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2019: Eulogy for the X-Men

2019: Eulogy for the X-Men

This year we are hosting a variety of looks back at 2019 as hosts and friends-of-the-show offer up the things that defined the year for them. We start by having co-host, D. Bethel, talk about––of course––the X-Men.


Many people view 2019 as the coda for the entire decade, wiping away the expectation and skepticism that has built up over the last nine years as we head into the twenties. I don’t usually subscribe to such notions because time is ever and always a series of causal relationships, but––stepping back from the year as December ends––the evidence certainly points to this year closing a lot of doors. With Game of Thrones coming to a close, Avengers: Endgame definitively ending the first era of the MCU, and even Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker concluding a supposed nine-movie arc, 2019 does actually seem to be not only winding down the year but, in some cases, doing so for decades-long cultural monuments.

However, 2019’s sense of closure and finality landed nowhere more––across multiple mediums––than on the house that Charles Xavier built. At least to me.

Of course, the X-Men aren’t dead nor are they going anywhere; in fact, many look at the events of 2019 that Marvel’s merry mutants went through––20th Century Fox’s purchase by Disney and Jonathan Hickman’s takeover of the comics––and anticipate the beginning of a promising new age.

To me, however, the theatrical release of Dark Phoenix and the comic book reboot with House of X and Powers of X marked a definitive end to eras of the team that mean so much to me.

Source: 20th Century Fox and/or Disney, now…I guess.

DARK PHOENIX

The much derided Dark Phoenix landed with a thud, but more importantly (and as unwarranted as the derision was) it marked the last main installment in the 20th Century Fox-owned X-films. Its finality (and finale) hit me hard as I realized that this series I followed since it redefined superhero cinema in 2000 actually kind of became “my” X-Men.

Through the ’90s, I developed a codified portrait of what this superhero team meant to me in an intense and focused consumption of this property––mostly built upon the triptych of X-Men #1 (1991), X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, and X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men––and, with that done, it kind of went dormant in my mind as I grew up and started absorbing other things.

And then these movies came around.

For all of their successes and flaws, they wove a tone and ethos that very much aligned with “my” X-Men, and I appreciated and eagerly supported each film released (except for X-Men Origins: Wolverine; that movie is hot garbage).

Again, whether you like them or not, Dark Phoenix ended this era (though we still wait for New Mutants to find a way out of the vault). I very much liked these movies––especially Dark Phoenix––and think that it handled its own mortality (though unknown at the time) with grace, maturity, and one hell of a good movie. In a summer where Avengers: Endgame became a powerfully emotional moment for the folks who are longtime Marvel Universe readers as well as those who literally grew up with the MCU (starting with 2008’s Iron Man), Dark Phoenix stands as an astonishing and powerful goodbye for me and my superheroes. Yes, in terms of emotional resonance, Dark Phoenix is my Avengers: Endgame. Don’t @ me.

Dark Phoenix portrays a nuanced study of––for all intents and purposes *ding*––an abused superhero. Source: 20th Century Fox

The movie affected me profoundly, made worse by the vitriolic discourse around a movie that is, at the very least, perfectly fine or, by my estimation, very good. Because of how much I enjoyed it, I expected myself to go to the mat for it in discussion; however, because it so infuriated me how people treated this movie, I realized exactly how much emotion I had invested in it.

It got to the point where I had to disengage from any conversation around it because I just assumed everyone was on the offensive. So, Dark Phoenix became a very personal movie for me, one for me to enjoy on my own and quietly. That’s okay; I gladly place it on the “just for me” shelf with my other beloved films like Willow, The Postman, and Highlander––movies people love to insult but have a profound and private meaning (while fully aware of their flaws).

Although, I eagerly await the Dark Phoenix retrospectives five or ten years from now when nerdy critics reconsider their stance after the hot takes have cooled and just appreciate it on its own merits.

