Wednesday, May 28, 2014

X-MEN Episode Forty-Five - February 10, 1996

Love in Vain
Written by Martha Moran

Summary:  Wolverine witnesses the crash-landing of a giant space whale, the Acanti, while meditating in the desert.  Inside the whale is a race of aliens determined to locate the X-Men and use their superhuman bodies as hosts for their offspring.  Meanwhile, Rogue is reunited with her first boyfriend, Cody.  Cody tries to draw Rogue away from the X-Men, and eventually she learns the truth -- Cody has been possessed by the aliens.  Rogue joins the X-Men in the desert after Xavier receives Wolverine’s distress call.  The Acanti’s whale song harms the aliens, giving the X-Men a critical edge.  Rogue tries to rescue Cody, but is forced to acknowledge that he can no longer be human.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The team this episode consists of Xavier, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Gambit, and Beast.  Cyclops and Jean Grey make cameos in the opening, while Jubilee does not appear.
  • Much of this episode is inspired by Claremont/Cockrum Brood stories from the early ‘80s, particularly the arc that begins in Uncanny X-Men #162.
  • Cody first appeared in this series in episode nine, “The Cure.”  He kissed Rogue as an adolescent and fell into a coma.  He claims that the aliens have now cured him.

"Actiiing!":  Rogue’s voice is unusually high this episode.  So much so that I occasionally wondered if she was played by a different voice actress.

Production Note:  The montage closing credits sequence has returned again.

Review:  Every comics fan had to have the same reaction to this episode…“That’s not the Brood!!!”  I wasn’t even much of a fan of the Brood and was annoyed by the arbitrary changes made this episode.  We have aliens that live inside an enslaved space whale, serve a queen mother, and want to house their babies inside superpowered humans.  Yeah, that’s the Brood, and yet bizarrely, the show has chosen to totally redesign them and never call them by name.  I would guess it was a decision made fairly late in the game, also, since Wolverine’s numerous references to the aliens as “cockroaches” remain in the episode.  That's especially galling since the cartoon’s redesigns in absolutely no way resemble roaches -- they almost look like Tars Tarkas, but with Dr. Octopus arms.  Not exactly an inspired design.  I can’t imagine why the Brood designs were deemed unusable; the Brood have already made brief cameo appearances before, so it’s hard to believe that someone suddenly decided they couldn’t be used.  Did the censors abruptly deem the Brood too scary?  Did Legal take a hard look at them and decide they looked too much like Alien?

So, what do we even call these aliens?  The Wiki summary of this episode refers to them as “The Family,” which is a phrase I don’t recall ever hearing in the episode.  The aliens are called “The Colony” repeatedly throughout the story, so I’m going to assume that’s their unofficial name.  I’m guessing that the producers didn’t want to use the Brood name if the characters couldn’t look like the Brood, which is fine, but I would’ve preferred a total reinvention if the characters couldn’t be properly translated in the first place.  The only real difference, aside from the visuals, is that these aliens use spores instead of embryos, another annoying change that’s likely there to appease censors.

Ignoring the purists’ gripes, the episode still has little going for it.  Rogue’s standard character crisis is dramatized nicely in the opening, but her reunion with Cody quickly turns into a joke.  Cody’s now possessed by alien spores and he’s trying to recruit her into joining the little green men.  There’s some relatable, human drama.  Some of the moments lifted from the comics, such as Wolverine fighting off the not-Brood’s possession, are kind of entertaining, but even that turns comical once you see Wolverine morph into an Ed Wood alien.  This is just a disappointment all around, with the possible exception of a very loyal translation of the Acanti, and some surprisingly Cockrum-esque background paintings.

Credit to for the screencaps.

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