Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

211 – A Cornucopia of Mayhem: X-Cutioner’s Song (Part 2 of 3)

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

In which Jubilee is underwhelmed by X-Force; Havok and Gambit make weirdly good buddy cops; Department K is a hot vacation destination; Cable is secretly a Coen Brothers protagonist; you can cancel Community but you can never take away Jay’s gratuitous Community references; Rusty goes full cultist; nobody is Stryfe’s real dad; smoking on a space station is a REALLY bad idea; Apocalypse is here to help; and Miles lies at length about music.


  • Kuurth
  • Various Juggernauts
  • The Story So Far
  • More trading-card taxonomy
  • Uncanny X-Men #295
  • X-Factor #85
  • X-Men #15
  • X-Force #17
  • Varyingly hilarious misunderstandings
  • Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love
  • What happened
  • Good Cop / Sleazy Cop
  • A deal
  • A tragic absence of Draculas
  • The Coen Brothers’ X-Cutioner’s Song
  • Thanksgiving with Cable
  • Miles’s summer camp hijinks
  • Murderbots in space (again)
  • A dubious strategy
  • MLF Redshirts
  • The second time someone force-fed superheroes baby food in space
  • A dropped plot thread
  • Things you shouldn’t do on space stations
  • Additional awkward reunions
  • Whether Stryfe is a Summers
  • The X-Cutioner’s signature karaoke song

NEXT EPISODE: Dang, this event is long.

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  1. Ya know, I’d thought Polaris and Havok’s dialog about the former New Mutants (quoted in the podcast at 11:50) had a bit of a hidden message in it:

    “They’re kids, Alex — No older than we were when we started out. What happened?”
    “Liefeld. Liefeld happened.”

    1. And in fairness, the X-Force kids are waaaay younger. Alex was a college degree graduate before he first met any of the X-Men and Lorna was in college too.

      1. Well, to be completely pedantic about it, the X-Men other than Scott first met Alex at his graduation, so probably they met him for the first time shortly before he was a college degree graduate. 🙂

        But I just looked at that issue (UXM #54), and I think I might be able to assign it some of the blame for the “Apocalypse is uniquely associated with ancient Egypt” retcon. I had forgotten that it establishes that Alex, and presumably also Scott and Vulcan, and so also Rachel and Cable, are all descended from ancient Egyptian pharaohs.*

        Also, Alex has mutant athleticism, apparently, although it’s ambiguous whether that’s supposed to be something that all mutants have. I don’t know if that’s ever mentioned again.

        *I imagine that, given the number of generations involved, quite a lot of people must be descended from an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. But it’s implied in the comic that it’s very special, and automatically ensures that you are a mutant, because all ancient Egyptian pharaohs were. Although I suppose that it is *just* possible that the Living Pharaoh does not have a completely comprehensive and accurate grasp of reality..

  2. Okay, just so you know, I blame Miles for this. You wondered about what the X-Cutioners song, and you just HAD to mention Gilbert and Sullivan and The Mikado and well, if you had to pick a button of mine to push, that would pretty much do it.

    Therefore, with the usual abject apologies to the redoubtable William Schwenck Gilbert, whose mastery of the English language was such that Tom Lehrer acknowledges him as the unequalled master of the libretto (I think Sondhiem is second).

    The scene, Stryfe’s base, the Control Room is empty.

    Enter a Chorus of Dark Riders.

    Behold the Lord High X-Cutioner
    A personage of complicated history —
    An over-spiked and bladed officer
    Whose motivations usually are a mystery!
    Defer, defer
    To the Lord High X-Cutioner!
    Defer, defer
    To our spikey Lord (though not A High Lord),
    To the Lord High X-Cutioner!

    Enter Stryfe

    Cloned into a distant time
    Through a set of curious chances;
    Dedicated to a life of crime
    On my own recognizances;
    My neuroses run deep
    Mostly through parental issues,
    I’ll expound them ‘til you want to weep,
    So make sure you have a box of tissues.
    Surely, never had a clone
    (Provided we exclude Ben Reilly)
    Messed up things so much alone
    Through scheming both verbose and wily

    Taken from a future time
    (Taken from a future time)
    By a set of curious chances;
    (Dedicated to a life of crime)
    Surely, never had a clone
    (Surely, never had a clone)
    Messed up things so much alone
    (Messed up things so much alone)

    Just be bloody grateful you didn’t mention “I’ve Got a Little List” or I wouldn’t get any sleep for at least the next week and a half

  3. So for Stryfe at karaoke, if Scott is at the bar I can totally see him pulling out “Cat’s in the cradle”

    Oooh. Scott gets a vid call from Cable, “Hey dad, can you meet me at the Empty Orchestra bar tonight. Want to talk about something.”

    Then when Scott arrives and realizes it’s a karaoke bar, Stryfe gets up there “disguised” as Nate and blasts out a full powered Cat’s in the Cradle just to try and make Scott cry.

  4. About Sam’s information gathering techniques, I remember an episode of GI Joe, where the Joes get a series of cryptic messages about “The Viper”. They keep trying to pick clues out of these messages, that lead them to a series of Cobra bases.

