Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection
Starring Norm Spencer, Cedric Smith, Cathal J. Dodd
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 28, 2009
When I found out that the X-Men cartoons from 1992 were being put out on DVD, my nine-year-old self jumped out of my body and threatened me with bodily harm if I did not pick up this DVD. Fearing for my life and the risk of being beat up by a nine-year-old, I relented.
For those who are unfamiliar with this cartoon, X-Men debuted on the Fox Kids Network in late 1992, and was part of the Fox Saturday Morning line-up alongside another little unknown cartoon called Batman: The Animated Series. The cartoon featured the popular Marvel mutants, led by their mentor, Dr. Charles Xavier and their battles with the mutants hell-bent on destroying the world. This incarnation of X-Men was composed of members from the past (Cyclops, Jean Grey) and present (Wolverine, Gambit) teams.
Now, there were many things that I loved about this cartoon. For one thing, it was one of the only cartoons back then where one of the main character was an Asian person. That’s right, the series featured newest X-Men recruit Jubilation Lee, aka Jubilee, quite prominently in the series. Being Asian myself, it was hard to find any person who was Asian on TV with such a prominent role and so seeing Jubilee front and center was certainly awesome.
I also loved how, despite being only 22 minutes long episodes, the cartoon was able to adapt a standard X-Men story into a succinct and entertaining episode. As anyone who has ever read any X-Men comic book can tell you, one of the best and worst things about the X-Men is their rich history. While it is nice to have over 40 years of history, characters, and events to work with, it is hard for a casual comic reader to pick up an X-Men book and not be confused. With the cartoon, this is not a problem. With a few minor exceptions, all the episodes are pretty condensed, allowing a casual fan to hop on board at any time.
Along with the compacted stories, the X-Men team is pretty paired down as well. Only fan favorites like Cyclops, Wolverine, and Gambit are front and center in the cartoon, but fear not X-fan. Just because your favorite mutant is not on the team doesn’t mean they do not appear up on the show. If there is one thing this cartoon did well, it was incorporating various mutants into each episode as guest stars. Everyone from Mr Sinister, Colossus, Longshot, and even Ghost Rider makes an appearance at one point or another.
As fun as these cartoons are though, the almost 20-year-old series has lost some of its luster. The animation is not as good as I remembered when I was a child. In one episode, Wolverine and a Sentinel appear to be the same height. Also, a lot of the dialogue is just downright laughable. They are either too serious, bordering on melodramatic, or just silly. Despite this though, I can’t help but enjoy every minute of it. Maybe I am over nostalgic about this but the episodes actually do get more watchable as the episodes go on. Sure, it is not on par with Batman: The Animated Series in terms of dialogue, but the execution of the series was sound and sometimes it is just so bad, it is good.
Fans of the series will be disappointed with the DVD and its lack of extras. This is pretty much a bare bones DVD, with just the episodes included. Though I have a feeling like myself, just the episodes themselves are enough of an extra for fans of the cartoon. The first couple of episodes are not that great to look at but as the series progresses, so does the quality of the picture.
The X-Men is a great cartoon and an even better DVD, nuff said. The cartoon is highly entertaining and amazingly faithful to the comic. X definitely marks the spot.