Disney // 1995 // 322 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Justice Michael Stailey // October 24th, 2010
"You oughta see it, Hank. It's the blasted island of Dr. Moreau!"
Continuing our coverage of Fox's Saturday morning mutant powerhouse, X-Men: Volume 4 completes all of Season Four...
Season Four (continued)
Ep. 49-50: "Proteus" (Uncanny X-Men #125-128)
This Muir island focused arc concerns Proteus, better known as Moira McTaggart's son Kevin. The by-product of an unhappy union between Moira and her abusive husband Joseph, Kevin began manifesting his frightening mutant abilities during puberty. A reality-warping energy manipulator, Kevin was confined to a cell in the Muir Island research facility while Moira worked feverishly to find a means of managing his hunger. When a positive treatment wears off prematurely, Proteus heads over to the Scottish mainland in search of his father, a high ranking government official who wants nothing to do with his son or his ex-wife. When he can easily take out the strongest members of the X-Men (Charles, Wolverine, Rogue), what hope does that leave anyone else of stopping him? Lame plotting, equally lame execution, and a wealth of bad Scottish accents. This was a poor choice for adaptation, as the intensity of the original and the life and death ramifications of Kevin losing control couldn't even be touched upon here. Look for a cameo by Excalibur's nemesis Gatecrasher and her band of multiverse traversing bounty hunters.
Ep. 51-52: "Sanctuary" (X-Men, Volume 2 #1-3)
Magneto returns heralding the ultimate safe haven for Homo Superior, liberating them all from slavery and persecution -- behold Asteroid M! With technology stolen from countless satellites and space probes, Magnus' orbital sanctuary is intended as peaceful, but rapidly becomes a threat to every government on Earth. Charles, Gambit, and Beast explore what this new life has to offer mutants. Unfortunately, a pit stop in Genosha to liberate their mutant population meets with human resistance in the form of The Sentinels. What the humans didn't count on was the appearance of Fabian Cortez, Amelia Voght (Charles' one time lady love), and the Acolytes, sworn to worship at the feet of the Master of Magnetism. But when the fanatical Cortez attempts to rid Asteroid M of a weak-willed, peace-loving Magneto, he sets up up the X-Men as traitors to the legacy of the mutant race. The biggest mistake anyone can make is assuming they're tough enough to wipe out Magneto and the X-Men. The best moment of the two-parter is 210 nuclear warheads armed and headed for Earth; Cortez' ultimate comeuppance. Look for cameos by T'Challa (Black Panther), X-Factor, Gideon, a US ambassador who sounds like Jack Nicholson, and a Genoshan ambassador who looks like Bob Dole. Interesting side-note: This story recently came full circle, as today's X-Men resurrected Asteroid M as a floating mutant utopia off the coast of California.
Ep. 53-56: "Beyond Good and Evil"
When Bishop gets lost in the time stream and the Nasty Boys (aka Marauders) hijack Jean from her wedding, it's up to a 26th century Shard (Bishop's sister) to aid the X-Men in a search and rescue. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Deathbird appears to make a play for control of the Shi'ar Empire by usurping her sister Lilandra, but the empress' Oracle is the true target. Betsy Braddock (Psylocke) plays cat burglar in Warren's (Archangel) London estate, only to wind up in the hands of Mystique and Magneto. With three in the bag, it seems someone or something is collecting the great mutant psychics of Earth for some nefarious purpose. This original story arc takes a Legion of Doom approach to the X-Universe, with Apocalypse in the Lex Luthor role and many of the other X-Men's great villains filling out the ranks, each with their own agenda. It's an interesting plot whose true end game isn't revealed until the final act, with Bishop as the wild card unseen by the powers that be. Just remember, there's always someone higher up pulling the strings. Two major missteps here: a) Lawrence Bayne (Le Femme Nikita) plays Cable like a poor man's Wolverine, and b) if Shard wears Forge's bracelet, she exists outside of time and therefore should not be impacted by any changes to the timestream.
