Friday, August 3, 2012

X-MEN Episode Four - January 23, 1993

Deadly Reunions
Written by Don Glut

Summary: Magneto attacks a chemical plant, hoping to attract Professor Xavier. Leaving Jubilee behind to guard Sabretooth, the X-Men travel to the plant. During the battle, Rogue is forced to give Cyclops CPR, leaving her with uncontrolled optic blasts. The fight ends when Xavier telepathically forces Magneto to relive his past, which compels him to escape. Meanwhile, Sabretooth tricks Jubilee into loosening his restraints. He’s prepared to kill her, but Wolverine emerges to stop him. When Sabretooth is blasted out of the building by Jubilee, he runs away into the night.

Continuity Notes:
· Senator Robert Kelly announces his Presidential bid on television. This subplot was probably intended to tie in with the 1992 election, although production delays forced the series to officially debut in 1993.
· As Xavier mentally examines Sabretooth in the episode’s opening, we see cameo appearances by Deadpool, Shiva, Maverick, Omega Red, and Janice (from the flashbacks in X-Men #5).
· Storm’s claustrophobia is revealed for the first time on the series when a section of the chemical plant falls on top of her.
· In the cartoon’s continuity, Magneto’s helmet clearly doesn’t protect him from Xavier’s telepathic probes.
· Sabretooth reveals that he was hired by Magneto to infiltrate the school in the previous episode.

Approved By Broadcast Standards
: Wolverine is visibly cut in the stomach by Sabretooth before he makes his escape. Apparently, the censors will grow more sensitive about the use of claws on flesh as the series progresses.

“Huh?” Moment: I realize he’s in shackles, but leaving Jubilee to guard Sabretooth was not Xavier’s smartest command decision.

Review: You might recognize the name Don Glut from everything from the original He-Man cartoon to the Empire Strikes Back novelization, or perhaps from a few Marvel comics in the ‘70s. I believe this is the only time he’s touched the X-Men though, and while there is a glitch or two (Magneto making a toupee joke being the most egregious), this remains a solid episode. Even though the stakes are lower, Magneto’s assault on the chemical plant feels more callous than his attack in the previous episode, largely because his targets are now totally helpless, and the fire he’s started threatens the plant workers and the X-Men alike. Having Rogue gain Cyclops’ uncontrollable powers in the middle of the battle adds more tension to the fight, and using this fight scene as an opportunity to introduce Storm’s claustrophobia is a nice touch.

The scenes with Sabretooth are the real highlight, though. Even though this is his third appearance on the show, this episode marks the first time Sabretooth actually speaks. We discover that his tantrum at Beast’s hearing in the previous issue was an act staged by Magneto, which is a smart way to tie the two plotlines together. Glut (or perhaps the producers) has taken the recent Wolverine/Omega Red arc from X-Men #4-7 as inspiration for Sabretooth’s relationship with Wolverine, obliquely referencing his senseless murder of Wolverine’s love interest Janice during those flashbacks. Wolverine makes one of the series’ most explicit references to murder when he claims Sabretooth “wasted some friends of mine for no reason.” If there was another way to get around the censors and establish Sabretooth as a serial killer, I couldn’t think of it. I watched this fight between Wolverine and Sabretooth several times as a kid; it’s fairly tame by today’s standards, but at the time I was amazed that a Saturday morning cartoon was actually doing a Wolverine/Sabretooth fight and maintaining most of the violence from the comics. The end of the fight is a copout (both fights in the episode end with the villain running away in defeat while the X-Men do nothing), but the episode’s already done more than enough to establish Sabretooth as the psychopath from the comics. If this Sabretooth ever lost a fight to the Black Cat, at least the producers never told the kids watching.


Teebore said...

we see cameo appearances by Deadpool, Shiva, Maverick, Omega Red, and Janice

Once again, I loved those little Easter Eggs when I was a kid.

Rogue is forced to give Cyclops CPR, leaving her with uncontrolled optic blasts

Not that this is the first (or last) place to do this, but the pedantic geek in me is always bothered when Rogue absorbs Cyclops' power and can't control it. His inability to control it is caused by a brain injury; Rogue shouldn't have the same physical disability when she takes his power.

G. Kendall said...

I didn't think about that, but you're right. I guess the No-Prize explanation could be that Rogue was totally unfamiliar with the powers and had no idea who to control them yet.

My major problem with the scene as a kid was the fact that Rogue didn't instantly take his powers. The power transfer didn't happen until she was conveniently through performing CPR. And I guess you could argue that Rogue should be sending Cyclops DEEPER into unconsciousness by touching him. In spite of all this, I still think raising the idea of how Rogue could perform CPR was a clever move, though.

Teebore said...

The power transfer didn't happen until she was conveniently through performing CPR.

Ha! Well, I was apparently too distracted by her not controlling his power to ever notice that.

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