171 – Badly Punctuated Equilibrium

Art by David Wynne. Wanna buy the original? Drop him a line!

In which 1991 runs right into 2010, X-Factor: Endgame (and everything after it) never happened, Jay covets the hell out of Cyclops’s X-Factor: Forever jacket, Apocalypse’s alternative universe motives are actually pretty fascinating, and Miles will never call his junk Traitorous Unit.

X-PLAINED:

  • The Strucker siblings (and the Strucker siblings)
  • X-Factor Forever #1-5
  • Earth-TRN237
  • What makes a good Forever comic
  • The best jacket in the X-universe (and some other redesigns)
  • MaXimum pants
  • Ship the ship
  • The Celestial Host
  • Dan Panosian’s Smug Apocalypse
  • The Master Meld variations
  • Force versus heat (and art versus word balloons)
  • En Sabah Nur, thoughtful employer
  • Gammenon the Gatherer and honey-related implements
  • Combat (and podcasting) maneuver names
  • The Apocalypse Journal
  • Eternals versus Deviants versus Inferior, Shitty Humans
  • Slow, crappy science and adorable mutant rats
  • Mutant fertility
  • Arishem the Judge and his magic space-thumb
  • Definitive versions of characters and their relationships
  • En Sabah Nur and Your Changing Body
  • That time X-Factor threw a baby at a robot to save the world
  • DC Comics’s Hellfire Club
  • Trans X-Men
  • But no seriously that jacket

NEXT EPISODE: The Muir Island Saga, part 1


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63 comments

  1. XMenXPert says:

    “I kinda want Beast’s pants.” That is some interesting phrasing.

    Named Moves: I propose the Stokes Maneuver, for when Miles says “Aaaaaanyway,” to get the discussion back on track.

    Rockband Special, for the “new band” joke.

    Plan Love for when Miles says “I love this plan.”

    Oh, on the trans X-Man debate, there actually is a theory out there about Emma Frost being a trans woman. The theory goes that Emma was born Christian, canonically her brother. It struck me as an interesting theory.

    • Porthos Fitz Sh'iar Empress says:

      My friends and I have always thought of Emma as an iteration of Patsy Stone from AbFab, who is also hinted at being a glam trans woman. Also, when Grant Morrison brought Emma into the fold as a core X-Men member he seems to write her not unlike Lord Fanny from his Invisibles series, who is also a trans woman who looks and acts much like both Emma and Patsy. All three being my favorites in their respective fictional vehicles.

    • Ryan says:

      Do we know what happened to Christian? No what Emma had claimed (which never add is up) but has he been seen? That would make for an interesting explanation of him.

  2. Icon_UK says:

    Gammenon, with his honeydipper in Ship, aside from sounding like the solution to a really kinky game of Clue, makes me hungry for some honey-glazed gammon now, so thanks for that.

    As for names for the your various “manoeuvres”, I’m torn between using short, punchy video game attack call along the lines of “Band Name Grab” or “Sexist Call-out!” and improbably long, over-elaborate (and probably not-quite grammatical) anime attack names a la Sailor Moon; “Jay Esoteric Editorial Allusion!” or “Miles ‘but anyway’ deflecting!” . I think I’m more drawn to the latter approach for the possibilities inherent in the pirouetting, ice-dance-move laden animations!

  3. Icon_UK says:

    Apocalypse being disappointed in the absence of a Kitty/Piotr relationship is overlooking the fact that Kitty was still 15 in this era, so my only reaction is “Good!”

    Oh, and in one respect, Apocalypse isn’t _exactly_ wrong, given the sheer number of hormone ridden, horny, attractive teenagers/young adults that the school has accommodated, the general lack of sexual activity between them is approaching the remarkable. A lot of pining after other members, but nothing actually happening. Not the lack of procreation part, that’s explicable for the reasons you outline, but just generally kids experimenting with sex.

    We had Jean and Scott (eventually, but I wouldn’t like to say when) and then… when WAS the next confirmed sexual relationship between active members of the _same_ X-Team?

