Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

199 – Space, Geeks, and Gaveedra Seven

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

In which Shattershot is definitely better than the Cold War; Beast X-plains the X-teams; Cyclops is a tired babysitter; sustenance is not frivolous; Jim Henson is the hero that Mojoworld needs; Shatterstar is not a great head of state; it’s hard to be Val Cooper; and Cable has definitely figured out how to take you (yes, YOU) out.


  • Astra
  • Content-to-story ratio
  • The Mojoverse (more) (again)
  • Longshot
  • Shatterstar (Gaveedra Seven)
  • Spiral (Ricochet Rita)
  • Arize
  • X-Men Annual #1
  • Uncanny X-Men Annual #16
  • X-Factor Annual #10
  • X-Force Annual #1
  • A pivotal battle
  • Mujahideen
  • A callback
  • Several denizens of Mojoworld
  • X-Team disambiguation
  • The Death Sponsors
  • A dubious solution to the Kobayashi Maru scenario
  • Whether Arize is a mutant
  • Telepathic favoritism
  • Spiral’s origin story
  • A new regime
  • Earth-84309
  • Powerpax (Frankie Power)
  • Darkchild
  • Cyberlock
  • A metasingularity
  • A large number of back-up features
  • The X-Men’s top ten enemies
  • Amalgam (but not that one)
  • Darick Robertson’s juvenilia
  • The return of Taki
  • The Cable Protocols
  • Brazilian Marvel characters
  • Our feelings about Laura Kinney’s backstory

NEXT EPISODE: Louise Simonson

CORRECTION: BonziBuddy was not released until 1999. We regret the error.

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    1. I think it was probably the debut of The Real World. The birth of reality television sounded the deathknell for the joke on which Mojoverse stories are based 🙂

  1. Stretch Armstrong had a Netflix series come out last November. Can’t say if it’s any good; haven’t seen it.

    1. It reimagines Flex as a high schooler (and one who does not look like Donald Trump which the oriignal Flex Armstrong just… does), with two equally stretchy companions. It’s a tad by-the numbers, in the words of Douglas Adams, “Mostly harmless”

  2. Is that a Saga reference at the end?

    By the way, I’m glad you covered this. The Annuals are somehow very easy to miss so I missed this the first time through. I knew of the Ricochet Rita Retcon but had no idea where and when it happened.

  3. I have to say that sometimes the parallel’s between your opinions and my memories are approaching the worrying. About the only things I could have told you about Shattershot was; Cyberlock (Naturally), how little I liked Spiral being Rita (because it meant we wouldn’t see Rita again) and how weirdly Sweepzzzweak spelled (Mis-spelled?) their name.

    I figured that Powerpax was intended to be Katie Powers and Franklin Richards kid since they were roughly the same age, the youngest Marvel superbeings at the time, and were on the same team… or else Katie had named her child after her old friend Franklin.

    And EVERY world needs more Jim Henson, we should have had decades more creative genius out of him.

      1. I can’t even remember where I’d heard of the American concept of “Sweeps Week”, but it wasn’t a common term.

        1. Oh, right, sometimes I forget that the UK TV functions completely differently than US TV. How do your shows time their STUNNING REVEALS and DRAMATIC CLIFHANGERS without Sweeps Week?

          1. You joke, but I actually did find it hard to adjust to the rhythm of a US TV season when I moved to America in the ‘90s. It’s a very strange beast if you didn’t grow up with it.

            In fact, I think there’s a whole argument one can make about how American TV and American comics on the one hand, and British TV and British comics on the other. British TV typically had as its bread-and-butter short 6-episode series that were shown once all in a row, then repeated once (again, shown all in a row) later in the year. There were exceptions, but that describes a lot of what was on TV. Aside from those (typically) 12 weeks, something else entirely was on in that timeslot on that channel. Next year, there might be another series of 6 episodes, but maybe not —an awful lot of British TV classics were focused dramas like Edge of Darkness that told one story, and when it was done, it was done. You expected things to move quickly, be focused, and not be there all the time. This was a television landscape that trained one to feel comfortable with things like 2000 AD: anthologies with short fast-paced individual strips and a lot of turnover, with different characters cycling in and out (leaving Dredd aside).

