I love a good podcast. Who doesn’t, right? To my mind, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as popping in some earphones and listening to a great podcast while you take a leisurely stroll.
There’s one podcast in particular that I’ve been listening to a lot of lately: Cerebro.
I’m a massive fan of the X-Men, and Cerebro–hosted by Connor Goldsmith–is one of the best examinations of that franchise and its characters I’ve ever had the fortune to come across. Each week, Connor and a guest pick a character and look at that character’s entire history. Every episode is a fascinating deep dive into a different X-character.
The show is broken into three parts. First, Connor introduces his guest and they talk a bit about how they became an X-Men fan and why they chose that week’s character. Guests are amazing, and run the gamut from people working in the X-Men office right now, to fan artists, to political commentators. There’s a huge breadth of voices present on Cerebro, and each brings a fresh, unique perspective to not only the character they discuss, but the X-Men franchise as a whole.
This diversity is a huge part of why I love Cerebro, by the way. Connor himself is a gay man, and he and his guests often look at the X-Men through a queer lens, discussing the ‘mutant metaphor’ as a whole as well as the experiences and identities of individual characters. As a straight, white due (or, as Connor affectionately calls us, a flatscan) I really appreciate the context that these discussions provide that I otherwise would have missed.
Anyway, part two of the show is the Cerebro Character File, in which Connor runs down the character’s entire history. This is always a highlight of the show, especially for someone like me who has big gaps in their reading of the X-books. My favorite part of the character file is that Connor goes through character histories in order of publication, not in-universe history–if a character gets a major retcon to their backstory, Connor covers it when the retcon was published, not when it ‘actually’ happened. This gives you a much clearer timeline of how the character has been written, which I think is important.
Finally, in part three, Connor and his guest discuss their favorite story arcs the character has been involved in. This inevitably devolves into tangents, such as the epic Candy Southern digression in the Angel episode, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Connor is consistently hilarious, has an incredible knowledge of the X-Men’s long history, and always has a great rapport with his guests, so it doesn’t really matter what they’re talking about.
There’s also a host of great running gags, like the phrase Don’t Worry About It; “The 2019 soft reboot House of X and Powers of X by writer Jonathan Hickman”; and of course, ZALADANE, SHE WHO SPEAKS!
Basically, if you’re an X-Men fan, you need to listen to this podcast. If you’re not an X-Men fan, then hey–listen to this podcast! It will convince you to hop into the books. You can jump in anywhere; the beginning is a great place to start, but I’d also highly recommend the Hank McCoy episode (with Spencer Ackerman) or the Cassandra Nova episode (with Patrick Willems). Don’t just listen to episodes about characters you like, either; this show has a way of making you fall in love with characters you’ve never cared about before.