    Wildcards like Havok and Lorna and Forge start out as supporting characters, NOT X-Men, so them being involved with X-Men and later joining a team is not quite the same IMHO.

    All New All Different? No pairings up that I recall for many years.

    New Mutants? Not until their last series when a few pairings were implied (Well, other than Doug and Warlock, and who knows how that gets categorised)

    The Australian era X-Men had Dazzler and Longshot as a couple, which might be the next confirmed one after Scott and Jean.

    Excalibur had a few – Brian and Meggan (Though they were a couple before they even joined), Kurt and Cerise was implied, Kurt and Amanda (She did use the Daytripper as a codename for the first time here)

    X-Force – Okay, now there we had a few.

    Gen-X – Not one I know too much about, but I don’t think so.

    Anyone would think that their telepathic mentors were quietly broadcasting the psionic equivalent of slipping bromide in their tea to limit their libido.

    I’m probably missing at least one blatant one, so am ready to be “Ummm… Actually”‘d a lot! 🙂

  4. Alastair says:

    If 616 Cyclops had glasses he would need to change his name.

    I think they should play up Mystique as more gender fluid, I always liked the Idea that her and Irene could have a child, (not sure how on the representation around this works as it may undermine the most prominent Les couple in Marvel history,although the fact that she as been exclusively with men since the reavers attack may also under mine that.

    The closest I can think for a Trans story was Walter/Wanda Sasquatch, if that had been done know it may have worked.

    I would transition Kid Omega, Quire is quite a blank slate but still well known, and is the only “male” phoenix host

    • Alastair says:

      Or we could transition a Cuckoo (emma clones so links with Jay’s plan) it would be a good way of showing reactions among family and friends

    • Icon_UK says:

      I’m not sure Walter/Wanda would ever work, since they wasn’t someone who chose or even wanted to transition. They were a cis male who suddenly found themselves forces into an entirely female body. Some people might have found that a dream come true, but it’s not something Langowski ever wanted, and having your transitioned character be someone who didn’t want to transition would be a minefield I suspect (See Arcee in the IDW Transformers series for how it can still be problematic). It would perhaps be a more extreme version of Psylocke suddenly being Asian, or Tom Corsi and Sharon Freidlander becoming Native American.

      There have been a few other male Phoenix hosts, the first of which we saw was the one furthest in the future; the 30th Century Guardians of the Galaxy had a male Phoenix host named Giraud in 1991

      Then in 1992, we met and were told of Feron and his distant ancestor (also called Feron) and his evil opposite number Necrom who had both hosted the Phoenix many millenia ago, all three of whom we’ll meet quite soon in this podcasts coverage of Excalibur. Then we saw Quentin as a host, and later Cyclops, Colossus and Namor during the Phoenix Five arc.

  5. CountZeroOr says:

    Miles mentioned “RKO” in conjunction with Cameron Hodge, and I’m spacing who that is supposed to be in reference to. My brain is drawing a connection between Hodge and Randy Orton, but that can’t be right, as while Orton has certainly done some terrible things (including possibly burning a cameraman to death as part of a storyline), Hodge can’t be Orton because to do a RKO Outta Nowhere, you have to have arms, and Hodge (being head without a body) has no arms, and none of his robot bodies have been suitable for performing RKOs of any kind (never mind ones that are Outta Nowhere).

    Also, Jay’s Apocalypse Voice is great.

  6. Voord 99 says:

    A couple of things that our hosts didn’t comment on:-

    – Louise Simonson’s introduction indicates that she didn’t so much remember where she was going with Apocalypse as reread her earlier work and reconstruct where she must have been going, So these issues reveal Louise Simonson to be a sensitive reader of Louise Simonson, which I suppose is not that surprising. But it is interesting to contrast her Apocalypse with Claremont’s from the X-Factor issues that he did that our hosts covered recently. It is hard to imagine Simonson’s Apocalypse saying “Give X-Factor’s leader a cigar!”

