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X-Men '97: Episodes 1 & 2 Review


Synopsis

Episode # 1: To Me, My X-Men


  • Friends of Humanity (FoH) capture Roberto Dacosta

  • Storm, Bishop, Cyclops save him

  • The FoH have access to a giant Sentinel arm


Roberto DaCosta, also known as Sunspot, was first introduced in The New Mutants Graphic Novel. In addition to being a founding member of the New Mutants, he was also a core member of X-Force as well. To see him as the new POV character for this series is super fun!


Right off the bat, the action is amazing! I got chills as Storm made her dramatic entrance to the fight, foreshadowed by the temperature dropping suddenly. Cyclops's fighting as both a combination of physical prowess and use of his concussive blasts is the best depiction of his fighting skills that I've ever seen.



  • Cyclops arguing with Gambit about him not helping and only caring about himself


Right off the bat, we're being reminded and/or introduced to Gambit's characterization as a sleezeball. I don't recall Cyclops and him arguing in the original series, but we did get an entire arc in Season 1 where Bishop accused Gambit of being a traitor (Days of Future Past). I wonder if Gambit is being made to look bad because we're setting up a reveal similar to the Trial of Gambit (UXM# 347 - 350?)


  • Jean is pregnant


Well, this is a development. In the comics, Jean wasn't the mother of Scott's baby, it was actually Madelyn Pryor. Will this be conflated or could we be heading towards an Inferno story (UXM # 242 - 243!?) I sure hope so as Inferno is still my # 4 favorite comic arc as of my most recent comprehensive ranking.


  • Rogue sounds weird


I feel bad saying this. I know we were lucky to get Lenore Zahn back, but her voice just sounds a bit different after 28 years.


  • Sunspot in the danger room

  • Wolverine (W) scares him Away

  • Valerie Cooper helps Scott track down the Sentinel technology used by the FoH

  • Jean talking to Scott about leaving the X-Men, but he’s resistant.


I will be VERY interested to see how this plays out. A lot of people love Cyclops, but in the comics I never got over how terrible he treated Madelyn and Nathan (his son). I mean, he had to get smoked by Storm in a battle for leadership (UXM # 201) before he would leave the X-Men and focus on a pregnant Madelyn. Or did she?


  • Cyke asks Wolverine (W) to go find Roberto, but he resists 

  • W resists 

  • W says to Cyclops:

“What Guyrich did to the professor was terrible, but the worst thing about him being gone is you!”
  • W listens after Jean asks nicely 


Oh boy! We are really getting Soap Opera content and I am here for it. The rivalry between Scott and Logan is going to be at a boiling point here. And of course, Wolverine will only listen to Jean. So looks like the new creators know where their bread is butter and will continue to lean into the Jean/Logan/Scott love triangle.


  • Morph pretends to be Jean and plays on W’s feelings for her


The show is clearly leaning hard into Wolverine's feelings for Jean, just as the original show and movies did. I have no problem with this!


  • Jubilee dances with Roberto


A budding romance, mayhaps!? This didn't happen in the comics (that I know of), but mostly because Roberto is a player. Don't hate the player, hate the game!


  • Scott and Jean visit Guyrich to learn about the Sentinels

  • Jean uses Cerebro to peer into his mind

  • They find a second Master Mold

  • Jean has a nightmare with Master Mold and Baby Nathan in it


I've watched the nightmare scene a few times trying to see what this is foreshadowing, but I'm unsure. I see a lot of Master Mold, so it might just be foreshadowing what happens in this premiere, however it could also very well be Inferno!


  • Plane blows up

  • Morph turns into Archangel


This is a badass scene. The fliers (Rogue, Storm, Morph?) immediately know they need to grab the non-fliers and Cyclops uses his blast to slow down his descent. I know this is over the top, but I have no problem with seeing creative over the top uses of their powers. I can't get enough of it, in fact!


  • Awesome fight scene: XM vs sentinels

  • Beast inside a sentinel

  • Storm shows the forecast 

  • Gambit charges W’s claws and he takes down Master Mold


Yup. More awesomeness!

  • Team plays basketball


Ahhh, I love this so much! This is a direct nod to X-Men # 4, one of my favorite all-time issues/moments with the team playing basketball, as opposed to playing baseball, which is typically had Claremont had them doing throughout the 80's.


