Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

106 – The X-Terminators

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 Nextwave is both canon and not-canon; Inferno officially begins; X-Terminators is basically a cartoon; Bill Gaines cannot catch a break; Artie and Leach are superbabies; Takeshi Matsuya is fantastic; you should probably never take our advice about anything; Boom Boom is pretty good at superhero costume design; Walter Peck was right; Miles still won’t stop saying that one line about stealing a baby; N’astirh is no pigeon; and “No Mutant Is an Island” is a patently inaccurate statement.


  • The Beyond Corporation
  • The Defilers
  • X-Terminators #1-4
  • The first 35 issues of X-Factor, briefly
  • Two teams with the same name
  • Fredric Wertham
  • Bill Gaines
  • Crotus
  • Babies
  • A boarding school that may or may not be Phillips Exeter Academy
  • Muffy
  • Saint Simon’s Academy
  • Wiz Kid (Takeshi Matsuya)
  • Nuprin
  • Medical advice from goblins
  • The Goblin Buster
  • Metareferential snack food
  • RadSport Sport Fashion Outfitters
  • An exceptionally specific Ghostbusters reference
  • Helen and Tim
  • Dubious spell semantics
  • How not to incorporate a crossover into a miniseries, and vice versa
  • “No Mutant Is an Island”
  • A brief history of Magneto’s helmet
  • Definitive Magnetos

NEXT WEEK: The fall of Magik.

Special thanks to multiversal metacontinuity wizard Al Ewing for the last-minute assist on the cold open!

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  1. Taki was in Avengers Academy wasn’t he?

    And I thought “mawthter” meant “mother” as a kid too, til I reread the series last year. It’s like how Igor would say master, right?

    1. Taki was apparently both shown depowered following M-Day, and a still active mutant in “Avengers Academy”, which is quite a feat.

      1. Someone needs to do a Takashi miniseries!

        I believe Magneto created a machine to return powers, Apocalypse’s blood will do it (Chamber), and Scarlet Witch was able to give Richtor his powers back.

        Also, there were other characters who’s return to power was unexplained. Stacy-X, Unus, and Tarot.

        Maybe he only pretended to lose his powers?

        1. Don’t forget Quicksilver, who read Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and thought really hard about how much he wanted his powers back.

      2. When in conflict with other continuity, Avengers Academy should always take precedent. It’s too good not to.

      3. The Marvel Wikia says that Christos Gage’s explanation was that Takeshi hacked the SHIELD servers to make them think he was de-powerd.

  2. I’m really interested in the way Inferno is being read on this podcast. When I first read it, I read it in the order in which it’s printed in the OHC (which is copied basically as-is onto Comixology). That’s a rough chronological order, and splits up what the characters are doing. In general, that’s how I prefer to read event titles.

    The podcast is reading in a way that makes much more sense for the show, and offers a different experience. Reading entire stories together, regardless of how they fit together chronologically, is a pretty nifty approach. And the chosen order has been working really well, opening up themes and ideas in a way that flows really well (i.e. the kidnapping of babies comes up in the X-Factor episode a bit ago, then is the central plot of X-Terminators, which brings in the New Mutants, who will then be the main focus of the next story you cover, etc.)

    All that to say is I’m getting a different reading experience by following the podcast than when I read it the first time, and it’s really fun. Thank you!

    1. We looked at a lot of possible ways to break Inferno down for the show. What we ended up with is based around the fact that the event is basically two parallel stories, with very little narrative overlap– New Mutants (and, to a lesser extent, X-Terminators) is fairly strictly centered around Magik; and X-Men and X-Factor are about the Goblin Queen. There’s a bit of bleedover–Colossus spends most of the event in New Mutants, for instance, and obviously S’ym, N’astirh, and possessed New York are all over the place–but for the most part, they’re discrete storylines within a common setting.

      Once we had that worked out, the reading order pretty much put itself together. Honestly, the awkwardness of X-Terminators/New Mutants crossover helped make that choice easier: the actual intersections of the books aren’t really much more coherent when you read them in story order, and it was much, much easier for us to just treat them as separate series, with occasional nods to the intersections. That’s not going to be the case when we get to the Goblin Queen end of things, where we’re basically going to be treating X-Men and X-Factor as the same series.

      So, the breakdown is (probably; we’re still feeling out a few details) going to end up looking roughly like this: 106) X-Terminators, 107) New Mutants, 108-109) X-Men and X-Factor (which cross over too closely to separate), and 110) everything else–Excalibur, other tie-ins, and general wrap-up.

