Capes on the Couch Transcripts Issue 163 – Gladiator Transcript

Issue 163 – Gladiator Transcript

Anthony: Hello and welcome to Capes on the Couch where comics get counseling. I’m Anthony Sytko.

Doc Issues: And I’m Dr. Issues.

Anthony: We’ve got an interesting selection here for Issue 163, president Level Patron. Matt has requested Gladiator, not not the Russell Crow film, not the Daredevil Foe, but the tour of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard and one of about 30 11 Superman analogs slash pastiche in Marvel.

Because if you’re gonna rip off a character, you might as well rip off the best. Absolutely. Quick reminder that as of the release date of this episode, you still have a couple more days to get in donations to my extra life fundraiser, which is growing steadily and appreciate every single person who has donated so far.

I’ll be live streaming myself playing games while riding a stationary bike, and the more you donate, the longer I have to ride. In addition, as an added bonus, if any of our patrons donate to the fundraiser, I will match and double your donation. And if anyone joins our Patreon between now and December 18th, I will quintuple your pledge level has a donation.

So I’ve already got a couple folks that I have to match. Go ahead. Join in. We’ll have links in the show notes. The money all goes towards Children’s Specialized Hospital, 15 locations across North and central New Jersey. They help thousands of kids every year. This is my 12th year being affiliated with Extra Life.

And this is also the latest in the year that I’ve ever fundraised. It’s just life kind of got away from me, but I was not going to give up the year without raising some much needed funds for the hospital. So get those donations in. And then at 10:00 AM on the 18th, I’ll be live streaming on Twitch and we’ll have links to all of that as well in the show notes and on social media that you can watch me play games and turn my legs into Jello.

It’s gonna be a good time.

Doc Issues: And just in case anyone is really doubting Anthony, I’ve seen firsthand his dedication to doing these things. He really will do what he says.

Anthony: Oh indeed, I will. Oh, and I forgot to mention, if you donate $25 or more, I will bump up the resistance on the bike so that that is for each donation of $25 or more.

Not like cumulative. So if it’s not, like if you donate a hundred dollars, I’m gonna bump it up four times. I’m bumping it up once cuz I, I have to be reasonable here. I’m gonna be riding, the goal is a thousand dollars, which would equate to 50 miles, which is gonna take me about three hours and change, give or take.

I can’t do that and also ride with like a 30 level on the resistance. It’s just, it’s not gonna happen. Not unless I’m gonna be, you know, pulling myself up the stairs by my arms for the next week Anyway, we are here to talk about Kallark a k, a Gladiator gladiator of the Imperial Guard, created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cochran in the X-Men 1 0 7 October, 1977.

He is introduced as a member of the Imperial Guard of the Shi’ar Empire serving under Emperor D’Ken, who is brother of the exiled Liandra, who is an ally to the X-Men. On again, off again, Paramore to Charles Xavier Kallark whose name by the way, is an amalgamation of Kal-El and Clark Kent to just really further drive home that whole Superman.

Pastiche. Kallark is a Strontian, and the race is incredibly strong, but only when devoted to a principle. Kallark and other Stranan were vying for a spot in the Imperial Guard when they were ordered to return to Strau and kill a council of elders. Kallark was the only one who obeyed without question later learning that it was in fact a test of loyalty set up by the elders to protect the home world because the Shi’ar Empire basically had a planetary gun aimed at the planet and said, either you give us your best representative for the Imperial Guard, or we’re going to destroy the whole planet.

And the way that they chose to do this was, again, through the test of loyalty. It’s just we’re gonna get into that in the issues. Also, that origin story was not told until War of Kings in the mid two thousands. So we’ll get into that again in a little bit. But that origin story and how he came to be, Gladiator was not part of his history until much more recently.

So as a member of the Imperial Guard and serving for the Shi’ar Empire, he encounters several heroes along his journey. I’m not gonna go through the lengthy list of the encounters that he had with Spider-Man and Thor and the X-Men and et cetera, et cetera. He continued to serve whoever was in charge of the Shi’ar empire.

D’Ken Alandra, death Bird, and then eventually Vulcan, who we just referenced last week when we were talking about Mor McTaggart and the whole situation behind how Vulcan was part of the first team to rescue the, the original five X-men, and he was left for dead. Well, then he kind of went off into space and said, I’m gonna destroy everybody and everything.

He ended up taking over the Shi’ar empire and Kallark serves under. Everybody who’s in charge, he is loyal to the position, not the person. It’s very much, I’m, I’m gonna get ahead of myself. Let’s just stick to the background. I, I’m kind of all over the place cuz I have a lot of things that I wanna say about this, but I’m gonna try and stick to the background.

Apologies folks. So, 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 does have fleeting thoughts of doubt, it like for a split second, it enters his mind. He’s like, is this the best thing? But I’m here to serve the empire and so I serve the pleasure of Emperor Vulcan on Vulcan’s orders.

Kallark and the Guard attack the wedding of Crystal and Ronan the accuser. Go back to listen to our Crystal episode. Hear a little bit about that. The wedding was intended to unite the Cree and the Inhumans. Although he sides with Alandra to prevent her execution, he has unable to prevent a later assassination.

