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Ten Goofiest Moments in Uncanny X-Men #426-435

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With the release this weekend of X-Men First Class, I figured I’d devote two days to goofy moments related to the film’s release. So in honor of Azazel’s appearance in the film, let’s take a look at the ten goofiest moments from Uncanny X-Men #426-435, which includes the six-part (seven including the prologue) storyline “The Draco,” which introduced Azazel.

All ten issues were written by Chuck Austen. The artwork was done by Phillip Tan (pencils and inks on #426, 429-433), Steve Kim (pencils on #427), Sean Phillips (pencils and inks on #428), Takeshi Miyazawa (pencils on #434), Ron Garney (pencils on #435), Mark Morales (partial inks on #427, full inks on #435), Randy Green (partial inks on #427), Sandu Florea (partial inks on #427), Craig Yeung and Scott Elmer (both partial inks on #434).

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Not only were these writers certainly never imagining people still reading these comics decades after they were written, great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).

10. The way you crawl around the night, you are the very epitome of the word “nightcrawler”…

This bit from #428 really isn’t BAD, but it is still pretty goofy…

Then again, as we will see later, Austen retroactively coming up for the explanation behind a character’s codename is a good deal better than the code names he comes up with himself…

9. There’s nothing wrong with this, right? Right?

I always was creeped out by this concept, fully introduced in #426, that Havok’s nurse (while he was recovering from being comatose) was falling in love with him via her son connecting her mind with Havok’s while Havok recovered from his coma…

I mean, when your son’s telepathy is THAT powerful, how could you possibly trust what happened in your head? “Carter decided that I would make a good couple with Alex, but I’m sure I fell in love with Alex all on my own.”

8. There’s nothing wrong with this, right? Right?

She-Hulk, seriously, you can’t sleep with your clients…

I believe Dan Slott even explained this away in a later issue, that was how out of character it was for She-Hulk.

Matsui should not have been Rookie of the Year, by the way (and as a Yankee fan, I wanted him to win). The guy who beat him had very similar offensive numbers (perhaps even slightly better) while playing a much more important defensive position (shortstop as opposed to left field for Matsui) and playing it decently (while Matsui was probably slightly below average as a defensive outfielder). Matsui had a much better career than the other guy, though, whose only good season was that rookie season (and I’m sure Matsui prefers his World Series MVP to the Rookie of the Year award).

7. If only I could return to Earth. I know! I’ll go to Earth and do something to allow myself to one day return to Eart…wait a second…

One of the plot points of “The Draco” that gets mocked a lot, and I think a bit unfairly so, is the whole bit about how Azazel impregnated women on Earth so that when they got older he could manipulate them into using their teleportation powers to bring him back to Earth. A lot was written about how it was silly that Azazel went to Earth so that he could one day have kids who could bring him to…Earth.

However, that was not his plan, really. His plan was to bring his entire army of demonic mutants back to Earth (after they had been driven to this hell-like dimension centuries ago), so the fact that he alone could visit Earth himself once or twice wasn’t the point…

that said, Chuck Austen sure doesn’t make that very clear in the comic, including this bit that definitely makes it sound like Azazel just wants to get back to Earth himself (in which case, why did he leave in the first place? If he was forced to return, they never say as much in the comic itself)…

6. The Name Game

One of Azazel’s progeny is a New Zealand mutant. His name. Kiwi Black. I kid you not.

It would be like naming a French mutant Frog White. Or a..well…I think you get the point.

Go to the next page for the top five!

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“I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question…”

You know, this time? You could probably use this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. And if you won’t, I will: Chuck Austen, you wrote some bad comics and you should feel bad.

I didn’t read much of Chuck Austen’s run, just a few issues here and there, but wow…like Berroa he seems to have just become worse with time.

In my opinion, the only good thing to come out of Austen’s run was Juggernaut’s face turn.

Gotta agree with the other comments here…there’s “goofy moment” and then there’s “writing so amazingly bad it caused loyal X-Men fans (like myself) to quit reading the books entirely.” Why not just extend the parameters to include the “exploding communion wafers” plotline, and then you’d have the perfect storm of bad X-plots.

The one thing I’m grateful to Austen about — he completely ended any argument about who holds the title of “worst X-Men writer, ever.”

Azazel’s presence in the new movie is one of the primary reasons why I won’t be seeing it in the theaters. The reviews are good enough that I might rent it eventually, but if the writer knowingly made a connection to “The Draco,” this can’t be a movie I want to see.

The Azazel presence/appearance in the movie is not overly terrible. He seems lame, but his dialogue is quite limited. No backstory either.

You’re right about everything else, it would seem.

There is a very strong case for Chuck Austen having the worst extended writing run on any core X-title. Aside from the first issues of X-Force, I can’t think of anything even close to Austen’s degree of awfulness. On the bright side, both are a lot of fun to ridicule now.

Ugh, I had forgotten the “Havok pees Iceman a new body” bit. Not only is it icky but it’s just so ridiculous. Just how much urine does Austen think a bladder can possibly contain?

Rollo Tomassi

June 4, 2011 at 6:28 am

Ha ha! I had completely burned the memory of Alex’s GF nurse and her kid from my mind. Gawd, those books sucked.

Don’t avoid X-Men: Last Stand because of Azazel. Just realize think of the evil mutants as stand ins for the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, him being a cooler looking version of the Vanisher. He has almost no dialogue.

Plus, Austen created Sammy the Squid Boy just to have Black Tom kill him off later. He may have been a cephalopod, but he was just a boy!

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

June 4, 2011 at 7:42 am

@Brian Mac

“Azazel’s presence in the new movie is one of the primary reasons why I won’t be seeing it in the theaters. The reviews are good enough that I might rent it eventually, but if the writer knowingly made a connection to “The Draco,” this can’t be a movie I want to see.”

