Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

180 – Lawful Badass

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

In which Jay is deeply invested in The Gifted; Trevor Fitzroy is generally inexcusable; there are a lot of reasons to be uncomfortable in the Hellfire Club; the mix just got altered in this little clambake; Jean Grey (kind of) dies (again); Earth-1191 gives the Age of Apocalypse some glam competition; Lucas Bishop is a pretty decent metaphor for fan culture; everyone is probably Kang the Conqueror; and now Miles really has no excuse for not watching The Prisoner.


  • The Chronomancer and his Chronobots
  • The Gifted
  • Lucas Bishop’s creative origins
  • Trevor Fitzroy
  • Goatee Theory
  • X-Factor #67
  • Uncanny X-Men #281-283
  • Dapper Lesbian Shinobi Shaw
  • A briefly useful mnemonic
  • Cybernetic fuckboys
  • The return of Warren Kenneth Worthington III’s hair
  • Beef and Bevatron
  • The deaths of the Hellions
  • Warhammer
  • Some of the challenges of X-Plaining the ’90s
  • Bringing a knife to a Sentinel fight
  • Bantam
  • A bunch of bad guys from the future
  • Bishop
  • Randall
  • Malcolm
  • Earth-1191
  • The Gamemaster
  • X-Men we’d like to see come out as trans (revisited)
  • Whether either or both of us are Kang the Conquerer

NEXT EPISODE: Pouches and Guns

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  1. Quick note: Your “X-Plained” section lists X-Factor #87, instead of #67.

    I’m mixed on The Gifted. I really enjoy the Mutant Underground stuff. But for most of the season, I’ve disliked the Struckers. Their family drama always felt like a distraction from the much more intriguing Underground plot. On the other hand, HOLY CRAP THE CUCKOOS. And Lorna’s awesome.

    I do wish the Hellions could be brought back. I’m with Jay, Catseye was the best. She was so much fun, and her friendship with Rahne was so good.

    1. My childish impossible hope for The Gifted is that somewhere in season 3, the world will realize what a terrible idea it was for hospitals to inject every mutant who comes through with Kick (Hypercortisone-D)

  2. Apparently John Byrne was receiving pages out of order with an hour or two to dialogue them and no real clue as to the overall direction of the plot so I suppose we should be grateful that they’re even moderately coherent.

    I seriously can’t believe that I’ve never noticed the Spartacus reference (oysters or snails) until seeing the as mentioned. They were definitely going for Shinobi as a queer villain.

    1. Was just coming here (from listening) to point out that while Byrne is never going to be one of my favorite scripters, he has a huge body of solidly above average scripting on his own titles. (In the opinion of both my teenage self for the books (Alpha Flight) I read back then and my middle-aged self for the books (FF & Superman) I’ve started catching up with in the last few years.) My presumption would be if these issues are bad, there were some sort of extenuating circumstances.

      And hey, “didn’t get the pages in order” seems like a pretty good excuse!

      1. I really liked his work on the Man of Steel miniseries, which reinvented Superman for what was essentially the first time in his then 40+ year history, and did it well.

        1. We should probably also remember that Louise Simonson struggled to make a coherent comic out of artist-led comics of the time and she was one of the best X-Men writers of all time. The push and pull between writers, artists and editorial in the early nineties is fascinating. I’m loving hearing extra details like Portacio wanting to make Bishop Filipino and being overruled.

    1. Unless you mean the thanks – those were pre-written, so I guess we were somewhat inoculated. If I recall correctly, I somehow got through them in one take. The outro, though – yup, spontaneous! Jay started the Sexy thing and I picked it up and we went with it.

      And thank you!

  3. One of the things that always annoyed me in the animated series is time travelers showing up from the future not having heard who the X-Men are despite being festooned in X-Men branded gear. Cable did that and so did Bishop.

    “What are the . . . X-Men?”

    Motherfucker, check a goddamn mirror!

  4. I have a specific memory of getting this introduction of Bishop. Me and my Filipino friends went to Universal Studios, driving this brown Nissan Sentra that was stick, so only one of us could drive. We were all Freshmen in high school, driving up from an already fun time in Tampa (where we went around all the comic shops shops that we could find in the phone book and I was able to pick up a bunch of Volume 4 Legion of Superheroes from different stores). We got to Universal and they had just opened the “Island of Adventure” rides where we could go to the Marvel stuff. I remember the best “get” was that they had a full comic shop at Universal Studios. And it was PACKED with kids buying up this particular issue. Imagine spending 50 dollars for a ticket to Universal, just to go to a comic shop.

