“Hello, I Must Be Going”
Writing: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Ken Lashley
Inks: Randy Elliott
Colours: Pat Garrahy and Chris Matthys
Letters: Pat Brousseau
Editors: Suzanne Gaffney
Original publication date: March 1994
This week, we’re talking about Excalibur #75, “Hello, I Must Be Going,” and trying not cry through the loss of a beloved character who’s been with us since the beginning. But X-Men comics have taught us it’s best to face grief with good company, and we’ve got some fabulous company with us in writer and transfeminist activist Daisy Letourneur! We talk through trans readings of Rachel Summers and why this comic is an awfully awful sendoff for a queer character born to survive. Plus a hard-to-find Nightcrawler backup story that gave Anna hives, and the debut of Daytripper!
Content warning: this episode discusses a comic book with themes of suicidal ideation.
On queer coding:
“X-Men appeals to everyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. But re-reading it as adult who’s queer and out and understands a lot more about myself—I realize there might have been other reasons it appealed to me.” -Daisy
On problematic undercurrents:
“Everyone is trying to convince Rachel to switch places with Brain. And these people are her friends. It becomes very Midsommar-like.” -Daisy
On character assassination:
“Lobdell had been assassinating Rachel’s character for a while. This is his finishing move.” -Andrew
On rewriting to write out:
“We open with Rachel being framed very heteronormatively, which makes that central to the tragedy of what happens… I understand the attempt to give Rachel a heroic send-off. But the terms of her heroism are upsetting.” -Anna
On trans coding:
“I had a revelation when I read Uncanny X-Men #201, where Rachel sees Scott and Madeline’s baby and it’s a boy. I was like—oh, Rachel was born a boy. Nathan grew up to be Cable, but could have grown up to be Rachel.” -Daisy
On the further diminishment of Meggan:
“The capacity for feminist bonding is limited here by a lot of things… including the fact Meggan is specifically framed as an avatar for Brian, and nothing but that—an anchor without her own agency.” -Anna
On accidental feminism:
“If there’s anything feminist in this story it’s a happy accident. The main story is: a woman’s love can draw you back through time so that you can be even more manly than you were before.” -Mav
On problematic religious tropes:
“When stories about Nightcrawler’s Catholicism foreground his shame about being a mutant – to me that’s putting Catholic tropes on a character who’d previously resisted them in more productive ways. Also, having the conclusion be—yes, being a mutant is a punishment you have to bear… this gave me hives.” -Anna
Want more Daisy Letourneur?
Find her on Twitter (@DaisyLetourneur)!
And! Find her musings on her blog.
Plus! If you’re lucky enough to read French, check out her book, ON NE NAÎT PAS MEC: Petit traité féministe sur les masculinités (WE ARE NOT BORN MEN: A short feminist treatise on masculinities).
And as usual:
You can find Anna on Twitter (@peppard_anna) and at Sequential Scholars (@seqscholars).
You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun) and at Sequential Scholars.
You can find Mav on Twitter (@chrismaverick) and on his podcast, VoxPopcast (@VoxPopcast).