This is the first time that we ever see Kallark question. An order and say, this is wrong. I’m not going to obey this order that’s given to me. I’m going to defend who I feel is the rightful head of the throne. And this all happens in War of Kings. A lot of this stuff is the War of King story line in the cosmic era, the cosmic setting of Marvel.

A lot of stuff is Abnett & Lanning. And I told Matt on Discord, I sent him a message. I said, I have not read the DNA n a cosmic stuff nearly as much as I feel I should have until researching for this episode. And I really feel like I’ve been missing out on, cuz there’s good stuff in here, annihilation, et cetera, et cetera.

So he ends up accepting the position of emperor of the Shi’ar to prevent further bloodshed and war. But he does appoint two advisors to help him handle most of the logistics of running the empire because it’s a situation where he’s very much, I’m not really the guy who should be running things, I’m just kind of.

The soldier. It’s, it’s like when Optimist Prime is handing the matrix of leadership to Ultra Magnus, and he’s like, I, I’m just a soldier. Prime. I’m, I’m not fit to lead. He’s like, you will light our darkest hour, and then he turns to gray, and then every child of the eighties sobs because their hero has passed away.

Anyway, so he joins the annihilators to give himself an outlet for fighting because he doesn’t care for running the empire. He wants to go out there and fight. This is who he is, but he refuses a leadership role within the Annihilators. We see a pattern here.

He 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 or the decisions that led to this. This is part of Secret Wars. And the kind of ending of the ultimate universe and, and the, a soft reboot of some of the Marvel stuff.

He put a time displaced Jean Gray on trial for her future crimes at Phoenix. And I did actually read this part because I was reading The Guardians of the Galaxy book at that time. And this is the trial of Jean Gray when the time displaced X-Men, original X-men are brought forward in Time by Beast who says, I’m gonna take the five original teenagers and bring ’em to the present.

And then maybe if they see how messed up stuff is when I send them back, they’ll make it right. That’s not how this works, Hank, but I digress. So after Xandra is discovered, who is a egg created from the genetic material of Xavier and land? And the egg was discovered, by the way, by Rogue and Gambit on their honeymoon.

And you can go back and listen to the Rogue and Gambit episodes as we discussed that marriage, more specifically, the gambit episode, I think is where we discuss the honeymoon stuff. But that’s what happens is they go on their honeymoon and they find the egg and they’re like, oh gosh, this is, this is bad.

This should not be here. So 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 Guard because he says, you are the rightful heir to the throne. Because your mother was the only halfway decent ruler the Sierra Empire’s ever had, and you’re her daughter, even though you’ve only been alive for a couple of weeks probably.

And she’s been like aged up and it’s a whole thing. She has the mind of a child, but he’s, and Matt does reference to that. And then it’s like, oh. Good. Someone here take the, take this off my plate. I’m gonna go back to fighting. We good? Thanks. So again, I glossed over a lot of stuff, but anyway, let’s dive into the issues.

And since Matt picked this episode, he has delivered us a lovely writeup. So the first one, the waxing and waning of his self-esteem and focus. It’s a function of the scrunchy and 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’s powerful enough to knock a 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.

Doc Issues: All right, so when we were first discussing this episode, I remember saying to Anthony, Very simple sports analogy. He’s a front runner. And some of you may wanna know what that means because you’re not into sports, and I don’t mean to alienate anyone. If you have a team or a, an athlete in a competition that does really well, as long as they’re ahead, as long as they’re in the lead, in the front, if you will, it’s almost impossible to beat them.

But then heaven forbid someone challenges them, gives them competition where the outcome is in doubt, then there’s a much greater chance, as a matter of fact, a chance greater than what would be expected by randomness for them to lose. And so that’s the definition of front running. But the psychological component to that is something that has been studied for a long, long time.

And I don’t mean to make it all about sports, but that was the first thing that came to my mind. The idea is more that. What happens in circumstances where you are unsure of yourself? How does that mold your response? And this has been a philosophical debate well before anybody listening to this podcast was born.

It’s centuries old where there are some people that point out adversity doesn’t really make a person’s character, it reveals it. I’m, I’m not so sure that’s always the case. There’s also the idea though, that you have the opportunity to change your own ability to cope with stress by being exposed to more stress.

And there’s a lot of evidence for this, ever since World War I and World War II when studies were being done about P T S D and they didn’t call it P T S D at that time, you know, there’s always a term shell shock. There was military six syndrome, whatever. The thing that they noticed was in order for the unit itself to do the best it could when someone was exposed to an obvious trauma, rather than the person being completely taken out of the field, out of the battle, sent home and never to return again.

The best results were when people were given immediate feedback, full discussion of what was happening, yes, brought away from the event itself, but allowed to process parts of what had happened so that they could return to some of their duties, even if it wasn’t full active duty. And they noticed that people seemed to handle that better rather than just completely shutting out and isolating.

Gladiator clearly likes to fight, clearly likes competition. Clearly likes the idea of the camaraderie of being with other soldiers, and yet part of what happens is. There’s a loss of control. If he’s winning, he’s dictating what’s happening, but heaven forbid there’s something else that just doesn’t quite go his way.

Now there’s a sense of questioning of not just what are my abilities, but who am I as a person? When you identify with something so strongly that there’s nothing else to fill in those gaps, when other things go wrong, then it can all fall apart and that can lead to a lot of emotional turmoil. And that’s pretty much what we’re seeing here.

