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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.

Google Saccharin

Google Saccharin

CONSOLE WARS II: THE NEW CHALLENGERS: Things got shaken up in the world of video games––maybe––as Google announced its streaming-forward gaming platform––maybe––called Stadia while Apple announced its gaming-focused subscription platform––maybe––called Apple Arcade. Andrew and D. Bethel discuss the merits of these announcements and how they either apply, predict, or completely misread the gaming landscape.

RELEVANT EPISODES:

RELEVANT LINKS:

INFO:

FEATURED MUSIC:

04 January 2019 – Increasingly Without a Difference

04 January 2019 – Increasingly Without a Difference

LOOKING FORWARD: With 2018 behind them, Andrew and D. Bethel discuss what they’re looking forward to in 2019. Andrew is interested in the upcoming premium Disney streaming service, Disney+, as well as to Bethesda Game Studios adding more content to Fallout 76, while D. Bethel can’t wait for It, Chapter 2 to hit theaters as well as playing the new game from Firewatch‘s Campo Santo, In the Valley of the Gods.

What are you looking forward to in 2019? Let us know in the comments!

RELEVANT EPISODES:

  • Episode 84 – Your Cursor is My Prisoner (19 Feb. 2016): Where D. Bethel discussed his time with Campo Santo’s Firewatch.
  • Shortcast 17 – YouChoob (08 July 2016): Where Andrew discusses his experience playing Gone Home.
  • Shortcast 31 – The Secret Was the Clap (29 Sep. 2017): Where D. Bethel enjoyed the first installment of the new It movie.
  • Shortcast 54 – Cameo Train (11 May 2018): Where Andrew and D. Bethel discuss Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Shortcast 76 – A Sense of Place (30 Nov. 2018): Where Andrew talks in depth about playing Fallout 76.

RELEVANT LINKS:

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/

Episode 158 – Bluster and Impotence

Episode 158 – Bluster and Impotence

MEYERED IN CONTROVERSY: Richard Meyer and his “Diversity and Comics” YouTube Channel have been no stranger on this podcast with his leading the charge of the abhorrent ComicsGate dissention among comic book fandom. After gaining notoriety with his “Dark Roast” YouTube video (since deleted) that accused various popular industry creatives of committing sexual, devious, and illegal acts to get their way to the top, Mark Waid––among others––reached out to Antarctic Press to voice concerns with their decision to publish Meyer’s comic, JAWBREAKERS. After hearing those concerns, Antarctic Press terminated their contract with Meyer and went to the internet to spew bile in response. At the end of September, Meyer sued Waid for “tortious interference with contract” and “defamation.” D. Bethel and resident nerd lawyer, Andrew Asplund, dive back into this cesspool to navigate what exactly is going on throughout this new development.

NOTE: No comment made by Andrew during this episode constitutes legal advice or establishes client-lawyer relations.

TWILIGHT RETURNS: It was recently announced that the previously announced Jordan Peele-produced reboot of The Twilight Zone will actually star Mr. Peele himself as the host for the digital-only streaming service CBS All-Access. Andrew and D. talk about their excitement––and fears! (to make it spooky for Spookytober)––for the upcoming show.

RELEVANT EPISODES:

LINKS:

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/

Con Artists #02 – StocktonCon, pt. 2

Con Artists #02 – StocktonCon, pt. 2

With the first day of StocktonCon completed, Kyrun and D. Bethel begin the second day by getting in the car and driving down the 99 to Stockton. It’s early, they’re tired, they’re going wherever the conversation takes them.

While this morning conversation doesn’t touch on conventions or marketing strategies, they dive deep into a major aspect of comics culture: continuity. It’s at the heart of a lot of stories and in the hearts of a lot of fans, often to the point of taking despicable actions when a creative team makes changes that they don’t like.

They examine their own thoughts about the importance of continuity as well as why, it seems, so many people hold continuity with the highest possible value. Also, for some reason, the conversation dives deep into D. Bethel’s own biases when it comes to mainstream comics and how––and if––he overcame those biases.

OTHER EPISODES:

LINKS:

  • “Shortcast 45 – The Cure for Canon Shift”: An episode of A Podcast [ , ] For All Intents and Purposes where D. Bethel and Andrew Asplund have a long conversation about the necessity of (or problems caused by) continuity in fiction.
  • “Shortcast 68 – Swinging Gates”: An episode where D. Bethel and Andrew Asplund discuss “ComicsGate”, the vitriolic (and dangerous) reaction of some fans at attempts by the industry to include more diversity and modern sensibilities in mainstream comic books.

––––––––––––––––––

Special thanks to Kyrun Silva for agreeing to this experiment (and for driving us to and from the convention). Thanks to Ben Schwartz of Empire’s Comics Vault for hosting the table.

FEATURED GUEST:

-Kyrun Silva of Taurus Comics

FEATURED RECORDING EQUIPMENT:

-Tascam DR-40

FEATURED LOCAL COMIC SHOP:

Empire’s Comics Vault

FEATURED MORNING BEVERAGE:

-Hot Tea, Brand: Yorkshire Gold

FEATURED BAD X-COMIC ANNUALS CROSSOVER EVENT:

Shattershot

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Road Music” by D. Bethel

Shortcast 60 – Turn Up This Hotness

Shortcast 60 – Turn Up This Hotness

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew sees the latest Star Wars Story, Solo, while D. Bethel gushes about the recent God of War reboot.