    – Simonson’s introduction is also great in how she describes how she left the book. “When I left to write one of the world’s most famous characters on one of DC’s flagship books and to play a central role in what has come to be one of the defining periods for that character, so [expletive deleted] you, Marvel, for becoming obsessed with a bunch of young superstar artists…” OK, that’s not quite how she put it.

    – The question of whether the characters are just responsible users of contraception is addressed in one panel.

    It’s when Bobby says (if I recall correctly), “But we’ve always been careful,” and Hank comments, “Always, Bobby?”

    And somehow, Bobby manages not to respond with “Yes, Hank, always. Jesus! Sometimes you can be such a treacherous unit.”

  7. Devin says:

    I like the idea that mutants might either be REALLY good at practicing responsible contraception use…OR they get so hung up in their angst that they very rarely actually have sex. Or maybe there’s a weird clause in admission to Xavier’s that they have to send Prof X a pic after the act…which would explain why Scott and Madeleine did during their honeymoon…and why everyone else would just stay celebate.

    In my dream “I get to reboot the x-men for another media/Earth and do whatever I want” I actually have wanted to do trans Emma and Wolverine for many of the reasons Jay mentioned. Aaaand promptly endlessly fight with the awful corners of the internet over “Why are you upset about Wolverine being trans but gave no shits about Jarvis being turned from a human to a robot?”

    • Allandaros says:

      …Jarvis is a robot? #sooutoftouch

      • Devin says:

        I’ve lost track of some of the marvel movies, but for the first few Iron Man ones he was an AI butler versus a person.

      • Icon_UK says:

        In the MCU, The original Edwin Jarvis was the butler to Howard Stark’s family and ally of Peggy Carter in some of her televised adventures during the 40’s and 50’s at least.

        He was perhaps THE most trusted employee of the Stark family, and was treated as part of the family by the young Tony Stark who became Jarvis’ ward after his parents died, a la Alfred Pennyworth with Bruce Wayne (I like to think Edwin and Alfred were pen-pals, and possibly both former students of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves, but that’s a fanfic for another day).

        After Edwin died (Hopefully peacefully and of old age), Tony paid tribute to him by naming his support AI, J.A.R.V.I.S. (though he used a different voice for him) and J.A.R.V.I.S. , just to keep things complicated, eventually become part of the core personality for the Vision.

        • Allandaros says:

          Ah! I remembered the Jarvis AI from the MCU, but I haven’t seen Peggy Carter (I know, I know) and hadn’t realized that there was also a human Jarvis in MCU.

          I had thought Devin’s original comment was discussing 616.

          Thanks for the clarification, y’all! 🙂

  8. Allandaros says:

    Whoa, I actually knew where the cold open was going for once! (Maybe because I had a “whaaaaaat” of my own when I found that detail out.)

    As for Jay & Miles maneuvers, the only one that comes to mind is the Jay Jab, when Jay skeptically raises a point Miles hadn’t considered in discussing a topic.

    • W. H. Rad says:

      The Strucker twins were also covered in a previous cold open. The most recent issue of Christina Strain’s Generation X brought up the sword, too. But yeah, is The Gifted intending to drive people away? Why would anyone ever decide to use Strucker as the last name of a Marvel character you want people to connect to? It’s either out of ignorance or because it sounds like Smuckers. For the latter all I can think of is, “With a name like Strucker, it has to be bad.”

      • Devin says:

        I’ve actually been thinking it’s supposed to be a riff on Stryker maybe (anti-mutnat crusader with mutant kid?). And someone just didn’t think it through.

        • Porthos Fitz Sh'iar Empress says:

          I’ve found the Strucker connection tough to get over with “The Gifted”, and Marvel’s efforts to de-Nazi Hydra haven’t helped either. One would think defending Nazis is not a battle Marvel would wish to sink into, but here we are.

  9. Mike Murdock says:

    When it comes to mutant offspring, I’ve thought this before with the question of whether humans and mutants are the same species. The funamental biological question, to me, was not whether they could reproduce but whether they could produce fertile offspring. Pre-retcon Quicksilver was the perfect example since he had Luna and Magda is, to my knowledge, a human. Any idea if, post-retcon, there are any examples of a mutant and a human producing a canonically fertile child?

