Monday, April 22, 2013

X-MEN Episode Twenty - December 11, 1993

Time Fugitives (Part 1)
Written by Michael Edens

Summary:  In 3999 AD, Cable sees his timeline erased in a storm.  His computer shows him images of the past, revealing that Bishop’s earlier time travels have disrupted reality.  In 2055 AD, Bishop returns home to discover that he’s inadvertently created a new timeline, one where a plague has decimated the mutant population.  He returns to the 1990s to stop the spread of the plague.  He teams with the X-Men and discovers that Apocalypse created the virus.  The plague is destroyed, which leads to a super virus developing that wipes out even more mutants in Cable’s timeline.

Continuity Notes: 
  • The plague is an amalgam of the Legacy Virus and the Techno-Organic (or Transmode) Virus. 
  • War Machine has two cameos in this episode.  One of Apocalypse’s robots in the future uses the design, and in a scene set in the present day, War Machine is seen standing next to Nick Fury and G. W. Bridge as they watch a Senate hearing on the plague.  It’s obvious the animators were looking at current comics, like X-Force #20-23, for reference for these various cameo appearances.
  • Other cameos in the episode include:  Gamesmaster (who’s also watching the Senate hearings on television), Cable’s team from the early issues of his ongoing series (Kane, Jenskot, and various other characters no one remembers), Colossus, Illyana, Cannonball, Warpath, and Feral (Illyana and Feral are shown to be infected with the plague in the future).

Saban Quality:  When Bishop returns to the future, Forge tells him that no group known as the X-Men has ever existed.  He’s wearing an X-Men uniform while saying this.

“Um, Actually…”:  Instead of the Professor (who was once Ship, we later discover), Cable has a portable cube that he calls “Computer.”  Both Computer and Ship have female voices in the cartoon, but I’m not sure if they were played by the same actress.

"Actiiing!":  Graydon Creed, who’s working with Apocalypse and stirring up public hysteria, has a line I’ll never forget.  “Let the world see that mutants carry the plague!”  The slow, phonetic delivery of that line is so bizarre it’s always stayed with me.

Approved By Broadcast Standards:  The Friends of Humanity are once again using laser blasters instead of guns.

Review:  When production of this show began, Cable was just a mercenary with hi-tech weaponry, as opposed to a mutant messiah from the far future engaged in an eternal battle with Apocalypse.  By the second season, Marvel had shoehorned quite a bit into Cable’s backstory, and the cartoon was more than eager to embrace Cable 2.0.  Even though it didn’t seem to occur to anyone working on the comics at the time, having Cable interact with the other mutant time-traveler of the day, Bishop, is a pretty obvious setup for a story.  And the concept behind this two-parter isn’t bad.  Bishop’s previous trip through time has accidentally allowed Apocalypse to infect humans and mutants with a virus in the revised timeline he's created.  When Bishop travels back in time again to fix his mistake, he makes things even worse.  Mutants needed that virus in order to develop antibodies for an even worse disease, one that’s so devastating it will eventually kill the mutant population.  This leads Cable with a dilemma straight out of Jim Shooter’s old playbook:  He must allow his mortal enemy Apocalypse to win in order to ultimately save the mutant race. 

If I have any complaints about the concept, it would be the fuzzy connection between Bishop’s first appearance and this one.  There’s some effort to have Forge explain how Senator Kelly living and becoming President could lead to a plague spreading across the population, but it’s rushed through with only vague details.  It’s not important for the overall story, all the audience needs to know is that there are unintended consequences for every action, but it would be nice to see a clear connection between Bishop’s time travel missions.

Credit to for the screencaps.


Teebore said...

I remember this two-parter being a highlight of the second season, though that could just be my nostalgic enjoyment of Cable and time travel stories in general shining through (but I also remember appreciating the moral dilemma, and the ultimate solution).

Cable watching his timeline being physically destroyed by a storm is also one of those things that made an impression on me, just for the way it visualized a time travel side effect even while not making much sense (like the disappearing picture in Back to the Future).

Kane, Jenskot, and various other characters no one remembers

Hey, there was also...okay, you're right, I have no idea.

Anonymous said...


I was a pretty big fan of this two-parter too, but then again I really, REALLY liked this show's version of Bishop as a kid, in addition to Cable. I think I remember Fox playing all of his appearances for like a week in their hour-long afternoon line-up, along with Power Rangers and early Digimon. That was an awesome week, btw lol

yrzhe said...

Wasn't this episode (or was it the next one?) written by Bronze Age Superman writer Elliot S! Maggin? That always suprised me as someone I really didn't expect to be involved in a '90s X-Men cartoon, but I agree with everyone else, this two-parter was one of the season's high marks.

And actually building off of Cable and Bishop's similar backstories as time travellers from dystopian futures was a really clever idea that the comics should've done years earlier.

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