Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

327 – The Sounds of Gravity

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

In which nobody’s ages ever make sense; Sebastian Shaw catches up on villain speeches; nobody puts Louise Simonson in a corner; Tabitha Smith has a bad day; Gambit and Bat Manuel have a lot in common; and Warpath outruns Adam X.


  • X-Force #49-51
  • Haircuts
  • The return off Sebastian Shaw
  • Stansfield
  • A series of kidnappings
  • Solar-powered superpowers
  • Attempted murder
  • Memories
  • Cable as an audience surrogate
  • Tabitha’s new codename
  • The first Tick live-action series
  • Warpath’s running speed
  • Risqué
  • What gravity sounds like
  • X-leisure activities
  • Magneto’s human name/s

NEXT EPISODE: A Tale of Two Beasts

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  1. I don’t know whether you can get a speeding ticket for running, but I do know that the concept of speed tickets predate the widespread adoption of automobiles, as President Ullysses S. Grant got a speeding ticket in a horse drawn carriage on one occasion.
    It would also presumably be considered Jaywalking.

  2. A sure sign that Shaw is back in the villain game is that he can monologue a line like “My son, Shinobi Shaw”… who the heck adds the SURNAME when talking about their own child like that?

    I might have wondered this at the time, but I do have to re-wonder why Shinobi thought blowing up a building would be effective against someone whose entire powerset is about absorbing kinetic impacts to boost his own strength? That’s sort of like trying to drown Aquaman isn’t it?

    IIRC This is also the first time ever that Tessa is referenced as having any powers at all beyond her “mentat” skillset. I don’t think she’d even been hinted as being a mutant before, as her ability to remember everything and process info was presented as a human-savant type thing. So I found her sudden development of telepathy to be a bit of a reach (Oh, if I had only know what was to come in THAT regard…)

    And now I’m imagining Harvey and Janet applying to join the Reavers, but being turned down because Harvey having burned his finger on the coffee maker in the Hellfire Canteen, and Janet stubbing her toe when moving file boxes that time, don’t really qualify them for membership, but because Harvey had always remembered to bring in muffins on Reese’s birthday, and Janet had let Macon cut in line that time, they’re allowed to leave intact out of professional courtesy.

    I hesitate to mention it, but I think Miles might be misremembering, as the New Mutants didn’t get their minds rewritten by Emma. She brought them over to the Hellions when Magneto couldn’t help them process their trauma over their death/resurrection, and she could. (Plus she had Empath amping up Magneto’s depression), but she didn’t make them think they’d always been Hellions (though that would have been a cool story)

    To confirm, Sunspot wasn’t with them at that time either, as he’s already left the team before they fought the Beyonder (He came back just after the NM’s as pseudo-Hellions arc). He wouldn’t leave the team to join the Fallen Angels until some time later. (Bobby’s not quite at Sunfire levels of quitting, but he has a track record)

    I hesitate to ask given my complete ignorance of such things, but was James’ outfit ever actually “Apache” or was just a costume worn by an Apache? Plus given how few people remember his brother, simply because he was killed so early on in both his own career and X-Men history, was anyone other than James even making that connection? Not that that makes it an invalid choice of course.

    I see Doug as being more of a Sondheim fan than Schwartz, if only for the endless pattern of internal rhymes and really complicated wordplay. Oh and he’d definitely have had Kitty and Logan bring him back original Japanese manga and anime whenever they were in Japan, because FINALLY a good use for his powers!

    And a bonus question based on the visual companion; Why would Bobby say “Madre de Dios!” when he speaks Portugese, not Spanish?

    1. Shinobi is dumb, that’s why. I love Shinobi so much, but he is NOT the brightest bulb in the pack (which is part of why I love him)

    2. Please don’t ever feel bad about correcting us! You’re absolutely right: the New Mutants weren’t brainwashed by Emma; they were just supernaturally depressed. I totally misremembered that.

