X:Men Season One

As you already know, I’ve started
rewatching “Spider-man,” but in between those reviews, I’ve also
decided to go ahead and write about its sister series “X:Men.” I
was a huge fan of this cartoon when I was younger, so much so that
when I got my first job, a large portion of my paycheck went toward
buying comic books just so I could revisit a series I never got to
see end.

From what I remember, the show placed a
lot of emphasis on the characters and the relationships, not all of
them romantic. Here was a kids’ show that was willing to stretch the
definition of a kids’ show and tell some more adult stories without
pandering to their young audience.

The season opens with Jubilee running
away from her foster parents after they discover that she’s a mutant.
She heads to the mall and incurs the wrath of a sentinel intent on
capturing her…but the X:Men are there to save her, and soon enough
she’s living at the school, learning how to focus her powers and use
them wisely.

But the sentinels are still out there,
intent on capturing and imprisoning mutants (for the crime of being
born, no doubt). The X:Men try again and again to take them out, but
they and their masters keep coming back and they keep trying to end
mutant life for good. It’s a theme of the series and of this season
especially, and while X:Men does place too much attention on the
fights, especially in the early episodes, the writers knew their
craft enough to keep the arc together and meaningful…eventually
anyway.

Now, that’s what I remember, which
isn’t an entirely accurate representation of the story (I probably
should have seen that coming. Oh well).

At least in the first few episodes, the
show is really about the fights. From “Night of the Sentinels”
through “Deadly Reunions,” the writers decided to come up with an
idea and then add as much fighting and destruction as possible. I was
very worried during that first batch that this show I loved would
turn out to be a terrible to my adult eyes.

But then something awesome happened. I
watched “Captive Hearts,” the fifth episode in season one.

Now don’t mistake me, this episode is
not great, and in places it’s a bit slow. But it’s the first episode
where the writers started to focus on their characters. We learn that
Cyclops and Jean Grey are in love…and the Wolverine is in love with
Jean too. We learn that Storm is claustrophobic because a wall fell
on her when she was a child. Finally, we’re getting to see the little
pieces that made this comic so great.

Bit by bit, we get to know our
characters a little bit more; Rogue is sweet on Gambit, and vice
versa, but their relationship can’t really go anywhere; Cyclops
might be a good leader, but he is also a serious douchebag, which
makes me not like him but is good characterization none the less;
Wolverine cares deeply for his teammates, more than he would ever
tell them no doubt. Xavier, while nominally a good guy, is not above
some mental manipulation to get his way.

They all have their secrets and their
weaknesses. They all have something to prove and something to hide.
From here onward, it’s the show I remembered. But that’s not to say
it doesn’t have anything new to offer.

When I was younger, probably around 13,
I read an article by a man where he talked about letting his kids
watch “The X Files” where he casually mentioned that he didn’t
let his kids watch “X:Men” and I wondered why, especially
considering that they are on the side of equality and civil rights.
But now, the pieces are starting to come together.

For all the good the X:Men do, that is
severely offset by the rampant destruction that they cause with their
powers. Sure, they don’t start the fights, but they do their fair
share of property damage just the same.

Another reason to complain: the X:Men
just have no regard for law and order. Colossus was wrongly accused
and arrested for the bank robbery committed by Juggernaut, but it’s
not ok for Rogue and Storm to bust him out of jail just because they
know he is innocent (and really, if they had waited 30 minutes or so,
the cops would have seen Juggernaut rob another bank and realized
they nabbed the wrong man).

That’s not that much different from
Magneto offering to spring Beast from the pokie, except that Beast is
actually guilty of the crime he’s accused of (but for some reason
wants to go through with the trial anyway).

So yeah, really not the best show for
kids, but then again, why should they get all the fun?

Stray thoughts

  • I remember really loving Jean Grey
    as a kid, especially once we get to the Phoenix/Dark Phoenix sagas,
    but right now I have to say she is the most overrated X:Men. She is
    the quintessential damsel in distress who can’t do anything with her
    powers without fainting and/or injuring herself, yet somehow she’s
    the second most powerful psychic in the world. Sigh.

  • If I hadn’t looked it up, I would
    never have known that Jubilee is actually supposed to be Asian. If
    you do know that you can see it, but the animators sure went out of
    their way to make her as white as possible, which is a real shame.
    There are plenty of white superheros out there; why not give Asian
    girls and boys someone to admire (especially someone as cool as
    Jubilee)?

  • One minor complaint: Did Beast
    really have to be locked up the whole season? He’s get the best
    lines, and he’s the smartest guy around. Let him be free!

  • One real complaint I have to give
    the series is the costumes. They are (probably) direct lifts from
    the comics, but yikes, I couldn’t stop laughing every time Jean
    shows up in that ridiculous costume (think a full body leotard with
    an awful color scheme). And Wolverine might be a badass, but he’s
    still wearing blue underwear outside of his yellow leotard.

  • But they are not all bad. My award
    for best costume goes to Mystique. Maybe it’s the skull belt (with
    the matching hair clip!) that does it for me…maybe it’s the white
    dress on blue skin with red hair scheme that I just love. Yeah, it’s
    the best…with Rogue and Gambit tying for second place.

  • Don’t worry, more “Spider-man”
    and “X:Men” are coming. Soon.