Marvel is dipping its proverbial toes into Phase 4 of the MCU and fans are looking forward to its new properties. The fourth phase of Marvel’s ideas not only gives it a chance to explore a world post-Thanos but also to introduce a number of new characters.
Fans are looking forward to Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and more Spider-Men but the two groups generating the most intrigue are the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.
Fox’s properties have been some of the brightest gems in Marvel’s comic crown. Of particular interest in the wake of Disney Plus’s WandaVision is the X-Men.
Marvel’s X-Men comics began in 1963, and that leaves a lot of merry mutant action for audiences to explore. As series like WandaVision start picking up and preparing for some mutant potential people might feel the need to catch up, or start their own re-read or watch.
There are a number of great resources for it but one of the best is the X-Reads Podcast. We spoke to hosts Chandler Poling and Chris Riley about the podcast, their favorite X-Men issues, and more.
Why don’t you tell our readers what you guys are all about?
Chandler: Our show is called X-Reads Podcast where each episode focuses on a single back issue within the X-Men Universe. We recap the issue cover to cover including the vintage ads of the era, commenting on the fashion, the dialogue, and storyline, giving it a sense of fun and nostalgia. Most of our content comes from the Claremont era of comics. In addition, we’ve created an online community of people from all backgrounds who come to enjoy our X-Men-related adventures. Some of our recent guests include Ann Nocenti (writer/creator of Longshot), Fabian Nicieza (writer X-Men, X-Force), and of course Lenore Zann, the voice of Rogue from X-Men: The Animated Series. The podcast has been an incredible tool to connect with people inside the X-Men Universe.
Chris: Yeah, to be able to speak with the creators of the beloved characters and storylines that we hold dear and the actors who bring life to these characters has been astonishing.
So you do regular interviews and comics reading. Do you have a favorite issue or character that you’ve discussed?
Chris: My favorite was when we covered Jubilee’s debut (Uncanny X-Men 244/X-Reads Episode 4) where the X-Ladies teleport into a mall for a girls’ day trip and end up in a male strip club! It was hilarious and the fashion was total 80s righteousness. The cast included Dazzler, Rogue, Psylocke, and Storm having make-overs. What more could you want?
Chandler: I love the character Kitty Pryde and one of her most iconic moments is from Uncanny X-Men 168 (X-Reads Episode 13) where she yells the phrase “Professor Xavier is a JERK!” That issue is packed with a great story including Kitty & Illyana with their dance instructor, Lockheed revealing himself in the mansion, and the first appearance of Madelyne Pryor. This podcast has really forced us to go back into X-History and read issues from the 70s and 80s, which are truly fantastic stories.
How about a favorite character individually? Everybody’s got a favorite X-Man (or I’d say X-person).
Chris: I love Emma Frost with a deep passion. She is a fierce fashion icon who gets the sassiest comebacks in the dialogue. She is so much fun to witness in comics and even on screen. Like when we had Kari Wahlgren, the voice of Emma Frost from Wolverine and the X-Men on our podcast — she delivered all these juicy White Queen lines from the comic pages and it was incredible to hear them performed aloud. I was just as ecstatic as the audience was who wrote in expressing their joy.
Chandler: Well, I already said Kitty Pryde was my favorite but if I had to choose another favorite of mine, I’d choose Jubilee because she was my gateway into becoming an X-Men fan through the Animated Series in the 90s. I love her positive attitude in most situations. She always seems to be having a great time or delivering super snappy dialogue in the comics. Plus, her powers are super pretty! It was her involvement in Generation X that made me want to collect every issue since it launched.
Where would you recommend people start to get a handle on the X-Men, either comic-wise or to prepare for the films?
Chris: I would suggest starting at the Phoenix Saga/Dark Phoenix Saga because it is a storyline that impacts the X-Men throughout the entirety of their existence from that point on. It’s best to start with X-Men #98 and read on until Uncanny X-Men #137. Or you can listen to our podcast, X-Reads, where we cover key back issues to give you a taste as we bounce around between different eras.
Chandler: Yeah, you can find our show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more, and just follow us on socials media @xreadspodcast. As for what comic books to read, I feel starting from the beginning can be daunting, but some easy points to just drop into the story are either X-Men: Season One by Dennis Hopeless or Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run. Or just do what we did and watch X-Men: The Animated Series to get a taste of a lot of stories and characters.
Let’s talk WandaVision! We’re heading into the last two episodes, What do you think?
Chris: The thing about WandaVision that I love is the very large amount of Easter eggs embedded thorough each episode. I’m always on the hunt. I’m from the era that has an appreciation of all of the genres of television that they’ve portrayed on the series because as a child of the 80s, we watched the black and white shows all the way up to the current stuff because at the time we didn’t have that many options. And stylistically WandaVision knocks it out of the park.Chandler: I also love WandaVision! What I find incredible is that we have a popular TV show that makes us wait weekly to find out what happens next instead of dumping everything on us at once. It has changed the course of how we watch television and allows these moments between episodes to really dive in and seek out those Easter eggs that Chris mentioned. I think Marvel has done an incredible job by taking two side characters from the MCU and creating a platform where they really shine.
How do you like how the MCU has treated Wanda (and Pietro, since it’s all a part of it)?
Chris: I think originally when they brought the characters out, I was disappointed. Because I feel as if they are rich characters that they could have explored more deeply, but early on their appearances in storylines felt rushed. And now that Wanda has her own series and they can spend more time expanding her psychological journey watching her story unfold has become an engaging cinematic experience.
Chandler: Since I’m mostly an X-Men fan, I only know Wanda and Pietro from occasional appearances in comics, so the MCU versions were some of the more solidified characters in my experience. I like how the MCU does not use the comics word for word but instead creates its own version of these classic stories. I did hate how Pietro was killed so quickly in Age of Ultron. It didn’t feel genuine to his character but provided a motive for Wanda to change her ways, so I see why they chose that. All in all, I am very curious how they explain Evan Peters being involved in WandaVision. With the reveal that Agatha magicked him into the story, it still doesn’t explain why they did not bring back Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Any theories? Or any favorite theory that you’ve heard?
Chris: I believe with WandaVision we are seeing a slow introduction of the X-Men into the MCU, and the birth of the Young Avengers. I also believe that Agnes has become a new fan favorite icon. I predict a spin-off series with Darcy and Jimmy Woo. Fans love them!
Chandler: I for one do not believe “it was Agatha all along.” I think there are greater forces at play. We’ve all heard the Mephisto rumors, but I believe that Dormammu is behind some of this work as the set decoration team placed some very obvious hints in Episode 6. Plus we know that WandaVision bleeds into Doctor Strange 2, and Dormammu is deeply connected to Strange. I can’t wait to see what they do for this finale!
Interested? What’s your favorite X-Men issue? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and don’t forget to tune in to the X-Reads Podcast to get up to speed before we delve into the nexus of the MCU and mutants!