Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

205 – Back to Basics

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

In which Jay returns from Latveria; Sabretooth is significantly less menacing in French; Fabian Nicieza takes the reins; X-Force wins our hearts and minds; Gideon plunders Flash Gordon’s wardrobe; Crule does not actually rule; Rictor was right; Ship is the friend who helps you move, but better; the X-Force kids strike out on their own; and it’s probably impossible to explain Joseph too much.


  • The secret origin of Gideon
  • How to get deported from Latveria
  • Marvel en français
  • X-Force #11-15
  • Some gratuitous posturing
  • Pico
  • What the actual Domino has been up to
  • One hell of an outfit
  • Peacock powers
  • Crule
  • A comical mix-up
  • A somewhat radical cosmology
  • A very dramatic strike force
  • Tygerstryke
  • X-Force post-Liefeld
  • Weapon P.R.I.M.E.
  • A four-page spread
  • A fight for one is a fight for all
  • Vance Astro
  • The death of Copycat
  • Things only Cable and Domino could do
  • Joseph (more) (again)
  • Marvel style and its evolution

NEXT EPISODE: Fire, life, and backstory!

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  1. I still have the ’90s Crule action figure (why? because shut up that’s why!) and a huge crush on Rictor; these issues might be the source of both fixations.

    But seriously, I can’t be alone in my love for how sexy Rictor looks here? Right? No? Well, okay then…

      1. Just remembered that Rictor was supposed to be like 16(?) here, but I’m giving myself a pass since A) I crushed on him at like 6-8 and be, he’s drawn like he’s in his early 20s here, so I literally forgot that until I thought about it.


  2. Of all the places to send someone, it’s Amsterdam that has the reputation of den of iniquity. But maybe the Latverians know what’s really up.

  3. Glad I listened to the end so I could hear Miles doing Sexy Cable. It was even funnier thinking about how “body slide” is a specific term used in massage parlours.

    1. Also, Cable being disappointed at bath bombs not living up to their name is a fantastic throwaway line.

  4. Fun fact: the Belgian language difference is actually the origin of a recurring Smurf plot point. Some Smurfs replace verbs with “Smurf” (e.g. I’m working my smurf off) whereas some replace nouns with “Smurf” (e.g. I’m smurfing my butt off). And it’s a parody of that Belgian language difference.

    Great episode btw! Really excited to see you guys cover the post-Image X-Men, particularly since we’re getting into my era of X-Men (and as someone who didn’t read X-force, I’m excited to see what the hoopla is about, since I always just thought of it as perpetually in issues 1-10 mode).

    (Side note: anyone have any good issues to recommend where I can see the origins of the Shatterstar/Rictor shipping?)

    1. I’ve got that list of Rictor/Shatterstar issues for you!

      The X-Force relevant ones are below:

      X-Force v1 #1-4, 14. 16, 25, 34, 43-44*
      Cable #22*
      X-Force v1 #49, 56*, 59-61*, 70, 76 ‘99 Annual*

      The ones marked with a “*” are ones that most of the fandom agrees are especially relevant. A full list, up until the end of X-Factor v.3 can be found at the link below:


  5. I LOVE the French names for the X-Men

    Rogue is “Malicia”

    Banshee is “Le Hurleur” (The Howler)

    Beast is “Le Fauve”

    Jean Grey started out as “Strange Girl”

    Bobby was “Iceberg”

    Logan is “Serval” which is at least better than…

    Rahne who’s name is Félina (suggesting someone didn’t read the memo about what her powers actually were)

    Sam is just “Rocket”

    Boom-Boom is “Big Bang”, which I bet she just ADORED!

  6. Post X-Cutioner’s-the ore AoA X-Force is one of my favorite runs of any X-book ever. Nicieza does a great job of giving the book it’s own point of view and starts exploring what the new generation’s Xavier/Magneto might look like.

    We’re not quite there yet with these issues, but we’ve got all these Liefeldian barnacles to knock off first. But we are getting to the fireworks factory.

  7. A while back, a discussion in the House to Astonish comments threads caused me to look at how Rictor was being depicted when he was introduced in X-Factor and compare it to his depiction at the end of New Mutants.

