X Men – tape 1702

Some more episodes of the animated X-Men series. First it’s The Final Decision. Anti-mutant Senator Robert Kelly has been kidnapped by Magneto. But he’s rescued, not by the X-Men but by Sentinels – always the scariest threat in the mutant comics, I thought. They’re brainchildren of Henry Gyrich, another in the long line of villainous ginger men (see also Lex Luthor, Ganondorf and Syndrome off of The Incredibles).

Henry Gyrich

There’s a dramatic scene where the X-Men all individually decide they have to save Kelly, despite an injured Magneto telling them they’ll die in the attempt. As they take off in the Blackbird, Magneto watches them go. “You’re all fools. Heroic fools. The brave are always the first to die.”

The sentinels ultimately demonstrate the folly of Strong AI, because although their creator, Bolivar Trask (taller here than in the recent movie) created them to protect humans from mutants, they reasoned that mutants were also humans so humans had to be protected from themselves and… umm… humans should be destroyed? Ray Kurzweil was right all along.

Then Professor X flies the blackbird, with a cockpit packed with TNT and Gas (rather than, I don’t know, some missiles?) at Master Mold, the chief sentinel, and ejects just in time, as the volcano Master Mold was standing in also erupts. Thorough.

You must be destroyed

And in a surprising twist ending, Cyclops proposes to Jean. Here’s hoping for an uneventful wedding.

Next it’s Till Death Do Us Part Part One. No, that’s really the title.

Till Death Do Us Part Part One

Wolverine seems to be fighting robots pretending to be Cyclops while dressed for a wedding, while the actual wedding is happening elsewhere. I think it’s the Danger Room.

The priest officiating turns out to be a shape changer. Is that Morph from the first episode who was killed off?

Maybe Morph

Senator Kelly has been elected president of the United States. I’m sure that’s not going to be a problem.

His first press conference is disrupted by the Sons of Humanity pretending to be mutants to stir up hatred.

Morph (for it is indeed he) is intent on destroying the X-Men who left him to die. By pretending to be other X-Men to cause havoc.

At the end of this episode, the mysterious Mr Sinister is watching the havok on TV. I never really liked Mr Sinister in the comics. But to be honest, by that time the X-books were so prolific it was hard to keep up, and I stopped buying comics regularly around that time.

Mr Sinister

Before the next episode we get a bit of the DJ Kat show introduction. Did a young generation of kids grow up loving DJ Kat? I’d be curious to know.

In the next episode, Scott and Jean are captured by Mr Sinister, and Morph goes to the mansion as Professor X, but Wolverine recognises his smell.

After some fighting, Scott and Jean are rescued, but Xavier and Magneto are still in trouble in Antarctica.

Although the previous episode was a ‘part two’ the next episode is Whatever it Takes and opens near ‘Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’

A young mutant is taken over by Shadow King. The mutant is Storm’s protegé.

Wolverine is tracking down Morph, who gets away from him by morphing into Jean and being horrible to him.

Xavier and Magneto find themselves in the Savage Lands, being pursued, without their powers, but with Xavier suddenly able to walk.

Before the next episode, DJ Kat and friend are obviously having a Glam day.

DJ Kat Bowie

Next, in X-Ternally Yours, the team look like they’re fighting a cousin of Kroll.

Another Kroll

Gambit has to help his brother because of some old deal with his cajun roots. Cue a lot of unconvincing cajun accents. This is presumably the X-Men’s version of a Star Trek Klingon episode.

There’s another bit of DJ Kat before the next episode, Time Fugitives part 1. It opens in 3999 AD, with a very Terminator inspired fight against robots fighting for Apocalypse another villain I never cared for).

Cable is one of the people fighting the robots when a time storm starts, realigning reality because something in the past has changed. It’s a grotesque post-apocalyptic nightmare, and yet Cable asks his computer what he needs to do in the past to preserve his present. I guess it suits his personality.

The cause is the mutant Bishop, who is from the future, but travelled into the past to stop Senator Kelly being assassinated, and now discovers that his present is even worse, with a plague that has killed mutants, so he goes back again to stop it.

Someone is infecting people with the plague and accusing mutants of being plague carriers.

It’s Apocalypse, of course.

Apocalypse

But when the virus is destroyed, Cable, who has also travelled back in time, is told by his computer, that to preserve his appalling wasteland of a future, the mutant plague must be allowed to circulate.

Part two of this story is written by Elliot Maggin, a veteran writer of comics, who also wrote a Superman tie-in novel when the first Christopher Reeve movie was released, but which told a completely different story to the film, because one of the writers on the movie, The Godfather’s Mario Puzo, had it written in to his contract that he had to be paid for every time his story elements were reused in any other medium. I even read an interview with someone from the film who said that this even extended to people talking about the film’s story in interviews, which is why there were stories from that time which talk about stuff which never happened in the movie, like Superman making breakfast and frying eggs with heat vision.

The ultimate irony is that Puzo’s work was extensively rewritten, first by David Newman, Leslie Newman and Robert Benton, and later their draft was radically rewritten by Tom Mankiewicz, who worked most closely with director Richard Donner.

I’d recommend Maggin’s novel, Superman: Last Son of Krypton, although I haven’t read it since I was 14 so it might not be as impressive now. But it did teach me that the indentation in your upper lip between your nostrils is called the philtrum (although my memory is that it was spelled ‘filtrum’ in the book). The amazon reviews of the book seem to echo my memory of how good the book was, though.

Back to this episode, and (putting aside Cable’s motivations, which are improved a little here when he sees his son vanish as his world is getting reconfigured) it starts again at the same point as the first episode, with Bishop arriving back in the present. Cable arrives at the same time and starts fighting Bishop.

I don’t think the anti-mutant protester on the left has really thought through the logic of his placard.

Go Back to where you came from

Perhaps he thinks mutants should retreat back to the womb?

This episode has a bit of a Back to the Future Part 2 vibe with versions of scenes from the previous episode, but with added Cable.

The ultimate resolution of the plot is also extremely neat, with Cable finding a way to stop the plague but keep his own (still frankly shitty) future intact.

The next episode is A Rogue’s Tale in which Rogue is haunted by a face from her past. She’s being manipulated by Mystique, along with other evil mutants. She’s drawn to the hospital where the woman is unconscious. She’s Ms Marvel, whose mind and powers Rogue absorbed while being taught by Mystique, and Xavier made her forget all that when she came to him.

Ms Marvel

Next, it’s Beauty and the Beast, and there’s more anti-mutant hysteria. I do wonder why the X-Men universe has been slow to enact hate crime legislation to stop these clowns.

And in a shock twist, the head of the anti-mutant organisation is revealed to be the son of the mutant Sabretooth.

Next, it’s Mojovision. Oh, Mojo. I guess there were a lot of late-era Claremont villains I didn’t like, because he’s one of them. But to counterbalance that, this episode features Longshot, who I did like (although mostly when drawn by Art Adams – he looks a bit too Pat Sharp here).

Longshot

Mojo tries to get the X-Men for his TV service. That’s basically the whole episode.

And that’s the last one on this tape.

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