What connection? Azazel is basically Shaw’s henchman. Although an awesome one, with great swordsmanship skills. There’s absolutely no connection with “The Draco”. No demonic relations, nothing.

Methinks you need to reconsider your reasons for not seeing the movie, which is brilliant. Maybe even better than “Thor”.

I’ve read pretty much every X-related in-continuity book and I can’t say for certain these were the worst stories, but I won’t argue that they aren’t. It’s like Chris Claremont’s soap opera style filtered through Cinemax soft core porn. And then he got a short run on plain X-Men…sigh.

#7 will always be the standout for me. Not only is it a great example of his poorly thought out plots but its also the easiest way to spot an Austen apologist (“No, he clearly meant the plan was this … even though it isn’t mentioned in the story”)

Clearly this run should have produced a shirt saying “Mutants do it bareback.”


It would’ve been significantly more awesome if Angel Berroa had turned out to be the descendent of the biblical angels (or mutants or whatever). It would have really tied the goofiness together.

Chuck austen was a no talent hack. Terrible terrible comics.

what the…


so glad I wasn’t reading the X-books during these years.

Phillip Tan was a far more interesting artist when he was embracing the weirdness and noodly details of his style like he does on these pages. The stuff he later did (does) for DC doesn’t have any of this oddball charm.

@Sirbriang2 : A strong contestant would be Howard Mackie’s run on X-Factor, which was terrible indeed. (His Mutant X book was worse, but that may be stretching the “core X-title” requirement.)

I’m not defending Austen’s run, though ; there’s no excuse for such horror.

Mackie’s run on X-Factor was boring for sure.

When the Avengers movie comes out can you do another one of these for Chuck’s equally bad run on that comic (or can that only be if the female Captain Britain – Lionheart – somehow makes a cameo on a poster in the film).

Austen-bashing never gets old. In Toyfare, they had an episode of “Twisted Toyfare Theatre” where Daredevil sues Ben Affleck for his crappy portrayal of him in the movie. At one point, She-Hulk (defending Affleck) hits on Spider-Man, and Spidey declines. His reason? “Once you go Juggernaut, it’s physically impossible to go back.” Outraged, She-Hulk moves that all of Austen’s works be stricken from the record, which the judge (a Quintesson) accepted. Cut to Nightcrawler: “Voo hoo! I don’t suck anymore!” Now that was funny.

Another moment that’s goofy, but in fairness turns up in a depressing number of comics: if that’s Germany “20 years ago,” then Austen thinks that in the latter half of the twentieth century there were not only impossibly wealthy German barons who are the sole inhabitants of castles tat are surrounded by superstitious mobs of villagers with torches and pitchforks like those from Nightcrawler’s older origin story.

In fact, the legal status of nobility was removed in Germany and Austria in 1919, and the titles became parts of surnames thereafter. Many descendants of nobility are still wealthy socialites and call themselves “6th Baron this-and-that,” but they’re pretty boring international businesspeople for the most part. In fact, most of them are simply bankers and other financial experts who worked for the 19th century Holy Roman Empire and were rewarded with titles; the breakup of the HRE and its successor, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is a large part of what basically ended the nobility as anything other than a superficial affectation of the very rich.

As far as I know virtually none of the current “Barons” live in castles, which are at most maintained by joint committees of heirs as tourist attractions and usually are owned by private concerns or government bodies for the same purpose. Who in their right mind would want to live in a castle,with all the infrastructural nightmares that presents, and have to pay for its massive upkeep without the benefit of tourism dollars?

This only barely worked when Stan and Jack did it in the 60s, and fictional examples like Latveria get by thanks to being grandfathered in (and through Doctor Doom being a psychotic megalomaniac who *would* choose to live in a castle.) Portraying a *real* Western European country this way in the early 2000s in an ostensibly “serious” or at least dramatic story should get you laughed out of comics.

Good god he loved word balloons. The second page in #4 is one of the biggest info dumps I’ve ever seen.

Austen;s run continues to be one of my favorites of all time.

And #427 was a really heartwrenching story, especially if you read the last page. It was a perfectly fine comic book, people would understand how to come up with that plot if youve had a child in serious care.

Austen did have a few good issues in the start of his run. Haven’t read them in years, but I remember really liking his Northstar spotlight issue. And Sean Phillips art is always a plus! – mind you, he did get stuck with some crap artist IMHO.

@Brian Mac – trust me – you will kick yourself later if you don’t go see this in the cinemas – it has to be one of the best superheroes movies made (maybe better than X2 even). And Azazel is not a central figure at all – hell, he only says a few sentences.

I hate to admit it, but I actually own most of that run. I was the X-Men completist in my youth and despite how awful it was (and what Austen did to some of my favorite characters like Polaris, Mystique, and Nightcrawler), I just couldn’t look away. I think I just hoped it would get better.

But, please, does no one remember the fact that Angel bedded Husk? I mean, seriously! Havok and the nurse was bad, but ANGEL and HUSK. And this was before the introduction of the New X-Men, so she would have been all of, oh, seventeen or nineteen and it was clearly established by the that the orginal X-Men were all about 30 or so.

I wouldn’t go as far as Nick, but Austen does catch more flack than he deserves. He has lots of WTF moments like these, and he didn’t do a very good job of connecting arcs, but most of what he did at least had some neat concepts behind it. Except for “She Lies With Angels”. That is the second worst arc in X-Men history. The worst being Claremont’s second arc during his return, with the Savage Land Mutant Dinosaurs. I do especially enjoy #427, despite that ridiculous “mutants can’t catch AIDS” bit.
I would recommend seeing the movie to those who say they won’t because of Azazel, but if you really care that much about something that silly then the movie will be ruined for you because there are tons of little fanboy gripes that can be made. But just in case, look at the names thing for an example of how much better the writers are than Austen. They explain everyone’s codenames as silly things they came up with while drinking, and Mystique just picked a random word she thought sounded sexy because she had self-esteem issues growing up blue.

