Tuesday, May 31, 2011

X-men Marathon: X2: X-men United

There's a certain model that Hollywood tends to follow when it comes to franchises. Use the first movie to introduce the main characters and give us an idea what they are about. The first sequel should then hit the ground running with an actual story and maybe add a few more characters along the way. This is pretty much exactly what happens here. I prefer the original X-men movie to this one, and I think the main reason why is I'm not too crazy about the story.

They essentially decided to mash together the X-men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills with the section of Wolverine's origin related to the Weapon X project. So Reverend Stryker becomes Colonel Stryker. Watching it this time around, I found myself being annoyed by the fact that so much focus is on Wolverine. It made sense in the first film because both he and Rogue were new to the X-men, but I feel like using so much time on his origin in this film is just too much. There are so many other good characters that I would have liked to have seen some of them have stronger roles in the film.

Which isn't to say that we don't get any other character development at all. I think Alan Cummings steals almost every scene he is in as Nightcrawler, and beyond the one "snooping" moment which comes off overly silly, he is a fine tribute to the comic version. As much as I would have liked to see him fuzzy, I think the tattoos fit his character well. I also liked seeing the scene between him and Mystique as a nod to her being his mother.

I also completely and utterly love the slow development of Jean into the Phoenix. It is portrayed in a way that matches the original intention of the comics - that this was a secondary form of her mutation. Notice that, unlike in the stupid stupid sequel (Note to self: save it for the next review!) we actually see flames. The fact that she allows them to escape in the blackbird by using her powers is pretty close to the way she piloted the spaceship down to earth in the comics. I literally jumped to my feet, raised my hands in the air, and said "Yes!" when I first saw that firebird forming at the end. Fortunately, it was just me and my brother in the theater at the time, since I got to see it the night before it premiered.

What may bother me most of all is the Jean/Wolverine relationship. She flat out tells him that she loves Scott and wants to be with him, and then Logan kisses her anyway! That is not cool. Since when do men in the last 30 years or more think no means yes? This isn't a romance novel, and that is not the Wolverine I know and love.

We get a lot more hints and cameos of other mutants this time around. The ones I noticed are Artie, Siryn, Colossus, Beast, Cannonball, Husk, Gambit, Multiple Man, Karma, Quicksilver, Scarlett Witch, Proteus, Danielle Moonstar, Kane, Silver Samurai, Omega Red, Franklin Richards, Kitty, Jubilee, and we also see folders on Stryker's computer mentioning Project Wideawake and Muir Island. I still don't know who that kid changing channels by blinking is though.

I should probably also mention for you non-comics readers that Deathstryke, or Lady Deathstrike as she is normally referred to, is not a mutant at all in the comics. She was the daughter of the man who developed the adamantium bonding process who got herself her own adamantium skeleton and other implants to become a cyborg.

To their credit, there really aren't too many other comic inaccuracies beyond what was already established in the first film. I think they built the world well enough that they didn't have to venture off too far. The only thing I'm uncertain of is Professor Xavier's powers. How does having telepathy make you able to make everyone in a room freeze, and not see what is happening while frozen? I also don't understand why concentrating on people via Cerebro would hurt and even kill them. This stuff only works as long as you don't think about it too hard. I've noticed that it is only this recent viewing, while having my "reviewer cap" on that I've noticed these little nitpicks. I've always really enjoyed the movie before this.

Things were going so well, and we had such a great set up for a fantastic finale, but then Singer left us for an alien in blue and red pajamas. I'll detail what makes me so angry about X3, and the few things about it I actually enjoy, tomorrow.

Monday, May 30, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men (movie)

I don't know if I can properly describe the amount of excitement and anticipation I had when I heard they were making an X-men film. I'm sure there was also a lot of fear as well. Could they possibly get these characters I loved so dearly correct? Or was it going to be a disaster like many of the earlier Marvel films?

I don't think it was very far into the movie before my fears subsided. From the opening scene, I loved it. Sure, there were changes from the comics, but overall it was true to the characters and the spirit of the X-men in general. I have no major complaints about this film.

They really did a great job of making it feel epic in scope, particularly the rivalry between the Professor and Magneto. You can literally feel the history between these two men the moment they face each other on the screen. Of course using two classically trained English actors for these roles was a huge help in that regard.

In terms of casting, I think only three mistakes were made. Halle Berry, Oscar winner or not, lacks any real range as an actress. While I wouldn't call her performance bad, she just doesn't have the demeanor of a woman who was onced worshipped as a goddess for her powers. Similarly, Rebecca Romijn was obviously chosen for her looks rather than acting talent. I realize that, before the movie was a proven success, it probably would have been hard to cast a high quality actress who would be willing to paint her skin blue for a role. I also think the nudity part is unnecessary. I've never seen the comics Mystique as a temptress as much as a woman who is always looking out for herself. And finally, we have Taylor Mane as Sabertooth. Around this time in movies, any time they needed a large character, they would cast a former wrestler. While Sabertooth is certainly a savage character, someone who could actually deliver more lines would have been a big help.

It's really quite extraordinary to me just how much this movie changed everything. These days, not only are the casting issues above a thing of the past, but so are the costume changes. Had this movie shown everyone in their brightly colored uniforms, the vast majority of people would never have set foot in a theater to check it out. But because this movie happened, we've been able to see Iron Man, Thor, and soon Captain America and Green Lantern feature in movies with outfits very close to their classic costumes, and we'll soon see outfits very similar to the original X-men's uniforms in X-men: First Class.

This movie proves that to do an adaptation properly, you don't have to reenact every single established plot device or get the story exactly right - you just have to show respect for the source material and have the characters do things you would expect them to do. Since these are already great, well developed characters, the general public latched on to it as well. I generally don't like to assume that everyone has already seen a movie, no matter how popular it is. So if there are some of you reading this who haven't yet, do yourself a favor and sit down to watch it. Chances are you'll be very happy you did.

I thought I'd list some differences for those of you who haven't really read the comics.

1. In the comics, Rogue is from a fictional town called Caldecott, not Meridian. I also noticed that the boy she kisses in the movie is called David instead of Cody. It's stated in the movie that her powers can kill, when in the comics it's generally just resulted in leaving the person in a catatonic state. She's had that white stripe in her hair from birth, though I do like the way they add it here.

2. As far as I know, Jean has no real medical training in the comics.

3. The Wolverine of the comics has always been stated as between 5'3" and 5'5". Hugh Jackman is well over 6 feet. While as a fellow short person I've always loved that Logan is a shorter guy, the fact is Hugh Jackman is so great in the role that you have to look past it. As you may have noticed in my Fatal Attractions post, Wolverine's claws are seen coming out of holsters in the back of his hands in the comics, whereas here they come about between his fingers. However, since the movie was made after the point of which they'd revealed the bone claws in the comics, I think this actually makes a lot more sense as to how they would work. (Bonus fact: This Wolverine is Australian too! Listen when he and Rogue are in the truck, shortly before they crash. "Look, kid, I don't need advice-" is spoken in Jackman's natural voice.)

4. Toad was completely reinvented for the movie. He had an ugly but mostly normal appearance and could jump very high. However the changes here make so much sense that they were eventually added into the comics as well.

5. The Professor says he met Magneto at 17, which sounds a bit too early to me. I wonder if this is proof that X-men: First Class will already have a continuity error, as they are obviously not that young. Xavier also says that they built Cerebro together which didn't happen in the comics.

There's also a lot of cameos and mentions of other mutants from the comics. The ones I was able to recognize/name are: Kitty Pryde, Quicksilver(or at least a kid with his powers), Pyro, Jubilee, Henry Gyrich, and I spotted a kid who may or may not be Blob.

Watching the movie again, I felt like they didn't really expect to be given the opportunity to make a sequel. While there are certainly hints at what is to come, it also wraps up very neatly. Fortunately, the movie was a huge success and we did in fact get one.

Friday, May 27, 2011

X-men Marathon: Generation X (the movie)

While the X-men cartoon achieved a decent amount of success and helped to improve comic book sales in the 90s, the X-men were still far from a household name. However Marvel obviously saw at least some potential in adapting the comics to a live action environment even as early as 1996. They chose to adapt the young X-men team, Generation X into a movie that would have served as a pilot episode for a new TV series if it had been successful.

In the comics, shortly after the Phalanx Covenant, Jubilee was put into a team of young mutants that were taught by Banshee and Emma Frost. This was basically the X-men universe's second attempt at a younger roster after the New Mutants from the 80s had grown up to become X-Force. The series wasn't too bad overall, but I think it got bogged down a bit by some confusing storylines.

This movie doesn't attempt to adapt any of those storylines, mostly just taking some of its characters and putting them into a new situation. Since this was television, a lot of changes had to be made for budget reasons. Chamber, a mutant who literally had a gaping hole in his chest, was replaced with Refrax, a sort of Cyclops-like character who also had X-ray vision. Husk, who could pull off her skin to reveal a new one made of some other form of matter, was replaced with Buff, a girl with super strength. In the comics, Skin was a mutant who had way too much skin and as such always had a saggy appearance to his face and limbs. He is in the movie, but his powers work more like Mr. Fantastic or Stretch Armstrong instead.

Jubilee, who anyone who loved the cartoon might be anxious to see, is not Asian here at all but Caucasian. Skin is appropriately hispanic, but its ruined by the fact that we also get references to him being a gang member at one point in his life. Banshee also has the thickest Irish accent I've ever heard, but in all fairness that's pretty true to the comics. Emma sounds Australian, I guess because there's no Wolverine here.