    But it turns out those were all miraculous coincidences, and “The Viper” was just an old man calling to them the he was coming to “Vipe their Vindows”

  5. Excellent episode as always…

    After hearing you guys riff on Stryfe, may I suggest a new fictional construct/character through which listeners can be thanked? I present to you Passive-Aggressive Stryfe. I imagine he would 1) come up with some plan to thwart the listener, but said plan would fail because it was spectacularly bad, 2) give a series of life pro-tips that don’t actually work the way Stryfe thinks they work (e.g. the weaning of children during the storyline), and 3) he would try to confuse his adversaries by making them think that he’s someone else under the helmet, and when he reveals himself, would get frustrated when the listener doesn’t care.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

  6. Something which might be interesting for your coverage of a crossover event (but which I realise would probably be completely unworkable), would be to read it in “real time” first.

    So no trades to speed reads through, but read one issue, per week, for the requisite number of weeks, just like we had to back in the day (Y’know, when we were still reading off wax tablets).

    For extra fun, each of you would miss an issue (but a different one each), in a recreation of the “What the heck happened in that issue I missed because my LCS didn’t get enough copies?” scenario we all knew so well.

  7. I’m starting to see what people objected to about this crossover — although I’d still say that it doesn’t seem that much worse than the routine in the X-books during this period.

    But I think our hosts are absolutely 100% right. This is taking too long, and, worse, the plot, such as it is, meanders here and there instead of progressing. Far too much of these issues is made up of what feel like obligatory extended fights: we’ve got these characters on the same page, so they have to fight, even if the fight isn’t actually material to the plot in any significant way.

    A good example of this is the MLF fight, which sprawls over two issues. OK, one has to address the MLF. They’ve been consistently associated with Stryfe, so if you have a story about him, the reader is likely to ask where they are. But that’s all that this is — it’s just checking off that box. It doesn’t affect anything in this actual story. So get it over with!

    There’s a semi-good idea in here, which is that the experienced X-teams can handle these guys without breaking a sweat. It’s only semi-good, because it reads as a swipe at Liefeld’s X-Force and its readers that’s little meanspirited. (Note that the story goes out of its way to make Cannonball look incompetent in contrast to the older X-Men.) This is especially so in David’s contribution: I find the scene where Kamikaze decapitates himself on Archangel’s wings really off-putting, and while Forearm may be a stupid name for a throwaway character, nothing makes me like the character more than having Warren talk about how dumb he is.

    But it’s a semi-good idea. You know what would have sold the notion that the X-Men can handle these guys without a problem? Having it happen at a rapid pace in the comic.

    Also, I have this pressing question. Why is Apocalypse in this comic? I’d say that he’s complicating the plot to no purpose, but he’s not actually complicating it. He’s just adding fight scenes. (This is, in part, because there isn’t much more to the plot than “Stryfe does stuff.”) Ditto Sinister. I get that they were tying Stryfe and Cable to Apocalypse, but serving the backstory is just not a good enough excuse for having Apocalypse wander randomly into this specific story.

    You can still see glimpses of the better crossover that might have been, though. The conversations through the bars between former team-mates. Sam commenting about what he could do if he had government resources, or trying to get a pardon for the rest of X-Force. As with last week, what’s gold about the opening, with Cable apparently killing Xavier, is how elegantly it should serve to bring out a range of conflicts between all these characters. Given the extent to which these comics are in the shadow of Claremont, could they not, for God’s sake, have aped his fondness for making every single character incredibly verbose? If there was ever a time for those over-stuffed word balloons that spell out characters’ dueling thoughts about What It All Means, this is it.

    Instead, we have Stryfe just doing stuff. I suspect that they were trying do something with Xavier and Cable as surrogate parents to be played off against Stryfe’s anger at his actual parents, and his other surrogate parent Apocalypse, but this needed to be articulated a lot more clearly.

    Other thoughts:

    – OK, Scott Lobdell. I forgave you Bishop using “parameter” when he meant “perimeter” last time, in the same way that I’ll forgive him using “reluctancy” this week when the more normal “reluctance” would have been fine. He’s from the future. Maybe this is how he talks.

    But no way will I accept that Apocalypse would use the expression “the Great Unwashed” with so little attention to its strict class connotations.

    – Were Americans really saying “feeb” all the time in the early ‘90s? Fabian Nicieza seems to think so. (Looking the expression up, I discover that it’s pretty awful, except when it refers to an FBI agent, which I doubt it does here.)

    – Wow, Chris Eliopoulos really likes big lettering in color (usually red). He massively overdoes it. In particular, there’s a jarring moment when he uses it to emphasize the word “know” in a balloon in a context when more subtle and normal devices to show stress would be appropriate.

  8. It seems oddly appropriate that, right in the middle of your coverage of X-Cutioner’s Song, the Ugly Guitars group on Facebook unwittingly found what I can only assume is Stryfe’s guitar.


  9. Talk of Stryfe going after everyone who was mean to him in middle school, except he’s a heavily armored time traveler so no one knows who he is, reminds me of the villain in one of my favorite under appreciated Disney movies: Meet the Robinsons. Which is probably a favorite in the Grey-Summers timey-wimey household.

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