Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

159 – Childhood’s End

***NOTE: We’re aware of the audio issues in this episode. We’re still troubleshooting our cross-country setup. Thank you for your patience!***

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

In which Stryfe is the Jan Brady of the Summers family; Miles’s dreams are trampled beneath tiny, delicate feet; Rictor goes on an unnecessary rescue mission; Cable is Washington to Cannonball’s Hamilton; the New Mutants may or may not time travel; Boom Boom scarfs up some chow for the bohunk; you should definitely not mess with Feral’s pigeons; Liefeld fights are pure rule-of-cool; Jay is absolutely not qualified to give legal advice; and we bid a bittersweet goodbye to New Mutants.


  • Zero
  • Production transitions
  • The end of New Mutants
  • New Mutants #98-100
  • Plotting vs. scripting
  • The most valuable issue of New Mutants
  • Gideon
  • Liefeld butts (more) (again)
  • The very dramatic death of Emmanuel da Costa
  • Tolliver
  • Some Spider-Man looking jerk
  • Domino (Neena Thurman)
  • A specific and likely inaccurate timeline
  • Feral (Maria Callasantos)
  • The signature Liefeld Kick™
  • The Tavern on the Green
  • Five or six kinds of mutants
  • A sad goodbye
  • Shatterstar (Gaveedra Seven)
  • Cadre Alliance
  • Nesting habits of the urban bohunk
  • Some rad moves
  • A prologue that is also an epilogue
  • The Stryfe that might have been
  • How Logan fits into the X-Men movie timeline
  • X-Men mostly likely to watch Yuri!!! On Ice
  • Jay at FlameCon!!

NEXT EPISODE: Beast has a sexistential crisis!

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  1. Nicieza really is a fantastic writer. His best work was actually outside the X-line – New Warriors, Nomad, and of course his masterpiece, NFL SuperPro – but he did great work in the X-line, too.

    On Gideon’s power: I do know that Night Thasher once removed his armour when confronting Gideon so he couldn’t duplicate the armour’s abilities. Or something. So, the bulldozer idea you mentioned might actually be right.

    Yay for Domino, she really is the best new character in New Mutants #98. I do like Deadpool, too, I grew up on the Kelly/McGuinness run and it’s still the definitive Deadpool to me. But Domino is a character who’s very rarely written poorly, she just tends to remain wonderful every time she shows up.

    The bit of conversation about Gideon’s age and looking like a “drawing of a cool dude” made me think of the Kids In the Hall sketch, “He’s Hip, He’s Cool, He’s 45.”

    Shatterstar’s design is so hilariously bad. I actually do genuinely like just how convoluted his origin is. Shatterstar is such an X-Men character.

  2. It’s almost worth tolerating Liefeld’s 17 issues of varying art and narrative blind alleys because we get Nicieza’s post X-Cutioner’s song run which is honestly one of my favourite X-runs of the 90’s

    1. 100% agree. I think a lot of that also had to do with Capullo’s art. I read 90s X-Force for the first time last year and was shocked to realize that, at that point at least, it was my favorite book in the X-line.

      1. X-force #19 is just the best. The Assault on Graymalkin was fantastic. Loved Capullo’s costume redesigns. After issue 27, I kept picking up X-force from the 7-11 on the way home from school for the next few months hoping, with each new issue, that he’d returned as the artist. Alas, poor Capullo. We hardly new you.

  3. I remember being excited that Simonson was leaving. At the time I genuinely believed that the writer had ultimate power so I saw the downswing after Asgard as down to Simonson. Obviously I was very disappointed with what came along.

    I will say that I preferred Liefeld’s art on these issues to previously mainly down to the inking. When he was inked by other artists they tried to make his work more conventional whereas I think it works best when he goes fully batshit crazy.