The villain for the movie is completely made up and not a mutant but a mad scientist. He is played by Matt Frewer, who I generally love because of his appearances in Max Headroom, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and The Stand miniseries. He is over the top and completely ridiculous here. Over the top is probably what he plays best, but it just can't save this horrible movie.

He and Emma used to work together, but he wanted to cut open mutant's brains for his research, so they had a falling out. Emma has developed a machine that lets anyone, not just telepaths, gain access to people's dreams. Frewer finds one of the machines, and Jubilee and Skin find another one hidden in the Xavier Institute.

You know, I'm searching my brain really hard to try to figure out what the villain's motivations are and why he wants the kids, but honestly, I don't know if they ever explained it. Just suffice to say that Skin doesn't realize he's a bad guy because he helps him invade the dream of a girl he has a crush on. Yup, because this is a teen movie, there's a horrible subplot about how the human teenagers don't like the mutant teenagers, but one girl kind of likes Skin and he invades her dreams in order to ask her out. Frewer asks Skin to return the favor by releasing him from prison. Skin somehow gets stuck and the other members of Gen X have to come rescue him.

If there's anything this movie gets right, it is the dynamic between Banshee and Emma Frost. The two of them have very different ideas on how to teach the students, and the conflict between them is well defined and accurate to their comic counterparts. They even mention, without much explanation, the fact that the Hellions, Emma's former students, died while under her care. So someone was at least partially trying to pay tributes to the comics here, even if it mostly fails in other areas.

The worst of it all is the low brow humor. In order to prove that he can access people's dreams and control them, Matt Frewer makes everyone in the board room of the company he works for fart at the same time. 'Nuff said.

I recommend staying as far away from this movie as you possibly can, unless you really like to watch bad films for the fun of it. It's up on Youtube if you're feeling up to it. I usually can appreciate a bad movie, but this was painful for me to watch. I can't remember what my exact impressions were when I originally saw it, but I'm sure there had to be some level of disappointment. I think I've kept the VHS copy I taped off TV simply as a kind of collector's item and not as something to watch over again.

Fortunately, there were much better X-men films than this, but I probably don't have to tell you that.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

X-men Marathon: Fatal Attractions crossover

I'm just guessing here, but I think the average person probably knows more about the end result of the Fatal Attractions storyline than they do the name of the crossover or what actually happened within. It certainly had ramifications for the X-men's world for years afterward. If you're aware that at one point and time Wolverine lost his adamantium, it happened during this storyline. While that is certainly noteworthy, that's only half of what makes this arc my absolute favorite X-men crossover. The other half is all about Professor X and Magneto.

Much like my Bill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book review, this multi-issue review will be long and full of pictures. Get comfy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

X-men Marathon: Uncanny X-men #303

I don't know that this comic is one many people think of very often when it comes to some of the best issues of X-men out there. However, it does stress its own importance right on the cover.


The Jubilee of the 90s cartoon was mostly a whiny brat. Jubilee of the comics also had her annoying moments, but she also had some really strong moments where she got to shine. Much like Uncanny X-men #297, #303 showed us this teenager slowly becoming an adult, and that is a large part of the reason I like it a lot.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

X-men Marathon: Uncanny X-men #297

Today I'm going to talk about the first X-men comic that I ever read. It may not be exactly what you are expecting, but it is largely related to what I love about the X-men. Uncanny X-men #297 was the epilogue to the crossover "X-Cutioner's Song." Not the most loved or notable of crossovers, it was the one in which the Cable/Stryfe relationship was explained. As someone who has never particularly cared for Cable, I can't say I care for it too much either. About the only thing worth mentioning is that at the very end of the crossover, the legacy virus is released into the world. I'll talk more about that in tomorrow's post.

It was really just luck of the draw that I stumbled upon this issue. My brother and I looked for X-men comics while at the grocery store, and this was the one available. I'm extremely glad we did.

The cover is extremely misleading, but I like it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

X-men Marathon: Character Spotlight - Rogue

It's hard to talk about a character that so many people already know so much about. What could I tell you that you don't already know? I've decided to simply list some of the things I enjoy about her and tell you what they mean to me.

1. Rogue is southern

From the moment you hear her talk or read that "Ah" instead of "I" in the comics, you know Rogue is from the south. Mississippi, to be exact. While there's a bit of rivalry at times between Louisiana and Mississippi when we fight for that 49th spot in education or obesity (I kid! Well, I wish I was kidding), the fact is there are a lot of people who have lived on either side of the state line at various points in our lives. While never to be confused with one another, the two are definitely linked.

2. Rogue has superhuman strength and is invulnerable to harm

Some of the adaptations skip this, and she's occasionally lost these powers in the comics, but the Rogue I'm most familiar with has them. Being someone who is small in stature and not really good at sports, seeing someone who could dish out and take harm with little effort appealed to me as a kid.

3. At one time, Rogue had another person's personality inside her head

When she permanently absorbed those Ms. Marvel powers mentioned above, she took her personality along with it, and the two struggled for control of Rogue's body. While it's certainly not an exact issue I'm familiar with, I think we all know what it's like to be conflicted at times. In those confusing adolescent years, it was especially the case for me.

4. Rogue cannot make physical contact with another person without absorbing their powers and memories

Recently in the comics, Rogue has gained control over her powers and can now touch people without hurting them if she so chooses. I cannot help but think sooner or later this will be reversed somehow. They've occasionally allowed her to touch others in the past but it never lasts very long. It's pretty central to her character, after all, and I dare say what makes her most appealing. It's the tragedy of not being able to be close to another person that we all sympathize with and understand. As someone with a wide personal bubble who literally isn't comfortable getting close to people, I really understand it.

5. For a long time, no one knew Rogue's real name

The movie is basically what started them finally revealing Rogue's name, and I guess that makes sense. Since we see her right as her powers emerged, I can understand bringing it up. But honestly, I don't care what her real name is. No one ever pronounces or spells my first name right, even when it's right in front of their face, so the idea of someone going only by a codename really appealed to me when I was young. Given that I largely give people a nickname these days, I guess it still does.

6. Rogue has a white stripe in her hair

I used to think this was so cool back then, and thought about getting a stripe dyed into my hair. I've since outgrown the urge, but guess where my first grey hair is? I'm secretly hoping that the others will continue to show right next to it.

If you love Rogue as much as I do, or want to understand a little more why she is so awesome, I suggest checking out the excellent feature Jetwolf has been doing on her blog, which highlights some of the awesome moments of Rogue from the comics.(The title is technically NSFW, but the content is mostly ok.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

X-men Marathon: Character Spotlight - Rachel Summers

My original intention for this marathon was to go through the comics and talk about some of the important issues and storylines. Unfortunately, April and May have become insanely busy for me both at work and home, so I was forced to scale it down a bit. But while I don't have the time to re-read and scan in pictures from as many issues as I would like, I can still talk about what I know and love.

Shortly after I moved from just watching the cartoon to reading comics, a friend of my mother's came and brought me and my brother a handful of old comic books he owned. This was not a gesture from the goodness of his heart. They were mostly issues that were far too beat up for him to sell. An issue of Superman that looked like it had been left out in the sun. A comic which had been detached from its cover completely. Another which looked like it had been chewed on one corner by an animal. That last one was an issue of Uncanny X-men - #184 to be exact.

The issue was just about a perfect one for me to read. Set shortly after the Days of Future Past storyline, Rachel Summers goes back to the present day timeline, but soon discovers that she has ended up in an alternate reality from her own. Since I was used to the 90s X-men, the way Rachel was so confused about the X-men she was seeing being so different from the ones she knew was pretty much exactly what I was going through. Professor X walking? Storm with a mohawk? Illyana not a little kid? Yeah, it didn't make much sense to me either!

Even beyond that, I liked her right away. She was very powerful, but she was also emotionally vulnerable. And despite that vulnerability, she had the ability to stand up for herself and take care of herself at the same time. I was lucky in that the Classic X-men comic series was reprinting issues from right around the same time as #184 which helped me learn more about that era of X-men. I also started collecting Excalibur in order to see what she was up to now. She and Nightcrawler were pretty much the main reason I loved that series.

For those of you who are not aware, Rachel is the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey from a timeline in which the Mutant Registration Act was put into effect and Sentinels were used to hunt down and capture or kill mutants. Rachel herself was captured and turned into a mutant hound - essentially a slave used to help capture and kill other mutants. Her face was tattooed with dark lines to mark her for what she was.

This is a gorgeous drawing of her in the hound costume that I'm currently using as my iphone wallpaper.

When she managed to break free from her slavery, she was placed within a mutant concentration camp. While there, she meets a number of mutants including an adult Kitty Pryde, and they scheme to send Kitty back and try to stop the events that caused their horrible world - this is the Days of Future Past storyline.

Once here, she became a member of the X-men and took on the Phoenix codename. Now here's the part that never makes much sense to me. Rachel was introduced at a time when Jean and the Phoenix were one and the same. The phoenix was just a sort of secondary mutation for Jean, not a separate cosmic entity. Therefore, it made perfect sense for Rachel to also have the phoenix powers. Once the retcon occurred, they changed it so that the Phoenix Force just happened to consider Rachel a suitable host because of her similarity to Jean. But since Rachel is from an alternate timeline in which Jean did not die at the end of the Phoenix storyline, I see it as a much more obvious answer - Rachel is the daughter of the phoenix force itself. This is actually pretty much established in What If? #32, What if Phoenix had not died? when Phoenix gives birth to a baby named Rachel.

