Wolverine and the X-Men brought back a memory of an even lesser known animation, War Planets. No, not Battle of the Planets; that one brings back memories of an evil villain transvestite. You see, the first time I discovered War Planets was between 5:30 and 6:00am as I stumbled out of bed before my alarm clock even went off; I began my fuzzy prep for the work day. Usually, I’ll flick on the TV and watch the weather or a report of how many people were killed in some war somewhere. Instead, the TV was set on channel 9 (UPN in the NYC area), and War Planets popped on. Actually, I had no idea what the hell it was at the time but the scene was a bunch of various aliens on some ship trying to convince another alien diplomat to join their U.N.-like gang. The diplomat declined about to present his argument against the coalition just as the EVIL planet appeared over his home world and blasted it to pieces. I distinctly remember the diplomat’s wide-eyed, open jawed expression with the close-in facial.
What’s this have to do with Wolverine and the X-Men?
I never woke up at 5:30 to watch War Planets again. (Thanks to Rishard for getting me a copy of that series and a review will come in the future.) It lasted two seasons. Wolverine and the X-Men lasted one season. I only saw it once, on Nickelodeon. It did not belong on Nickelodeon. These were two series that ended before their time.
Wolverine and the X-Men is fantastically animated, with adult concepts, well-written story lines and scripts. Now, I was never a Marvel comic book reader as a kid. Most of what I learned about that universe originally came from other cartoon series like Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends (what do you mean Firestar wasn’t cannon?) and the later 1992 X-Men series, which I found way too melodramatic and overly complex (what do you mean Morph wasn’t cannon?). Ok, I still liked X-Men anyway… stupid time travel paradoxes.
Wolverine and the X-Men presents a classic and intriguing story line.
It begins with a bang. Literally. First half of the first episode… the mansion is destroyed and Xavier and Jean are missing. Great! Let’s start right from a mystery. On top of that, the series plays heavily on Civil Rights issues as the Mutant Response Division’s (or Marty’s as they are known in the series) are hunting the mutants. The creators make this point even more poignant with particular black characters, mutant and otherwise.
The series also presents well fleshed-out characters while retaining the adage, “less says more”. For instance, they spend very little time on Cyclops only really showing his current deteriorated mental state and leaving the boy-scout at the door. Occasionally, he is talked into coming along with the team for support barely saying a thing. He does still get his spotlight eps. My good friend Larry always said that any production of “The Rocky Horror Show” where Dr. Frank-N-Furter doesn’t steal the show, is a failure. I can honestly say that Wolverine, typically an angst-y character that I generally think is over-rated, totally steals the show. This is truly a classic re-envisioning of an X-Men run by a guy that everyone else generally agrees, should not lead the X-Men… and he pulls it off like a champ with Wolverine flavor.
I absolutely loved this series and it is clear that the creators either did not expect the cancellation or hoped to force a cancellation reversal (pulling a “Far Scape”) by whipping out a major cliff hanger and a few loose threads. I won’t ruin it. Just watch its 26 episode life-span.
Finally, I’ll say that I began watching this series after finishing up another cartoon series, X-Men: Evolution. At first, it is hard to believe that Wolverine and the X-Men isn’t a continuation of Evolution, taking place a good 5 years or so later based on the ages of the characters. Alas, it is not the case. Still, I am guessing that the creators were influenced by that other top-notch, and more light-hearted, series.