Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

167 – Full Circle

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

In which things are not as they were; “yaybopunk” is definitely our aesthetic; Cable is officially foreshadowed; and the NYCC live show did in fact go really well!


  • Cable’s childhood
  • Some ECCC plans
  • X-Factor #65-68
  • The Riders of the Storm
  • “Riders on the Storm”
  • Some X-Factors that might have been
  • Babies as drawn by Whilce Portacio
  • Medieval cats
  • Yaybohunk vs. yaybopunk
  • A red herring
  • Jen Askani
  • A kidnapping
  • Visual representations of hacking
  • How to effectively evoke the Dark Phoenix Saga
  • The plural of “Apocalypse”
  • Rad fights on the moon
  • Something you should definitely cosplay
  • Cyclops narration
  • A psychic duel
  • A choice
  • Resets vs. returns
  • The Apocalypse Manifesto
  • The Crafters of Apocalypse

NEXT EPISODE: Live at New York Comic Con, with Chris Claremont & Louise Simonson!

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  1. I kind of think any vegetables Warren chops with his wings in this era would be full of deadly neurotoxin. Never eat anything he prepares.

    And I’m suddenly interested to see y’all talk about the issue where his feathers come back.

  2. On Jen Askani and her relationship to Rachel Summers:

    You’ve been talking a lot in recent podcasts about how there’s often a creative disconnect between various members of the creative team. Is it possible that there was some plan for the character to be a future version of Rachel that didn’t carry through b/c of some disagreement between Claremont, Lee, and/or Harras and that we just see remnants of it?

    1. I just realized something about Jen Askani/Rachel as a missed oportunity: while “our” Rachel turned out to be involved in Cable’s fate in later issues, the plot was probably not that advanced when the X-Factor issue was published, so the door for everything about babe Nate’s Future/Cable’s past being from a totally alternate future was probably wide open. Then something struck me: Claremont, at the time, had spent the whole cross-time caper proving that, while there were infinite multiverse versions of all the heroes, there was no other version of Rachel in any other worlds. Fresh off making this point, Claremont probably insisted ion not making Jen A be Rachel because those Summers might turn out to be alternate ones, and another Rachel would contradict a point he’d just spent years proving in Excalibur.

  3. Just started reading these in preparation for listening to the episode and …

    …Foxbat? Foxbat???

    I know, given Claremont’s love of aviation, it’s probably a reference to the MiG-25, but still — I know “Flying Fox” would be wordy (and taken by DC for a very obscure character) but — Foxbat?

    1. I actually feel really bad for Anson Mount because he put genuine effort into his sign language (consulting with sign language experts to understand the structure of them and coming up with something of his own), but it’s going to be overshadowed by everything else in the show.

  4. Whow crazy/cook factoid of the show: originally XF v1 66, was going to have the wedding of Jean&Scott.

    Ya that is weird & is alil confusing, why when XFACTOR Peter Davids team took over, why didn’t they start at ISH#1 again and call it XFACTOR Volume 2

    I totally had that TUSK action figure. And similarly, I had that Shiar green robot guy, where the smaller version of him would come out of his back.

    TRIVIA: Where was the first EVER mention of Cable in?

    1. “that Shiar green robot guy, where the smaller version of him would come out of his back”

      I have that one too! 🙂 That would be Warstar of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, B’Nee (the little one) and C’Cll (the big one), apparently named after characters from the cartoon “Beany and Cecil” (Which I have to take on trust as it never aired in the UK)

  5. Hello, Jay and Miles.

    I was thinking about Jay’s frustration with Black Bolt not using sign language, and I think I have a good justification for why that might be. Societal pressure.

    As you mentioned in the show, The Inhumans have a gross tradition of eugenics running through their culture.

    If Black Bolt used sign language it would be admitting that his voice powers present in part a disability to be overcome, making him less than “perfect”. It could hurt his standing as king based on the (again, gross) eugenic standards of Inhuman society.