Rachel's original Phoenix costume was ridiculously ugly. Fortunately later she adopted the same costume her mother had worn and it looked much better on her. I'm not particularly opposed to the hound costume either obviously, though there is something very 80s about it.

I'm not too crazy about some of her more recent developments, though I'm honest enough to admit I haven't read all the issues. The idea that she would change her name to Rachel Grey just because of Scott dating Emma seems a bit excessive. I totally get her being pissed about it, it's just a little too much to disown your father over. I also don't think anyone in their right mind would choose the code name Marvel Girl in this day and age either.

Not to mention wearing this ugly thing in public.

When it comes to Rachel in general, I feel like Claremont had a lot of ideas for her that never really came to fruition. That's a large part of the problem with having Rachel as one of my favorite characters - she's largely pushed aside by most writers. She seems to be mostly a pet passion for him more than anyone else. She's never appeared in the movies and I've already mentioned how badly they treated her in the cartoon. I'm also still waiting for a decent looking action figure of her. I suppose some people could see her history as one of the examples of why X-men storylines are so convoluted, but that complexity is part of what I love about her. She is the real reason I love the Phoenix, far more so than Jean.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men Legends

This game was released for the Gamecube, Playstation 2, and X-box consoles. Since I was still being a Nintendo fangirl around this point and time, I purchased the Gamecube version. I'm not sure if there is any difference between the various versions or not.

The game is an action RPG. What that means is that you are once again punching, kicking, and using your mutant special powers, but while doing so you're also gaining experience and leveling up. When you level, you get to choose how to update your stats and upgrade your mutant powers. I generally prefer RPGs that do this stat modification for you because I always worry that I'm making the wrong choice. You also equip armor, some of which gives you special bonuses.

The game suffers from one problem that a lot of games of this era suffered from. Game designers got excited about the extra space and better technology available to them, and therefore added things that were unnecessary and annoying. For instance, you fight a lot of random henchmen. Each type of henchmen has two phrases like "You're dead, mutie!" or "You'll never win, X-men!" and every single one of them feels the need to shout at you the moment they see you. It didn't take long for me to start shouting "Shut up!" at the screen. A lot of the cut scenes are made with the best CGI available to them at the time, which means that they look pretty bad now. They looked really horrible on my 42" HDTV. Other scenes use cel shading to help recreate the comic book style, and these look a lot better.

You can play with a max of four X-men at a time, with a total of fifteen X-men eventually being available to you. They provide a good balance of ranged attackers who use projectile attacks, tanks who can take a lot of damage, and balanced fighters who can do a little of both. Wolverine has his healing factor, which makes him an almost necessary part of the team. The others will need your help to heal. It reminded me a lot of Gauntlet, except instead of hearing "Wizard needs food badly!" you will hear one of the X-men call out to you in their own distinctive way. Pretty much every character fits their personality from the comics. You can switch between the four characters you are using at any time while on screen, and when you reach a save point, you can switch team members or pay money to revive any who may have died. You can also buy items from Forge here.

There are comics and videos to pick up throughout the game, and you can view them once inside the X-mansion. There's also a computer terminal in there that lets you play a trivia game for extra experience points. I got every answer right on the first try, but that's only because I knew a lot of the comic history. If you're not so well versed, you can learn a lot of the answers by talking to people around the mansion between missions. If you go upstairs in the mansion, you'll see the various X-men's private rooms. These are great because they contain details that aren't necessary to the game, but show love and appreciation for the characters. Storm has plants in her room and Colossus is halfway through a painting, for instance. Downstairs in the mansion is the Danger Room. It resembles the lower levels of the mansion from the movies. Cerebro's room is an exact copy from the one in the film. The Danger Room has training levels that will also give you extra experience. These are a huge help when you get stuck in the missions and can't get any further.

Somehow, they convinced Patrick Stewart to provide the voice of Professor Xavier for the game. None of the other characters feature their movie counterparts, though it is interesting that Steven Blum, who voiced Wolverine, would later do so in Wolverine and the X-men.

The story follows Alison Crestmere, a somewhat obscure mutant who was originally a member of the New Mutants and has a lava related power. In the beginning the X-men rescue her from the Brotherhood, and we follow the game through her as she trains at the mansion and gets to know the X-men and what they are all about. If you knew nothing about the X-men going in to this game, I think it would teach you enough to get you interested in reading the comics. The various missions in the game all relate to rescuing various team members (in order to have the opportunity to add them to your party later) or fighting classic X-men villains like Magneto, the Shadow King, and the Sentinels.

Beyond the few little mechanical hiccups, this game is just as enjoyable to play today as it was when it came out. It took me a little bit to get used to controlling my team members, but it never became annoying. Their AI is not too great, and they will happily put themselves in the middle of too many enemies and die quickly if you let them. Fortunately, with one push of a button you can call them to wherever you are. You can also set it so that they will automatically use a health potion once they get to a certain percentage of life - which is of course useful up until the point that you run out of them. I found the idea of purchasing armor largely useless, as you usually find the basic armor as well as special items scattered throughout the levels. Overall I really enjoyed playing it and while I didn't get to finish it before doing this review, I plan to keep going until I do because it's just that good.

There was also a sequel that came out for all the same systems which is largely more of the same with a few different characters and powers and a different story. It also added the ability to play multiplayer online. The success of this series also led to the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series of games, which is basically the same thing but featuring characters from all over the Marvel universe.

And so ends my experience with X-men video games. There are a lot more out there, from games based on the movies to fighting games to X-men appearances in various Marvel games. X-men: Destiny is planned for release later this year. They haven't released many details in terms of gameplay yet, but apparently it will require you to make choices to help decide where the story goes. It sounds like a great concept, so I hope they execute it well.

Next up I'm going to change direction a little and talk about a couple of my favorite X-men characters.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men: Mutant Apocalypse (SNES)

This is the second of the two X-men games that were made for the SNES. It was made by Capcom rather than LJN, but don't let that fool you into thinking that means this one will be much better. The opening titles look promising, as they give us a quick, accurate introduction into who the X-men are before explaining that there is an island called Genosha on which mutants are enslaved. They also hint that Apocalypse has some secret plans for the mutants enslaved there.

While we rented this game a few times as a kid, I have very few memories of it. So playing this game again for this review I may as well be going into it blind.

There are two modes to choose from - Mission Mode and Training Mode. Mission Mode contains the story, and each character is given two lives each. For training mode the story is omitted, but each character now has three lives. Now, you might think these multiple lives mean you get to try at least twice with each character before game over. You would be wrong. Once any character runs out of lives, you face the game over screen.

The characters in this game are Wolverine, Cyclops, Gambit, Beast and Psylocke. They are each given missions that are logical for their talents - Wolverine is sent to destroy sentinels, Beast is hacking into the island's computer systems, Gambit is sneaking into a military base, etc. I chose Wolverine's level first, since it was the first the Professor mentioned. Despite the fact that I'm supposed to be destroying robots, I was faced with a large number of human henchmen that I began to tear through with my claws (without any blood being visible). His claws are not retractable in this game. From what I can tell of the controls, there is an attack button and a jump button, and if you use the L or R buttons you can climb walls. The controls are very sensitive and the stage is essentially a really unfair beat em up with occasional wall scaling.

Next up I tried Gambit. It starts off pretty neat, as we see a charged card float to the ground and knock out two soldiers before Gambit arrives on the scene. After that, it's very similar to Wolverine's stage. Gambit mostly fights with his bo staff, though he did occasionally throw out a card as I mashed the buttons. The strangest thing about Gambit is that when he is at rest, he stands facing the camera looking off to the right, and his chest literally heaves.


I remember from back when we used to rent this game that I dubbed Psylocke "thunder thighs." That's not entirely fair. but she is built like a very muscular man with boobs. She fights using her ninja skills apparently, as I never saw any evidence of a psychic knife.


You would think Cyclops would definitely get to use his optic blasts, but no, once again, I was punch and kicking. This time it seemed exceptionally bad, as he's a bit taller than the others (except for maybe Gambit) and has virtually no reach at all. Beast has the ability to walk on the ceiling. Otherwise, it's basically the same old thing. So despite their claims that each X-man has a unique mission, it's all just side scrolling beat em up action. The platforming here is really weak and the AI of the enemies is just unfair.

After my initial attempt to play, I consulted gamefaqs.com, and discovered that apparently each character can do special moves, like a fighting game. As much as I love fighting games, I am pretty terrible at pulling off complex special moves. Most of the moves in this game seem to be variants of the Street Fighter haduken (rolling from down to front or vice versa, then hitting attack) or tapping a direction twice then hitting attack. With this knowledge I was able to beat Gambit's stage since he's of the tap twice variety. I could not get Cyclops to shoot beams at all, and the same goes for Psylocke's psychic knife attack. Both Wolverine and Beast have the same special move as Gambit, but I didn't have the same success with them. Capcom has made quite a few fighting games featuring X-men characters, so they were using a similar idea here in terms of the controls. I imagine it will not shock you to find out I am terrible at those games too.

There are six more stages after these initial five. Now you get to choose between whichever X-man you want to play. In the Genoshan Forest you fight the brood while heading down, down, down until you reach the queen, who is practically impossible. I got pissed off before I managed to beat her. I looked at a walkthrough for the next stage and here's what it said for the final boss: "To beat Tusk, stick to one side of the screen and just use whatever attack you're most comfortable with. You'll end up getting hit a few times and there's not really anything you can do about it, but the elevator in the middle of the screen is frustrating and you don't want to have to constantly worry about it." So basically, even someone who knows how to beat this game thinks it is ridiculously unfair.

