Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

84 – The Fourth Horseman

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 11/29/2015 at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 11/29/2015 at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.


In which Franklin Richards is the center of a disproportionate number of X-Men specials; Quicksilver without powers is comedy gold; Luna is the best little girl on the moon (but it’s kind of a low bar); Jay accidentally cares about the Inhumans; Jean Grey may or may not be the Wesley Willis of X-Factor; Cameron Hodge’s exit interview is weirdly professional; Boom Boom is the best reluctant hero; and Archangel makes his debut.


  • Quicksilver’s team associations
  • Knights of Wundagore
  • Chthon
  • X-Factor Annual #2
  • X-Factor #21-23
  • The Inhumans
  • Black Bolt
  • Medusa
  • Crystal
  • Lockjaw
  • QWOP Quicksilver
  • Leech’s wildly inconsistent powers
  • Gorgon
  • Luna
  • Headbutting ghosts, or, why sentence structure matters
  • Maximus
  • Several methods of mind control
  • A really terrible place for a date
  • Cameron Hodge: Bureaucrat Supervillain
  • The last will & testament of Warren Worthington III
  • Another superpower pet peeve
  • A theoretical team-up we would love to see
  • The Arlington Interactive Museum of (evil) Science
  • Some really dumb armor
  • Archangel
  • Our preferred third Summers brothers

NEXT WEEK: Secret Convergence on Infinite Podcasts!

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  1. So any thoughts on Claremont’s take in X-men: The End that the third Summers brother was Gambit? I kind of hated it (as the connection seemed to be based in part on “he’s got red eyes, kind of like Cyclops”)…but it was still better than Gabriel. 😀

    1. Gambit was planned since the beginning to have a connection with Cyclops, but the original plan was that he’d be a clone of Cyclops made by Mr. Sinister and that Sinister would’ve out some traits of his own DNA in Gambit (and probably that’d be why Gambit doesn’t look exactely like Cyclops). This is one of many Claremont’s unconcluded plots that was left behind when he left the book in early 90’s.

      1. It might also have worked better for the eventual retcon reveal of Gambit’s involvement in assembling the Marauders for Sinister.

        1. Agreed. Gambit was supposed to be a mole, the betrayer of the X-Men, but as usual, Marvel didn’t have the guts to turn a popular character into a vilain.

  2. When you say Cameron does it by the book, is that a book written by Doctor Doom? Down to a Doombot stand in (Hodgebot). “My Struggles, My Victories” by Doctor Doom.

    1. I suspect Cameron’s book would be more along the lines of

      + “Looking for Legal Loopholes in All The Wrong Places”
      + “Advanced Evil Accountancy” or
      + “PR for Utter Bastards”

      If only Warren had paid attention to what classes Cameron was taking at college, all this might have been avoided.

  3. I think it’s worth noting (perhaps only to me) that with X-Factor 22, all the titles no longer have Jim Shooter as EiC.

    I kind of wonder what Layton’s original plan for Cameron Hodge was, if there was one. I don’t think he saw anything wrong with the mutant hunter setup, and Hodge wouldn’t have to turn evil. Once you pick apart the setup though, Hodge almost certainly has to be evil, or else everyone in X-Factor is terribly dumb.

    With Hodge’s old money background, it sounds like he could have been a recruit to the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle. He could have been a rook with Bobby DaCosta’s father and the Selene worshipper who sort of turned into a werewolf without the fur.

  4. Your short break to laugh un-broke my heart! Thank you for bringing joy to my week with your X-knowledge and happiness.

  5. So wait, Franklin is considered mutant, right? Since he was born that way? That’s why I always figured he was popping into X-books. And now that you mention her… Luna? Mutant? Or just half-blood?

    1. I guess I always made the assumption as I read these that Franklin would grow up to be an X-Man. Especially considering his past (our future) with Rachel. (the other one)

    2. Franklin is a mutant, but one born to two cosmic radiation imbued mutate parents (mutate being a catch all term for humans with superhuman powers that are nott X-gene related).

      Luna was born non-mutant human (I think the suggestion was that the Inhuman and Mutant genes had cancelled each other out or something). Quicksilver was disappointed that his child was NOT a mutant, and attempte to put her through Terragenesis at a very young age but was talked out of it by Crystal IIRC.

      Then later on she got Terrigen’d anyway and gained the power to see and adjust the emotions of people around her. Sort of like a much less malevolent Empath.