So it’s not just soldiers, I know, that’s what I’m, I’m talking about most. It’s not just sports. This can be anybody’s job, a career. It can be their role in the family. It can be anything in your life where you, for whatever reason, have placed yourself at a certain level, a certain pedestal. And as long as no one challenges that, you’re fine.

But if any sense of doubt, anything creeps in. Then that facade just falls away and you have nothing left to

back it up. Yeah. It is always fascinating to me to see folks that seem to be unstoppable, seem to be at the top of their game, seem to have all the confidence in the world. And it turns out to be a house of carts that crumbles at the slightest breeze or the slightest


Yeah. The the best quote. And ironically, it’s a person that really epitomizes what we were just talking about, Mike Tyson. Everybody’s got a plan till they get punched in the mouth.

Anthony: I think I just said that the last episode or two episodes ago.

Doc Issues: Yeah, you did. You did. And it’s amazing how that just keeps coming up.

But, but I’m not doing it cuz of the quote. I’m doing it because Mike Tyson still has that quote unquote moniker, baddest man on the planet. The whole point was, when did he start losing? He didn’t start losing necessarily because he wasn’t capable of beating the best in the world. He started losing because when a huge underdog Buster Douglas.

Challenged him actually, he himself was considered to be kind of a soft touch and would wilt under the pressure and things. The one time he actually rises to the occasion, while someone like Tyson who had other things going on in his life, I don’t wanna make it sound like just a one, a OneNote situation, but the point was the bully got bullied, and from there things were never the same.

So yeah, that aura of invincibility, but I don’t wanna just make it about the physical. I’m saying that, you know, this is, this is something that anyone can fall prey to. It’s a matter of, your sense of ego, your sense of, of pride. If you are placing all of your chips in that one bet that this is the one thing in life that I am absolutely perfect at, I am fairly certain you’re gonna fail at some point.

Anthony: It’s just inevitable that if your entire persona and if your entire internal code is built on that, that. You need everything lined up exactly right in order for that to happen. It will eventually run out. Something is going to happen, something is going to come up that is going to knock down a domino.

It doesn’t have to be all of them at once, but it could be a domino, but it eventually tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. And then the whole thing comes crashing down. And I always like the stories where that happens. And then it becomes a situation of what do they do now? Where do they go from here after they’ve fallen?

That’s one of the main reasons why one of my favorite moon night stories is the bottom. It’s literally about moon night having everything taken from him, and he’s at the complete end of his rope. He’s lost everything in every one. And what kind of hero is he from that point moving forward? So second issue, a S 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 cadets refuse the order in rebel Gladiator, obeys it without question. He’s had to serve a string of emperors and emes who are open, who are objectively very bad people, from TA car to Dechen to death birth du Vulcan. He hates the things he’s ordered to do most of the time, but as a loyal servant of the throne, through and through purposely 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 waivers is when he’s ordered to execute Liandra, which is a pretty high bar. All things consider, and this is what I was saying when I was going through the background, is the comparison that I would make, and I don’t know how many of you watched a Game of Thrones consistently, but he’s somewhere between a Ser Barristan Selmy, and a Varys.

In the devotion to the throne, not necessarily the individual sitting on it. Barron Selmi was head of the King’s Guard and the best fighters in the, you know, in the Seven Kingdoms. And only when Joffrey took over was he basically kicked out. And then he was like, oh, screw you. I’m, I’m coming back for, for all of you VAs.

Meanwhile was the Spymaster who famously told Ned Stark in season one, I serve the seven kingdoms, or I served the realm, or I served the throne, whatever the expression was that he used, meaning that his position was not to support any one person on the throne, but rather the notion of the title. And we see that a lot.

I’ve heard this, I don’t know how many times over the past 20 years, Respect to the office of President, regardless of who’s sitting in the Oval Office. But I’ll pause the rest of my thoughts until doc has a chance to chime in. So

Doc Issues: this is a psychological cheat code. Many people in their lives are going to go through multiple iterations about their purpose.

What is the thing that gets them up in the morning? What is the thing that is going to allow them to feel a sense of fulfillment? And what is the thing that if they’re on their deathbed, they can say, this was a life well lived. Someone like Gladiator doesn’t have that. The consistency of knowing that you have made a decision for yourself that will give you the initial motivation for success for something that you’ve placed at a high priority, that you do it very well, that other people can understand so you don’t.

Truly, unless someone wants to dig, you don’t really have to explain yourself. You don’t have to expend the emotional or intellectual energy to say why you are serving the throne. That’s not really a bad gig when you think about it, at least superficially, and it makes the shortcuts of decision making a lot easier.

If anyone’s ever heard the term decision fatigue, why does that happen? It doesn’t happen because we prioritize what decisions are more important than others. It happens because using your mental energy each day to pick and choose certain things over the course of a full 24 hour period is exhausting.

So anything you can do to minimize the actual number of decisions you make can allow for a greater opportunity to rest. So even though physically he’s doing a lot, and I’m not saying he’s stupid, but I’m saying the other types of. Psychological challenges that you have when you struggle with these things on a regular basis gets completely ignored.