The next stage is similar to the Gambit stage in Spider-man and the X-men in that there is lava chasing after you at all times. At the end of it you fight Apocalypse, making you think you've reached the end, but then Magneto decides he wants to get revenge on the Genoshan government for their treatment to mutants. From there, according to the walkthrough, you basically just fight one boss after another until you get to Magneto. The bosses include Omega Red, Juggernaut, and Exodus. Obviously, I did not attempt to play any of this. My tolerance of bad games with horrible controls only lasts so long.

I think after the difficulty of Spider-man and the X-men, I had the sense to not outright purchase this one when it came out. Looking back now, that was a very good decision. This game is pretty terrible. Maybe someone who is very good at side scrolling beat em ups and fighting game special moves could get some enjoyment out of it, but for the rest of us, just let it rest in peace.

Fortunately, not every X-men game ever made is a clunker. Tomorrow I will talk about one of the good ones.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

X-men Marathon: Spider-man and the X-men (SNES)

We were a Nintendo household when I was growing up, and the only game that made me wish I had a Sega Genesis was the X-men game (and its eventual sequel). No such luck for me, and for whatever reason I never saw the original NES X-men game at any of the rental stores. Given how horrible it was, that’s for the best. The moment I heard about this SNES game however, I had to have it. It was one of the few games we owned rather than rented. I was still young and naive enough that I knew nothing about the torture the LJN label held, and I just wanted a chance to play my favorite characters in video game form.

The game starts with you playing as Spidey, finding out that Wolverine, Cyclops, Gambit, and Storm have all been kidnapped. For no apparent reason, you’re tasked with going about the level and collecting these flashing red light alarms. You have to collect them in a special order, as one gets activated only after the preceding one has been collected. Your spider sense is somewhat helpful in telling you where you need to go. It makes this really ultra annoying static noise as you get close, and an arrow will appear in the corner telling you which general direction to head in. You can climb walls, swing on your web, and also shoot webbing at enemies. I’m pretty sure we had an issue of Nintendo Power which showed me where all the alarms were and what order to get them in. After playing this game again with a decade long gap, I still remembered where to collect all of them, and I got the hang of Spidey’s controls really quickly. They’re surprisingly intuitive and well done.

Once you finish that stage, you can now select any of the characters mentioned above. They all have two stages you must finish before moving on. I was never able to do this. Spidey’s stages are full of construction beams and robots and require similar skills to the entry level stage. You beat the Shocker half way through the first level, and at the end of it you’ll find N’astirh . The second stage is similar, with Rhino and Carnage at the end. I could never beat Rhino. I thought you were maybe supposed to drop something on him, but according to a walkthrough you're supposed to swing through him. Since it's not an actual attack anywhere else in the game, I'm not sure how you're supposed to figure that out on your own.

Storm’s stages are swimming levels. Her life meter is air bubbles, and will be replenished the moment you touch the surface of the water. There are also bubbles coming out of pockets in the ground for the few times you can’t quite reach the surface. You blow these special machines scattered throughout the level up one by one using lightning bolts to make the water levels rise until you can reach the exit. It’s a bit like the first Spidey level in that order can make a huge difference. The first stage is extremely easy, but I’ve never beaten the second. It has just occurred to me that using lightning bolts in water should be a highly deadly situation. I can't say Storm is immune to it, because there are areas in the level where you can get shocked. I guess she's immune to her own electricity, but not any generated by outside sources?

Wolverine’s levels are circus/toy themed. You will hear an extremely annoying clown laughing at you for most of the stage. Your claws are retractable and when you keep them in, your healing factor is activated. So basically your strategy is to pop out your claws to break through walls or kill things then immediately pop them back in. Kind of defeats the whole purpose of playing as Wolverine. The boss for the first stage is Apocalypse. The second stage has Juggernaut chasing you and you have to keep ahead of him. I know I got to the second stage, I don’t remember if I ever beat it. These stages are fairly standard platforming fare, where in you just memorize where you need to go and when and you can do okay.

Cyclops’s stages are in a mine shaft, and the tracks are electrified. You’re supposed to collect gems. This stage is a joke and I could never get very far in the first one at all. I suppose you are once again supposed to memorize the obstacles, but the proper sequence of where to go is not obvious and you will be frustrated and run out of lives long before you discover it. Similarly, Gambit’s stages have a huge spiked ball following him and he just runs. It’s damn near impossible. According to Wikipedia there’s some infinite lives glitch in Gambit’s first stage, but I never found it because I probably never survived long enough to get to that point. The ball moves too fast, and there are too many other enemies flying at you. Each time you get hit by the little enemies you freeze momentarily, therefore bringing the ball incredibly close to you.

I only recently found out there are more stages after this one before the boss. According to the walkthrough I found "a drunken circus monkey" could beat these later levels. Since there is no password system for this game, I can't confirm that. They are followed by a boss fight that includes a robot clown and "white guys with guns." I'm assuming that means multiple versions of Arcade, who is the main villain for the game.

As you can tell, the game is extremely uneven in terms of design, control, and difficulty. I get the feeling that different teams developed the different character stages. It had a lot of replay value for me back then because it was X-men and that was all I needed. These days, attempting to play it is just an exercise in frustration, with the exception of maybe the Spider-man and Wolverine stages.

If you'd like to learn about the absolutely awful NES X-men and Wolverine games, as well as the Sega Genesis games I mentioned at the beginning, the Angry Video Game Nerd is happy to tell you all about them using as many expletives as possible.

Monday, May 16, 2011

X-men Marathon: the X-men arcade game

It’s a sad, sad thing that arcades are fading away into obscurity. Fortunately there are a few places that still hold on to these old gems, but most of us would have to take a vacation to visit them. I think some malls still have arcade sections, but what you’ll find there is a shadow of what the arcades used to be. There were certain cabinets that you looked at with a kind of awe because of what they were. Dragon’s Lair used real animation and sound and looked amazing even if it was incredibly difficult to play. Another awe inspiring machine was the X-men cabinet. Some people only got the smaller version, but our local arcade had the huge 6 player double monitor monstrosity. I didn’t even know who the X-men were the first time I saw it, but I desperately wanted to play it. The animated intro called out to you.

I don’t think I ever played this game with more than maybe 3 or 4 players at a time. My brother and I would play together, and maybe some other kids would join in. Like any arcade game, the difficulty was extreme in the hopes that you would keep plugging in your quarters over and over again. The more people you had, the better you did. Alone I’m sure I couldn’t get past Pyro, the first boss, if I even got that far. I do recall reaching Juggernaut though in a group.

There’s not much to say about the game play beyond the fact that it is your standard beat ‘em up. Lots of enemies on the screen, you have two basic attacks, you can jump, and you also have a “mutant power” special move that helps eliminate a lot of enemies at once. I know back then I had no strategy what so ever, I was just mashing buttons and hoping for the best. Probably used up my mutant powers too quickly.

The story is a very basic one. Magneto has kidnapped the professor and Kitty Pryde, you have to go rescue them. I don’t know how Magneto got his hands on so many multi-colored sentinels, but as the “master of magnet” (as the game calls him) it makes enough sense. The other characters are mostly based on those which made up the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in the Pryde of the X-men cartoon. The X-men characters are also based on the team there. I have no idea where the giant King Tut-like bosses are supposed to come from. Some of the strangeness for me was that it seemed like Marvel had given Konami drawings without descriptions. In the dialogue, the professor refers to what is obviously the Savage Land as “Island M” yet he calls the final stage “Magneto’s asteroid base” rather than Asteroid M.

Late last year the game was released for download on Xbox Live and PSN. I was extremely excited and bought it the first day it was out. For a beat ‘em up, this is still a strong game – the controls respond the way they should. I have the occasional problem where I think I’m standing in front of the enemy, but apparently I’m slightly off on the vertical plane and I end up hitting nothing until I jiggle the character up and down to find the magic contact spot. It’s a minor annoyance but not nearly as frustrating as it can be in similar games. I’ve played on the normal and expert difficulty, but given the state of the game it doesn't really matter. You’re not pumping quarters into a machine anymore, you’re just hitting X to continue. How many times you die is irrelevant, you’ll just get up to punch and kick some more until you reach the end of the game. There's also not a huge difference between the American and Japanese version, though I think some Japanese levels have energy power ups available.

As such, the play can get boring, repetitive, and tedious. The bosses especially knock you down a lot, slowing down the process. If you play the American version of the game, defeating Magneto will show the credits, and then immediately dump you right back at the first level to start all over again. I honestly couldn’t tell if the difficulty was any harder the second time around or not.

This new version of the game also allows you to play with 6 players, either locally or online. Local play works really well, but online play is, in my experience, full of lag. It gets worse the more people you have playing at once. While there’s something kind of neat about playing with all the characters at the same time, especially with the knowledge that the people controlling them could be from anywhere in the world, I find it not particularly worth it unless you have specific friends you really want to play with.

If you have strong feelings of nostalgia for this game, it’s worth picking up. If you really love beat ‘em ups, it’s worth your time. Anyone else should probably just experience a demo or get it on the cheap.

