When the X-Men animated series first started airing back in 1992 I was 14 and at the height of my love of comics, X-Men specifically. So it should come as no surprise that this show quickly became one of my favorites. I recorded and rewatched the episodes as often as possible and my friends and I were always quoting it. Well I haven’t seen the show in about fifteen years and I was curious to see if the show was half as good as I remembered it.
With vast improvements in animation over the years, what with shows like Justice League Unlimited and the like, the animation of X-Men is very archaic and simple, especially in the earlier episodes. Luckily it does improve. This alone might drive some away. The writing isn’t always the best and some of the acting is downright laughable. So is there any good in this show?
Tons! While it may be very cheesy at time, X-Men is very true to the comic most of the time and tells some of the truly classic stories including “Days of Future Past” and the impressive five episode “Phoenix Saga”. Sadly the follow-up “Dark Phoenix Saga” won’t be available until the next volume. It also stays true to all of the major characters even including small details that are bound to please and X-Men aficionados like Storm’s garden room in the mansion and her claustrophobia and Wolverine’s love for Jean Grey. Plus there are dozens of cameo appearances by other Marvel heroes scattered throughout.
The core team for the show is Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Storm, Jean Grey, Gambit, Rogue and Jubilee. There is also a character that was created for the show named Morph but he one of the worst aspects of the show, luckily he’s not in it that often.
One of the other great things about the show is how the story continues from one episode to the next with some story arcs taking several episodes to come to conclusion, like Professor X and Magneto being trapped in the Savage Land. Also, you get all of your favorite X-Men villains from Magneto and Mister Sinister to Juggernaut and Apocalypse. Other X-Men that play minor roles includes Colossus, Cable and Bishop amongst others.
These two volumes carry you through the first 33 episodes, the first two and a half seasons of the show. It is interesting to note that the episodes were aired out of order, but that is corrected on the DVD.
Night Of The Sentinels (Part 1) 10/31/1992
Jubilee is hanging out that the mall where she is attacked by a Sentinel. Luckily the X-Men happen to be there to save her. Once back at the Mansion they discover that the group running the Mutant Registration Program intends to track down and eliminate all mutants, so the fins the Sentinel base and infiltrate it to destroy all the mutant files.
Night Of The Sentinels (Part 2) 11/7/1992
After destroying the files the X-Men attempt to escape but are attacked by Sentinels. During the battle Morph is shot and presumed dead and Beast is captured. The others escape back to the mansion and Jubilee decides to join the team.
Enter Magneto 11/27/1992
At Beast’s trial Sabertooth shows up to violently protest and is shot by guards. Cyclops rescues him and brings him back to the Mansion where Wolverine protests his being there due to their past. Later, Magneto attacks a military missile facility. The X-Men arrive to stop him from launching the missiles.
Deadly Reunions 1/23/1993
Magneto attacks a chemical plant to get Prof. X’s attention. The X-Men show up and Magneto easily bests them leaving Prof. X and he to go head to head. Back at the mansion Sabertooth tricks Jubilee into releasing him. Luckily Wolverine is there to save her but ultimately Sabertooth escapes.
Captive Hearts 1/30/1993
The Morlocks capture Jean and Cyclops because Callisto, their leader, wants Cyclops to be her man. The other X-Men descend into the sewers to rescue their friends. The battle ends when Storm and Callisto fight one on one and Storm defeats here becoming the new leader of the Morlocks.
Cold Vengeance 2/6/1993
Unable to deal with his feelings for Jean, Wolverine seeks solitude in the Canadian wilderness. Here he finds peace among a group of Baffin Island Intuits. However Sabertooth is there to destroy Wolverine’s short lived serenity. Meanwhile, Gambit tells the others about Genosha, an island that supposedly welcomes mutants. Gambit, Storm and Jubilee go there to check things out but are met by Sentinels and captured.
Slave Island 2/13/1993
Gambit, Storm and Jubilee along with a group of other mutants are forced to work as slaves to build a dam that will power a Sentinel factory. Special collars dampen their mutant powers. Gambit manages to escape and meets up with Cable who is on the island trying to take out those responsible for enslaving the mutants. Cable helps Gambit out of his collar and goes after the Sentinel factory while Gambit frees the other mutant slaves. Storm uses her powers to destroy the dam and the Sentinel factory. The X-Men return home to find the mansion destroyed and the Professor missing.
The Unstoppable Juggernaut 3/6/1993
Wolverine, Storm, Rogue and Jubilee go out to look for the person who destroyed the mansion. Jubliee finds a man who can turn into pure steel and thinks it’s him. After a fight with who turns out to be Colossus they realize it’s not him. Rogue and Storm find Juggernaut robbing a bank. Wolverine, Jubliee and Colossus join them to fight the behemoth. Only with Cyclops plan and team work can they defeat the unstoppable man. After the battle the begin rebuilding the mansion.
