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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

The Expendables: THE NIGERIAN PRINCE The Expendables
The Expendables #1 (Dynamite)
Written by Chuck Dixon
Illustrated by Esteve Polls
Colored by Mark Rueda
Lettered by Simon Bowland
Cover by Lucio Parrillo


An American mercenary group of elite warriors calling themselves the Expendables takes on a mission in Nigeria. 


Notes from the Expendables chronology


The Expendables comic book mini-series was a 4-issue prequel series to the first movie in the Expendables franchise.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this issue


(Where relative, I have added the name of the actor who plays the character in the movies for aid in visualization)


Barney Ross (actor Sylvester Stallone)

Babar M'Doza

Lee Christmas (actor Jason Statham)

Yin Yang (actor Jet Li)

Toll Road (actor Randy Couture)

Hale Caesar (actor Terry Crews)

Gunner Jensen (actor Dolph Lundgren)

Nicholson (mentioned only)

Tool (actor Mickey Rourke)





Didja Know?


The Expendables franchise is an action film series created by Sylvester Stallone, featuring a rotating ensemble of action film stars from the 1980s-90s, with some 21st Century action stars tossed in as well. The films celebrate the action films and character types of the '80s and '90s. Many of the characters' names are intentional send-ups of macho-sounding male names, ethnic/cultural parody names, or the codenames of characters played by the actors in the past.


Seemingly, Dynamite Entertainment did not have rights to the actors' likenesses, as the artist depictions of the characters in this mini-series do not particularly look like the actors who play them in the Expendables movie.


The issues of this mini-series did not have titles. I have chosen the title of "THE NIGERIAN PRINCE" for this study based on this issue's focus of the Expendables taking down a Nigerian internet scam artist.


Didja Notice?


On page 1, Barney's narrative mentions internet scam artists with fat accounts in the Caymans. The Cayman Islands are a British territory in the Pacific Ocean near Cuba and known as a major offshore financial center recognized as one of the top tax havens in the world.


Barney tells his assembled group in the briefing that Cy-Warfen is a German software firm that is putting up some money to shut down the worst of the internet scam artists in the Third World. Cy-Warfen appears to be a fictitious company.


The team's target for their current mission is former Nigerian Air Force colonel, Babar M'Doza, who lives in a compound in the bush a hundred klicks from Lagos. A klick is military slang for "kilometer". Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria.


Barney describes M'Doza's compound as filled with punk kids with Kalashnikovs and a death wish. The Kalashnikov is a popular line of Russian automatic rifles designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, the most commonly known of which is the AK-47.


The Expendables apparently also undertook an earlier mission in Nigeria at some point in the past, according to piece of an anecdote spoken of by Tool in The Expendables movie while he is finishing Barney's tattoo.


On page 3, Lee speaks Swahili to the little boy he comes across in M'Doza's compound. The official language of Nigeria is English (as a former British colony), but about 90 different native languages are also spoken in the country. But Swahili is not a language common to the Nigerian portion of the African continent. Lee also speaks Swahili to M'Doza's men in the villa. The Swahili words and translations provided here are pretty accurate.


The character of Yin Yang has a name borrowed from the Chinese philosophical concept of yin and yang, the connectedness of opposing forces.


The character of Hale Caesar has a name borrowed from the expression of allegiance to the ruler of the Roman Empire during the peak of that civilization's expansion from about 27 BC to 395 AD.


When Gunner shoots a lookout standing on a second-story deck of M'Doza's compound, Barney grumbles to himself, "You will not let him fall off that roof, you goddam tweaker." Gunner is revealed as a methamphetamine addict as the story goes on, often referred to as "tweakers" in street jargon.


On page 8, Lee asks Barney "what this berk looks like". "Berk" is a slang term for a stupid person.


