Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

189 – How Do You Solve a Problem Like Nate Summers?

In which Jay’s mom broke the Internet; correct credits are important; everyone has a Danger Room; no one needs that many teeth; there are so many reasons to laugh at Stryfe; the Watcher is probably affiliated with Pepperidge Farm; Boom Boom is the Rogue of X-Force; and Cable’s pouches are definitely full of menstrual products.


  • The Franklin Richards of Earth X
  • The One True Cable
  • X-Force #5-7
  • Pocket-Size Juggernaut
  • A novel approach to trauma surgery
  • A moment of intersectionality
  • Teeth of the early ’90s
  • Soft pink bags of rice-paper flesh
  • A villain speech
  • X-Force’s bathtub
  • Several Shel Silverstein poems that may or may not be about superheroes
  • Cooking with Boom Boom
  • Why the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants keeps the “Evil” in their name
  • Thornn (Lucia Callasantos)
  • Phantazia
  • Writers vs. Scripters
  • Sex Ed at the Xavier School
  • The Worst Twitter Thread

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  1. Don’t know if she’s a Mom or not, but it looks promising that Khan from the upcoming Exiles series will add a post-apocalyptic grizzled lady soldier into the Marvel multiverse.

  2. And when does Miles’ dad get in on the dress-up fun? After all, he IS the O.G. X-fan of the group, yes?

  3. Jay, you need to watch Mad Max Fury Road. It isn’t entirely what you want, but it may be the closest we ever get.

    On another note, I think that Zero up there was an inspiration for Zero from Borderlands 2.

    1. Jay mentioned on the podcast early on (back when it came out) that MM:FR had in fact been viewed and much approved.

      I believe the phrase used was “Exactly what I always wanted” or “Godamn delightful” or some such. ??

  4. First off, when it comes to grizzled post-apocalyptic female characters, the first thing that immediately came to mind when you talked about characters that fit this archetype was actually Mad Max: Fury Road, and the Vuvalini – when the whole crew (Furiosa, Max, the Five Wives, and the Vuvalini) take the War Rig on the offensive, the Vuvalini join in the fight as full on combatants.

    (It’s been a while since I saw the movie, so I don’t recall if they fare better than the crew of the tanker in The Road Warrior).

    Also, looking at the as Mentioned – the lots of teeth for the members of the Brotherhood reminded me a lot of the Corinthian from Sandman – I wonder if the art there was specifically inspired by the excessive teeth by Liefeld and others from this period (like the penciler from this issue).

    1. I’ve been operating under the belief that all who are penciled by Liefeld have been blessed by The Smiling God. Blessed with so many beautiful teeth 🙂

    2. At least the Corinthian’s overflow teeth were not in his main mouth, but in his auxiliary eye-mouths! 🙂

    3. Following up because I had to restart my computer for an update:

      Quick note on the sandwiches: Elvis’s sandwich of choice was the Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon sandwich, which (if not accompanied by some serious fiber) could certainly cause… problems. However, not Elvis’ problems – he was prescribed heavy painkillers (and barbiturates, and amphetamines, and…)

      Also, I totally empathize with Jay on the voice for Feral playing hell with his throat – I’m doing a Let’s Play right now for Super Robot Wars V, and I’m doing the voices for all the characters, and as part of this I’m trying to do the voice for Captain Okita of the Yamato as a grizzled old man voice (because he’s a grizzled old man) – and by the time I wrap up recording, by throat is sore as hell. It’s a less involved voice than Feral, but there’s more dialog with that voice. When I go to Kumoricon this year, I’m probably going to try to attend some of the voice acting panels and ask about warm-up exercises.

      On flipping the peanut butter sandwiches: My theory on this is they’re talking about the proper procedure for flipping a grilled cheese (or other grilled) sandwich, and are using PB&J rather than actually doing this with grilled sandwiches, so they don’t have to actually worry about burning anything.

      About common faces: Since I haven’t properly done the “Contextualization through Anime/Manga” yet – this is a thing that also comes up somewhat through anime and manga as well, especially with series that are running in weekly magazines like Shonen Jump and have a super-fast turnaround on the art. You end up with characters with very simple faces which are distinguished by hairstyles and occasionally eyebrows. For example, if you put the faces of Goku and Vegeta right next to each other, the biggest differences between the two are their eyebrows (Vegeta’s curve with his eyebrows while Goku’s are straight), and hairstyles (Vegeta appears to have the Saiyan equivalent of a widow’s peak and always goes upward, Goku’s is more unkempt, and goes forward over his forehead).

