Wolverine In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three

Wolverine’s season opened with more of the love triangle between him, Jean and Cyclops, as they were about to get married. Logan even admits that he needs her as she stands before him in her wedding dress, ready to marry Scott. Seconds before, he was kicking the tar out of a robot who he had dressed up as Cyclops. Yup, him and Scott still had issues. Later in the episode he discovers Morph is still alive and is looking for revenge because they left him behind. After realising how screwed up his head was, Wolverine decided it was best to leave him be and let him figure everything out on his own. I remember being a little let down with Whatever It Takes, because to be blunt, it absolutely sucked. We got a cool Deadpool cameo though.

We had a lot more Wolverine episodes this season than last, and I’ve always been appreciative of a good solo Wolverine episode – I think he’s probably the only X-Man who could carry his own episode, and if done correctly, he could easily carry his own series. There’s talks of a solo Wolverine film, which I would be all over should it ever be released. The first introduces an old enemy in Omega Red who manages to come across just a little better than Sabertooth did, thanks to a great design and again, stellar casting. X-Men: The Animated Series often had casting issues, but they got an absolutely perfect voice for Omega Red, who’s voice made him all the more threatening. As a plus, we got to see Collosus again. Two Russians and a Canadian kicking the crap out of each other. What more could you ask for?

His next spotlight episode is arguably the highlight of the series. Wolverine returns to Canada at the request of the woman who helped him back on his feet after his Weapon X mind wipe and learns that it was all a trap to get him to return to Department H so Alpha Flight, his old team, could discover the secrets of his adamantium skeleton and how he managed to survive the procedure. The other X-Men barely appear which was great – this was the closest film we’ve ever had to Wolverine: The Animated Series and it was utterly brilliant.

After saving all mutant kind by creating anti-bodies to a lethal virus (all in a days work), Wolverine made some new enemies in The Friends of Humanity. In a rather bizarre yet perfectly expectable fashion, Beast went to town to kick their heads in whilst Wolverine concocted a plan to disgrace their leader in hopes of splitting them up. Beauty And The Beast ranks as another strong contender for the series best episode, and features my personal favourite Marvel romance, which shockingly didn’t make it into Arsenal’s top 10 Marvel romances. Diabolical, I say. I bet it would have made the list if Carly was a redhead. Wolverine didn’t do a lot for the rest of this season, so we’ll skip to his guest appearance on Spider-Man. Spider-Man was in the opening stages of a rather ballsy arc in which he learned that the spider-bite, which originally gave him his powers, wasn’t a one time process, his powers were evolving into something that wouldn’t be human. Desperately seeking a cure Spidey turns up at Xavier’s mansion, and after a quick tussle with The X-Men, pleads for a cure from Professor Xavier. Spidey and Wolverine are instantly placed at odds with one-another, as Spidey believes that his mutation turned into a freak, which greatly offends Wolverine, who is proud to be a mutant. Feeling dissed, Spider-Man leaves and is offered advice from Beast, who once tried to cure himself of his mutation and sympathises with Spidey as it’s not a natural mutation – Beast believed Spidey had a right to seek a cure.

After Beast was kidnapped, Spidey and Wolverine had a throwdown. Given that this was Spider-Man, which had even more ridiculously harsh censorship rules than X-Men, they didn’t have much of a fight, but there is certainly a thrill to be had watching 2 of your favourite characters get together for the first time, especially when they got to team up in part 2. The ending is particularly excellent as Wolverine remind Spider-Man that he does have friends, and he should go to them when he’s in trouble. Coming from Wolverine, it was great to see, especially as he’s never been too chummy with any of his own teammates. The episodes stand as one of Spidey’s best team ups, which was no small feet I assure you.

The season opens with a very strong Wolverine focused episode as he’s managed to piss off yet another lady from his past, the daughter of the scientist who designed the procedure which gave him his adamantium skeleton. Despite knowing very little about the operation, Wolverine seemed to have a hell of a lot of enemies because it. The episode is mainly remembered for being one of the handful of X-Men episode that didn’t look like complete crap, due to a new animation studio providing the animation for these episode. Despite some very good writing, it was often hard to overcome the numerous, sloppy mistakes found in the series including incorrect colouring, horrendously off model characters and of course, the atrocious animation and designs. I heard AKOM, the animation company behind X-Men are now out of business. Good.

Wolverine spent a hell of a lot of the rest of the season making kissy faces at Jean when she became Phoenix in a storyline that seemed to last forever, and then Dark Phoenix in a storyline which still felt completely out of tone for The X-Men, which also seemed to go on and on. Space pirates, crappy shuttle fights and men in pink – I wanted out.

After we’d had our fill of Phoenix: The Animated Series, we returned back to our beloved world of mutants fighting for their place in the world and Wolverine missed out on the chance to save face after the Spider-Friends debacle when Juggernaut didn’t fancy pounding the tar out of him.

