Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

179 – Sincerely, An Evil Individual

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

In which X-Factor gets a revamp; Larry Stroman is the best part of 1991; Havok used to have principles; Multiple Man is his own worst enemy; Jay’s Doonesbury knowledge finally becomes relevant; Strong Guy breaks the Washington Monument; and Val Cooper may or may not have married Mister Sinister.


  • The Madrox who got away
  • Alan Disambiguation
  • The X-Factor that might have been
  • X-Factor #71-75
  • Banter™
  • A small selection of a gratuitously large volume of pop-culture references
  • An evil individual
  • One of the many deaths of Multiple Man
  • Larry Stroman extras
  • Professor Vic Chalker
  • A Sinister scheme
  • The iteration of X-Factor most likely to end up naked on television
  • Your real-life Jamie Madrox reference
  • GeeCees
  • A canonical Doonesbury reference
  • One way to get out of writing a term paper
  • The proper plural of Madrox
  • Ricochet
  • The Nasty Boys
  • Death by irony
  • The evolution of Magik’s Soul Sword
  • Why female superheroes rarely date civilian men

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  1. Ah, X-Factor. So much fun. And it defined so many of the characters. It’s the best book for Alex, Lorna, Jamie, Guido, and Quicksilver. Rahne’s also great here, but she’s gotten plenty of good books.

    The mayo jar gag is beautiful. One of the funniest things.

    And then the Chalker running gag. For the record, though, he DOES get to run into X-Factor! In an Annual, he gets to fight them. He and his whole family, in fact. It, uh, doesn’t go great for them. Especially #1 Fan.

    Guido picking “Strong Guy” as his codename is the most Guido thing. And the fact that, in 25+ years, no one has said, “Really, dude?” is just great. It’s been long enough that it’s just there. No one questions it any more. Even though he calls himself Strong Guy.

    Also, can I just say I really like the Nasty Boys? I like the Nasty Boys. They’re cool.

    One of the few female superheroes who has dated normal guys is Carol Danvers, but they’ve never lasted long. On a side note, now that Jean’s back, I think she actually should re-connect with Ted Roberts and date him for a while. The X-Men, in general, have moved away from even talking to regular people. Jean dating Ted would be a way to move back to the X-Men actually trying to co-exist with humans. (And, side note, Ted wasn’t the Cobalt Man, his brother, Ralph, was.)

    1. I’m a bit surprised the Nasty Boys’s run was so short (well, not that surprised, they aren’t spectacularly interesting characters). I think it was just fortuitous timing when the show was being created that helped cement their role.

      Regarding Ted Roberts, X-Men: Grand Design I think is making some retroactive attempts to make his relationship with Jean a bit more significant, which is an interesting decision.

      Outside of the X-Men, the one that immediately comes to mind is the super creepy relationship between Donna Troy (Wonder Girl) and her thirty year old professor boyfriend. Apparently people at the time were upset that she was dating a non-powered character (you know, as opposed to dating a thirty year old divorced man with a child when she was barely 18 if that).

      1. I noticed Grand Design had Jean and Ted explicitly together. It made me weirdly happy to see. Ted was as generic as it gets, and yet, I still think Jean should date him.

  2. The only female superhero I can think of who dates a civilian is Donna Troy. Her boyfriend and later husband seemed almost universally hated.

    I strongly enjoyed Peter David’s run on X-Factor when it came out and was put out when it ended abruptly.

  3. There was the mall cop Ultimate Jean was dating when she went into hiding after Ultimatum, but it was only so she would blend in in whatever town she was living in IIRC. Either she had been doing that for a while or was tricking him into thinking they had, I can’t really remember. That’s the only one I can think of off the top of my head though

  4. Beast dated Trish for a long time
    Angel dated Candy until she lost her head and Charlotte Jones
    Iceman and Opel
    Cyclops and Lee
    Banshee and Moria

    I enjoy this era of X-factor, it is more fun the the Hulk or Spidey work, the David did at the time, I would be good to know maybe when the run ends, how you think it compares to vol 2, the investigations team.

    It’s good to see the slow build to the Annual starting, the mad doctor with the robot suit will have a big impact.

  5. There was a pro wrestling tag team called the Nasty Boys during the 80s and 90s. I know there was a deal with Marvel and Hulk Hogan, maybe there was another connection.