    We absolutely loved this issue because we spent about 3-4 hours driving home after purchasing it. Even then, we debated whether or not Bishop was Filipino from the Illocos region of the Philippines (he looked totally like one of our “Titos” who would come to the Filipino Parties with luxuriously curled hair, wearing a bandana. Heck, we all took to wearing bandanas for a while, probably because of this issue). Like this issue, listening to Bel Biv Devoe and Color Me Bad, Mountain Dew, and passing along this issue of “Gents Quarterly” (another purchase we made, with one of us acting like we were 18 years old), the constant shaking of the Nissan Sentra when we went over 55, really stick out in my mind during that 3 hour trip home.

    That’s why I can’t hate on this issue. There’s this huge nostalgia factor that make me happy everytime I read this issue. The plots and ideas we came up with during those 3 hours as to how it will all turn out were quite fun and awesome (“It is going to be part of the Mutant War that I read in Previews.” “It’ll be like Terminator. He’s really a liquid Robot.” “Bishop is the Traitor. That’ll be awesome.”).

    1. I really don’t think it can be overstated how seminal of a moment Whilce and Bishop was to Filipinos and Filipino Americans.

      My Whilce/Bishop story: I was 8 years old living in the Philippines when I got (by trading toys/trading cards among my classmates) a copy of 283 , “Bishop’s Crossing” (his second appearance), and the energy of that cover totally blew my mind.

      So much so that I copied the illustration as a kid (just Bishop, not Storm unfortunately), using these calligraphy pens my parents had gotten me. The other kids in my school loved it so much they literally paid me 10 pesos per photocopy of that drawing. It was probably my first and most memorable early memory of being paid as an artist.

      The funny thing was that I was pretty sure I didn’t know Whilce Portacio was Filipino at the time (neither name is a particularly common Filipino name), but there was SOMETHING about his art (and Jim Lee’s, and Ron Lim of Silver Surfer/Infinity War) that DRAMATICALLY spoke to me and my Filipino peers. It was a combination of Western and Eastern pop culture (specifically the composition and dynamism of stylized manga/anime) that really subconsciously echoed the Filipino experience, which sits right at the junction of both cultures.

      MOST COINCIDENTALLY, I found out much later that that same UXM issue features as FAN LETTER by a young GERRY ALANGUILAN, another budding Filipino artist who has now gone on to be one of the X-Franchise’s most reliable inkers (mostly under fellow Filipino Leinil Francis Yu).

      I found out about this because I got connected to Gerry when he shared my New Mutants/Lila Cheney video as a fan, and he responded to my Bishop story.

      I looked at my #283 copy and sure enough his fan letter was there (which I definitely remember reading as a kid, I just never made the connection)

    2. It’s interesting that the bandana has cultural ties. The costume, including the bandana, is one of the strangest comic industry stories about. His costume is copied off a picture of Gary Coleman on a Sesame Street magazine cover, and Coleman was dressed like a train conductor. Google it if you haven’t seen it, it’s bizarre.

      It’s a shame Bishop couldn’t be Filipino in the end. I think there’s a trading card or something that says he is. But I do like that he’s Australian Aboriginal instead. Of course, he could still have been both, as said in the podcast.

  5. These issues are not even the worst 90’s attempt to make a new villain look bad-ass by killing a major villain. That goes to Spider-man who kill DOC-OCK arguably his most famous villain to introduce the 90’s named Grim Hunter, who himself only made 2 more appearances before being killed to introduce Kaine (spider-clone no.2) and for this you waste OTTO Octavious.

    Still taking out the Hellfire Club and the Hellions to set the upstarts was a bad move, but it got us the Gen X and Emma the X-men (until recently)

  6. I remember how much I wanted to like these issues. They had characters I knew and liked (Ororo and Peter), someone with some good previous work (Byrne), Bishop looked cool as fuck and, the most important reason for me at the time, by mistake I thought Portacio was Marc Silvestri, which made me remember that amazing low-fi Game of Thrones for kids that was the Conan King comic that I loved when I was a child.

    The worst part, I still wanted to like these three issues (a lot) when I re-read them before listening this episode.

  7. Ah yes, the inauspicious debut of Trevor Fitzroy. I don’t want to worry Miles, but as soon as he mentioned Fitzroy’s murder of the Hellions I was composing a reply in my head, only to hear it pretty much word for word coming from Mile’s mouth.. it was actually slightly weird.

    Bevatron and Beef as additions to the Hellions were actually sort of fun. They don’t get to do much in the New Warriors comic, bur we do find out that Bevatron was from France and seemed to be a sort of decent kid who found the others a little bit much, and Beef was pretty much solid redneck muscle.

    Worth noting too that they fill the gaps left by the two characters who had left Emma’s school/employ; Firestar (since Bevatrons powers are particle acceleration beams) and Thunderbird II (Solid muscle and strength). I assume Empath hadn’t been replaced because he was still working for her at some level.