  • Magneto inherits it all


And so we enter the time when Magneto was leading the New Mutants (X-Men in this series) and is acting in a reformed manner.


Episode # 2: Mutant Liberation Begins


  • Magneto saves humans at a carnival

  • Scott questions why X didn’t trust Scott


Wow, we are really beating up on Scott in this series, aren't we!? Maybe it's because you're a dick to everyone!


  • FoH attacking Morlocks

  • Callisto, Leech, Erg, Ape

  • Magneto saves them

  • Magneto is moving Morlocks to Genosha


The Morlocks moving to Genosha is new for the series, but Magneto being revered in Genosha is not. I highly doubt we're going to get any content from Grant Morrison's run, but then why would you start connecting him to Genosha?


  • Jean and Storm are good friends

  • She tells Storm that she hopes her kid is human

  • Rogue asking the team to give M a shot

  • They hint at a secret relationship


Oh snap! We're bringing the Magneto/Rogue relationship into this! Another love triangle? I'm usually annoyed by love triangles, but again I have no problem.


Also, nerd alert! The X-Men comic/arc that explored this relationship, also happens to hold the # 1 spot in my most recent comprehensive ranking. (UXM 274 - 277).


  • Valerie Cooper comes to arrest Magneto

Now we're officially getting into the Trial of Magneto (UXM # 200).


  • He turns their helicopter blades against their plastic guns, but then he yields

This helicopter scene was another badass display of their abilities.

  • Trial of Magneto

  • X-Cutioner going after Mags

  • FoH break in (January 6th?)


The X-Cutioner first appeared in Uncanny X-Men Annual #17, however he definitely never appeared in the Trial of Magneto. He's a non mutant villain that I initially thought was boring, but I've actually grown to appreciate him over the years.


  • Jean goes into labor

Jean: He’s here!
Wolverine: Who, Apocalypse?
(Jean telekinetically puts coat and keys in W’s hand)
Wolverine: Oh crap!

Holy crap, I was laughing so hard when Wolverine was like "Who, Apocalypse?" And then it was great modern humor when Jean just shoves the coat and keys in W's hand. I love this so much!


  • X-Cutioner attacks

  • Puts Bishop in a collar

  • Beats the crap out of Scott

  • Morph helps and turns into:

  • Lady Deathstrike

  • Colossus

  • Psylocke

  • Rogue flies Scott to Jean

  • Doctor refuses to deliver baby

  • Scott asks Rogue to use her power to learn how to deliver a baby, and she does.


Ok, so Rogue definitely didn't deliver a baby in the comics, but there is a comics influence for Scott not being around when Nathan was born.


This detail of the doctor refusing to deliver the baby was such a direct connection to today's politics that it almost took me out of the experience, but still, I appreciated it.


  • Storm takes a blast for Magneto, loses her power

  • She truly struggles

  • Magneto gives a great speech


Wow, my heart seriously broke for her. They did such a great job with demonstrating how distraught Storm was over losing her power. In the comics, Claremont went out of his way to show that this impacted Storm in such a deep way because she didn't just lose a power, she lost her connection to the planet. This undoubedtly sets up Lifedeath, one of the most revered Storm arcs in her history.



  • UN pardons Magneto, gives aid to Genosha, becomes a UN nation

  • Scott and Jean will still leave

  • Storm leaves

  • Rogue shares an intimate moment with Magneto. They can touch. Gambit sees. 

  • A different Jean shows up at the mansion


Oh Snap! So we are going to get some Madelyn Pryor drama. This isn't how it went down in the comics, but I'm fine because this seems interesting.


Characters

Storm

Storm has a differently look as it appears that we're getting 1980's punk Storm for this season.


I noticed that Magneto addresses Storm as a Goddess at one point, which was great to see. Storm was so majestic and powerful, that she was mistaken for an actual Goddess in Africa until she went away with Charles Xavier (Giant Sized X-Men.)


I also appreciated how close of friends Jean and Storm are. Claremont went out of his way years later to cement their friendship through the X-Men classics story, so I like that the show is establishing this early on.


I mentioned this earlier, but we truly got to feel Storm's pain as she lost her powers. While it's great for shows to make you feel emotions, I hope she gets them back before this season is over.