As the team stealthily invades the compound, they find M'Doza watching a Lakers game on television, playing against Utah. But the photo-image on the TV screen on page 9, panel 5, is actually from a Lakers/Boston Celtics game! The Lakers are the Los Angeles team of the American National Basketball Association. The Utah team is the Jazz. The announcer's play-by-play of the game mentions players Kobe and Fesenko; Kobe Bryant played for the Lakers from 1996-2016 and Kyrylo Fesenko played with the Utah Jazz from 2007-2011, now playing for Lokomotiv-Kuban, a professional Russian basketball team that is part of the VTB United League.


M'Doza's men in the main villa of the compound are seen to be wearing the purple and yellow colors of the Lakers.


On page 10, Barney tells M'Doza's men in the villa, "Songa!" This is Swahili for "Move!"


On page 11, Yin remarks on Toll's laying of semtex explosive. Semtex is a type of plastic explosive.


Toll jokes that his skill at laying semtex is a martial art he calls kung pow. He is making a pun by combining the terms "kung fu" (a Chinese martial art) and "kung pao" (a Chinese chicken dish).


M'Doza tells Barney that he learned to speak English from Stu Lantz, the Lakers color commentator. Lantz has been the color commentator for Lakers television broadcasts since 1987 and is a former NBA player himself. As implied by M'Doza here, Lantz is known for often using various forms of the phrase, "Are you kidding me?"


On page 12, Caesar ridicules M'Doza for his collection of Bobby McFerrin CDs. McFerrin is an American vocalist best known for his 1988 hit single "Don't Worry, Be Happy".


M'Doza and Barney appear to be using Apple IPhones to make the money transfer on page 12.


On page 13, Toll blows the wall of the compound to aid in the escape of Barney and the incursion team, saying, "Boomlay, boomlay, boom." This is a line from Vachel Lindsay's 1914 poem "The Congo".


On pages 13-15, Barney and his team drive away from the compound in a military Humvee. "Humvee" stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, manufactured by AM General mostly for the U.S. military.


On page 15, Gunner tells Barney, "The ice gives me my edge, brother." "Ice" is a slang term for methamphetamine. 


The floatplane on which the Expendables fly away from Nigeria is presumably supposed to be the same one seen in the movie The Expendables, but it does not look the same as the 1949 Grumman HU-16 Albatross seen there. The one seen here looks much closer to a modern Cessna or similar model. Of course, in the movies, Barney uses a different plane in each movie, so why shouldn't he have a different one here, too (even though he seems to have an attachment to this plane).
floatplane 1949 Grumman HU-16 Albatross
Baney's floatplane in this issue 1949 Grumman HU-16 Albatross from The Expendables movie


This story seems to base the Expendables in L.A., but in the movies they are based in New Orleans. They may have multiple bases around the country/world or may have had to move their operations to New Orleans at some point after this adventure.


The truck Barney drives in L.A. is supposed to be a 1956 Ford F-100 according to page 17, but the truck depicted here looks like a late 1960s-70s model of the F-series, with a custom grill. In The Expendables movie, the truck Barney drives is a 1955 F-100.
Ford F-150 1960s-70s era 1955 Ford F-100
Ford F-150 1960s-70s era seen in this issue 1955 Ford F-100  from The Expendables movie


On page 16, a business called Lee Taylor is seen on the street in East Los Angeles. This appears to be a fictitious business.


On page 17, panel 3, businesses called Nutrition Live and Small Colors are seen. These appear to be fictitious businesses.


Barney's truck gets stolen off the street on Valencia. Valencia Boulevard is a road that runs through the Los Angeles County city of Santa Clarita, not East Los Angeles as stated here.


On pages 18-19, some of the gang members use the term ese with each other and with Barney. Ese is a Spanish term of address towards a man.


On page 18, Macho says, "Que?" This is Spanish for "What?"


Also on page 18, the gang leader says, "Es verdad?" This is Spanish for "Right?"


On page 20, the gang leader calls Barney viejo. This is Spanish for "old man".


On page 21, graffiti spelling out tigre is painted on the underpass wall. Tigre is Spanish for "tiger".

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