    Obviously, mutants and other mutants not only have had a child (Cable), they’ve had a grandchild between mutants (Tyler Dayspring). I know it’s not the continuity of X-Factor Forever, but it’s easy enough to point out.

    • XMenXPert says:

      Tyler isn’t actually Cable’s biological son. Cable just raised him as his own.

      • Mike Murdock says:

        Of course that would be full of retcons (leaving aside the whole Toliver thing). Who is his father?

        • Icon_UK says:

          I don’t think it’s ever been revealed. Fan theories suggest either Cable IS the dad (Though his way of referring to Tyler as “Jenskit’s son” doesn’t seem to support that) or it might be Stryfe, with a subtext of rape the world could probably live without.

    • Porthos Fitz Sh'iar Empress says:

      Since two humans can have a mutant child I have never considered this, and have generally assumed it was akin to achondroplasia. Although I cannot think of any mutant/human offspring, Marvel is rife with “hybrid” unions producing fertile children, but I now want to research this…

      • Phillipa Sontag says:

        Graydon Creed is the human son of Sabretooth and Mystique. His fertility status I don’t think was ever revealed and dying, being resurrected by the T-O virus, then dying again can’t possibly be good for your sperm count.

        Tyler Dayspring is a mutant and the son of Nathan Christopher Dayspring Cable Askani-son Dayspring Summers… the grandchild of Scott ‘Cyclops’ Summers and some footnote clone of Jean Grey. So that’s a mutant grandchild of mutants. Guess those comically large guns Cable has aren’t shooting blanks.

        • Phillipa Sontag says:

          But I don’t know of any viable mutant/ non-mutant offspring. At least not since the cot

        • Phillipa Sontag says:

          But I don’t know of any viable mutant/ non-mutant offspring. At least not since the corporate mandate made Quicksilver one of the Ani-Men

      • Icon_UK says:

        Thinking about it, Magma would perhaps qualify as Selene is her grandmother many times removed and also possibly her actual grandmother, though I’d guess that her partners were not mutants, since Amara being as mutant seemed to be a shock to all concerned.

      • Icon_UK says:

        Another one would be, I think, Wallflower of the New X-Men, whose father was as mutant, but whose mother was not.

  10. W. H. Rad says:

    So, X-Factor Forever was the basis for Chris Sims’ & Chad Bauer’s version of Apocalypse in the X-Men ’92 post-Secret Wars series. Good to know.

    Maneuver names:
    The Curveball Special involves Miles’ banter propelling Jay into an entirely different and distracting train of thought which they continue to giggle at for a bit.

    The X-Factor is when critiques of the comic include subjects which break the fourth wall and violently wrench the reader’s suspension of disbelief.

    Switching Dance Partners occurs whenever a comic character’s actions do not make sense until Jay & Miles consider it within a different context.

    A Miracle of Magnetism is performed whenever the hosts consider what the scene in the comic would look like if the characters were drawn with different facial hair or headgear.

  11. Stephen Conway says:

    I read Karma as non-binary or maybe agender. I don’t have any textual support for my interpretation, just a feeling.

    • Icon_UK says:

      I confess I was always surprised that Claremont never did anything with the fact that during her debut story, Xian literally absorbed the body and spirit of her evil twin brother into herself because he was abusing HIS possession power.

  12. Phillipa Sontag says:

    On Trans X-people.
    I’ve long had a soft spot for Arclight, usually of the Marauders and fairly recently shown in the limbo incarnation of the Xavier School.
    In main continuity they are shown as female presenting but often with some traditionally masculine aspects, bulging biceps and narrow hips… but with the most common female superpower.
    They are shown alongside a version of Calisto in the third X-Men film as potentially agendered or intersex and with their breasts strapped or bound down in tight garb.
    In the animated Wolverine and the X-Men show Arclight is a recurring character and is shown as specifically male presenting.
    One of the great things about X-men is the possibility for previous villains to get redemption arcs and renewed spotlight as members of the team, Magneto and Rogue absolutely but also Joanna Cargill ‘Frenzy’ (formerly of the Alliance of Evil and Acolytes).
    Now that Arclight is seen with the X-Men I’d love to see more of them.
    Especially if they bring some awesome trans representation with them.