Friday, May 13, 2011

X-men Marathon: other X-men animated series

X-men Evolution

I don’t know what it is about superhero movies, but it seems like ever since they became successful, it’s been a requirement to create a concurrent cartoon series to go along with it. The cartoon series usually has a similar feel to the movie, though isn’t necessarily in the same universe. As such, after the first X-men movie was released, X-men Evolution wasn’t far behind. I didn’t really get into the series very much. I seem to recall that my dad watched it more often than I did.

I think part of the problem was the large number of changes they made. While I was mostly okay with the changes made in the movie, the idea of having another cartoon and having it vastly different than the previous one didn’t sit as well with me at the time. The idea of nearly all the X-men and the villains being teenagers also wasn’t something I was crazy about. Maybe it’s because I was in college at the time, or maybe because even at the age of 11 when the first cartoon came out, I was sitting around wishing I was 25. I didn’t need young characters to help me relate.

With all that said, if you accept the fact that this is an alternate universe storyline, it’s pretty well done. Most of the characters are similar in spirit to their comic book counterparts, though they occasionally also get attached to goofy stereotypes. Rogue is a goth chick while Kitty acts like a valley girl, for instance. The first season can be a little hard to sit through, as it is basically all about them being in high school and doing silly things like competing at a summer camp with the Brotherhood or being blamed for stealing from people’s lockers. In later seasons however, we get to see more of them being actual heroes.

I did not have the time to watch the entirety of this series run before doing this review. I watched all of season one, but did not get to the rest. If I have more time (and let's be honest, interest) in the future I will return to it and add an additional review.

Wolverine and the X-men

When I first heard about this series, I couldn’t help but groan. No doubt in part to Hugh Jackman’s great performances in the movies, this time period was suffering a severe amount of Wolverine fatigue. He was a member of the Avengers as well as every X-men team in the comics and you just couldn’t get rid of him. The most annoying part of this cartoon series was the fact that Wolverine would be leading the X-men. The whole point of Wolverine is that he is a lone wolf who plays by his own rules. That’s not a born leader type. He’s usually the one telling the leader to stick it where the sun don’t shine – not giving others orders.

The reasons behind Wolverine’s leadership aren’t very strong. At the start of the show Professor X has disappeared, but he makes occasional contact from the future and tells Logan he needs to lead. This is a pretty big insult to both Storm and Cyclops who are former leaders of the team and around in this series but just get pushed aside. With Cyclops they try to explain that he is too grief stricken by Jean’s disappearance, but there’s no good solid excuse for why Storm can’t lead. There was also never a good explanation for why Wolverine has to be the leader from what I remember.

With all that said, I really liked this series. I think it does a good job of balancing the line between creating its own universe and paying tribute to a lot of the classic storylines from the comics, as well as some of the more recent ones. These are mostly grown up mature heroes with mature storylines that are still accessible for children to watch. I felt like it was a more suitable follow up to the 90s series. Apparently not enough people agreed with me, because it only lasted for one season.

X-men Anime

This series is still pretty new, but I’ve been catching subtitled episodes online. The first episode starts with a flashback very similar to how Wolverine and the X-men did, but here we know from the beginning that it was the Phoenix that caused an explosion. The X-men are not quite as hated and feared here as they are in most other adaptations, and their very first mission on the show brings them to Japan. It is definitely catered to a Japanese audience, as to be expected. It reminds me a lot of other high technology, gritty style anime.

The main villains are the U-men, and the X-men team is made up of Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine and Beast. It's kind of surprising that they went with such a small team, though they do pick up Emma Frost and a young Japanese girl pretty quickly. I didn't realize at first but the Japanese girl does come from the more recent comics where she is known as Armor.

In episode four they bring up secondary mutation and refer to it as David Haller Syndrome. The idea is that sometimes mutants manifest extra powers, and sometimes this has a chance of making them lose control. It's an interesting concept in that they are pulling elements from the comics and turning them into something completely new. I imagine the series is not made for every X-men fan because of this. I find I am enjoying the series much more as an anime fan than I am as an X-men fan.

Astonishing X-men: Gifted

This one is actually a motion comic rather than a regular cartoon series. If you've never heard of a motion comic, it is where they take the images from existing comic books and animate them while having people read the dialogue from the comic. It's a sort of audio book for comics. The animation is much more stilted than traditional animation. Sort of like the really old cheaply made cartoons where the people wouldn't move half as much as they do now.

This is a motion comic of the first 6 issues of the Astonishing X-men series. It was written by Joss Whedon and therefore contains a lot of his trademark humor and dialogue. You can tell he really does have a lot of love for these characters and knows their history. While I didn't care for the cheap animations, I thought the voice acting was pretty good. It's a decent story, even if the angle of curing mutation has been done before quite a few times. The main issue is that since this is just the first storyline in a continuing series, it doesn't end very neatly. Of course they probably did that on purpose, hoping you would rush off to buy the comics to find out what happens next.

There is also a Wolverine anime, though I haven't seen it yet. Some X-men characters have apparently also appeared in the The Super Hero Squad show. I haven't seen that one either, though I hear it's better than what you might expect for a show targeted toward young kids.

Am I missing any X-men cartoons? Let me know!

Most of next week will be all about X-men video games!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men The Animated Series Season 5

As I mentioned in my last review, there was not supposed to be a season five of this series. In fact, this final season used a different animation studio and in some cases different voice actors, most notably Gambit’s. The coloring is noticeably different, and you can tell it’s more cheaply done. A lot of the details are missing, and Rogue’s face and hair don’t look the same at all.

This fairly short season started off with a two part episode called the Phalanx Covenant. This crossover was happening in the comics right around the same time, but is actually pretty drastically different from the interpretation shown here. It’s all a little too much of a Borg rip off, but on the bright side we get to see Warlock, a character who probably never would have fit into the cartoon universe otherwise.

This was followed by another two part episode featuring Storm and Marvel Comics character Arkon. As is the norm for all Storm episodes, it’s dreadfully boring. Next up is an episode called “The Fifth Horseman” which follows Apocalypse’s attempts to return to earth after being banished at the end of season 4. I will give this episode some credit because of its appearance of Rachel Summers, who even gets to speak one line, but then I’ll immediately take it away because her hair is blonde, her skin is blue, and she creates psychic green boomerangs with her mind. It’s also quite silly in that they act as if Caliban and Jubilee know each other, despite this being Caliban’s first appearance in the cartoon. While I don't mind some off screen continuity, given that we watched Jubilee's introduction to the X-men AND her introduction to the Morlocks in past episodes, it's silly.

The next episode, “Jubilee’s Fairytale Theater,” is something I am sort of fond of but on a very personal level. The plot is that Jubilee is taking kids on a tour of the caves underneath the mansion when they get blocked in. Yes, apparently the X-Mansion has its own Bat Cave. So while they are trapped and waiting for the X-men to rescue them, Jubilee tells the kids a story. It’s essentially a Mary Sue fan fiction with the X-men as the cast being set in medieval times. As I re-watched this episode recently I couldn’t get the smile off my face. Of the stories I wrote in high school, there was one that featured a half elf (Jubilee is elven in the fantasy setting) and the other was another that was an X-men self insert fan fic where Wolverine and Gambit were my best friends (as is also shown here for Jubilee). It’s like someone was reading my mind back in 1996. The story Jubilee tells is meant to be her own personal fantasy, so the only error they make is when all the kids listening love the story so much that they ask to come back again sometime and hear more.

“Old Soldiers” features Wolverine working with Captain America during World War II. The silly part of this episode is that it is supposed to take place before Wolverine gets his claws, which would be fine, but he and Captain America just happen to use these three pronged blades that look exactly like his claws to scale a cliff. So Logan goes “Hey, I like these” and keeps them for the rest of the episode. “Descent” is a Mr. Sinister origin episode, which is pretty good except for the fact that it insists that both Xavier and Jean Grey’s ancestors knew him. Shouldn’t the two of them have known who he was the moment he showed up in the series then? Especially when we see that Professor Xavier owns Sinister's old copy of Origin of the Species at the end of the episode? “Hidden Agendas” introduces Cannonball, and it’s actually a really great story that plays to the various character’s strengths.

A lot of those delayed season three episodes were also aired around this time. Beside the Cyclops one I mentioned in my season three review, there is also "Longshot" which brings the Mojoworld characters into the X-men's universe. "Love in Vain," a Brood episode that also features the return of Cody, Rogue's first kiss. It's interesting because this version of Cody still loves Rogue and wants to be with her. "A Deal with the Devil" is another Omega Red episode, "Xavier Remembers" is a Shadow King origin story (and not a flashback episode like you might expect), and "Secrets, Not Long Buried" is an abysmal Cyclops episode that I hated back then and refuse to re-watch now. It takes Cyclops away from all the X-men and puts him in a town full of unrecognizable mutants who hate humans.

Finally, there is “Graduation Day,” which is a true series finale. Xavier is attacked by Gyrich, who suddenly has black hair rather than the red he had throughout the series. The professor is dying and the only one who can cure him is Lilandra and her Shi’ar technology. Morph comes back and pretends to be Xavier on TV to try to calm mutants everywhere, who are rioting. They are begging Magneto to lead them and dominate over the humans. When Magneto learns of Xavier’s condition, he halts the revolution and goes to aid his friend. Xavier has to leave the X-men, and he gives every one of them a heartfelt goodbye that I’ll admit left me a little misty eyed. It ends with the X-men and Magneto waving goodbye as Xavier leaves on Lilandra’s ship. I like that it allows you to wonder what happens next while still giving you a satisfying end.