    So he forgoes the obvious solution and allows others to speak for him instead.

    What do you think? Do I get a no-prize?

    Thanks as always for a great show. You guys are always entertaining and thoughtful. Keep it up! 🙂

    1. Someone else mentioned the Inhumans TV show having an “ISL” already, so I’ll otherwise return my occasional thing of “Count_Zero Contextualizes Comics Through Anime” by bringing up an image that this conversation put in my head of Black Bolt communicating through actual physical signs like Genma Saotome in Ranma 1/2.

      This in turn lead my train of thought to a hypothetical absurdist manga about The Inhumans with Maximus and Black Bolt having a Manzai-duo relationship, with Black Bolt as the straight man (communicating through signs), Maximus as the funny man, and Black Bolt occasionally “correcting” Maximus with one of the signs (instead of an overlarge paper fan).

      Either that, or Medusa would be the Straight Woman to Black Bolt’s funny man (with the joke being that he ‘says’ stupid things with his signs while looking comically serious), and Medusa would take Black Bolt’s own signs and “correct” him with them.

    2. I think the “horrible eugenics-based bias” explanation that Colin suggests will work — as long as somebody actually writes a story about that and calls it out. But so far, they haven’t, despite many stories that have wrestled with the fact that the Inhumans, as a concept, call for one to root for a royal family on top of a genetics-based hierarchy with an actual slave class.

      So I think the Inhumans TV show is on sound ground in having Anson Mount use a conlang (and he seems charmingly geeky about his hopes that it will take off and become a thing). But in the comics, Black Bolt should probably be fluent in multiple sign languages: his own, ASL, BSL, LSF, etc., and artists should be prepared to show that on the page: have him effortlessly shift into BSL when in Britain, etc. Yes, this would require a little research, but come on: it would normally not be that many panels per issue, and words are easily looked up in resources that have actual pictures for you to imitate.

      Incidentally, I’m not finding the Inhumans TV show to be as bad as everyone thinks. Yes, it doesn’t have the budget for its ambitions — but there is a reason why my pseudonym is drawn from classic Doctor Who. And it’s done a good job of saying “No. Just no.” to the idea of the Alpha Primitives. (Yes, I know they’ve sort of appeared on Agents of SHIELD. But I don’t think that’s why Inhumans has eschewed them in favor of giving that role to an oppressed non-powered working class.)

      I like that the Black Bolt-Maximus conflict is a serious moral disagreement, not a simple hero vs. mad villain story. (This is the main thing that differentiates it from the otherwise very similar Thor-Loki conflict.) Black Bolt wants to prioritize rescuing the persecuted Inhumans on Earth; Maximus, justifiably, thinks that’s insane given their limited resources and would rather correct the injustices towards Inhuman society’s own underprivileged class. At least ostensibly – it is rather obvious that Maximus will turn out to be using the nonpowered’s legitimate grievances to manipulate them for his own ends. But the show has gone much further than I expected in its three episodes towards suggesting that Maximus has a point, and really is viewable as the hero of this story, because Inhuman society really is built on awful principles.

  6. So … I’ve mentioned the awesome Epic Collections Marvel is doing in other posts recently. Weirdly, THIS story is being solicited as a part of “X-Men Epic Collection Vol. 19: Mutant Genesis”, which otherwise reprints X-Men/Uncanny X-Men. I’m not sure why…maybe because it’s Claremont’s second-to-last mutant story besides X-Men 1-3? I have no idea. They are even using the cover of X-Factor #67 as the cover of the trade (which also makes no sense, since the trade contains X-Men vol. 2 #3, and if you’ve ever seen that cover, you know it deserves to be a trade cover for an era containing literally all the best X-Men).

    Fun fact: I didn’t realize until recently just how “eugenic-y” the Inhumans were. I just knew “I like Avengers, Crystal used to be an Avenger, the end.” But … man their society is messed up.