  3. Crotus voice, seemed to be an homage to horror movie master Boris Karloff, who had a distinctive slight lisp.

    Jon Bogdanove’s style in superhero comics was never to my taste, though I can see it’s cartoony appeal in the abstract, and in a comic which veered so much between hi-jinks and horror it seemed an odd choice. (Don’t see much connection between his style and June Brigman’s but that’s one to ponder at leisure)

    1. I’m weird, in that I always liked Bogdanove’s X-work but absolutely hated him on Superman and Steel. Not sure if it’s a difference in inkers/colorists, a change in his art, or the fact that I first read his X-Factor when it was shipping and I was 13, but his DC work ten years later when my tastes had developed more.

  4. Right after listening to this podcast I went to my job at the local supermarket. Everytime someone with a baby walked by I heard Miles yelling ‘Wolvie, they’re stealing a baby!’ in the back of my mind and now my coworkers think I’m weird because babies make me giggle incontrolably. So, thanks for that.

    Inferno is one of my favorite stories and I can’t wait for the rest of your coverage!

  5. It’s funny, I haven’t actually gotten around to reading Nextwave yet, though I’ve read plenty about it. And I love that Al Ewing made it canon. It delights me that he decided to actually bring it into his Mighty Avengers run.

    I do like Taki. He’s a great character, and he has a great character arc throughout the series, going from having a huge chip on his shoulder, to being a really nice, heroic kid. Plus, yeah, it’s great seeing handicapped characters. (Plus, Asian-American, also nice.) It would’ve been great if he’d stuck around more after this mini. He did show up a couple other times, but not often enough.

    I do love the shopping montage. I always like shopping montages in superhero comics. Though I will say “better than the New Mutants graduation costumes” feels like damning with faint praise.

    The “spellchecker” thing is one of the most ridiculous plot points ever. It’s pretty great.

    As someone who went to college to be a librarian, seeing teens run screaming from a library will always make me sad.

    “Mutant Teenage Bikers” actually sounds like an ’80s cartoon.

    I did enjoy this mini. It’s pretty good. Though, yeah, the series probably does suffer a little from crossing over so thoroughly with New Mutants right at the end. It’s great when you read Inferno chronologically, but hurts if you want to read it on its own.

  6. There was an early issue of Luke Cage where Luke was basically like “yeah, living in Times Square sucks, but it was the only place I could afford.”

    My first introduction to Inferno was Daredevil. There, there was a very interesting story involving Typhoid Mary and then the whole thing falls apart with possessed appliances and a subway train to hell. I suppose that’s how this would have felt if I read X-Terminators in isolation as opposed to with New Mutants at the same time. I knew going in that this was an Inferno tie-in and the kids would join with New Mutants. I agree the interaction between the X-Terminators and the New Mutants was the highlight of issue four.

    I figured Magneto just had very strong psychic defenses (Sinister is sort of the same). The idea of the helmet being a psychic block was Juggernaut’s deal, no?

    1. Yeah, Inferno was the moment where Nocenti’s Daredevil run got WEIRD. It goes from being a very street-level book, not too dissimilar from Miller’s run. Then, boom, attacked by a vacuum. But what’s great about it is how Nocenti really embraced that. She ran with that weird new direction, and got Daredevil embroiled with Blackheart and Mephisto.

      The Inferno tie-in of Daredevil was the weakest part of Nocenti’s run, but it did have some fun stuff.

  7. So, the whole thing about Times Square being the center of negative energy and sin and all that? Speaking as a native New Yorker, I call foul.

    The sleeze was pretty much all on a block or two of 42nd street and bit of 8th Avenue, not the whole of Times Square. And, looking at the panel where they arrive at Times Square? That’s pretty definitely Times Square proper, not 42nd Street. I’m quite sure that that area, as depicted in that panel, was not there in the late 80s. *Maybe* there might have been some kind of adult bookstore *somewhere* in the square, but it wasn’t lined with stuff like that as in the comic. In fact… http://www.mccullagh.org/db9/10/times-square-at-dusk.jpg

    And, for what it’s worth, I’m somewhat of the mind that I’d take the sleeze back if we could get rid of the glowing tourist hell that Times Square has become. Or, at least, if they’d allow me to bring a machete with me to the theatre so I can get home decently afterwards. At least in the old days the icky stuff was confined to one area. Now it’s probably hiding all over the place.

