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!
With such a large and diverse cast of characters, the X-Men Animated Series deserves credit for its efforts in trying to make them all distinct and memorable. Even so, throughout the show’s run, certain characters like Wolverine, Rogue, Jubilee, and Scott and Jean have benefited the most from this treatment while others like Beast, Gambit, and especially Storm get a little bit of development and individual attention but are mostly relegated to supporting parts. That fact is one reason why the final two-part storyline of the series, entitled “Storm Front,” is both a much-needed breath of fresh air and a somewhat frustrating and half-hearted effort. It puts some long-overdue focus on Storm, one of the most powerful and interesting individuals on the team, but that focus is undermined somewhat by some shoddy storytelling.
“Storm Front” begins with the team checking out some mysterious weather activity above Washington, D.C. that Storm discovers is the creation of Arkon, the ruler of a faraway planet that is endangered by the same extreme weather conditions. Arkon pleads with Storm to come with him to his planet, telling her that she alone can help save his people from eradication. Storm agrees, leaving a tracker behind so that her friends can find her if she needs help. The team finds the tracker and a spherical object from Arkon’s outfit, which they brings back to the Mansion and use it to unlock a portal to Arkon’s home planet, where they run afoul of Arkon’s robotic guards and are eventually taken prisoner. Storm deduces that the cause of the planet’s devastating climate conditions is a large transmitter that is the world’s sole source of power, but Arkon distracts her from this lead, telling her that he has faith that she will be able to use her powers to save his people. After a brief but strenous effort, Storm is able to calm the planet’s unstable climate just as her friends break out of their cell and attempt to rescue her. The recovering Storm calms her teammates by explaining the situation, and later, after Arkon announces to his people that Storm has saved them all, he shocks Storm and her teammates when he asks Storm to be his bride and live with him on this planet as its Queen. The team is even more shocked when Storm accepts.
The second part of “Storm Front” focuses on the team slowly getting over their shock and eventually supporting Storm for her decision to stay, with the exception of Wolverine, who still does not trust Arkon. His suspicion is gradually spread to Cyclops, Beast, and Jubilee as they discover that Arkon has enslaved the inhabitants of a nearby planet and join up with a resistance force led by escaped slaves. Storm also becomes aware of Arkon’s tyranny and also discovers that the same transmitter that created the world’s weather problems is also what is keeping the escaped slaves from leaving the planet. She quickly gets over her heartbreak over discovering that her beloved is a monster, joining with her friends’ efforts to help the resistance and destroying the transmitter, freeing the slaves and severely crippling Arkon’s power. Storm then returns home with her friends, saddened somewhat that the fairy tale ending she thought she had found was a lie.
While “Storm Front” does provide a few new aspects of Storm’s character, who up until now was defined by both her strength in leadership and tenuous balance she maintains between her powers and her emotions, her portrayal in this storyline could be seen as problematic to modern sensibilities. At first glance, her immediate romantic involvement with Arkon could be seen as out of character, but it is explained somewhat well by a bit of dialogue spoken by Wolverine that points more to Storm’s “savior complex” than of any specific need for a husband, an aspect to her character that would have been much better shown rather than told. The aspect of Arkon’s offer that seems to appeal to her the most is the idea of being a leader who can actually make a difference, as opposed to her constant struggle for mutant equality on Earth. This deep-seeded need has a dark side, as Wolverine mentions to the rest of the team when lamenting her earlier decision to stay, which is manifested somewhat when Storm briefly lashing out with her powers after discovering Arkon’s true motives in much the same way she did back in the “Savage Land, Strange Heart” storyline. These are all worthwhile additions to Storm’s development, but unfortunately they are in service to a rather underwhelming story that, much like the previous two-parter, seems to peter out quickly once the climax occurs, with a rather half-assed ending that leaves Arkon less powerful and disgraced but still very much in charge. Maybe with an additional episode, this storyline could have had a more satisfying ending overall, but I guess sacrificing plot for character isn’t such a bad trade-off. Both parts of “Storm Front” receive 3.5 out of 5 Makeshift Doors.