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.

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