Friday, November 29, 2013

X-MEN Episode Thirty-Five - September 24, 1994


Obsession
Written by Adam Gilad


Summary:  Archangel’s hired researchers discover a way to kill Apocalypse.  Meanwhile, Apocalypse appears in a giant spacecraft over Liberty Island.  The X-Men invade the spacecraft and discover the sentient personality, Ship, that has been forced to follow Apocalypse’s will.  While Beast works with Ship to defeat Apocalypse, Rogue follows a fanatical Archangel on his assassination plot.  Archangel discovers that he was duped by Apocalypse all along as his plan fails.  Ship traps Apocalypse in a force field, creates a pod around him, and shoots it into orbit.  Unable to repair the damage inflicted by Apocalypse, Ship then crashes into the ocean.


Continuity Notes:  
  • The X-Men featured in this episode are Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Gambit, and Rogue.
  • Ship makes his debut on the show.  “His” isn’t a very accurate term, however, as Ship is given a female voice.
  • Archangel is no longer “bald,” as Rogue takes off his partial face mask and reveals that luxurious mullet he had in the comics at the time.  Archangel’s wing-blades are also drawn properly this episode, as opposed to the arrowheads we saw in episode ten.


“Um, Actually…”:  My memory is that Ship was always referred to as a male during his appearances in X-Factor.  I do know that when Ship became the sentient robot Prosh in X-Force, he was clearly male (or as male as a robot gets).


"Actiiing!":  You hear that unique Canadian pronunciation of “sorry” numerous times in this episode’s opening, as Archangel berates his archeological staff.


Review:  I tend to view “Obsession” as one of the better episodes from this season, but I think Archangel’s hysterical behavior, and bad acting, do a lot to drag the episode down.  The Apocalypse/Archangel rivalry was at its zenith when I first got into comics, so I’ll always have some nostalgic affection for any story pitting Archangel against Apocalypse, and Ship was the kind of obscure character I loved to see turn up in the cartoon, so I guess I’m revealing my biases early.  I really wanted to like this episode as a kid.  Having the researcher with the foolproof way to kill Apocalypse actually turn out to be Apocalypse is a nice use of his shapeshifting powers (maybe the only one during the show’s run), and there is a strong episode-to-episode continuity with the original Archangel storyline, as Rogue is automatically sympathetic to his cause because she absorbed his persona months earlier.  What’s annoying is the casual way Ship is tossed aside at the episode’s end, not to mention Cyclops’ blunt declaration that a hothead like Archangel could never join his precious X-Men.  That whole “illusion of change” edict was really starting to grate on me at this point, and years later, it still bothers me.  From this point forward, too many of the episodes just have a feeling that they’re killing time, which is not a problem the show had in the early years.


Credit to http://marvel.wikia.com/ for the screencap.

7 comments:

David said...

I was quite a bit younger than you. I was 5 in October of 1992 when the show debuted (I turned 6 like a week later), and I wasn't into the comics. So pretty much everything I knew about X-Men came first from the show. But by the time Season 2 rolled around, I had learned a lot more. And one thing I knew was that the roster of the X-Men, in the comics, was constantly in flux. And yet the show's roster remained constant (well, Morph is in the first episode and gets replaced by Jubilee, and then rejoins but quits in the same episode later). But I agree about the "illusion of change" thing. It's especially irritating in an episode like this, which owes a HUGE debt to earlier continuity. Why not just enjoy the ride and let some things change? It's probably the reason that X-Men, while still a show I have a great deal of nostalgia for, is no longer my favorite Marvel Comics television offering (Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is preferable, as the Spider-Man show that aired simultaneously with the X-Men is much closer than I would have thought it at the time).

Anonymous said...

"Having the researcher with the foolproof way to kill Apocalypse actually turn out to be Apocalypse is a nice use of his shapeshifting powers (maybe the only one during the show’s run)"

He used those same powers in the season 2 episode Time Fugitives.

cyke68 said...

I also wanted to love this episode for the reasons you state, and actually found that it checked all the boxes for me. Some shaky dialogue, definitely, but I guess I thought that appropriate for the angsty, intense depiction of Archangel we're dealing with here. It nicely hearkens back to early X-Factors, though the comics at the time were moving away from this version of the character. And Apocalypse, well... he was quite fond of soliloquies on this show, so I guess whether you find that charming or annoying is a matter of preference. Isn't this where he has that line about being the "rocks of the eternal shore" or something? It sounds like purple prose lifted directly from the contemporary comics and I just can't bring myself to condemn it.

I really doubt this registers or is of interest for anyone else, but: Cyclops is drawn with his leather jacket (and no gloves) here, a look we saw once before in the second season. It seems a somewhat appropriate to call attention to this, given the show's rigid consistency in terms of its cast and character designs. Cyclops goes back and forth between this and his regular costume throughout the third season, and it's just such a weird, arbitrary change. The studio never followed new model sheets for anyone else, so for a character not exactly known for a diverse array of looks, it seems especially odd. Was the jacket just easier to illustrate I wonder?

This might be my favorite stand-alone episode, come to think of it.

Matt said...

Hmm, of all the episodes you've covered so far, this is the one I remember the least. I suspect that will be the case more and more moving forward, as I stopped re-watching my VHS recordings somewhere around season 3 (though I did continue to record).

I have no problem with the "illusion of change" in comics, where series run for decades and every new writer wants to be able to revisit certain characters and concepts. But in a show with a finite run (they may not have known for certain if they'd stop at 65 episodes, but they had to have known it couldn't go much longer than that), there's no reason not to cycle characters in and out regularly, with some leaving the team -- perhaps even permenantly -- while others join.

Teebore said...

I'd always read Ship as male (or as male as a sentient computer can be) as well...which now has me wondering if that was ever established, pre-Prosh, in the comics, or just a function of a subconscious bias on my part...

G. Kendall said...

"And Apocalypse, well... he was quite fond of soliloquies on this show, so I guess whether you find that charming or annoying is a matter of preference. Isn't this where he has that line about being the "rocks of the eternal shore" or something? "

Yes, that's the one. And I believe this is the original voice actor's final episode as Apocalypse, so I'm glad he went out with some of his best lines.


"It seems a somewhat appropriate to call attention to this, given the show's rigid consistency in terms of its cast and character designs."

It's also around this time that the animators occasionally switch up the color of Cyke's costume, making it black with blue highlights, as opposed to blue with black highlights. He looks much better in the black, I think. It's odd that the show chose BLUE instead of black (even on the Blackbird!) so many times.

cyke68 said...

You actually inspired me to watch this again yesterday. Archangel had some real howlers too: "I'll follow him through perdition's fire until he breathes blood and rolls over, SPLIT...BROKEN...FINISHED!" Even Rogue was telling him to chill.

Gambit wants to be doubly sure you remember his name. He announces it in the same dramatic line reading twice in the episode.

As for costumes: as I recall, it was the Not-AKOM studio (only?) that rendered Cyclops in the darker colors. Offhand, I can remember them handling "Out of the Past" 1 & 2 and the Iceman episode. Too bad, as the animation in their episodes was just so much smoother, with more expressive body language and colors that really popped. There was this highly detailed, kind of dimly-lit close-up of Wolverine's face in the season premiere that still stands out in my mind as damn gorgeous. I can't imagine AKOM ever pulling something like that off.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...