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

Season two contained a litany of episodes that changed the status quo, all of which were improvements. For example, the X-Men received a new administrator--Henry McCoy. Pitch perfect from his inception, McCoy proved an excellent counterpoint to Logan and Xavier. (Storm, regrettably, was still nonexistent.) He also related to the teens well. He was the "fun" prof.

The line-up was expanded. Suddenly the X-Men of last season were senior members and mentors to a new crop that included Iceman, Wolfsbane, Jubilee, Madrox, Cannonball, Sunspot, Boomer (or Boom Boom or Meltdown depending upon your era) Magma and Berzerker. (Berzerker was another Morlock from the comics who died quickly after his debut. He was included in Evo because he had a very visible power. The fact that he gained a cult following, not unlike Morph's, is a testament to how well he was used in his sparse appearances.) Not all of these New Mutants received a lot of face time. Jubilee, Sunspot and Wolfsbane all definitely fell to the wayside; but the new faces kept things fresh and the subplots plentiful.

The Brotherhood became a misnomer when Boomer or Meltdown... let's just say Tabitha... joined the boys. Her status as a defector was interesting, but she was soon replaced by the superior Scarlet Witch. Wanda single-handedly shifted the power balance. Sure, Lance and Pietro could be threatening, but as a group the Brotherhood were no match for the X-Men. That is, until Wanda knocked 'em cross-eyed. Suddenly the X-Men could be threatened locally. They didn't need Magneto or Juggernaut to be in danger. They weren't safe in Bayside.

Also, the Brotherhood shifted their allegiance. Without Mystique or Magneto barking orders, they became outsiders, not villains, just rogues in the classic sense. And being teens, it was perfectly in character when Lance fell for Kitty. I'm not going to address the shipping here at length. (I have another thread that does that.) But I will say this, after Lance and Kitty started flirting, I stopped cringing when the Brotherhood had a scene. Soon, I started laughing. Eventually, I liked them more than the X-Men. That's not a swipe at the X-Men. That's a testament to the strength that many of the non-lead characters had in this cartoon. These Brotherhood could fight with the X-Men ("Shadow Dance"), against them ("The Hex Factor") or kiss them, if they wanted ("Joyride.")

Mystique was taken out of the principal position (and replaced with Robert Kelly, who was better suited to the job.) She reappeared in a role that caught all of us off-guard. (Be honest, none of you knew that she was Risty.) Mystique was no longer a pawn but a schemer. She out-thought Xavier and arguably Magneto. She became the top-tier villain that she deserved to be.

And then there's Magneto. Absent for much of the second season, he hatched a scheme that manipulated everyone: the government, the X-Men, the mass populace. He also got a cool group of lackies that included Sabretooth, Pyro, Colossus (he was an acolyte in the comics) and Gambit. It seems like everyone powered up this season, and the results were phenomonal.

Of course, there were valleys that accompanied the breath-taking peaks. "Adrift" and "African Storm" were loathesome, but the characters were becoming strong enough to carry the weaker plots. (Check "Shadow Dance" for a good example.)

"Growing Pains," "On Angel's Wings," "The Hex Factor" and "Joyride" were some of the best episodes the series ever had; and when the show was hitting on all cylinders--acting, animation, writing--it was euphoric.

"Day of Reckoning" hit us with a shocker, the second that Mystique had provided that season. Xavier was kidnapped. For the X-Men, it couldn't get worse. Their mentor was gone, their home exploded and even the Brotherhood could kick their collective posteriors. How could they bounce back?