The Cure 2/20/1993
Dr. Adler at the Muir Island Research Center claims to have found a cure for the mutant gene. Rogue goes there seeking the cure with the other X-Men hot on her trail. Cable arrives to kill Adler and Rogue ends up saving her team mates life realizing that she can do good with her powers and decides to keep them. Later Angel shows up seeking the cure and Adler, who is really Mystique, uses her machine to instead turn Angel into Archangel and a slave to Apocalypse!
Come The Apocalypse 2/27/1993
Apocalypse turns mutants seeking a cure into his Four Horsemen, Famine, Pestilence, War and Death. These four begin to destroy everything in their path and only the X-Men can stop them. They are eventually able to break Apocalypse’s hold on Archangel and he aids the X-Men in defeating Apocalypse.
Days of Future Past (part 1) 3/13/1993
Bishop, a mutant from the year 2055, comes back to the present to stop one of the X-Men from committing an assassination and stop the horrors of his time from coming to be. However when he arrives his memory is jumbled and he doesn’t know who. He turns to the X-Men for help and in the end believes that Gambit is the guilty one.
Days of Future Past (part 2) 3/20/1993
Bishop attempts to kill Gambit but the X-Men stop him. They decide to go to Washington to prevent the assassination. In Washington the Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants are wrecking havok and Mystique, posing as Gambit, attempts to kill Senator Robert Kelly. But the real Gambit shows up and stops her. Mission accomplished Bishop is sent back to his own time. Professor X goes to talk to the Senator later only to find that he’s been kidnapped by Magneto.
The Final Decision 3/27/1993
Magneto brings Senator Kelly to a sunken ship to kill him, but Sentinels show up, attack Magneto and take Kelly. When the X-Men arrive they find a hurt Magneto and help him. The Sentinel takes Kelly to Master Mold, a giant Sentinel replicating machine. However Master Mold has become sentient and is now a threat to humans as well as mutants. The X-Men show up to destroy Master Mold and stop the Sentinels once and for and Magneto shows up to aid them. The season ends with Cyclops asking Jean to marry him.
Till Death Do Us Part (part 1) 10/23/1993
As Jean Grey and Cyclops are about to marry, a brainwashed Morph (who was previously though dead!) arrives and lays traps for each X-Man one by one. We learn that Morph is alive and brainwashed thanks to Mister Sinister.
Till Death Do Us Part (part 2) 10/30/1993
With the evil Morph’s help, Mister Sinister kidnaps Jean Grey and Cyclops. After the X-Men regroup, they chase after Sinister to rescue their friends.
Whatever It Takes 11/6/1993
The evil Shadow King lures Storm home to Mt. Kilimanjaro by possessing someone close to her. Rogue goes with her and together they have to free Storm’s friend and get the Shadow King back in the Astral Plain where Professor X and trapped him previously.
Red Dawn 11/13/1993
Omega Red, the Russian super soldier is released from prison by three corrupt generals who want reclaims the crumbling Soviet empire. Colossus asks the X-Men’s help but only Jubilee is home. The two travel to Russia to fight Omega Red. The X-Men find Jubilees note and aren’t far behind. In Russia a mighty battle is waged that requires the power of all the X-Men to slow Omega Red down enough to stop him.
Repo Man 11/20/1993
Vindicator And Alpha Flight lures Wolverine back to Canada and captures him. The Canadian government wants to know why the process that bonded the adamantium to his skeleton didn’t kill him. Alpha Flight realizes that they were betrayed in the reasons for capturing Wolverine and aid in his escape.
X-Ternally Yours 12/4/1993
Gambit receives a distress call from back home and rushes off to New Orleans with the others close behind. He must rescue his brother from his scorned ex-fiancÃ© as the Thieves Guild and Assassins Guild ready to kill one another. The X-Men arrive to help sort the situation out.
Time Fugitives (part 1) 12/11/1993
In New York, 3999 Cable is amidst a great battle with Apocalypse when a time rift begins to destroy their world. Cable learns that Bishop traveled back in time to stop a mutant plague started by Apocalypse. Because he stopped the virus from spreading, the antibodies that protected mutants from further plagues was never created. So Cable must go back in time and stop the X-Men from stopping Apocalypse.
Time Fugitives (part 2) 12/18/1993
Cable comes back in time to stop Bishop. After a battle with him and the X-Men he decides to learn more about the X-Men before continuing. Doing this he realizes that Wolverine’s healing power might be the key to saving the day for all of them.
A Rogue’s Tale 1/8/1994
Mystique, Rogue’s foster mother, forces her to face her past in hopes of winning her back. However this backfires as the mind of Ms. Marvel that is trapped in Rogue’s mind, is unleashed and begins to drive Rogue crazy. With the Professor not around, it is up to Jean Grery to sort out Rogues mind before her and Ms. Marvel are both destroyed.