“The Draco” was bad, but for my money, “Holy War” was worse.

I mean, exploding communion wafers, people.

Let’s not forget Peter Milligan’s awful run on “X-Men”. Remember? Mystique in disguise having an affair with Gambit…and her motivation was to show Rogue that he could never make her happy?

This whole She-Hulk/Juggernaut thing reminded me of the Rogue/Sentry implied affair on…Fallen Son I think? Anyone? Who wrote that crap? That was just as goofy. One of those things that I simply deleted off my head.

BTW, did Austen ever wrote anything again?

Matty Macomber

June 4, 2011 at 11:04 am

The two things I liked about Austen’s run: Sammy the Squidboy and bringing in Northstar (although not much has been done with him since).

Austen’s run on Uncanny is probably the worst, but at the time it was published it was even more atrocious given that Grant Morrison’s New X-Men was coming out every month as well. But we really have to blame the editorial staff at Marvel for even allowing these stories to be published. I guess they were so blinded by Morrison’s brilliance they couldn’t see that Austen was just terrible. Then they let him follow up Morrisons run on New X-Men where he tried in 2 issues to undo everything Morrison had built for 4 years. Also wasn’t there a mutant hillbilly Romeo & Juliet storyline with the Guthrie family. Really? Really?

Also X-Men First Class is awesome and Azazel is only referred to as a mutant.

I heard about this reviled storyline and decided to check it out for myself. It was disgustingly horrible! Why on earth didn’t editorials step in and put an end to it?? Chuck Austen and the then editors ought to be ashamed of themselves for allowing such garbage to be printed!

Austen was indeed dreck, horrible, horrible stories. But I still wouldn’t call him the worst extended X-run, since Jeph Loeb and Howard Mackie had extended X-runs as well. Unlike Loeb, Austen occasionally wrote some good issues. I can remember two good issues. In his whole career I never really Loeb writing a whole good issue of anything.

Yes, Chuck Austen was a blight upon the X-Men.

But can we also acknowledge how seriously ugly that art is? Cripes!

It definitely is odd that these moments are this goofy without me including “Holy War” and “She Lies With Angels,” which are probably, on the whole, even goofier than “The Draco.” The problem was that I “needed” to have “mutants can’t get AIDS” and once I decided to include that, I pretty much had to use all of The Draco. So my options then were #425-434 or #426-435, and the latter mix allowed me to work in the She-Hulk/Juggernaut bit, so I went with that.

But yeah, “Holy War” and “She Lies With Angels” would definitely make for good future fodder for “goofy moments,” especially the sex scene in “She Lies With Angels.”

Gee thanks Brian, I was kinda trying to forget this whole run happen.

Also, I’m glad the issues didn’t reach the whole “Angel tries to have orgasm in the sky” issue. That was…

…I spent money on that issue, you know that? Money that I’m never gonna get back because no one wants this piece of shit issue.

It’s hard to nitpick things like depictions of nobility in comics that freely accept the existence of mutants and demons. Clearly this is not our world/universe.

I can’t get around the age thing. I get that this is “in fun”, but seriously, that’s just sloppy, not thought out, lazy writing right there with probably no real concept of X-Men continuity at all. However, I wouldn’t blame the writer. The writer just writes, and generally the writer thinks that what he/she writes must be at least average if not good.

Who was the editor on these? That’s the person to blame here. There’s no way some of this should have gotten by editorial unless they were completely asleep at the switch and just letting stuff through. The notion that a writer wants to make Nightcrawler the relative age of Shadowcat is so out of left field and so far afield of th established continuity…baffling.

was hoping some moments from the draco story line would show up for the whole concept that night crawler father is suppose to be the devil not only is creepy but also makes me wish Marvel had stuck with the original idea of mystique and destiny being night crawlers parents plus kiwi black what was the guy who came up with that name thinking.

I suppose that’s true, MarkBlack: after all, in Marvel’s New York City Clinton is still a crime-ridden slum called Hell’s Kitchen when that hasn’t been true in reality for some time.

I actually stopped buying the title because of The Draco. I couldn’t get past the whole “Nightcrawler is only 19″ thing. I’m not a continuity purist, but Kitty Pryde joined the X-men when she was 13. And she turned 18 in Excalibur. Which means that 4 1/2 years or so had passed since she joined the X-Men. And Nightcrawler was in the X-men before Kitty. And he and Logan would go out drinking. When he was supposedly in the 13-15 age range.

I actually would love to see Austen tell a story explaining that. I bet it would be the single goofiest comic ever!

As one of the people who actually liked Austins run, I just want to say that I think people take comics to seriously as an art form. I take comics the same way I take movies like “Return of the Living Dead” and music by Rob Zombie: not seriously. If I did, I would be hard pressed to find anything to enjoy.

“The Draco” is my favorite story from Austin’s run. Usually when the X-men fight supernatural forces, it’s always something to do with Limbo. I like the idea of two ancient races of Mutants, one Demonic, one Angelic. It ties into the established idea that Mutants have been born on Earth throughout time, such as Apocalypse. Also, I find this addition to Nightcrawler’s origin much more interesting. Kurt’s father being a faceless German Baron is kinda bland. To add, how long ago was Kurt conceived if his dad was a Baron? Did Germany even still have Baron’s 20 years ago? (or even 30 years ago?).

