Norm Spencer as Cyclops/Scott Summers
Cathal J. Dodd as Wolverine/Logan
Iona Morris and later Alison Sealey Smith as Storm/Ororo Munroe
George Buzo as The Beast/Dr. Hank McCoy
Lenore Zann as Rogue
Catherine Disher as Jean Grey
Chris Potter and later Tony Daniels as Gambit/Remy LeBeau
Alyson Court as Jubilee
Cedric Smith as Professor Charles Xavier
Has it already been over a year since the last TV show I reviewed? Guess I better do another. This one is of the X-Men cartoon of the 1990s. Many of us were introduced to the X-verse by this very show. And I think that after all these years, it still holds up.
One thing that is disappointing is the animation. It’s kind of sloppy. Even more so by today’s standards, but X-Men came at the time of Animaniacs and Batman: The Animated Series. We had come to expect better.
But beyond that, there’s not too much to complain about. The plots are pretty good. The first season is mostly devoted to the humans’ intolerance of mutants and the Sentinel (giant robot) program. Although Magneto, The Juggernaut, Sabretooth, Apocalypse, Mystique and her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants do make their first appearances here, the Sentinels are the villains who pop up the most in this season. This is good because it makes the point of the X-Men clear. What’s more, we get a spectacular conclusion when the head Sentinel, Master Mold, ends up turning on the humans. It turns out that Master Mold is doing it because he has concluded that “mutants are human” and therefore his directive to protect humans requires forcibly stopping humans and mutants from fighting each other. This makes for a villain who does wrong yet almost convincingly believes that he is right. After all, doesn’t it seem like Master Mold sees things more clearly than his creators?
The second season also has a story arc leading to a massive payoff. But I won’t spoil it here because it thrives on surprises. Along with Babylon 5 and Xena: Warrior Princess, X-Men was also one of the innovators of seasonal building that helped bring us to the climax. And, of course, the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix sagas are adapted well in the third season. The last two seasons don’t do arcs except for some multi-parters. but still have plenty of continuity connections. They realized that they had done all they could with the arcs and did smaller and shorter stories rather than make vain attempts to top themselves. Not a bad call.
Acting is above average. The majority of the main cast gives good performances, but the guests are rather mixed. I’m afraid that this acting can’t measure up to that of the Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man cartoons of the same era.
Quite a bit is done with the characters. The love triangle between Cyclops, Jean, and Wolverine is very solid for a kids’ show. The Beast’s love of Shakespeare and status as the technological genius of the group are showcased here. Jubilee serves as the young rookie for the kids to identify with. These are but a few examples.
The comic book has a revolving cast. Seeking to appeal to a more mainstream audience, the crew kept the lineup the same throughout this series. Certain episodes did include some X-Men not in that lineup like Colossus and Psylocke, though.
This show may be lacking in the animation department, and the voice acting isn’t all it could be, but the plots and characters make it stand out. And to me, these characteristics are what count the most.
Everything accounted for, I give high marks to X-Men. I would say the same of X-Men: Evolution (since reviewing an entire show requires that you watch a lot of episodes, I may as well get it out now). Haven’t seen Wolverine and The X-Men so I hope it also followed this example. But both of those shows were largely inspired by the subject of this review. And so, I take a bow.
Overall: 8 out of 10