Tuesday, July 22, 2014

ROBIN #12 - December 1994

Credits:  Chuck Dixon (writer), Phil Jimenez (penciler), John Stokes (inker), Albert DeGuzman (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Tim Drake is harassed by two punks while at the movies with Ariana.  In order to protect his secret identity, Tim allows the punks to embarrass him in front of his girlfriend.  That night, as Robin, he tries to make himself feel better while taking down hoods with Batman.  The next day, he runs into the punks again.  He easily defeats them when alone in an alley, but is later upset to learn the store belonging to Ariana’s family has been vandalized by gangsters seeking protection money.  Later, the heads of the Troika meet.  An assassin enters, declaring he will kill Batman and Robin.

Irrelevant Continuity:  
  • I don’t believe this assassin appears in any future chapter of “Prodigal,” which means his identity is never revealed in this reprint collection.  I suspect he’s supposed to be an update of the KGBeast, or NKVDemon.
  • Tim Drake’s future stepmother, Dana Winters, is introduced as his father’s physical therapist.

Review:  There’s no obvious reason for this story to be reprinted, aside from the “Prodigal” logo appearing on the cover.  The reprint collection has currently reached an awkward stage, now that Two-Face has been defeated but Bruce Wayne hasn’t returned yet.  Ideally, there should be more of a character arc for Dick Grayson to go through, but he really doesn’t have that much to deal with by this point.  That means this issue of Robin reads like almost any other issue from this era, except a different guy is playing Batman during his brief appearance in the issue.  And that’s not to say it’s a bad issue of Robin at all; in fact, I first read this as a random back issue years ago and have always enjoyed it.  Dixon captures a teenage boy’s fear of being embarrassed in front of his girlfriend remarkably well, and he manages to make Tim thoroughly likable throughout the ordeal.  Dixon always knew how to handle the teen superhero drama during this run, and I have to reiterate that it’s a shame DC doesn’t realize what a great Robin Tim Drake made during the ‘90s.  From the perspective of putting together a truly complete trade paperback, however, I have to say that Robin #0 should’ve taken this story’s place several chapters ago.

Monday, July 21, 2014

DETECTIVE COMICS #680 - December 1994

A Twice Told Tale
Credits:  Chuck Dixon (writer), Lee Weeks & Graham Nolan (pencilers), Joe Rubinstein (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Batman deals with the crime wave that’s been fueled by Two-Face’s mass release of prisoners.  Gordon’s refusal to rely on Batman’s help continues to create a rift in his marriage.  Meanwhile, Robin consults Oracle and deduces that Two-Face is hiding out in the Hall of Records.  He leaves Batman a message and investigates.  When Batman arrives, Robin is already held captive with Harvey Kent, with both strapped underneath two thousand pounds of paper.  Batman commandeers a forklift and rescues both of them.  Confident in his abilities, he easily defeats Two-Face.

Irrelevant Continuity:  The opening narration of the issue claims once again (erroneously) that a computer glitch, a typo, is responsible for Two-Face’s release.

Total N00B:  Robin #0 is once again used as the crux of Batman’s insecurities regarding Two-Face, and I’ll point out again that there’s no footnote referencing it in the actual issue, nor is that story reprinted in this collection.

Review:  Six issues of build-up to a Two-Face fight probably wasn’t the best move, given that Two-Face isn’t that intimidating physically and the scheme he’s hatched this time never really comes together.  Two-Face using computers to cause chaos in the city is a decent idea, but the execution has been all over the place.  In this very issue, we’re told that computer glitches have caused dozens of cons to be released early from prison, while at the same time the prisons are being overcrowded.  Which is it, then?  If there are enough freed criminals to cause a crime wave, how could Two-Face also arrange for Blackgate to be overcrowded?  And how long would it really take the authorities to just forget the computers and manually figure out how many prisoners each facility can hold, especially if a large portion of them have already been released early?

Overlooking the villainous scheme, there’s also a problem with Batman’s big catharsis this issue.  Batman’s allegedly overcome his adolescent anxieties regarding Two-Face by deciding not to play by his rules, which apparently means stealing a forklift and just picking his hostages up out of harm’s way.  I understand the idea is that Dick’s learned from his mistakes in Robin #0, but as I recall the events of Robin #0, it’s not as if “grab a forklift and just ignore Two-Face” was really an option for young Dick in that story.  It’s taken Dick all of these years to finally realize that Two-Face is running a crooked game and that he shouldn’t fall for it?  This just doesn’t work.  As I’ve said earlier, the basic ideas behind this storyline aren’t bad at all, but the execution just feels mangled.

