It’s New To Me – X-MEN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (“Out Of The Past, Parts 1 & 2”)

In my years of TV watching, there have been tons of well-regarded shows that have eluded my gaze. Thanks to the magic of Netflix and other online streaming sites, I now have an opportunity to watch these shows and share my thoughts on them. It may be a classic to you, but It’s New To Me!

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Season Two of the X-Men Animated Series was a frustratingly inconsistent season that ended with a particularly weak two-part finale. Season Three, the longest season according to the Hulu episode menu, looks to atone for the previous season’s shortcomings by providing some epic storylines, many taken straight from the original X-Men comic. The two-part premiere attempts to flesh out more of Wolverine’s shady past but is ultimately bogged down by a rather boring alien threat.

“Out Of The Past, Part One” opens with the diminutive Morlock known as Leech carrying a large object and running from his pursuers, a group of cyborg mercenaries known as the Reavers. He escapes to the sewers and presents the object to Callisto before they are caught up with and overtaken by the Reavers and their leader, a cybernetically-enhanced warrior called Lady Deathstrike. Leech is forced to show Deathstrike and the Reavers a buried spacecraft that Callisto attempted to open in order to reclaim her leadership of the Morlocks. Deathstrike also intends to use the contents of the ship for her own gain but when she touches it, the ship unleashes a wave of energy so powerful that it is sensed by Professor Xavier, who is overwhelmed by its sheer power. Deathstrike surmises that the ship can be opened by using Adamantium and forces Leech to contact Wolverine, stating that “Yuriko” needs his help. Upon hearing that name, Wolverine rushes to the sewers with Gambit and Jubilee following him, and a flashback tells the reader that Yuriko is a former love of Wolverine’s who is eventually revealed to be Deathstrike herself, with another flashback revealing that Yuriko’s father was the scientist in charge of the Weapon X project that gave Logan his Adamantium skeleton. Deathstrike tells Logan that she blames him for her father’s death and was given cybernetic claws by the Reavers so that she could enact revenge against her former love.

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After reluctantly engaging in battle with Deathstrike and insisting that he didn’t kill Yuriko’s father, Wolverine is taken captive by the Reavers and forced to try to open the alien craft. Gambit and Jubilee silently pursue the Reavers and Deathstrike, following them to the site of the ship, where they find the captive Morlocks. Wolverine fights back against the Reavers and is joined by his teammates, and during the battle Deathstrike slams against the ship’s hull, triggering a power surge that is sensed once again by Xavier, who tries to warn his X-Men not to open the ship and release the force located inside. Out of concern for his former love, Wolverine slashes the hull open, only to immediately regret that decision when a bright green light emerges from the slash marks.

“Out Of The Past, Part One” is a fairly low-key season premiere compared to the opening episodes of the past two seasons. It mainly focuses on Wolverine and features only two more members of the team, but it does shed a little more light on Wolverine’s past that was briefly glimpsed in the Season Two episode “Repo Man.” The only real drawback of this episode is that it takes a rather large chunk of the same flashback from that previous episode and basically reruns it here, which might have saved some production costs but rings of lazy storytelling to the viewer. I also wasn’t too fond of the show turning Deathstrike into a disgruntled former lover of Wolverine’s, but it did provide an easy and somewhat relatable motive for a character that I never did find especially compelling in the comics. Of course, all of this plot and character development is ultimately done in service of a plot relating around an alien threat that will be resolved in the second part, so it isn’t given much time to breathe before the plot kicks in. Despite its faults, “Out Of The Past, Part One” earns 3.5 out of 5 Deflated Basketballs for giving another important nugget of Wolverine’s past and showing yet another aspect of his humanity.

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All the character development from the first part is all but thrown out of the window in part two of “Out Of The Past,” which deals mostly with Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men dealing with the alien being that emerges from the ship, a luminescent creature called a Spirit Drinker that basically steals the soul of whomever it touches. The Drinker manages to do this to all the Reavers, Jubilee, and the Morlocks before Xavier sends reinforcements to the sewers to help bring the monster down before it reaches the surface. Deathstrike and Wolverine become reluctant and temporary allies as they try to hold the creature back, and Deathstrike falls to it before Wolverine and Gambit are joined by Cyclops, Jean, Beast, and Xavier. Beast and Xavier examine the ship while the rest of the team hunts the Drinker down, and they find strange writing that Xavier finds strangely familiar. He finds out that the ship was a prison meant to hold the Spirit Drinker captive as the monster finds its way to the surface and terrorizes a number of subway-goers. Determined to bring Jubilee’s soul back, Wolverine engages the creature while the rest of the team hold its tentacles at bay from a distance. They eventually destroy the creature by luring it to the subway’s third rail, freeing its prisoners’ souls. Deathstrike and the Reavers depart, with Deathstrike promising that she will return to settle things with Logan, and Xavier senses that their brush with alien life was only a prelude of things to come.

“Out Of The Past, Part Two” is a fairly standard X-Men episode, with the team banding together to stop a dangerous threat that they wouldn’t be able to handle on their own, but after the strong character beats of the first part, it’s a bit of a letdown despite being written by the great Len Wein. I get that they are likely saving Deathstrike for a future episode, but forcing her and Wolverine to work together after it was established how much she hates him seemed pointless to me. The Soul Drinker itself was somewhat generic, with powers that seemed similar to both Omega Red and Proteus, an X-Men villain that has not yet been featured on the show, and having the captured souls constantly call out to their would-be rescuers was a tad too hokey for my tastes. Overall, this threat was only used to serve as a prelude o the X-Men’s eventual encounter with Lilandra and the Shi’ar, a storyline that was one of my favorites from the early Claremont era in the comics, so at least I have that to look forward to as the season progresses. On its own, however, “Out Of The Past, Part Two” only merits 2.5 out of 5 Interrupted Dinners.

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Who ARE these people!?

Ben Gilbert is an avid comic and movie fan, father of two amazing kids, and husband to one awesome chick. He resides in the hills of East Tennessee and still doesn't quite know what he wants to be when he grows up.

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