      This is something of an issue with the manga version of Land of the Lustrous – the characters have no real sexual dimorphism because they’re androgynous (and also gender-fluid), leading to generally similar body shapes, leaving the differences to hairstyle and – in the case of the anime – color, because the characters are anthropomorphized gems. In particular, the color (which is incredibly vivid because, again, gems) makes some of the biggest difference in the anime when it comes to telling the characters apart.

    4. I think the main difference between Furiosa & co. and Cable (/what i *think* Jay was saying, though he’s obviously welcome to correct me) is that Furiosa is still pretty young-ish (like 40) vs. being the old, grizzled type. The first thought that comes to my head with old lady badass is Prof. McGonagall in Deathly Hallows, but she’s much more of a side character and it’s not full-on apocalypse yet.

      1. I was particularly thinking of the women in the Land of Many Mothers, who Furiosa was trying to take the Brides to for refuge and a new life. They are generally older (with maybe the exception of the Valkrie).

  5. I think Sauron is a Pteranodon. Which is why he doesn’t have teeth in the comic. The pterodactyl had the proper Liefeldian amount of 90 teeth.

  6. I swear to god you did this on purpose…

    With sincere apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein

    Dom’s the mom, the team wine-mom
    Sam’s a really sweet nice guy
    Fer-al’s got a lot of teeth,
    Nate, has got a great big gun

    Boom, is followed by a Boom
    James, is really really strong
    Sha-tterstar has buns of steel
    And Siryn brings us back to Dom-in-no-Oh!
    (Repeat ad nauseam)

    And you KNOW that I’m not finished yet!

    1. Cybernetic arms and clothes lined with pouches,
      Ammo, real big guns, and also more pouches,
      Leading armies to fight egyptian kings,
      These are a few of my favorite things.

      Meeting my parents through time-traveling nonsense,
      Leading teen mutants to strike on the offense,
      Pouches and that blue guy with sharp metal wings,
      These a few of my favorite things.

      When Goblins strike, when my clone plots, when my son turns bad,
      I pull my favorite things from all my pouches,
      and then I don’t feel…soooooo badddddd!!!!

        1. Oh believe me, you are not alone (and applause to you too! I only went with another one since you already did such a masterful version of “Do Re Mi”).

          I do suggest though we save “15 Going on 23” for Kitty Pryde as we approach Warren Ellis’ run….

          1. I support this. Y work day has been busy, but I’ve been working on “How do you solve a problem like Nate Summers?” Whenever I have brain to spare, but I feel like I don’t hve enough Cable Continuity Knowledge to do it justice.

              1. I’d been targeting something more like Jay’s “Dear Mr. Sinister” in terms of trying to explain his backstory, but Insane Cable Dialog might also work.

      1. This is far better than my idea, which basically goes
        Teeth and teeth and teeth and teeth
        Teeth and teeth and teeth and teeth

    2. I had a different take on the same song:

      See, a clip, it’s called a CLIP
      No, never a MAGAZINE
      Here are GUNS, and here are BOMBS
      COVERT means you’re never seen
      KICK and LEAP, stay off the ground
      DANGER rooms are where you learn
      STRYFE can’t hide, he’ll soon be found
      And the MLF will burn!

      (But only in self-defense. Except when not.)

          1. Thanks y’all. The first two lines came to me when I was listening to the episode (I’m a wee bit behind) and I finally put the rest together. 🙂

  7. Sex Ed: the first name that came to mind was Gambit. Then I thought a bit and figured that Gambit would volunteer himself to be the sex ed instructor (because in his mind, who could possibly be more qualified?), but keeps being told “no not ever” in no uncertain terms.

    1. It’s currently packed up, but I’m pretty sure that is one of the classes he taught according to Gambit’s 2010 series.

      It sounds pretty bad, but probably no worse than all the rest of the curriculum at the Xavier School. Probably more useful than “Dodging Lasers While Flying.”

      1. “Dodging Lasers While Flying” is pretty directly applicable to the average Xavier School student’s daily life.

        1. I mean, I guess that does seem to be the standard deathtrap of the pre-90s eras, but I feel like students these days need a more modern physical education curriculum. It’s starting to feel like my mother’s geography textbooks discussiong the USSR in the present tense in 2000. Sadly, aside from the famous tag variant of “Escape the Event Book,” I can’t think of a better replacement. Though I did enjoy “Everybody Beat Up Logan” from Whedon’s run.

