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 #03: Sentinel

NAME: Sentinel

AFFILIATION: Sentinel program

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Mutant tracking

BACKGROUND:  Scientist Boliviar Trask, as a way to stop the perceived mutant threat to humanity, created the original Sentinels. Trask received government-funds to research his work into eliminating mutants and this was the Sentinels prime objective. Trask was invited to debate Professor Charles Xavier, one of the world’s strongest mutants, in a televised debate on mutant-human relations. Trask remained unconvinced of the lack of threat most mutants posed and revealed his Sentinels to the world. The robots then kidnapped Trask and took him to their leader, Master Mold, where Trask was directed to create more.

Eventually, after Trask was given a mindscan of the X-Men who came to rescue him, he realized that mutants were peaceful and that the Sentinels had to be destroyed.

Trask then sacrificed his life to stop the Sentinels and Master Mold in a massive explosion. Other Sentinels have been created and reprogrammed by numerous people including Sebastian Shaw of the Hellfire Club, Bastion, Cassandra Nova and Apocalypse.

RELATIONSHIPS: Boliviar Trask (creator), Larry Trask (creator), Bastion, Nimrod, Master Mold (leader)

FIRST VERSUS GAME APPEARANCE: X-Men: Children of the Atom

APPEARANCES IN OTHER MEDIA: X-Men: The Last Stand (film), Marvel vs. Capcom (arcade), Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (arcade), X-Men (arcade), X-Men the Animated Series (television), Spider-Man the Animated Series (television), X-Men: Evolution (television), Wolverine and the X-Men animated series (television), X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (SNES), X-Men Legends (PlayStation 2/Xbox), X-Men: The Official Game (PlayStation 2/Xbox), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (PS3/Xbox 360), X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (PlayStation 2/Xbox), X-Men: Next Dimension (Xbox/PlayStation 2/GameCube)