  6. I confess that whilst I did enjoy this run for a good while, and it’s sheer, determined change of pace from the X-Men and X-Force, I did find the non-stop pop-culture bantering to be somewhat… fatiguing after a while. (and sometimes references that weren’t know in the UK, like the whole “Grey poupon” business).

    Likewise I didn’t understand it not getting a new #1, but as you say, there’s probably a story there.

    1. My guess would be that X-Factor didn’t get a new #1 because it would have made X-Men #1 feel like less of an event. At the time Marvel was spending all its energy on pandering to its superstar artists, and giving a new #1 to David and Stroman would have implied they were on the same level of stardom as Lee, McFarlane and Liefeld.

      9On a more prosaic note, there may also have been distribution-related factors at play. I know that in the 1950s, publishers never started new titles if they could help it because they had to pay the post office for distributing a new title, so they just retitled books and kept the same numbering, even if the titles weren’t closely related (so EC’s Tales From the Crypt was formerly Crime Patrol and was titled The Crypt of Terror for a couple of issues). I don’t think this specific issue applied by the early 90s, but there may have been implications for their distribution to newsstands or direct subscribers that made restarting with a new #1 more complicated than it eventually became.)

  7. Dani Moonstar dated an FBI agent in the New X-Men: Academy X series. Not quite a civilian, but he didn’t have any powers so that’s… Sort of on the way?

  8. Hey, long-time listener, even longer X-fan, yet first time writing here.

    Funny how age changes your perception of art. I remember buying this run back in the day and absolutely hating Stroman’s art, much prefering Quesada’s issues that came after it…but then the same can be said for Bill S’s run on the NM…now going back and rereading it all is like rediscovering it all over again.

    Loved so much the running gag with the doctor and the robot suit, and the pay off in the annual was simply superb.

    Regarding Superheroines dating civilians…what about She-Hulk and Wyatt Wingfoot on/off relationship? Does he count as a “civilian”?

  9. *Taps glasses to bridge of nose*
    The song played on the car radio is absolutely a parody of a They Might Be Giants song, not Weird Al. The original version, Particle Man, could also be seen on an episode of Tiny Tune Adventures from 1991.

    Oh, and
    Um Actually.

    Great episode guys. Missed you last week. This is at once the X-Factor lineup I grew up with, and a run where I have no clue what happens. Whenever X-Factor showed up in crossovers it was these guys. They were the ones labeled X-Factor on the trading cards. I only have a few scattered issues though, mainly from the Quesada era. Somehow I’d gotten the impression that this was the serious book. Possibly because they were government employees.

    1. Weird Al is the guy who makes parodies, so they were pretending Weird Al made a parody of Particle Man called Multiple Man. It’s been awhile since I read it, but I think they explicitly mention that in the comic (frankly, because, if they hadn’t, I would have thought it was a parody of the 60s Spider-Man theme song instead).

    2. Damn; I thought I was clearer about the nature of the Weird Al parody / TMBG song in-episode. (I’m a pretty big TMBG fan myself – their Asheville, NC show from the early 2000s is still the best concert I’ve ever been to!)

      1. Ah. Sorry. Glad I don’t need to pimp the Johns though. Their fans collapsed the stage here in Milwaukee back in 1992. During a polka number. Possibly the metalest thing to ever happen during a polka performance.

  10. You could also cite the Ron Marz run on Witchblade for underpowered/civilian boyfriends, where Sara was dating a totally normal cop named Patrick Gleason who was always getting the shit kicked out of him because he refused to back down.

  11. Kitty dated someone who was a SHIELD agent for a short period of time after her breakup with Wisdom IIRC, but given it was SHIELD, not sure if that would count.

    Kitty and Doug doesn’t count, as, though it was assumed he was human when they first met, they never really “dated dated”.

    Did any of the Gen X kids get involved with humans when Emma’s school was human/mutant co-ed?

    I was going to comment that these X-Factor costumes reminded me a bit of the “Counter-X” X-Force costumes, but then I googled those to see if they looked like I remembered them, and good LORD are those ugly costumes.

  12. One of my favorite things in that first issue is the undoing of John Byrne’s crappy recon that Lockjaw is a person, not a pet.

    1. I’m not really a huge fan of PAD’s retcon. I think the original story was actually a very good story about physical deformity and a parent’s love. The whole point is Pietro wanted Luna to go through Terrigenesis because he was angry that she wasn’t a mutant like him. He said he would love his daughter no matter how she turned out, which prompted Lockjaw to finally speak and ask “even if she turned out like me?” It was a Thing issue because Ben Grimm was exactly in the same boat as Lockjaw, which is why Lockjaw brought him there.

