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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 273 Minutes
• Cerebro’s Mutant Files: The X-Men – Heroes
• Cerebro’s Mutant Files: The Acolytes – Villains
• Mystique’s Trivia Challenge
• Season 3 X-Posed; The Evolution of X-Men
Professor X, Wolverine, Magneto, Storm, Beast and Gen-Y-Cyclops, Gen-Y-Nightcrawler, Gen-Y-Jean Grey, Gen-Y-Rogue, Gen-Y-Blob, Gen-Y-Pyro, Gen-Y-Toad, Gen-Y-Avalanche, Gen-Y-Scarlet Witch, Gen-Y-….
"So Jean, I was wondering if -"
"Yes, Scott, I can fluff telekinetically…"
After a quite faithful adaptation in the ‘90s as an animated adventuring team, the Astonishing X-Men have been completely re-imagined for the next generation. In Season 3 of a four-season run, they deal with being revealed as mutants to the world at large. The struggle to change minds about them being mutant menaces ensues, while many also try to continue to survive high school, which has been made that much harder by the revelation of their secret. As the X-Men have runs-in with the likes of the Brotherhood, the Acolytes and normal humans who want them destroyed, the season ultimately builds to the reawakening of their deadliest enemy – Apocalypse.
I saw a couple of early episodes of this show when it premiered a couple of years ago and blew it off like I have most new cartoons over the last few or so that have skewed younger and younger and sometimes taken characters that I knew in my childhood and turned them into fodder for the Paris Hilton / Lindsay Lohan / Ashlee Simpson-loving demographic. Most of the X-Men were reduced in age and maturity to high school kids, with the exception of Wolverine, Storm and Beast, who serve as Xavier’s main teachers. Gambit and Colossus now work for Magneto; Pyro, Blob and Toad are also “youth-enized” to being juvenile delinquents. Sure, fine, whatever. But the real biggie: Juggernaut is now a mutant (albeit a mutant who was unleashed by the Cyttorak force). Wha the…HUH??!! Okay, you just lost me, see ya. I resolved to just stick with reruns of my ‘90s X-Men and that was that until I recently caught Season 3 of X-Men: Evolution. Perhaps my earlier estimation of this show’s worthiness was flawed at the time.
Codename: Apocalypse. Mutant Power: whitest man alive…
First of all, you do have to get past the De-Generation of most of the characters to enjoy this cartoon. Rather than being the leaders of the team, Scott and Jean are googly-eyed high school seniors who are just discovering their relationship this season. There’s also a new character (or at least new to me) in Spyke, a skateboarding homey who shoots spikes from his body and grows boney plates out of his skin. Also, Nightcrawler is a painfully annoying teenage misfit who cares more about fitting in and looking normal than accepting himself, let alone having time or interest to have anything having to do with God. And Havoc (Scott’s brother Alex) is a total surfer dude. Once you come to grips with that and other changes, however, you can see that the stories they’re telling in this cartoon ain’t half bad. In fact, they’re pretty good.
Unfortunately for Beast, he found out at the most inopportune moment that Sabretooth’s biggest turn-on was fur…and his favorite color happened to be blue…
The season picks up the second season cliffhanger where a Sentinel rampages through town, Magneto is seemingly killed, the X-Men and Xavier are exposed as mutants, and Mystique, as Xavier, has blown up the mansion. The X-Men and New Mutants are hunted by the government as debate rages about what to do about the mutant menace (Day of Recovery). Subsequent episodes include The Stuff of Heroes continues to deal with the mutant issue as the X-Men go up against Juggernaut in front of a Congressional inquest where Storm and Beast are testifying. Blind Alley has Mystique getting payback on Cyclops for leaving her to be captured by the government during a raid on Area 51. Mystique poses as Alex to lure Scott to Mexico where she gets the drop on him and leaves him in the middle of the desert without his glasses while she watches his struggle to survive and stalks him. It’s up to Jean and the psychic rapport she’s developed with Scott to save him.
"So kid, you wanna see what else is retractable?"
In Self Possessed, Rogue gets caught in a shape-shifting multiple personality disorder when everyone’s powers she’s ever absorbed manifest uncontrollably, and only Wolverine and Xavier can get through to her. X23 posits the situation of recreating the Weapon X project in a new younger subject, who has a surprising link to Wolverine besides a similarity in skeletons and manicures. Cruise Control finds the team vacationing on a cruise ship where the old intolerances surface from the human passengers. When they decide the steal away to a nearby island, they’re surprised at the locals’ reactions when they use their powers to save lives after the local volcano erupts. This one is also essentially Magma’s episode as she discovers new levels to her powers and how they’re linked to the earth. Finally, in the two-part season finale, Dark Horizon, Mesmero and Mystique bring about the resurrection of Apocalypse using Rogue and an ancient prophecy. It’s interesting because Rogue proves that she’s potentially the most powerful mutant of all as she’s able to take everyone’s powers and use them like AMAZO or the Adaptoid from the comics.
When Magneto came to play football, he didn’t screw around.
I was surprised by how much I got into the stories being told in this season, and how the show was serialized and important occurrences in previous seasons weren’t just forgotten about later and how the continuity was maintained. The cliffhanger ending kind of blew, as they usually do. Like many of us, I grew up with the X-Men and stayed with them threw many of their re-starts, re-imaginings (X-Factor, e.g.) in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I even have a copy of that failed X-Men TV cartoon from the ‘80s – you know, where Wolverine sounded like he was from Australia? Anyway, it seems it’s getting harder and harder to make the stories from yesteryear relevant as they’ve been retold so many times. For the record, X3’s Phoenix storyline should be the official end to that one. In the comics Jean dies, she becomes Phoenix, she becomes corrupted, dies again, Scott marries Madelyne Pryor, some kind of clone of Jean, the real Jean is resurrected, was never actually Phoenix, and finally dies yet again. Christ, move on already. And that’s the real strength of XE: it takes the old and makes it new again with new stories rather than retreading all of the old shit, which even X-Men the cartoon did. I didn’t see that when the show came out, but I do now. Consider me converted.
Magnus, you can stop trying to shield your thoughts…I know it was you that cut cheese back there…
The show is drawn nice and crisply and the transfer is very good. The Anime influences can be seen clearly, most notably in the episode, X23. The audio is Dolby Surround Stereo and sounds fine. As far as extras go, there’s Cerebro’s Mutant Files: The X-Men – Heroes and Cerebro’s Mutant Files: The Acolytes – Villains, which profile the various players on both sides. There’s also Mystique’s Trivia Challenge, which isn’t too much of a challenge since she gives you the answers 2 seconds after the questions. And Season 3 X-Posed; The Evolution of X-Men is a quick recap of how the show came about and a look at the season, where it started from and where it left off. The cover art is decent, and what’s especially nice is that, after having seen the other season sets available, they finally put an entire season in one offering.