The year Jack from Jack in the Box joined the team. Art by Pepe Larraz (lines) and Marte Gracia (colors). Source: Marvel Comics

HOUSE OF X / POWERS OF X

When Marvel announced that fan-favorite writer, Jonathan Hickman, would be revamping the mutant sector of its universe, the speculation became a non-stop hype train. Before the books even released, Marvel was proudly declaring that the dual titles that launched this reboot––House of X and Powers of X (HoX/PoX), the latter pronounced “Powers of Ten”––already earned a place on the shelf with the other important moments in X-history: the first reboot, Giant-Sized X-Men #1; the industry-shifting story The Dark Phoenix Saga; 1991’s record-breaking X-Men #1; and Grant Morrison’s daring revamp with New X-Men in 2000. HoX/PoX was that important. The hubris of it made me skeptical but intrigued if only because I wanted to get excited about the X-Men comics again. I wanted to jump in at a clean start like I had years ago with X-Men #1. I wanted to become an X-Men comics super-fan again.

Marvel published HoX/PoX weekly as interweaving limited series, bouncing back and forth between the two very oblique and mystery-laden books, I had a lot of fun diving into this new premise populated with familiar characters. Hickman’s story was big and the sheer scope across the globe and millennia was striking in its boldness.

Things got very weird (dude with the helmet is Charles Xavier, for what it’s worth; the blue dude is Apocalypse, a classic and very dangerous villain of the X-Men). From House of X #5, art by Larraz & Gracia. Source: Marvel Comics

Whether Hickman’s HoX/PoX becomes the paradigm shift Marvel and Hickman touted it as being, I noticed I slowly slid off of it the further it went on throughout the year, especially as HoX/PoX came to a close and the “Dawn of X” (DoX) titles (the disparate titles spun out of the events of the HoX/PoX limited series) started getting published. HoX/PoX definitely lived up to its promise of building a new status-quo from the ground up, but I realized that meant burning down what came before, echoing what will surely be done on the movie side of things when that happens.

While not wholly ignoring the fifty-six years of continuity, Hickman certainly subverted it, making the comic’s printed history merely a series of “things that happened” while the actual, more important story was going on underneath. To that end, HoX/PoX effectively closed the book on the epic socially-conscious soap opera that started in September of 1963, a wave I jumped in on mid-way through but had fun learning about what came before as I rode the wave forward at the same time.

That, however, has been freeing as the HoX/PoX run and the subsequent DoX books feel like a brand new series cast with actors I know––the same faces in a new context. So, there’s no catch-up the reader needs to do. As the prominent anti-continuity voice on the show, that’s only a good thing and it’s amazing that Hickman was able to pull it off not only with the readers, but with Marvel. Admittedly, it’s much smarter than arbitrarily slapping “#1” on the cover and hoping for a sales spike.

At the very least, we got this amazing connecting cover out of the whole event. From House of X #4 and Powers of X #4. Art by Jorge Molina. Source: Marvel Comics

HoX/PoX fundamentally turned the idea of the X-Men on its ear from my holy texts of X-Men #1, X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, and Pryde of the X-Men. Instead of being a thinly veiled and often problematic metaphor for social injustice set in a superhero world, it is now an eco-sci-fi-utopian-political experiment, and maybe that’s what mutants need to be in 2019, 2020, and onward.

I don’t expect franchises to grow with me and my tastes, but part of the excitement of hopping on HoX/PoX was to get in the ground floor and, with hope, be a part of the audience for whom this becomes “my” X-Men. But it hasn’t done that, and it’s likely because my nostalgia got in the way and not a fault of HoX/PoX. And that realization, combined with my powerful reaction to Dark Phoenix, forced me to fully examine my fandom for the X-Men. It showed me what it means to me, and––more importantly––how I want to interact with it.

That’s important going into 2020 when Hickman’s plans gain more steam and continue to define and refine what the X-Men are now. It’s also important as we get closer to whenever Marvel Studios does what it decides to do with these characters in the MCU. I’m incredibly excited to see where both of these things go, but as I get older such excitement becomes academic rather than gleeful appreciation.

Roman Math

Roman Math

WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew continues his trend of trying things out years after their initial release by sitting down with 2014’s Sims 4 while D. Bethel tries to wrap his head around the opaque––but good?––X-franchise reboot in House of X #1 and Powers of X #1, both written by Jonathan Hickman. SPOILERS for these two titles; you’ve been warned.

RELEVANT LINKS:

RELEVANT EPISODES:

INFO:

FEATURED MUSIC:

Plants Having Sex

Plants Having Sex

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew dives into the storied No Man’s Sky and kind-of-fights with Dan about games media coverage while D. Bethel relates his experience speaking about comics––and his webcomic, Long John, to a college graphic novels as literature class.