Beauty And The Beast 1/15/1994
Beast assists with helping a blind woman see and falls in love with her in the process. Too bad the mutant hating Friends Of Humanity, lead by Graydon Creed, don’t want mutants helping humans. They end up kidnapping the formerly blind woman and it’s up to Beast and the other X-Men to rescue her.
In this silly episode, the alternate dimensional being Mojo kidnaps the X-Men in order to improve his ratings. But his former star, Longshot, isn’t too happy about this.
Reunion (part 1) 2/12/1994
Mister Sinister captures a depowered Professor X and Magneto in the Savage Land in order to lure the rest of the X-Men to his trap. Sinister wants to use the X-Men’s genetic material to create an army of unstoppable mutants.
Reunion (part 2) 2/19/1994
When they arrive in the Savage Land the X-Men lose all their powers and are immediately captured by Sinister’s men, accept for Wolverine. On his way to Sinister’s citadel, Wolverine meets up with Ka-Zar who assists him in rescuing his friends.
Out of the Past (part 1) 7/29/1994
Wolverine’s former love, Yuriko, now Lady Deathstrike, and the Reavers lures Wolverine and the X-Men into the Morlock tunnels to use him to unlock and alien spacecraft. But when the extra terrestrial beast is unleashed it quickly defeats them stealing the life force of all the Reavers and Jubilee.
Out of the Past (part 2) 8/5/1994
Professor X learns that the alien beast is known as the M’Kraan Spirit Drinker. The rest of the X-Men show up and have to figure out how to stop the creature and save their friends trapped inside.
Phoenix Saga (part 1): Sacrifice 9/5/1994
Shi’ar emissary, Erik The Red, takes over the Eagle One space station. The X-Men go there on the whim of Prof. X and are quickly subdued. They eventually stop Erik from killing the astronauts and escape. But their space ship is going to collide with an energy wave that will kill them all. Jean Grey pilots the shuttle while the others take cover in a chamber that shields them from the radiation. The Phoenix Force helps Jean survive the trip.
Phoenix Saga (part 2): The Dark Shroud 9/6/1994
Jean Grey is now possessed by the Phoenix Force and doesnt remember what happened. Meanwhile a psychic force unleashes Prof. X’s dark side and it attacks the X-Men. Not trusting himself, X goes to Muir Island to seek help. There he meets the Shi’ar alien Lilandra who is instantly kidnapped by Juggernaut and BlackTom Cassidy.
Phoenix Saga (part 3): Cry of the Banshee 9/7/1994
The X-Men show up and with the help of Banshee go to save Lilandra. The Shi’ar soldier, Gladiator shows up and takes them all down. Then Jean Grey shows up as the Phoenix.
Phoenix Saga (part 4): The Starjammers 9/8/1994
Using her new Phoenix power, Jean Grey transports the X-Men to Lilandra’s ship where the Empress has hidden the M’Kraan Crystal that D’Ken wants. The Starjammers show up, subdue the X-Men and steal the crystal. Cyclops is about to attack the Starjammers leader, Corsair, when Jean tells him to stop as she has learned through telepathy that he is Cyclops’ father.
Phoenix Saga (part 5): Child of Light 9/9/1994
In this excited conclusion, Corsair wants to use Cyclops to kill D’Ken. The attack fails and D’ken gets the M’Kraan Crystal. He uses is and becomes all-powerful. Only Jean and the Phoenix power can stop him but and a devastating price. In the end Cyclops and Wolverine each are seen morning the loss of Jean.
The show is presented in fullscreen 1:33.1. Sound is in Dolby Digital Stereo. The animation may be dated but it looks fine. The sound is great too. A well preserved show.
Sadly, there are no special features.
Sure the show is a little cheesy and a little dated, but it’s pretty damn faithful to the comics and if you’re an X-Men fan that you’re sure to enjoy this show on some level. Definitely worth checking out.
Buena Visa Home Entertainment presents X-Men: Volume 1. Created by Larry Houston and Frank Squillace. Starring Cedric Smith, Cathal Dodd, Norm Spencer and Iona Morris. Running time: 368 minutes on 2 discs. Not Rated. Released on DVD: April 28, 2009. Available at Amazon.com.
Buena Visa Home Entertainment presents X-Men: Volume 2. Created by Larry Houston and Frank Squillace. Starring Cedric Smith, Cathal Dodd, Norm Spencer and Iona Morris. Running time: 391 minutes on 2 discs. Not Rated. Released on DVD: April 28, 2009. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, Jean Grey, Jubilee, Magneto, Marvel, Professor X, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine, X-Men