t take place until after Inferno was over (and Illyana deaged come to that), because basically she’d not interacted with them at all in years, and was seeing them after the loss of two friends, one long gone, one newly gone, so I’ll cut her some slack there.

    As a result though, her sudden “You ARE Doug Ramsey!” thing here came out of absolutely nowhere. and feels very forced.

    And yes, it had been settled before, both in the pub story AND the bittersweet little Excalibur Annual story where Kitty finds Doug’s old private diary files and shows them to Douglock in an effort to restore his idenityt as Doug, and he rather patiently explains (again) that they are not his and he is NOT Doug and Kitty get’s it out of her system crying to Kurt.

    So, if I were Douglock I’d be getting pretty pissed off by this point too. Luckily the kid’s got the patience of a technorganic saint!

    As for why he has Doug’s face, all later retcon’s aside, at this point it had been explained before even the Phalanx Covenent, back in X-Men 313. He was ostensibly created to decrypt secure files and genetic codes for the Phalanx using Doug’s abilities, but was resisting. They even mention he was made from dead cells of Doug (presumably the same way they did Candy Southern and others) (I sort of headcanon that as the Phalanx stealing the TO infected parts from Doug’s corpse, the one’s we saw when he had that subtext heavy nightmare about going full Technarch.) He was also intended to be a trojan horse, released from the Phalanx deliberately to go sew confusion amongst the X-teams who’d be so happy to see their friend back, they’d let their guards down.

    Visiting the Ramsey home without visiting the Ramsey’s seems off too. Perhaps by talking to them she could finally (or again) be shown to have processed his loss, by remembering Doug as he was, so she could deal with Douglock as his own person (again) too.

    But hey, that’s just me overanalysing Doug/Douglock stories, business as usual.

    Funny/weird little bit of trivia, the cover for 105 that was published does not appear to be the complete one initially planned. Years later, I happened across what the other part of it was supposed to be:

  3. In defense of Sam Guthrie writing a letter in his own accent, rather than standard English; I assumed the writer was trying to convey that narrative trope where Character X is writing a letter or Character Y is reading the letter but doing so with Character X’s voice. We can argue over how effective this is in a comic book, but I believe that was the intention.

    I really wish there was a world where John Arcudi got to write Excalibur for more than one issue and stayed on until #150. I’m guessing that he didn’t like the editorial involvement on the X-Line and opted out pretty quick.

  4. Oh, and I have to give a shout out to David Wynne’s cover art this week, that is…. quite the Colossus!

  5. Scattered thoughts:-

    -It occurred to me, reading the first couple of issues at least, that this version of Wisdom was a good bit less sympathetically presented than Ellis’s.

    And then it occurred to me that while Wisdom is not an especially important Ellis creation, he’s probably at the top of the list of Ellis self-insert characters who have gone on to be written by other writers. It’s between him and Jenny Sparks, I think. (At least if we confine it to characters that Ellis created.)

    So it will perhaps be interesting to trace going forward what other writers do with Wisdom. In this case, there appears to have been a certain reaction to The Ellis Character Who’s A Cynic But That Means They’re The Real Voice of Moral Authority Here, Especially If They’re British And Talking To Americans, a reaction that might be summarized as, “No, they’re actually just a #@%$.”

    – Right now, I sense a possibility, although I’ll have to see going forward, that this immediate era doesn’t have much of a use for Wisdom as a character.

    Our hosts described Excalibur as “European.” There were always certain problems with that description — Warren Ellis said it, but he never did anything with it —, and I didn’t detect anything particularly European about this Excalibur so far. (Quite a lot of it takes place in those well-known European locations of upstate New York and the Australian Outback.)

    But then again, what *is* this Excalibur? One cannot really say that these issues communicate much sense of any distinct identity for this title within the overall line. These three issues seemed basically to be saying, “Excalibur is an X-book about those characters you like from the X-books of the past, the ones that happen to have ended up in Excalibur.”: Kitty, Doug (sort of*), Rahne, Peter, Moira.

