Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

214 – Stryfe’s Burn Book

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

In which “wolves” proves a remarkably broad category in the 616; we at least nominally wrap up X-Cutioner’s Song; Stryfe could really use a style guide; we issue our first-ever music challenge; Jubilee is an agent of chaos; Gambit’s powers are a metaphor; Charles Xavier has a complicated relationship to disability; the quality of Jay’s penmanship is a matter of official record; Boom Boom is a remarkably good costume designer; Cannonball comes into his own as a leader; and every “WHAT?!” you hear on this show is fresh and original.


  • Wolves, to a very limited extent
  • Jay & Miles (kinda) at NYCC
  • Transcripts
  • X-Cutioner’s Song
  • Stryfe’s Strike File
  • Uncanny X-Men #297
  • X-Force #19
  • A gentle bird caught in a swirling tornado of lust and desperation
  • Shades of me
  • Shades of you
  • Shades of them
  • Our first-ever music challenge
  • Some foreshadowing
  • Nostalgia
  • A very nice hug
  • The one good side effect of Stryfe’s technoorganic virus
  • Charles Xavier vs. disability politics
  • Several practical jokes in very poor taste
  • Teacher-student bonding
  • An excellent epithet
  • Some lettering choices
  • An extended Hail Caesar riff
  • The Clooney Scale
  • An enduring mystery
  • Clone powers
  • Exclamatory logistics

NEXT EPISODE: Hey, remember Excalibur?

MUSIC CHALLENGE: Write and record a song based on or using text from Stryfe’s Strike File (or any of his rants from X-Cutioner’s Song)! Send your masterpieces (or links to ’em) to xplainthexmen(at)gmail(dot)com, with the subject STRYFE SONG!

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  1. Stryfe’s LiveJournal made for some interesting reading at the time. Now, of course, it’s incredibly useful if you want to see how little a clear idea of what they were going at Marvel at any given time (one of the wonderful things about X-crossovers of the 90’s are these little bits of ephemera like Road to Onslaught)

    X-Force 19 was pretty great. This the beginning of peak X-Force for me (up until Age of Apocalypse starts), where Nicieza starts pushing it into a interesting direction which will eventually have its own microcosm version of a central conflict and work more on characterization for quite awhile. It’s pretty great.

  2. My hubby made a custom Boom-Boom figure with the costume she makes in this X-Force issue; it is the greatest thing ever. Tip: Mockingbird and Kitty Pride figures can be used to custom a ton of the New Mutants, however we can’t figure out Wolfsbane. Any suggestions/tips on how she can be made would be very appreciated.

    1. The Kerrie Kelly Robin figure from the DC Multiverse line is about the only one I could find that could kinda work. Mainly because it’s for a shorter character. There’d be a lot of customizing on it, and the head would only really work for Boom Boom, but it could be a start.

  3. I remember a line in the X-Force book with Tabitha complementing her own butt, while Lila comments that if she was trying to pat herself on the back she was a little too low.

  4. Jay, something tells me you’ve not come across the late-90s Spider-Man villain Delilah. She was a vague assassin for The Rose at the time, and spoke in font changes like the world had not seen before or since. A typical word balloon of hers would have at least three different font choices and no less than four different colors. It was remarkably distracting, and really made me stop reading Spider-Man for a long time.

    Well. Issues she was in, anyhow.

  5. More scattered thoughts:-

    – OK, this gave me new information about why people dislike this. Good Lord, is Stryfe’s Strike File — which they didn’t even have the guts to call Stryfe’s Stryke Fyle — bad. When, after the fall of civilization, we are in the ruins teaching children about the Before Times between bouts of fending off radioactive zombies, and they ask us, “Elders, just what kind of crap did DC and Marvel throw into the direct market in the speculator-frenzy years in the confidence that there were people out there who would spend money on anything?” we will produce a tattered copy of this as an awful warning to them that they must avoid our mistakes and build a better world.