At least three X-men cartoon series have followed this one, but I feel like this one is the best and represented the characters in their truest forms. Of course, it's entirely possible that my nostalgia is blinding me. This series is how I fell in love with the X-men, and these characters are what I refer to as my X-men. Someone who read the comics earlier or later may feel very differently.

In the next post I'll be talking about the other animated series that I'm aware of.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men The Animated Series Season 4

It’s really hard to review a series where the episodes were shown out of order. Do I review them as they aired, or as they were originally intended? I’m following the episode order on Wikipedia for the sake of convenience.

The first episode of this season is the debut of Nightcrawler, which was a long time coming for a fan favorite. While they focus heavily on his religious side, I think they did a great job of representing our dear fuzzy elf. This was followed by adaptations of two important X-men storylines – the Age of Apocalypse and Proteus. The AoA is reinvented pretty dramatically here to fit in more with the cartoon’s timeline, but a lot of the same costumes were used. It’s interesting to note that they put Wolverine and Storm together romantically, something that has at least been hinted at from time to time in the comics. The Proteus storyline is also largely changed, but remains true to its roots of a boy with uncontrollable powers. I haven’t read the original storyline so it’s hard to comment on its accuracies.

Next up are two family related episodes, one for Magneto and the other for Mystique. The Magneto episode, “Family Ties” suffers from the same problem as the Phoenix Saga interpretations did – the High Evolutionary and his mutates (which were introduced early on in X-men stories) look really outdated next to the modern characters. The Mystique episode, “Bloodlines,” is based on X-men Unlimited #4 and I’m pretty sure is the first issue that revealed Mystique was Nightcrawler’s mother. I love both the episode and the issue because they highlight Rogue and Nightcrawler, but apparently my opinion is not the popular one. A lot of the story was later retconned in the comics.

Next up are two Wolverine episodes. The first, “Lotus and Steel” is pretty much season one’s “Cold Vengeance” set in Japan rather than Canada. It’s pretty boring. The second, “Weapon X, Lies, and Video Tape” (fun parody title, isn’t it?) deals with Wolverine’s false memory implants and is much better. Their attempt at a Christmas episode is also fairly Wolverine centric, with the added cheesiness of having Jubilee learn "what Christmas is really all about." “Have Yourself a Morlock Little Christmas” is its name, and you’re much better off not watching this one at all.

The season ends with a four parter that was originally intended to be the end of the entire series. “Beyond Good and Evil” features more time traveling by both Bishop and Cable, all in relation to the fact that Apocalypse is kidnapping all the world’s telepaths so he can destroy the universe and rebuild it as he sees fit. The nicest thing here is that they introduce Psylocke into the series. While it’s kind of odd to introduce a character during your intended series finale, I really love the attitude she has here. The only strange thing is that they twice refer to her as having black/raven hair when it’s clearly lavender. Rachel Summers, the Gamesmaster, Typhoid Mary, Stryfe, and a few other Marvel comics characters I don't recognize are also shown among the telepaths.

I’m not sure that this really would have made a good series finale, as there is just not a lot of wrap up to be found. The most that can be said is that Psylocke, Archangel, and Bishop being present with the X-men at the end makes up the current team that was in the comics at the time. They made lots of mentions to Apocalypse being the embodiment of all evil, and he is banished to the Astral Plane at the end, but seeing as how Mr. Sinister and his crew are allowed to go free, it’s not like they’ve just created peace on earth.

One of the great things about the series is the way they would always throw in quick cameo appearances of various Marvel comics characters like the telepaths I mentioned above. Also during these episodes, there’s a rather annoying guy hanging out with Bishop the whole time who claims to have created the nexus of time, but it’s been so long he doesn’t really remember and he’s basically just the janitor now. At the very end, after Bishop and all the others have left the nexus, he transforms into someone else. I know he’s supposed to be someone from the comics, but I don’t know who.

First person to identify him gets a no-prize.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men The Animated Series Season 3

While the popularity of the cartoon was still going strong by season 3, apparently the animators were having a hard time keeping up. There were large gaps in between episode air dates, and in fact some of the episodes that were meant for season 3 were not finished in time, and episodes that were meant for season 4 were aired instead.

The season premiere episode featured Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers attempting to open an alien spaceship. The spaceship is Shi’ar in origin, so anyone who knew the comics knew that this was all just a setup for the Phoenix Saga. This began with episode 3 of the season, and there was a full month in between before it aired where they were promoting it like crazy. Of course by that point I had been reading the comics faithfully and waiting anxiously to see their adaptation.

The main difference with the adaptation here is that they change it to fit the retcon that is now well established in the comic book series – the Phoenix is a separate entity that possesses Jean to help her in her time of need. This succeeds in making Jean look even more weak and whiny in the cartoon series, which is really a shame. The Phoenix personality is largely emotionless by comparison, but has tons of awesome power to make up for it.

Despite being incredibly familiar with it, I’ve never actually read the comics that correspond with this storyline. I remember liking this a lot when it first aired, but now it feels a little too heavy on the sci-fi space adventures and not really what I think of as a typical X-men storyline. From the summaries I’ve read, the comics were even more complex than what they use here, making this a more simplified version.

Once the original saga finished, we get an ultra boring two parter featuring the Savage Land and Storm. I swear, I love Storm as a character, but any time she’s the main focus, these episodes are a snooze fest. It was then two months later before The Dark Phoenix Saga premiered.

This story is a little more up my alley. There are two major changes here from the comics, and they both relate to death. In the comics Dark Phoenix destroys a solar system full of tree-like people, but here it is uninhabited. At the end of the saga Jean sacrifices herself as she does in the comics, but the phoenix force immediately brings her back to life using energy from all of the X-men to do so. While the story is well executed, there is a strange disconnect related to the costumes. They insist on using all the old costumes for Phoenix and the Hellfire Club, which is nice, but looks really uneven next to the 90s designs of the other X-men. Jean especially looks really strange as we're used to seeing her 90s style and her face and hair look different here.

Beyond these long multi-part sagas, the majority of season 3 was stand alone episodes. We get episodes for Archangel, Juggernaut, and Morph. There are two different Cyclops centric episodes, as if he didn't already get enough attention in the phoenix sagas. There would have been a third, but it was one of the delayed episodes. Strangely enough the delayed one would have explained how Jean returned after the first phoenix storyline, so it's really quite silly that they left this one off.

Another episode introduces Iceman and X-factor for the first time. It's one of my favorites of the season. Iceman too often gets the short end of the stick in X-men storylines, but I have a weakness for wise guy characters like him. He also gets extra points from me for being an accountant. I also like that they did say he was a former member, whereas so many of the other X-men they run into in this series are brand new to them. It's nice to get a peak at what happened before this series began.

The somewhat annoying thing is that this season is actually spread out between Volume 2 and Volume 3 of the DVDs. Most importantly, the two Phoenix sagas are split. Chances are you're going to want both, so they stuffed these full of other so-so episodes to make sure you get them. Of course if you're like me you're buying the entire collection anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter.

Monday, May 9, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men The Animated Series Season 2

Since the end of season 1 featured "Mr. Suave" Scott Summers saying “Jean, I’ve been thinking.. will you marry me?” and her eagerly saying yes, season 2 begins with their wedding. However the events at the beginning of the first season are coming back to haunt them, because it turns out Morph wasn’t all dead, just mostly dead, and Mr. Sinister was able to bring him back to life. So, essentially, the cartoon continues to stay close to a comic book style when it proves that dead is never really dead and weddings have a 80% chance of being disrupted or found null and void. The similarities between comic books and soap operas are larger than most people really think. I guess it’s a symptom of the serial format in which they are presented.

Once again, the events of the two part season opener have repercussions through the rest of the season, as Morph sends both Xavier and Magneto off to the Savage Land. Without contact with Xavier, the X-Men are left to their own devices, much in the same way that they were in last season’s “The Unstoppable Juggernaut.” The majority of the episodes focus on one particular character at a time. Rather than showing the whole team working together, we generally get one character called off to do something, and toward the end the others show up to get rid of the bad guys and save the day. As such this season is a mixed bag of good and bad episodes.

Storm and Beast are two characters that I really enjoy, but both of their individual episodes in this season are boring. “Whatever It Takes” starts off by purposely misleading you into thinking Storm has an actual son, and not just a sort of godson, and then devolves into a Shadow King plot that takes way too long to resolve. “Beauty & The Beast” seems to be somewhat stolen from other Marvel plots; at least the idea of a blind woman falling in love with a mutated guy just makes me think of The Thing from Fantastic Four. The Friends of Humanity were also just a weak enemy for the season.. Senator Kelly and the Sentinels worked much better as a mutant hating group last season, and these generic thugs led by Graydon Creed just seem pathetic by comparison.

“Red Dawn” is an okay episode that features another appearance by Colossus, and “Repo Man” gives us an interesting look at Wolverine’s history and introduces us to Alpha Flight. I used to love episodes like this one back then because it was a game of “name the hero” as they appeared. I was quickly becoming a walking encyclopedia of X-Men knowledge at that point, and any exposure to new characters gave me a chance to learn more. This was still pre-internet, so I earned my knowledge the old fashioned way!

“X-Ternally Yours,” “A Rogue’s Tale” and “Mojovision” are definitely my favorites of the season. The first two center on Gambit and Rogue respectively, and the latter introduces us to Mojoworld and its inhabitants. It’s a shame they never got the chance to introduce the X-Babies on this show. That would have been a lot of fun to do.