Friday, July 18, 2014

X-MEN Episode Seventy - November 9, 1996

Storm Front (Part Two)
Written by Brooks Wachtel

Summary:  The X-Men try to understand Storm’s decision to marry Arkon during their stay in Polemachus.  Arkon’s advisors suggest he turn off the planet’s Central Energy Transmitter, the cause of Polemachus’ weather problems.  He refuses to abandon the power source for his servant’s collars.  Eventually, Storm realizes that Arkon’s servants are truly slaves.  Simultaneously, the X-Men meet a rebel leader fighting against Arkon’s rule.  Storm refuses to marry Arkon and the X-Men use his teleportation portal to return home.  Storm’s decision to destroy her monument before leaving sparks a larger rebellion against Arkon.

Um, Actually…”:  The X-Men and Arkon parted as friends after their first meeting in the comics.

Production Note:  Original intro and standard closing montage, again.

Review:  The second chapter of this storyline doesn’t do enough to redeem the concept, but there is more of an effort to make this work as a Storm story.  Parroting a scene from Uncanny X-Men Annual #3, Storm states her desire to help people in ways that don’t involve violence, which is partially used to justify why she’s willing to stay in Polemachus.  Wolverine speculates that the citizens’ worship of her as a “goddess” is reviving feelings she felt as an adolescent worshipped by her tribe in Africa, a clever callback to a part of Storm’s past that’s been largely ignored on the show.  Perhaps these ideas should’ve been set up sooner (Claremont establishes Storm’s desire to have a life outside of the X-Men in the original story before she even meets Arkon), but at the very least some effort is made to present why this would be a legitimate choice for Storm.  

The marriage to Arkon, however, is still a foolish idea that’s never justified within the story.  This is a character with no charisma, no innate qualities that could attract Storm, with nothing in particular to offer her.  He also makes no real effort to hide the fact that he’s a tyrant, keeping his citizens as slaves while plotting to invade a neighboring planet that has resources he desires.  It takes Storm two full episodes to realize this guy’s not marriage material, which is utterly insane.  Perhaps her first hint that something’s not right here should’ve been when he admitted to creating the horrific storm that threatened Washington, DC…on the day they met.  Was Storm just under the spell of his washboard abs?  Using this as a character conflict was just incredibly misguided.  Making this more frustrating is knowing that the source material has already given the producers some angst to explore, since the comics established that using her powers to save Polemachus will ultimately kill Storm.  She’s eventually saved when Cyclops devises a plan that involves merging his powers with hers, with the help of the mechanical skills that Wolverine and Nightcrawler have learned from Banshee.  That’s classic Claremontian melodrama and “give every cast member something to do” writing right there, and it could’ve been adapted very easily for the show.

Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/ for the screencaps.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

X-MEN Episode Sixty-Nine - November 2, 1996

Storm Front (Part One)
Written by Mirith Colao

Summary:  The X-Men fly to Washington, DC, which is experiencing the worst storm in its history.  Storm uses her powers to restore the weather to normal.  The mysterious Arkon emerges and presses Storm into following him to his home planet, which is experiencing an even worse meteorological crisis.  Storm leaves one of Arkon’s teleportation pellets behind for the X-Men to discover.  Soon, the X-Men follow Storm to Polemachus.  Storm has saved Polemachus’ environment and is hailed as a goddess.  Arkon proposes to Storm and she accepts.

Continuity Notes:  
  • This episode is loosely based on Uncanny X-Men Annual #3.
  • The X-Men this episode are comprised of Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Storm, and Jubilee.  Xavier appears at the mansion, but doesn’t follow to Polemachus.
  • Arkon goes out of his way to draw attention to Polemachus’ “Central Energy Transmitter,” which allegedly keeps the planet alive.

Production Note:  The original opening is still being used, along with the standard montage closing credits.  Again, I’m blaming the DVD, because I don’t think the episodes aired like this.

Um, Actually…”:  Arkon teleports with the lightning bolt-shaped devices he keeps in his quiver.  The cartoon has him using tiny little balls that Wolverine compares to golf balls, even though they’re drawn closer to the size of a gumball.

