Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

103 – Warwolves of London

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.


In which Excalibur is x-tra x-ceptional; we once again gush at length about Alan Davis; Kurt Wagner is reliable with the ladies; nothing in Excalibur is ever perfectly normal; Warwolves are regular folks; Brian Braddock still doesn’t get to take a bath; Jay overthinks a question; and there’s more where that came from!



  • The Unstoppable Juggernaut
  • Earth-10724
  • Jay & Miles at Emerald City Comicon
  • Excalibur #1-3
  • Fun
  • The Crazy Gang (again)
  • The somewhat ignominious death of Ray Mulholland
  • Warwolves
  • Nigel Frobisher
  • A somewhat dubious ploy
  • Bathroom etiquette
  • Widget
  • A kid named Colin
  • Rupert Holloway
  • Friendship, kind of
  • The Lighthouse
  • Courtney Ross
  • Excalibur vs. the Juggernaut
  • Kitty’s powers
  • An exceptionally specific theoretical crossover

NEXT WEEK: Checking in on the current state of the X-line, with guest Brett White!

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  1. Brit here. Since you raise the question, the dialogue in Excalibur does not pass for spoken English in the U.K. Much as I adore the Claremont run on the book, I find that my enjoyment of it depends in part on my willingness to read past both the dialogue and the inevitable reduction of Britain itself to a set of touristy tropes and locales.

    1. Addendum: I feel that the book is at its strongest in the Cross-Time Caper, which coincidentally frees Claremont from the business of mimetic authenticity. On the other hand, better knowledge of British culture and history might have served to make the Caper at once richer and stranger.

    2. (One part of that trope-ishness that I recall getting out of hand was the preponderance of Teddy Boys in Excaliibur’s crowd scenes and minor characters – a minority youth subculture of the 70s seemed to be alive and well in the late 80s and and early 90s of Earth 616 London, presumably because they were distinctive and fun to draw.)

    3. Dang. I’ve been catching up a bit, and I *know* I just read an issue of Excalibur where some character uses some absolutely ridiculous “britishism” and CB takes him to task for it, although I think they agree that “bloke” is an acceptable term. Can’t for the life of me remember which issue it was now, though. :-/

      1. (Issue 36, I think? Excalibur are fighting the Outlaws, and Sandman, IIRC, calls him “Captain Crikey” – to which CB responds that this would be like him assuming that, as an American, Sandman says “golly gee whiz” – and then punches him into particles, naturally.)

  2. Alan Davis drawing these characters is the definitive version of them for me. I love how he draws their body types differently, specially Rachel. He used to draw her body scrawny but with some muscular structure, something that changed when the Phoenix healed her body, after she fought Necron.

  3. I totally agree that Davis’s art defines Excalibur for me. But as I was listening to the Podcast I was wondering what it would look like with other artists. Sienkiewicz’s warwolves would be terrifying for example.

    Any thoughts on who the best or worst alternative Excalibur artists would be (assume same basic plot through issue 25, but with tone changed to match artist contribution).

    1. I think Rick Leonardi would’ve been a good choice. I don’t remember him drawing anything Excalibur except the unpublished Phoenix miniseries.

      1. Leonardi did do a couple issues during the Cross-Time Caper iirc. When the team fought Jamie and Kitty was separated from them back to 616.

        1. Heck, no! It was Dennis Jensen (#18). It meant to be a “Dirty Pair” homage.

          Leonardi did #19, an splendid issue IMO, as he uses to. I think he could have been a pretty decent substitute for Davis…or the regular artist for X-Men (Claremont wanted it so).

    2. Truthfully, I can’t imagine the book with any other artist. It’s a collaboration. Any other artist turns it into a totally different series.

      1. I think that’s what I find so fascinating about the idea. The Cross-time Caper is a fun romp with Claremont teamed with Davis. Put Walter Simonson as the artist and it probably becomes a legendary epic instead. Mike Mignola’s art contributions turns it into a descent into the dark and horrific corners of the multiverse.

        Whether the book would work or not is a different matter…I just like the concept of imagining it in the alternate universe sense where it happens.