The mid-season two parter is actually a sort of precursor (by pure coincidence, I'm sure) to the recent Messiah Complex storyline in the X-Men comics. Bishop is sent back to change the past, but if he does so, Cable’s future will be ruined. It’s a fairly well done piece, where we see things happen one way as Bishop arrives, then change again as Cable shows up. The two part season finale is the result of the X-Men finally figuring out that Xavier’s been in the Savage Land this whole time and go to rescue him. The whole cave man and dinosaur stuff of the Savage Land has never been particularly interesting to me, so about the only thing in the finale I really care about is when Gambit tells Rogue he loves her. Sadly, they completely ruin it by him saying “Gambit loves you, chere” instead of letting him use “I,” but whatever, I’ll take it. They also get to kiss because their powers were temporarily neutralized.

These season is a large part of why I really like Mr. Sinister as a villain. I've only recently discovered quite a few people seem to hate him and think he is ridiculous. I can understand that he seems a bit over the top at times, but I enjoy the whole geneticist angle to him.

Overall, the good moments outnumber the bad here, and I think it’s a very enjoyable season.

Friday, May 6, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men The Animated Series Season 1

Remember how TV stations used to show those previews of future Saturday morning cartoon shows in order to get kids excited about them? In the time leading into the Fall 1992 season, my brother was very excited for a show called X-Men. I was not even remotely interested, and was simply looking forward to more Animaniacs. However, since we shared pretty much everything, I watched the premiere episode with him, and even before it was done, I was hooked. I was particularly enamored with Rogue, since she was pretty, Southern, and could kick more butt than most of the boys on the team. I also really loved Wolverine and Gambit, who both seemed to define cool in their own ways. I taped the entire first season of this show as it came on and watched it religiously until the next season aired. As such, I didn't have to watch anything in order to do this review. These episodes are deeply imprinted within my memory.

The thing that was really quite genius about the X-men cartoon is that with a few exceptions, they really went out of their way to make the characters in the cartoon close to their current comic continuity counterparts. They made the team smaller and merged some details together for simplicity's sake, but they were extremely close. It was genius because those of us who had never read a single comic book before in our lives but were really interested in these characters could go straight to our local comic shop and pick up an X-men book off the shelf and recognize who these characters were and fairly quickly get a feel for what they were doing. This, along with the excellent Batman: The Animated Series, was a major cause for the rise in popularity of comics during the early 90s. I don't know how many times I've now heard people say this was when they got into comics, and as an added bonus,the majority of those people are also female.

Morph's death in the second episode was also a really smart choice and helped separate this from your typical children's show. As a kid I always appreciated shows that didn't talk down to me, and this one definitely qualified under that category. Rogue's desire to be cured, the slave labor on Genosha, the Morlocks hiding from the surface: these were all pretty serious issues, much better than the "let's all play nice" kind of lessons you frequently learned from 80s cartoons.

The nice thing about this season is that though most episodes can stand on their own, there's also a linked storyline running through the whole season about Beast's imprisonment and Senator Kelly's rise to power. It all culminates to the final two part episode "Days of Future Past" and its epilogue, "The Final Decision". Merging the Days of Future Past storyline from the comics with Bishop's future was a logical choice and worked really well, and the epilogue helps to establish that Magneto is still the X-Men's main villain.

In my opinion, the main thing they got wrong here was Jubilee. She's a terrible self insert character. I suppose we're supposed to sympathize with her "you always treat me like a kid!" but considering how often it happens, it becomes annoying really quickly. Robin on Batman: The Animated Series also occasionally had this complaint, but he also actually got to fight crime with Batman, whereas more often than not Jubilee is left behind at the mansion doing nothing. The Jubilee of the comics, by comparison, was often being thrown into serious situations that exceeded her age and forced her to grow up more quickly. Well, at least until they shoved her aside into Generation X and then basically forgot about her.

Another thing I will never, ever understand is Gambit's speaking in third person. This isn't even remotely a Cajun trait, and it's just plain weird. No character should ever do this. His accent isn't true Cajun either, by the way. I'm not sure any version of Gambit has ever gotten his accent right.

As a kid, I really hated Scott and Jean. Scott because he was always being a jerk to Wolverine for no good reason, and Jean because she just seemed so weak. Whenever the two of them were together, I used to think of the old Looney Tunes joke: "John!" "Marsha!" because they were just that melodramatic with each other. It was a strange thing for me to jump over to the comics and find a Jean Grey who was much more confident and sure of herself, and was actually a character I really enjoyed. Scott was still a total stuffed shirt though.

If there's any episode of this season that could be completely thrown out and not missed, it's "Cold Vengeance." Wolverine wanders the supposed Canadian wilderness, and runs into a village of what are basically Eskimos, who he helps out before Sabretooth catches up with him and attacks them. It's boring and really adds nothing to the season as a whole or to Wolverine's character development.

My personal favorite episode is "The Cure." It's a Rogue centric episode and it's where we first really see how she struggles with her powers. The best episode overall is probably "The Unstoppable Juggernaut." It shows the X-Men all truly working together as a team to accomplish a goal. They start off having difficulties, but they eventually use their individual assets together to take down Juggernaut. It also has a really fun and funny guest appearance by Colossus.

In terms of animation quality, there's a lot of weakness here. Coloring inconsistencies, and sometimes the characters just look a little strange. But given the severe quality of storytelling going on, you can certainly look past it. If you missed out on this series when it originally aired and you enjoy superheroes, it's worth the investment now to give it a chance. All of season one and a bit of season two can be found on Volume One of the DVD collection. I've also heard that the entire series will be available for streaming on Netflix some time this summer.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

X-men Marathon: Pryde of the X-men

This cartoon was intended as a pilot for a possible recurring show. It premiered on television as part of the Marvel Action Universe series, which was basically just an hour of television where they could play various cartoons created by Marvel. The theme song they came up with is pretty terrible.

“X-men, X-men Save the day, X-men, X-men coming your way
Magneto’s hordes are on the way to plunder
X-men, X-men save the day, X-men, X-men coming your way!”

The first scene establishes that humans really, really hate mutants. The military has Magneto in custody, but his “brotherhood of mutant terrorists” are on the way to save him. They include the White Queen, who can fly and shoot some kind of energy blasts on top of her mental powers. Kitty Pryde arrives at the X-mansion because she received a letter from Professor X. He sends a mental projection of himself to guide her through the mansion, because apparently he’s too lazy to just go to the door. The X-men include Dazzler, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Wolverine, and Storm. The danger room is shown, and we meet the X-men while they are training. This danger room is more like the holodeck in that it uses sophisticated holograms to create all kinds of places. They seem to be training in Aztec ruins for this exercise. Kitty is afraid of Nightcrawler because of his appearance. He’s so polite and charming to her, I don’t see what her problem is. This Wolverine hates kids, and is once again sounding like an Australian.

Juggernaut is also a member of Magneto's brotherhood and he arrives at the mansion with Magneto. Kitty keeps accidentally phasing into the mansion’s equipment and breaking it, allowing Juggernaut and Magneto to get inside. Juggernaut calls the Professor “dear stepbrother” every single time he speaks to him. Magneto wants Cerebro’s power circuit and the professor is dumb enough to trust Kitty with protecting it, even though she just arrived and she's just a kid. She is as useless as you would expect, so Magneto succeeds. Magneto returns to his satellite base, though I don’t think they actually call it Asteroid M.

The X-men go to rescue some hostages taken by The Blob and Pyro. A small girl among them is not even remotely scared of Nightcrawler, showing she knows an awesome fuzzy elf when she sees one. The Blob is apparently as stupid as he is large, so the X-men have no trouble defeating them.

Toad and Lockheed are also on Magneto’s base. Toad is treated horribly, with Magneto telling him he should go play in the air lock. Why did he recruit him at all if he hates him so much? Magneto uses the circuit to capture the Scorpio comet, which he moves to strike earth. Somehow in his mind this is going to kill all humans but still allow mutants to rule the world.

The X-men try to make Kitty stay behind but she sneaks onto the spaceship with them anyway. Storm’s powers somehow allow her control over air in space too, because she's forced to stick by the giant hole they create in the satellite base to make sure they don't all get sucked out. We then find out Wolverine has a tracking power that he can use to get them toward Magneto. Dazzler fights off Pyro while the rest move on. Are light beams really a good match against fire?

Toad is next in the rogues gallery, and Wolverine calls him a dingo and traps him under a cave in of debris. Juggernaut is next, Colossus takes him on so the rest can continue. Cyclops fights the White Queen, but we don’t really see the fight. I guess they didn’t want to show a guy attacking a girl. Of course, given current X-men continuity, maybe they just made out instead. Nightcrawler just teleports past the Blob, so they end up at Magneto, who is trying to manipulate the comet.

With Lockheed helping them, Kitty forces Magneto back into the controls to turn Scorpio’s direction back to normal. A line was damaged in their fight though, so Nightcrawler has to hold it in place while the rest escape the satellite base before it explodes. Nightcrawler must look at the view screen in the room to teleport out on time. He ends up in the atmosphere, and we're led to believe he’s burned up. Now suddenly that he’s dead Kitty realizes how she was being judgmental and rude and starts crying. But lo and behold, he teleported into their spaceship just in time! Lockheed has now taken his appropriate place as Kitty's best friend, but Wolverine is still a grump.

If most of these characters and some of the places seem familiar to you, it’s because they were used to create the X-men arcade game. Don't worry, I'll be talking about that later.