Review:  Out of the entire X-Men canon, it’s hard to imagine why anyone thought Uncanny X-Men Annual #3 was a great place to find an adaptation for the cartoon.  UXM Annual #3 isn’t necessarily a bad comic, but its main selling points would seem to be the novelty of having the X-Men face a traditional Avengers foe, and the George Perez art.  Since Classic X-Men always skipped the annuals, I came into this episode cold when it first aired, not knowing that Arkon is an established Marvel character, let alone one that fought the X-Men.  I’m sure that influenced my initial bias that this two-parter is a waste of time.  Today, I understand the history behind the story, but that doesn’t make these episodes any more tolerable.

As a Storm spotlight episode, we’re left with the dubious premise that all she’s wanted throughout the years is for a man to pay her attention, and once she receives said attention, she’d be more than willing to marry the stranger.  When has Storm ever been portrayed as man-hungry?  I guess there’s a precedent in the comics now for Storm to marry a virtual stranger, but that was done as a rather obvious marketing ploy to save a title Marvel stubbornly refused to cancel.  There’s no interpretation of the character circa 1996 that’s ever come across so needy, as far as I remember.  Storm isn’t an easy character to write, as the series has made obvious in the past, but she deserves better than this.

More annoyingly, this episode is absolutely packed with filler.  The story opens in Washington, DC for no discernible reason, as the episode spends around ten minutes getting to a point that Claremont accomplished in just a few pages in the comics.  Before the X-Men ever get a chance to find Storm, they must crash-land the Blackbird, hitchhike in a stranger’s station wagon (sporadically drawn to resemble some kind of military Humvee whenever the model abruptly changes), find the clue Storm left behind, somehow make it back to New York, consult with Xavier, and finally teleport to Polemachus.  Then, more time is killed as they fight peasants and robot guards, then get arrested.  And there’s more time to kill after that, so Wolverine has a fight with Arkon that has him extracting and sheathing his claws at random intervals to appease the censors.  The fight unnerves Storm, which causes the chaotic weather to return, so she ends up fixing Polemachus’ environment for the second time in five minutes after she regains her composure.  The amount of effort spent on wasting time is just breathtaking.  Perhaps I wouldn’t mind all of this padding if the animation wasn’t utterly wretched.  The human figures seem paper thin, the backgrounds are dull, and the fight scenes are extremely clunky.  Unfortunately, the run of the series is almost over and we’re still getting some incredibly ugly episodes.

Monday, July 14, 2014

X-MEN Episode Fifty-Nine - October 26, 1996

Written by Len Uhley

Summary:  The Friends of Humanity’s ruling council threatens to renounce Graydon Creed for hiding his mutant heritage.  Creed devises a scheme to prove himself, arranging for Nightcrawler to receive a letter from his mother, claiming she needs help.  Nightcrawler contacts the X-Men, who travel with him to a dam that’s secretly occupied by the FoH.  They discover Creed’s setup when Mystique is revealed as the mother of Creed and Nightcrawler.  While the X-Men face the FoH, Nightcrawler tries to make peace with Mystique.  Creed betrays Mystique and impulsively destroys the dam, leading the X-Men to believe Mystique has drowned.  Later, Creed is rescued by the FoH’s ruling council and sent to an isolated shack -- the home of his father, Sabretooth.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The X-Men featured this episode are Wolverine, Rogue, and Jubilee.
  • Blink makes a cameo as a mutant student being harassed during a montage of anti-mutant demonstrations on the news.
  • Much of this episode is based on the infamous X-Men Unlimited #4, which revealed Mystique as Nightcrawler’s mother and brought Graydon Creed and Rogue into the story for a dysfunctional family reunion.
  • Mystique tells Nightcrawler that his father was an Austrian count she was using for money twenty-five years ago.  When she gave birth to a mutant, she abandoned the child and adopted a new identity.

Um, Actually…”:  Jubilee tells Nightcrawler that she never knew her birthparents, either.  In the comics, Jubilee was raised by her parents until they were killed when she was in her early teens.  

Saban Quality:  The FoH’s armory has a crate labeled “Blaters.”

Approved By Broadcast Standards:  Mystique’s vague death scene, obviously inspired by the end of X-Men Unlimited #4, is only allowed to stay “vague” for about thirty seconds.  She stands up and walks away, just a few feet away from Wolverine, who claims there’s no trace of her.

“Huh?” Moment:  The letter Nightcrawler receives warns him to come alone.  Wolverine promises him that no one will know the X-Men are there; a promise that lasts all of five seconds once they reach the base and storm it.

“Actiiing!”:  Graydon Creed still has a priceless overreaction every time someone even mentions Sabretooth’s name.

