Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

128 – A Stupid Way to Die (Judgment War, Part 1)

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 X-Factor goes to space; Miles gets judgmental about spelling; Paul Smith returns to an X-title; Celestials are a pain; Judgment War is the Star-Trekkiest story that doesn’t actually involve Star Trek; monster ladies are super important; if you can be a green dude, you should be a green dude; and Cyclops gears up to fight some gods.


  • One way to kill a Celestial
  • Judg(e)ment War
  • Drunk Mark Trail
  • X-Factor #43-46
  • Walls you should maybe not bust through even if you’re X-Factor
  • A completely inappropriate show pitch
  • Celestials
  • The true secret purpose of Ship
  • The Chosen
  • The Rejects
  • Dualers
  • Perfect Seera
  • Rask
  • Zarka
  • Monster ladies in cultural context
  • Lev
  • A stupid way to die
  • Jammers
  • Plot-relevant amnesia
  • The Most Perfect
  • ZZ-105
  • Baby theft (more)(again)
  • Ryest
  • The Beginagains
  • Whether and when there’ll be another all-question episode
  • The current status of the Jean Grey school

NEXT EPISODE: The Cross-Time Caper begins!

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  1. YAY!

    This was “where I came in” after seeing “Pryde of the X-Men” so it has a special place in my heart. I started at 47, so of course i was super confused until i tracked down back issues (though there was a helpful glossary/story so far in the letters page that month). I still really love this story, even if it’s objectively too long. I look forward to the weird Archangel-vs-child-porn fill-in in an ep or 3.

  2. Wonderful episode, thanks! This is really the nadir of my X-knowledge – the end of X-Factor, ~75-97 New Mutants, and post-Inferno Uncanny until the release of X-Men #1. I really don’t know anything about the X-books circa 1990, basically, so I’m looking forward to hearing these episodes. Thanks for the start!

    As for questions, I do have a couple of technical ones that I’d be interested in hearing you tackle in an all-question spectacular:

    First, have you upgraded your hardware or software in your last 110-ish episodes? If so, what are you using?

    Second, has anything changed in terms of how you prepare for an episode? I would love to hear how that process has evolved as you’ve become more seasoned.

    1. Was there opening narration that explained the entire premise? If so, it was the regular cut. If not, it was the director’s cut.

      1. Ugh. Have we learned nothing about exposition from the Blade-Runner voiceovers?

        (Also, I was planning to use it as an excuse to watch Dark City again (because Penny Dreadful-Daredevil Season 2-Luke Cage-Stranger Things is apparently not enough of a backlog))

        1. Might be an unpopular opinion but I much prefer the voiceover version of Blade Runner, it adds immeasurably to the noir feel the film was going for IMHO.

          1. You aren’t alone – I prefer the voiceover version of Blade Runner as well, for the same reasons.

            That, and I really dislike the ‘He’s a replicant too!’ bit pushed in all later versions.

        2. Also like the director’s cut of Donnie Darko, where they add literal TEXT ON SCREEN being read out loud by the main character explaining everything whenever something strange & mysterious occurs in the movie, turning it terrible. It also screws up the great, iconic music cues.

    1. I thought the Cyclops was John Goodman’s traveling salesman. At any rate, Charles Durning’s Pappy O’Daniel was neither a musician nor a producer, he was a politician who used the same studio for his radio show as the Soggy Bottom Boys record in.

        1. In fairness, I remember it mostly because I just watched it about 3 months ago with a friend who hadn’t seen it. 🙂

  3. What a weird story. It’s strange that in what’s supposed to be the time gearing up for the Mutant wars, X-Men, X-Factor, and the New Mutants all skive off from existing plotlines for the summer (either that or the Mutant Wars idea got killed and this is what we did instead) and go off on extended adventures until new artists come on or the X-Tinction Agenda happens, whichever comes first.

    What’s doubly strange is that this is essentially the last major X-Factor plotline before X-Tinction Agenda, if I’m remembering right. There are a lot of weird blind alleys (that Ravens story is. . .something.) and it’s kinda perplexing to see a book just drift like this.

  4. Miles, I am 100% on your side in regards to “Judgment.” Standardized spelling has value!

    I would absolutely read a one-shot about OSHA investigators in the Marvel Universe. I love stories about regular people dealing with the bullshit of the Marvel Universe. I want an ongoing series about regular people.

    “We forgot about random baby in the middle of the battle.” That cracked me up.

    I found this arc a bit too weird for me to thoroughly enjoyable. There was some good stuff in it, no question. But as a whole, it was weird enough to throw me off.

  5. Hey guys, not quite through the episode yet (I listen to and from work, so I’m about 30 mins in) and only ever commented once before, but I happened to watch a really interesting YouTube video recently that actually explained that your eyes etc wouldn’t explode in space! Who knew, eh? Check it out here!


