Dec 14, 2022
Things get cosmic as we discuss GLADIATOR! Doc has no shortage
of confidence when it comes to dealing with this Strontian - are
you not entertained?
- Background (3:50)
- Gladiator of the Imperial Guard created by Chris Claremont and
Dave Cockrum in The X-Men #107 (Oct 1977)
- Introduced as a member of the Imperial Guard of the Shi’ar
Empire, serving under Emperor D’Ken, brother of the exiled
- Kallark is a Strontian, and the race is incredibly strong, but
only when devoted to a principle - Kallark and other Strontians
were vying for a spot in the guard, when they were ordered to
return to Strontia and kill their elders - only Kallark obeyed
without question, learning that it was a test of loyalty set up by
the elders to protect the homeworld
- He encountered several heroes along his journey, as he
continued to serve whoever was in charge of the Shi’ar Empire -
D’Ken, Lilandra, Deathbird, and Vulcan
- Kallark defends the Empire against Vulcan and his assault, but
when Vulcan leads a coup and takes over, Kallark is honor-bound to
serve, although he has fleeting thoughts of doubt
- On Vulcan’s orders, Kallark and the guard attack the wedding of
Crystal and Ronan, intended to unite the Kree and Inhumans, though
he sides with Lilandra to prevent her execution, he is unable to
prevent a later assassination
- He accepts the position of Emperor of the Shi’ar to prevent
further bloodshed and war, but appoints two advisors to help him
handle most of the logistics of running the empire
- Joins the Annihilators to give himself an outlet for fighting,
but refuses a leadership role
- Joins the Galactic Council, where he decides that Earth must be
destroyed to save the universe from incursions, but when it was
restored, no memory remained of the destruction
- Put a time-displaced Jean Grey on trial for her “future” crimes
- After Xandra is discovered, Kallark hands over the throne of
the Shi’ar empire to her and returns to his role as head of the
- Issues - More than you think you know (11:10)
- The waxing and waning of his self-esteem and focus. It's a
function of the Strontian species that their physical abilities are
all directly tied to their confidence level and their belief in
themselves and their purpose. When Gladiator believes he can do so,
he is powerful enough to knock planets out of their orbit, burn
Galactus with his heat vision, and is said to have once ripped a
black hole in half. Which I really hope was just an idle boast,
because there's just...so many things wrong with that sentence.
When he doubts himself, he becomes weak enough to get smacked
around by Cannonball.
- A slavish devotion to his sense of duty. Gladiator takes his
oath of loyalty to the Shi'ar throne and his position as Praetor of
the Imperial Guard VERY seriously. He begins his career of imperial
service when the Emperor orders him and the rest of the cadets
being evaluated with him to kill the Council of Elders of his home
planet as a test of loyalty. Most of the rest of the cadets refuse
the order and rebel. Gladiator obeys it without question. He's had
to serve a string of emperors and empresses who were objectively
very bad people, from T'Korr to D'Ken to Deathbird to Vulcan. He
hates the things he's ordered to do most of the time, but is a
loyal servant of the throne through and through, purposefully
keeping his focus single-mindedly on his duty in order to keep his
powers at their maximum level and best perform his duties. The only
time he ever wavers is when he's ordered to execute Lilandra, which
is a pretty high bar, all things considered. (18:38)
- Lack of faith in his ability to lead anything that's not the
Guard. When Vulcan and Deathbird are dispatched after War of Kings,
Gladiator really doesn't want to take charge of what's left of the
empire, and would rather anyone else be leader besides him. When
he's with the Annihilators, he has no interest in any kind of a
leadership role despite arguably being the team's most powerful
member. When Professor X and Lilandra both die and someone has the
bright idea to hatch a child from an egg made out of their combined
genetic material, Gladiator's first response is, oh, thank God
you’re here! YOU'RE the empress now! This is probably tied into the
confidence-based nature of his powers, but even with all of his
experience serving at the highest echelons of an interstellar
empire that boasts over one million member states, he really seems
allergic to the idea of being in charge of anything that's not in
his comfort zone of the Praetorian Guard. (25:46)
- Break (34:32)
- Treatment (36:07)
- In-universe - Get him out of his element
- Out of universe - Compare to high-level athlete with the yips
- Skit (48:31)
- Hello Kallark, I’m Dr. Issues. -Thank you for taking the time
to see me, doctor.
- So, what can I do for you? -Forgive me my manners, but, we
should at least shake hands before discussing more…personal
- Ok, sure -*yell*Ow! You have quite the grip for a human.
- Said…no one ever. Are you ok? I wasn’t even trying to
-*abruptly* I’m fine. Everythings fine. Not everything, but my hand
is fine. *whispering to himself* Have I truly fallen so far?
- What was that? -Nothing. I…I need to see you because I have
some questions that only a man of mental science can answer.