    Oh, Jay and Miles… since we are talking about Inhumans and X-Men here, when you get to the 2000s will you cover the David Hine run of X-Men/Inhuman minis he did almost uninterrupted (almost to the point where it could be considered a “David Hine X-Men vs Inhuman” run) that spanned from Colossus Bloodline->Son of M->The 198->Civil War: X-Men->Silent War?

  7. I consider myself strong in many of the grandmotherly arts, but the idea of craft night with Allison Hendrix…are you allowed to wear armor to craft night? Something that would deflect stabbing, burns, and/or bullets? She scares me more than Helena most of the time.

  8. Black Bolt actually *does* communicate with Medusa via sign language, as established in early appearances – it’s just that most comics they’re in don’t show it because no one could figure out how to make sign language work in static art and still be interesting until HAWKEYE #19.

      1. Right — it’s not that hard. There is also a classic Strontium Dog panel from 2000 AD that involves a character using a sign language. In fact, it is arguably less disruptive in a visual medium than speech balloons and captions. It’s just that we accept those as conventions.

        But I’m glad to hear that BB used a sign language in early appearances. Kirby?

  9. Whilst everyone is discussing how much the Inhumans are into eugenics I was wondering if it was just me who sees a correlation between the Celestials in Kirby’s Eternals and Scientology. The idea of alien overlords creating “perfect” post-humans has always made me slightly uneasy.

  10. Black Bolt doesn’t use sign language because he’s not an Inhuman. He’s actually an untalented dj from Florida. Everyone just assumes he’s wise and silent and he doesn’t want to blow his cover. It’s hard to be in a position in which he doesn’t belong, and he’s freaking out, homey!

  11. See, I always figured the little tuning fork on Black Bolt’s head was a way for him to communicate telepathically. He would only do so with Medusa because she was his bride and Queen. Of course, this was with the minuscule information one gets from trading cards and scattered comics when they’re 10 and comics are still a strange wonderland of odd.

    Honestly, I am shocked we’ve not had an issue of Scott going to some form of therapy. Maybe all of the various telepaths around him, and those he’s dated, have helped keep himself stable. But you’d think that once he was in charge of the Xavier Institute, he’d have gotten a wing filled with counselors or something. Or maybe he did and they quit in a week.

    As for why X-Factor didn’t reboot their numbering, I think I have an idea. While, yes, a new number 1 was totally Marvel’s bread and butter for everyone under the sun, they didn’t reboot other lines that had drastic changes either (Uncanny with the All-New X-Men, anyone?). And seeing how X-Factor #75 was literally a few months around the corner, I’m betting someone in marketing figured it would be a good idea to keep that numbering going.

    1. If I’m remembering Black Bolt’s first FF appearance correctly (it’s been a while) it looked as if the tuning fork gathered energy from the ether or whatever, with Kirby krackle around it. Certainly, BB had reserves of energy that he could expend by using his “ALL-POWERFUL MASTER BLOW!”

      I really hope that the TV show features the All-Powerful Master Blow at some point. Although Black Bolt is significantly depowered in it.

      1. I’m thinking the only way the show would have worked is if they’d gone full-Kirby anyhow. I would pay good money to see a Kirby Inhumans TV show.

        Master Blow and all.

        1. As I noted above, I’m becoming a cranky irritable fannish defender of the Inhumans TV show. Yes, *that* person.

          But, really, I think it works moderately well – and moderately well is much better than the level of criticism it seems to be receiving would suggest. Certainly, I think criticisms have to go beyond “Medusa’s hair”* – or at least, one could acknowledge that Lockjaw looks pretty convincing if you’re going to go after Medusa’s hair.

          I mean, it’s telling a story that’s overtly about a society that combines extremes of inequality with stifling economic constraints. This is a much more sensitive use of the Inhumans than one might have expected from the “Game of Thrones with Superheroes” that the marketing suggested it was trying to be. Inhumans is much better about this sort of thing than Scott Buck’s last superhero project — which is a low bar, but nevertheless one that it clears. For this reason, I’d argue that the show is too Kirby, in some ways – TV Attilan should feel more stifling and claustrophobic than the CGI shots of the city suggest.