So what’s the problem? Why, why would that be an issue? Yes, we know we see it on the outside. If you are doing things that lead to a negative conclusion in society because someone is giving you orders to do that bad thing, yes, there is a problem, but gladiator’s response in theory can be, it’s not my problem.

And as horrific as that may sound, it leads to less stress. It leads to the ability to disregard and, and really compartmentalize a lot of things that could be traumatic events and just chalk it up to just following orders, which, as we know, can be a very dangerous thing as well. And yet it means that to tie it back into the first issue, It means that there’s less of a chance for a few of those cracks in the armor to form because most things are just gonna slide off from the start.

You’re giving people less of an opportunity to challenge you because they know that that’s a weak front. They, they know it’s, I shouldn’t say weak front. It’s a useless front. You’re not going to change his mind about anything, and he makes it clear you’re not going to change his mind about it. So no one else makes that attempt, even though in theory, the best thing that someone may be able to do would be to simply say, wow, I can’t believe you are incredibly wrong about absolutely everything in your life.

But then again, since when does that approach work? Therapy doesn’t work that way either. So really it, it’s, it’s this interesting, incredibly hard, dense shell of emotional immaturity that can really go on indefinitely. Some people really do live their lives this way to the end. I’m not advocating it, but I am saying in a way I understand.

Anthony: Was that a Chris Rock reference?

Doc Issues: No, no, no. But can’t help it sometimes I sound like that , because that’s just kind of how it came across. Mm-hmm. Stewart,

I’m not saying they should have killed Alandra, but I understand. No, I’m kidding. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Anthony: There were, there were so many good points that you made there and things that I wanted to touch upon when you were done and unfortunately for a variety of reasons.

I don’t remember any of them. . I was like, oh, that’s a good point. I want to talk about that. Okay. Let me, let me hold until he’s done, cuz I don’t want to interrupt. Ooh, that’s a good one too. Oh, okay. Yeah, I want to talk about that too. Cause I have thoughts. Well,

Doc Issues: you’re, I mean, you’re the editor. You could do what you want and post,

Anthony: eh, that’s fine.

as I said to you when we were writing the skit, which you’re gonna love hearing shortly. Anything I would attempt to do would be adding a mustache to the Mona Lisa. But I do, have thoughts about this next issue, so I will do my level best to remember. I

Doc Issues: was gonna say, you know what, in this case I know we don’t usually do it this way.

Maybe you should get them out first. I’m totally okay with

Anthony: that. Well, I did that a little bit with the second one. So the third issue then lack of faith in his ability to lead anything that’s not the guard. When Vulcan and death murder are dispatched after War of Kings, gladi 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 is 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 the Lara 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. This is probably tied to 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 1 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 Pretorian guard.

Now, I think that we can all identify, and I may be speculating a bit, but I think we can all identify with knowing your strong suits and acknowledging what you are not suited for, which you may not have the personality for, which you may not have a physical skill set for which you may not have a desire for.

Gladiator takes all of that to an absolute extreme and says, I’m good at this one thing. I’m gonna try anything else, and I can at least on some level, empathize with and understand that because I’ve definitely been there myself. But again, he kind of takes it. To 11 with the whole, I don’t wanna do anything that is even remotely outside of my, my skillset.

I’m a soldier. I’m only ever gonna be a soldier. I only ever wanna be a soldier. So there’s that. And like I said, that ties into, again, the ultra Magnus comparison than I made earlier. Now, whether or not Hot Rod was a better choice, I think the answer is no. But I mean, nobody’s gonna beat optimists. But anyway, it it, the floor is yours, doc.


Doc Issues: there are two things that come to mind. The first is imposter syndrome, which most people know doesn’t fit as much, only because it’s not like he’s usually in situations where people are just automatically pushing him into these spots and he’s wondering if he’s gonna be figured out because that implies a person wants to be in that position, but is so worried about all the mistakes they may make.

He doesn’t want it at all. So it doesn’t quite fit. There’s something much more important to this. And while it may not, Fit his skillset. This idea, this topic that I’m about to introduce is definitely relevant for most people that interact with others in a work environment. The Peter principle. So what is that?

The Peter principle? I’m just gonna take it as a quote at observation, that the tendency in most organizational hierarchies such, such as that of a corporation for every employee to rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach a level of respective incompetence. So I’ll take honestly, my situation, and it doesn’t mean my job.

I’m saying I work for a hospital. Hospitals are full of doctors and nurses and other technicians and aids and all of the other people that help a hospital run everything from security to administrative assistants to, the janitorial staff, everybody. Okay. Each of those departments is going to have a department leader.

I’ll just pick it at random. Let’s say you have the best x-ray technician. They are so quick, they know exactly where everything is. They get the reads done very quickly in terms of getting people to the machines. The radiologists love the fact that they don’t even have to ask, when it’s gonna be done.

It’s already there, all that stuff. Wonderful, wonderful. At their job, they get a promotion to be assistant night supervisor to the technicians. This person hasn’t taken a single managerial course. They didn’t go to school for this. They would rather their shift end right on the dot because they have other things in their life, but it comes with a pay raise.

So they do it. All of a sudden people start to notice that this person is more irritable. They notice that they’re not as motivated for the job because they just don’t know some of the things that they don’t understand, it’s literally an unknown, unknown. And they go to their own supervisor saying, I, I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to do.

