Animated property review: X-Men The Animated Series

X-Men the Animated Series Vol. 1  |  Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2009

X-Men origins told correctly

If there ever was a quintessential property in the 1990s of comic book origin, it’s X-Men the Animated Series. The Fox staple in the early part of the decade was a great excuse to get up on a Saturday morning to watch cartoons. It also was a great learning tool for those who didn’t know much about the X-Men and wanted an introductory course to the famous mutants.

What we love about the series is the fact that it takes itself seriously. It told stories just as the comic book version told them 10 years before, and it’s pretty close to the origin stories with only minor changes. Our only gripe with some of the episodes in the first volume is the brevity of the story arcs. Sagas such as Days of Future Past and The Cure are told in one or two episodes, something that isn’t normally be done in the comics. However, some are revisited in later seasons of the show, so that can be forgiven.

The production values of the Animated Series, for its time, were top-notch. The writing was superb, and the coloring and drawing were extraordinary for a cartoon production. Few series, with the exception of fellow Fox production Spider-Man, could match what the Animated Series brought to the table in terms of visuals and storytelling. The first volume sets the pace with Night of the Sentinels, and it’s obvious that care is taken with characters and their backgrounds. Most characters are true to their history and those who have been re-established for the Animated Series are well done and not out of place (i.e. Morph).

The voice acting is another standout established within the first volume. The characters all sound like they should, and it is this first set of episodes that established the standard for future X-Men voice acting projects for the next 17 years. The best example: All X-Men characters used in Capcom’s versus series through Marvel vs. Capcom 2 were voiced by their Animated Series actors.

The first volume of the Animated Series hit DVD in 2009, a welcome addition to any X-Men fan’s collection. The first 16 episodes encompass the two-disc set and were only $20 at the time of purchase. That’s a bargain for well-crafted X-Men stories in a series known for its technical prowess that seemed to take forever to come to DVD.

How we grade

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Voice acting: 10/10

Plots: 8/10

Like the comics?: 8/10

Overall rating: 26/30 or 8.6

Marvel character highlight #02: Omega Red

NAME: Arkady Gregorivich

AFFILIATION: Red Mafia, Upstarts, The Hand

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Can project Carbonadium tentacles from his wrists; drains life force from living beings to regenerate  energy.

BACKGROUND:  Arkady Gregorivich was once an imprisoned serial killer in his native Russia. Instead of killing him the KGB attempted to make a super soldier and subjected him to experiments. These trials gave him mutant powers through carbonadium implants and genetic treatments. The downside of the experiments was that he was now required to survive off of victims’ life energy. Omega Red was then placed in suspended animation until he was revived after the fall of the Soviet Union. Since his re-emergence, he has taken on foes such as Wolverine, Kitty Pryde and Spider-Man.

RELATIONSHIPS: Wolverine, nemesis; Sabertooth, nemesis; X-Men, nemesis

FIRST VERSUS GAME APPEARANCE: Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter

APPEARANCES IN OTHER MEDIA: X-Men the Animated Series (television), X-Men Evolution (television), X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (SNES), X-Men: Children of the Atom (arcade), Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (arcade), X2: Wolverine’s Revenge (multiplatform), X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (multiplatform), Hulk Vs. (multiplatform)