While the animation is still a bit rough and some of the storylines seem to be all over the map, the first season of the famous animated series certainly knows how to nail the X-Men relationships, in some ways better than the comics themselves.
For starters, I love how they depict Cyclops and Wolverine. There is a clear rivalry between the two of them in the comics, but it doesn't come up too often. In the cartoon here, it comes up constantly, with both of them constantly ribbing on each other, but you never lose sight of the fact that they respect each other. Obviously Jean is at the center of it, which is great. They really lean into the three way Jean connection.
Speaking of Wolverine, I also love how he interacts with Gambit. Wolverine is constantly giving him such a hard time, but whenever they are on the battlefield, you can tell he wouldn't want anyone else to have his back.
The cartoon also leans in hard to the Rogue and Gambit relationship, clearly inspired by the X-Men (adjective-less) comic book. I love how they depict these two constantly flirting, yet it's clear that they deeply care about each other.
Special shout out to the Wolverine and Jubilee mentorship, Wolverine and Jean forbidden relationship, and the overall portrayal of Professor X, which in many ways is better than he ever gets in the comics.
Storm gets the short end of the stick, often shown as uptight and lacking much personality. This reminds me why I never thought much of Storm and was so incredibly surprised by how different it was during Claremont's run. However, I guess it makes sense with how neglected she's been by Lobdell and Nicieza.
Season 1, Episode 6: Cold Vengeance (Feb ‘93)
Wolverine runs off and lives with the Innuit. He seems to enjoy being cut off from civilization, but as typically happens, trouble finds him. Sabretooth finds him and starts terrorizing both him and the tribe. There is big battle between the the two of them, which pushes Wolverine to accept that it's time to go back to the team.
This isn't a direct adaptation of anything, but it borrows from a lot of familiar themes. In regards to Wolverine being isolated, there are A LOT of stories where Wolverine goes off on his own to find peace, whether it's in the Canadian Wilderness or off to Japan. In addition, Sabretooth and Wolverine have had many skirmishes over the years. While they've definitely never had a battle in Alaska (as far as I know), this battle most reminds me of their fight from UXM # 213 during the Mutant Massacre, when Wolverine came to the aide of Psylocke.
7 slave island
Storm, Gambit, and Jubilee go on vacation to a small, tropical Island nation called Genosha. We quickly realize that things are not as they seem as the Genoshan government was only pretending to be a safe haven for mutants, but in reality they were kidnapping them and pressing them into slavery. There is a period where we think that Gambit betrayed everyone, but it turns out he was loyal the whole time and ends up freeing them.
There is a sub-plot where we are introduced to Cable who is chasing down "The Leader" who is working with Trask, Guyrich, and Cameron Hodge! We also see that this group has created Master Mold, who is started to spurn out a Sentinel army.
There are many cameos of note, as many other identifiable mutants are held captive in Genosha along Gambit, Storm, and Jubilee. We can identify Avalanche, Blob, Domino, Rictor, Caliban, Mystique, Feral, Caliban, Northstar, Aurora, Sunfire, and Warpath.
While the country of Genosha first appeared in UXM # 238, this episode is certainly not a direct adaptation. The real Genosha from the comics is an economically prosperous country that's secret source of wealth comes from it's forceful utilization of it's mutant population. In this episode, Genosha's evil is a bit more direct with them attracting mutants, then kidnapping them in a much more directly nefarious purpose.
Cable also makes his first appearance in the animated series. While his attitude is the same (badass with a chip on his shoulder), he is a very different character. He seems to be a loner out on a solo mission with no indication of him being a time traveler, the son of Cyclops, or intending to found X-Force. He's also after a character named the Leader. Part of the fun of this X-Men journey is that I have read every X-Men related comic ever published so I can say definitely that this Leader guy doesn't exist in the comics and definitely isn't someone from Cables history, so I don't know what's up with this.
The mansion is destroyed by a large super powered character, but we're not sure who. As the episode goes on we are introduced to both Colossus and later Juggernaut. Not surprisingly, Juggernaut is the culprit and Colossus helps the team defeat him.
We get an introduction to Colossus, but disappointingly, he doesn't stick around. He doesn't have a large story arc here so there's really nothing it's adapted from, other than him being Russian. Same thing with Juggernaut. It's mentioned that he is brothers with Professor X, but they don't really bother to make a story out of it.
9 (The Cure)
The catalyst for this episode comes in the form of a scientist named Adler announcing that he has found a cure for mutandom. Both Rogue and Angel (yes, this episode we get another core X-Men character who is not a regular showing up) are interesting in the cure and explore it at Muir Island.
It turns out that Adler is actually Mystique, who is really working for Apocalypse. There is no cure, this is just a method of finding mutants for Apocalypse to turn into his 4 Horseman.