And depending on that supervisor’s position, they may even feel threatened that this person is so good that they’re gonna take their job so they don’t wanna help. Or maybe they offer the help, but when they do, they notice that this person really doesn’t wanna be in the position at all. And so they’re wondering, well, should I demote them?

But they’re a nice person. I don’t wanna do that. It just creates a lot of turmoil. And the whole point is sometimes we focus so much on the idea that because someone is good, they need a certain accolade, they need a certain sense of praise. They need that reinforcement. Meanwhile, the only thing the other person wanted was to continue doing the thing that they were enjoying in the first place.

Their own actions were the reinforcement. They weren’t looking for the external stimulus. So if that’s the case, we may be going about this all wrong. So, with someone like Gladiator, who is in his lane, knows his lane, knows it really well, clearly has some issues about whether or not he ever is going to continue to do his lane as well as he thinks he does.

Because often, if things aren’t going perfectly, he still has some, some foibles there, and you say to that person, okay, so you’re going to take a step up. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Nah, nah, not. Not gonna happen, never gonna happen. As a matter of fact, don’t ask me, and if you do ask me again, I’m just gonna quit.

That’s an exaggeration of course. But is it really, there are some people that are willing to even find new jobs doing the exact same position, rather than be escalated within their own company. And it, if you want reinforcement, you want stimulus. A lot of companies reward that because when they’re headhunting, their point is we just want the best in that zone.

We’re not looking for promotions right now. We just want someone to do that job really well. Oh, you’ll do. So sometimes we really do get our incentives mixed up. And while, yes, that is a problem with Gladiator and it is true that he’s, he’s shrinking from an opportunity. It may also be that he is so in tune with himself in that one aspect that everything else around him being forced all the time is just compounding it.

He’s gonna double down on what he knows rather than branching out. And the more you try and push it, the more insular he gets.

Anthony: Yeah. I’ve definitely been in situations where I’ve been expected to do things that I have limited or no knowledge of because I’m good at this. Therefore, the assumption is that I must be good at these other related things, and I’m putting related in air quotes, because again, the assumption lies with someone else, but they never bothered to ask me if I’m good at it or if I’m comfortable with this responsibility.

It’s just, oh yeah, you could do that. So you could do all these other things and tack on all these other additional responsibilities. That’s one of the reasons why I’m looking for a different job now, because I, I like what I do, but with all of this other, Associated nonsense that is thrust on my plate and has been for the past couple years.

I, I’m saying, no, this is not what I want to do. This is not what I signed up for and I don’t want to do this. And to the point, I’m actually glad you brought up the Peter principle because I, I see it all the time. I absolutely see it all the time. I’m a government employee. It’s just kind of how it goes.

Oh yeah, you’re good at this, you’re good at this, you’re good at this, you’re not so good anymore, but so you’re not gonna get promoted anymore. You’re just gonna stay there and be a stick in the spokes for everything else, you know? And related as the, the Dilbert principle, which is, oh, you’re horrible.

We’re gonna bump you up to upper management. So you get outta the way.

Doc Issues: Well, yeah, I mean, that’s the whole political tactic. Kick ’em upstairs when it came to certain appointed positions. That’s been going on for a long time.

Anthony: Oh yeah, absolutely. Get ’em outta here. So they can’t do any damage. So we got some good stuff here. And we’re gonna take a break. We’re gonna plug some shows when we get back. We’ll get into treatment. Stay tuned.

Hey, we’re back. So, treatment.

I have the power indeed, gladiator in universe. What do you do with Kallark?

Doc Issues: So I know we didn’t say a theme per se for this, but I’m just saying this on the fly. More than you think you are. So in universe, I really, really, really need to see just what he does in a non-sequitur situation. What do I mean by that?

No fighting, no, no bureaucracy, like, none of, none of that. You know, I need him away from, from all of those different things. I need him doing something that is so out of his comfort zone that he really does become as, as. Nondescript as anybody could be. Maybe that’s a daycare center or something.

I don’t know. I mean, really just get him complete. Like, I’m not even talking gradual, I’m talking shock. Like, just really put him in a situation that makes no sense to him and start from scratch. Because it’s obvious that he has a lot of tools that apply across a lot of different situations, but he’s never actually done it, never actually tried it.

And as I already said, I don’t think a person like that is going to allow themselves to be put in gradual situations, for example, for desensitization or optimization of, of behaviors or anything like that. I think this is one of those real cold shock kind of situations. You just throw ’em out into something else and let them have all the emotional outbursts, the tantrums, all of it.

And ironically, it works even better because even if he does do something that’s considered reckless or dangerous, it wouldn’t be nearly as harmful because he’d be de powered in a way. So I think that’s a, that’s a great idea. It’s like an inverse of what you would expect with

I’m not trying to be stereotypical about this. I’m not saying padded room, I’m not saying rubber room, I’m not saying anything like that. But honestly, a playground, like just something random that’s like, what, what on earth am I supposed to do with this? And that’s the point. And see how we could, we could actually interact that way.

It’d almost be like dealing with a child in play therapy. You’re not necessarily doing anything direct, but all of the interactions themselves just start to build on one another so that you develop an actual treatment plan.

