Welcome back to It’s Saturday morning – Do you know what your children are? – a series of posts taking a look back at the Saturday morning cartoon, X-Men (aka X-Men: The Animated Series). Over the course of multiple posts I will be taking a look back at X-Men, through a complete re-watch of all 76 episodes of the show.
These posts will be appearing on a semi-regular basis (not always on a Saturday) and will discuss the episodes as I watch them – usually in a batch of half-a-dozen or more. I’m watching the episodes in standard definition as X-Men: The Animated Series is not currently available on Blu-ray (boo) or in HD (double boo).
Now it’s at this point I must remind readers that in the UK, when X-Men aired on the BBC (via Saturday morning kids show, Live & Kicking) there was no break between the seasons. So, one week Season One ended and the next week Season Two began.
This was great news for UK viewers, who had previously waited so long for Season One to air on the BBC. We were still playing catch-up with US viewers, but at least we were getting a weekly fix of X-Men that would continue for a good few months to come.
It should also be pointed out that by this point in time, the X-Men were becoming more well known in this country. Not only was this show a success with UK audiences, but it was also a show that was now being accompanied by a Toy Biz toy line, as a well as a Marvel UK comic.
Til Death Do Us Part: Part 1
2mins 30secs – This episode opens with the wedding of Scott Summers & Jean Grey.
3mins – While the wedding is taking place, Wolverine is working off some pent-up aggression in the Danger Room.
4mins 30secs – The first big reveal of the episode: Morph is alive!
4mins 35secs – The second big reveal: He’s just officiated Scott and Jean’s wedding, which means the two characters are NOT married.
5mins 45secs – Senator Kelly is now President of the United States. One of his first acts as President is to pardon the Beast.
6mins – Graydon Creed has just made his debut. Creed is the leader of the Friends of Humanity – an organisation that believes in human supremacy.
9mins – Mutant hatred is on the rise.
9mins 5secs – Xavier: “When we saved President Kelly’s life last year, he learned that not all mutants were evil – now, his followers feel betrayed. So often in our history unhappy, misguided people have created scapegoats; blaming those that are different for the problem in their own lives.” Preach, Xavier. Preach.
10mins – This episode sets up a number of storylines that will play out throughout this season:
- Morph’s return
- Xavier & Magneto’s journey through the Savage Land
- Increased anti-mutant sentiment, perpetuated by the Friends of Humanity
20mins – Mister Sinister also gets to make his first proper appearance in this season.
A strong opener which creates the foundations for the remainder of the season. This show continues to remain at the top of its game.
Til Death Us Do Part: Part 2
3mins – Morph is working with Mister Sinister.
4mins – Mister Sinister’s super villain team, the Nasty Boys, make their debut. The team includes Slab, Hairbag, Ruckus and Gorgeous George.
4mins 30secs – The power-dampening collars, first seen in the Season One episode, Slave Island, make their reappearance.
9mins – The X-Men have just learned that Morph is alive – and that he’s betraying them. Bugger.
9mins 50secs – Wolverine pops out his claws a heck of a lot during the course of this series, but rarely seems to use them. I never really noticed this when I was a kid, but I notice it now.
12mins – Mister Sinister wants to use the genetic material of Scott Summers and Jean Grey to create a new race of mutants. Eww.
14mins – Morph is struggling mentally and Mister Sinister is manipulating him. The utter bastard.
15mins – This episode has a cool fight scene between the X-Men and the Nasty Boys. I love it when the X-Men get to go toe-to-toe with super powered bad guys.
17mins 30secs – Morph has turned on Sinister. This is the beginning of his journey of redemption – a storyline that plays out throughout this season.
19mins 45secs – As the episode concludes, Xavier and Magneto find themselves walking into a trap!
Another good episode and another great balance of storylines.
Whatever It Takes
Whatever It Takes is a Storm-centric episode, which looks at Storm’s past; introduces her step-son; and details her connection to the villainous, Shadow King. This episode is also the beginning of a run of character focused stories which dominate Season Two.
5mins – Rogue and Storm have travelled to Africa to investigate something strange in Storm’s home village.
7mins – Meanwhile… Wolverine is on a mission to find Morph.
7mins 30secs – This episode establishes the idea that multiple storylines will play out across this season:
- Plot A: The X-Men‘s mission of the week
- Plot B: Xavier and Magneto’s adventures in the Savage Land
- Plot C: Wolverine’s search for Morph
All three of these plot points will dovetail into the two-part season finale. More about that later.