      I also didn’t like that the retcon doesn’t actually make sense in context of the original story. To David’s credit, he didn’t care one way or the other about whether Lockjaw was a dog, Marvel editorial just asked him to retcon it. So he wrote it as a prank (by two people not known for their sense of humor) because he wanted to leave it ambiguous. It wasn’t until Saladin Ahmed’s Black Bolt run that the ambiguity was finally removed.

      1. As PAD pointed out in story, the original retcon did imply that the Inhumans had been acting incredibly condescendingly towards Lockjaw if he was actually a humans Inhuman.

        Yes the practical joke aspect doesn’t work with the heartfelt line that Lockjaw delivered, but it was a no-win scenario in many ways.

  13. Regarding superhero relationships: it’s not X-Men, but She-Hulk was involved with Wyatt Wingfoot for a long time during Byrne’s FF run. (Unless Wingfoot got powers at some point; I was a sporadic FF reader,)

      1. One of my favourite bits of useless comics knowledge is that writer/editor John Tomlinson used the pseudonym Steve Alan because all the most successful British comics people were called Steve (Dillon, Moore, Parkhouse etc) or Alan (Moore,Grant, Davis etc). This was picked up by other Marvel UK editors so Richard Starlings wrote comics under the name Richard Alan. He also became letterer on X-Factor but sadly not until the next storyline or I could um, actually again.

  14. This episode really took me back! I can provide some context for these issues, because I was both following David’s column in Comics Buyers’ Guide and heavily involved in rec.arts.comics.misc at the time.

    Regarding sales, my memory is that X-Factor was regarded in Usenet circles as the book for the discerning fan, and in the artist-centric culture of Marvel at the time, the one book that was there for people who cared about writing over the current fad artists. (This was cemented by the Doc Samson issue, which I look forward to your coverage of.)

    Vic Chalker first appeared in a CBG column as a fake guest columnist who was supposed to represent the worst type of entitled fan, in a depiction that now seems rather quaint. Over time, he became more of an author stand-in in the column, conducting fictional interviews and the like.

    I suspect the knock on PC language wasn’t entirely neutral or observational, since David got into some protracted arguments about the use of language in the CBG letter column. (The culture of anti-PC ranting among the regulars is what eventually drove me off his website forums.)

    I forget if this was spelled out in the episode, but Edmund Atkinson was African-American and an accountant, doubling down on the “black adder” pun. (At the time, David was using the names of r.a.c.m. regulars for background characters in his books; since my last name is Atkinson, I had a brief thrill until I worked out the full reference.)

    Did anyone reference the Janet Jackson song in re the Nasty Boys? I imagine that would be a hazard of choosing a name like that.

    1. Yeah, speaking as someone who started buying the X-men with issue #149, at the time these issues came out it was a HUGE breath of fresh air for the X-fan. The Blue and Gold team books may have gotten all the giant sales, but they were both relentlessly stupid compared to the best of Claremont’s run.

      One thing I remember happening repeatedly very soon after Claremont and Byrne left the scripting duties was the team setting up a “security PARAMETER” around the mansion. It’s a small thing, but it’s a stupid mistake that I cannot imagine either of those two or Weezie or Walter making. The books replaced characterization with SUPER KEWL fights.

      I was never down completely with PAD’s writing or (especially) Stroman’s art, but this book was the only place to go for decently-written, characterization-driven X-men stories in its time period. Plus it was pretty consistently funny. I think this and maybe the first 20 issues of Generation X were the only X-books I read regularly post-1991, until Grant Morrison showed up. (Unless PAD’s Maddrox-led relaunch of X-Factor was before that?)

  15. I remember hating this when I first got into comics. The art was so not jim Lee or liefeld and the light tone was just not cool to 12 yr old me. Where are all the guns and bad ass attitudes? And Quicksilver? Ewww. Isn’t he on the Avengers? And all he does is run? Strong Guy? Dumb.
    Once I collected the full run and matured ever so slightly it became one of my favorite runs in comics. I really appreciated it for what it’s not, compared to what was out at the time.
    And oh the Nasty Boys. I always felt like a couple of them should have ended up Marauders. But after a few appearances they fall into limbo. Im sure later writers thought they were too silly. Not wrong I guess. Just wait til we get to the Hell’s Belles!


