Wednesday, January 23, 2013

X-MEN Episode Fifteen - October 30, 1993


Till Death Do Us Part (Part 2)
Written by Michael Edens

Summary:  The X-Men escape their traps and regroup at the mansion.  Wolverine exposes Morph in his disguise as Professor X, forcing him to run away.  The team follows Morph to Sinister’s island, where he’s holding Cyclops and Jean captive.  The team fights Sinister’s enforcers, the Nasty Boys, and frees Cyclops and Jean.  A confused Morph escapes, but Wolverine vows to find him.  Meanwhile, Professor Xavier and Magneto meet in Antarctica, and are soon ambushed.

Continuity Notes:  

  • The Nasty Boys make their animated debut.  The Marauders will later return as the accepted goons for Mr. Sinister in the comics, but the Nasty Boys were newer characters at the time, and perhaps perceived as more appropriate for a younger audience.
  • Morph assumes his identity as the priest from the previous episode, helpfully informing Cyclops and Jean that their marriage is invalid.
  • According to Mr. Sinister, Cyclops and Jean’s offspring will grant him access to great power.  This was the only thing approaching a motivation for Sinister at the time in the comics; later, we’ll learn that he wants Cyclops and Jean’s child as the ultimate weapon against Apocalypse.
  • Sinister claims he’s followed Cyclops and Jean their entire lives, leading to a series of flashbacks to their childhoods.  The first image of the X-Men in their original uniforms appears when Cyclops fights the Super-Adaptoid in his flashback.

"Actiiing!":  Cyclops’ emotional speech to Sinister ends with this clunker:  “Just…stay away from my friends!!!”

“Huh?” Moment:  The Friends of Humanity are able to neutralize Jubilee’s powers by simply tying her hands behind her back.

Review:  I just realized that the Cyclops/Jean wedding from these episodes likely inspired their wedding in the comic.  After all, Bob Harras was still involved as a consultant at this time, and we know for a fact that the initial idea behind “Age of Apocalypse” came from a story conference between Harras and the show’s producers.  This could also explain why many felt the marriage came out of nowhere at the end of 1993; it’s not as if the fans were privy to these story conferences, after all.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if it took the FOX cartoon to finally marry the couple?  (Oddly enough, several seasons pass on this show before they officially marry, missing any tie-in with the wedding in X-Men #30 by a few years.)

Anyway, the second season debut is resolved with the heroes predictably escaping danger and rescuing their friends, although Professor X remains in jeopardy and Wolverine leaves for a “Hunt for Morph” subplot.  The portrayal of Morph, or “Dark Morph” as I believe he’s officially known when under Sinister’s thrall, was pretty rare in the days of cartoon characters always on the side of pure right or pure wrong.  Morph’s inner battle could come across as pure cheese, but the performances actually sell the concept.  The confrontation between Morph and Cyclops, the person forced to leave him for dead in the series’ opening storyline, is easily a highlight of the episode.  I often poke fun of Cyclops’ voice acting in this series, but Norm Spencer does a credible job in this episode, bringing a humanity to the character that was often missing.  

The animation is also noticeably improved this episode.  The background designs on Sinister’s lab are truly impressive, evoking the eerie feel from the character’s earliest appearances.  I love the freakish, weird plant/animal hybrids that Sinister uses as his lab equipment in the episode, along with the bug that climbs into Morph’s ear and somehow releases his dark side.  The comics abandoned this element of the character once his Victorian origin was established, but I miss seeing Sinister as this total mystery figure with alien paraphernalia.  We should also be thankful that whomever did the Dick Dastardly voice at the end of episode thirteen is gone, replaced with an appropriate baritone and an accompanying electronic enhancement that reminds me of the Batman: The Animated Series’ Mr. Freeze.  This is a fine debut for Sinister, although in retrospect, I don’t think he ever lives up to these two episodes as the show progresses.

4 comments:

wwk5d said...

Wasn't Peter David the only one who really used most of the Nasty Boys?

I wonder if Morph's appearance in the cartoon led to his being included as a character in AOA...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, they showed up several times on the show iirc (i think it was everytime Sinister showed up so that it wasn't all the X-Men ganging up on him), but the only writer in the comics to use them was Peter David, and I think he only uses them like twice

Dan Lichtenberg said...

We should also be thankful that whomever did the Dick Dastardly voice at the end of episode thirteen is gone, replaced with an appropriate baritone and an accompanying electronic enhancement that reminds me of the Batman: The Animated Series’ Mr. Freeze. This is a fine debut for Sinister, although in retrospect, I don’t think he ever lives up to these two episodes as the show

I loved Sinister in his first appearances on the show. He was creepy just like Apocalypse was. The mechanical voice was great. I even remember the liquid metal sound of his body reforming after Morph shot him the with gun. Just a creepy dude. And no, he doesn't really reach this level again. The season finale is pretty good, but his appearances later in the show are nowhere near as good. His voice always sounded different to me, and in that Apocalypse 4 parter, he's basically Poccy's yes man which just doesn't work at all. Apocalypse got a little goofy too as the show went on, but he at least had some good episodes written around him. Season 2 was basically Sinister's one chance, after this, he's just kind of a nuisance.

@wwk5d
I wonder if Morph's appearance in the cartoon led to his being included as a character in AOA...


At the very least, this was almost certainly the reason for using the name Morph instead of The Changeling. I always wondered why they even bothered, as the AoA Morph bore absolutely no resemblance to Morph from the show or Changeling from the comics. By the way, was AoA Morph ever confirmed to be the Kevin Sidney, the original Changeling from the 60's? I never read Exiles.

Teebore said...

This could also explain why many felt the marriage came out of nowhere at the end of 1993

I was never one of those fans, as I thought it was a perfectly reasonable celebration of the book's 30th anniversary.

Then again, that was still during a time when I naively believed everything that had happened and would happen was part of some grand plan, so what did I know?

@Dan: By the way, was AoA Morph ever confirmed to be the Kevin Sidney, the original Changeling from the 60's? I never read Exiles.

Yeah, Exiles confirmed that Morph was Kevin Sydney, though technically, I think the Morph from Exiles was from a different reality than AoA Morph, but I could be misremembering that. It's been a while since I read it.

In any event, I'm pretty sure it's been established that AoA Morph is Kevin Syndney as well.

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