“The Two-Edged Sword”
Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Alan Davis
Inks: Paul Neary
Colours: John A. Wilcox
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Original publication date: June 1989
In this episode, Anna, Mav, and Andrew are joined by monster hunter/lover Dr. Sam Langsdale (@s_langsdale), co-editor of Monstrous Women in Comics, to talk a little quantum mechanics and a whole lotta Meggan in Excalibur #9: “The Two-Edged Sword.” Topics include the gendered qualities of monstrousness, the subversive charge of ugliness, the particular power of shapeshifting, and when & why monsters are crush-worthy. Also, we trash Aristotle, and Anna makes a solid gold pitch for a Kurt/Meggan story that she’d definitely write into a fanfic if she wasn’t spending all her spare time on this podcast.
This episode has an enhanced video version! Watch here:
On teenage first impressions:
“Oh my god, you killed Lockheed—you bastards. That was very traumatic and *not okay.*”-Mav
(Spoiler: Lockheed is not actually dead, don’t worry!)
On our affection for teen Kitty:
“It was so satisfying to see Kitty as sassy, assertive teenager, who’s also *dressed* as a typical teen.” -Sam
“This is her Danger Room. She’s sitting there, at her computer, in charge, chewing bubble gum. For me, that is the definitive Kitty Pryde.”-Mav
On the appeal of alternate universe stories:
“In superhero stories, you have these superpowered beings, who should be able to win every fight. But you also really want that scrappy, underdog story. AU’s where the bad guys win allows you to continue that paradox.” -Sam
On the science of alternate universes:
“Alan Moore’s development of the multiverse wasn’t based on science fiction, it was based on science. This is the ‘many worlds’ interpretation. It’s well-established in quantum physics. There is a universe or timeline for every super-position an electron can occupy. Which means that right now, in one of those other multiverses, there’s a bunch of Nazi podcasters talking about an Excalibur story in which the Nazis didn’t win WWII.” -Andrew
On associations of women with monstrosity:
“Aristotle, Rousseau, Freud keep repeating these things about women being monstrous, derivative, fluid, chaotic, un-fixable, un-predictable, emotionally violent… Reading comics while reading Western philosophy was a Matrix moment for me, where all the ideas came together.” -Sam
On comics as a monstrous form:
“Scott Bukatman says comics themselves are little monstrosities, little utopias of chaos and disorder. Comics are an especially compelling home for monsters because of the slipperiness of the medium, which we’re always engaged in a monstrous project of trying to define.” -Sam
On the importance of bodies in superhero stories:
“Superhero comics are a ‘body genre.’ They encapsulate meaning in bodies. The design of bodies, the conflicts between bodies, the spectacle of bodies, is central to the meaning of these stories.”-Anna
“Superhero comics are about impossible bodies, that allow us to take an abstract problem—like hate—incarnate it, and have a physical being punch it.”-Mav
On the complex appeal of monsters:
“Monsters are never just indicative of our fears. They’re always also signaling our desires.”-Sam
On Making Kurt/Meggan work:
“I wished we’d seen the appeal Meggan must have for Kurt as a shapeshifter. Even though he’s learned to accept his difference, he’s always felt the burden of it. Meggan doesn’t need an image inducer to be slip between monstrosity and beauty.” -Anna (image from Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler)
And also: the catchphrase is here again! And is still not explained...
If you enjoyed this ep’s discussion on monsters, you should definitely check out Sam’s anthology Monstrous Women in Comics, co-edited with Elizabeth Rae Coody, published of University Press of Mississippi. Sam also talks monstrous women in her chapter for Anna’s anthology, Supersex: Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero, titled “Over the Rainbow Bridge: Female/Queer Sexuality in Marvel’s Thor Film Trilogy.”
Sam’s also on the organizing committee for the Realizing Resistance conference, focusing on the many manifestations of Star Wars across the known universe and beyond! Registration is open now for the online event, which will be held May 4-7, 2021.
Scott Bukatman (who we referenced a couple of times) has written many fabulous things, but his most recent book, of particular relevance to this discussion, is Hellboy’s World: Comics and Monsters at the Margins.
You can find a brief history of Sharon Ventura/She-Thing here, via The Comic Vault. Not *quite* how we described her story in the pod, but we were close!
And as usual:
You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).