The X-Men In Animation - A Retrospective
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The first three episodes of Evolution's third season were pitch perfect. The action was well-animated, the
characters were developing and the plot twists were clever. (Whoever thought of putting Xavier in Juggernaut's
holding cell was brilliant.)
With mutants exposed even Bayville schools became interesting. Kelly antagonized the X-Men and expelled
the Brotherhood. (Another hard knock for those guys.) Students either rejected the X-kids (like Taryn) or tried
to exploit them (Duncan or Spyke's unnamed acquaintance.)
Most importantly, the kids started acting less like kids and more like heroes. In "The Stuff of Heroes,"
Cyclops demonstrated that he could be the field commander we wanted him to be. (Unfortunately, for Summers to have
his moment, Logan had to flake out. Weak.)
Even simple concepts like "Blind Alley" and "Self-Possessed" made for exciting episodes. The voice actors were
impeccable and the animation was better than anything Marvel had done before. (Some may disagree, but I mean it.
The shapeshifting Rogue was every bit as good as "Feat of Clay.")
Speaking of "Blind Alley," the shipping was ubiquitous this season. Whether it was Scott and Jean finally
coming together, Kurt and Amanda having a horrendous date, Todd harassing Wanda or Lance and Kitty, arguing
the hormones were all over the place. It could become a little overwhelming, but many Evo fans clamored for
more. (Of course, the network said "no.") Personally, I think any more relationship stuff would have been indulgent;
but I seem to be in the minority.
"X-Treme Measures" nearly did the impossible. It almost made Spyke cool, but Spyke absconding with the Morlocks
is too much of a headscratcher. There is no way in Sheol or Hades that Storm would let her nephew live in the sewers.
"Yeah sis, it's good to hear from you... Oh, Evan. He went to live underground with a group of vigilante
mutants whom I don't know... Why are you shouting? He said not to come for him."
Yeah, the ending didn't work, but it was a nod to the Marrow fans (all three of them.) I guess Spyke had to
wait one more season to become a flaming spike-shooting badass.
"The Toad, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was about as dark as a funny episode could get. The notion that
Magneto would alter his own daughter's memory is disturbing. (Then again, she was trying to kill him. This is not
loving father of "Phalanx Covenant.") Of course, the whole thing takes a turn for the ridiculous when Todd decides
to play hero with the help of Kurt and his image inducer. (Amanda never struck me as an interesting character, more
like a creepy fetishist; but it was hilarious watching Todd and Kurt wreck her living room.)
"Under Lock and Key" maxes out on fanboy points for grouping the original five X-Men, the first episode to do
so since the "Origin of Iceman" in Spidey and his Amazing Friends. It also pairs them with Magneto's Acolytes
to fight a big, electric spider. Even without Apocalypse's involvement, this episode is superlative. I liked the
Archangel of TAS, but the Warren Worthington of Evo trumps him. His design is fantastic, and the way he is
animated is literally angelic.
I could have done without the silly "Cruise Control," but that was only lame duck of a strong season.
Granted "X-23" was crippled by network limitations on violence. (The idea of her incapacitating everyone a
person at a time was cool, but the "she puts a microchip on your head, so you sleep" was not.) Furthermore, I
felt that X-23 was a gratuitous character. Wolverine already has three, young, female proteges to choose from:
Kitty, Jubilee and Amiko. This guy has more sidekicks than Batman; and if they keep creating them, Logan's going
to look like a perverted, old man.
"Dark Horizons" combined the Brotherhood, Acolytes and X-Men against Apocalypse, and Apocalypse won. Now
that's the way to push a villain. The ending may have been overwrought, but the menacing atmosphere was right.
Apocalypse was never this cool in TAS and rarely this cool in the comics (maybe "Age of Apocalypse" and "The Twelve.)
But the best was yet to come.