    That’s not a book in which Wisdom has a very obvious function as a character. Also striking how Brian and Meggan got shoved offstage — there’s a lot of nostalgia here, but none of it is nostalgia for Excalibur itself.

    -Alright, so there’s a bit of British slang that Raab twice makes characters use here. Once Moira (about her husband), once Rahne (about the Acolytes). It’s not a very nice word: starts with “sl,” rhymes with “bag.” Normally used as a pejorative term for women, means something a bit like “sl*t” in the US (although the nuances are different).

    I will defer to IconUK (and also to Shadavid) on whether there’s some specifically Scottish authenticity about this. Otherwise, though, I have a feeling that Ben Raab was in the UK, looked briefly at a copy of Viz, didn’t actually read it, and got the vague sense that the word was something that British people said about people they didn’t like without knowing what it actually means.

    *Yes, he’s not Doug, and that was the point. But that in turn was the point: Douglock as a character is defined in terms of his relationship to this beloved New Mutants character.

    1. If I remember correctly, Wisdom is just… kind of there for the rest of this run. He’ll then show up over in X-Force as man behind the missions for X-Force for that series starting with #102 and continuing until the end of that particular era with #115. Or course, Ellis was the idea man behind those issues but I think it was Ian Edgington who wrote them. After that, I can’t really seem to recall more than a few guest appearances until she showed up in the last few issues of the most recent Excalibur series.

      As for Excalibur being distinct, this was bout the time that entire X-Line became homogenized and any attempt s at distinct voices went out the window. Something that, I believe lasts until Morrison comes along to inject new life into the franchise.

      1. Yeah, it seems pretty clear that Raab hadn’t much investement in this run, or in the majority of the characters he was dealing with (and yet wasn’t interested in introducing new characters he might have liked more).

        I’d say Wisdom’s biggest non-Excalibur appearances would be the “Wisdom” series from 2007, and “Captain Britain and MI13” from 2008, where he was written by another actual Brit, Paul Cornell, though his character is a rather different sort of cycnic there (as well as expanding his wardrobe a little)

    2. Yes, that particular slur is

      A) not not one I could ever see Moira or Rahne using, and
      B) exclusively used towards women

      A little ironically, certain parts of Scotland use a much more perfidious slur (starts with a “c”, rhymes with “punt”) in a near casual fashion (and not gendered, it simply indicates something/someone which is troublesome or difficult) to the point that unless you’re from outside the region, the shock value is almost entirely DEvalued.

      And agreed that Excalibur has never been a European X-Men, and somehow manages to be even LESS of a one in this era. It’s a bunch of X-characters (or X-adjacent characters) living in “Not American… mostly”

      I have to wonder how the Acolytes managed to get into the base when all those defences and landmines were set. I mean, Scanner being a phaser makes sense, but the other guy(s)?

      For some reason I thought someone else had moved into the Australian Outback Base, but for the life of me I can’t remember who or when.

  6. I can’t believe I forgot about Captain Britain & MI-13! That was, in my opinion, a brilliant series that deserved better. I was unaware of the Wisdom series so I’ll have to add it to ‘want list.’

    1. The Elements of Wisdom series is definitely worth checking out. Pete Wisdom doesn’t come off as especially sympathetic in most of that one, either. He’s the protagonist, of course, but the story goes out of its way to remind everybody he’s an untrustworthy sleaze who’s probably damaged beyond repair. (Though he gets a nice panel at the end.)

      1. That sound like fun. Definitely going to have to check it out now. I have a soft spot for cynical bastards in fiction.

    2. I always liked Pete’s instructions for their incursion into Fairyland which suggested problems with previous visits:

      “You run into King Arthur: Do NOT harm him. Do NOT tell him we could do with him. Do NOT join the Round Table. Don’t EAT anything. Don’t PULL anything FROM anything. Don’t MARRY anything”

      1. Given recent events in Excalibur and Knights of X I can see that being sage (lower case) advice.

  7. The comment about Cyclops eyes got me thinking: Wich dimension is a realm of pure red force? And the answer was: The realm of Cyttorak, from wich Juggernaut get his powers and Doctor Strange get his Crimson Bands. Wouldn´t it be cool if they are connected?

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