  6. I was struck by Jay making a point of avoiding political references when talking about Hodge and his motives. Like, isn’t it pretty clear that this story was intended as political commentary in the first place? It’s not an accident that these guys were named “The Right” — they are a comic-book-ified version of some aspects of the right wing of American politics. I’m not saying you should spend a lot of time discussing this theme if you don’t feel like doing so, but why go out of your way to avoid it?

    1. And see, back then I read “the Right” as “the correct” as opposed to “the not left”. When you’re an arrogant ass like Hodge it just made sense that he’d basically name his group “everyone else is wrong”. Plus, in context of the times, back then conservatives weren’t villified, weren’t seen as the oppresive force they are now. So I doubt many reading it back in the ’80s would have made that same connection we make now. But what do I know? Growing up in the reddest state in the union I’m probably not The Right. At least not in this instance…

      1. Kelvin, I agree with you that when I first read the story when I was younger I always associated “the Right” with “correct” and not the political right. It wasn’t until literally listening to the podcast that I thought “oh I wonder if this is political?” Maybe it was because of the age I originally read the comic? Regardless, I would say that I disagree with you about conservatives being viewed differently in the 80s as compared to now. Many articles written about Reagan talked about him in ways similar to how conservatives today are written about. I’m not sure if the comic was meant to be a political statement, but it can definitely be read that way.

        Tom, I personally appreciated that the political discussion was avoided. I disagree with R&M on a variety of political issues (from what I’ve heard on the podcast) but I love their analysis and comments on X-Men. I guess I prefer to keep my pop-culture analysis and political analysis separate. Obviously sometimes a comic makes a specific political comment that should be addressed (like in “God Loves, Man Kills” or “Civil War”) but in this particular case I appreciated Jay’s restraint.

        This was another great episode in a string of about 84 of them! I can’t wait to hear the last SCOIP episode next week!

        1. FWIW: I likewise read “The Right” as–at least in-narrative–speaking to Hodge’s certainty of his own rectitude. Could certainly have been a tongue-in-cheek comment beyond that, but it’s a little on-the-nose for Simonson.

          And yeah–we don’t make any secret of our own political leanings, but we also feel pretty strongly that there’s a time and a place; as well as better-qualified folks to follow for that branch of commentary. At the same time, you’re right that it’s not always possible to separate critical discussion of art and politics. Comics, and pop media in general, tend to be aggressively political and *come* from pretty politically engaged roots, and I think it’s really important to keep that context in mind while discussing them. You can have a conversation about Superman without knowing what the Forward is and about the fact that both Siegel and Schuster grew up in a population that was in general incredibly politically engaged and in particular at the forefront of a lot of the labor movement; but your understanding of the character’s history and the intentions behind him will be lesser for that. Because they’re designed to be iconic and emblematic of ideals larger than themselves, superheroes are fundamentally shaped by current events and politics in ways that very few other figures in popular media are. DANG THIS STUFF IS COOL!

          -Jay “wrote their undergraduate thesis on the intersection of art, political ideology, and personal and critical ethics; and for some reason doesn’t get invited to many parties” Edidin

          P.S. I disagree with you *both* WRT popular views on conservatives. There was plenty of vilification from both sides, but civil cross-partisan discourse also felt much more common. It’s hard to imagine a show like McNeil/Lehrer getting significant traction today. =(

          1. All very true. And thank you. You have deeply held beliefs and an ever growing platform/potential soapbox. To show restraint as you have/continue to do takes more tongue-biting than most of us do in a lifetime. Kudos. Your thoughts are worth quite a bit to all of us. Tha’s why we listen and read and post.

      2. As someone who was reading this when it came out, the double meaning of “The Right” seemed very deliberate.

        I can assure you that in some places Conservatives were vilified. In Britain we had Thatcher in charge (A right wing authoritarian almost BEYOND caricature) and the US had Reagan. Reagan was, frankly, worryingly scary in his way (To me at least), an elderly man who never seemed entirely in touch with the real world, full of platitudinous “Aw shucks” soundbites and had access to the world largest weapons stockpile (The Cold War still being a thing then).

        The right wing in the US political spectruem wasn’t seen as being quite so… extreme as it is now, that’s for sure, but by no means everyone thought they were a good thing.

        1. I read it off the rack back then too, but with the combination of my age and the surrounding political conservatism I can tell you that nobody I know in the American Rocky mountain west made that connection. At least that I know of.

          And I agree with John. Thank you guys for keeping politics out of it (as much as can be when analysis of comics for modern day issues is literally your job) and still being fun and educational as always.