RELEVANT LINKS:

RELEVANT EPISODES:

INFO:

FEATURED MUSIC:

22 February 2019 – 21st Century Mouse

22 February 2019 – 21st Century Mouse

Image sources: Warner Bros. (left) / 20th Century Fox (right)

WEEK IN GEEK: Both Andrew and D. went to see new movies over the last few weeks, so they can enter the incredibly potent world of hot takes as Andrew discusses how The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part delivers on the promise of the first one and D. tries to figure out what he thinks of Alita: Battle Angel and if he can separate nostalgia and snobbery from cinematic compromise.

RELEVANT LINKS:

  • Bethel, D. “News Blast: Alita – Battle Angel.” A Website [ , ] For All Intents and Purposes. 8 Dec. 2019. Where D. Bethel discusses reaction to the trailer.
  • Bethel, D. “The Year — 2018: Comics.” Long John. 28 Dec. 2018.
    D. Bethel summarizes his experiences reading through the entirety of the original Battle Angel manga by Yukito Kishiro (and published by Kodansha Comics).
  • Highlander: The Search for Vengeance (dir. Yoshiaki Kawajiri, animated by Madhouse Entertainment) features Colin Macleod as the main character:

Source: Manga Entertainment/Madhouse/Imagi Animation Studios

INFO:

  • Visit our website at forallintents.net and leave your thoughts as comments on the page for this episode.
  • Join our Facebook page
  • E-mail: Andrew – andrew@forallintents.net, D. Bethel – dbethel@forallintents.net
  • Subscribe to our YouTube channel.
  • Subscribe to and review the show on the iTunes store.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Disco Medusae” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
-“District Four” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
*Tracks are licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Con Artists #04 – StocktonCon Winter 2019

Con Artists #04 – StocktonCon Winter 2019

The lauded limited podcast series returns with a new episode as well as a fan-favorite co-host, Kyrun Silva of Taurus Comics as he and D. Bethel (check out his webcomic, Long John, and his podcast, A Podcast [ , ] For All Intents and Purposes) pair up to take on the first StocktonCon Winter show. This episode focuses on the strange space that indie creators inhabit, that realm between fan and professional and how those waters can get muddied, especially when it comes to reading and respecting creators from your childhood (there is a lot of Rob Liefeld talk in these conversations) to meeting your heroes as a creator in your own right.

CORRECTION: D. Bethel said that one of the Uncanny X-Men issues he had Jim Lee sign was #249; he meant to say it was #248. All apologies.

OTHER EPISODES:

  • Con Artists #01 – StocktonCon, pt. 1 : The drive home from the first day of the show. Kyrun and D. discuss making sales, confidence, and the comics they grew up reading and enjoying.
  • Con Artists #02 – StocktonCon, pt. 2 : The drive to StocktonCon to start Day 2 of the show. They discuss the importance of continuity, the level of fan engagement and ownership over continuity, and Dan’s strange reading habits growing up.
  • Con Artists #03 – StocktonCon, pt. 3 : Where Kyrun and D. talk about the breadth of indie comics, writing comics, and dive headfirst into personal nostalgia.

REFERENCES:

Art by Kyrun Silva.

  • The panel from Frank Miller’s Rōnin that Rob Liefeld homaged in New Mutants #100:

Top: Frank Miller’s Ronin (source: DC Comics)/ Bottom: Rob Liefeld’s New Mutants #100 (source: Marvel Comics)

  • And, for what it’s worth, here is a photograph of a 13 year-old D. Bethel at 1994’s San Diego Comic Con showing Jim Lee the mysterious foil card in its snug plastic case:

––––––––––––––––––

Special thanks to Kyrun Silva for agreeing to being recorded and for driving us to and from the convention.

FEATURED GUEST:

-Kyrun Silva of Taurus Comics

FEATURED RECORDING EQUIPMENT:

-Tascam DR-40

FEATURED EXISTENTIAL WESTERN WEBCOMIC:

Long John

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Road Music” by D. Bethel
-“Bounce” by D. Bethel

01 February 2019 – English Danger

01 February 2019 – English Danger

Image sources: HBO (left)/Getty Images (right)

MIRA DEL MAHER: Bill Maher redoubles his “complaints” against adult comic book fans on a recent episode of his show, Real Time with Bill Maher, in an editorial titled, “Grow Up” (from the “New Rules” segment he does at the end of his show). Andrew and D. examine less the content of his argument and more the ideas it intersects, discussing the need for fandom self-reflection, literature and literary history, the Western canon, and the invented division between “high” and “low” art.