Creative Differences:  Wizard #51 went behind-the-scenes on the day the voice acting for this episode was recorded.  It reports an argument between Marvel exec/X-Men producer Joseph Calamari and a FOX representative about two lines of dialogue that were cut from the episode.  The article also claimed this episode would likely air in early 1996, even though it didn’t debut until the end of the year.

Production Note:  The opening credits are back to the original, which I’m assuming is a mistake on the DVDs, because I don’t recall the actual episodes ever reverting to the original opening.  Also, the closing credits are back to the montage.

Review:  “Bloodlines” is another episode that could lay claim to the “Last X-Men Episode” title, since Wizard #51 reported that Graydon Creed’s “NOOOOOO” at the end of the episode was the last line of dialogue recorded for the series.  FOX decided to air the two-parter “Storm Front” after this one, however, and according to the production lists posted online, those would seem to be the final ones actually animated.  (Before FOX decided to order another small batch of episodes, of course.)  Regardless, “Bloodlines” would’ve been a more memorable closing for the series, as it revives a popular guest star, resolves a mystery, and has some of the strongest character moments in the show’s run so far.  Nightcrawler is perhaps even preachier than he was in his first appearance, telling orphan Jubilee that God will accept her and later explaining the concept of forgiveness to Mystique, but he’s still recognizable as the Nightcrawler we know from the comics.  Nightcrawler’s explanation to Mystique that he does resent her for abandoning him and later going along with Creed’s plan to save her own life, but will pray for the strength to forgive her is quite touching, and another example of the series going places Saturday Morning would never go.  It’s also worth noting that the “family reunion” aspect of the episode that unites Mystique with her biological children and foster-daughter is handled in a far more logical and coherent way than we saw in the comics.  X-Men Unlimited #4 will always be remembered as a train wreck, but its animated adaptation remains one of the series’ better episodes.

Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/ for the screencaps.

Friday, July 11, 2014

X-MEN Episode Thirty-Six - October 5, 1996


Written by Steven Melching & David McDermott

Summary:  Wolverine and Jubilee stumble upon Longshot, who has arrived on Earth with no memory.  They rescue Longshot from Mojo’s army and take him to the mansion, where Xavier helps him recover his memories.  Mojo, responding to a taunt by Spiral, decides to go to Earth personally and capture Longshot.  He soon kidnaps Jubilee and draws the X-Men and Longshot into a series of battles to rescue her.  Mojo is eventually defeated and forced to retreat.  Longshot gives Jubilee a small kiss and follows through Spiral's portal to continue his rebellion.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The X-Men appearing this episode are Xavier, Wolverine, Jubilee, Rogue, and Beast.
  • Mojoverse characters Gog, Quark, Arize, and the Warwolves debut on the series.
  • Arize is responsible for erasing Longshot’s memory.  How exactly Longshot ended up on Earth in the opening is left vague.
  • Jubilee is established as fifteen this episode.  Wolverine is teaching her how to drive.

Approved By Broadcast Standards:  The censor notes to this episode are online.  My favorite objections are the ones involving use of the word “butt,” and their demand that Wolverine never cut the Warwolves (who are non-humanoid aliens essentially made out of the liquid metal seen in Terminator 2).

I Love the '90s:  Spiral comments on the “big, purple lizard” Mojo has created to fight the X-Men.  He responds that the kids will love it.

Production Note:  A new opening credit sequence debuts (on the DVD at least).  It features footage from the original opening, plus quick cuts of scenes from previous episodes.  The theme song has also been re-recorded.  The closing credits are back to showing a scene from an earlier episode.

Review:  “Longshot” was delayed almost as long as “No Mutant is an Island,” although you rarely hear anyone complain about its late debut.  Most likely because there’s no continuity significance, the episode can be slotted at any time after Season Two’s finale, so there’s no resulting confusion by its delay.  Also, it’s a sequel to one of the weaker episodes from Season Two, and we’re going to have to tolerate Mojo once again, so I’m not sure if anyone was breathlessly anticipating it.  Luckily, this is a noticeable improvement over the original Mojo episode.  The writers’ goal was to bring the Longshot/Mojo continuity closer to the comics, which means less hackneyed media parodies and more crazy Nocenti/Adams creations.  In fact, there’s only one specific parody, a Jurassic Park takeoff, and it’s used as an excuse for the X-Men to fight dinosaurs, not as a vehicle for lame jokes.  Mojo is still around, and still annoying, but it doesn’t seem as if anyone thinks he’s actually funny anymore.  He serves his role as the master-villain and we’re not expected to endure him much beyond that.  