Cyclops


If you've been following this blog, you know that I keep waiting for someone to make me like Scott Summers. This version of Cyclops is certainly not doing that narrative any favors. He's riding Wolverine, he's demeaning Gambit, Charles Xavier didn't trust him with his will, he's refusing to settle down with "Jean," and he even nearly missed Nathan's birth.


However, I did love seeing his badass use of both his powers and his fighting skills.


Jean


We get a pregnant Jean, who technically never got pregnant in the comics. We're obviously about to get some Madelyn Pryor/ Jean Gray drama (another love triangle!?) so prepare for some fireworks (and Mr. Sinister).


Wolverine


I'm happy to see that we are keeping the Wolverine pining over Jean gag going, however it would be nice to get more out of the character in the show. Perhaps Philosopher Logan can make an appearance?


Rogue

I'm struggling a bit with Rogue. She looks a little different, she sounds a little different, she even feels a little different. I'm sure it's nothing though. As mentioned earlier, I'm exciting to see what happens between her and Magneto.


Gambit

Cyclops arguing with Gambit about him not helping and only caring about himself is either introducing a question bout his character or learning into his bad boy image.


Beast


Beast is Beast. He hasn't skipped a beat.


Morph


It was nice seeing that the friendship between Wolverine and Morph is still strong. Watching him throw him a beer and rag on him about Jean was a nice touch. Morph is clearly a stand in for Nightcrawler who serves as Wolverine's "bro" in the comics.


Executive Producer Brad Winderbaum talks about how the X-Men have always served as a comparison for otherness in society.

"One way X-Men '97 attempts to connect with that legacy is with Morph, now voiced by JP Karliak. DeMayo previously stated that they approached the character, who can shapeshift into any person, male or female, as nonbinary. The character's primary appearance now takes on a more androgynous, otherworldly look that's similar to the comic book character the inspired him, Changeling."

Magneto


Considering Magneto currently sits as my # 1 favorite character, I'm pretty happy to see this nuanced version of the character. The biggest question for me is whether this will last throughout the season or if we'll see him slowly go back to his old ways. I also wonder if we'll even see Professor Xavier again or not.


Jubilee


Jubilee is back and while it's obvious that we have a new voice, I didn't seem to mind. I'm happy to see that she actually looks Asian as a generation of kids had no idea.



Bishop


Bishop is new main character. I'm not mad about it. I'm not thrilled about it, either. He didn't get a lot to do, but I did love the portrayal of his powers.


Geeking Out


I knew that I would love this even before I turned it on, but I absolutely did not expect for it to be as good as it was! I'm so pumped about this! They not only nailed the magic of the original series, but I am breathing a sigh of relief to see that Disney may actually understand them after Fox has released so many X-Men duds in recent years. I still get a chill down my spine every time I hear the music, even though it was my ringtone for a number of years (until my wife forced me to change it.)


My experience was virtually the same as what Executive Producer Brad Winderbaum stated in an interview with Men's Health:


"For me personally, it was [one of] the most important pieces of art in my life. I watched it as a kid after school, I just remember it was the first television show that wasn't patronizing to me as a kid—it met me where I was at. It was having conversations in the subtext of the show I was already thinking about.
At that time—and somewhat still—sometimes stuff that's for kids can talk down to them and avoid themes that are actually very present in their young minds."

According to Entertainment Weekly:

"X-Men: The Animated Series debuted on U.S. TV sets in October 1992 as part of the Fox Kids Saturday morning lineup of cartoons, which also included Bobby's World, Power Rangers, The Tick, and Batman: The Animated Series. Headed by Eric Lewald, the series brought to life the mutant characters of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's comics with a team consisting of Cyclops (Norm Spencer), Jean Grey (Catherine Disher), Wolverine (Cal Dodd), Storm (Alison Sealy-Smith), Rogue (Lenore Zann), Gambit (Chris Potter), Beast (George Buza), Jubilee (Alyson Court), Professor X (Cedric Smith), and a new character created for TV, Morph (Rob Rubin)."

It's amazing that we got so many of these actors back, including adding a few new characters in Bishop and Sunspot.


I recently re-watched the animated series and I was stunned to see how much the Friends of Humanity reminded me of groups that are still present today. Seeing the doctor refuse to deliver Jean's baby was another direct connection to today's political atmosphere.


These first two issues hit it out of the park and I can't wait until next week!



My Rating- 10/10



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