Out of the Past - Part One
Written by Michael Edens
Summary: Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers invade the Morlock Tunnels. She forces Leech to contact Wolverine, whose help she needs to open an alien spaceship that’s trapped in the tunnels. When Wolverine arrives, he’s shocked to discover Lady Deathstrike is his former girlfriend, Yuriko. Gambit and Jubilee secretly trail Wolverine and interfere with his fight with Lady Deathstrike. When Deathstrike misses Wolverine and strikes the spaceship, she’s trapped by the energy it emits. Wolverine uses his claws to free her, but instead unleashes a mysterious alien.
- This episode marks the animated debuts of Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers. Although Lady Deathstrike has a crazy ex-girlfriend motive grafted on, the cartoon keeps her original role as the daughter of the creator of the adamantium-bonding process intact. While she hates Wolverine for receiving the treatment she believes was rightfully hers in the comic, in the cartoon she blames Wolverine for her father’s death. Wolverine denies this.
- Wolverine is seen wearing his Team X uniform during a flashback to the last time Lady Deathstrike saw him. Maverick makes a cameo as the helicopter pilot dropping him off on his mission.
- The basketball game between Wolverine, Gambit, and Jubilee is clearly inspired by the opening scene in X-Men #4. The characters are even wearing the same clothes.
- Lady Deathstrike is not Wolverine’s former lover. The producers have apparently decided to merge her with Mariko Yashida.
- Macon, Cole, and Reese of the Reavers are cyborgs even before meeting Wolverine, which contradicts the original comic book continuity.
- In the cartoon’s continuity, Wolverine was abducted and forced into the Weapon X project after getting set up on a Team X mission. In the original Weapon X serial, he was kidnapped in a parking lot by plainclothes agents.
Creative Differences: Lady Deathstrike’s scenes had to be sent back to the Philippines, because the animators didn’t draw a shirt in the middle of her costume. (Which is actually true to the comics, but too risqué for kids’ TV.)
"Actiiing!": Professor Xavier screaming “Powwerrr!!!! Incredible power!!!” when he telepathically contacts the alien inside the spacecraft always makes me laugh.
Approved By Broadcast Standards: The word “kill” is used at least twice in the episode. Usually, censors forced the writers to use terms like “waste” or “eliminate” when discussing death.
Review: I think everyone who watched this show first-run remembers this two-parter. For starters, these episodes aired in prime time, during FOX’s experiment of putting its popular Saturday Morning material in front of a more mainstream audience. It’s my understanding that the prime time ratings weren’t great (I believe FOX aired this on Friday night, hoping its audience could cross over with The X-Files), but even if adults didn’t tune in, I’m sure every faithful kid viewer was excited to see X-Men put on the air at night, just like a real show.
This two-parter is also notable for using a new studio, Philippine Animation Studio, Inc. X-Men is simply not known for quality animation. The character designs would look fine in a comic book, but were far too detailed and “realistic” to work with the show’s limited budget, often creating a look that could be charitably called “clunky.” These episodes, however, have an incredibly smooth look, and an eye-catching color scheme that’s a noticeable contrast to the series’ standard drabness. This is how I wanted X-Men to look every week, but unfortunately this studio will only animate a handful of episodes. Some fans have theorized that FOX put more money into these episodes because they knew they would air in prime time, but that assumes FOX had its schedule marked out a year or so in advance, which is highly unlikely.
Regarding the story, this two-parter introduces the third season by delving even deeper into X-lore. The first season introduced the basics of the concept, and the second season opened up the world a bit by fleshing out the cast’s origins and exploring more outlandish concepts such as Mojoworld and the Savage Land. The third season finally incorporates the cosmic storylines from the early days of The All-New, All-Different X-Men, but the producers shrewdly decide to slowly build up to the introduction of Lilandra, the Shi’ar, and the Phoenix Force.
The season opens very unexpectedly with Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers, committing their own kid-friendly version of the Morlock Massacre. They want to loot a mysterious spaceship (one that’s somehow landed deep in the tunnels under New York without being noticed by anyone on the surface), and the key to unlocking it just so happens to be Deathstrike’s ex, Wolverine. Just examining the basics of the plot, it’s hard to discern why the producers decided to reveal Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike were a couple. Due to his connection to her father, Deathstrike is already aware of his existence, which is all that’s really needed to bring him into the story. I presume Deathstrike and Mariko were merged in order to give Wolverine juicier flashbacks during the episode, which I guess is justifiable (Wolverine flashbacks were still rare enough to matter at this point, both in the comics and the cartoon). Like I’ve mentioned before, the animation is extremely polished, making the fight scenes far more entertaining than usual, and as a fan of the comic, it’s just fun to see more characters from various eras of the book thrown together into one story. No one’s characterization is sacrificed in order for this to work (the Reavers probably would like to loot a Shi’ar spacecraft), and the science fiction elements are introduced just slowly enough to make them fit into the existing reality of the show. This is certainly an unusual way to tease the introduction of the Shi’ar continuity, but I think it works.