Also, I have to comment about “Kiwi Black”. First, it sounds cool. Second, you seem to think “Kiwi” is a “Racial Slur”. According to the Urban Dictionary website it’s not. From the Urban Dictionary and I quote: “Kiwi – 2 – Slang for a person born in New Zealand. Synonymous with hard-working individuals, talented artists & relaxed easy-going people”. That’s nice. The correct slur towards people New Zealand, and I don’t mean to offend anyone, is “Sheep Shagger”…I kid you not. That’s according to the Urban Dictionary as well.

I will always revile Austen simply for the She-Hulk/Juggernaut incident–and not just for the “She-Hulk’s a slut” implication, but, as per the point Brian made, that she would commit such an unprofessional breach of legal ethics as to sleep with a client.

Wow, after reading all of that, I actually WANT to read Chuck Austen’s entire Uncanny X-Men run. I may have been reading these scans as if it were a Made-for-Sy-Fy-Movie-Chanel, or a Snakes on a Plane/Final Destination 1, or even Cabin Fever.

What I mean is, the story is treated completely straight-laced, but the subtext of his run is satire and parody. Again, it’s like Star Ship Troopers. On the surface it’s all humans in high tech space marine gear battling “evil, gross” giant bugs, but the reality is the Humans are the militant, expansionist empire with Fascist overtones who preempted war against the giant bugs.

LOL. Props to Chuck Austen.

This was the decade when I didn’t read any comics. Wow, I am so glad I missed this!!!

Nen, I quite liked the Draco story, and overall I enjoyed Austin’s run, sue me.

Yeah, for those that missed the subtlety of why the X-Men were boning so much back then:


And when you skip past that… even if Warren humping a “barely legal” Husk wasn’t weird enough… they have sex in mid-air. At her family’s house. While directly above her mother, Ma Guthrie.

I don’t know if there’s any level of apologist out there who can spin that into being a “good” story.

I was picking up Austen’s X men because I thought there were ties to Morrison’s X Men. Also, intially the art was by Ian Churchill. But man the stories just got worse and worse. I HAD to drop it. It was like throwing my money down the toilet. After that I never picked up an X book again (well except for the rest of Morrison’s run, which Marvel rendered moot by undoing all he had done).

After that DC decided to let Austen loose on Action comics. You want to talk about horrible, try reading some of that. Somehow in the future Doomsday takes up the mantle for Superman after he died or some crap. Doomsday saying “Will I have to be bad again?” kind of sums up the ridonculitude. Austen’s reaction to the scathing criticism he recieved as well as his termination from DC comics was a public vow never to return to comics again. Mind you, this was not meant as an apology to fans. It was done because he felt “unappreciated” by the fans for all his “hard work”, as he “carried” the X books.

All that said, Azazel in the movie totally worked as a Bond-like henchman for Sebastian Shaw’s Bond-like villain. And I thought he fit right in with the Hellfire club motif.

The worst of all time remains Kavanagh’s X-MAN. Austen is up there, but so are Alan Davis, Joe Casey, Milligan’s X-MEN, Mackie’s X-FACTOR, and Guggenheim’s YOUNG X-MEN, Also making it’s way up this dubious list is Victor Gischler’s X-MEN. What a fucking turd!

Actually it’s not like calling a Frenchman Frog White. New Zealanders are famously known as Kiwis and their prominent sports team, in rugby, is known as the All Blacks (with their soccer team known as the All Whites, actually). Seeing as France play their sport in blue kits, it’d be fairer to say Frog Blue….

Actually…. The Ian Churchill parts were Joe Casey I believe.

Frog is also more of a derogatory term than Kiwi.

Don’t get me wrong its A grade goofy though, the other goofy thing is the reference to “choice”. Another common stereotypical piece of Kiwi slang.

It would be like having an Australian character say “G’day” or “Cobber”.

This is why I don’t read X-Men comics.

And lots of Aussies’ say “G’Day.” I do it all the time, but certainly don’t use “cobber.”

Billy Bissette

June 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm

For those upset at the First Class movie having Azazel, realize he is not there because anyone wanted Azazel, he is there because he’s like Nightcrawler.

For whatever reason, First Class tried to have a different set of X-Men than the previous movies. Maybe they didn’t want to do an “origin mission” that included characters that were shown joining during the previous films. Maybe they didn’t want First Class to be seen as X-Men 4, and thus didn’t want to stock it with X-Men film characters. Maybe they really wanted to reboot the X-films, while keeping some connections for the general audience that mostly knew the X-Men through the films (and thus the return of characters like Mystique while others were new.) Regardless, First Class was looking for characters that hadn’t been the focus of previous films.

People oohed and aahed over Nightcrawler’s special effects in his previous film. X-Men movies are very special effect driven, and his was a proven one. On the other hand, they don’t want to use Nightcrawler specifically. But then there is Azazel, who as far as Hollywood is concerned is a red Nightcrawler, and thus they can toss him in to have Nightcrawler-style effects and fighting. And he’s a villain, so they can just toss him into the bad guy’s side with little though.

I remember reading these issues and thinking “what the F….” Mutants that were demons and Angels. Warrens blood healing… Nightcrawlers father actually being a mutant that looks just like him but is red. JUST HORRIBLE. I can’t even believe that anyone liked this.

Travis Pelkie

June 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm

What’s most amusing about this character in the movie is that either someone read these issues and remembered the character and his tie to Nightcrawler, or someone had an intern or something read through a bunch of comics to find a “Nightcrawler-type” character. Poor, poor intern.

What I’ve read of the Austen X run, and the Action run he did, is pretty bad stuff. It’s amazing that such high profile books were allowed to get so…(not even sure of the word — goofy doesn’t quite encompass it).

I’ll give Austen this, though. Unless I’m entirely mistaken, he IS the guy who drew Zot 19 and 20, “Getting to 99″. And that’s not a bad art job.