13mins – Morph is shape-shifting into a number of characters who have yet to be officially introduced into the series. The characters include: Deadpool, Omega Red and Maverick. Omega Red will show up in the next episode.
16mins 30secs – Every line that Storm utters is like a long winded speech. I’d hate to be stuck behind her in the Post Office queue. Can you imagine? “I am Storm – weather-wielding mutant and sometime leader of the X-Men. I have come here today for a book of stamps and you will provide them to me! I also need this letter mailing to my acquaintance in Australia. If you can not help me with this I will call down the lightning!”
19mins – As the episode draws to a conclusion, the Xavier/Magneto subplot kicks in. Finding themselves lost in the Savage Land (a place where dinosaurs still exist) both Xavier and Magneto discover they no longer have their abilities. As a bizarre and slightly confusing side effect, Xavier can also walk again.
Not the greatest episode, but it’s fun to learn a bit more about Storm and the balancing of the three plots works well. This is something which becomes a recurring theme throughout Season Two – a good balance of storylines, rather than standout episodes.
2mins – Red Dawn opens up with the Magneto/Xavier subplot. I love this whole plot in the Savage Land as it provides some great little character moments between the two former friends.
3mins 40secs – And now we’re into the main plot of the episode – the introduction of Soviet super villain, Omega Red.
4mins – I’ve never been a huge fan of Omega Red – neither in the comics or in this series.
7mins – Colossus makes his return.
10mins – As well as bringing back Colossus, this episode also introduces his sister, Illyana – better known as Magik in the comics. As with most X-Men characters, the comic book version of Magik has a complicated back story, that I’m not even going to attempt to explain – mostly because I don’t know it all!
13mins 40secs – A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo for Captain America here. Maverick also gets ANOTHER cameo. It will be a long time before Maverick gets a proper introduction. For now, and the foreseeable future, it’s just cameos.
18mins – I liked Colossus in his debut appearance during Season One. Here he irritates me.
Not a great episode – but watchable. Colossus is quite annoying in this story, but so is Omega Red.
2mins – Repo Man is a Wolverine-centric episode which delves into Logan’s backstory, while introducing two important elements:
- Alpha Flight – The Canadian super team, that Wolverine once belonged to
- Weapon-X – The secret Government project that laced Wolverine’s skeleton with Adamantium
4mins 30secs – Northstar appears in this episode, as part of Alpha Flight. Northstar previously appeared in the Season One episode, Slave Island.
6mins 30secs – Wolverine’s transformation into Weapon-X is shown in great detail.
7mins 55secs – A few more blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos for Domino, Nightcrawler, Archangel, Cannonball, Psylocke and Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. All of these characters have or will get proper introductions before the end of the series, with the exception of Domino.
15mins – Vertigo makes her debut in this episode. Here she appears as one of the Savage Land Mutates – a group of mutants working for Mister Sinister.
Repo Man provides Wolverine with an interesting back story. Although it is pretty well known now, thanks to all of the live-action X-Men movies, during the ’90s Wolverine’s past was less well known, so this was a really cool story to watch.
By today’s standards it does feel like I’m covering well-worn ground, however the inclusion of Alpha Flight helps to freshen it up. Overall, a good episode.
Time for one final episode for today…
This is a bad episode.
I remember it being a bad episode the first time it aired. I recall it being bad on repeat viewings. I know that it will not have improved with age.
3mins – X-Ternally Yours opens with a Danger Room sequence featuring hologram/simulations of Apocalypse, Juggernaut, Mister Sinister and Omega Red. This is the only good part of this episode. Everything from this point on is just embarrassing.
5mins – The majority of this episode focuses on Gambit – his past and his association with the Guild of Thieves/Guild of Assassins. Not only is the story REALLY BORING, but there is some terrible voice over work going on here.
10mins – *Rolls eyes at voice over work*
11mins – *Rolls eyes at voice over work*
12mins – *Rolls eyes at voice over work*
13mins – *Rolls eyes at voice over work*
14mins – Is this episode over yet?
15mins – Ugh… *Rolls eyes at voice over work*
After a season and a half of mostly top notch storytelling, X-Men falters considerably here with 20 minutes of pointless tosh which neither furthers the series, nor makes Gambit any more interesting. A completely skippable episode.
Right, I’m at the half-way point of Season Two. In the next post I will be looking at the back-half of the season, which includes two really cool two-part stories, along with a great Rogue-centric story!