The X-Men In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four - Part Five - Part Six
Part Seven - Part Eight - Part Nine - Part Ten

The X-Men's introduction to animation was inauspicious. They didn't even refer to themselves as the X-Men. Instead they opted for Allies for Peace!

The original X-Men line-up appeared in an episode of the 1966 Sub-Mariner show from The Marvel Super Heroes, the first part of which was called "Dr. Doom's Day". The story was essentially an adaptation of a Fantastic Four story, but since Grantray-Lawrenece didn't have the rights to the FF characters, they substituted the X-Men.

Oddly, the X-Men are never referred to by that name, instead known only as the Allies for Peace! The characters kept their original looks and individual names from the comics though.

It's a mess of an episode, hence why it's seldom referred to by anyone! Though the X-Men debuted in 1963, they weren't a qualified success until they were Giant-Sized in 1975. Consequently, they missed out on the first round of Marvel animation: the Thor and Namor shorts, '67 Spider-Man, Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four et al, aside from the odd guest spot on Namor. ('67 Spider-Man sounds like a wicked car, doesn't it?)

An X-Man didn't appear on television until Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Iceman, a cult favorite but peripheral player in the X-universe, was a lead in the series. He was paired with Firestar, a substitute for the Human Torch. (The story goes that Marvel thought too many kids would light themselves on fire if they saw Johnny Storm do it. I guess nobody cared about kids trying to freeze themselves.) Firestar, a mutant herself, was retroactively added to the X-Men in "A Firestar is Born." (She was later a Hellion and a New Warrior in the comics.)

Fun fact: they gave Bobby a half-sister named Lightwave, also a mutant. She never appeared in the comics; but I'm sure if she had, she would have been decimated by now

. A bunch of X-folk made cameos in Spidey and his Amazing Friends. The first was Sunfire, the inflammatory and oft forgotten Japanese contingent, of the X-Men. He appeared in the episode "Sunfire." He even brought along his yellow peril uncle, Tomo, who was renamed Genju. His origin story was translated relatively faithfully from the comics. A naive, if arrogant, nephew follows his jingoistic uncle against the States. He sees the error of his ways in time to save the day... and make out with Starfire, if memory serves. (Spider-Friends is mentally listing every inaccuracy.)

Magneto and the his Brotherhood (Mastermind, Blob and Toad) were the foils of the "Prison Plot." Magneto wanted to break his group out of prison. Some things happened, the episode lulled and I lost interest. I assume the foils were foiled by something Spidey or his amazing friends did. (For those keeping track that means Toad was animated before Wolverine. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.)

In the "Origin of Iceman," we got a full blown X-team appearance. The original five and Xavier made a wordless cameo as Bobby recounted his past to Spidey and Firestar. He also loses his powers or some nonsense while fighting Videoman. (Yeesh, more on that guy later.)

Some X-folk actually got to speak in "A Firestar is Born," an origin story for Firestar. Spidey and his superlative pals visit the X-Men for a reunion. Cyclops, Angel, Storm, Wolverine (who speaks with an irritating Australian accent) and Xavier all get some face time. The villain is none other than Juggernaut. (Spidey and Juggernaut actually have quite a history from the comics, too.) This episode is mostly known for making Wolverine a punk, a tradition that would be carried in to later incarnations. Eh, the Angel design was cool.

The X-Men received another wordless cameo in "Education of a Superhero." After facing against Videoman (who is apparently a different Videoman than the Videoman before, but with identical powers), Spidey suggests he learn to become a hero from the X-Men. The assumption is that Videoman entered Xavier's School for the Gifted, which promptly changed its name to Xavier's School for the Gifted... and Videoman. (This rigmarole was so Videoman could be in the line-up of a proposed X-series. More on that later.)

The X-Men's final series appearance was in the penultimate episode, "The X-Men Adventure." The line-up for the team now included Xavier, Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Sprite (Shadowcat, for those of us who are too young to remember when she changed her name weekly) and Thunderbird. Yes, Thunderbird. Two adventures and dead, Thunderbird. Mister "Maggott was an X-Man longer than me" Thunderbird. Of course, he now had the power to turn into animals instead of being a Beast retread; but I'm pretty sure this is the only confirmed Thunderbird animation appearance. (A guy who could be Thunderbird or Warpath popped up every now and then in X-Men: TAS Genosha episodes, but I don't recall him ever speaking. DRG4 would know.)

The episode itself is immaterial. The X-Men fight a jilted lover of Firestar's. But the conventional wisdom on this episode is that it was a backdoor pilot for an X-Men series that would feature Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Thunderbird, Ariel (Shadowcat, yeah, she changed her name between paragraphs), Lady Lightning (a Ms. Marvel doppelganger) and Videoman. That's right, no Wolverine. Thunderbird made the cut, but Logan didn't. I would watch the series for that alone. (Take that as an indication of how much he sucked in "A Firestar is Born.")

The series never happened. NBC opted to put on the Smurfs instead. In retrospect, it was probably the right decision.

Next installment: The Pryde of the X-Men (where Shadowcat doesn't even get a codename.)