  13. W. H. Rad says:

    You know, with X-Factor Forever bringing up the whole “mutant powers don’t work on relatives” thing, Xi’an was able to use her powers on Tran, so clearly that doesn’t hold water unless Xi’an was either not related to her or, like, using magic.

    I also thought the Giffen/Kavanaugh limited series about Beast in 1997 may have brought Tran back, but it seems I remembered that incorrectly. Marvel Database lists it as a flashback appearance, but it was also a plot point that Spiral detected Tran still within Xi’an’s mind.

    • W. H. Rad says:

      Sorry, meant to reply to Icon_UK, there.

    • Si says:

      The Manhs, Monet’s siblings, the Struckers, Northstar and Aurora, twins seem to have an opposite effect than regular mutant siblings.

      OR … Tran was actually one of those parasite thingies like Cassandra in Morrison’s X-Men. Which is why he could be absorbed?

      • W. H. Rad says:

        I had forgotten about Aurora, and I never really knew much about Claudette & Nicole St. Croix other than they somehow impersonated Monet. I see “autism” being mentioned in reference to a superhero comic written in 1996. Multiples just aren’t allowed to exist without a psychological diagnosis in the Marvel universe are they? Are the Braddocks or the Maximoffs really the best you can hope to be? Maybe Red Guardian & Darkstar… I think there has only bee one cold open about them.

        • Icon_UK says:

          When you get down to it, the Braddocks weren’t created as mutants, their powers were originally gained from their father being from Otherworld.

          The initial idea was, I think, that being twins, the powers were split; Brian got physically enhanced and Betsy got psychically enhanced. Then she joined the X-Men and so somehow also became a mutant when she didn’t need to be, and after her bodyswap she pretty much has to be a mutant because Kwannon was. Brian and Jamie are still not mutants though.

          Confusing, isn’t it!

          As for Aurora, originally she and her brother were like the Stuckers since their power to create blinding flashes of light depended on them making physical contact, but later on her boyfriend Walter Langowski, in an ethically dubious move, and with the permission of the Aurora personality, altered her genetically so that she could generate light on her own.

          IIRC Walter also changed her so that physical contact with Northstar completely cancelled out both their powers for a while, so that was a thing.

  14. Robin Ell says:

    I am absolutely here for genderqueer Quentin Quire. (Also, Marvel, please give me a book where Quentin Quire and young!Jean fuck off to go hang out with Madelyne Pryor. I will give you all my money for this.)

    I also think there’s a strong argument for Rachel Grey being nonbinary. She manages, especially in Excalibur, this wonderful blend of high femme and stone butch, and one of Rachel’s main issues has always been in navigating her own identity. I’d love to see her get the chance to explore how she relates as transmasculine, femme, and also a lesbian (because she is).

    • Ryan says:

      Rachel is a character I would love to see transition. It would be an interesting thing to do now with her new identity as prestige. She has been so defined by her family (mostly her mother), but who is she? Plot wise it would also be interesting to see the extended summers/ grey family respond and explore that component. I’d love a panel with cable not thinking twice and just responding “cool, bro.”

  15. Psyche says:

    I want Treacherous Unit as the headlining band at a ZZ-105 sponsored concert.

    “Don’t forget to join us this weekend for our ZZ-105 JazzFest, featuring Treacherous Unit. Are you a fan of Treacherous Unit? Then join us for what is definitely not a trap to capture genetic traitors.”

  16. CitizenX says:

    I really enjoyed Louise Simonson’s origin for Apocalypse in these issues. I’m not sure how close it was to what she originally intended, but it seems to line up with his backstory in his first appearances. It’s funny you mention Maximum and X-Treme in the same sentence, X-Treme X-Men was almost called Maximum X-Men, and I’m not sure which title is worse.