Though linked above, here is the segment in question:

RELEVANT LINKS:

  • Cat Valente’s Response to Maher’s comments on Twitter (click on the tweet to read the entire thread):

INFO:

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Disco Medusae” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
-“District Four” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
*Tracks are licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

End-Of-Year-Cast 001 – #WIN

End-Of-Year-Cast 001 – #WIN

THE YEAR THAT WAS: With the final week of the year barreling toward us, Andrew and D. Bethel decide to throw format out the window and just talk. Guided by the question, “What does 2018 make you think of?”, they veer all over the place from Fallout (of course) and learning how to code to the many-tiered beast that was ComicsGate and the panacea to that garbage with things like the new Halloween and She-Ra.

What do you think of when you think of the 2018 that was? How would you summarize this year? Let us know!

RELEVANT EPISODES:

RELEVANT LINKS:

INFO:

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“District Four” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
-“Disco Medusae” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
*Tracks are licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Shortcast 78 – Pat Riot

Shortcast 78 – Pat Riot

Image Sources: Little, Brown [left], CBS [right]
WEEK IN GEEK: D. Bethel gets inspired by Tintin and Alph-Art, the final Tintin book started by creator Hergé before his death. The book is a collection of his layouts and notes and remains unfinished but showcases the process of one of the world’s best comic book storytellers. After nearly a year, Andrew finally dives into Star Trek: Discovery (originally released on CBS All Access) and gives you a SPOILER-FILLED rundown and response to the newest Star Trek series.

Examples of the Tintin meets H.P. Lovecraft fan art by Muzski.

An example of Hergé’s layouts from early in Tintin and Alph-Art.

The final page from Tintin and Alph-Art. So incredibly sad.

RELEVANT EPISODES:

RELEVANT LINKS:

INFO:

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“District Four” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
-“Disco Medusae” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
*Tracks are licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Shortcast 74 – Texas the Rabbit

Shortcast 74 – Texas the Rabbit

POST-APOCALYPSE NOW: After D. Bethel talks a bit about the California fires (he’s safe albeit drenched in smoke from the Camp Fire––please donate money over supplies to help most during this time of containment and rebuilding), Andrew discusses his hour or so playing Fallout 76.

#IRONSHITES: Richard Meyer and the ComicsGate controversy has been covered many times before on the show, and the latest installment has Richard Meyer aka “Comics & Diversity” putting his money where his mouth is. His 120-page graphic novel, Iron Sights, (written by Meyer, art by Ibai Canales) has been released (it cost $20 for a copy of the book if you contributed to its Indiegogo campaign) was summarily criticized by Twitter user, Jafleece, in a spectacular and validating fashion. The 60+ thread starts here:

Andrew and D. discuss not only what they saw from the thread, but what this says about the claims Meyer and ComicsGate have been levying toward the industry for awhile now.

END BITS: Also, they spend some time at the end to discuss the death of Stan Lee, below is the clip that D. mentioned was his favorite Stan Lee cameo, from this year’s Marvel’s Spider-Man by Insomniac Games.

And, for good measure, the Pokémon: Detective Pikachu tralier:

RELEVANT LINKS:

RELEVANT EPISODES:

INFO:

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“District Four” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
-“Disco Medusae” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
*Tracks are licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Shortcast 71 – Someone Was Alone

Shortcast 71 – Someone Was Alone

WEEK IN GEEK: It’s a week of adventure as Andrew literally leaves the state while D. Bethel brings a journey to a close. Along the way, Andrew talks about playing Final Fantasy V on iOS while also dipping his toe into the meta-craziness that is The Stanley Parable while D. Bethel is actually having fun (?!) with season 2 of Netflix & Marvel’s Jessica Jones.

RELEVANT LINKS:

RELEVANT EPISODES:

INFO:

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“District Four” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
-“Main Theme” by Sylvester Levay (Theme song from Airwolf).
-“Disco Medusae” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
*Tracks are licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/