“Mutants can’t get AIDS”? Seriously? And the doctor would know that, but NOT that Angel is one of the founders of the XMen? If the AIDS thing WAS true, THAT would be why the world hates and fears them. And would round them up and test them TO FIND OUT WHY!

Goofy isn’t quite the word.

Stopped Reading during the Morrison, Austin period and have never gone back.
I look at the books now and have no idea what’s going on.

Oh, yes, the whole “Azazel is really the devil” bit. Yeah, right. I’m sure Mephisto, Satannish, N’astirh, Marduk Kurios, Balthazar, and a couple of dozen other legitimately supernatural demonic entities might have something to say about that. Even guys like Belasco and Dormammu have more legitimate grounds for trying to pass themselves off as the Devil than Azazel.

Seriously, the whole idea that “angels” and “demons” really being ancient mutants that humanity mistook for supernatural beings is just, well, nonsensical when you consider the literal army of demons running rampant throughout the Marvel universe that superheros seem to run into on a semi-regular basis. Considering the X-Men went through “Inferno,” an actual demonic invasion of Manhattan, they really ought to have been laughing in Azazel’s face.

Havok’s nurse sure gives new meaning to the term “slim and stacked.”

Jamie lots of Aussie’s say “G’Day” just like lots of Kiwis say “choice”.

What I was saying was it was trying to cram as many stereotypical words in 2 sentences.

[…] Banshee and White Queen in ’90s Film X-Men: First Class is surprisingly good. Sure, there’s some cheesy moments, but the acting is good, as is the action in the final third. Also, like any superhero movie these days, it puts the spotlight on a few little known comics characters, such as Nightcrawler’s Dad, Azazel. […]

I wasn’t reading monthly and I picked up a random issue to see that Jubilee had just been crucified and Skin killed. I had a personal problem with this–sure it’s just a comic, but there’s shock value and then there’s just awful things to put in a book. When I found the first issue of “Holy War,” the X-Men find all these teenagers crucified on their front lawn and then DEBATE IF THEY SHOULD LEAVE THE BODIES UP UNTIL THE COPS ARRIVE AS THEY ARE EVIDENCE OF A CRIME.

…ok, look, if someone I knew was nailed to a tree in my front yard, I would not wait on the police to investigate the crime scene. We spent time, like, saving the world together and shit.

I didn’t like how Polaris went crazy (X-Men themed strippers are pretty funny though) in the next arc. After that I was done until new talent got on board. Skin being denied a normal burial because he was a mutant, yeah that’s the discrimination the X-Men have to fight and it was a great point. Juggernaut becoming an earnest X-Man, yeah that was awesome. Iceman being a whining bitch drove me insane. Beast yelling for a shape shifting stripper to turn into Tigra was epic. But there was plenty (stop raping the Catholic Church on behalf of Catholics, okay thanks) that was anti-epic.

In Austen’s defense (never thought I’d be speaking those words)…She Hulk is pretty promiscuous, and that’s putting it nicely. I’ve read a little of his run (When he took over from Morrison) and I can say I liked his handling of Juggy. Holy war was up and down terrible. And I’ve heard 99% scathing criticism of his run, it’s certainly one of the most reviled by critics and fans. That’s saying a lot considering some of the stuff that’s gone down in X-Men, not to mention their whole line of books.

I had a love/hate relationship with Austen’s run, for every bad moment there were some great little tweaks. But mostly I was there for the art; I loved own every arch had it’s own style; and that there was an imagination to them, to breaking the mold for what American comics should look like.
Yes there were some really bad moments, like above. But really they were tolerable until the “She sleeps with angels” bit, which was the nail in the coffin for him IMO. I really hate this time persiod of X-Men comics. Morrison was only retreading trope after comic trope, Austen was trying to be more Soap Operaish; neither will really hold up years from now.

Not every Australian says G’day. I never use it, and I very rarely hear it. Maybe in the outback…with the country feel. Nearly every Austalian is comics is the stereotype Steve Irwin – and trust me, NO ONE acts like Steve Irwin. Hes a Parody.

Austen’s run was dreadful. Honestly, I think he gets treated a little unfairly at times, but it WAS dreadful. I could defend a few of the choices he made, but it feels like pointing out that Charles Manson never personally killed anyone: how much effort are you willing put into pointing out that someone who did a lot of really bad stuff didn’t also do a bunch of other really bad stuff?

One of the things that really bothered me about the Draco (and I can’t even remember why it was called that) is a pet peeve I have with a lot of retroactive origin stories: it “explained” things that didn’t need to be explained with non-explanations. Why does Nightcrawler teleport through another dimension? Why does he have a tail? Because he’s the son of a guy with a tail who has ties to that dimension.

Um … correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t we all pretty much willing to accept that literally everything about Nightcrawler’s appearance and powers were just the way his mutation worked? He’s a mutant. You don’t need to explain the specifics. We accept that he is the way he is. And saying he is the way he is because his dad is the same way doesn’t explain anything because if we weren’t willing to just accept that Kurt has a tail, why are we supposed to just accept that his dad has a tail? The “explanation” doesn’t explain anything, it just moves it back a generation. So it sets out to do something no one needs done, and it fails to do what it set out to do.

@JD: Good call on the Howard Mackie X-Factor run! I totally forgot about that ridiculously dull (and too long) run. I will still hold it up third to Austen’s Uncanny/adjectiveless X-Men run and Liefeld’s X-Force. Sure, that run sucked, but Austen’s work was infuriatingly bad.

As for the worst non-core ongoing X-title, my vote would go for the Weapon X series, although Mutant X is pretty terrible, too.

Was it Austen who came out with the idea that mutants can’t catch AIDS? Or his editor, perhaps?

Because even if it weren’t they, they are still handling the notion in a terrible way.