Ep. 57: "Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas"
Recovering from a lengthy time-spanning adventure, the team gets a little comedic holiday downtime -- that is until Leach falls gravely ill and the Morlocks call on Storm, Wolverine, and Jubilee to help save his life. It may just take a Christmas miracle for the little guy to pull through. There's even a Charlie Brown Christmas tree and selfless sharing of gifts. Hokey and trite.
Ep. 58: "Lotus and The Steel"
Afraid of losing emotional control, still reeling from his encounter with Proteus and Weapon X deprogramming, Logan heads off to Japan for some R&R. Unfortunately, his chop-wood-carry-water peace of mind is broken by local mob boss Silver Samurai, and the temple he helped build is destroyed when the village is unable to pay their protection money. In losing himself, Logan rediscovers his true purpose, with a little help from Jubilee. This is basically Wolverine starring in a remake of The Karate Kid.
Ep. 59: "Love in Vain"
Rogue is once again haunted by her inability to have a normal romantic relationship, and yet the return of her first love -- Cody, who bears a strong vocal resemblance to one William Jefferson Clinton -- sends her heart and mind reeling. But there's more than love on the menu, when a giant alien fish loaded with insectoid aliens are out to collect the X-Men as specimens, with Wolverine and Rogue as prize possessions to populate their species. Moral of the story: Save the whales, save yourself. A lame filler episode.
Ep. 60: "Secrets Not Long Buried"
Scott seeks out his childhood caretaker, Dr. Taylor Prescott, but his plane is attacked and brought down in the middle of the Arizona desert. Unfortunately, the mutant community of Skull Mesa wants nothing to do strangers, let alone an X-Man. When Scott doesn't take the hint to leave and sticks his nose where it doesn't belong, town leadership is going to make sure it's the last thing he ever does. I wonder how Morlocks like Ape and Sunder, a bounty hunters like Random, and an Acolyte like Senyaka all wound up taking residence in this town? Another lame filler episode.
Ep. 61: "Xavier Remembers"
A minor concussion leaves the Professor's mind open to attack by the Shadow King. As he lures Charles away from his physical form, total possession of Xavier's body gives him complete control over the planet's most powerful psychic mind and a body the X-Men dare not harm. The ultimate battle will be fought on the astral plane, for all the blah blah blah. Maybe's it's animated X-Men overload, but these few remaining episodes of Season Four are starting to grate. The writers pretty much shot the wad with "Beyond Good and Evil."
Ep. 62: "Family Ties"
"Quicksilver! It's your sister!!" Wanda (The Avenger's Scarlet Witch) contacts Pietro (X-Factor's Quicksilver) about the declining health of their father, who isn't really their father. Shocking!! To discover the identities of their true parents, they must travel to Wundagore Mountain and uncover the mystery of the High Evolutionary. In the meantime, Erik drops by for a private chat with Charles. It seems his wife -- the sorceress Magda, long thought dead -- may still be alive. Guess what? The kids are on a collision course with their real dad, and Wolverine is shadowing the reunion, just in case it goes south. It's a rare tale with very little X-Men interaction, but a great primer for the comic books' House of M storyline.
Presented in standard 1.33:1 full frame format, the image quality seems to have taken a step back from Season Three. The colors are strong, but the overall look tends to be darker and softer. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix is adequate, I just wish there had been a little more creative variation in the scoring. You can only here that main theme used so many times before it starts to unnerve you.
Still no bonus features.
By this point, the broadcast schedule had become so erratic, I had given up; you never knew when a new episode might appear. Following the Christmas episode, the next three debuted in February, followed by one in April, and one in May. Hardly the consistency needed to maintain an audience's interest. It's interesting to view these episodes in rapid succession, if only to see how little care the production team had in telling these stories. There's no need to purchase this set, if you can view "Sanctuary" and "Beyond Good and Evil" online.
Oy...Stick a fork in the series. It's done. Sadly, there's still one full season left to go.
Review content copyright © 2010 Michael Stailey; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 322 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Watch Full Episodes at Marvel.com