Anthony: Get him completely out of his element, which naturally is going to have an impact on his confidence level because he’s going to say, I don’t know what to do here.

There’s no battle plan for this. I mean, he might just end up thinking that you’re trying to trick him and punch a hole through your skull or zap you with eye lasers. In either case, it’s not gonna end well for you. But I don’t know. That’s an interesting concept. So, out of universe then, is this a situation where you’re just dealing with a high pressure athlete who maybe has the yips from time to time?

Doc Issues: That’s fair. The idea that somehow other competitors have a clutch gene or whatever the, the stereotype, the, the trope is, you know, all of that. And there are psychiatrists and, and psychologists that do work contractually through sports psychiatry with different organizations, different teams, different sports or individual athletes in, in more individualistic sports.

That’s something that I’ve been interested in a long time. But because of my own limitations of my personal fallacies and you know, horrible psyche, I, I never jumped into it the way I probably could have. But this isn’t about me. The point is someone like that, yes, it’s reaffirming all of the skills and all the things that they’ve developed over time.

And a lot of it has to deal with desensitization. You have to have the person so comfortable with the idea that things are not going to go perfectly, that things are not going to go right and still be able to perform at a high level. And I actually don’t even have to imagine the scenario. And I’m going to reference a podcast if anybody is familiar with E S P N 30 for 30, they also did some podcasts.

And one of them is about something. Anthony, I don’t know if you’re gonna remember this, but long time ago, Reebok did a series of commercials for the Decathlon with Dan and Dave.

Anthony: Oh, yes, I remember Dan versus Dave. Yes. Well, it was 1992 Olympics. Yes.

Doc Issues: And most people at this point know the immediate part of the story where Dan did not make the Olympic team that year.

He failed on the pole vault. I still remember the event. And in addition to that, Dave I think he placed fourth or got bronze. I don’t remember, I’ll be honest with that. It’s in, it’s all of this is in the podcast, but the part that nobody actually realizes is that after that failure Dan was seeing a, a sports psychologist, and the psychologist had him watch the video of the failed pole vault repeatedly.

Until he got desensitized to it. And then Dan went on to not only win the World Championships two years later, he actually won the gold medal at the Decathlon in Atlanta. So there’s a happy ending to that even though nobody really knows about it, because people usually don’t follow the decathlon that much.

But the fact that that’s a direct example, that’s amazing. Absolutely amazing. Because he even pointed out with the pole vault, he said some parts were very similar to his last failure before the, the previous Olympics. And he changed his tactic where he said, you know what? Last time I waited, waited, waited.

He said, no, this time I wanted to get it outta my system. And I said, I’m gonna do a lower jump first just to build my confidence a little bit. And people were surprised because I can usually make that easy. And he said, but that little boost was all he needed. He went on, did great. So, I love the fact that sometimes you could just use real world examples of that with the person’s permission, of course.

And, and show that using someone’s previous experiences, even if they’re considered traumatic, as long as it’s done in a supervised and safe fashion, can yield some amazing results, provided that the person is willing to do it. And that’s exactly what you do with anything that’s considered high pressure or something that you know has caused you problems in the past.

You can make them into incredible strengths. And that’s true for anything. The fact that we’re doing this podcast now, I am gonna be selfish. The fact that we’re doing this podcast, I’ve said this in another episodes by, haven’t said it in a long time. I used to dread the idea of speaking like this. I used to absolutely fear Shake, tremble, all of it.

Whenever I had to do something from third grade on, I couldn’t stand it. Now I actually get invited to speaking engagements. I’m actually doing a radio bit with my actual, you know, professional name and, and everything else. Tomorrow. At the request of people. That’s absurd. And the fact that I immediately just said, yep, no problem.

I don’t hesitate anymore. I don’t think about it all because I remember saying to myself plenty of times, like, there’s gotta be a reason why people are asking you to do this. So you, you might as well stop trying to shy away from it. And I enjoy the person that I became because of it. I enjoy the fact that even when I make plenty of mistakes or I notice things, most people don’t.

Or if they do, they point them out to me as quirks. Great, cool. I love it. It’s part of my personality. Wonderful. And I actually feel better about myself because of it. So please, anybody that has those things that they are shying away from, or they’re scared or, or you’re, you’re worried that the bad thing’s gonna happen again.

The worst case is then you. That just means you have a story where you’re gonna learn from the experience twice. It’s all good. Please give yourself that chance, take that opportunity, cuz the worst that could happen. Is that you learn from it. The best that can happen is it changes your life in immense ways that you never imagined.


Anthony: absolutely. And I like how you pointed out that the worst thing that happens is you learn from it maybe twice, because I think that’s something that a lot of people struggle with. They accepted that, okay, if I try something and I don’t get it, all right, I’m gonna learn from it.

But what happens if you fail a second time? What happens if you fail a third time? How many people are willing to try that many times, who are willing to face failure that many times and keep moving forward? How many people have the internal willpower to keep trying different things, take another swing at it?

It’s not an easy thing to do. And we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve failed twice. We failed once we try again, we failed twice. And we go, all right, that’s it. I’m out. It’s a very realistic thing to, to keep trying repeatedly is sign of incredible willpower or incredible stubbornness. It’s very, very close.