Even leaving aside how that notion makes the Marvel version of mutation that much further removed from anything resembling biological verosimilitude (not a major factor at this stage, perhaps) they should at least have made a token attempt at lampshading how dangerous it is to just assume that they are neither exceptions nor possible carriers. And then there is the matter that AIDS is not exactly the only or even the most common sexually transmissible disease. And, of course, the gross factor of treating casual sex with a possible minor as a medical procedure – in completely aggravating circunstances, to boot.

Wow, I’m glad I didn’t read the X-Men very much at that time. I’ve never heard fo Azazel.

Am I the only one that thinks the last panel of Juggernaut and She-Hulks’ torrid affair looks like he’s about to get head?

As for #5: Iceman’s ability to fully turn into ice and recreate himself if shattered was used again by Mike Carey during his Children of the Vault arc. Carey, however, is also responsible for turning Juggernaut back to full villainy and thereby undoing the only part of Austen’s run that seemed to be liked by the majority. That’s not to say that Carey isn’t an infinitely better writer than Austen.

Omar: You’re spot on!

Johnny Horror: As Omar said, there are still Barons in Germany – one even was Secretary of Defense until a few months ago but had to resign because he plagiarised his PhD thesis (no joke). But it’s just a name now, they don’t have special rights as in the UK.

Anonymous: I mostly agree with your list, though Alan Davis is at least a great artist (if not writer) and I think that Gischler’s run will be forgotten soon after it’s over. I can’t think of it as being still complained about ten years later – which may be Austen’s greatest achievement.

Like bull i liked Chuck austen’s stuff. He had a disturbing tendency to put sex into EVERY…SINGLE…ISSUE

I thought the romance with Havok and his nurse sweet as well as the relationship between Angel and Husk

I had no issue with Angel’s healing blood”….a bit lame, but c’mon Angel needed toughing up without going back to being Archangel, it may not have worked, hence why they did it in X-Force

Don’t know why everyone was so against She-Hulk sleeping with Juggernaut…wasn’t she banging anyhtting that moved at one point?
In honesty though, I didn’t care too much for the draco, I don’t think it was bad, but I do think it was rather dull
Besides Austen brought up an excellent point: Mutation should be “leading” somewhere. force beams for one, phasing for the other is ok for the first few hundred years, but ultimately nature shouldbe finding out which mutations are best before discarding the ones that aren’t

Okay, this seems to say Cyttorak took away some of Juggernaut’s power because he beat him in a fight. Is that right?
I read an issue of New Excalibur from a few years later which said that Cyttorak took the power away because he wasn’t evil enough or something, but I really hated that idea. Dr Strange is one of the most moralistic characters in Marvel and he uses the power of Cyttorak all the time.
I like this explanation much better. Maybe Austin did have one good idea.

Kiwi Black never sounded cool to me, mostly because it always made me think of shoe polish:


Luis Danta:
I distinctly remember an interview where he claimed that he did NOT make up the “Mutants can’t get AIDS”, but that it referred back to a previous story. I can’t say what that story was, but I think he said it had to do with the Legacy virus, where somebody made the point that humans being immune to the Legacy Virus which could kill mutants, but conversely, mutants were immune to AIDS.

Regardless, even if it were true, he’s responsible for it not being left forgotten.

“The Draco” was bad, but for my money, “Holy War” was worse. I mean, exploding communion wafers, people.

A couple of weeks back, when a lot of people were expecting the Rapture to take place, I kept thinking about that story!

There are some good lines in many comics I’ve read about the She-Hulk/Juggernaut thing, for that, kudos to Austen, but not so much for the rest.


Blaise Marcoux

June 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

Oh, Chuck Austen. Sadly, these were the first X-Men books I really started following, since Morrison was too strange for a preteen to understand at the time. And at first, the series seemed to be really interesting. I may be the only person on the planet who doesn’t hate Nurse Annie. And Squidboy and Juggernaut being redeemed really hooked on my the series. So I stuck it out through that weird Exiles crossover (which seems to be forgotten by every writer ever if Wolfcub’s death in Young X-Men is any indication) and then they killed Squidboy, which really ticked me off.

And then came the “Draco.” I was so psyched seeing previews of this story, being a Nightcrawler and Mystique fan, and then… oh wow. Wow oh wow oh wow. Austen’s run really did seem to get worse and worse as it went along, to the point where even some teenager who didn’t know squat about Marvel continuity had to admit he was a hack. That’s pretty impressive.

I’m still going to say that Claremont’s run on “New Exiles” was the worst X-title I ever read, though, even over this junk. I realize that title mainly failed because of executive mandates, but every time I even glanced into an issue, I felt my brains leaking out of my head.

Chuck Austen’s comic book writing has become so legendarily bad that there’s actually a rumor that Joe Quesada specifically chose him to be the final Avengers writer before Brian Bendis took over with Avengers Disassembled and New Avengers, as a way to make Bendis look even better.

I normally laugh at rumors like that, but then I look at all the arcs that turned me away from books, and Chuck Austen has written most of them.

Why does Warren have breasts in #3?

It would be like naming a French mutant Frog White.

Or “Batroc the Leaper”?

Stefan Wenger

June 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Austen definitely takes the cake but I’m surprised no one mentioned Larry Hama’s Generation X; that’s my easy runner-up for worst X-run ever. Although I can’t remember why it was bad, because it was pretty forgettable too. I only remember the sour, angry taste it left in my mouth.

And every time I hear about what happened in Frank Tieri’s Weapon X run I want to go and tear up every copy, although I wasn’t actually reading comics much at the time so I didn’t experience much of that directly.

I’ve spent the last couple of years gradually buying Larry Hama’s issues of Generation-X. I’ve loved them so far (I’ve read about eight of them), though I admit they are very strange. But they’re definitely better than any other Generation-X I’ve seen.

