Weapon X, Lies, and Videotape
Written by David McDermott & Steven Melching
Summary: Wolverine receives a postcard that unleashes hidden memories of his past. He travels to the abandoned Weapon X facility for answers. The Beast insists on joining him. Other test subjects of the project soon appear -- Sabretooth, Maverick, and Silver Fox. Silver Fox reveals she sent the postcard in order to draw the four of them together so that their handprints could unlock a hidden room. Inside the room is the robot Talos, which is programmed to kill all surviving Weapon X agents. With Beast’s help, Talos is contained and the Weapon X facility self-destructs. Wolverine tries to convince Silver Fox that their relationship was real, but she refuses to believe him.
One of Wolverine’s flashbacks to the Weapon X days is clearly inspired by the flashbacks in X-Men #5-7. He’s seen fighting Omega Red again, although now he’s wearing his proper Team X uniform, as opposed to his X-Men uniform.
The dates on Professor Thorton’s videos of the Weapon X agents are 10-17-73 and 11-3-73. I believe Barry Windsor-Smith has said the Weapon X serial was intended to be set during the Vietnam era, which might’ve been why the producers chose those dates.
“Um, Actually…”: One of Professor Thorton’s videos describes Wolverine and Sabretooth’s healing factors. For some reason, this power is visualized by having Sabretooth morph into this furry early ‘90s costume! Later, when he takes his glove off, we see his skin is the same beige color as his costume. Amazingly, the animators seem to think Sabretooth’s skin is brown and beige, even though in the same episode we see him out-of-costume in normal clothes, pasty skin visible.
Saban Quality: Wolverine and Sabretooth’s lip synch is briefly switched during one scene. Cyclops’ headgear is also mis-colored twice during his brief appearance in the episode’s opening. I will say, however, that overall the animation continues to improve. When the episode briefly flashes back to Season Two’s “Repo Man,” it’s obvious that the newer episodes are more polished.
Approved By Broadcast Standards: Shiva from the comics has been renamed Talos, in an effort not to offend Hindus. Also, Wolverine remarks that he was trained to “take people out” by the Weapon X project. Sometimes the word “kill” is okay and other times it isn’t, I guess. More censor notes can be found here: http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/backstage/melching/weaponx.php
Review: I believe this was another episode that aired in prime time, indicating that FOX seemed to think pretty highly of it. You might assume FOX withheld some episodes for prime time because the content wasn’t suitable for Saturday Morning, and the issues this episode adapts certainly have some adult themes, but this episode turns out to be fairly tame. The title might be the only thing remotely objectionable about it, assuming you even get the reference.
The hook of the story, obviously, is that you’re getting answers about Wolverine’s past. If you’re only familiar with the cartoons this is exciting new information for you, and if you’ve read the comics you get the satisfaction of seeing more obscure characters and plot points adapted for the series. If you’ve read any of Larry Hama’s Wolverine run from around issues #48-68, much of this will be very familiar to you, right down to Wolverine’s Lotus Seven and his keychain. Unfortunately, Larry Hama was never asked to write for the show, which means much of the political intrigue and emotional weight from those old stories is gone.
As a character study of Wolverine, this feels a bit empty. The episode addresses his frustration with his memory gaps and touches upon his feelings for Silver Fox, but even with Cal Dodd’s consistently strong portrayal of the character, Wolverine rarely feels sympathetic during the story. Heck, Wolverine was more interesting even in the previous episode, and that was largely a vehicle to introduce Nightcrawler. Casting Beast as Wolverine’s companion is also a strange decision, given that the two barely have a history together. I understand that he serves a plot function as the one who figures out much of the Weapon X facility’s technology, but his connection to Wolverine is so meager he just feels out-of-place for most of the episode. I barely noticed any of this when the episode first aired, however. It’s a story about Wolverine’s past, and that was still pretty exciting in 1995. Knowing that virtually all of this episode was coming straight from the comics, as garbled as the translation might be at times, also helped to make this one of my favorites. In retrospect, however, “Repo Man” would seem to be the superior Wolverine story from the show’s run.
Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/
xmen/ for the screencaps.