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 ultimate season of X-Men: Evolution was alternately brilliant and frustrating. Episodes that focused on the Apocalypse plot like "Impact," "Uprising," and the finale "Ascension" were the best of the series. Certain scenes are engrained in my mind, like Magneto showering En Sabah Nur with satellites, Rogue breaking the Mystique statue, Spyke and Wolverine's heart-to-heart and the reveal of the four horsemen.

But with nine episodes left, the creative team spent an excessive amount of time on filler. "Target X" was another spotlight on X-23. (What would Sunspot have to do for some of this attention?) It also demoted Omega Red, a cult favorite from the comics, to punching bag. (Gauntlet's wussification was easier to forgive.)

"Sins of the Son" was not a bad idea. I would love to see Legion (if not Legionquest) animated again. In the comics, he was a fascinating character who precipitated one of the crossovers I can stomach. (I liked Age of Apocalypse, but I was younger and less crotchety back then.) Unfortunately, this episode had no conclusion; and with no opportunity or intent to revisit Legion, it felt like a waste of time.

"Ghost of a Chance" introduced another personal favorite from the comics, Danielle Moonstar. But again, the episode had plotholes in it that could have sunk the Lusitania. These were not awful episodes. They are better than the best of season one, but paled in comparison to the Apocalyptic episodes.

On the other end of the spectrum, "No Good Deed" was hilarious. The episode's pitch was inspired: "What if people thought the Brotherhood were heroes?" Well, the results would be an episode so satisfying that you hope next week's installment is about them, too. The irony of the ep being that by the end of the season, the Brotherhood would be heroes... in their own idiom.

"Uprising" turned Spyke into a badass. Watching Spyke in "Uprising" is worth suffering through "The Speed and the Spyke" (though maybe not "Spykecam.") And Wolverine received one of his best moments in the series when he was talking Evan down. (Wolverine as a babysitter worked some times; but I still wish he could have gone berzerker more often, or even played the loner a few more times.)

"Cajun Spice" was strictly fodder for those who must have a Rogue-Gambit relationship. I say "meh." Rogue flirted with Scott and Angel in the span of the series. I found both characters more interesting than this iteration of Gambit.

The series ended with "Ascension." I could not conceive a better finale. So many of the final match-ups are worth mentioning: Jean v. Xavier, Spyke v. Storm, Berzerker v. Storm, Wanda v. Magneto, the Brotherhood v. Magneto and Wolverine v. Mystique. Well-considered, well-written, well-animated and well-acted. The only gripe is that there would be no more.

Xavier's final monologue teased the future, and there were some rumblings of a fifth season featuring the Dark Phoenix, but, in the end, it was cancelled. Sadly, the show ended as it seemed to reach a creative zenith.

Earlier this year, a new X-Men cartoon featuring Wolverine and animated in two- and three-dimensions was announced. The initial order is for 26 episodes. Not much is known, but it has already split the internet in half quicker than Bendis can write "No More Mutants." One thing can be ascertained. This show, and any other X-Men show, has an eager fanbase awaiting it, and that fanbase will be comparing it to its predecessors.

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