Monday, July 30, 2012

Everybody Knows…It’s on FOX

Early merchandising artwork, penciled by Ty Templeton

I’ve decided that a retrospective on ‘90s X-Men wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the 1992-1997 animated series that aired on FOX (which is now reaching its twentieth anniversary). For many readers, this was their very first exposure to the X-Men, and I believe the continued popularity of the series is one reason why the X-Men titles remained strong sellers after the market crash of 1994. Much like the X-Men comics of the ‘90s, the animated series is often used as fodder for cheap jokes amongst fans, which is another reason I feel compelled to review the episodes. This series was not an easy fit for Saturday mornings circa 1992 (as evidenced by the Broadcast and Standards notes posted online), so my inclination is to give the creators credit for what they actually achieved rather than dismissing their work for an easy joke. The series had its faults, certainly, but I suspect it doesn’t deserve the abuse it receives. However, I do recall a distinct decline in quality, and interest, as the series entered its final episodes. I’m always interested in seeing how a series can go horribly wrong, so hopefully I can provide some insights into where X-Men lost its way (if in fact it did; perhaps the later episodes are less interesting simply because there was nothing new about the series anymore).

For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to be reviewing the series in broadcast order. That will lead to a few continuity issues as the series progresses, but I think it’s important to look at the series as the audience experienced it during the original run. The DVD sets are in broadcast order as well (and I’m assuming this is the order Netflix lists the episodes), so this remains the order the general audience experiences them today, so I’m even less inclined to follow the chronological order provided online. I’ve been reading some articles about the series, and online interviews with the crew, so optimistically I can offer some behind-the-scenes information on the show. If I miss anything, feel free to let me know in the comments.

NEXT: Jubilee, along with the tweens of America, meets the X-Men in “Night of the Sentinels”!


Mela said...

Quite an undertaking, and I'm really looking forward to it. Like you said, many people probably got into comics because of this show, and I'm certainly one of them.

Matt said...

Can't wait to read these! I watched this series religiously when it originally aired, though I haven't seen so much as a second of it in at least ten years.

For me, it started to go downhill after the third-season "Phoenix Saga", which I believe was the series highest point; in fact I barely recall most episodes after that.

Anonymous said...

They published comic books based on this too, with, I think, Ralph Macchio handling the script/adaptation; Andrew Wildman and undervalued John Hebert in pencils, and Greg Adams as the most common inker.
The latter issues suffered in quality as much as the cartoon, as the pencils went to some awful Madureira imitator.


Teebore said...

Excellent! I've long thought about doing a retrospective on this series as well, but haven't found the time. So I'm excited to read your take on it.

I started reading X-Men shortly before the cartoon, but the 90s comics and the animated series definitely go hand-in-hand for me. I watched up through shortly after the "Dark Phoenix" adaptation recently (well, after the DVDs had been released a couple years ago), but I might just start over and re-watch along with you, especially since they're all on Netflix now.

Just out of curiosity, are you planning on covering these straight through, or will they be part of the rotation with the other series you're currently covering?

G. Kendall said...

I'll review episodes for a week or two at a time. I'll do them during the month I designate for X-Men comics.

Teebore said...

Cool, good to know. Thanks!

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