          1. I’m astonished that so many readers were oblivious to the political aspect of The Right. It seemed to me that naming a fictional racist vigilante group “The Right” was incredibly anvilicious — about as subtle as having Captain America punch Hitler. I thought it was a bit of a dumb move by whoever came up with it (Claremont? Layton?) but the fact that it apparently went over a lot of people’s heads… huh.

            I’m glad that people who disagree with Jay and/or Miles about various issues still find the podcast enjoyable, but on the other hand, X-Men stories have always been full of political themes (oppression, genocide, revolution, inclusion, nonviolence, etc) and I hope our hosts won’t tiptoe around those issues in order to avoid offending certain listeners.

            1. We certainly haven’t thus far. But there’s a really clear line–at least to me–between discussing stuff contextually and being gratuitously shitty about something because there’s a good hook to latch on to, which–as I said–is what I was talking about not doing in this episode.

              We also generally avoid speculating on creators’ intentions unless we’ve got solid evidence. What seems cut-and-dried is heavily influenced by the perspective and biases any given reader brings in; and that someone doesn’t interpret the text the same way you do doesn’t mean it “went over their heads.” *shrug.*

    2. To clarify: What we were avoiding wasn’t looking at the story in its original political context, but making catty allegories to current politics.

  7. I’m getting more and more into Inhumans titles, and hadn’t heard of this Annual before. I should look into it.

    One thing that I thought was interesting was how they established Boom-Boom’s age. I always thought that these X-Factor teens were about 16-17, but they clearly say Tabitha is 14. Is it me or are they drawn older than they’re supposed to be? Or is that a general fact of comics?

    One great thing about where we are now is, if my math is correct, we’re only 4-5 weeks away from the start of Excalibur! I just finished buying up the Claremont run, and plan to join in on the read-along.

    1. Rusty was in the Navy, so he’s got to be at least 18. That makes his relationship with Skids a little problematic unless she’s 18 (and she might be, no telling how long she was part of the Morlocks).

      It was actually the second X-Factor Inhumans story (the one with the Dark Riders) that convinced me that Jean Grey was a terrible, terrible character. She’s never really recovered from that, though I give alternate universe/timeline versions a chance. I think movie Jean is my favorite version.

        1. In these stories, yes and no, he’s not serving but is classified as a deserter, IIRC it’s one excuse Freedom Force gave for tracking him down.

          Sadly Rusty was a casualty of a horrible plot contrivance when the Age of Apocalypse character known as “Holocaust” was brought into the 616 universe and on waking up casually killed Rusty by absorbing his life energy into himself. A sad loss with not much gain in return given how low profile a character Holocaust proved to be.

          1. Sorry, it was a joke. From National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Couldn’t resist.

            Thank you for the concise answer tho. You can always count on this community of listeners…

  8. I headcanon that Cameron Hodge just straight-up put all this stuff in his day planner. Like, Monday’s to-do list was

    – Water houseplants
    – Pick up dry cleaning

  9. Can I just say – David Wynne is KNOCKING IT OUT OF THE PARK! I remember the Demon Bear episode’s title card, which was the first one that made my jaw drop. But seriously – every week now, he’s just rocking my world. Thanks to him, the many Patreon supporters who keep this going, and to Jay and Miles for continuing this amazing treat for all of us.

    1. TRUTH. David is PHENOMENAL, and I don’t have adequate words to describe how lucky we feel to be working with him. (And this reminds me that we need to talk about the site more on the podcast–I suspect there’s a fair sized cross section of listeners who don’t see *any* of these, and it sucks to be them.)

  10. This period of X-Factor, from here up through the post-Judgement War run with X-Factor being very public mutant heroes, is possibly my favorite X-book ever. Really happy to see y’all get here.

    I also really like the “X-Factor vs Joe Fixit” story in Hulk from around this period.

  11. All the props for showing David Lynch’s Dune some love.

    Also: With the advent of Death as the fourth Horseman (though if Apocalypse was really serious he’s have held out for Ric Flair or Arn Anderson) we are finally at Peak X-Factor. The book is never better than it is at this point until David takes over, in my opinion.

  12. Beyond the annoying given-name-matching-powers thing, what has always irked me about Julio is that while his name is Richter, as in Charles Francis Richter of, um, earthquake renown, he adopted as a codename “Rictor,” which is pretty much meaningless.

  13. Listening to this episode in 2018, the discussion of Rusty and the silliness of his “Firefist” name is pretty funny, with both of those being plot points in Deadpool 2.

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