You bring up the story arc that drove me away from X-men comics the week this film brings me back to them in movies.

You are a terrible person.

Actually, kidding aside, I still hung on a bit after this and for Morrison then Whedon’s run.

Still, Chuck Austin’s books were some of the worst comic book writing I have ever had the misfortune of buying. He was an angry yet ignorant atheist and his take on women and romance was pretty atrocious too. Never mind that he cemented, or tried to cement, that Mystique is straight and this BS character Azazel fathered Nightcrawler with her.

It all blurs together. Was this the one with the Catholic Church trying to trigger the rapture or was that before or after? ugh.

Either way Azazel is one of the worst X-men villians I ever had the displeasure of reading. Even worse is they made him the father of a favorite X-man. That he was announced in the First Class film alone had me swear off seeing the film. A friend eventually talked me into it and for once I was glad to find a comic book character who was made into a two dimensional villain. Unlike when they took Juggernaut for X-3 and took every interesting note about him out, it actually worked here because the character in the book was a horrible character and back story.

Mike Loughlin

June 5, 2011 at 7:04 pm

My least favorite X-Men run has to be X-Force after Liefeld left. Yes, you read that correctly. AFTER Liefeld. For about 5 issues, Mark Pacella drew the series and managed to make Liefeld look good. Seriously awful art plus stories that were no more than extended fight scenes: even 13 year-old me could tell it was garbage. I would have dropped the book, but Greg Capullo’s art kept me reading, and the ship was righted.

The Chuck Austen run, however, is the first run of comics I threw away. I didn’t sell or donate them because I didn’t want anyone else to read them. Although I still like the Northstar issue and wanted to see more of reformed Juggernaut, everything else was terrible.

The only part of Austen’s run I read are the issues with Kia Asamiya wasting his talent… I mean doing the art.
Corporate mutant wolves taking over Warren’s company, Juggernaut being nice to kids, that crap with Havok’s nurse… thank god Asamiya left or I’d have suffered reading more of that crap!

The ONLY really cool thing Austin did was have Juggernaught begin to grow up and change and his friendship with Squidboy (another great character) was quite touching, ya’ know, both feeling like outsiders even among the outsiders. Everything else was such soap opera, melo-dramatic crap it should’ve been an anime. Polaris going “insane”: YAWN. Kurt’s true parentage explained: YAWN. Warren and Paige doing it: WHO CARES? Angels and demons: MEH. UNNECESSARY. Havok and Nurse Ratched, er Annie in love: PUKE INDUCING. Don’t forget the “return” of Xorn, who was actually Xorn’s brother with powers generated from a black hole instead of a white hole, except that Xorn was actually the fake Magneto…TOTALLY UNNECESSARY HORSESHIT! AND I BLAME MORRISON EQUALLY FOR THAT! The Austen run should serve to all writers of WHAT NOT TO DO, just like Guggenheim’s YOUNG X-MEN, which was EQUALLY UNNECESSARY AND STUPID: “I know, let’s kill a potentially interesting charcter (Wolf-Boy) and pull two brand new characters out of my ass (Greymalkin and Ink) that everyone’ll really like.” NOT!

I really dislike Austen as a writer (and – after his online meltdown – as a human being) but the contrarian in me feels the need to point out a few things…

The Angel blood healing thing was just him jumping on the secondary mutation bandwagon.

Austen’s comics are often hilarious … sometimes even intentionally.

US War Machine and his second Exiles run were actually pretty decent.

In terms of some other unpopular runs …

I liked Casey’s run. It wasn’t his best and it wasn’t the X-Men’s best but it was enjoyable.

Kavanagh is among my least favorite Marvel writers.

Mackie gets a bad rap. He’s certainly not a great writer but he isn’t as terrible as people make him out to be. I’d go so far as to say the first year of Mutant X was a fun book.

Claremont messed up the Exiles property so badly that not even Jeff Parker could save it.

Tieri’s Weapon X was a bad story told well. It was entertaining but if I were to attempt a summary of the story I’d just make people angry.

I’ll never understand why Loeb is considered A-List. He did a few good DC minis (and Daredevil Yellow) with Sale. Everything else is middling at best.

Generation X kind of fell apart after the first couple years and it never really recovered. I’m willing to give Faerber the benefit of the doubt because he at least seemed to be trying and had a basic understanding of the characterization (though his tendency to forget/drop his own plot points was aggravating). As bad as the Ellis/Wood period was (turning the series grim and gritty by giving the most powerful character an offpanel death that doesn’t make any sense), it has nothing on Hama’s incomprehensible run.

The human body is about 70% water. To restore Iceman’s “moisture,” Havok would’ve had to drink 70% of his body weight in water…and store it mainly in his bladder. Unless a secondary mutation made him Sponge from the DP7 series, I don’t think so.

I guess I’m lucky that this happened during the swat of years I wasn’t reading alot of comics, saved me from JS’s run on Spiderman and all of this goofiness(though I did like the idea of Juggy as an x-man, and it gave so much fodder for the slutty She-hulk antics that would appear in her own title later). Downside I didn’t learn about the whole extended school membership of Young X-men until after the 108 thing had decimated them all.
Pity they didn’t keep Juggy reformed, still nothing stops the disaster Claremont brought upon Exiles and Excaliber in my opinion.

As a reader of X-Men for more that 30 years, this is the era I remember the least. Probably because I barely skimmed the issues. The stories were so bad, and the art so inconsistent that it wasn’t worth my time. I own the issues, but I didn’t remember most of these plot lines.

Oh, GOD, I’m so glad there are other people who were affected by Claremont’s destruction of “Exiles”.

Someone said that may have been some editorial misdeeds though? Is there any truth in that?