          I also appreciate that it is unashamed to name its episodes after Lee (for once, probably Lee) titles: “Behold…the Inhumans”; “Make Way For … Medusa.”

          Now episode 4 is going to be awful, and I’m going to have to take back all that.

          *There is what I think is a more serious criticism regarding Medusa’s hair to be made (not a sentence I ever thought I’d write). But it’s spoilery. So don’t read on unless you’ve seen the show, or don’t care.

          Cutting her hair off does make the fact that every criticism of the show starts with the wig a bit pointless. But it’s a really problematic move – one of those points at which “problematic” seems like a weasel word. First, it’s depowering a female character, which needs no discussion. Second, it’s the variant of that trope in which the depowering is presented as personal violation, rendering the depowering a metaphor for rape. And one inevitably feels that the only reason why this disturbing plot point is there is because they realized that the effects weren’t working.

          It is true that the show immediately tries to compensate by showing that Medusa is competent and effective without her hair (implausibly so, in fact – just why is she that good at hand-to-hand combat when she has no need to be? – not that I care). But still, if someone felt that this alone was reason not to watch Inhumans, I’d have to agree that they had a real case.

    2. Scott going to therapy/counseling would imply that at least on some level, he is acknowledging and trying to process his emotions in a healthy manner. I’ve always gotten the impression this is something he is not great at and even avoids. If anything, this could explain WHY two of his great romances were both telepaths; they could read him on their own. Hell, his only consistent(ish) parental figure was Xavier.

      Technically, Emma did approach Scott in Morrison’s run on the basis that she is/was a sex therapist…but yeahhhhhh. We all saw how that panned out. (Hint: It wasn’t ethical).

      1. …maybe the reason Scott attracts so many psychics is that his brain is such a mess that they’re attracted to it? Possibly in the “can’t look away” sense or the “I can fix this” sense, although Jean seemed to genuinely like him from the start.

        Still. I don’t think a therapist for Cyclops would last past the “tell me about your family” phase of therapy.

        1. Can you imagine that family therapy session? Sinister, Xavier, and Corsair are all being sat down to talk about their roles in co-parenting.

          1. Oh my lord. Can we please have this? I would pay good money for a miniseries based around the one secret psychologist of 616. Like Night Nurse and physical injuries, this man/woman/person helps heroes and villains through their mental issues.

            Spider-Man and his guilt complex and abandonment issues.

            Hank Pym and his… everything.

            Captain America and dealing with the the pressures of being a symbol.

            Cyclops and his… volumes of family problems. There could be an issue alone about his complicated relationship with Cable. And the Stryfe crashes through the door (leaving spike-shaped holes in the wall around the door frame) for a fight with daddy issues.

            I would love to have this.

            1. Doc Samson is kind of that character and has a PhD in Psychology. There’s a great X-Factor issue coming up soon in J&M (X-Factor Vol 1 #87) by Peter David where the whole team visits with him for therapy and a callback to that in David’s later X-Factor run (Vol 3 #13) when X-Factor is a detective agency. I think he’s also been in this role at other times, but this is the most X-Applicable one I can think of.

              I work in mental health and Summers Family Therapy sounds more like an en masse crisis debriefing than actual family therapy, there’s so many people. *shudder*

        2. The “tell me about your family line made me laugh. That’s just perfect. I imagine Scott just bursting into hysterical laughter as soon as the therapist asks that.

          “Well, my dad’s a space pirate, and that is probably the least-wird thing I will be telling you about my family. I hope you shrinks give each other discounts, because buddy, you’re gonna need more help than I do once I get to my kids.”

  12. Probably worth mentioning now that the revamped X-Factor was almost done very differently by Fabian Nicieza/Erik Larsen.