    And Rictor must grow up at a pace that comes closer to matching real time than normal for superhero comics.. Art-wise, he goes from looking maybe 14 to looking like he’s a (very athletic) young man in his early twenties — even if he’s still supposed to be in his teens, at the end of NM it’s hard to believe that this is not a visual depiction of someone in his very late teens at the earliest. But it’s also the dialogue. Simonson gives early Rictor that distinctive Simonson child’s voice — in fact, the writing makes him seem younger than the art does. This is quite different from the way in which later Rictor talks (and broods in thought bubbles).

    Speaking of the X-Factor kids, poor Sally Blevins. I forget which comic it was that our hosts recently covered that described her as “The woman known only as Skids.” I thought, “She’s not known only as Skids! She has a name! It’s Sally Blevins! People know her as that, too!”

    I didn’t bother looking through all of Rictor’s ‘80s history, so I don’t know if this was a gradual thing, or if there was a sudden leap at some point.

    1. Good point! I feel – to an extent – X-men does violate the “comics all take place in 10 years rule” more than most. Like, I could see the O5 going from mid teens to late 30s (even early 40s). And the kids in particular do age all at once it seems (like at some point Kitty just seems to from 15 to 24).

      1. Belated follow-up:-

        Thinking about it, I think all the characters in X-Force should be thought of as in their early 20s, or at the most their college-aged late teens. It’s not just how they’re drawn.

        X-Force clearly represented itself (at least under Liefeld – have to see how the Nicieza era develops) as the book that came after New Mutants, that was about “Here’s what happened next to those characters (or the ones among them that Liefeld wanted to keep around).” They’re supposed to be a little more grown-up* – that’s the point.

        The analogy is made pretty explicitly to the experiences of young people shortly after joining the military – that’s the implied model.

        I think it’s one of those cases in superhero comics where characters leap suddenly in age between storylines. Like when Franklin Richards went from about 5 to about 10, because Valeria was there, and he was now defined as the older Richards child.

        *Obviously, the concept of “grown-up” here is deeply teenagery. But that’s a separate point.

  8. Having listened to the podcast, a couple of scattered thoughts: –

    X-Force #11, p.1, first panel. Cable: “Image is everything, Sam.” Cable knows what comic he’s in.

    – I can’t overall be quite as positive about this as our hosts. I had the same feeling once Liefeld left that Nicieza was going “Right, time to bring back some of that New Mutants magic.”

    But somehow, it wasn’t working for me. I think a lot of it is that, reading through X-Force up to this point, Liefeld had sort of convinced me that the comic wasn’t meant for me, but it did know who it was meant for. It knew what it was doing, and that what it was doing was different, and that was the [expletive deleted] point, grandpa! I didn’t like it, but I … respected it? God help me.

    And I guess I felt about this that it was trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, and that was a retrograde step at a time when the thing to have done would have been to forge ahead in a new direction, even if it wasn’t Liefeld’s direction.

    More concretely, you can really see the joins. Because you’ve still got Shatterstar and Feral in the mix, and they’re super-Liefeldy creations that don’t really fit into Nicieza’s Brave Old World. Especially Feral, who’s a collection of annoying turns of phrase and acts of wanton aggression in place of a character. And Siryn, who, OK, is not a Liefeld creation, but might as well be, since her characterization has not extended beyond attitude wrapped up in terrible Claremontesque “Irish” dialogue.

    Plus the dialogue. The godawful posturing macho action-movies dialogue. I became sort of OK with it with Liefeld’s X-Force, because it suited everything else. But cross it with New Mutants, and — yeah, it’s just too discordant. I can’t care about heartwarming reunions of friends in a comic in which people talk that way.

    But I’ll see where it goes.

    – Amusing geography. OK, so it’s “Sardegna, Italy” the first time. Someone must have pointed out that Sardegna is just Italian for Sardinia, and that it’s really weird to call it that in English. Because in the next issue it’s “Sar*a*degna, *Sicily,*”

    – Is this the first time that the Cassidys are located in Belfast? I’m not familiar with Siryn’s early appearances, but I’m fairly certain that in the X-Books proper Sean Cassidy had only ever been associated with Mayo up to this point.

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