Tuesday, January 28, 2014

X-MEN Episode Forty-Four - February 25, 1995


Orphan's End
Written by Douglas Booth

Summary:  Cyclops and Storm are alone in the mansion when they receive an emergency beacon from a Shi’ar officer.  The fugitive they’re asked to apprehend is revealed as Corsair.  After looking at Corsair’s locket, which has a picture of his family from decades earlier, Cyclops realizes Corsair is his father.  Corsair explains that he’s being set up by a corrupt Shi’ar officier who wants to kill a witness Corsair’s protecting.  Eventually, with the help of a crew member onboard the Shi’ar ship, Cyclops is able to verify Corsair’s story.  The rogue officer is exposed, allowing Corsair to spend time on Earth reconnecting with Cyclops.

Continuity Notes:  
  • This episode is loosely based on the plot of Uncanny X-Men #154, which featured Cyclops and Storm aiding Corsair against Sidri Hunters.  Corsair also reveals his true identity to Cyclops in the issue.
  • Storm’s model actually changes this episode!  She’s wearing a ponytail, which is based on the one she occasionally wore in the comics of this era.
  • Deathbird has a cameo during a flashback, looking exactly as she appeared in the comics circa Uncanny X-Men #274-277.

Approved By Broadcast Standards:  Corsair tells Cyclops that after being abducted by the Shi’ar, his mother was “destroyed before my eyes.”

“Huh?” Moment:  The Shi’ar craft hunting Corsair has English characters written on its display monitors.

Review:  In case you’re wondering, this is not the Cyclops story that ended with the discovery of Jean Grey alive and well on Earth.  That one is still over a year away, even though the show’s continuity is already several episodes past it.  This is the episode that borrows heavily from the Claremont/Cockrum era from the comics, following the basic idea of Uncanny X-Men #154 while inserting several new plot elements.  Douglas Booth has replaced the Sidri with a rogue Shi’ar officer, one that’s so corrupt it’s obvious he’s evil just by his crazy eyes and menacing eyebrows.  During the course of the story, Cyclops and Storm go from chasing Corsair, to befriending him, to turning on him (once they discover that he has his own motivations for rescuing the witness), to going back to his side and ultimately defeating the corrupt Shi’ar villain.  The twists are paced rather well, and the story manages to work in a Storm vs. Starjammers fight that’s actually pretty enjoyable.

I seem to recall a string of episodes from this era that look surprisingly decent, even if they are trademark AKOM.  I believe this is the first in that run; the individual drawings look more consistent and the cel-to-cel animation is a little less awkward.  Cyclops looks noticeably better this episode, as the animators have followed the lead of the Philippines Animation Studio and inverted the colors on his costume.  Black with blue highlights is simply a more striking look than the inverse.  I complained about the color scheme of the earlier episodes of this series, but by this point I think the color design of the show is quite strong.  

So, Cyclops is looking nice in his spotlight episode.  Good for him.  For most of the episode, his acting is still outrageously bad.  Norm Spencer’s performance is so needlessly loud and overbearing during the opening acts that it’s hard to buy into any of the emotional drama.  To his credit, he starts to calm down and actually do some legitimate acting towards the end of the episode, which makes me wonder why the voice directors were ever happy with his standard rigid performances.  If he were capable of going in a different direction, it’s amazing that no one bothered to push him towards a more natural performance years earlier.

Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/ for the screencaps.


Matt said...

I was totally caught up with the original Claremont run by the time this episode aired, and I really liked that, even if they didn't adapt issue 154 completely, they used the Cyclops/Storm/Corsair grouping as in that story.

wwk5d said...

I'm guessing you're reviewing them in broadcast order, not production order, given that Jean was alive 2 episodes ago, no?

I can only imagine what it must have been like for the people who watched these episodes live as they aired, and how confusing it must have been.

cyke68 said...

I think Corsair asks about Jean at one point, and Cyclops has a throwaway line to the effect of "she got better" so it seems like this still should've taken place after Dark Phoenix. It's odd that this would follow right on the heels of Havok's introduction though, so the script order probably called for a few of those lost episodes between this and "Cold Comfort." In fact, I think the latter was supposed to go BEFORE Dark Phoenix.

And yes, AKOM taking a page out of the Philippines' book is a change for the better. I think this is the only time we see Storm in the ponytail though; it's a shame they didn't demonstrate more willingness to freshen up the character models, as even this slight variation is nice to see.

On that note, Cyclops makes a "costume change" in the middle of the episode, going from his standard uniform to the leather jacket! It was apparently stashed away on the monorail, just in case. (And this sadly concludes our Cyclops Leather Jacket Watch. It's the last time he wears it in the series. Devastating, I know.)

And speaking of that, this episode brings us Storm's immortal cry of, "I SHALL MEET YOU AT THE MONORAIL!"

This is the first of very few episodes in which Wolverine does not appear.

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