1992 - 93 X-Men Animated Series, # 1 - 5
Oh man, this is going to be fun! I'm now covering the X-Men Animated Series from 1992. You know what this is! This is the cartoon that got a whole generation into X-Men. I have been sooooo tempted to watch this for the past year (been reading and blogging for about a year now), but I wanted to wait to watch the episodes until I had gotten to same year in publishing with my reading. My goal here is to revisit the episodes that aired around the same time as the comics that I'm currently reading/covering. I'll be going through each of the issues and giving a quick synopsis, but focusing on the comic arcs each episode is pulling from and talking about how they compare.
The cartoon is basically pulled from Jim Lee's X-Men Blue team with Professor X mentoring, Cyclops leading, and then Rogue, Gambit, Wolverine, and Beast included. The one member of the team that is a surprising no show is Psylocke. Considering her popularity in the comics and how much focus she gets by the pencilers, I'm pretty surprised that she's not included. However, she's mostly a sex symbol and the cartoon was geared for young kids so that popularity might also be the reason why she was excluded.
Storm and Jean are on the roster as well. This makes sense because it's tough to imagine the X-Men without these two leading ladies, especially with the Jean/Scott relationship to draw on. In fact, I Jim Lee wanted these two on the Blue Team too but someone had to stay in Uncanny (Gold Team) to draw readers. There is one other member of the team, Morph, who hasn't made a single appearance in the comics. I think he was invented, similar to Thunderbird, as a character intended to die immediately to demonstrate to the audience that this was a more serious show with stakes. They had a lot of rich history to go off of, so if they are going to kill someone, then it should probably be someone with no emotional attachment (from readers).
# 1 - 2 Night of the Sentinels (October 1992)
Over a two part story arc, we are introduced to the team through the eyes of Jubilee. Jubilee is attacked in a mall (which is the perfect spot for Jubilee) by a group of Sentinels and saved by the X-Men team. From there we learn about the team and the world of mutants being persecuted for being born different.
It turned out that Jubilee's father had registered her with the Mutant Control Agency. The X-Men decide to infiltrate the Mutant Control Agency to stop other mutants from being taken, but the mission is botched leaving Morph dead and Beast captured.
This is pretty much a combination of all the Sentinel stories we have seen so far, heavily influenced by the pre Claremont era ( Stan Lee/Jack Kirby and Roy Thomas/ Neal Adams) as covered in my very first blog, 1: UXM # 1 - 93 (The Original, Slightly Crappy Run). We see Sentinels being controlled by the government, and the Sentinels eventually going a little haywire under Master Mold's control.
As mentioned in my foreword, I think that Morph's death is simply an adaptation of Thunderbird's death in Claremont's first arc, covered in 3: UXM 94 - 96 (An X-Man Death Shows Stakes).
Jubilee's first appearance is reminiscent of her first appearance in the comics when she is enamored with the X-Girls looking beautiful, powerful, and confident while shopping during the Outback era (covered in 62: UXM 244- 250 (Jubilee and Lost X-Men).
# 3 (Enter Magneto) & # 4 (Deadly Reunions) - November 1992
This issue picks up with Beast in jail after being captured in the last episode. We first see Magneto as he attempts to break Beast out of jail, but he prefers to stay in jail and serve out his trial. We get the obligatory flash back of Charles and Magnus (not Erik Lensher) as friends when they were younger (yet still bald and/or grey). Sabretooth shows up at the trial and then Professor X erroneously tries to rehabilitate him over Wolverine's warnings. Eventually the X-Men (plus Professor X) battle Magneto and get their tail's whooped (for the second straight episode) and we get a mini Wolverine/Sabretooth battle.
One thing that struck me on this re-watch is how the X-Men lose the battle in every episode this far. The cartoon is very true to the comics and mature tones by showing that these aren't heroes who always come up on top. It's much deeper than that and I think that's at the heart of why so many kids fell in love with the team.
A bunch of fun things I caught that I never caught before. While Prof. X is in Sabretooth's mind, we see Wolverine, Deadpool, Shiva, Hines, and Omega Red! Also, Beast's lawyer is fricken Cameron Hodge! That's cool. I don't think he goes evil or anything in the series, but a nice little name check. Robert Kelly shows up and announces he's running for President, potentially setting up Days of Future Past down the road.
The scenes with the Charles/Magneto flashback is most reminiscent of UXM # 161, which I covered in my Magneto Special. Magneto's terrorist actions is most closely related to UXM # 150 with him taking over missiles and resulting in human casualties (as covered here).
It looks like much of the Wolverine/Sabretooth rivalry is boiled down into a single story, however I believe the cartoon will get a lot of mileage out of this. While this rivalry comes up throughout many UXM issues, it's most fleshed out in the Wolverine solo series, which you can find all my coverage of here. I have to say that I actually prefer how the cartoon is handling this rivalry compared to the comics. Based on my reading so far, it really seems like this rivalry wasn't too well thought out and as time goes on different writer's are trying to backfill their history. I like that the deep, personal vendetta and uncomfortable history between these two is present right from the start.
#5: Captive Hearts (January 1993)
Cyclops and Jean are kidnapped by the Morlocks. The rest of the X-Men team go into the tunnels to save them, resulting in Storm fighting Callisto for control of the Morlock population.
Even moreso than the previous issues, this one is really taking EVERY Morlock story that has taken place up until this point in publishing and condensed it into a single story. I'm actually not mad about that or anything, as the comic does a good job of explaining who they are and how the X-Men relate to them. Also, the Morlock stories include some of my favorite moments of all time.
My favorite moment of all time (through 1990 but still probably in the top spot) is from Storm's battle with Callisto in UXM # 170. It's more powerful in the comics as Storm is doing it to save Kitty's life. it ends with Storm stabbing Callisto in the heart, and it's after many issues setting up Storm being conflicted between her role as Team Leader and humanist. This battle is in the episode, but it's watered down. I liked it though. They even seem to have lightsabers. I covered the full comic (and the whole Storm transformational arc) in 19: UXM 158 - 173 (Storm's Transformation! Also Rogue, Wolverine in Japan, and the Morlocks).
Another adaption stemming from the action in UXM #170 is Callisto kidnapping Warren (Angel) and wanting to marry him, but in the episode Scott is filling in since Warren isn't in the cartoon.
My fourth favorite moment of all time comes from UXM # 195 when Wolverine tells Kitty she's in charge (fully covered here). Now while none of that element comes through here (no Kitty), 195 features Annalee from the Morlocks kidnapping the Power Pack. We at least get a lot of Annalee in this episode, none of the other stuff.
We also get heavy focus on the Morlocks who spend most of their time with X-Factor such as Leach, Tarbaby, Erg, and Ape. In addition, two other Morlocks in the background of this issue come from the Mutant Massacre era. I specifically saw Tommy, the first Morlock to die during the Mutant Massacre (In UXM # 210) and another one who can turn into a dinosaur, who I believe first showed up as one of the rogue Morlocks (tunnelers) in an X-Factor # 11 near the end of the Mutant Massacre.
Storm's claustrophia is shoehorned in. And of course, I'll leave you with the most memed image on the internet which came from this episode: