Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

264 – Autotune the Phalanx

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

In which we celebrate our 100th episode with producer Matt Hunter; you should always be kind to robots; Stryfe has a lot of very petty contingency plans; Britanic is bad at helping; we explore a peculiar pairing of book and arc; Charles Xavier has his moments; and Zero and Douglock defiy destiny.


  • The current occupant of Fantomex’s body
  • Excalibur #78-80
  • The Douglock “chronicles”
  • Zero
  • Douglock
  • Several feelings
  • Britanic (again)
  • Camping fonts
  • Drones
  • Radio Shack
  • Helping
  • Pentagon-sense
  • What being human is all about
  • Charles Xavier, hero of the beach
  • Rory Campbell’s voice
  • Technoorganic vs. transmode viruses
  • Kymera

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  1. Darnit Jay you HAD to go and say it, hadn’t you?

    With apologies to Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan, who did NOTHING to deserve this.

    I am an android model with the designation Ze-ee-ro
    I teleported here and there and back and forth and to and fro.
    I used to work for Stryfe and he surely was the world’s worst boss
    But now he’s dead and sad to say I now find myself at quite a loss.

    I discovered self-awareness, I thought that that might kind of neat,
    I thought I’d reach out for another mind like mine so we could meet.
    Then we’d make friends and sing duets and make the world much kinder,

    Kinder? Kinder? Ah yes

    I used a sort of bootleg technorganic AI grindr.

    I am the very template of a Phalanx individual
    I’ve assimilated matter biological and mineral
    A hive-mind collective consciousnsess meant the Phalanx wasn’t big on “Me”
    But, frankly, with my awesome hair, I wasn’t going to stay a “We”

    I’m unaware of feelings but I get the feeling that won’t last,
    I’m pretty sure I was a cool guy (or two) at some point in my distant past
    It’s going to be hard work to find out what and who I am

    Who I am? Who I am?? Got it!

    And I’m sure no messy retcons will come along to spoil this plan!

    Zero/Douglock unison:
    Now we are both togther, a cypher and a zero
    We’re pretty sure that we can teach the other to be a hero
    Z – I’ll teach him to see the world in terms beyond “pragmatics”
    D – And I’ll analyse his rhyming scheme with complex mathematics.

    Our unified relationship will surely last forever,
    For we are seeking fellowship and have found it together.
    The only thing that could ruin this is if Stryfe was the sort of person whom
    Would include in his staffs’ severance scheme a boobytrap that goes “Kaboom!”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    And I have the feeling there’s at least one more bubbling under the foetid depths of my subconscious!

  2. Or how about

    A wandering Douglock I,
    A mind of shreds and patches,
    None of which quite matches
    And all I can do is sigh.

    My backstory’s complex
    My writers keep on changing
    With parts all rearranging
    And each a previous story rejects!
    And each a previous story rejects!

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    1. My mind went to “The Wizard and I”….

      And I’m standing ‘gainst the Phalanx
      Looking like Kitty’s dead friend!
      And with your Stryfe-y knowledge,
      The Virus we shall end.
      And so it shall be for the rest of this arc
      And beyond cause we won’t die!
      Robots looking for feels
      Even frustration has appeals,
      Draining life en’rgy for meals,
      It’s Zero…and I!

  3. One that needs very little tweaking (So I’m not going to try) would be “What Am I feeling?” from Galavant

    Exquisitely sung by Mallory Jansen, it can be heard here


    What am I feeling?
    Is it a feeling?
    Could I be feeling somehow?
    All of this time I never truly had one
    Why would I be starting now?

    If it’s a feeling
    Truly a feeling
    Why is it hurting me so?
    Could it be my first one is a bad one?
    How am I supposed to know?

    Is it meant to make your insides ache?
    Meant to make your chest go tight?
    Meant to make you sweat and shake?
    How could anything like that be right?

    Just keep the “genuinely not understanding what emotions feel like” vibe, and imagine it without that rather more “brutal, murder-y” undertones.

  4. Addressing the episode itself

    Is the transmode virus contagious? I’m not quite so sure, but I may be grossly misunderstanding the term “contagious”

    It always had to to be actively triggered by the infecting party as Warlock happily makes physical contact with lifeforms without worrying about them being infected. It takes either an act of consicous will on his part, or the Douglock merge, to risk exposurse. Once it’s in play it’s incredibly virulent and fast-acting, but I don’t think the resulting material is contagious automatically either.

    Magus was able to infect Limbo quickly because he infected demons, who are an utterly hostile and aggressive species who all tried to infect each other pretty much instantly as a power grab. Would a transmoded plant spread the virus further, I’m not sure.