  4. I feel that that question answered at the end about the Nine-Nine was incredibly well handled. I would completely support a Patreon goal of that kind of thing being done as a separate monthly feature. Who would the cast of Community switch minds with most comfortably? Which X-Men would work best a characters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
    Then again, these also sound like great Imzy discussions.

  5. Excalibur really was a ridiculously fun series. Davis’ art is so damned good.

    Claremont does play the long game here, as usual, especially with Colin. It takes, like, two years for that to play off. I do love Widget, too.

    Grumpy Kitty might be my favourite version of Kitty. She’s so much fun.

  6. Trivia time! Vixen and her toyboys wore arrows all over their costumes for a good reason. There’s a symbol from bygone times called the Broad Arrow, which denotes the thing it is on belongs to the British crown. They were put on all sorts of things, but they are most remembered for being all over the clothes of prisoners, to the point where it became cartoon shorthand for a criminal. If the Beagle Boys were English, instead of stripy shirts with numbers on the front, they’d have arrow shirts. In the UK, the show would be called Broad Arrow is the New Black.

    That said, the arrows on Vixen’s outfit don’t actually look like broad arrows.

  7. The English in this is terrible, I just started reading this run and it is does make you wonder what English people (or British whichever term you prefer) Chris Claremont had ever met. It does keep me amused, but very clichéd.

  8. This episode was a delight to listen to. It’s really sounds like you’re having fun with the source material, which you probably are.

    I had more comments, but now I forgot them all…

  9. Alan Davis is my artistic equivalent of comfort food; if I’ve had a bad day, or I’m tired of grim and gritty, I know I can open a New Mutants Annual, or his criminally short Detective Comics run, or his Clandestine work and be cheered by the sheer bold energy and exuberance of his style (and the GREAT hair!)

    Serisouly, no one draws happiness, or fun the way Davis does in the mainstream superhero genre.

    Check out that shot of the photo of Kitty and Doug, not only do both look extra adorable but the facial expressions are so spot on they tell you how close these two were better than any amount of text could

    Totally agree on his work with fabric too, layering looks like layering and clothes look like they might actually be warm and comfortable.

    As for the accents, well, Brits are used to the American interpretation of our accents being a little… hit or miss shall we say (Though I will note, Miles, that you have one of the Warvwolves refer to another as “Reg” with a hard G sound. It would be more like “Rej”, as “Reg” is a shortened version of “Reginald”.

  10. Another Brit here, coming in to argue for Claremont’s English English. Based on the examples mentioned in the podcast, and based on my memory of reading these issues a few years ago, I’d actually say it’s exaggerated and comicy, but not entirely outside the realms of possibility. “Coo” is ridiculous but not limited to Claremont’s perception – is it a Dickens hangover thing or something? – but “she ain’t ‘alf alright,” or whatever it was was perfectly acceptable for a rough Londoner in 1989, if you ask me. It’s like all Claremont writing – rings fairly true, but all piled up together, isn’t something a normal person would ever quite say. But that applies to his dialogue for American characters too!

    1. Reminds me of the Germaine Greer interview where a friend had been writing a book with an Australian character and wanted her to check their dialogue for veracity.

      “Would you use these words?” she was asked

      “Well… yes, but not all in the same paragraph.”

    2. I’m not British but Australian, but we got a lot of British comics in the newsagents over here. I read a lot of UK kid’s comics and Claremont’s use of “Brit-speak” is entirely consistent with the dialogue of these comics (although, as pointed out, nobody really spoke like that).

      I’d take issue with reading Nigel Frobisher as “coded female” – to me, he’s more specifically coded as a Thatcher-era yuppie, which comes with a certain sense of style in business suits/haircuts/etc.

  11. Every time one of you said “warwolf” I had to suppress a little Marty Feldman voice in my head saying “Thor wolf!”

  12. Furthermore, I appreciate the Juggernaut recognizing the Phoenix and knowing what’s coming. Long-time villains tend to learn only one thing about the heroes, and that’s how to lure them into places. Best rivals! Cain ought to be on pretty familiar terms with Kitty and Rachel.

  13. Catching up on Excalibur, so I’m glad you’ve gotten to it. It’s such a… bizarre book (in a good way!). Very unlike most superhero comics in tone. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, wacky. 🙂

    By the way, shouldn’t we have taken a drink when Kitty dressed up as Rachel? (Incidentally, in case people aren’t keeping up with Guardians of the Galaxy, the last issue made it canonical that Kitty realizes that she can’t put a decent outfit together to save her life.)