I dunno. All these excerpts read just like every other non-Morrison X-Men book I’ve ever read. Maybe a little more restrained than Claremont post … ’85, but then that’s an improvement right there. The She Hulk/Juggernaut thing seems offensive, but as a character bit between those panels it seems like a scene that could be in any moive.


Evolution doesn’t work like that. Mutation doesn’t “lead” anywhere, nor does nature “decide” anything. It just comes down to whether a mutation makes someone a better candidate to survive their environment, procreate, and pass those traits down to their children. That’s it. It could be argued that Marvel mutations make them less likely to survive. Mutants have a target on their backs that normal humans don’t.

Chris Claremont’s return to Uncanny could also be considered one of the worst arcs ever. And the worst new costumes. I can’t say how glad I am that the Neo have just been wiped out on the lastest issue of X-Men. (Such a silly concept…how can the X-Men beat the “next generation of mutants” if, by definition, they were supposed to be more powerful than them?)

This is fun…people are always making “best of” lists, we should do a “worst of”.

Chuck Austen is absurdly underrated. The only time I EVER bought “Uncanny X-Men” on a regular basis was when he was writing it.

[…] frankly… I’m an even bigger fan. I read X-Men: Black Sun, for crying out loud. I read Chuck “mutants can’t acquire AIDS” Austen’s run. So the amount of nerdy What-If questions runs pretty thick in my mind. […]

I think I may’ve been the only person amused by She-Hulk and Juggernaut hooking up. Maybe it derailed her character, I don’t know. I don’t read She-Hulk. But hey, who’s to say Jennifer Walters can’t have a totally-regrettable-this-never-happened one-night-stand?

That said, I thought the Azazel stuff was crap. When he was first introduced, Nightcrawler was on the run from an angry mob who genuinely thought he was the son of the Devil. The whole point of his character arc is his struggle for acceptance, despite his demonic appearance. You know. That whole “true beauty lies within/appearances aren’t what they seem” thing. Making his dad the inspiration for the Biblical “Satan” completely undermines his character. I would’ve been fine with it if Austen bothered to acknowledge that in later issues, but alas, he did not.

the chuck austen run….an odd little run!
do you know who can save all this?

kurt busiek! seriously…look what he did for the avengers in retconning their history…explaining how iron man man went crazy…how some avengers hada killer instict..lot of 90’s avengers mess was fixed by busiek.

i think he can do it for the x-men! if anyone can find a reasonable explanation for the entire austen run…its busiek!

Agent of Wolfram & Hart

February 6, 2012 at 8:56 am

Looking back this was pretty bad and I despise Morrison’s vastly overrated run so this was a miserable period for me with the X-Men, the only thing that kept me reading at this point was Juggernaut, as i’d wanted to see his face turn forever and when he finally did I loved it. Too bad the poor guy just can’t catch a break as a hero first he turns good in X-Men Forever, but that gets ignored, then he gets to turn face again, but isbeing written by Austen, then Claremont in New Exiles (which wasn’t terrible, but when nowhere) where he was a pretty awesome hero until Tieri writes a horrible story trying to force him back into being evil, then he does a MASSIVELY heroic thing basically trying to save Xavier’s life by agreeing to be essentially forced to do evil and have his personality submerged by Cytorrak and yet the guy still comes out heroic using the Captain Universe powers to save the world and joining the T-Bolts and yet again is possessed by an evil force in Fear Itself and since being left MIA. I really hope Cage and the rest of the T-Bolts go after Cain to help the guy after they wrap up their time traveling because the poor guys needs a break, honestly he’s gotta be one of the most heroic and evolved characters in the Marvel Universe and the poor guy constantly gets his growth ignored.

I think the idea of an extradimensional race of ancient demon-like mutants and angel-like mutants could be interesting if written correctly. And For Another Universe. As stated we have already seen real demons, devils and even heavenly angels in the marvelverse. To now claim that Satan was really this guy, when it’s previously been established to be Satanish and/or Mephisto that caused those stories…… Great idea for another comic universe and way to set up a new mythology.

I agree as one person stated that Angel really needed some changes. I never understood his appeal on a superhero team. He flies, by way of his wings…. Okay well many other characters fly, without needing wings (so they can manuever better in smaller spaces) And have other powers too. Honestly even Cyclops powers are pretty lame, but at least he has SOME variations.

“Collosus, throw Wolverine at those guys, Wolverine slice them up with your claws, Angel, you Umm, well fly…., Cyclops richochet your eye beams…. Storm create a layer of fog, Angel, okay um, fly over there now….. Honestly I would have just killed him off long ago.

“Race of mutants”. Lemme run that around in my head for awhile. Yep, it keeps being painful every time. A sub-species whose distinctive trait is that no two are alike. Except they’re all the same. Go sentinels go!

[…] (Props to Aaron for having the balls to bring Azazel back, the focus of one of if not the most-hated X-Men story of all time, “The Draco.”) All of this coincides with the bamf infestation at the Jean Grey […]

[…] of the devil, and numerous characters who have claimed to inspire devil legends in Marvel, the most infamous of the latter being Nightcrawler’s father (who was actually pretty cool in X-Men: First […]


I’m sorry, but if you find Austen’s change to Nightcrawler origin interesting, then you don’t get the character. The idea of Nightcrawler is that he LOOKS demonic as a result of his mutation, but in reality there isn’t anything demonic about him, so people’s reaction to his appearance are completely wrong. He’s even a catholic priest! (Or used to be, before that hack Austen retconned it away) That stark contrast between his appearance and his character is the whole appeal of Nightcrawler. So making him the demonic son of Azazel is blatant character assassination, not to mention one of the single most idiotic retcons ever.

Oh, btw, how on earth was said Nightcrawler retcon not included in the list, Brian? That was even worse than the Angel retcon if you ask me.

Druid –

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