Cable also shows up again, rather aimlessly.
I don't believe there was ever an issue with a cure, however X-Factor # 77 does feature a doctor who claims he may be able to stop the mutant gene in unborn babies. I don't believe Mystique has ever worked for Apocalypse, in fact I don't think they have ever even been in the same comic issue before (including all comics published by the time this episode aired) so this was really just pulling a few popular villains and putting them together.
What's interesting is that the X-Men movies have used the plot lines of both a cure and Rogue considering taking that cure, which hasn't really been prominent in the comics. I wonder if the movies were actually inspired more by the cartoon from time to time.
10 (Come the Apocalypse)
Come the Apocalypse is the direct follow up to the previous episode. Angel, Pestilence, War, and Famine all agreed to take the cure and have been transformed into his four horseman. This episode shows the 4 Horseman terrorizing various towns and eventually taking on the X-Men.
I believe this is when most people fell in love with Apocalypse. The amazing deep and sinister voice, plus the demonstration of his amazing power and steel resolve was truly captivating.
The original Apocalypse and his 4 Horseman story arc took place in early X-Factor. Since that comic featured the same 4 Horseman and X-Factor had Cyclops, Jean, and Beast, this makes this episode the most direct adaptation to date.
11 - 12 Days of Future Past
We start in the future with an older version of Wolverine and two unidentified mutants who I don't believe come from the comics. Bishop shows up as a tracker, which is a mercenary working for the Sentinels. The Sentinels don't take long to turn on Bishop, so Bishop helps Wolverine, who makes his way to Forge. It turns out that Forge was going to send Wolverine back in time to stop an assassination, hoping that it would stop their timeline from coming into existence. Bishop ends up being the one to go back in time and a new version of the Sentinels, Nimrod, goes back with him.
Back in the past, Bishop hooks up with the X-Men where Gambit is accused of being the traitor. We see that Mystique is leading the Blob, Pyro, and Avalanche with this iteration of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in an assassination attempt on anti-mutant Presidential candidate, Robert Kelly.
At the end we realize that Mystique had shifted into Gambit's form before killing Kelly, but this time Gambit and Bishop are able to stop her. Mystique identifies herself as Rogue's mom, which is kind of out of left field, and then Kelly disappears again, reportedly kidnapped by Magneto. Bishop was sent back to the future by Rogue, who got annoyed with his antics.
In a flashback we got some fun cameos with Havok, Sunfire, and the Morlocks shown.
Well this one is really all over the map. I recall LOVING this story as a kid and I think many people identify this story as the true Days of Future Past story in their mind, so it's crazy to think of how far off it is from the comics. The real Days of Future Past had an apocalyptic future setting with an assassination attempt by the Brotherhood by Robert Kelly, but that's about where the similarities stop. So where do we start.
Bishop actually has nothing to do with Days of Future Past. He's from the future, but where DoFP is about 40 years in their future, Bishop is from about 80 years into their future. The cartoon portrays him as a tracker working with the Sentinels, which is really a disservice to the character. In the comics he is part of the XSE, which is a police force that helps mutants. In addition, where Bishop was sent back in time in the cartoon, and Wolverine in the movie, it was actually Kitty in the comics.
The Gambit traitor storyline is one that is currently active with our reading, but again that has to do with Bishop and isn't necessarily tied to him assassinating Robert Kelly. I like that this was picked up in the cartoon as an unresolved story.
Nimrod is another character who was just kind of thrown in here. While Nimrod is from the future, he's not associated with either DoFP nor Bishop.
13 The Final Decision (March ‘1993)
Picking up right where Days of Future Past left off, the Final Decision aired in March 1993. I was 10 years old and I remember setting the VCR while I went to religion school on Saturday mornings.
Magneto kidnaps Robert Kelly and is about to kill him himself, but before he can, Kelly is saved by Sentinels, these ones made of plastic. It doesn't take long for Master Mold to go insane, planning to replace the leaders of the world with computer brains. The X-Men save Magneto, then later Magneto helps the X-Men in their final battle with Master Mold and a gigantic army of sentinels.
At the conclusion of the issue, Robert Kelly changes his tune, now realizing that some mutants aren't so bad, Cyclops proposes to Jean, and Beast is freed.
Once again, this doesn't have any direct inspiration from the comics. In regards to the Sentinels, Master Mold makes a number of appearances in the comics. There have been a few times when humans think they can control sentinels but they start killing humans, however they have never started capturing world leaders.
In regards to Magneto, they are clearly starting to show the more nuanced Magneto where he is constantly bouncing back and forth between being a villain and a hero. The only questionable decision here is that he was going to straight up murderize Robert Kelly at the beginning of the episode so it's not like he can be believed as a true hero.
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