    As always, a great episode. Have a great time at Emerald City!

  14. The British attitude to superheroing is an interesting one, with yes, a deal of.. resignation to handling the weird stuff in as matter of fact a way as possible. A WWII style “Keep Calm and Carry On” sign is probably on every wall in STRIKE, RCX, WHO or MI-13

    Davis plays with this later during his wrting stint where the naming convention introduced for the large population Warpies is brilliant, and very very British.

    Warren Ellis also addresses it in his run, as Meggan and Brian watch the american media reaction to the death of the Avengers in Onslaught, and note that the UK has never been as (for want of a better term) hysterical in their admiration, or rejection, of superheroes. Superbeing are just something that happens.

  15. r.e. the coding of Nigel Frobisher: there’s definitely a contextual element you’re missing here, and that’s the stereotypes he’s set to play into. He’s an Upper Class Twit, as indicated by his name and geographical location (the absolute best the character could have hoped for would be to become a yuppie, otherwise he’s almost certain to be a complete bastard). Frobisher’s created as the type of character who thinks he’s entitled to women’s attention, amongst other things. While in the UK we are still comparatively likely to understand or validate negative queer coding, I wouldn’t say our culture tends to be the source of much of it – a degree of gender flexibility has traditionally been treated as a source of mild humour, but rarely the actual end point of a joke, nor something exclusively characterising a villain. You know Scar in The Lion King? I’m not surprised they asked an English actor to play him – it’s a role we could understand fairly easily – but I don’t think the character would have existed in opposition to an inexplicable nuclear family of heterosexual lions if the script had been written over here.

    Also I’ve done a quick bit of research regarding the name ‘Frobisher’ on the old Google, and the most likely inspiration for the name is one of the Doctor’s companions, who’d debuted five years previously. I’m not a Whovian myself but perhaps you’d know him from the meta? He was apparently a shapeshifter who self-identified as a penguin.

    tl;dr I’m thinking most context that’s going to slip by you is likely to be class-based indicators, and also the slight difference in how queer coding tends to be treated – with our storytelling traditions, I’d argue that queer troping doesn’t have to be villainous, and characters acting that way can be portrayed as exclusively heterosexual without any cognitive dissonance.

    1. Doctor Who’s Frobisher was a Whifferdill, a shapechanging species. He was a Private Investigator who then became the companion of the Sixth Doctor for a while. He did indeed like the shape of a penguin (Which reminded him of an old girlfriend, another Whifferdill who frequently took penguin form) and he got stuck in that shape for quite some time after staying in it too long.

      He was great fun, though I don’t quite see him as being an inspiration for a first class prat like Excaliburs Frobisher! 🙂

      1. Yes – I was just wondering where the direct inspiration for the name might have come from, and bearing in mind that Captain Britain had already been interacting with Doctor Who characters, I thought it seemed legit. Sounds like a fun character. 🙂

        1. Mild spoiler for old Excalibur issues – – – Frobisher in Dr Who was a shapechanger? Did not know that. Intentional or not, it plays into Excalibur Frobisher’s story arc!

          1. Sounds like there might be some confusion here – just in case, worth noting that Frobisher from the Doctor Who comic (shape-changer usually in penguin form) is *not* the same as Frobisher from Torchwood (member of UK government played by Peter Capaldi).

            1. As someone whose online handle is often Frobisher, I give way too much thought to these things.

              Which is why I’m going to point out that, as he is a shapeshifter, I don’t believe there’s anything in Children of Earth that would indicate that they are *not* the same being. 🙂

    2. Oh and agreed on the context of Frobisher as a character. He comes over as a spoiled upper class posh-boy with entitlement out the wazoo who thinks he’s God’s gift and is really obnoxious about it.

      He finds women attractive, expects them to find him attractive too simply by being himself and oblivious to the truth (until Rachel teaches him a lesson).

      I’d say his manner is effete ratber than effeminate, like some unholy combination of alpha-male jock and Niles Crane.