The other thing I wanted to point out is the idea that you were referencing, I, I forget if you were saying it was Dan or Dave, starting with the small stuff that you know you can do and then work your way up for it. That you say, okay, I’m gonna try this. I’m going to attempt this large goal. I’m not gonna go right for that because I’m probably not gonna get it.

Let me start with what I got. Let me start with what I know I can do. Adjust my expectations and build from there. And the problem that I, at least for me personally, the problem I have is if it’s something that I was operating at a high level or at least I, I had a, a lot of confidence in for an extended period of time.

And then, I, I take a break for a while. I come back to it. My expectation internally is that I’ll be able to jump right back in where I was. How many of us have taken an extended break from exercising, from lifting weights, from running, whatever the case may be? You take a couple of weeks off. It doesn’t even have to be a really long time.

You could just take a couple of weeks off. Maybe life gets in the way, maybe you got sick, whatever. You take a couple of weeks off, you go back to the gym. You’re sucking wind. You used to be able to deadlift, I don’t know, 150 pounds. Now you’re struggling at a hundred. Used to be able to run, a six and a half minute mile.

Now you’re gasping for air, trying to run, you know, a nine minute mile because your body needs some time to readjust. But you can’t go into it saying, oh, that’s it. I’m a failure. It’s okay. Circumstances changed. I have to adjust my expectations accordingly and acknowledge that a step backwards. It does not equate to failure.

It is a step backwards. And if we can acknowledge that for what it is and not catastrophize it. That is ultimately going to help us create better mental resiliency moving forward.

Because to be able to say this is just a minor step back, this is just a, you know, a little thing I can work with that I was, I used to be here previously and I was able to get through it so I feel that I can do it again. And that’s what I think the reframe needs to be. I, I was at this point and I was able to surpass it previously.

I don’t anticipate why I can’t do that again. I think we all have those things in our life that require that kind of a reframe. And I think if we can put that spin on it, we will all be better off in the long run and in the short run, frankly, as well for that kind of resiliency.

So with all of that being said, we are going to see what happens when we get Kallark Gladiator on Dr. Ish’s couch.

Doc Issues: Hello Kallark. I’m

Anthony: Dr. Ue. Thank you for taking the time to see me, doctor.

Doc Issues: So what can I do for you?

Anthony: Well, forgive me my manners, but. Protocol would dictate that we should at least shake hands before discussing more personal items. Okay? Sure. Yeah. You have quite the grip for a human.

Said. No one ever. Are you okay? I wasn’t even trying

to, I’m fine every, everything’s fine. Not everything, but my hand is fine. 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.

Doc Issues: Mental si. That’s unique. Annie,

Anthony: who, go ahead.

Even though I am eons old, I pride myself on my stamina. Do you understand what I’m referencing? This is a bit embarrassing.

Doc Issues: Well, you might need a different specialist then. Do you have a primary care provider?

Anthony: The CR Empire has spared no expense to test me from crown to soul, and yet they find nothing.

But I confess, I have not provided all of my. Details. Go on.

Doc Issues: 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, so please continue.

Anthony: I’m 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, it’s the shame.

Doc Issues: I’m not casting judgment. You cheated with whom?

Anthony: No, no. I do not blame anyone besides myself by my own hand.

Doc Issues: Well, your hands may desensitize you if you aren’t using variation in technique. You

Anthony: do sound like you know about this topic quite well and without hesitation. Fair enough. Then I will admit I have resorted to using some natural remedies, supplements, if you will.


Doc Issues: really? Well on Earth. Many of those products do more harm than good. I

Anthony: have learned the hard way that this is true throughout the galaxy. Yes, 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 Straussian has a right to feel.

I may look the same, but I can tell I lack gerth. Is is any of this making sense?

Doc Issues: Yes. And, and I can definitely help you. There’s plenty of literature on my planet that shows that some men have this type of adverse reaction to treatments for anxiety or depression, really?

Anthony: So they can’t get up what they used to.

I could lift planets outta their natural orbit, you know,

Doc Issues: That’s the visual I would’ve wanted. But my point is it’s treatable. I don’t know what the alien equivalent is, but here it’s called sildenafil. You know, there’s some other options and yeah, I really need to go over the risks and

Anthony: benefits of, I have no fear of risks.

Just tell me the benefits, please.

Doc Issues: 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

Anthony: As needed, what I’m always needed, the guard never ceases their duties.

How am I supposed to maintain a steady workload if I rely on this temporary aid?

Doc Issues: Well, first you need to

Anthony: try a low and what time of day do I take this sele fill?

Doc Issues: Well, on the days you use it and only on that day, you could take it up to four hours before any stimulation. But it’s best about 30 minutes before.

Anthony: And what of my diet?

Doc Issues: Oh, don’t, don’t eat you. You need an empty stomach, but you can drink water. Actually, it’s a good idea to stay hydrated.

Anthony: 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

Doc Issues: vigorous actually for pulmonary hypertension?

And what if

Anthony: I’m injured? If this affects my blood, will I suffer mortal wounds easier? I

Doc Issues: wouldn’t recommend. Plus I don’t

Anthony: recover as well as I used to. If I take anything else, will it affect those things as well? I,

Doc Issues: I thought you didn’t care about

Anthony: side. How long do I take this? If I feel like my body is catching up to my head?