    By the the way the Shatterstar stabbing the badguy through himself that Miles thought was badass but inconsistent with previous depictions of the sword is a blatant swipe from Frank Miller’s Ronin. It became quite fun at that point to try and identify all of Liefeld’s swipes. A lot of people liked to make fun of Liefeld for swiping but I always think he was a teenager who suddenly had to plot, pencil and ink 22 pages a month. Of course he was going to take as many shortcuts as possible if only to give him some time to party.

      1. What are you talking about? Ronin has four mini panels in the bottom right, while New Mutants had five! Totally different, just like Under Pressure and Ice Ice Baby.

  4. The thing about Liefeld is that there is a lot of potential in that guy. He was head of the New Teen Titans Fan Club (you see his name dropped in the Donna Troy Wedding Issue). X-Force is his New Teen Titans. He actually pulls the Marv Wolfman trick of introducing 3 new characters from different parts of the Mutant-based Marvel Universe to show that his title could go to the different places and different genre-style stories (Shatterstar = Mojoverse, Feral = Morlocks, Warpath = Hellfire Club). He’s trying to pull off the trick of bringing a New Teen Titans feel to an X-book by growing up an X-Book. He also brings in his own version of Deathstroke, which is Gideon (and Deadpool, to a degree, which is Deathstrokes moves with Spider-Man’s ‘tude). And there’s also the ongoing mystery of why Cable is forming the team, which makes Cable similar to Raven as far as plot propeller and MacGuffin. It works and it doesn’t. Actually, Nicenza will go onto New Warriors and that’ll be the perfect merging of New Teen Titans with Marvel sensibilities.

    At this moment (or around this moment), Liefeld is also dusting off characters for a book where he wants to pull the reverse trick of bringing Claremontian sensibilities to a DC Brand called Titans West. That’ll be, eventually, Youngblood whom Alan Moore will have the honors of merging Claremontian plotting/characterization and Wolfman genre-bending in his version of Youngblood, but I digress.

    I appreciate what Liefeld tried to do. It is a logical step to making X-force different than New Mutants. But it does lack that heart and the thought-out mystery that propelled New Teen Titans in the beginning.

  5. Theory: Rob Liefeld wanted to be a ballet dancer when he was a youth, but his father forbid it and forced him to become a comics illustrator. He’s living his dreams by drawing everyone en pointe and leaping about and picturing it as himself doing that.

  6. Regarding your answer on Logan and the movie timelines, I read an interesting fan theory on Cracked, suggesting that Logan is in fact the only X-Men movie that takes place in the “real world” (as defined by the X-Men universe) and all of the other movies are fictional comic book stories inside that world.

    After all, X-Men comics exist in Logan, and Wolverine himself says that “about 25% of it happened, the rest is all bullshit” (or something like that).

    This would also serve to explain the weird inconsistencies that the time travel in Days of Future Past doesn’t fix, like inconsistent portrayals of characters (Beast in X2; Emma, Deadpool, and Stryker in X-Men Origins: Wolverine; Colossus in X2/3 vs Deadpool, etc.)

    I like that theory.

    Cracked also has a great fan theory that only the first season of Saved by the Bell (the “Good Morning Miss Bliss” year) is real and the rest is the fantasy of C-student Zack Morris as he somehow has an incredibly high IQ, is best friends with the wrestling jock and the nerd, is dating the head cheerleader, goes to work in the summer in Hawaii with all of his friends, and has control over time itself.

  7. Kids in the hall, Ronin, Teen Titans and Saved by the Bell: we’re all with Jay & Miles in wanting to talk about anything but these issues.

  8. Ooh, David’s header art is stylish AND sad.

    Quick question… is Feryl supposed to be lupine or feline, I could never quite decide, though I tended towards feline. (So, in effect, is she a Wolfsbane substitute, or a Catseye substitute?)

    Nicieza does his best, no doubt about that, and he’s an excellent writer, but I just couldn’t take this level of artistic… inept exuberance.

    Rob Liefeld is by all accounts a delightful chap, who really, really does love and respect comic art and will wax rhapsodic, and knowledgably, about it for ages given half a chance so he has my respect for that, but even all these years later, I am still baffled as to how any editor would offer him a steady art gig, never mind plotting too.