    • W. H. Rad says:

      You can find out which title is worse by applying the adjective to the members of the team. X-Treme Sage or maXimum Sage? Do not forget the capital X.

    • Si says:

      If the Morlock Annalee became a superhero somehow, her codename would be MaXiMum. Or maybe MaXiMom for the American audience.

      • W. H. Rad says:

        Just sorted some old comics and came across an X-Men Unlimited issue which was part of the Maximum Security crossover. Now, I wish that had been the plot. Bishop returns from the timestream with a version of Annalee who never died in the Mutant Massacre and she becomes MaXiMum. Then, after helping to raise Artie & Leech with her, Bishop *never* feels compelled to assassinate a child/his character.
        (sigh)

  17. Ryan says:

    A cool trans character could also be storm. It could get into the historical concepts of masculinity and femininity and her former status as a goddess. And let’s not also forget that she was married to black panther.

  18. 0=0 says:

    I REALLY LOVED THIS EPISODE.

    j

    0=0

  19. POLL QUESTION: Do u like TheGifted?
    Let’s keep it super simple and respond ONLY what’s your number rating from 1 to 5? (5=u love it)

  20. comradepitrovsky says:

    Huh, so, uh, strange coincidence, but that actually was the same anonymous who asked both the trans question and the Emma/Scott question. Because, uh, it was me. Not sure if that was a good thing or a bad one.

  21. John Derrick says:

    I’m okay with Louise Simonson referencing The Twelve because she’s said in interviews that she’d like to tackle her own version of the story as a follow up to Forever.

    https://www.cbr.com/x-position-louise-simonson/

    I realize how unlikely Marvel is to commission that at this point, but man would I love it! For now we have to make do with the the Girl Comics short crossover between X-Factor Forever and Power Pack. Which was cute, even if no one managed to catch that they’d given Cyclops yellow glasses instead of red…

  22. Andy B says:

    I had never thought of Wolverine being trans, but it is really compelling. I want to go back and rewrite the Origin comic now.

  23. NurseMetal says:

    New headcanon:not only does Apocalypse not understand how babies are made, but Sinister tried to explain it to him and now he’s REALLY confused

  24. Tomas says:

    I’m pleasantly surprised you chose to venture into Forever territory! I really enjoyed X-Factor Forever– it’s probably my favorite of the Forever series so far. It’s really interesting, because both she and Chris Claremont actually explore similar territory in their signature Forever series reading mutants as a potential evolutionary “dead end,” but take the plot in pretty different directions. Which makes me think that a look at Chris’ X-Men Forever after you finish up his original run might be a pretty interesting (and well-timed!) idea, perhaps? *strokes chin*

    You know, I would actually like to see Louise’s take on the Twelve. She did come up with the concept, right? I don’t know what her original plans were, but I think if she got to do it her way, she’d do it justice. I think she talked about it as a possible sequel to X-Factor Forever in one of the letter pages? Or maybe she said that online…

  25. Tholomyes says:

    I’m just catching up, but I had an idea about the second question, and that is Mystique as a trans-feminine character. While I am not trans, I can certainly recognize that there might be potentially problematic aspects of having a shapeshifter be trans, but one thing that came to me is the way Destiny stated in one issue of the name “Raven Darkholme” as the ‘name she chose for herself’, which seems to echo the narrative that I’ve seen among many transpeople who I either know or have seen online with strained or broken relationships to their biological family.

    Additionally, in spite of places where I’ve seen this contradicted, I have had the headcanon for a long while that mystique was born quote-unquote “normal”, but chose her blue form, because it was important to her identity that she be seen as who she sees herself as, aka, as a proud mutant. And while extending this to her being trans has some potentially problematic passing-privilege aspects, in that she chooses to explicitly not pass as human, but to pass as a cis woman, I can see the idea that she wants the world to see the person she sees herself as.

    As I’m not trans, I’m fully open to any perspectives that I had not considered about this idea, but it seems like something that could fit the character, as I’ve read her.

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