    A while back, I joked that the fact that the podcast had prompted me to read the X-books in the early ‘90s so that I could follow along would probably allow me to sue for emotional trauma. My God, I think I have a case.

    – X-Force #19 really is good, though, as our hosts say. Maybe I’m not quite as keen on it as they are, but I’m more convinced than I was by the immediate pre-X-Cutioner’s song issues that this really is going in a solid direction. I think the thing is that it’s not actually all that much of a successor to the New Mutants, or the Liefeld X-Force – those are ingredients, but thematically, it seems to be about the idea that it is (as Miles commented) moving forward to be something new.

    Something that actually deserves the title “New” Mutants more than New Mutants itself did, maybe? It definitely shouldn’t be called “X-Force” any more. “X-Twentysomethings?” For once, this is a ‘90s X-book that actually feels ‘90s, with the obsession with a generation coming of age.

    (Seriously: “Tabitha is really into Sam, but when his old girlfriend Lila shows up Tabitha is dismayed to discover that she’s a rock star who spends time in outer space. How can Tabitha possibly compete with that? Things take a hilarious turn when Tabitha discovers a machine that can make new outfits!” This is this close to being a ‘90s sitcom, only there are characters in it who aren’t white.)

    Mind you, there is the problem that I still don’t see a place for Shatterstar and especially Feral in the book that the increasingly mistitled X-Force is advertising that it’s going to be without major personality surgery. But this is why it didn’t cross my mind that Feral’s behavior with the bird wasn’t meant to be significant. It seemed obviously there to signal that, no, she doesn’t fit into Cannonball’s hopeful vision of finding their own way.

    – I liked Cannonball’s deft reworking of Xavier’s clichéd metaphor. Enough that I will overlook the detail that if that had been a fully “closed” fist, that bird would be dead. And where did Sam get a tame bird from, anyway.

    – I have a definite sense that Fabian Nicieza has never actually been to Ireland.

    The forthright, uptight, proper British maiden has been turned into a finely-tuned killing machine. The woman whose heritage and upbringing crafted carefully constructed walls of reserve and superiority around her, now finds herself able to approach anyone — physically and mentally — from the inside as well as the out.

    What happened to this paragon of English virtue?

    Racist stereotyping, Mr. Stryfe, racist stereotyping.

  6. I’ve always had issues with X-Cutioner’s song. Fall of the Mutants was a turning point. Inferno was this epic drama. X-Tinction Agenda was all those cool Anime motifs put into an X-Men book. But X-Tinction Agenda always left me cold.

    I think part of the reason was that it was all poly-bagged. I’m one of those guys who reads quickly before purchasing, so I had to purchase it and break the bag in order to read it. My friends read my copies because they didn’t want to mess up their collection.

    It also didn’t resolve. Which I think is fine and…in retrospect…it makes total sense in the rest of the line. Stryfe’s Legacy is hinted at and that becomes the legacy that haunts the line for years to come. It also sets X-Force in a direction that takes them to different places, which made me an X-Force and Nicenza Fan. I remember this was the time I would read anything by Fabian Nicenza, Keith Giffen, and Mark Waid because I knew it would be something of quality with an interesting direction.

    Overall, it let me down because it didn’t tell me about Cable and Stryfe. I was lead to believe that we would finally get those resolutions, those confrontations, that would cement the direction of the line for years to come. Part of that was figuring out these murky relationships between characters. To read it felt like the story was one long tease with no narrative resolution. This was the first time it dawned on me that maybe these writers might not know where they want to go.

    But in the context of history, it makes sense to create a mini-series like this. This is like Legends after Crisis on Infinite Earths: a mini-series designed to introduce new characters and new concepts into a universe where the status quo has been up-ended by new writers. Stryfe’s Legacy comes out of this. So does the new X-Force and character change-ups in X-Factor. We also get a Cable mini-series coming soon and a Wolverine series that builds up towards an “end” to Wolverine. This series is meant not to resolve, but to set up the plan for the next few years.

    I get it now. But it was very frustrating back then to read this.

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