On January 23 at 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, Marvel's mighty mutants experience an animated rebirth when "Wolverine and the X-Men" slashes its way onto the Nicktoons Network! Until then, stay glued to Marvel.com every day for sneak peeks, clips, exclusive art and looks back at the history of the X-Men in animation!
[Welcome to Make Mine Marvel, a bi-weekly series of articles devoted to all the things we've loved about Marvel over the past 60 years. From toys to video games, movies to trading cards, Underoos to stamps and more, we embrace it—warts and all. Kick back and enjoy Marvel's merry past with us.
By Matt Powell
Brace yourself. I was a teenage mutant in high school!
Sure, I didn't have any weather-manipulating powers or even the ability to lift up a pencil with my mind, but the rest of the criteria were pretty on the money. First—like a mutant—I went through some pretty radical changes during puberty; like my voice changing, freaky growth spurts, and even the dreaded breakouts. Second, those changes—and the cool/weird hobbies I was into—made me feel like an outsider and misunderstood at times by my parents and peers at school. In high school I was a
proud comic geek and I can't tell you how many times I wished I had telepathy like Professor X, just to make the obligatory jock forget how to talk every time I heard one of them say comics were "stupid." But I know that's not the way.
It's almost been a decade since I graduated high school, and in my "wisdom" since then I've come to realize that the best thing about that time was the journey I took trying to find myself. Now, some may say that college is where the true soul-searching happens—and while that may be true—but to me, it's not as pure as when you are in high school. I kind of lived in a vacuum. The high school world was what I faced everyday. The pressures of a job, paying rent, or raising a family weren't really concerns of mine. I was brash, hot-headed, smug, and wore my heart on my sleeve at any given time on any given day in high school. Most days my biggest problem was acceptance, from the people who neglected (feared) or avoided (hated) me. Sound familiar?
I discovered "X-Men: Evolution" during my transition into college, and while it wasn't the X-Men I grew up with as a kid, it certainly was the kind of X-Men I enjoyed as a young adult. In the comics, the X-Men were a cast of teens trying to come to grips with the changes within them and the world outside that didn't understand them. It took less than 30 seconds to remember what those days felt like through this TV show. From a disobedient Cyclops to a goth Scarlet Witch, this show took many of my favorite characters and thrust them in a teen archetype and let them run wild making for some intense character moments. Matching that with explosive action and the threat of annihilation virtually every episode and I was hooked. Overall the series is a fave of mine, but
some episodes stand out to me more than others. Here's a few that left a mark on me.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
(Season One, Episode Nine)
The X-Men and the Brotherhood duke it out in a series of summer camp exercises, but later join forces to take on the unstoppable Juggernaut as he seeks revenge on his half-brother, Professor X.
WHY I DUG IT:
I love when arch-nemeses go against each other! Going into the camp events, each team's attitude is pretty much, "We don't like them and they don't like us," so naturally this is a recipe for conflict. During the Capture-the-Flag event, Cyclops gets incredibly competitive and is willing to do whatever and use whoever's powers to win, much to the chagrin of Jean Grey, while Lance—aka Avalanche—just wants to prove he's the better man. The in-fighting and bickering serves well to remind us they're teens and just because they have control over their powers, that doesn't mean they have control over their attitudes.
The unstoppable meets the immovable. As both the X-Men and Brotherhood attack Juggernaut, Freddie—aka the Blob—makes his move and attacks Juggie, which doesn't do much except gets him laid out a few seconds later. This was a match-up I expected to see and even though it was brief, I'm glad it was in there.
(Season One, Episodes 12-13)
This episode reunited Cyclops with his brother Alex after about a decade of being apart. Meanwhile, Magneto begins his mission to find the superior mutants to join him on Asteroid M by
staging various one-on-one battles between the X-Men and Brotherhood with the victors granted access to join him.
WHY I DUG IT:
I must admit, I was never much of a Cyclops fan, but I do enjoy seeing him unsure of himself and in doubt. Not that I like to "kick a guy when he's down," but rather that was such an "other end of the spectrum" change for ol' One Eye. The Cyclops I knew prior was pretty much always self-assured and barking orders. While this version of Cyke did that as well, it seemed a lot more balanced with him wanting to have fun, or just be an impulsive kid and get what he wants when he wants it. This episode made me see a different side of—and even sympathize—with Scott Summers more than I thought would. You can see the trouble and hesitation he has aligning himself with Magneto for his brother's sake, and from that, he had my respect.
After Scott and Alex are "enhanced" and Asteroid M explodes around them, the brothers freefall from the asteroid and relive the last moment they shared before being separated. They each use their powers to slow their descent and then unite to destroy the asteroid before it crashes to Earth.
DAY OF RECKONING
(Season Two, Episodes 16-17)
Anti-mutant fanatic Bolivar Trask captures Wolverine to use him to perfect his new mutant-hunting robotic Sentinel. Magneto also makes his campaign of mutant supremacy known to the human public.
WHY I DUG IT:
These were by far one of the most emotional and action-packed episodes. Virtually every cast member of the series has a huge ordeal to face. From the New Mutants fighting against an overridden X-Mansion security system to the X-Men and Brotherhood trying to take
down the Sentinel. Fear and desperation are clearly are on the minds of these characters as they're pummeled by their adversaries.
When Magneto decides it's time for the world to know of mutants and brings the Sentinel to the surface was a pivotal moment. The X-Men and the Brotherhood are easily overwhelmed and people panic in the streets as the world as they knew it changes forever around them.
UNDER LOCK AND KEY
(Season Three, Episode Nine)
The original line up of the X-Men battle to stop Magneto and Mesmero from obtaining one of the keys necessary to release Apocalypse from his imprisonment.
WHY I DUG IT:
To quote Iceman, "Oh yeah, definitely the cool team." This was a great change of pace from the regular line-up of the series' field teams as it brought the original roster for the X-Men together for a mission. Iceman is one of my favorite X-Men and his presence just made this episode super rad!
It's a tie between the mutant-power-enhanced baseball game at the start of the episode and the stoic, group walk of the original line-up of the X-Men. The former was just pure fun, as everyone on the team used their powers to win. From Nightcrawler teleporting to catch a fly ball to Shadowcat going intangible to make it home, this is how I'd play if my best buds had these powers. The latter moment just gave me goosebumps to see one of my favorite rosters take center stage.
(Season Three, Episode 11)
An assassin infiltrates the Xavier Institute and Wolverine discovers it's a female clone of him created from Hydra's records of the Weapon X program.
WHY I DUG IT:
It's "Girl-verine"! I remember going nuts over this episode when it first debuted. To contain all that rage and skill of Wolverine in a young girl who could kick his butt, was an exciting concept to me. Her conflicted emotions pulled on my heartstrings especially when I saw glimpses of her early life. Logan's relationship with X-23 was a lot like father and daughter and it was interesting to see Wolverine try to be there for her emotionally even though he's conflicted himself.
Practically every moment featuring X-23. She takes out virtually all the X-Men and has an awesome throwdown with the ol' Canucklehead which was arguably the biggest beatdown Wolverine had ever had in animation.
Watch full episodes of "X-Men: Evolution" right now on Marvel.com!
Don't forget to tune in to Nicktoons Network at 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on January 23 for the debut of the "Wolverine and the X-Men" animated series! Also, get up to speed on Wolverine's Greatest Battles on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
Check out the official Marvel Shop for everything X-Men!