Tuesday, April 28, 2009

X-Men, Series 1 and 2, Now on DVD!

Just in time for the movie release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine comes the DVD release of the animated television series, Marvel's X-Men.

The Engineer and I used to put these on when the kids were little, as much for us as for them, as we really enjoyed the series.

In addition to the fiercely independent Wolverine ("I go where I want to go"), the cast includes better-known characters Cyclone, Storm and Rogue, Professor Xavier and his protege, Jean Grey, plus Morph and (my personal favorites) Gambit and Beast.

In the first episode we are also introduced to young X-man-to-be Jubilee, a teen who wreaks havoc with electricity, who the other mutants refer to as "child" (or in the case of charming Cajun Gambit, "petite").

The series allows us the chance to get to know each of the X-Men better than the movie franchise has.

Storm, for example, is prone to flamboyant gestures and over-the-top prose: "Storm, Mistress of the Elements, commands you to stop!"

Rogue, (a fiery redhead with a killer body in the animated series) doesn't so much drain other mutant's powers as she does their strength; like Storm, she has the ability to fly. She's prone to colloquial allusions like, "Nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs."

Gambit, who for reasons unknown never made it to the movies (a helluva shame, in my opinion), is a card-carrying Cajun who has the ability to transfer kinetic energy to inanimate objects (in other words, he charges up playing cards and shoots them, like exploding grenades, at enemies), while simultaneously charming all the ladies he meets. Watch for some heat between Gambit and Rogue later in the series.

Adorably blue Beast is fond of Shakespeare and the classics (in one rescue, he disparages a less-than-worthy opponent with, "A minor quote from a minor poet"), while also having the agility to bounce from wall to wall, swing 'round posts and hang from ceilings.

Cyclone, the leader of the group (though Wolverine flouts his authority at every possible opportunity), frets over his command decisions all the while he is shooting solar-powered beams from his behind his specially-designed visor.

And Morph, as the name suggests, changes his shape (and voice) at will to confound friends and enemies alike. His jarring, cackling laughter sounds more villainous than heroic.(Spoiler alert: he doesn't get the last laugh after the first episode).

Surprisingly, Morph is Wolverine's best friend...for a while. (Even bigger spoiler alert: don't count Morph out too soon).

Which brings us to the villains*. There's a whole host of great opponents, from human to mechanical to fellow mutants, for the amazing X-Men to dispatch. You've got Juggernaut, Siren and Magneto, just to name a few.

MARVEL'S X-MEN (Vol. 1 & 2), with 32 episodes in all, comes out today on DVD.

*I'd go into detail about Professor Xavier and Jean Grey, but to be honest, they always annoyed me in the cartoons. Patrick Stewart finally won me over in the movie, but I couldn't wait until Jean imploded into Phoenixey ashes (second movie and second season of the animated series).

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