            Meanwhile, American TV was dominated by 22-episode things that typically sought to hold down their timeslot for their network for pretty much the entire year, with long stretches of reruns, and success was defined by the ability to keep coming back for season after season. Like American superhero comics: long-running, slow-paced, and written with a view to open-ended narratives that could sustain themselves year after year.

            1. As a Yank trying to explain Anime to my wife, I compared it to British TV. Generally shorter, more focused one-season shows, with a handful of exceptions that proove the rule, like Doctor Who, or Dragon Ball Z. Though, it seems like more shows are picking up the American style of “Open-Ended Eternally Returning”

              That said, the British serieses are REALLY short to my sensibilities. We’ve been watching Doc Marten on Hulu, and I’m all screwy on how time flows in that show, because we’re timeskipping every 6-10 episodes, and it seems like some of those seasons were more than a year apart.

              It’s a whole different deal. Your comparison to comics, and 2000 AD comparison is really going to help me explain 2000 AD the next time it comes up.

              1. If it’s any consolation, every gap between seasons (apart from Season One to season Two) has been between two and three years, so the gaps are very real!

                There have been eight seasons of Doc Martin, made across a thirteen year period (and a likely ninth season in 2019), and with most season having eight episodes.

                As they say in that episode of “The Good Place”; “It ran for 16 years on the BBC. They did nearly 30 episodes”

                1. Oh, wow! I didn’t realize there were such big gaps between seasons! I really love that show, it’s like if Big Bang Theory had compassion and better representation of mental health issues.

                  I might just be bitter because I have relatives that compare me to the Big Bang Theory cast too much, but I appreciate the way Doc Marten handles the good doctor’s issues much more than BBT’s strategy of laughing at people.

  4. You really don’t want to mix Jim Henson with the Mojoverse. That’s how you get Smile Time.

    1. See also “Avenue Q”, the forthcoming “Happytown Murders” and early Peter Jackson offering “Meet the Feebles”

      Though that last one might be better avoided… I remember going to see that at a cinema in London which screened “Straight to video” movies so they could get proper cinema certification… I was one of three people in the audience when the lights went down and I think I was alone by the time it ended (The other attendees having left wiht a loud “Oh F^$& no!”, and the only reason I didn’t leave was a grim reluctance to waste hard earned money.

      I think my expression for much of the time was about the same as you see on the audience members in “The Producers” when “Springtime for Hitler” starts up.

      I’m told it has a cult following now, so maybe it needs revisiting, but probably not by me.

      1. Sure, Avenue Q and especially Meet the Feebles has nasty puppets. But Smile Time had puppets actually draining the life out of children via TV shows filled with quality infotainment. That’s some Mojoverse mojo.

        And yeah, Meet the Feebles is… special.

      2. Along with Ed Wood’s Orgy of the Dead, I think Meet the Feebles was the only other movie Jay and I were never able to make it through.

  5. Revolution will not be televised! The revolution will be– wait, what?
    It will?
    For real?
    …Okay, never mind….

    1. It’s when they announce the premiere date of Revolution, Season 2 well in advance, that people should start being a little suspicious.

  6. Weirdly, the cover to X-Men Annual #1 and the Top 10 thing are burned into my memory…and nothing else. Thanks for unpacking/making sense of this all!

    Other things:

    – I was just at the MotMI last week, and yes, it is absolutely amazing, particularly the Henson exhibit. I strongly recommend Brian Jay Jones’s Jim Henson biography also to anyone who’s interested in his work (it really made me appreciate some of the earlier stuff exhibited in the museum).

    – I really enjoyed the brief Digression that felt like “What was Arize Probably Up to?”

    – Now I know you guys have a billion things to cover, but I was just curious if we ever were going to get the Mystique backup story from the Kings of Pain annuals. Sorry to bug, but I’m a sucker for any and all Mystique/Destiny feels and your feels about their feels. (Also, on teh subject of coverage/Marvel Fanfare – which came up here – is there a reason you never covered the Claremont/Cockrum story from MF 1-4…y’know aside from having a billion X-Men issues to cover and only being 2 XPerts? Or did you cover it and I somehow missed it?)

  7. It’s been years since I’ve read this story, and I don’t remember liking it back in the day.

    I remember one on-line comment at the time singled out the X-Force Annual for horrible writing, particularly the bit where Shatterstar (I think) was loudly declaring how he’s learned how to love and to care while he’s viciously dismembering his foe. No ironic statement, it was written as straight-up heavy drama. We’re supposed to believe he really is a caring, humane person, capable of empathy and mercy. And also hacks foes into kibble.