    I mostly remember Gideon’s power to duplicate other people’s powers from his meeting with the New Warriors, where he even duplicates Speedballs powers (and SB isn’t a mutant), I’d forgotten how vague they were. Oh, and you wonder if this was a “cool dude look” in the early 90’s, I can assure you from the bottom of my heart, that it really, really wasn’t.. EVER.

    Shatterstar’s design made my eyes ache. Though a double bladed sword WILL do significantly more damage, since rather than cut (which might heal easily) it would it creates two parallel cuts making stitching very complex or impossible (A popular gangster weapon in Glasgow was two blades with a matchstick between them for just this reason… Sometimes my trivia scares me). Oh, and I can almost excuse the headglove as it’s vaguely similar to a boxer’s head guard and probably saves those remarkable cheeckbones from being pulped.

    Tolliver, Deadpool, Deadpool, Feryl, Stryfe… ugh… it all begins here (and all those teeth.. so many, many teeth). Oh, and Domino… except of course, we find out she’d not… (Did Cable and not-Domino ever have a relationship in this era, I can’t recall if this was a creepy dubious consent issue)

    1. I just read these issues for the first time ever, thanks to the podcast. And, knowing nothing about Feral and having never read anything else with her in it – I honestly felt like the best explanation for her was that Rob Liefeld liked drawing Wolfsbane, but hated everything else about the character, so switched her out with a character who looked extremely similar but had a different personality. So I’d go with lupine, but with just enough feline to pass as a different character.

      1. I’ve never read Liefeld’s New Mutants/X-Force but have frequently confused Feral and Wolfsbane, and I 100% believe that’s what was going on.

    2. Judging by her long, thin tail, I’d imagine she’s meant to be feline. A were-cat, or as our delightful hosts put it, a cat-girl. Wolfsbane’s exactly all the things Liefeld would dislike – pious, reserved, non-sexual – so Feral is all these things (I mean, jeez, check out the costume she’s wearing. The cleavage? The crotch piece is egregious even for the 90’s!) She’s immediately obvious as the anti-Rahne. And what’s different – or opposite – to a dog? A cat!

      1. The tail is what usually convinces me to pick feline, though when I compare what fun Catseye might have been instead of Feral… sigh (And I just realised I’ve been spelling it Feryl for ages and have FINALLY remembered that Feryl was a character in the old Visionaries cartoon)

        1. I never followed Liefeld’s comics closely, and don’t think I realized before today that Catseye and Feral were two different characters.

    3. “I am still baffled as to how any editor would offer him a steady art gig, never mind plotting too.”

      Yeah, I can’t comment to the plotting, but looking at the art here for the last two episodes, I am reminded that I always enjoyed Jim Lee’s art, whereas I find Liefeld’s to be terrible in pretty much every way. It’s absolutely nuts to think that Liefeld was equally, if not more, popular.

  9. There’s something about these issues that I feel that I should praise. (Should.). Everyone complains, justifiably, nowadays that superhero characters consist of endless recycling of the same old characters that have been around for decades, and that there’s this basic nostalgic hostility to the new that hobbles the genre.

    Well, judged by that standard, these issues should seem admirably bold in how they up-end the status quo and ditch the established favorites in favor of new characters.

    But somehow, I just can’t seem to praise them for it. (Part of why not, obviously, that the classic New Mutants line-up was a good deal more diverse from its beginning than what they get replaced with, and that’s a significant element in the standard complaint against relying continually on the “classic” characters. But it’s not all of why not.)

    But I will defend one thing from our hosts’ criticisms. I immediately took “the hidden” to mean “the closeted,” the mutants who pass as human. That’s a different group from “the hunted.” Actually, I quite like Cable’s attempt to categorize the different tendencies among mutants. Yes, there will be boundary cases and overlaps, but any such model always involves an element of abstraction.

