Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

393 – Camping With Uncle Mustang

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

In which Operation Zero Tolerance continues; the X-Men take over Wolverine; wolverine is the designated John McClane of the X-Men; torsos are confusing places; and we sincerely hope that Jean Grey got to do some off-panel dating.


  • Bastion’s priorities
  • Operation Zero Tolerance (so far)
  • Wolverine #115-118
  • How to villainously declaim
  • Mustang
  • Roustabouts
  • Waking up with the X-Men
  • Where (some) Prime Sentinels come from
  • Fatality, kind of
  • Felipe, Arvell, and Helmut
  • Inevitability
  • A reunion
  • Government intervention
  • Anatomy
  • Jaz disks
  • Friendship
  • Jean Grey’s romantic history
  • The League of Nations vs. The League of Nathans

NEXT EPISODE: Mostly New and Different X-Men!

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  1. I’ve never understood the dislike for Operation: Zero Tolerance. Sure, it’s not the best X-Men crossover but it’s definitely a solid one. The only complaint I ever had was in Bob Harras’s reluctance to do anything that might alter the X-Men’s status quo. It sounded like Lobdell had some interesting ideas that were at odds with Harras’s own views of what they X-Men always should be. It’s hard to imagine either Grant Morrison’s New X-Men or the current Krakoa era under his stewardship of the franchise.

    As to these Wolverine issues; it’s really cool to see Wolverine’s title take up such a central role in the larger crossover. His book often feels disconnected from the larger X-Men world, despite his apparent importance to the line. Sometimes that works, but it also makes the title feel less essential.

    I am sad to see Larry Hama leave the title at this point. I would loved to have seen him wrap up all the storylines he started but it sounds like they really wanted to shake up the creative direction of the line, if not the status quo. I’m guessing they were looking for writers to make the school setting exciting again instead of moving the X-Men away from it. I have no evidence for this, but it would go a long way to explain the next few years of struggling for a direction that would lead to writers coming in and out of the frnachise.

    1. This is my first time reading OZT, and I can’t say that I’m finding it all that bad, either.

      It does have one fairly big flaw for me, which is a sense of anticlimax. The X-books have been been building up to this for quite a long while in the narrow plot sense.* And more broadly, it’s the culmination of this era’s whole thematic approach. The comics have been going on about Xavier’s dream and mutants and humans as their main focus for years now — this is it, this is the big story about that, this is what we’ve been expecting.

      And then, judging by these Wolverine issues, it just sort of fizzles out as a story because Senator Kelly thinks about it and asks Henry Peter Gyrich to make a phone call, whereupon SHIELD, the government good-guys — because it was unlikely for any Marvel superhero comic to have the US government be other than essentially heroic good guys, even if you could tolerate a few rogue operations here and there — swoop in and shut everything down.

      I do feel that there is wasted potential here, that relates to how the X-books in these years keep saying they’re about the intersection of prejudice and politics, but they can’t bring themselves actually to write stories that explore how that intersection works in any kind of detail.

      But there’s a lot of good stuff. Bastion is good — I know who he is, and this all works fine even when there’s no mystery. Especially when he is wondering about why he can’t be other than he is. There’s a very good issue of Spider-Man that’s not actually a Spider-Man comic. The Prime Sentinels are creepy (although you’re dodging the issues surrounding prejudice with the whole robot takeover aspect). There’s nothing wrong here per se — there just wasn’t quite as much as there should have been.

      Haven’t read the stuff for next week, admittedly, but it’s hard to see how there’s room for them fundamentally to change where these issues leave the overall OZT story as a story about government and politics.

      *It does seem to me from this week and last week’s reading, and indeed our hosts’ observations at one point, that at this time everyone was, as I originally assumed myself, taking it for granted that Bastion had Graydon Creed killed.

      1. The original, intended ending, would have had the X-Men stripped of the mansion, the Blackbird and virtually all financial resources. They would have been on the run, doing good along the way. If I remember correctly (and it’s been a long time) Lobdell wanted to strip the X-Men down and make them feel truly persecuted and disadvantaged. I’m guessing the higher ups got nervous about taking risks on their most profitable books. So we got the event but not the climax it was building to.

        1. That makes a lot of sense, and would have much improved the story. A shame they chickened out — it gives me the sense that Harras had a sense of the X-Men as having a much more stable “classic” version than it really had.

  2. Was I the only one slightly put off by Mustang noting that Storm smelled “exotic, like cinammon” (or words to that effect).

    Why would she smell exotic? She’s been imprisoned down the same mine./evil base as everyone else for some significant time, so fragrant body odour seems a little unlikely. She may be a goddess, but she still sweats like everyone else.

    1. Weirdly, there’s precedent for that (which I’m not saying is great) – her apparently inherent fancy smell comes up in her recent-to-this-time miniseries, albeit differently-scented. Handily, Google Drive lets me search through old outlines easily:

      “Abruptly, Cable becomes aware of Storm’s scent. It’s not like a perfume, but a natural sandalwood, musky and uncomplicated. He never noticed it before.”

      And then later on the art makes it look like Cable’s sniffing her armpit. So… that’s a thing.

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