RELATED EPISODES:

RELEVANT LINKS:

  • God of War‘s Kratos voice actor, Christopher Judge, telling dad jokes:

  • Taylor playing Fallout 4 with Andrew heckling:

Watch live video from TK4TCH on www.twitch.tv

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/

Episode 139 – A Warm Heat

Episode 139 – A Warm Heat

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew watches through the first season of the hit Starz show, Ash vs. Evil Dead while Dan plays through the 2014 Bethesda game, Wolfenstein: The New Order, the reboot of the classic first-person shooter Id franchise.

KEEPING SCORES: It was announced this week that Danny Elfman has been hired to compose music for the upcoming DCEU movie, Justice League, after the original composer, Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL), amicably left the project. Dan and Andrew discuss the expectations for an Elfman score in a modern superhero cinema context, and discuss their thoughts on film and televisions scores in general.

LINKS:

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

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Iron Man 3” by Brian Tyler

Episode 117 – Five Minutes to Funny

Episode 117 – Five Minutes to Funny

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew spends some time with Fantasy Flight’s Arkham Horror: The Card Game while Dan reads Boss Fight Books’ Metal Gear Solid by sibling team, Ashly and Anthony Burch (a book Dan may actually finish!).

The classy cover for Metal Gear Solid by Ashly & Anthony Burch. Source: Boss Fight Books

GONNA TAKE YOU FOR A RIDE: Sony had it’s most recent Playstation Experience event which unveiled a lot of new games, most Sony exclusives, but amid that they announce the new installment of the previously-thought-dead franchise with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.

Plus, an extended gameplay trailer has been released since the segment was recorded, confirming both Captain America’s and Darkstalkers‘ Morrigan’s presence in the game.

REBOOTING FRANCHISES: With the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Dan and Andrew investigate the approach to legacy franchises. Should we reboot and start from scratch, or keep pushing the continuity forward or leave it be and fill in the “cracks”?

Leave your thoughts as comments at forallintents.net. Be sure to join the official Facebook group and like and subscribe to the official YouTube channel. Email Andrew at andrew@forallintents.net or D. Bethel at dbethel@forallintents.net. Help the show out by subscribing to and leaving a review of the show at the official iTunes store. If you like the episode, please feel free to share.

For all intents and purposes, that was a podcast recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Player Select” by Mitsuhiko Takano (from Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes)
-“Rey’s Theme” by John Williams (from Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Episode 100, Part 2 – Action Noir Theater

Episode 100, Part 2 – Action Noir Theater

Things are out of sorts. People are lost to time. But Andrew and D. Bethel will do their damnedest to get another episode 100 to you on time (in time?). If you have not listened to Part 1 of Episode 100, be sure to do so before diving into part 2. Trust us. It’s important.

ShowCard100b

NICK SPRINGER AND THE FREMONT HORROR: Witness the first installment of a long-in-development (pre-podcast!) audio drama ripped from the minds of Andrew and Dan.

I AIN’T AFRAID: Andrew and Dan dig into the new Ghostbusters and love every ounce of it.

Nick Springer and the Fremont Horror Credits:

Story: Andrew Asplund
Script: D. Bethel
Directors: D. Bethel & Andrew Asplund
Editor: D. Bethel

Cast:
Nick Springer: Andrew Asplund
Kasey O’Shea: Kyle Smith
Karen Waite: Elisa Parrett
Hector Vassos: Niall Feeney

Special thanks to Jesse Shepherd

Most of the sound effects used were used from FreeSound.org:

-“Running on Gravel” by Benboncan
-“Man screaming” by Archeos
-“Zombie Bite 1” by Slave2theLight
-“Wing Flap (Flag Flapping)” by ani_music
-“FOLEY_Footsteps_Carpet_001” by conleec
-“11 Minutes of City Sounds” by Niedec (recorded in Seattle)
-“Getting in Car and Start” by jrssandoval
-“Starting Car from Inside” by evsecrets
-“VW Golf GTI Pull Away (Zoom H2n M&S)” by Everyday Sounds
-“Short drive, interior” by AugustSandberg
-“CarArriveAndStop” by jmdb
-“City highway busy cars pulling out” by natemarler
-“Walking-gravel” by xserra
-“01019 car door 3” by Robinhood76
-“1BramCamera” by kwahmah_02

Thanks for all those who helped this long-dreamed project get a leg-up into reality!

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew plays the Neverwinter MMO on the Playstation 4, while Dan watches Terminator: Genisys and definitely does not hate it.

Leave a comment at forallintents.net. Join our official Facebook and Google+ pages.

Please leave a review on iTunes to help spread the word to new potential listeners.

For all intents and purposes, that is officially 100 episodes.

Featured Music:

-“A Journey Into Darkness” by Steve Henifin (from Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem)
-“Back in Time” by D. Bethel
-“The Worst That I Have Met (Nick Springer Theme)” by D. Bethel.
-“Back in Time” by Huey Lewis & The News
-“Stayin’ In Black” by Wax Audio
-“Fanfare” by Nobuo Uematsu (from Final Fantasy VI)