Wednesday, August 1, 2012

X-MEN Episode Two - November 07, 1992

Another variation on Ty Templeton’s X-Men pose, this one created by an unknown artist for the first VHS release of the series.

Night of the Sentinels (Part Two)
Written by Mark Edward Edens

Summary: Wolverine detects the guards’ trap, enabling Storm to sweep the men away. The X-Men finish destroying the files, but are ambushed by an army of Sentinels while making their escape. Morph is apparently killed and Beast is captured during the battle. Later, Cyclops lures a Sentinel to Jubilee’s foster parents’ home, and after he damages it, the X-Men follow it to the Sentinel manufacturing plant. They rescue Jubilee, but Trask and Gyrich escape.

Approved By Broadcast Standards: The story points out on numerous occasions that the Mutant Registration Program is not an official government agency, even though it has received government funding in the past. The President calls Henry Gyrich to her office (yes, “her,” you horrible sexist) and orders him to scrap the program when she fears mutant civil liberties are being violated. Keep your faith in government, kids!

I Love the '90s: Cyclops agrees to surrender to a Sentinel…"NOT!"

Review: Death on Saturday morning was pretty much unthinkable at the time, so you’ve got to give the producers a lot of credit for being willing to test FOX’s Broadcast and Standards so early on in the series’ run. FOX Kids president Margaret Loesch (a former executive at Marvel’s animation studio) was adamant that the X-Men cartoon reflect the comics, which does mean the occasional casualty. The words “killed” and “death” are never uttered, but it’s painfully obvious what’s happened to Morph. During the fight, the scene abruptly cuts to Jean and Xavier, who are observing events telepathically at the mansion. “It’s Morph. Can’t you feel it?” Jean asks. Xavier picks up Cerebro and responds, “I don’t feel…anything.” Soon, the disoriented team returns home to have their worst fears confirmed. Wolverine, adamant about going back, tries to convince the others that Beast and Morph could still be alive. “Beast is,” replies Jean. This is harsh material for Saturday morning, and it generates some of the voice cast’s best material.

A flashback to the events reveals that Cyclops ordered the team to retreat in the heat of battle. Morph had taken a direct hit by a Sentinel, while Beast was blasted into an electric fence. Outnumbered and sustaining casualties, he saw no other option. Wolverine, of course, was willing to fight over this, forcing Rogue to use her powers and subdue him. This is quintessential X-drama, isn’t it? It’s easy to imagine these scenes playing out in the comics, right down to Wolverine’s punch into Cyclops’ gut after they exit the plane (it’s a little odd that he isn’t mad at Rogue, though). According to interviews, Bob Harras and Stan Lee had a great deal of input into the early episodes (Lee didn’t just attach his name to show, he apparently wrote extensive notes for the first six or seven episodes of the series), which probably explains where much of this melodrama is coming from. In spite of the happy ending that has Jubilee escaping harm, making peace with her foster parents, and joining the team, this is a fairly brutal introduction to the X-Men. The series will rarely reach this level of intensity again, but it’s done more than enough in these opening episodes to show a new generation of fans what to expect from X-Men stories.


Teebore said...

In spite of the happy ending that has Jubilee escaping harm, making peace with her foster parents, and joining the team...

The foster parents were an interesting choice, since they're never seen again and Jubilee essentially lives at the mansion from this point forward, which was never really an issue for the orphaned Jubilee in the comics.

Then again, Kitty lived at the mansion despite her parents still being around, so maybe it's not so odd.

The series will rarely reach this level of intensity again

True. Offhand, I can think of two, maybe three, times in the course of the series that it reaches that level of intensity again.

Matt said...

Yeah, if Margaret Loesch pushed so hard for fidelity to the comics, it seems odd that the series never really got any more intense than the pilot episode(s).

But you have to give them credit for getting away with any sort of on-screen death. Not even Batman: The Animated Series managed that.

Also, I had no idea Stan Lee was so extensively involved in this show! I knew Bob Harras was, but Stan actually giving notes on several episodes is a complete shock to me.

Mela said...

I always thought that the scene with Jubilee's foster parents was to show that they weren't bad people & were basically tricked into letting a Sentinel attack her. It was more thematic in feel than a BS&P insert would be.

You're right about the intensity level never being quite so high, but there were some moments that I was surprised they could pull off on TV. I think a lot of the softening of the series came from network censors asking them to tone it down, since X-Men couldn't hide behind the praise that Batman TAS got, hit show or otherwise.

Adam Farrar said...

Since Morph wasn’t clearly from the comics, I was not interested in him as the show began. When he died I remember understanding that since he wasn’t in the comics he could die. I wasn’t interested in his “death” but I was fully engaged in the drama around it and I was desperate for Beast to be released or freed. They did handle that well.

Anonymous said...

I remember the X-Men Adventures comic that adapted this episode started off with a big splash page of Morph in flames with half his face torn off, exposing his skull. This turned to just be a nightmare or something. It's wasn't as gruesome as you might think with that description but pretty brutal for a comic based off a cartoon.

G. Kendall said...

I remember X-MEN ADVENTURES spoiled Morph's death one week before this episode aired!

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