    Though the Hellions (including Tarot) did come back in Necrosha, it was presumably the dead body that Fitzroy left which was restored, and she herself had somehow already made it back from the dead via some sort of reincarnation, as we later saw her as a member of King Bedlam’s Hellions where, when asked how she could be alive says; “Death claimed me that day, just as it did Roulette, Jetstream and Catseye. But unlike them, I am cursed to live my life again and again until I atone for the sins of my past. To die as I did was horrific. To return to life was even more terrible. You can’t even imagine what it was like.” which of course isn’t ominous AT ALL!

    I find it hard to forgive the 90’s for many things, but the sheer wasted potential of as varied and interesting a set of characters and personalities as the Hellions, in exchange for Trevor bloody Fitzroy and the bland “Who are they again?” of the Upstarts is one of the hardest.

    Oh, and you should have to pronounce it the way it tends to be spelled later “Up$tart$”, because that’s amusing… I guess?

    1. I really wonder if this large-scale killing of the Hellions was due to:

      A) a childish FU to Claremont/don’t let the door hit you on your way out (i.e. let’s kill off a ton of your characters that aren’t getting ready for other media/merchandise)

      B) a desire in general to get rid of the Hellfire Club. The Hellfire Club also seemed to represent Claremont’s dynamic vision (going from supervillains in the 140s and 150s to more and more grudging allies). That would match what happened to Shaw and White Queen.

  8. Man. I remember Bishop and his buddies coming from the future and being disappointed with the real X-men vs the legends. I don’t remember ANYTHING else described in this podcast. I don’t recognize half the art in the as mentioned, either. Very forgettable stuff, I guess…

  9. Having listened to the podcast, a couple of scattered thoughts:-

    – Bishop is a character whose introduction I missed during my decade away from superhero comics. So until I read these issues to accompany the podcast I had no idea that he was originally such a Judge Dredd analogue. I’m definitely adding him to my imaginary team-up story about all the Marvel pseudo-Dredds, alongside Boss Cage, Justice Peace, and Justicer Bull.

    – Storm was quite correct in saying “Jean Grey,” and knew exactly what she was doing. At this time, “Jean Grey” is the *codename* of the character whose real name happens also to be Jean [whatever her middle name is] Grey. It’s as if Captain America’s real name was Joe America, and he was an airline pilot (“This is your pilot Captain America speaking”).

    Obviously, the X-Men always use codenames in the field. If Storm had called her “Jean,” that would have been like calling Cyclops “Cyke,” and frankly I think the moment was far too serious for that sort of familiarity.

    1. Doctor Octopus originally had the actual surname Octopus (maybe? it’s not very clear), so there is precedent. Oh and of course Bishop’s code name is Bishop.

      Actually, what if her code name was JEAN GREY, which was a misdirection because her real name was Jean Elaine Grey. It could totally fool a bad guy trying to track her down with a phone book.

      1. AFAIK he was introduced as Doctor Otto Octavius, he was only nicknamed Doctor Octopus in the lab that he worked.

          1. I’d say it was some sort of conspiracy theory, but conspiracy theorists must be a very jaded lot in the MU, a reality where this podcasts cold opens are actually historical fact.

  10. You could NOT have convinced young me that 281 was not a masterpiece! Violence! Death! Muscles! I mean it was one of 20 comics I owned at the time that I bought myself!
    Fuckin’ Trevor fuckin Fitz fuckin roy. Even without knowing who the Hellions or the Reavers were at the time, I knew their deaths were a big deal. It sucks looking back now because we know their deaths were wasted on the introduction of a character that did not become an iconic villain. I really fell in love with the Hellions in later years so re-reading this arc stings like a sumbitch. However, I remember Fitzroy showing back up (301 I think) causing quite a bit of anxiety for me all those years ago. I mean he killed a bunch of people before and now he’s back. Who’s dying? So it worked on me for a couple years at least. Personally, I’very always found villains who kill for petty or selfish reasons scarey as hell, so the Upstarts in general sort of did it for me.
    It’s becoming obvious that a recurring theme of the podcast for a while is that all this 90’s stuff is bad–and that’s not wrong! But the stuff that is going to be covered was my introduction to this world. Not just X-Men. Comics in general. I’m just glad I didn’t know any better back then or I probably would have put this silly shit down forever and been worse for it.
    Oh and one of the stated prizes for winning the Upstart game was immortality. Considering Selene was running the games, it would have been a fitting end for one of these shit heels if the whole thing was some sort of elaborate scam designed to make their souls more delicious, or some Selene-y bullshit and she just sucked the ‘winner’ dry at the end.

  11. Okay, so we’ve covered the first appearances of Cable, Bishop and Deadpool. This is license for the podcast to just power through the next few years of utter nonsense, as was done for the 60s stuff, right?

    Well, maybe not X-Factor #87.

  12. Xavier’s comment about the chess game not being actual warfare is probably not great to say at someone who lost their limbs in the Vietnam war. Kind of a jerk move!