      I was speaking off the cuff about the Thunderbird / Warpath costume being traditionally Apache, which was perhaps not my best plan. Having looked into it a bit post-episode, the only ways in which it particularly is are the presence of fringe and those inconsistently-appearing decorative feather(s), which aren’t exactly Apache-specific. What also surprised me is that at least according to cursory googling, the thunderbird myth (while widespread) seems to be associated with other tribes much more directly than with the Apache. (I could be wrong on that one, though.) Since Professor X gave James both the costume and then name, I’ll blame him for this one.

  3. I’m pretty sure Risqué is pronounced “risk”. Otherwise the phrase “What’s life without a little … Risqué?” would be extremely annoying. By the time this story came out I was already used to Marvel’s terrible French.

    1. And whilst I was pronouncing it Risqué too, looking her up online mentions she has a Seminole mother and a Cuban father and grew up in Florida, so her adopting a name based on a French word which doesn’t even relate to her powers, does seem a little improbable.

    2. Though having also said that, looking her up on uncannyxmen.net says that the modern day Cuban/Seminole origin was a later change, and Lobdell has said he originally intended Risque to eventually be revealed as yet another time traveller, a member of the Askani Sisterhood who had come back for reasons which were never elaborated on, but which would have explained some rather odd turns of phrase she uses.

  4. After the Tick cartoon, I was disappointed in the live action show and only watched a few episodes during its run. But even then, I had to admit that Batmanuel is objectively the most awesome name ever. And was a great character.

    Going back to watch it years later, it was a pretty good series. Wish it could have gone on longer.

  5. If we were to make a “Handbook to Jay and Miles X-Universe” that only contains characters like Janet of the Hellfire Club or Corbeau, who would be in it?

    1. We’d have a long stream of “People with a name and one narration box of backstory before meeting an unfortunate end”, such as;

      Angus McWhirter, the unfortunate hovercraft rental chap on Muir Island


      Ray Mulholland and Jacko Petrie, the Police Officer and Teddy Boy cosplayer the Warwolves stole the skins of in Excalibur. (There was also Jacko’s girlfriend who never got a name, btu did get Warwolved too, alas).

  6. Continuing the discussion of X-character leisure activities it is my personal belief that Scott has spent a number of his nights hustling in speedy pool halls

  7. Sebastian Shaw is honestly my favorite villain. He’s had a really unfortunate last few years, and Marauders has been TERRIBLY disappointing, he doesn’t even seem like the same guy to me. Classic 80s Shaw will always be tops for me, but 90s Shaw is pretty great too! I kind of wish he’d kept the new look he came back with, it’s a lot cooler than the colonial cosplay and mutton chops. Like, Shaw, I love you, but your look is NOT helping anyone take you seriously. And he should be taken seriously, because he’s SO GREAT as a bad guy when he is. I do also like the ponytail though! I’m always torn between hating the bow and the frills because they look so ugly and stupid, and also loving how Shaw is this big macho tough dude who unironically rocks those things without giving a shit.

    I LOVE his opening quote in the issue of his return. Just love it. “What is mine, is mine. And what is theirs. . . is mine!” Just perfect.

    Also yes. That is EXACTLY how he got his scar. Exactly.

    I can never recognize Warpath with short hair.

    “Those bones, each one more obscenely visible than the last” Sexy.

    Oooh, I like the idea of Holocaust’s armor having a Sentinel-look to his armor because Shaw designed it, that’s a neat touch!

    There is nothing I love more than the fact Shaw gives no shit about poor Stansfield and is just mad about the cost of the equipment. Beautiful. Classic Shaw.

    “He’s just a tube full of organs with fantastic hair” is somehow hilarious to me. Like of all the phrases one never expects to hear/say!

    Risque is a character I only found out about when she died in New X-Men, and I’ve wanted to check out more about her since, so I’m glad we reached her! Based on her name, I was expecting her to have more Longshot-type powers.

    Learning that Beast canonically likes to get stoned and watch Gumby is blowing my mind and I love it.

    CATS was also playing in the Quicksilver miniseries in ‘98!