  8. A propos of the actual podcast and not deranged musical flights of fancy.

    In the header image, Zero is just straing straight at the audience, and if his eyes were actually visible, they’d be rolling so hard in a “You SEE what I have to deal with EVERY.. SINGLE.. DAY..!” expression.

    Jay’s random, but perfectly apt “Jazz hands” was the best comic timing I’ve heard all week.

    Bear in mind when doign voice that if snarling is tough, the 90’s are going to be a long hard slog for you as there is going to be a whole lot of grimacing and snarling going on for the next 10 years or so… I would suggest laying in a large supply of throat lozenges.

    I have my issues with these issues (In fact my issues have issues with these issues), but I always loved Toad’s explanation of the Brotherhood’s name.

    Phantazia was fun in a generic, poorly-explained-powerset way (cf most of the 90’s). For some reason I thought she had more than one “z” in her name, to give the impression of an electrical hum every time it’s said (Kind of like Zzzaxx). Her affecting Sam makes sense though; if she interferes with electrical signals she could zap the electrcitiy in his brain, which would put his powers on the fritz.

    1. It’s less the snarl than the combination of the snarl, the pitch, and the general radical unpredictability of my voice after a few months on T. Presumably at least one of those will get better over time… =P

      1. As someone who survived puberty as a male, the predictability does get better, but the snarl will still hurt.

        1. – I would be very happy if our hosts did the most macho moments of the ‘90s entirely as male teenagers whose voices were breaking. It would be so very appropriate.

          – I rather like Nicieza’s vision of Toad as henchman turned mastermind and was glad when reading these issues to see him continuing it. (I’m assuming that it was Nicieza more than Liefeld, because it’s largely a matter of the dialogue, and it builds on that New Mutants/New Warriors crossover.) My immediate head canon explanation of Toad’s new turns of phrase was that he had been really impressed when listening to Beast back in the Silver Age.

          – Speaking of which, as regards the eternal question of whether Liefeld is trying to break with the past or not, these issues are a definite point for “No.”. Because there’s not much that could seem less like a desire to do something new than bringing back the Silver Age Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and then adding [expletive deleted] *Sauron* to them.

          In fact, though overall I think these were more successful than the previous ones as a reading experience, when you stand back from them they seem remarkably pointless. One keeps wanting X-Force to fulfill their ostensible agenda and actually do something that the mainstream X-Men wouldn’t. I mean, come on, you could kill off Sauron. No-one cared about Sauron in 1991, surely? I don’t think that anyone cared about Sauron even in 1969. And when Cannonball “dies,” and this is treated as a marker of who the Bad Guy is in the conventional superhero story sense, this really underlines that, for all their guns and whatnot, the plot is not going to allow Cable and co. to do anything that couldn’t be the outcome of a Power Pack story.

  9. One thing I found interesting in retrospect is that Stryfe’s nonsense villain monologue actually makes quite a bit of sense. He talks about how he will seemingly be defeated (X-Cutioner’s Song), but will ultimately have his greatest triumph (Legacy Virus).

    I also wonder, when they’re talking about Cable doomed to fail if they’re still going with Stryfe being Cable from later in his timeline, in which case he would know whether Cable is doomed to fail or not.

  10. I was trying something based around the fact that you can just about substitute “Apocalypse” for “edelweiss.”

    Apocalypse, Apocalypse
    As a baby you gave me a virus
    Small and cute, couldn’t yet shoot
    Perhaps I now could get wireless?
    Just a child, meek and mild
    You were afraid I would kill you
    Apocalypse, Apocalypse
    Sinister made me to kill you

    And I have just learned that Wikipedia doesn’t even attempt “Fictional character biography” for Cable….

    1. I’d been counting on that biography for my weekend plans. STAB THEIR EYES! This will make it so much harder to solve a problem like Nate Summers.

      Also, “Damn Your Eyes” is a term I’ve heard used in older fiction. Do you think Liefeld was imitating that? Or someone said he couldn’t use swears?

  11. I’m going to string together a group of words that one usually doesn’t see assembled in this order: I’ve always really liked Thornn. The first non-crossover issues of X-Force I ever read was the Feral origin story, which I thought did a really nice job of making Thornn into an interesting and likable character. I was always disappointed when I found out that was literally the only story that ever focused on her in any capacity and the only other things she ever did were briefly fight Feral and show up in one-panel cameos.

    Also, I want to formally register my complaint over the repeated use of the term “were-pterodactyl” when the two words can form a perfect and delightful portmanteau: “werodactyl.”

  12. Also, “Clark” is my 5 year old daughter’s favorite potential pet in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. It’s nice to hear somebody else read it for a change. 😉

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