- Mental sci…that’s unique. Anyhoo, go ahead. -Even though I am
eons old, I pride myself on my…stamina. *hushed tone* do you
understand what I’m saying? This is embarrassing.
- Well, you might need a different specialist, then. Do you have
a primary care provider? -The Shi’ar Empire has spared no expense
to test me from crown to sole, and yet, they find nothing…but…I
haven’t given them all of my…details.
- Go on…*sigh* look, I’m a professional. This is all
confidential. If this goes where I think it’s going, I may have
ways to assist you. Continue -*deep breath* I am a proud member of
the Imperial Guard. The proudest…member…if you will. I train my
body constantly to serve in as many capacities as I can. And yet, I
must admit…I may have cheated…oh the shame!
- I’m not casting judgment. You cheated with whom? -No, no, I do
not blame anyone besides myself, by my own hand.
- Well, your hands may desensitize you if you aren’t using
variation in technique. -You do sound like you know about this
topic quite well, and without hesitation. Alright then! I’ll admit,
I’ve resorted to using some natural remedies. Supplements if you
- Oh really? Well, on Earth many of those products do more harm
than good. -I have learned the…umm..hard way…that this is true
throughout the galaxy. Sure, for a brief time I felt like I could
tackle a whole army and have my way with them in any test
of…accomplishment. But that feeling faded. Now I feel…weaker than
any Strontian has any right to feel. I may look the same, but I can
tell I lack…girth. Is this making sense?
- Yes, and I definitely can help you. There is plenty of
literature on my planet that shows some men have this type of
adverse reaction to treatments for anxiety or depression. -Really?
So they can’t get up what they used to? I could lift planets out of
their natural orbit, you know.
- Um…not the visual I would have wanted, but my point is, it’s
treatable. I don’t know what the alien equivalent is, but here,
it’s called sildenafil. There are some options, and I want to go
over the risks and benefits of - *interrupting* I have no fear of
risks! Just tell me the benefits, please.
- Well, as you may have guessed, you’ll be able to function in
that area again. It increases blood flow, but the typical
formulation is only used as needed to avoid staying that way
permanently. -What? As needed? But I am always needed. The guard
never ceases their duties. How am I supposed to maintain a steady
workload if I rely on this temporary aide?
- Well first you need to try a low-*interrupting* And what time
of day do I take this…sildenafil?
- On the days you use it…and ONLY on that day, you can take it up
to 4 hours before any stimulation, but it’s best 30 minutes before
-And what about my diet?
- Don’t eat, you need an empty stomach, but you can drink water,
it’s good to stay hydrated, anyway. -And what if I need to increase
my…output. How many of these can I take?
- Just one a day, but -And will this also affect my breathing if
I am too vigorous?
- Actually, for pulmonary hyperten -And what about if I am
injured? If this affects my blood, will I suffer mortal wounds
- I wouldn’t recommend -Plus I don’t…recover…as well as I
used to. If I take anything else, will it affect those things as
- I thought you didn’t care about side -How long do I take this,
if I feel like my…body…is catching up to my…head? Sometimes I get a
- STOP! ***breathing heavily*** Look, stop with the innuendo,
alright? You’re talking about a sensitive topic, but you got
through it. It’s not easy to penetrate your defenses, but I’ve kept
a stiff upper lip for too long. You’re not going deep enough to get
to the psychological basis of all of this. I can’t last much
longer. We need to start talking in plain language, or this whole
encounter ends in a meaningless discharge. Do I make myself clear?
-*shouts* SIR YES SIR!
- Good. Now, as I was trying to say before you unloaded all of
your emotional content, erectile dysfunction is -*shocked* EXCUSE
- *pause* Come again? -WHAT are you on about? I’ve been pouring
my soul out about my decline as a defender of the empire, and you
want to talk about…sexual matters? What is wrong with you?
- I…I thought -You are a disgrace to your profession! And to
think, I let myself believe that I needed your kind of help. I have
tested the limits of EXISTENCE, and you have some sort of perverse
motive to corrupt everything I stand for. How dare you!
- But the…and your cadence…your tone…the embarrass…*sigh* You
know what? I’m willing to cut my losses. I apologize for the
misunderstanding. I can refer you to another clinician, and we’ll
wipe the slate clean. Shake on it? -*pause* You drive a hard
- *crunching sound* OOOWWWW Where did that come from? -My
grip…that’s the grip I know that could choke out the Sun…YOU DID
IT! I don’t know how, but I’m back to…to ME? I can trust my…head…as
well as my body…with my hands…I’m so excited I could just explode!
Thank you! The Empire thanks you. THE UNIVERSE WILL SHOWER YOU WITH
JOY *swooshing sound to indicate flying away* YESSSSSSS!
- *sigh* I need a vacation.
- Ending (55:09)
- Recommended reading: War of Kings
- Next episodes: Raven, Aquaman
- Plugs for social