    Miles theory about Magneto’s name preferences is mine as well. If he has to be using a human name for some reason, it won’t be the name of the Max Eisenhardt for that reason.

    “It stands for extra wealth and power, of course” I LAUGHED. Honestly the entire Shaw read was GREAT.

    “Which means it’s time to give him . . .The Talk.” I LOVE THIS SO MUCH, THANK YOU FOR THIS XD

  8. When it comes to names, we often know people via the names we first get introduced to them by. Or we use most commonly. If Magneto didn’t specifically tell Charles to stop calling him Eric, the Professor is going to habitually, if not specifically, call him Eric. Partly cos that’s the name he is most familiar with and partly because “Eric” is the best version of Max, as far as Charles is concerned.

    It is odd when, now in my late 30’s, a friend from High School will use the nickname/moniker I had at that time, and it immediately evokes a certain reaction in me. I imagine that hearing Charles call him “Eric” would at least remind him of the good times the two of them had. If he has asked Charles to NOT call him Eric, and be does it anyway, then that’s another entry for the list of why Professor X is a jerk.

  9. As far as I can tell, Sebastian Shaw’s speech from the end of X-Force 49 is based on a quote from Pirkei Avot, a 3rd Century Jewish text that is an anthology of Rabbinic sayings. To paraphrase:

    “There are four types of people. The average person says, ‘what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours.’ The peasant says ‘what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine.’ The righteous person says, ‘what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is yours.’ And the wicked person says, ‘what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.'” (Pirkei Avot 5:10)

    Loeb is Jewish, so I don’t think it’s a stretch.

  10. The New Mutants also watched Cats, in Marvel Team-Up Annual 6. Robert loved it. Rahne was embarrassed.

    1. By the skintight costumes, the strange religious metaphors, or her overwhelming desire to switch to wolf form and chase the cast around the stage, whilst barking loudly?

  11. X-Force #50 really makes me miss the Claremont/Simonson era where these anniversary issues felt like a celebration and climax of years of story that wrapped a neat bow on the proceeding issues while setting up threads for the next 50 to 100 issues.

    That’s not to say anything bad about Jeph Loeb’s writing. These issues are fine and I enjoyed them but there was nothing in X-Force #50 that felt like it was momentous. The upcoming X-Men #50 feels less like a milestone.

    As for Boom Boom taking on the moniker “Meltdown”? Ugh. One gets the impression that writers after Louise Simonson didn’t really understand her or what to do with the character.

  12. Regarding a more Hellfire Club inspired power armor: Did anyone else immediately imagine Holocaust wearing a bustier and thigh high boots over the armor?

      1. Thanks to that comment mixed with Morph’s impersonation of the character in AoA I am now picturing Holocaust in a burlesque show. I don’t think any amount of alcohol will make that image go away.

  13. I never had any major problems with the retcon about Tessa being a spy for Xavier (except for Xavier generally being an arse about it and not providing any support), but I hadn’t read these particular episodes. If Tessa was meant to be a spy, surely the fact that Sebastian Shaw was not actually dead would have been a really important bit of information to pass over to Xavier? Everyone seemed very surprised by that information…

  14. I always figured Shatterstar was pouting in the med bay because Rictor left, but that might be my shipper goggles.

  15. Late to the party, but I just wanted to defend the cassette. Not because they didn’t suck. (None of what you said was untrue.) I want to defend them for being the format of the mixtape revolution. No longer was it necessary to dj a playlist in real time. It felt personal, heartfelt. And unlike burned CDs or a Spotify playlist, I could sample parts of a song, grab bits from the radio, run records backwards or at different speeds, or over dub without learning complicated software. I regret giving up my dubbing setup when I moved 15 years ago. One of my last mix tapes broke last summer, while I was listening to it in my walkman (which has outlasted about 5 mp3 players and several phones. ) I will never have an “appropriate” occasion to blast out my accidental overdubbing of Foxy Lady over Hail to the Chief, but it lined up well enough for me to remember it as a mashup.

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