Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

185 – Becoming Wolverine (feat. Tom Taylor)

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

In which All-New Wolverine and X-Men Red writer Tom Taylor joins us to talk friendship, heroism, pelican statues, and how to build on legacy without being bogged down by it.

X-PLAINED

  • The epic awesomeness of Gabrielle Kinney
  • All-New Wolverine
  • The evolution of Best Wolverine
  • Character-first story
  • Family
  • X-Men Red
  • Finding Jean Grey’s voice
  • Gentle (Nezhno Abidemi)
  • Transcending the Silver Age
  • Laura Kinney in Logan
  • Wolverine-style brain surgery
  • Editing down to the bones
  • Tom’s comfort reads
  • Secret origins of Tom Taylor
  • Writing like a street performer
  • Koalas vs. reavers

NEXT EPISODE: The Boringest Rasputin


Find links to the stories mentioned in this episode on our blog!

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As Mentioned in Episode 40 – Give Them Something to Fight (With G. Willow Wilson)

Listen to the episode here!



Links and Further Reading:

  • G. Willow Wilson. Go read everything she’s written. It’s all splendid. GO. NOW.
  • You have until JANUARY 21 to send in your entries for the Corbeau Coloring Contest!
  • If you want to help support the podcast–and see Rachel recap and review all 52 episodes of X-Men Evolution–now might be a good time to click over to our Patreon.

 

40 – Give Them Something to Punch (With G. Willow Wilson)

Art by David Wynne. Prints and travel mugs available until 1/11/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints available until 1/25/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

In which writer G. Willow Wilson joins us to talk about her new run on X-Men; the Future is really confusing; we consider the many iterations of Rachel Grey; Storm probably has strong feelings about climate change; and writing for a shared universe takes some seriously fancy footwork.

X-Plained:

  • Jubilee
  • Shogo (a little)
  • The future vs. the Future
  • X-Men vols. 1-4
  • The logistics of stepping into a book mid-series
  • Pigeonholing and “girl” books
  • The proper pronunciation of Kamala
  • Storm (again)
  • Psylocke
  • M
  • Rachel Grey (again)
  • Cross-title coordination
  • Writing in a shared universe
  • Super-powered ecology
  • The gender politics of telepathy
  • Writing and dialogue across media
  • Marginalization, intersectionality, and the mutant metaphor

Next Week: Pink robots from the future!


You can find a visual companion to this episode on our blog!

Find us on iTunes or Stitcher!

Support us on Patreon!

Buy prints of this week’s illustration at our shop, or contact David Wynne for the original!

A Coda to Episode 34

In Episode 34, we answered a question from a listener looking for textual evidence that Nightcrawler isn’t homophobic (we pointed them to Amazing X-Men #13, in which Nightcrawler and Northstar explicitly address that question). But Rachel also responded to the question from a somewhat different angle–and at considerably more length–on Tumblr; and we want to reproduce that answer here, as well, because it covers some ground we feel pretty strongly about:

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 12.08.58 PM

Dear Anonymous,

Miles and I addressed the textual evidence—which lands firmly on your side, by the way—in Episode 34, but I’d also like to take a moment to talk to your friend directly:

Dear Anonymous’s Friend,

You seem like someone who works hard to consider the cultural context and ethical implications of the media you consume. That’s really cool, and it’s something I try very hard to both practice—as a podcaster, as a critic, and as a consumer—and to encourage in our audience.

Here’s the thing, though, AF—this is not black-and-white, it never has been, and it never will be. It’s not a rigid objective rubric. It’s a deeply personaljudgment call. And when you attack your friend because they like a fictional character you find personally problematic, you are being an asshole.

AF, it is absolutely okay for your friend to find enjoyment, value, and points of personal identification in things that don’t perfectly mesh with their identity or personal beliefs. To tell anyone that they’re not allowed to have those things because fictional entities in which they find meaning don’t measure up on a rigid real-world rubric is—as far as I’m concerned—incredibly uncool.

I also want to address another point that your concerns about Nightcrawler bring up—about members of marginalized groups searching for points of identification in mass media. I don’t know anything about you, but your friend mentioned that they’re queer, and I know from experience that when you’re reading from a position anywhere on the margins—say, as a sexual minority—one of the first skills you learn is to identify with fictional characters who aren’t like you and sometimes even profoundly conflict with your personal identity and values. You learn to do this because when you are coming from that position, if you strike from the list every character who doesn’t precisely reflect your values and identity, you are denying yourself the overwhelming majority of the options available.

And having those footholds, those points of affection and identification and fandom—that matters. It matters so much. Cyclops and I don’t have a ton in common superficially—in canon, he’s portrayed as a straight male-presenting person who grew up in an orphanage and shoots force beams out of his eyes; and I’m a queer female-presenting person who grew up with two (very cool) parents and no superpowers whatsoever. Cyclops is also often a total jerk a lot of the time; and especially in the Silver Age, he says and does somecompletely fucked up shit, including some things that are unambiguously sexist or racist.

But you know what? He’s still my favorite character, because there are things really fundamental to who I am and how I experience the world that I find reflected in Cyclops and almost nowhere else in fiction. Because having him available to me as a metaphor helps me parse shit that I otherwise do not have the tools to handle. Because I am never, ever going to find a paper mirror that reflects all of the complicated, faceted aspects of my identity and experiences—and guess what? no human being is—so I find and cobble together points of identification where I can.

Ultimately, though, that’s secondary to my main point. You do not get to decide what other people are allowed to like. Independent of action, liking things—or disliking them—is not itself an ethically charged act. What you are doing here does not serve a greater good. It does not speak to ethical consumption of fiction, or ethical anything. It’s just petty and cruel.

Look, AF, it’s okay if Nightcrawler’s Catholicism is a deal-breaker for you, personally. That is just fine. You are absolutely not obliged to like everything your friend likes, and you shouldn’t have to answer to their preferences or personal rubrics for the fiction they consume any more than they should have to answer to yours. But part of being a friend is recognizing that you are not the same person. Of the fictional characters and real people in this scenario, there’s only one trying to impose rigid dogma aggressively enough to do harm—and it’s not Nightcrawler.

(Also, your understanding of both Nightcrawler’s historical portrayal in X-Menand the relationship between Catholic dogma and the politics and personal views of individual Catholics is just spectacularly off-base.)

Sincerely,
Rachel

As Mentioned in Episode 20 – The Brood They Carried

Listen to the podcast here!


Further reading:

The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien.

20 – The Brood They Carried

In which Claremont levels up; the Brood are legitimately scary; Colossus is an ethical dude; Nightcrawler and Wolverine share beers in the face of certain death; Storm turns into a space whale; we are Carol Corps for life; New Mutants are really into Magnum, P.I.; Kitty meets a dragon; and Xavier dies (again).

X-Plained:

  • Broo
  • The Brood Saga (X-Men #161-167)
  • Paul Smith
  • Space fashion
  • A really terrible awards ceremony
  • Tim O’Brien’s X-Men
  • The Brood
  • How to tell a good Wolverine story
  • Rocket sharks
  • The single most badass magical-girl transformation sequence of all time
  • Binary
  • The X-Men’s Kobayashi Maru
  • Friendship (more) (again)
  • The Acanti
  • Whether Cyclops watches Star Trek
  • The New Mutants
  • Cloning
  • Our secret cold-open formula
  • Cosmic crossovers

Next Week: Kurt Busiek! We would have words with thee!


You can find a visual companion to the episode – and links to recommended reading – on our blog.

Find us on iTunes or Stitcher!

Support us on Patreon!