Rachel and Miles are on vacation this week! We’ll be back on September 14, but if you need a fix before then, click over to Don’t F with the Original to hear us talking with Dimitri about cross-media adaptation and Days of Future Past!
Hi. Rachel here.
I talked some about our panel of the week in this week’s video reviews, but I think it’s a panel whose effectiveness is much better illustrated via static images, so I’m posting this here as a supplement.
This is a panel that grabbed me immediately. It’s the kind of beat I look for in comics–the stillness where you often find the most powerful and subtly significant moments in a story.
Here’s the panel, in isolation. It doesn’t look like much on its own, right?
Here’s the full spread it’s part of. Pay attention to how people are standing: this moment is all about body language.
Can you see it yet? If you’re still having trouble, here’s a hint: Follow the hands–Cyclops’s, in particular.
See what I mean? Is your heart breaking a little right now? It should be.
I would love to see the script for this spread–whether that moment was written, or if Bachalo improvised it; and how it was described relative to how it was drawn. As is, it’s one of the most powerful emotional beats of the story–if you know what to look for.
The fallacy that comics are easy and simple to read is dependent, I think, on the idea that reading is a skill specific to written language. In fact, the language of comics–that integration of visual and verbal, the ways static images can convey and evoke movement and passage of time and a thousand other minute nuances–is incredibly, exquisitely complex and rich. They’re not just illustrated stories. They’re their own discrete medium.
And it’s when creators–and readers–understand those things that comics can really, really get good.
Week of September 3, 2014
In which we actually feel pretty okay about a foil cover.
- Death of Wolverine #1*
- X-Men #19
- All-New X-Factor #13
- Uncanny X-Men #25
- A cat
*Pick of the week (Yes, really.)
Edited to add: Rachel wrote a bit more about the panel of the week over here.
I don’t usually talk about personal stuff here. But today is special.
In this week’s episode–the one that goes up at Comics Alliance today, and here on Sunday the 7th, Miles and I talk about Scott and Jean and how they are kind of our couple, and I want to write a little bit more about that.
We talk on the podcast about having known each other since forever. For context, that’s well over half our lives: we’re in our early 30s now, and we met when we were 11 or 12, and became friends when we were 13.
I’m not–look, how much I identify with Cyclops should be a pretty good indicator of how socially inclined I’m not. I didn’t have a lot of friends in middle school. I was the kid who sat in the back of a class, hiding a book under my desk and hoping that no one would notice me–because if they did, it never, ever went well.
In eighth grade English, I sat in my usual far back corner. Miles was in the row in front of me, and at some point, he decided–out of nowhere–that we should probably be friends. He initially expressed this mostly by whipping around dramatically when no one was looking and whispering bad puns at me during vocab review. It was slightly terrifying and absolutely delightful.
At some point, Miles started asking me about books. We’d both grown up on the Dark Is Rising sequence and the Chronicles of Prydain; he lent me Bored of the Rings and the big collected Hitchhiker’s Guide that had the then-nearly-impossible-to-find “Young Zaphod Plays It Safe”; I lent him More Than Human and The Hero and the Crown. There was an end-of-the-year eighth-grade graduation dance and we danced together once, awkwardly, at arms’ length; and each of us was pretty sure the other was just doing it to be polite.
We dated briefly and awkwardly our freshman year of high school, and then we didn’t really talk for a while, and then we were friends again, and then we were friends who slept together and were looking at colleges together and still staunchly refused to put a label on what we were doing because we did not buy in to that nonsense, even after we moved in together two months into our first semester of college. We spent years aggressively reinventing the wheel, because even if we didn’t entirely know what we were or where we were taking it, we knew it was ours.
So, when we talk about how Scott and Jean are kind of our couple, we’re not just talking about the awkward teenage romance thing. Editorial mandates aside, every step of their relationship was a “fuck you” to fate, a conscious choice to not even find but make their own meaning. They’re not together in most of the Multiverse, and when they are, it’s usually something they have to fight for.
Even without supervillains and cosmic forces, being and staying with someone you’ve known since you were a teenager isn’t always easy. Everyone has hard-wired buttons; when you’re with someone you’ve known for that long, there’s a pretty good chance that they–or at least who they were when you were kids–wired some of them. It’s difficult and painful to grow and figure out who you are and who you’re becoming when you’re with someone who still responds to–and probably always will respond to, to some extent–who you were at sixteen.
And Scott and Jean are our couple for that reason, too: because it’s not always easy, but it never stops being worth it–every day, but especially today, because ten years ago* today, I married the best person I’ve ever met: my partner in crime, my best and truest friend; who still finds me when I’m lost, and coaxes me out when I get stuck in my own head, and holds me so that I can let go.
I love you, Miles Stokes.
And every day for the rest of my life.
*According to Miss Manners, the tenth anniversary is–for obvious reasons–the X-Men anniversary.
Last week, our kickass Patreon subscribers unlocked weekly illustrations as a milestone goal, and we are tremendously pleased to present the second of those, in which David Wynne references Episode 21 to bring us a mash-up shamefully absent from pop culture thus far: the original X-Men as Enid Blyton’s YA-adventure classic Famous Five!
Patreon subscribers get a high-res desktop background version of the image. If you want a larger version you can hold, frame, lick, &c., David will have the original for sale here (alongside a lot of other very rad X-Plain the X-Men-related originals).
Nominally, this is a weekly thing, but we love this one enough that we’re going to keep prints available for the rest of September in our Redbubble shop.
(And if you want the desktop, you can subscribe to the Patreon here!)
Listen to the episode here!
Links & Further Reading:
- Kurt Busiek
- Unpublished X-Men
- The X-Axis Silver-Age Index (archived)
- X-Men #32
- X-Men #37
- X-Men #48
- Marvel Holiday Special 1994
- Slan, by A. E. van Vogt
- Children of the Atom, by Wilmar H. Shiras
- Mutant, by Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner)
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon
- The Dark Is Rising Sequence, by Susan Cooper
- Astro City
- Tooth and Claw
In which special guest Kurt Busiek is the J. Robert Oppenheimer of X-Men, Rachel and Miles learn to love the Silver Age, Cyclops gets a job, Bernard the Poet falls from grace, we really wish X-Men: The Secret Years was a real book, everyone recites poetry, and we still don’t get around to Marvels.
- METOXO, the Lava Man
- The true, secret purpose of Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men
- The Phoenix retcon
- Archival pocket dimensions
- Enid Blyton’s X-Men
- Early-to-mid-20th Century American Jewish Socialism
- Why the X-Men are terrible mutant P.R.
- Band names of the Silver Age
- An X-Men series that might have been.
- Why Cyclops should be the Rachel Maddow of Marvel
- Quicksilver’s childhood dreams
- The Coffee-a-Go-Go
- Bernard the Poet
- Zelda Kurtzberg
- The Barefoot Beats
Next week: The wedding of Scott Summers and Jean Grey!
You can find a visual companion to the episode – and links to recommended reading – on our blog.
Support us on Patreon!
Week of 8/27/2014
In which we engage in reckless substitution, and apparently the blinds make more difference to the lighting than we expected.
- All-New X-Men #31
- Uncanny Avengers #23
- Cyclops #4
- Wolverine and the X-Men #8*
Wolverine #12Ms. Marvel #7
*Pick of the week