Sometimes I get this throbbing that just stop, stop, stop, stop.

Doc Issues: Look, stop with the innuendo. All right. 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 step up relief for too long. You’re not going deep enough to get to the psychological basis of all 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, sir? Yes, sir. Good. Now, as I was trying to say before you unloaded all your emotional content, erectile dysfunction is, excuse me,

Anthony: come again. What are you on about?

I’ve been pouring my soul out about my decline as a defender of the empire. And do you wish to talk about sexual matters? What is wrong with you? Hey, 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 perverse motive to corrupt everything I stand for.

How dare you, sir. But, but

Doc Issues: the And your cadence, your, your tone, the, the embarrass. 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. You

Anthony: drive a hard bargain.

Doc Issues: Ah, where did

Anthony: that come from? My grip.

That’s the grip. I knew that could choke out the sun. You did it. I don’t know how, but I’m back. 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.

Doc Issues: Yes. I need a vacation.

Anthony: Well, it really seems like you had a lot to unload there. Yeah. Yeah.

Doc Issues: I, I get it. Wow. Wow. You know, sometimes you was just shooting from the hip

Anthony: there, huh? Yeah.

Doc Issues: And unfortunately, sometimes it just gets you right between the eyes.

Yep. Yep. ,

Anthony: I tried. I tried. I was like, yeah, I’m gonna, I’m gonna throw out these innuendos, but I’m not going to, I’m not gonna break. Nope. Not gonna crack. Yeah. I’m, I’m glad. And that was all you by the way, that Yes. I just wanna let everybody know this. This was one of the rare instances where a comedic skit was entirely doc’s idea.

He texted me and he’s like, this is the plan. I have an idea for the skit. And I said, go with it. Yeah. Because, and as, as he was typing on the Google Doc, I’m reading everything, and then he gets done and he goes, all right, that’s it. I’m spent. Yep. Yep. And I was just like, okay, then sir.

Doc Issues: You know, sometimes you just, you just gotta get those those creative juices flowing.

Anthony: Yep. And they’ll just. They land where they land. Yep, yep, yep, yep. Felt so good. I need a cigarette and a shower. So recommended reading is War of Kings, although I would recommend the whole cosmic storyline, that whole era of Marvel, that that cosmic stuff that abnet and landing mentally two thousands stuff, annihilation, annihilation, conquest, Nova, guardians of the Galaxy, war of Kings, realm of kings, everything coming out of all of that cosmic stuff.

Gladiator is in and out as the Shi’ar Empire has various roles to play, but War of Kings in particular, he’s got a very big role in that. And that really does set the stage for a lot of the subsequent storylines. War of Kings is what sets up the Gardens of the Galaxy team as we know it. Or maybe it was Annihilation, conquest.

I’m, I’ve read a lot of that stuff kind of back to back to back. Mm-hmm. , I don’t remember exactly where it is, but Star Lord grew. Rocket, DRX, Gamora, that whole crew that we now see in the movies that was created as a result of all of this cosmic stuff, annihilation and War of Kings, et cetera, et cetera. So go check that out.

If you have Marvel Unlimited, it’s all on there. You can even read the events. You can go by the events. You can just read War of Kings, and we’ll give you the whole reading order of the main series, plus the tie-ins, the whole shebang. The way they set it up for you is beautiful. Are you listening? Are you taking notes DC because your app sucks in comparison.

I’m just gonna say it flat out. It’s like DC is like, Hey, we gave you comics. That’s, that’s fine. What? You wanna read something before 1985? No. No you don’t. No you don’t. No. Frankly, it’s more like you wanna read anything before the new 52. No, you don’t. Mm-hmm. . No you don’t. But I digress. So, upcoming episodes, Raven and Aquaman, and then we are going to take our holiday hiatus, but we have got some.

Good stuff planned for you coming back in January and we’ll have more announcements on that at the Aquaman episode. So as always, you can find all of our episodes on our website, capes on the We are also a proud member of the Gonna Geek Network, and you can find us and other fantastic geeky shows at

Hopefully by January when we come back, we will be live streaming on the website. But for now, you can check us out on our YouTube channel. We’re also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok capes on the couch. You can email us capes on the And if you really like what you hear and you want to get additional content, you can go to on the couch and subscribe to unlock early access, additional material uncensored stuff, the whole shebang.

And as I said at the top of the show, if you join our Patreon before December 18th, which is when my extra life streaming fundraiser will be happening, if you subscribe to our Patreon, I will take your. Subscription level and quintuple it and add it to the donation levels because all the money is going towards children’s specialized hospitals in New Jersey.

So we’ll have all links to all of this in the show notes. Fantastic organization, as I said at the beginning. So all of that being said, doc,

Doc Issues: okay, let’s be real about this. We give you a great opportunity to learn about the history of a character. We dive into certain issues the character has. We go ahead and introduce you to psychological terminology in addition to just talking about basic life stuff that might be beneficial.

We give you significant creative things that can range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Are you not entertained?

Anthony: I saw where that was going about five seconds into your rant. I was like, I know how he’s gonna end this, and I can’t argue with that.

My wife will just quote that movie at random, that whole monologue. Anyway go be like Russell Crow and fighting around the world. Come on. TGA four doc issues. I’m Anthony Sytko. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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