    I’d guess the no new #1 is that this was still an era where that wasn’t done. That stuff starts happening in the later half of the decade with Heroes Reborn/Byrne’s Spider revamp. Of course by the early 2010’s it starts to happen almost constantly.


    1. That’s very true. Unless you kept getting and losing books, like Nova, you tended to not get new #1s very often.

      Now I’m waiting for a series made of #1 issues, frankly.

      1. Not connected to X-Men or Marvel but the comic “Skullkickers” decided that a funny joke would be to relaunch with new number ones for five issues straight. Each new number one changed the title so you got “The Uncanny Skullkickers #1” and “Dark Skullkickers Dark #1”.

      2. Look no further than the Hellboy franchise, which (aside from BPRD) resets to #1 every time a story finishes. If they didn’t print the actual series number on the title page, there’d be no way to put them in order other than release date. If this is not an obvious and cynical marketing ploy, I’m not sure what it is.

        1. I don’t know if I entirely agree with it being cynical marketing. When Mignola started the series, back in 1994, he wrote Hellboy as if it was a loose collection of mini-series and numbered them as if they were mini-series (though it did keep the internal numbering on the inside cover). That system worked for a time but once he expanded it to a larger more connected universe, the numbering became more confusing than helpful and we end up with the jumble it is today.

          1. Probably a better comparison is the Tales of the Jedi series, which reset every mini-story arc, even if they fed directly into each other: Freedon Nadd Uprising into Dark Lords of the Sith, for example.

  13. Wow, the mention of Stryfe’s Strike File is timely, for entirely personal reasons. My grandmother died last week (yes, we were close, but also she was less than a month from her 101st birthday, and I like to pretend that her extraordinarily advanced age makes losing her easier), and in connection with that, I spent a lot of time at my parents’ house last week. At one point, I was down in the basement looking for champagne, an important part of grieving for my family. Most of my old comics are up in the attic at my parents’ house in old wine cases (you may be beginning to see how my family operates), waiting for me to get around to taking them home and integrate them into my adult collection (things I got as an adult, not sexy things [exclusively]). Stryfe’s Strike File, for some reason, was down in the basement, near the wine, instead. I spent a good twenty minutes with it, to the annoyance of champagne-thirsty relatives, and it was an important mental break in a difficult, emotionally enervating, and physically exhausting week. Thank God for Stryfe, as I am sure no one has ever said.

  14. Oh hey, so apropos of nothing, but anyone else planning on getting “Previously, On X-Men”? It’s a book all about the ’90s animated series, written by Eric and Julia Lewald, a couple who worked on the show. Comes out in November. So, you know, would also make a great Christmas present for the X-fan in your life. Or something.

  15. RE: yaybopunk

    You speak of how the teenspeak was adults trying to talk how adults think teens talk? My brother recently reminded me that, growing up in the small town rocky mountain west, we fell for it too. There was an exclamation (I want to say it was Jubilee but don’t quote me) that we just KNEW must be used by cool kids in big cities or it wouldn’t have been in the comics, so we used “Bingo bango bongo PAYDIRT!” for too many years.

    1. Oddly enough – that was, at least when I was a kid, an expression in parts of the Portland Metro area, but not because the “kids” were saying it, but because of the adults or rather an adult who was saying it.

      “Bingo, Bango, Bongo” (with a possible “- Rip City!” appended to the end) was a signature call by Bill Schonely, the Voice of the Portland Trail Blazers, for Radio and TV broadcasts of Blazers games. If a kid was following the Blazers they would have been familiar with the phrase – and lots of people were, as the Blazers made it to the finals and/or playoffs a few times in that era. Being that this was also the Jordan era, once the Blazers ran into the Bulls that was pretty much all she wrote…

  16. Apocalypse gave them Ship… but he didn’t expect the kids to figure out Ship had a brain and free it. I’m guessing he only “gave” them Ship while expecting it to still be his slave.

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