I used to wake up at 4 am on saturdays to watch cartoons. Not because I liked the very early shows (Seriously, SWATCATS was just not that great), but because my mother didn’t want us to spend all day watching TV. As soon as breakfast was on the table the TV was switched off! Of course, this meant that depending on the complexity of breakfast, I may not get to watch what, at the time, was my favorite cartoon. The freakin’ X-Men!
So when Stephen asked whether I wanted to review the Volume 5 2-DVD set of the 90’s X-Men series my mouth said “Sure,” But my brain said “WOOHOOROCKANDROLLCHACHACHA!” and I readied myself for a marathon of high-action, high-contrast mutant mayhem.
The Space-Time Continuum!
This collection has no special features, which is a little disappointing, but in no way a deal breaker. The seven-or-so hours of Wolverine not-stabbing people more than makes up for it. There is one strange thing about the particular shows though, after watching the first few episodes (Starring Jean Grey), I was surprised to see an episode all about Cyclops dealing with his grief over Jean’s death. Wait, What? Are these out of order? Did she die again? I mean, ol’ Phoenix is always dying and coming back, but I didn’t remember her doing it more than once, and apparently offscreen. Only one way to figure this out!
It seems that, most of the Episodes in the Volume 5 set are from the show’s fifth and final season, however the episode “No Mutant is an Island,” along with a couple of other, less obvious offenders are just randomly peppered in. If you are following along and hoping for some sort of continuity between episodes, this can really throw you for a loop. However, once you get past that one show, even the other stragglers from random seasons work just fine as stand-alone episodes.
A Star (And Adamantium) Studded Cast
Probably the biggest highlight of this volume is the propensity for guest stars, which include Nightcrawler and Longshot (Both X-men in the comics, but not part of the main roster in the series) and most prominently, Captain America. The rogue’s gallery is ample as well, with the nice twist that, during the Phalanx Covenant, the X-men must team up with Sinister. This collection also features a couple of noteworthy episodes, mainly “Old Soldiers” the aforementioned Captain America Crossover; “Jubilee’s Fairy Tale Theater” Which proves that just because someone is already a part of the franchise doesn’t mean they can’t write self-insertion fanfic about it; And “Graduation Day,” The series’ final episode, which features Professor X in his deathbed going around the room giving each X-Man a shout out. I’m not going to lie, I got a little choked up.
If you have the previous volumes this one is a must have, and if you’re hoping to snag all the volumes, there’s no reason you can’t work your way backwards. I was surprised to see how much the show itself holds up now a days, it’s a little forced at times, and the styles are very late 80s/early 90s (Longshot’s mullet being the main culprit), but the show is always intelligent about following the plot, rather than relying on deus-ex-machinae like many of its predecessors. The one weird jump in the timeline is a little jarring, but honestly, it’s one more episode of X-Men goodness (and features an orphanage being blown up by a hellicopter), so it’s not that big a deal. I’m giving X-Men Volume 5 2-DVD set four and a half stars. Go get it if you love you some X-Men.