Oops, I intended to cover the cartoon in line with the publication year of the comics I'm covering, but I fell off the wagon a bit. This is a continuation of my X-Men The Animated Series coverage. My goal is to get this all done prior to X-Men '97 hitting Disney +. The numbering of the episodes may be a little wonky as the ordering on Disney + differs from the original release order.
One theme that I noticed in this season is that the show took many storylines, compacted them together, and surprisingly the story in the cartoon is better than the comics!Or at least more straightforward.
# 1 & 2: Out of the Past (Part 1 & 2)
Leach is running away from the Reavers into the Morlock Sewers. Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers are fighting Callisto and the Morlocks. It turns out that Deathstrike needs Wolverine to access an alien ship that she discovered.
We get a flashback of Lady Deathstrike, then just going by Yuriko, dating Wolverine. In the flashback, we see Wolverine and Maverick as Wolverine gets captured by a professor, which happened to be the Weapon X professor. Who is also Yuriko's father. The Reavers transformed Yuriko into Lady Deathstrike to help her get revenge on Wolverine for killing her father.
As if this isn't enough, most of the story actually follows this random Shi'ar alient (the Spirit Drinker) who escaped. Gambit and Jubilee help Wolverine contain the monster and all is well by the end.
Maverick, Lady Deathstrike, Reavers, Leach, Callisto, Morlocks, Weapon X Professor
You know how I've mentioned previously that the X-Men cartoon takes multiple stories from the comics and mashes them together. Well this is the ultimate example. And you know what...I think I actually like some parts of this better.
So first we see Lady Deathstrike (LD) leading the Reavers into the Morlock tunnels. The Reavers had many appearances during the Outback era of the Claremont run. I don't believe LD every truly led the Reavers, I'm pretty sure she just led alongside Donald Pierce who was their true leader (and creator).
I don't believe the Reavers ever interacted with the Morlocks, so that was invented just for this.
We get a flashback of Yuriko (LD) who is angry at Wolverine for getting her father killed. A lot to dive into here.
First, I'm fairly certain that Wolverine never had a romantic relationship with LD (however if they did, that would make a lot more sense). When LD first appeared (in an XM comic) in that iconic solo shot, Uncanny X-Men # 203 (drawn by the amazing Barry Windsor-Smith), there wasn't much backstory given except that she hated Wolverine. And while we've gotten a bit more since then, definitely nothing about them being together.
And then they show the Professor from Weapon X (another Barry Windsor-Smith character) as Yuriko's dad, which is a crazy conflation...however I really like it. That would actually be a nice way to tie things together.
# 3 - 7: The Phoenix Saga
Good 'ole Lilandra is reaching out telepathically to Charles. The X-Men then sneak on a space shuttle to reach a space station to save Lilandra. Erik the Red is there. After Erik the Red damages the shuttle, Jean pilots the shuttle home. She knocks out Scott so he can't stop her, then has emotional goodbye with Logan.
As in the comic, Jean rises from Jamaica Bay and claims to be Phoenix. Xavier then goes to Muir Island where Moira is engaged to Sean Cassidy (Banshee). Lilandra comes to Charles and warns of the M-Kraan Crystal. While at Muir, Juggernaut and Black Tom attack Charles and Lilandra, as they were hired by Erik the Red.
Gladiator then shows up and helps out. The Star Jammers show up and steal the crystal alongside Cyclops. Jean identifies Corsair as Scott's dad. The X-Men fight the Imperial Guard. D'Ken shows up and unleashes the crystal. The universe is being destroyed, so the X-Men travel inside of the crystal to defeat him. For the second time this arc, jean sacrifices herself to save the day.
Starjammers, Lilandra, D'Ken, Gladiator, Imperial Guard, Captain Britain, Hellfire Club, Doctor Strange, and Spider'Man.
Once again, we're conflating many storylines. We do have a tighter version of the original Phoenix origin story (X-Men # 100 - 101) working right into D'Ken, Lilandra (X-Men 97), and the M'Kraan Crystal. However we throw in the arc with Juggernaut and Black Tom (X-Men # 102-103) at Cassidy Keep (but at Muir Island here) working for Erik the Red. Since we're in space, we also get some Starjammers (X-Men #107) and of course you throw in some Imperial Guard (X-Men # 108), most of which did not appear in the Phoenix Rising arc, however I'm really not sure which story is supposed to be the primary one here.
# 8: No Mutant is an Island
Following the near death of Jean, Scott quits. He ends up heading to the orphanage where he grew up and finds Rusty Collins. I found this pretty shocking because I really believed I had never seen Rusty Collins until he first popped up in X-Factor during my re-read a few years ago. But no, he was both in the Animated Series and Deadpool 2.
Anyway, it turns out that Killgrave is there using his power to adopt and take over the X-Factor kiddos (Rusty, Skids, Boomer, Taki). While there, Scott macks on Sarah, the head of orphanage, which is pretty much all Scott is ever doing while away from Jean.
