Friday, May 30, 2014

X-MEN Episode Fifty - April 27, 1996


Xavier Remembers
Written by Stephanie Mathison


Summary:  After suffering a minor concussion, Professor Xavier falls into an apparent coma.  Inside the Astral Plane, Xavier hears a voice calling him, as he reflects on the events that led to the creation of the X-Men.  Eventually, Xavier realizes that the voice belongs to the Shadow King.  As Shadow King’s psychic creations invade the mansion, Jean Grey enters the Astral Plane to help Xavier.  With her aid, Xavier is able to send Shadow King back into the void within the Astral Plane.


Continuity Notes:  
  • What caused Xavier’s concussion is never revealed.  I guess this was considered a minor enough detail to leave out.
  • Xavier’s first meeting with Shadow King, and Storm as a child, from Uncanny X-Men #117 is recreated in a flashback.
  • Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, and the five original X-Men all appear in their original costumes during a very brief flashback.  The flashback of the original X-Men training in the Danger Room from “Sanctuary” is also repeated.


“Um, Actually…”:  In Xavier’s flashback, the Shadow King is not in his Amahl Farouk form.  (Perhaps the censors thought it was too stereotypical?  Or the producers thought Ren & Stimpy owned the fez by this point?)  Instead, he resembles FBI investigator Jacob Reisz, the person whose body Shadow King stole circa Uncanny X-Men #255.


“Huh?” Moment:  In a flashback to their first battle, Xavier and Shadow King morph into giant Kirby monsters inside the Astral Plane.


Production Note:  The closing credits have returned to running a brief scene from a previous episode again.


Review:  “Xavier Remembers” has a solid premise, but boy is the execution shaky.  Very little of this episode actually consists of Xavier’s mental trip to the past; instead, we’re treated to scene after scene of poorly choreographed fights between the X-Men and fake versions of Sabretooth, Mr. Sinister, and the Sentinels.  Even inside the Astral Plane, Xavier spends much of his time fighting Shadow King in various forms, when he isn’t floating around in a dead empty space.  The history of Xavier is rich territory to mine -- an alcoholic mother, abusive stepfather and stepbrother, a military stint, crippled at a young age, two failed relationships with horrible endings, and a friendship that turns into a deep rivalry.  Some of this material would have to be toned down for the show, but the series at its best manages to hint at the more adult ideas in the comics without scarring any kids for life.  (Even by the third episode we already have a vague reference to the Holocaust.)  This episode brings us a quickie recap of Uncanny X-Men #117, a very brief clip of the X-Men in an earlier incarnation, and…that’s really it.  If the action scenes worked this could at least be an excuse to see a montage of the X-Men’s villains fighting the team, but all of the fights are rather bland, and the overall animation this episode is weak by Season Four standards.  And as the Xavier episode, this is a major disappointment.  Xavier’s past was explored much more effectively in the first chapter of “Sanctuary”…which wasn’t an Xavier-specific episode!

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

2 comments:

Matt said...

I've always thought this episode had the dopiest title.

wwk5d said...

I wonder if watching the episodes in production order, rather than the order they aired, would make for a better viewing experience? It helped quite a bit with season 4 of Alias.