    Sorry, I have… feelings about Times Square… :-/

  8. Listening to the podcast again a couple of things.

    You mention Warlock absorbing the hardware as being something he does… I know you guys are even bigger fans of him than me, so I’m probably overlooking countless examples, but I’m sort of drawing a blank on him doing that. He absorbs organics a lot by transmoding them, or raw energy from assorted sources, but he usually becomes machinery instead of absorbing it, doesn’t he? (Icon_UK prepares to be royally schooled)

    And Leech being able to use Taki’s flying machine… might that be down to the fact that usually Leech is near Taki himself which is what causes the problem, rather than being near the constructs? Leech normally impacts mutants, not manifestations, so if a telekinetic a mile away created a platform for Leech to stand on, I don’t think his power would make the platform fall down just because he was near it, since the actual telekinetic is way outside of his range. I’m WAY overthinking this, aren’t I?

    1. I don’t have direct citations, but I seem to remember instances of Leech being told to “pull his power in” much like Skids and her forcefield. In any case, the limits of Leech’s power have never been portrayed with exact consistency. While his power generally shown to be passive, if Leech is rendered unconcious, the negation stops working (specifically in Hickman’s FF, where he’s suppressing Franklin’s power).

      1. Leech pulled in his negation field in an X-Factor issue (I want to say around #18). It’s inconsistent.

        I think there was also a Generation X or Uncanny X-men issue in the 90s when Emma Frost kicked Leech into a wall to render him unconscious so she could use her telepathy against Gene Nation. I recall her feeling really guilty about it afterward.

      2. Oh indeed, Leech can pull in his field, I was more wondering whether the disruptive effect that Leech apparently had on Taki’s tech was actually more a side effect of his actual influence on Taki himself, so if Leech was in Taki created tech, but not near Taki, would he have any effect on the tech at all?

        1. From the ’89 update to the Marvel Handbook:

          Leech is a living “power damper” who causes the cessation of power in other living beings with superhuman abilities, or otherwise. The superhuman powers of such beings cease to function within a certain radius of Leech’s whereabouts. Leech has made great strides in controlling this ability and may condense his damper field within inches of his body with great concentration. The furthest Leech has been a able to project this field was up to a radius of 30 feet. It is generally assumed, however, the leeches control of his power will increase with age.

          I think the preposition in “causes the cessation of power IN other living beings” is significant. Leech’s field effects the individual, not the manifestation of his powers.

  9. I just caught up with the podcast after binging through all of it, having discovered it recently and I wanted to thank you for helping me during a not that great time with hours of entertainment AND for being a good introduction into X-Men(haven’t even seen the cartoon).

    I hope you won’t mind me asking some potentially dumb questions then(and if someone from the comments knows the answer, feel free to reply~):

    1) What’s this jovial theme that’s used for Super Astronaut Dr Peter Corbeau?

    2)After Rachel Summers disappeared from 616, I started wondering if there was eveer a case of alternate Phoenix Forces interacting with each other. I thought that might have happened with all the jumping between dimensions. (I know you mentioned the PF being split into the PENIS Five relatively recently, so that kind of might count)

      1. Indeed it is. Back when crawling in a sleeping bag with a naked old man was approved grade school curriculum. See back in my day they taught us reading, writing and HOW TO F*%KING SURVIVE AND SAVE LIVES! And whenever I’m desalinizing sea water or building a lean-to shelter I’m always whistling either VotM or MacGuyver. God bless a classic education!

    1. IIRC the Phoenix is unique in the multiverse, so there are no other Phoenix forces for it to interact with. (One of the things that was noticed in the Cross Time Caper is that they meet analogues of just about everyone, except for Phoenix)

      Whether that’s still the case I have no idea.

      1. I wonder if this is where we get the textual support for Chris Claremont’s claim that the Phoenix Force is Rachel’s father (which would explain why she’s unique in the multiverse).

        1. The TV show gave us pretty people in improbably stylish outfits doing silly things with superpowers, and sometimes that’s all I ask of a show… That and it had Forbes March, who is more than slightly lovely to look at.

  10. See, here’s the reason the end of the series worked at the time. At least for me. Most of us who picked up X-Terminators were already reading X-books. So expecting a stand-alone mini-series and getting the New Mutants showing up was the then equivalent to today going to see Bats V Supes and geeking out when Wonder Woman shows up, or loving the fact that Colossus spears in Deadpool. By the time the entire series had come out you were so invested in these characters and this story that dragging it back into the crossover lent weight to what these kids had just done. Plus, as was mentioned numerous times, we had been used to seeing these characters be more or less sidelined for quite a while. It was awesome to see the things they do here MEAN something to someone, ya know?

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