      1. These annuals weren’t on Unlimited, with the exception of a couple of the back-ups. But listening to the episode crystallized for me what my problem is with Shatterstar (or part of my problem, anyway), and it relates to what Scarecrow’s Brain says.

        Shatterstar is this utterly irony-free Liefeldian creation. He’s this megatastic warrior who’s Just So Kewl. That’s fine. Not for me, really, but I can see the appeal for the target audience.

        But then you root him in the Mojoverse, of all things. There’s something peculiarly inept about a character who’s so leadenly free from irony who’s associated with that particular corner of the X-universe. It would have been so much better if he’d just come from his own alternate universe that had been designed to suit.

        1. I feel like he kinda works in that he fits the simple “Arena Hero” archetype he was built for. The fact that he’s the only mojoverse character who plays atraight to type is odd, but I think it’s more a different perspective on the worls than we’ve had before.

  8. I think Fabian Nicieza may have had a thing about the Mujahideen. He ended Psi-Force with a very OTT heroized depiction of them.

    Hmm. We’ve had his very problematic use of the term “dirty war” for what Cable and his followers do, which seems like a pretty blatant whitewash of what happened in Argentina. Now there’s this. I shall be on the lookout from now on for more signs of extreme right-wing hawkery.

  9. Considering that I’m probably the biggest Longshot’s fan in 616 (with Miles’ permission), it’s a bit surprising that this crossover satisfied me enough, mainly X-Factor Annual #10. Yes, even Spiral’s retcon: despite this was never Nocenti’s intention, I think the concept of Rita and her being the same person is pretty smart and plausible, as this living loop fits perfectly with the wicked and melancholic spirit of the Wildways (aka Mojoworld).

    BTW, I totally agree with Jay about the often poor characterization of this dimension: it should be MUCH WEIRDER. Writers and artists tend to focus only in one of these two aspects: the mass media parable or the gladiator arena. So they depict some quite vulgar world and plots, since they forget that the Wildways is a world full of magic –toxic, psychedelic, synesthesic magic, where everything is insane and accelerated under skies of fucsia or yellow.

    1. In fact, now comes to my mind an interview with Art Adams (when he was working on that Longshot’s mini/graphic novel that never saw the light of day) in which he said he wanted to make it in a H.R. Giger style. Just imagine that! :)__

  10. RE: HENSON

    I’ve been standing up for a long time that Arize is kind of the Aughra of the Wildways, absorbed in his mechanic toys and scientific research. Of course Longshot’s former story has so much to do with the traditional folk scheme of that pure hero who’s searching for truth and manages to find an old wise creature who helps him in his task. So much like “Dark Crystal”, then, among many other classics (from Pinoccio to New Testament).

    As for ugly TV puppets, you may be interested in those of a pretty rad Spanish children show from the 80’s called “The Crystal Ball”. Here they were the Electroduendes (“Electric Goblins”), specifically designed to be “the contrary of Muppets”, hence (sarcastically) disturbing blank, stiff, disgusting and malicious. Witch Failure, whose quote was “Heil evil! Heil capital!”, and Mojo are oddly alike (wires on their heads and protruding eyes).


    1. (Restored the first version of your comment!! We have to approve comments with links and hadn’t seen that one yet.)

      Arize as Aughra – hell yeah. I hadn’t thought of him that way, but you’re totally right!

      1. In addition, Arize’ absurd sense of humor (this seems to be part of the spineless DNA) is absolutely hensoniesque. “You think there’s somebody capable to build you? –Ah yes, you’re one of my designs”. ???

  11. Wow! I had totally forgotten about those Marvel Fanfare issues, and I even have them! It was in Marvel Fanfare (2nd series) issues 4 and 5, by author Jamie Campos (sorry, can’t recall any of their other work). I have not yet had a chance to re-read them so not sure if they are all that great or not, but since I completely forgot about them I am looking forward to reading about the fate of Mojo 2, the squeal. Mojo also had some exposure in Marvel Comics Presents, in issues 89 and 119, I think in one he is briefly Wonderman’s agent or something. The MCP and MF series were just overflowing with strangeness and I always enjoy going back to them now and then.

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