Episode #12: eXcessive Force
Original Airdate - June 12th, 2009

Scott is determined to find Jean Grey and thinks Sinister is behind it. He bags one of his henchmen hoping to strongarm him into revealing where she is. Emma scans his mind and breaks it to Scott that he doesn’t know. But Scott’s not buying it, he’s sure the crazy scientist has Jean and is still bent on creating his genetically engineered Ultimate Mutant. Scott follows another of Sinister’s bullies back to his lab. A messy battle ensues destroying the lab and sprawls out into the street where Cyclops tails Arclight in a harrowing motorcycle chase. Finally Arclight admits to Scott that Sinister has Jean. He speeds off to confront Sinister. Just moments later the rest of X-Men arrive on the scene. Emma reads Arclights’s mind realizing that Scott is headed right into a trap. Sure enough, Sinister doesn’t have Jean, but he does have Madrox the Multiple Man. Madrox’s clones pummel Scott and just as he is overcome the X-Men arrive to help him out. It’s a close call but they bring an exhausted Scott back to the Mansion. He decides to be a better teammate and put the search for Jean to rest. Somewhere else, in an undisclosed hospital Jean Grey is awaking from a long sleep. But she has no idea who she is…

Story By Greg Johnson, Chris Yost and Craig Kyle
Written by Chris Yost
Directed by Nick Filippi
Music by Dean Grinsfelder
Animation By Noxxon Entertainment

Steve Blum as Wolverine
Fred Tacasciore as Beast
Nolan North as Cyclops
Yuri Lowenthal as Iceman
Jennifer Hale as Jean Grey
Clancy Brown as Mr. Sinister

Review: Arsenal: There was a moment in the X-Men: Animated Series premiere where Wolverine cut the hood off Cyclops’ car after the team leader made a decision that displeased him.

“Tell Cyclops I made him a convertible,” he said, as he drove away.

It was a perfect moment. It characterized Wolverine and his antagonistic relationship with the team leader brilliantly. Henceforth, we knew who Wolverine and Cyclops were and how they felt about each other.

“X-Cessive Force” has a moment that is equally brilliant. Cyclops, disgusted with Wolverine’s refusal to help him find Jean, steals Logan’s motorcycle.

It’s an admirable inversion of expectations for people familiar with the characters. In previous versions of the X-Men team, Logan was the bad boy loner who disappeared on ill-considered, solo missions; Cyclops was the responsible one who put the team first.

This episode throws all that out the window, and it works.

Wolverine as the leader of the X-Men is a bad idea. Wolverine as the bad leader of the X-Men is a great idea, and fortunately, that’s what the creators decided to do. Unfortunately, that demotes Cyclops and Storm, the natural leaders of the team. The creators solved that problem by making Cyclops an emotional wreck who is unfit to lead after his lover’s disappearance. (The creators have yet to give us a reason for Storm to be sitting in the sidecar.)

This hurt, loose cannon Cyclops is an incredible character. I have previously complained that Cyclops is not interesting enough to carry an episode by himself. (See “Secrets Not Long Buried” or “Adrift” as evidence.) I was wrong, so gloriously wrong. This, without hesitation, is the best episode of the young series. Likewise, it is the episode that most fully realizes the series’ potential.

“X-Cessive Force” could not occur in the stereotypical X-Men series where Cyclops is the leader and Wolverine the rebel. By shifting the paradigm, the creators have forced us to take and love the series on its own terms.

This episode has a straightforward plot. Cyclops cuts a swath through Sinister’s army because he suspects the man abducted Jean. In the meantime, almost every team member (even Storm) gets a nice moment, and we are reminded of Wolverine’s flaws as a leader.

If you have been uncertain about this show’s direction, this is evidence that the creators can make it work.


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