Rusty, Skids, Boomer, Taki, Killgrave
This one is just a totally new story. Yes, Rusty is a real character. He's the first junior member of the original X-Factor, soon to be joined by Skids, Boomer, and Rictor (not present in the episode. Taki is with the kids during the X-Cutioners Limited Series, but then he spends his time with Artie and Leach at a boarding school.
Killgrave has definitely never shown up in an X-Men comic (through 1998 of my reading journey). But I do love Jessica Jones Season 1, so for that reason I was pretty happy to see him pop up.
This is your Warren Worthington issue. Angel has become Archangel and he's obsessed with killing Apocalypse. Ship shows up and he, along with Archangel and Beast, defeat Apocalypse by sending him into space.
Loosely adapted from the earlier X-Factor era after Archangel is created and disturbed, separated from the core X-Factor team.
Here we get our classic Longshot story. He shows up with Mojo villains on his heels. Spiral, Gog, Magog, and the warwolves too (even though they only showed up in Excalibur). That's all I really have to say about this one.
#11 - 14: The Dark Phoenix Saga
The famous Dark Phoenix Saga is here. It's followed pretty closely to the comics. We start with Moira pushing Jean to see how strong the Phoenix really is and spoiler...the power is pretty limitless.
Just like in the comics, we start with some Hellfire Club and Dazzler stories. Donald Pierce is trying to kidnap Dazzler while Cyclops gets a little infatuated with her and ends up saving her. She's a big flirt, of course.
We meet the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club, including Leland, Shaw, Frost, and Wyngard. Frost helps Jason Wyngard (Mastermind) invade Jean's mind, similar to how this went down in the comics. Jean is eventually mind controlled through the 18th century setting, just like in the comics. Eventually, Jean becomes an unwitting member of the Hellfire Club as their Black Queen.
Again, similar to the comics we find Wolverine destroying goons in the sewers. Cyclops fights Jason Wyngard in the astral plane. This forces Jean out of it, but the she goes a little nuts and fights the X-Men. Dr. Strange, Thor, and the Watcher become aware of her power.
Like in the comics, Jean goes off into space and destroys a sun, however unlike the comics she doesn't kill billions of asparagus people. Similar to the comics, the X-Men come to her rescue and fight the Imperial Guard. Everything else plays out like the comics, except here Jean comes right back and takes a piece of each team member's soul. This seems strikingly similar to the original draft of the Dark Phoenix Saga, before Jim Shooter pushed Claremont and Byrne to kill Jean off.
Dr. Strange, Thor, the Watcher, Dazzler, Imperial Guard, Lilandra.
This stays incredibly close to the Dark Phoenix Saga from the comics.
#15: Cold Comfort
This is a very unique story, made just for the show. This is all about Iceman, who is introduced as a founding member of the X-Men who couldn't cut it due to too many pranks. There is a storyline, which is a conflation of his true story and Havok's, where he is dating Lorna Dane (Polaris). They are living alone (just like Havok and Polaris did). However it does get a little closer to the comics as the team ran into X-Factor (Havok, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane, Quicksilver, Multiple Man, and Forge) and Lorna chooses Havok over Iceman.
This episode cherry picks from the entire Silver age era with Iceman, Havok, and Polaris.
#16: Savage Land, Savage Heart
This issue harkens back to X-Men # 114 - 117 with Sauron in charge of the Savage Land, Zaladane serving Garrok. There is a big battle, Rogue and Sauron's powers cancel each other out and we move on.
Sauron, Garrok, High Evolutionary, Zaladane.
X-Men # 114 - 117 includes Sauron, Zaladane, and Garrok. This gets awfully close to one of my favorite arcs of all time (UXM # 274 - 277) which includes Zaladane, Magneto, and Rogue in the Savage Land.
#17: Orphan's End
The Shi'ar are after Corsair as the Starjammers land on Earth. After spending some together, Scott is told that Corsair is his dad. For most of the episode it seems as though Corsair is a bad guy (which in some ways he is) and Scott is tormented about whether his daddy is respectable or not. Eventually we learn that there was a rogue Shi'ar cop and he was right all along.
Corsair, Deathbird, and the Shi'ar.
This mostly centers around Uncanny X-Men # 154.
#18: Love in Vain
This is one big, condensed Brood story. The Brood land and capture Wolverine. We spend a lot of time watching him fight off a Brood infection and eventually beat it. Meanwhile, Rogue gets a call from her first boyfriend Cody who is considering getting back together. It turns out that Cody has been infected by the Brood and is working with them to infect Rogue and cure her. Rogue is infected, but uses her powers (while she still has them) to steal Wolverine's healing powers and heal herself. Also, Professor X frees the Acanti.
So this is a super condensed story that cherry picks from the Brood Saga and all future Brood appearances. Arguably the best part of the Brood Saga comes from Wolverine grappling with his infection and slowly fighting it off. It's too bad we didn't get to see Storm doing the same, but she goes batshit in the comics and I understand why they might have chosen not to adapt that. The Rogue and Cody stuff has NOTHING to do with the Brood story in the comics. The Acanti storyline is basically throw in there and here Professor X makes contact with them instead of Storm, which honestly makes a bit more sense.
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