Thursday, July 10, 2014

X-MEN Episode Thirty-Four - September 21, 1996


No Mutant is an Island
Written by Sandy Scesny


Summary:  Distraught over Phoenix’s death, Cyclops quits the X-Men and travels to his childhood home, the McNeil Orphanage.  He’s reunited with Sarah, a childhood friend who now runs the orphanage.  She reveals that local businessman Zebediah Kilgrave has adopted several children.  Cyclops is suspicious when Kilgrave’s latest foster-child, Rusty, refuses to return home with him.  Eventually, Cyclops discovers that Kilgrave is using his persuasion powers to gain political influence, and to brainwash his foster-children to join him as mutant supremacists.  Cyclops defeats Kilgrave, realizing he has a responsibility to use his powers to help others.  He returns to the X-Men, just as a Cerebro scan announces Phoenix is alive.


Continuity Notes:  
  • Zebediah Kilgrave is the Purple Man, a villain from the early days of Daredevil that’s occasionally resurrected.  He covers his purple skin with makeup and gloves in the cartoon.
  • Other mutants adopted by Kilgrave include Boom-Boom, Skids, and Wiz Kid (only referred to as “Taki” in the episode).  It’s an ’89 Handbook Update extravaganza.


“Um, Actually…”:  The name of Cyclops’ orphanage in the comics is “The State Home for Foundlings,” located in Nebraska.  Rusty is also much younger in the cartoon, as he appears to be thirteen at most in this episode.  Rusty’s first appearance in the comics involved him joining the Navy and almost hooking up with a prostitute.  Finally, Purple Man is not a mutant.


Saban Quality:  The animation in this episode is consistently wonky, but my favorite screw-up would be the fire hydrants in Cyclops’ hometown that are the size of beer cans.


Production Note:  A different version of this episode, one with numerous animation corrections, aired in Europe.  Also, the closing credits are back to the montage.


Review:  Boy, this was certainly worth waiting two years for, wasn’t it?  Yes, we’ve finally reached “No Mutant is an Island,” the infamous episode that screwed up the X-Men’s animated continuity forever, and has the distinction of being perhaps the only episode animated in China.  I can’t imagine what exactly is in this episode that generated two years worth of corrections, since it’s one of the most pedestrian plots in the history of the series.  The credits list “Hung Ying, China” as the animation studio, which is presumably the Hong Ying Animation I see listed online.  It’s my understanding that Chinese animation was considered the lowest of the dregs back in the ‘90s.  Considering the budget the show was often forced to deal with, I can’t say I’m shocked X-Men eventually ended up in China, but it is surprising that one of the rare episodes with a significant continuity point from this era was sent to this studio.  I will say that, as odd as the episode often looks, there is a bounce to the animation that the AKOM episodes usually lack.  And the X-Men gathering for Phoenix’s wake in the opening don’t look so bad; off-model, but not ridiculously so.  As the episode progresses, however, it’s clear that this style doesn’t suit an action cartoon at all, and the number of animation errors is simply ridiculous.


As for the plot, it’s one more Cyclops story that finds him in a small town from his past that’s holding a secret, with yet another evil Xavier analogue that’s turning mutants against humans as the villain.  Did anyone not notice the similarities between this plot and the “Secrets…” episode?  Is this really the only Cyclops story the producers could conceive?  This is Cyclops’ mourning episode, yet he spends very little time reacting to Jean’s “death” and most of the episode dealing with this sub-Matlock level plot involving a corrupt businessman, the governor, and the construction of a hydroelectric dam.  Introducing Sarah as a potential new love interest is also an odd choice, given that Cyclops has just left Jean’s memorial and the producers knew she was going to be revived in the episode’s final scene anyway.  It is fun to see some more mutants you’d never expect to see appear in the cartoon, and Norm Spencer delivers one of his better Cyclops performances, but why are we getting another Cyclops in a small town story, with yet another obscure villain that X-fans probably don’t even recognize?  If Rusty and Skids are going to be introduced, why not make Stryfe the story’s villain?  This is a Cyclops story, after all, so he’d actually be perfect.


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

1 comment:

A Painter said...

I always wonder why they didn't use Mesmero for this episode. Same basic powers, and he's an actual X-Men villain to boot!