The needless changes to the characters are what bug me more than anything when it comes to this episode. Seriously, why is Wolverine Australian? Hasn't he been Canadian from the moment he debuted in the comics? As much as I really can't help being snarky about this cartoon, it is overall very entertaining, even if it's not quite the way they were hoping it to be. If you judge it as a children’s show, it gets much higher marks. There are many more cringe worthy things I watched back in the 80s. I don't believe there's been any official release beyond the VHS I own, but I'm sure it's up on Youtube if you want to check it out.

From here on in the marathon, the cartoon reviews will be less recap and more review, since the more recent series are more readily available and more familiar to people in general. I just wanted to give you a feel for these shows since they are so rare you might not have even known they existed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

X-men Marathon: Spider-man and his Amazing Friends - the X-men episodes

Looking at the episode list on Wikipedia, there are a total of four episodes of this cartoon that featured X-men characters besides Iceman. For the longest time, I had only ever seen "A Firestar is Born."

Firestar and Iceman are both former X-men and they are going to attend an X-men reunion. Spider-man wants to join them but apparently those who are sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them are prejudiced against mutates, because he’s not allowed. Lucky for him, he runs into Juggernaut who is on his way to attack the X-men. Spidey takes a beating though and Juggernaut gets away. Spider-man and Juggernaut have fought in the comics before, and I think the result was pretty much the same.

The X-men in this episode are made up of Angel, Storm (who is described as a new member), Wolverine (also new), Cyclops, and Professor Xavier. Wolverine has a strange accent and talks very differently than the comics. He greets Firestar saying “Hi-ya doll!” Storm asks Firestar to tell her about herself which leads into a flashback origin story for Firestar. It revolves around this mean girl who hates her because of her heat powers. There’s an almost Carrie like moment where the girl teases her at a dance and she heats up, but sadly she only turns the sprinklers on rather than burning them all alive. I say sadly because mass murder might have actually made this story interesting. Firestar slowly learns to use her powers properly and even saves her dad’s life. The mean girl tries to set it up to make it look like she stole something, but in the end Firestar outsmarts her and gets the mean girl caught. At the end of the night Iceman, Angel, and Cyclops show up to ask her to join the X-men. We see brief clips of her training in the danger room and fighting Magneto (pronounced Mag-net-o) and a Sentinel.

Juggernaut shows up at the reunion conveniently after her story is done. Storm’s eyes lose her pupils as she begins to use her powers, which is a nice touch, and the professor gives the X-men commands telepathically. Cyclops’ beams are apparently powerful enough to create a big chasm right in the front lawn of the mansion. Australian sounding Wolverine, on the other hand, is pretty useless. He tries to remove Juggernaut’s helmet but ends up stuck with his claws in a wall instead. Spidey is actually the one who arrives just in time to save the Professor. I guess since it is his show, they had to make him look best. Firestar says they need to thank Juggernaut for guaranteeing that the class reunion was not boring.

The last line: “Spider-man and the X-men – friends forever!”

As you can tell, this is a cheesy, goofy 1980s cartoon. It’s really just a cameo for the X-men, with each of them only getting one or two lines a piece. The Firestar origin is the worst of it, as the mean girl is ridiculously cruel for no real good reason what so ever, and remains that way for many, many years. It’s the kind of thing a kid would accept without question but us adults can see right through and groan at.

I recently discovered another of these X-men related episodes, fittingly titled "The X-men Adventure."

This one starts with Firestar training in the danger room while Spider-man, Iceman, and the X-men look on. This time the team is made up of Cyclops, Storm, Thunderbird, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde who is referred to as Sprite, and Colossus. Thunderbird is a strange choice here considering how quickly he died in the comics. Also, it's pretty shocking that there is no Wolverine. Was he not as popular a character back then?

The main plot this time is that a guy from Firestar's past who is now half cyborg, calling himself Cyberiad, takes over the mansion and tries to kill the X-men to get revenge on Firestar for causing the accident that created him. Apparently the entire mansion is full of traps for people who attempt to invade it. There is also, for no good reason, an entire room called "The Maze of Madness" that is basically an M.C. Escher painting on acid. The X-men get split into groups and then attacked.

We see that Storm is afraid of enclosed spaces, which is true to her character. Cyclops is afraid of going blind, according to this episode, though I've never heard that before. Thunderbird turns into a giant bear, rather than having his normal abilities of super strength and speed. Cyclops' optic beams are yellow rather than red. At least they were accurate with Nightcrawler, saying he leaves a smell of brimstone when he teleports.

There was one thing that was just so hilarious I had to get a screen cap. At one point the professor, Firestar, and Spider-man are all in an elevator, and Cyberiad cuts the cables. Firestar tears a hole in the top of the elevator, and she and Spidey head into the shaft - she grabs the cables, he uses his web to grab on to the falling elevator. But..

They forgot to draw in the elevator!

In the end, Firestar saves the day. There's also a shockingly mature part to the story, in that Firestar is still in love with Cyberiad, and she feels really terrible about having to defeat him.

Despite the various inaccuracies, this is a much higher quality episode. I didn't feel like I was being talked down to and it was not anywhere near as goofy as the other one. I was wondering before how my dad could have tolerated this series, and it's good to now know that it wasn't all as bad as that last one.

The other two episodes are only barely X-men related. One features Sunfire, who joined the X-men at the same time as Wolverine, Storm, and Nightcrawler but left quickly afterward. The other episode features Magneto (pronounced correctly here) freeing his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Blob, Toad, and Mastermind) from prison.

All four of these episodes are currently available on Youtube if you wish to satisfy your curiosity. Only the first season was ever released on DVD and is currently out of print. All of this series, as well as pretty much every other Spider-man cartoon, will soon be available streaming on Netflix.

Up next in the marathon: Pryde of the X-men!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

X-men Marathon: Introduction

By now, most of you know about my Bill & Ted obsession. It was strong and passionate and all encompassing for about a year there, but then something came along to replace it. That something was the X-men. I had always had leanings toward more action oriented things as a kid. The 80s was really a great time to be a girl in a lot of ways. We had She-ra, a female member of Voltron, female Transformers, females involved in GI Joe, and even Rainbow Brite was a bit of a superhero in her own way. Princess Peach got to fight alongside Mario and Luigi in Super Mario Brothers 2, and at the ending of Metroid you found out that the hero you’d been controlling all along was actually a chick! With all of this before it, it never once occurred to me that the X-men cartoon was something only boys should be watching- there were four females in the cast after all.

I fell in love hard and it wasn’t long before I was purchasing the comics to find out more. Time-traveling with Bill & Ted just seemed so petty and boring compared to saving the world from super villains with the X-men again and again. Sadly, this obsession happened concurrently with my pre-teen years, where suddenly my shyness and straight A’s combined with my love of reading to make me even more of an outcast at my school. When lots of other kids in my class had actually started dating (at the "mature" age of 11), I fell deeper into my comics. I was asked, "Aren’t you too old to be reading that stuff?" I told them no, especially thinking of the recent issue where Psylocke had tried to seduce Cyclops, but of course their minds were already made up. Beyond a touch of bitterness, I accepted my status. These characters and these stories were just too good for me to give them up just to be accepted by a bunch of people who just didn't get it.

The X-men have been around since 1963 and it would be impossible for me to cover every single comic book and other adaptations out there in the same manner I did with Bill & Ted. So for the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on those which I have personal experience with. I plan to cover all the cartoons and movies, a few video games I've played, and for the comics I will talk about some of my favorite characters and issues. I’ve timed it to end as X-men: First Class premieres, so let’s all hope they don’t change the release date!

The first cartoon featuring the X-men, as far as I’m aware, actually premiered in the early 1980s. Spider-man and his Amazing Friends featured Spidey alongside Iceman, who was of course originally an X-man, as well as a new character named Firestar who was also a mutant and later added into comic continuity.

Growing up, my dad always made it a point to be interested in whatever my brother and I were into. I imagine he was doing it to make sure the content was appropriate along with just taking an interest in our lives. When I started reading the X-men comics, my dad did too and he was very excited to see Iceman on the team, since he knew him from this animated series. This series was on TV from 1981 until 1983. My brother wasn’t born yet and I was too young to appreciate it. My dad was in his early 20s and watching a cartoon of his own free will. You have no idea how proud I am to know that this love of cartoons is in my blood.

At the height of the 90s X-men cartoon’s popularity, you could find X-men merchandise everywhere. At Walmart at that time I found two VHS tapes – one containing an episode of Spider-man and his Amazing Friends, another of Pryde of the X-men. I'm going to start off with these and keep going through the various animated series before switching to other media.

I hope you enjoy it!

Spider-man and His Amazing Friends - the X-men episodes
Pryde of the X-men
X-men The Animated Series Season 1
X-men The Animated Series Season 2
X-men The Animated Series Season 3
X-men The Animated Series Season 4
X-men The Animated Series Season 5
The Other X-men Animated Series (X-men Evolution, Wolverine and the X-men, and the X-men anime series)
X-men: the arcade game
Spider-man and the X-men (SNES)
X-men: Mutant Apocalypse (SNES)
X-men Legends
Character Spotlight - Rachel Summers
Character Spotlight - Rogue
Uncanny X-men #297
Uncanny X-men #303
Fatal Attractions crossover
Generation X
X-men (movie)
X2: X-men United
X-men: The Last Stand
X-men Origins: Wolverine
X-men: First Class
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