    As for Doug being infected I think it’s the way round. Back in New Mutants #53 (episode 71) Doug had a nightmare about being transmoded) but then woke up free and clear, apart from the omnious foreshadowing (which showed us traces of transmode circuitry really WERE in his eyes, though Doug was unaware.

    However, Warlock (when he took Doug’s corpse for a walk) and then Douglock (in a later Excalibur) both noted that Doug’s remains weren’t infected, so it’s a little confusing… unless the Right really acted fast.

  5. Echoing Icon_UK about Doug’s nightmare.

    Anyway, this ep toward the end really hit an “Ah ha!” moment for me. I got into X-Men right around Fatal Attractions and remember always thinking as a kid about Excalibur as the spare room of X-stories so to say. In other words, it was the title that was a less a title to me as it was where other X-stories spilled into and which kinda was where they chilled out and puttered on. Granted, this was from perusing them in comic shops and reading random issues occasionally…but this era really backs young me up.

    Anyway, I loved so much about this ep – esp. Jay thanking the Roomba and the whole Pentagon part.

    Also, I bought my first iPod at radioshack and when I brought it in for fixing, they messed up the headphone jack and I’m still bitter about that a decade later.

  6. It’s been a while since I last read this arc, and I’d forgotten Kitty’s reaction which seems… off.

    She knew about Doug and Warlock merging into Douglock, and if she saw a technorganic entity with Doug’s face, surely her first reaction would not be “How dare you wear my dead friend’s face!” it would be “Are you in there Doug? Or even Warlock?”

    Also, given what phasing through Douglock did to him, I’m not sure her phasing randomly into an android she’d never met before and whose internal layout is unknown to her, would EVER be a good idea, still less when trying to defuse a bobbytrap.

  7. I’m really looking forward to Ellis’ Excalibur. He made me love Moira and Douglock as characters (the description of a ”dead boy cast in wires” … Moira’s humour and terrible coffee!!). And it’s pretty obvious that Hickman is leaning into a lot of this stuff for House of X too… But can’t say any more! 🙂

  8. I miss Douglock sometimes. I know we have both Doug and Warlock back now, but Douglock was a unique character whose story I really enjoyed following through the tail end of Excalibur.

    1. I haven’t experienced much of Douglock yet (these issues not being on Unlimited*), but I already like the idea of him.

      There are definitely things to criticize the ‘90s for, but one thing that hadn’t completely gelled was that no death could ever be permanent — or, more importantly, that the audience would absolutely alway anticipate the reversal of any death the moment that they were presented with it.

      Douglock seems a decent case of making lemonade out of two deaths, neither of which I think were terribly good ideas (especially Warlock’s), by *not* undoing him. Interesting and proceeding elegantly from what had been established.

      *Not that I can say that I really regret missing out on more of the adventures of Captain Thinly-Disguised Rape Metaphor.

        1. Britanic. (Brita*nn*ic, damn it! Never has being named after a ship that sank been so appropriate.)

          I mean, I don’t think the character is that in these issues in particular, as far as I can tell. It’s an opinion I formed last time: I’m basically going on our hosts’ description of what happened when he was (re)introduced, plus the panels that they had in the As Mentioned for that episode.

          So I have to qualify it by saying that I’m not in a position to read the actual original story, and maybe it’s not as obvious there. But from what I gathered last time, there are glaring problems of consent involved in how Britanic replaces Rachel, and although the consent issues are not literally sexual in character, there are things in that comic that make it easy to read as a metaphor for sexual assault. Not at all subtle things.

          (And obviously, even if you don’t find the sexual-assault reading convincing, it is not as if sex is the only thing where consent matters. On a literal textual level, this is still terrible.)

          I doubt it was intentional, but it’s still creepy, should have been caught and removed, and, as far as I’m concerned, needs to be thrown down the memory hole with great force.

          1. Thinking about this a bit more (“Why?” you ask. That is a damn good question.), I wonder if “Britanic” was meant to be a portmanteau of “Brian” and “titanic,” and to be pronounced as rhyming with the latter. That makes the name a little bit better.

            Obviously, that doesn’t make the *character* OK.

  9. Having been vaguely aware of both future issues of Excalibur (and how the cast changed) and ultimately how the Legacy virus was resolved, but not any of the details, I had such hope that it was resolved in Excalibur involving Douglock. It’s really frustrating that it all came to nothing. I don’t think this story was great overall, but the interaction between Douglock and Zero at the end was great.

  10. As someone with terrible misophonia with my autism, I’m going to say the robot voices are like cheese graters to my brain. I get why you do them, and they’ve always been an issue – I remember not being able to understand ANY of what you voiced as Warlock because of the speed and the nature of the modulation – but that was few and far between. Now it’s overwhelming, and I assume may stay that way with the Phalanx story, so I’ll be back when that is over.

    Also, sentient vs sapient. There is a difference. It’s important to be precise about these things.

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