There is some attempt to add character drama to the rather standard plot, as Jubilee and Wolverine suddenly develop strong feelings regarding Longshot.  Wolverine thinks he’s a shady character that can’t be trusted, and Jubilee is instantly in love with the guy.  Wolverine’s suspicions initially seem odd, but when viewed in context of the cartoon’s continuity, the choice seems to have some logic behind it.  Longshot hasn’t served with the team in the past, and it’s not as if Wolverine spent an awful amount of time with Longshot during his misadventure in the Mojoverse.  In fact, I don’t even remember Wolverine and Longshot sharing a scene together in “Mojovision.”  Casting Wolverine as the overprotective father who doesn’t like Jubilee’s latest crush also makes a certain amount of sense.  There’s just enough character work to prevent the episode from feeling totally bland, and the villains brought over from the Longshot miniseries add some novelty value for longtime fans.

“Longshot” turns out to be the last of the episodes featuring the original designs animated by Philippines Animation Studio.  It’s not on the same level as “Out of the Past” or “Cold Comfort,” although it’s obviously much livelier than the average AKOM episode.  The animators seem to have a problem keeping faces consistent, and the cast often looks like something out of a low-budget DTV Disney sequel.  The colors are also far too bright, giving everything in the episode a plastic sheen that doesn’t fit the show at all.  Irritatingly, Wolverine appears in the same pose, facing the camera in the exact profile as seen in the original X-Men promo image, numerous times throughout the episode.  Unfortunately, the show can never top “Out of the Past” visually, even when it hires the same studio.

Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/ for the screencaps.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

X-MEN Episode Thirty-Four - September 21, 1996

No Mutant is an Island
Written by Sandy Scesny

Summary:  Distraught over Phoenix’s death, Cyclops quits the X-Men and travels to his childhood home, the McNeil Orphanage.  He’s reunited with Sarah, a childhood friend who now runs the orphanage.  She reveals that local businessman Zebediah Kilgrave has adopted several children.  Cyclops is suspicious when Kilgrave’s latest foster-child, Rusty, refuses to return home with him.  Eventually, Cyclops discovers that Kilgrave is using his persuasion powers to gain political influence, and to brainwash his foster-children to join him as mutant supremacists.  Cyclops defeats Kilgrave, realizing he has a responsibility to use his powers to help others.  He returns to the X-Men, just as a Cerebro scan announces Phoenix is alive.

Continuity Notes:  
  • Zebediah Kilgrave is the Purple Man, a villain from the early days of Daredevil that’s occasionally resurrected.  He covers his purple skin with makeup and gloves in the cartoon.
  • Other mutants adopted by Kilgrave include Boom-Boom, Skids, and Wiz Kid (only referred to as “Taki” in the episode).  It’s an ’89 Handbook Update extravaganza.

“Um, Actually…”:  The name of Cyclops’ orphanage in the comics is “The State Home for Foundlings,” located in Nebraska.  Rusty is also much younger in the cartoon, as he appears to be thirteen at most in this episode.  Rusty’s first appearance in the comics involved him joining the Navy and almost hooking up with a prostitute.  Finally, Purple Man is not a mutant.

Saban Quality:  The animation in this episode is consistently wonky, but my favorite screw-up would be the fire hydrants in Cyclops’ hometown that are the size of beer cans.

Production Note:  A different version of this episode, one with numerous animation corrections, aired in Europe.  Also, the closing credits are back to the montage.

Review:  Boy, this was certainly worth waiting two years for, wasn’t it?  Yes, we’ve finally reached “No Mutant is an Island,” the infamous episode that screwed up the X-Men’s animated continuity forever, and has the distinction of being perhaps the only episode animated in China.  I can’t imagine what exactly is in this episode that generated two years worth of corrections, since it’s one of the most pedestrian plots in the history of the series.  The credits list “Hung Ying, China” as the animation studio, which is presumably the Hong Ying Animation I see listed online.  It’s my understanding that Chinese animation was considered the lowest of the dregs back in the ‘90s.  Considering the budget the show was often forced to deal with, I can’t say I’m shocked X-Men eventually ended up in China, but it is surprising that one of the rare episodes with a significant continuity point from this era was sent to this studio.  I will say that, as odd as the episode often looks, there is a bounce to the animation that the AKOM episodes usually lack.  And the X-Men gathering for Phoenix’s wake in the opening don’t look so bad; off-model, but not ridiculously so.  As the episode progresses, however, it’s clear that this style doesn’t suit an action cartoon at all, and the number of animation errors is simply ridiculous.

