Monday, January 27, 2014

X-MEN Episode Thirty-Seven - February 4, 1995

Cold Comfort
Written by Len Uhley

Summary:  Former X-Man Iceman breaks into a series of government facilities.  He’s eventually caught, and then freed by the X-Men.  When Iceman refuses to explain his actions, he’s kept as a prisoner in the mansion.  Jubilee sympathizes with Iceman and releases him.  They sneak into a government compound and encounter X-Factor.  The X-Men follow and a fight ensues.  Eventually, X-Factor’s leader stops the fight, revealing he’s used it as a training exercise.  Iceman discloses that he’s been searching for his ex-girlfriend, Polaris.  He discovers she’s a member of the team, and romantically involved with her teammate Havok.  Later, Iceman is asked to rejoin the X-Men, but he refuses.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The team this episode consists of Professor X, Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, and Jubilee.
  • Iceman debuts this episode, along with the members of the early ‘90s incarnation of X-Factor (Forge, Havok, Polaris, Quicksilver, Wolfsbane, Multiple Man, and Strong Guy.)  Forge originally appeared as an older version of himself in “Days of Future Past.”  Other X-Factor members have made cameos in the past, but never played a role in the story.
  • Cyclops and Havok are shown to be immune from one another’s powers, although the series never gets around to establishing that they’re siblings.
  • Professor X creates mental projections that look similar to the Brood when scaring away a group of guards in one scene.
  • Flashbacks to the early days of the X-Men show Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, and Marvel Girl as members.  Angel isn’t included, as the producers still remember at this point that he didn’t know the team when he debuted in the first season.  The original team is shown fighting the Super-Adaptoid once again, for reasons I don’t quite understand.

Saban Quality:  There’s a glaring animation error that has Wolverine, encased in ice, just staying on the screen as the camera pans left to show Cyclops blasting Iceman off of his feet.  It’s amazing to me that this was never fixed, especially since it seems like a problem that occurred in post-production and not during the actual animation process.  

Review:  This episode is notable for being the third, and one of the last, episodes animated in the dynamic style of the Philippines Animation Studio.  There are other episodes credited to the studio, including two chapters of “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” but this episode and the two-part “Out of the Past” are the only ones I can recall with such fluid, lifelike animation.  (The second Longshot episode, which was delayed for years apparently, is similar to other Philippines Animation Studio jobs, but it always looked a little off to me. And every chapter of “The Dark Phoenix Saga” looked like typical AKOM work to me, regardless of who was credited.)  Aside from the smooth animation, the characters just appear to be better drawn in these episodes.  The facial expressions have a lot of life in them, and the cast doesn’t look as bogged down in superfluous detail lines.  Beast seemed to be a hard character for the animators to nail, though.  The dark areas of his fur are never properly inked in, and he just looks like a goofy teddy bear for much of the episode.

You might also remember this episode as being the only real appearance of Iceman on the show, a blatant bit of fan-service that did the job for me at age fourteen.  And he’s being used as a vehicle to introduce the government-sponsored version of X-Factor, surprisingly enough, so there’s a lot of “Finally!” moments here.  The basic idea behind the story is fine, although Iceman’s allegedly funny lines are some of the worst puns in the history of the show.  The episode is also one of the most flagrant examples of Cyclops being an unlikable jerk during the show’s run, as he grimaces his way through the entire story, annoyed that Prof. X always liked class clown Iceman better.  There’s never even a resolution to the conflict; Cyclops doesn’t have a real moment where he makes peace with Iceman or Xavier, which makes me wonder why the angle was introduced in the first place.  I also have my standard complaint about the ending, which has Iceman being offered a spot on the team again, and of course turning them down.  Because the roster of the X-Men must never change, because we all know lineup changes never made the comic more interesting…

Credit to for the screencaps.


Matt said...

My gosh, Cyclops looks so much cooler with his costume filled in solid black like that!!

Edward said...

I remember vaguely of this episode, and how badly I wanted Iceman to stay with the team.
Ice-gliding should be back to the comics as well, it was so cool!

cyke68 said...

Little did I know at the time, but I can now safely say this is the last episode of the series I really loved. Coming off Dark Phoenix, it just felt like they didn't miss a beat. Ah well. It's pure wish fulfillment for sure, and looks great under not-AKOM. In terms of quality, that gives us more bang for our buck due to the large number of characters assembled.

I watched the show religiously every Saturday morning, and by this point, so did my dad somewhat to his chagrin. I distinctly remember him taking a phone call towards the end of the episode while I was parked in front of the TV. It went something like:

DAD: Hello? I'm going to be late meeting you. I have to finish watching X-Men. They're fighting X-Force in this one.

ME: X-Factor.

DAD: Oh. X-Factor. I'll talk to you later. *click*

I'm sure watching the show was a bit of a chore for him, but he was always a good sport. This time, I could tell me was actually semi-engaged even whilst playing it off.

This episode taught me the mechanics of ice gliding, which I never quite grasped from the comics. I so wanted Bobby to stick around as well.

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