Join Connor Goldsmith and his esteemed guest as they take a deep dive into one character from the X-men franchise on the Cerebro Podcast. Each episode includes a Cerebro file when Goldsmith (painfully) goes through the character’s major stories in order of publication, which means going through the ret-cons as they happen. Guests have included past and current comic writers and artists, comic critics, and all around comic fans.
When I say deep, I mean deep. 90 minutes is probably the shortest episode and that was only because the guest had a hard stop. Most episodes are in the 3 hour range or more. When they are talking about minor characters with few stories it is shocking they are able to keep talking for so long, but tangents abound. Hero, villain, non-mutant side characters—as long as they have been featured in a Zaladane (12 issues) they are fair game for a Cerebro episode.
This is great podcast for writers. Goldsmith is a literary agent who represents some current X-line writers. He will often go behind the scenes of publishing, licensing, and contracts. The podcast also discusses editorial mandates and what was going on at the X-office when a storyline was being written, which include writers being fired, etc. What is very useful for a writer is when they talk about how a character is used in the X-line, and what is a good plot point and what destroyed the character.
Another favorite topic is the queerness of the X-men line, which has been there since Clairmont. The tagline is “A Homo and his friends discuss Homo superior”. Goldsmith and many guests are members of the LGBTQ+ community, which sheds a light on the same sex relationships found within X-men. They do talk a lot about race and gender roles, and a bit about Judaism.
While there are many good guests, there are a few that have been overused. That isn’t saying they are bad guests, but when the same guest passes the three episode mark I feel like there needs to be more perspectives brought in. Spencer Ackerman makes sense for Hank Mccoy, Charles Xavier, and Magneto, but for him to do all three is overkill. Magneto and Professor X have such an entangled history that on those two I especially wanted a different guest to have a different voice in the conversation.
The only time I was actually upset over the guest was in the Karma episode. Sarah Century had already been on multiple episodes before, and I know Karma is the first canon lesbian in the series, but she also has a lot of intersectionality. I wanted someone to talk about Karma’s background as a refugee, and as a Vietnamese immigrant. They do talk about the historical context of Karma a bit, and mostly talked about her being Catholic and disabled.
Is Catholicism a minority religion in Vietnam? How homophobic or accepting is Vietnamese culture? How does a refugee see Karma’s experiences, and how accurate is it? These are the question I want to know about Karma and I wish the guest for that episode was someone who could speak to them. Sometimes they do focus so much on a character’s queerness they don’t spend much time talking about things like class.
Cerbro is still an excellent deep dive into the world of the X-men, and is a good way to get caught up on different characters if you haven’t been reading for a bit.