As for the plot, it’s one more Cyclops story that finds him in a small town from his past that’s holding a secret, with yet another evil Xavier analogue that’s turning mutants against humans as the villain.  Did anyone not notice the similarities between this plot and the “Secrets…” episode?  Is this really the only Cyclops story the producers could conceive?  This is Cyclops’ mourning episode, yet he spends very little time reacting to Jean’s “death” and most of the episode dealing with this sub-Matlock level plot involving a corrupt businessman, the governor, and the construction of a hydroelectric dam.  Introducing Sarah as a potential new love interest is also an odd choice, given that Cyclops has just left Jean’s memorial and the producers knew she was going to be revived in the episode’s final scene anyway.  It is fun to see some more mutants you’d never expect to see appear in the cartoon, and Norm Spencer delivers one of his better Cyclops performances, but why are we getting another Cyclops in a small town story, with yet another obscure villain that X-fans probably don’t even recognize?  If Rusty and Skids are going to be introduced, why not make Stryfe the story’s villain?  This is a Cyclops story, after all, so he’d actually be perfect.

Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/ for the screencaps.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

X-MEN Episode Forty-Seven - September 14, 1996


A Deal with the Devil
Written by Eric Lewald

Summary:  The Navy revives the body of Omega Red and assigns him a mission.  Due to his knowledge of Soviet access codes and his immunity to radiation, Omega Red is the only person qualified to salvage a disabled USSR nuclear submarine that’s dangerously close to Pearl Harbor.  Omega Red demands Wolverine and Storm join him.  The two X-Men don radiation suits and reluctantly go with Omega Red.  Soon, Omega Red disobeys orders and launches the submarine’s missiles at major cities around the globe.  Rogue and Beast, flying nearby in the Blackbird, destroy the missiles.  Rogue enters the sub and rescues her teammates.  Omega Red is left in the listing sub, which has fallen to the bottom of a trench.

Continuity Notes:  The X-Men appearing this episode are Xavier, Wolverine, Storm, Beast, and Rogue.  The implication this episode is that the government knows about the Xavier School’s secret, although it’s possible that in the cartoon’s continuity, this information is kept confidential by their ally President Kelly.

Creative Differences:  Eric Lewald on writing this episode: “I was so busy trying to keep the whole project going in the right direction that there wasn’t much time to assign myself any scripts. Of course almost every revision made to the premises, outlines, and scripts was up to me, so I feel like there is lot of my writing in there. Often we would be lucky, and the notes from various partners were light, and the writer really nailed the script. But if there were problems – including the occasional page-one rewrite – that was on me. The one script I did write from start to finish was “A Deal with the Devil.” That happened because another script (which I had liked) was tossed out by Fox and Marvel. They never really “got” the original story, but I pushed to let the writer finish. So, since we had paid the writer for all his work, but now had no script, I had to come up with one for free by myself (no extra money in the budget).” http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/backstage/archives/ericlewald.php

Review:  I can appreciate the attempt to write a more grounded, adult episode of this series, but this episode has always put me to sleep.  The opening is strong, the use of past continuity is smart (Wolverine and Storm were responsible for Omega Red’s defeat in his last appearance, and neither personality is especially suited for a submarine mission), and the voice acting is surprisingly solid for an episode that features Storm in a starring role.  I’m not sure who played the Navy colonel character, but he delivers some excellent line readings that don’t sound anything like stereotypical Saturday Morning work.  Eric Lewald also pens some unexpectedly natural dialogue, which helps the story to feel more grounded than the normal episode of the series.  At a certain point, however, the story begins to drag and it’s time for Mr. Sandman to visit.  After Omega Red predictably double-crosses the Navy, by casually ripping out the implanted liquid nitrogen failsafe they boasted about earlier, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere for the episode to go.  Beast and Rogue have no real trouble destroying the missiles, and despite Beast’s claim that two miles deep is too far for Rogue to swim, she doesn’t seem to have much of a problem doing it, ultimately.  So, really, there’s barely anything to hold your attention after the halfway mark.  I know that some people consider this one of the better episodes from the end of the show’s run, and while I do see its merits, it’s hard for me to advocate an episode that I’ve consistently been unable to finish.

Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/ for the screencaps.