  16. Re: Rachel altering her appearance:

    I’d remembered a note about it in, of all places, the Jim Lee-drawn X-Men trading cards from the early 90s (link: http://uncannyxmen.net/sites/default/files/images/cards/xmen92/05-b.jpg).

    Besides the desperate need for editing (“horrible facial tattoos that scar her face!” is straight from the Dept. of Redundancy Dept.), it left me with the impression that Rachel was constantly using a low-level of telepathy as image inducer, making everyone around her see her as she wanted them to see her. Comics!

  17. These first three issues have justified my pre-purchase of the Claremont run in issues (which my wife was dismayed to learn that I’d bought 34 issues before reading a single one of them lol).

    A quick note though: Miles said that these were on higher-quality paper and ad-free. Mine felt like standard newsprint (though the cover and back-cover pinup were glossier) and there were definitely ads in the book (which were AMAZING! 1988 ads for a wireless Nintendo/Atari/Sega controller; Columbia House cassettes or records, including Michael Jackson’s “Bad”; NES games that just came out; etc.)

    As for Frobisher: the panel of him having been knocked on his butt should’ve been a Panel of the Week candidate if that were a thing for the weekly podcast. Because while he’s recovering, his receptionist is in the background with a huge grin on her face and clapping! Completely unnecessary background element, but absolutely perfect. Go Alan Davis.

    My last comment is on Juggernaut. So I subvocalize when I read and will hear the voices of either the cartoon voice actors or movie actors when I’m reading X-books (or sometimes just other actors if they weren’t in any such medium). For Juggernaut, I tend to use Vinnie Jones from X-Men 3, who has a distinct Brit accent. So it was weird for me when Vixen said he was clearly American. And I know he and Prof X are American, but I headcanon it that the Xavier/Marko families were originally English and were homeschooled and so never got Upstate New York accents, so that my use of Patrick Stewart and Vinnie Jones voices makes sense. I felt I needed to switch to cartoon Juggernaut just for that issue lol.

  18. Showing my age again, but I think I smiled a little when Miles mentions Brian accidentally crushing Kitty’s box of programs she wrote with Doug. Not the event, that was a very sad moment, but the fact he mentions it was a box of hard drives…. This was in 1989, domestic portable hard drives you could transport in a cardboard box weren’t even a thing yet. So it would most likely have been floppy disks… crunchy, super-fragile 1.44 megabyte 3½-inch disks. (Yes, she might have had some Shi’ar hardware but I doubt the lighthouse was set up for that)

    Honestly, kids these days with their moon pies and 128 Gigabyte USB flash drives! 😉

  19. Please please please please PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE get Stephen Lacey of The Fantasticast to do the line readings for your Excalibur coverage. I have rarely wanted something podcast-oriented this badly. Andrew Leland would also be good, but I think Excalibur’s a lot more London than the north of England.


  20. If Rachel is the Phoenix’s daughter and not Jean’s, and Cable is Madeline Pryor’s daughter and not Jean’s, Does Jean have any future children who are actually hers?

  21. The description of Vixen’s goons reminds me a little bit of the goons from Yatterman – the Doronbo Gang – except Vixen is considerably more competent than the Doronbo Gang.

    (If in my posts here and on the Imzy board, I seem to be drawing a lot of comparisons to anime & manga, that’s because in the late-90s to mid-2000s I stepped away from comics for a bit to focus on anime & manga, and I didn’t get back into comics until recently – so I tend to contextualize things in the context of anime and manga I know of).

  22. So, now having binged a ton of Brooklyn 99 due to Jay’s response, I have my own theory as to what Santiago messes up:

    She goes as Cyclops, as Jay said, and wants to really go over the top in terms of detail, so she did some research and wanted to find a specific Cyclops plot point. Having read some wikis, she prints out “Have you seen my wife and son?” flyers (with Madeleine and Nathan on them) that she hands out to guests.

    …except she dresses as blue and white X-Factor Cyclops, which then leads Holt to comment that Cyclops would not be looking for his wife by this point, as he’d already think she’s dead. She tries to explain that maybe he was too busy and upset to print out new fliers, but Holt immediately corrects her on the proper characterization of Scott Summers, particularly in times of crisis vis a vis details and duty.

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