    Which is not to say that the margins aren’t where the interesting territory is for the story. Cable claims to be creating a sixth category, the survivors, but he seems to define it largely by contrast with the mollifiers (who are obviously the traditional Xavierist X-Men). The question is whether in doing so, he’ll be able to maintain a distinction between his survivors and the group against which the mollifiers have always been defined, the abusers (evidently the “evil mutants” of the Silver Age and their successors), or if his survivors will drift inexorably into that category? As always, the question is, is a third way possible?

    And I am absolutely certain that the X-Force that this podcast is about to introduce me to in upcoming weeks will examine that question with subtlety and nuance, with due attention to the implications for the real-world political parallels. How could I doubt it? 🙂

  10. Every time I look at Rob Liefeld’s art I’m saddened to realize more and more how influenced he was by Frank Miller’s Daredevil (which I still think is absolutely wonderful). Granted, I think Miller found a way to transcend the medium with what he does and Liefeld feels like a 12 year old imitating it, but I can’t help think if Miller didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have had this. Sort of like how Eddie Vedder led to the Scott Stapps and Chad Kroegers of this world.

  11. Everything that you guys riffed on in the “five types of mutants” section was golden. The culmination of “ice, wings, lasers, gymnastics, a girl” was such a good capstone. And it really is a great callback to your early coverage of the Silver Age.
    I feel like the short lived live-action tv show (whose quality I cannot attest to) also ended up with five types: Psionics, Ferals, Molecular, Elementals, and Misc. Other.

    1. I think there were only four, every power was described as either one of those or a just-go-along-with-it combination of two or more.

      It was not what you’d call a GREAT show, hampered by a TV budget, having to keep changing it’s core concept due to cast members leaving, and Fox suing Marvel for being TOO close to the X-Men concept that THEY had the TV rights to (so the characters never used the codenames they were supposed to have and were designer babies gone slightly weird, rather than “natural” mutants).

      But John Shea was reliable as the mentor figure, and the rest of the cast were at least easy on the eyes.

  12. This might just be a grass-is-always-greener thing, but the idea of Cable having to fight his own jaded future self in a Kang/Rama-Tut/Immortus situation sounds really neat. The conflict between idealism and cynicism has always been a core part of X-Men storytelling, and for Liefeld’s heavily-armed and bepouched Xavier and Magneto analogues to be the actual same guy at war with himself seems like a better storytelling vein than….*gestures vaguely at Askani nonsense*

  13. Minor audio issues aside, you two haven’t lost a step. This podcast is my favorite media to consume. Thanks for all your hard work and keep it up, welcome back!

  14. I assumed that Emmanuel DaCosta’s death scene was a very overdone affair, with a lot of “last gasps” and “final flailing moments… no wait just one more… and a final spams”. Imagine Vincent Price hamming it up like crazy.

    A “Stealth Sam” was previously seen in an one of the alt-futures of NM 48-49.

    Perhaps Gideon’s topknot thingie is actually a small motor, like you see in a baby’s mobile, constantly spinning his clip on ponytail round and round and round without him having to waste effort.

    I did like Boom-Boom’s comment to Cable about “There’s the right choice, the wrong choice, and no choice at all, and you just managed all three at the same time”.

    The fact that Feral the catwoman appeared in the Cap-Wolf story which was canine-centric (Though I think Wolverine showed up, so lets hear it for nominal Mustelidae representation!) at least suggests my confusion about her nature wasn’t mine alone!

    Did ANYONE have any ideas about what the various odd speechbubbles were supposed to SOUND like? Why did Feral get one?

  15. As regard’s Shatterstar’s swords being the channel for his powers, that’s hardly unusual, even just in the X-Titles, there’s Silver Samurai with his sword, and Black Tom Cassidy with his shillelagh.

  16. I know it was a joke, but the new Power Man (Victor Alvarezcan absorb the ennui of an open mic goth night and convert to power, so…

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