  13. Talking about some Bishop: The Last X-Man! Which I need to go back and re-read, but I recall it actually being a pretty decent (if short lived) series.

  14. Are either of you familiar with “River of Teeth” by Sarah Gailey? It is pretty much the novelization of the Hungry Hungry Hippos movie you described.

  15. I feel like the fans of this podcast should commemorate the death of British actor Peter Wyngarde who played Jason King in the 70s and was the visual inspiration for Jason Wyngarde in the Dark Phoenix Saga.

  16. Head canon: the Gamemaster is Clive Anderson from the original British Who’s Line and that’s why his point system makes no sense.

  17. Killing off the Reavers, Hellions, and Hellfire Club to make room for the all-new, all-edgy villains left a bad taste in my mouth, and I really can’t forgive these issues for that. Though as terrible as the Upstarts and Gamemaster are, I feel that the Externals were worse.

    This was also the shift from Claremont’s carefully plotted stories where things were thrown out, and he had an idea behind them, to the scattershot plotting where ominous things are said with no plan on how to follow them up. The Upstarts competition and Onslaught being two of the biggest of them. The High Lord nonsense and X-Traitor fit the category as well. Possibly the Twelve should be there too, but I feel that Louise Simonson had a good idea for it that just went terribly wrong in its final execution.

    1. Whilce Portacio did say in a Newsarama interview that Professor X was a consideration for the X-Traitor, as was Bishop, but they never nailed down someone specific. This is one of the things that makes this run kind of frustrating: the X-Traitor and the basic premise of the Upstarts weren’t bad, but their execution and, in the case of the Upstarts specifically, their lack of follow-through weighs them down. I mean, on paper, a bunch of bored young socialites killing people for points sounds like just the sort of thing characters like Fenris would be into, you know? If Claremont had still been around, maybe we could’ve gotten Arcade in there…

    2. I’ll agree, and while I enjoyed the art, I didn’t buy Uncanny X-Men for the next two years. I stayed on X-Men until Jim Lee left. Killing off all these characters and replacing them with upstarts just seemed like territorial pissing to me, and the dumbing down of the writing was enough for me to quickly lose interest.

  18. And NOW the ’90s begin in earnest! Very fun episode: the Shinobi Shaw-inspired ending really cracked me up. Since you guys are covering X-Force next week, I think you might get a kick out of Sarah Horrocks’ three-part “My Love for Rob Liefeld X-Force Comics” series, where she not only defends his work, but even finds ways to compare it to artists like Guido Crepax and Brendan McCarthy. Definitely got me thinking about his art in ways I hadn’t before!

    Part 1: https://mercurialblonde.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/my-love-for-rob-liefeld-x-force-comics-part-i-of-iii-color-in-x-force-4/

    Part 2: https://mercurialblonde.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/rob-liefeld-x-force-love-in-part-ii-of-iii-page-layouts/

    Part 3: https://mercurialblonde.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/rob-liefeldx-force-comics-love-in-part-iii-decoration-in-comics/

  19. Wasn’t sure where to put this and wasn’t sure who else to ask:

    Face tattoo reminded me that my own recent first tattoo had me wondering… did they ever explain why Logan’s healing factor won’t allow him to even go one issue without his shaved-off hair growing back, (he was in disguise with Terror fighting loggers or something if I recall) but his son with similar healing factor is covered in tattoos?? How…?

  20. I’ve been catching up with The Gifted, and since it was mentioned on the podcast, I thought I might throw this out.

    It occurred to me how weird it is that Days of Future Past: Year One is being told for the first time on TV and not in the comics. (Of course, I may have missed something in the ‘90s.)

    Obviously, suggesting that the main X-Men universe is on the verge of going down this path is a standard feature of the X-books. But that’s not quite what I mean — I mean that there hasn’t been a miniseries (as far as I know) that told the story of Rachel Summers’s alternate future as it went down the path, step-by-step from the assassination of Senator Kelly.

    Given how celebrated Days of Future Past is, it’s surprising to me that at no point back when the X-books dominated the top sellers in the superhero market, someone didn’t do this to cash in, if for no other reason.

  21. I meant to ask, is the ‘Shinobi Shaw “murders” his Dad’ issue the same one where Shinobi notes, for no obvious reason. that his own mass phasing power seems to be closer to the powers of “Uncle Harry” Leland and if that means HE was his father?

    I never quite saw the connection between increasing gtavity and becoming intangible, still less throwing it in as a plot point for a character who was so new that we hardly had a chance to deal with his assumed parentage, and tying it into a character who had died years before.

    Unless Shinobi believed that Harry and Sebastian were somehow BOTH his parents…

    1. I think it was just a bit of extra humiliation. He’s calling his dad a cuck. Actually Shinobi Shaw might literally be Richard Spencer.

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