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)
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)
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
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"
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
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
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.