      I *love* revisiting comics as an adult that I dismissed as a teenager for pretty much exactly that reason. People dismiss kids as not having taste; but, man, I am way less picky and elitist at 35 than I was at 15.

      1. *whispers* I didn’t like Alan Davis at first. “Too cartoon-y”, said 13 year old me.
        I had a similar attitude toward other greats simply because of, again, who they weren’t.

        1. I think I felt that way about Davis the first few times he showed up on X-books? Was completely sold on him with the very first issue of Excalibur, though.

          1. Excalibur #1 was my gateway into comics, not the first comic I had ever read, but the one that made me say “yeah, I want to get into this.” And it was all Alan Davis’ fault.

      2. Isn’t the “kids don’t have taste” thing really more “kids have BAD taste”?

        Flip side, there aren’t too many things I’ve changed my mind about. Dunno if that means I had good taste then or have bad taste now…

      3. I only remember the name Briquette, which I thought was a cute joke, and Vague, which was a direct shot across the bows of spends-a-lot-of-time-posing Vogue over in some Image title or other, so am looking forward to being reintroduced.

        1. A little bit of a spoiler: All of them are fantastic in a sort of bad way.
          Ive always been a bit obsessed with obscure Marvel characters–particularly mutants–and this run introduces some of my favorites.

  16. I feel like the inclusion of Kermit the Frog is at least partially due to Peter David being able to pull off a Kermit impression. At least, that’s what I remember from San Diego Comic Con panels in the DVD extras for Mark Hamill’s Comic Book: The Movie.

  17. I’ve been looking forward to your X-Plaining PAD’s X-Factor run for literally years now, yet finally getting into it I could not contain my hype. This is the book that got me into comics and I love it to this day. Even as an eleven year old kid who didn’t get all the jokes and references, I knew there was something magic there which made me want to be in on the jokes.

    Almost three decades later, Havok and Quicksilver are still some of my favourite characters — because I might be a dumpster fire of a human being. Also Polaris, but I feel that doesn’t reflect quite so badly on me.

    Sinister remains one of my favourite villains in all of comics, and I wish the Nasty Boys appeared more frequently. Or at all.

    I love the concept of a government sponsored mutant team, and how that’s an overt political statement in the Marvel U.

    Also, Val Cooper is great.

    The uniforms are absolutely amazing, and I will fight anyone who says that jackets over top of tights is not the best look.

    Larry Stroman! And later Jae Lee!

    The absolute best issues of X-Cutioner’s Song, my [not so] guilty pleasure favourite crossover!

    The post X-Cutioner’s Song team psychiatric evaluation issue.

    There’s so much good stuff in this book, and I’m getting excited all over again just thinking about it. Which is nice, because I’ve been pretty cold regarding Peter David and his work since his rant at that NYCC panel a couple years ago. The adage about never meeting your heroes — or watching a YouTube video of them spouting a bunch of racist bullshit — has never rung more true for me. And while obviously my nostalgia for the book does not excuse what David said or believes, it was still very formative.

    1. If I choose to track that panel video down, on a scale of 1 to 10 “post-Info Wars Billy Corgan”s, how disappointed will I be?

      1. Obviously it’s all relative — for some reason, I’ve always thought Corgan was a loon — but probably an 8 or 9? PAD is just so passionate in it about his obviously terrible generalisations of Romani peoples that it’s affecting.

        1. Thanks. I think your estimate was fairly spot on for Peter David. I found a video, and I am surprised it was so recent and that it was during this of all panels:
          The video I found did not include the apology mentioned in that report, but I’m still going to be doing some thinking about whether or not I want to continue reading Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider.

          As for Corgan, “Gish” was released in 1991. I think had heard it by the time these X-Factor issues were published. We’ll see if X-Factor ever needed separate tour buses for each member.

          1. I don’t know if there was ever a video of the apology. Mostly blog posts that kinda hit that, “I’m sorry you’re offended,” mark. Not a great look.


            With regards to Corgan, music is my biggest pop culture blind spot, so I’ve never really had much connection with the Smashing Pumpkins. But Corgan’s name has shown up for years in conspiracy theory related articles — dude believes in chemtrails and other such nonsense — so finding out he showed up on InfoWars to compare “social justice warriors” to the KKK didn’t seemed almost like a logical progression.

            1. Getting Peter David’s side helps. Particularly the blog post from the 10th of October, 2016, as in that one he wrote, “And what did I do? I helped, in some small way, to make matters worse. I have never felt more mortified.”