    Also, I love you guys, and think that you’re awesome!


  6. When I bought these comics back in the day I just presumed that “Judgement” and “Kidnaped” were the American spellings of those words. I’m slightly disappointed that they are just errors.

    My main gripe with this storyline is that the finale is drawn by Rich Buckler in his swipe-a-tron 2000 phase so we get obvious swipes of Art Adams, Paul Smith, Neal Adams and Walter Simonson on the same page. If I had unlimited cash I’d pay Paul Smith to redraw the conclusion so that we could get a cool trade of the whole storyline.

  7. What surprises me is I have no memory at all of this stuff. In general in the late 80s I enjoyed X-Factor more than the X-men, and I loved Paul Smith’s art. Why did I not buy/read this? Unless maybe I didn’t figure out who Smith was until Leave it to Chance came out a few years later?

  8. Okay, a question. There can be some good stuff in reading a bad story. Either analysing where it went wrong, or just making fun of it. But are there any stories you’re dreading because they’re just really forgettable and boring, where you can’t really analyse or make fun of them?

  9. Your use of the best Shortpacked observation did not go unnoticed.

    Everything’s better as goblins; the Pathfinder story.

    To me, “Momma Got an Eye-Blast” seems more like a blues or early rock ‘n roll song.

    The tangent on early World of Warcraft sexualized-monster-ladies reminded me of a piece of machinima in a series called Dreams in Ditigal. Episode 5 was “Ghouls Gone Wild” and Jeremy Holkins from Penny Arcade was the narrator/pitch-man exhorting you to order now for 9 gold.

    1. I forgot to add, clearly there wouldn’t be a face on the moon of Earth-616. There are far too many castles on it to not notice it. If the moon of Earth-1610 had a face, it would have a soul patch. Soul patch is was likely also the improbable alias of Earth-1610 Wolverine.

  10. Infodumps by characters who really have no reason to expound upon the subject they are covering tend to distract me, like long internal monologues reflecting on matters that are an ingrainedpart of everyday life, so having convenient amnesia is as good an excuse as you’ll get I suppose.

    If all else fails I resort to the course offered in “The Great Muppet Caper”

    Miss Piggy has just shown up for an interview with Lady Holliday (Diana Rigg’s character), who she has never met before, and has just listened to Lady H expound, at great length, on her life, the untrustworthiness of her brother and the value of the fabulous gemstone that she owns.

    Miss Piggy – Why are you telling ME this?
    Lady Holliday (Casually)- It’s plot exposition, it has to go somewhere.

  11. Hey, what was the name of that band mentioned? Something something Hawk? Sounds up my alley, hankering for some cool new tunes. Thx!

  12. Just a thought, in reference to Jean busting through Ship, perhaps being imbued with the Phoenix force also grants the wielder with kool-aid man disregard for breaking through walls and structures. Or maybe a secondary mutation shared by all X-factor members?

  13. Excellent! Outstanding! Superlative! Godamn delightful! I could find other synonyms, but you get my point. You guys have me laughing every time, to be sure, but the laughs for this one were longer & harder than any I’ve had in a good long while. Keep up the amazing work. On the 8 you round trip commute every weekend between work and home, you’re all I’ve got to keep me going.

    P.S.- The theme for Phoenix & the Goblin “Driving with the Devil on my Shoulder by Power & Lee? Because if so this world is too damned small.

    P.P.S.- I may have asked this before, but any chance of ever having Mr. Stokes Sr. on the podcast? I would love to hear his brain picked for comics’ relevance to a different generation, someone who was reading them at the time. Plus, hear from the guy responsible for making experts out of our X-perts…

  14. Here’s a question for if you ever do another all Questions episode: If you were to make a superhero team consisting of characters who only appeared in one or two X-Men stories, what would that line up be?

  15. Even if you are oppressed, you can still be racist. You can still act on bigoted ideas based on the race of others. If someone from a minority group assaults another person due to the color of their skin, it is still racism.

  16. I’m just catching up on the podcast now after school got in the way, and man you guys are great.

    But I think you should know, Anole rhymes with holy.

    You should also know that Three Men and a Baby was directed by Leonard Nimoy! Of Star Trek! Crazy right?

  17. So the Chosen and Rejects are totally this planet’s Eternals and Deviants, right? I just happened to be reading Jack Kirby’s Eternals before listening to this episode and I really like the parallels.

    1. Absolutely.

      The Eternals mythology was also central to Simonson’s original vision for Apocalypse (which would have been much better than the En Sabah Nur stuff that we actually got, at least in my – obviously correct – opinion). So I think, in a universe in which Simonson wasn’t driven off the book, we would look back on the Judgment War story as part of how Simonson slowly brought Kirby’s creations more and more to the forefront as part of the X-universe.

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