We returned to Weapon X shortly afterwards and are given more pieces of the enormous puzzle as we meet Maverick and Silver Fox and learn that not of Wolverine’s memories are real and in the end, we leave with more question than answers. Thankfully, the creative team were fully aware that Wolverine’s past is more interesting as a mystery and that we don’t really need to know it anyway – our imaginations are always going to be more interesting than whatever half baked story they were going to shoehorn in. To show how much the current Marvel regime has lost the plot with it’s characters, they’ve recently started an ongoing series in which Wolverine knows everything about his past and goes looking for answers. He’s also carrying a sword to cut things – apparently 3 gigantic claws on each hand aren’t convenient enough. How do these people get these jobs?

The rest of Wolverine’s season was busy, as he featured prominently in Nightcrawler, which introduces the blue demon into the cartoon and also questions Wolverine’s faith. Bitter over how life has treated him, Logan believes God shouldn’t allow things like Weapon X to exist, and even mocks Nightcrawler saying that the people he is praying for are coming to burn the church down. The powerful episode ends with Wolverine on his knees in prayer. He also finds a kindred spirit in Nightcrawler – and makes yet another mutant friend of Logan’s who doesn’t join the team. He’s just destined to be a loner, isn’t he?

Proteus sees yet another odd experience for Wolverine – fear. It was especially interesting to see that after Kevin did what no other man alive could do, frighten Wolverine and turn him yellow, he wanders off, barely noticing. It was an especially powerful scene that greatly surprised me as a child – who could ever do anything to make Wolverine look like a coward? There was something almost disturbing about seeing Wolverine in tears and it’s still an odd scene to watch to this day.

Season four kicked off with a two-part alternate universe story in which Storm and Logan are married. It was a slightly jarring experience since the two barely said anything to one another throughout the history of the show, and Logan’s constant “I love you darlin’!” has been the butt of an endless amount of jokes at my expense from Bird Boy (I had to get him to review those episode didn’t I, I couldn’t have settled for an episode where Wolverine simply kicks the tar out of someone which his 1990’s tough guy dialogue. Stupid website.)

Yet another stupidly long and tedious story arc followed (Beyond Good and Evil) which is notable only for having one of the most bad ass Wolverine moments with a locked up Sabertooth who refuses to tell them Apocalypse’s plan. It’s a brilliant scene, one of my favourites in the show. See it for yourself; explaining it would only ruin it.

The next Wolverine focused (yes, there was a lot of them. Deal with it and move on) episode was pretty poor. The idea was there, but the execution was hardly excellent, thanks to an embracement of a foe in Silver Samurai, who was one of the poorest bullies I’d ever seen. Seriously, Nelson from The Simpsons would’ve made for a better adversary for Wolverine here. On a cooler note, this episode actually revisits Wolverine’s troubles with Proteus, features an awesome Nightcrawler cameo and has pretty good music. The rest of it isn’t really worth your time, however.

He featured prominently in Have Yourself A Morlock Little Xmas. I refuse to write more than two sentences for this episode, it was that bad.

Whilst Wolverine appeared in just about every episode of X-Men (he appeared more than anyone else in the show) he didn’t really do much until the show was revamped for it’s final six episodes after Saban decided to fund the episodes themselves to give their long running, critically acclaimed series – the one that made FOX KIDS the number one kids station in the US a proper ending. Kudos to them for that. X-Men was a truly special show – even the network respected it. Imagine! A network respecting a cartoon!

Wolverine’s one focus episode of the new season didn’t make a lick of sense – it takes placed before he got his claws, in World War II in fact, meaning he shouldn’t really remember it. He also wore metal claws on his wrists, which were identical to the ones which would be grafted to him years later. Yup, it didn’t make much sense – no one cared though, it was Wolverine and Captain America fighting The Red Skull and his Nazi robots in a fun free for all. It’s pretty much written law – Wolverine + Captain America = fun episode. It’s science. God I love my Ron Burgundy quotes.

Shortly after, X-Men: The Animated Series came to it’s end with the critically acclaimed Graduation Day, in which Magneto ignored his dream of a human/mutant war in order to save his friend Professor Xavier. Xavier’s parting words to Logan;

“Wolverine. Loner. You have a family. While savage, you have found dignity. Cynic – you have found faith.”

This was such a great show, and it ended with dignity. One couldn’t ask for a finer parting episode. Wolverine didn’t get a whole lot of time away from the spotlight, however. He was about to become a movie star, to be played by Australian Hugh Jackman. The irony is not lost on me. And, as any good network executive knows, a successful superhero movie must be followed by an all new animated series a short time later. Yes, only two years after the original series ended, The X-Men were back with a new cartoon dubbed X-Men: Evolution.

But would it be as good as TAS?