              He clearly thought he had communicated things which he, in fact, did not during that panel.

  18. Re: Sex with Jamie Madrox, Peter David’s modern run on X-Factor (Volume 3) addresses that exact question, with really, really messed up results. He gets someone pregnant, with a dupe of himself, that he reabsorbs upon the dupe-baby’s birth. It was a fairly traumatic experience for everyone involved.

  19. I’ll be honest, I did not care for the art in these issues. That said, some of my biggest problems were with the colorist and not the penciler (I saw some pages where the colorist opted not to stay in the lines). But the story was so much fun that I opted to stay in. While art one doesn’t like can affect a reading experience, it doesn’t have to ruin it.

    Also, I just read about the Peter David racist comments, and it was quite a read. But I’m more annoyed by how he actively supported (on the CBR forums, and I assume elsewhere) Orson Scott Card and encouraged people to ignore OSC’s bigotry and go to see Ender’s Game because the book isn’t about anti-LGBTQ2+ bigotry. He then went on to include that exact story in All-New X-Factor (one character was reading a sci-fi novel written by an anti-mutant bigot, and Quicksilver said they shouldn’t).

  20. Dazzler we can add to the list of super-powered ladies who’ve had normal boyfriends. Though, I should add the caveat that the fact that exceptions exist doesn’t disprove the point – after all, we gotta start scratching deeper into continuity for examples.

    It’s also worth noting that Northstar’s husband is a non-powered guy in a relationship with a super-powered person. In so much that I think it shows that once typical gender concerns begin to be questioned, men can be more okay with not being always “the most powerful.”

    Was there any explanation for A) how Sinister survived Inferno (aside from “it’s X-Men/comics”) or B) why he ditched the Maurauders made at the time or beforehand?

    1. The Nasty Boys always created questions for me. Are they a Marauders farm team? Does Sinister clone them too? He also seems to have a different relationship with them compared to the Marauders.

      1. Perhaps they’re a “farm team” in the sense that if their “batting average” isn’t good enough, Mister Sinister breaks them down into Science!-y genetic goo to use in the next project. Then again, that’s more of a Dark Beast trait.

  21. Also, re: how far back this female hero/civilian stuff goes, I’m just thinking of how much Greco-Roman myth has male gods with mortals, and so rarely the other way around. There’s a great Steven Universe thinkpiece about this, how so many hero narratives then consequently have the power flowing from the father, and why one of the reasons SU is such a good show is that is upends that (the Greg/Rose relationship is such a good example of superheroine/civilian man relationships we need to se emore of).

    Here’s the link if anyone wants to read: https://www.themarysue.com/steven-universe-maternal-narrative/

  22. shucks. why no love for seinfeld? also, it’s a shame stroman’s art never progressed beyond this era. adore this run so much. i re-read x-factor #71 (and x-force #1) over and over at my grandma’s as a kid. (claremont and lee’s x-men #1 was too stilted for a 10 yr old, pretty pictures though). but after seeing tribe a couple years later, admirable as it was — and stroman’s much later return to x-factor — it was clear milgrom was really holding shit together on these all-new, all-different issues (as well as glynis oliver wein’s colors). he’s such a tight inker that stroman’s bizarre panel layout and expressive quirks didn’t hinder but enriched the storytelling. everything was still very much legible here. tribe and later efforts are messy, nearly incomprehensible reads from a visual storytelling perspective. stroman really should have blown up as part of the second wave of image, but as he’s stated in interviews, seems he rested on his laurels and fell off pretty quickly. i loved his work in stryfe’s strike file, too! ah, such good memories. can’t wait until you two cover x-cutioner’s song!

    1. I agree on Stroman’s borderline narrative incoherence, but there is something undeniably fresh and exciting about these issues. It’s odd to be looking at relatively early work by a comics artist and wonder who they liked. There’s maybe a splash of Patrick Nagel here, but with a vety generous slug of heart and humour added. I don’t know if Milgrom improved anything here, I’d need to see evidence. It could be Stroman trying harder at this point.

  23. Senator Shaffran did not reveal his powers. That was Mr. Sinister posing as Senator Shaffran. Shaffran was restrained in his office, watching C-Span during the entire display, as Sinister tells us when he joins him there. “It was important that you have a stand-in today.”

  24. Wait, I don’t know much about Tenacious D (other than Jack Black is a member of the duo). In which song of theirs do they talk about intercourse with Jamie Maddrox?

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