Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

454 – X-Men ’97, Part 2


In which Barry Windsor-Smith is too sexy for television; we know what happens when unstable molecules get struck by lightning; X-Men gets political and does it spectacularly; this Captain America would not sew the cape; Magneto continues to throw things into space; and they kissed and we missed it.


  • Fabian Cortez’s name
  • X-Men ’97 episodes 6-10
  • Lifedeath I & II: a surprising adaptation
  • Varying levels of going in blind
  • A somewhat different and possibly better Forge
  • The Adversary vs. the Owl Queen
  • Stormiest and least-Stormy costumes
  • Professor Charles Xavier, Official Space Boyfriend
  • Colonialism vs. Identity
  • Delayed catharsis
  • The narrative power of altered opening credits
  • What makes allyship effective (and not)
  • Justified mutant anger
  • The worst version of Nina DaCosta
  • What makes Prime Sentinels scary
  • Summers family feels
  • The best damned fight scenes out there
  • Bastion, robo-avatar of conservative white patriarchy
  • Simultaneous crossovers
  • A psychic gay bar
  • A last boss arena
  • Acolyte equivalencies
  • Phoenix Ex Machina
  • Crying
  • Whether Magneto was right
  • Apoca-futures and Apoca-pasts
  • A bulletin board and our hopes for its contents
  • Soft Serve
  • Kitty Pryde’s coffee shop AU
  • X-Men ’97 as the perfect gateway



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  1. Wow, I can understand Jay’s read on Cap, but I fully got the opposite impression. This was a Cap who found a way to help Rogue despite his own situation and limitations. His line about showing up in Mexico in that costume was poignant; he doesn’t want to be an American imperialist. He’s watching other problems besides the mutant concern, but he clearly cares and he’s on the case. And while he sees Rogue on a righteous vigilante rampage, instead of trying to stop her, he tells her everything she needs to know to keep going on her own. I’d love to see him charge off with her, but this is “X-Men,” not “X-Men and the Avengers.” I can’t expect him to play full guest-star.

    Maybe he’s not sewing a cape yet (that’s a great line), but I don’t see blind faith in the system, either. Lots of ways to read this Cap. Mostly I’m deeply glad they didn’t set up a clash with the Avengers, because I hate that stuff. This made me really happy.

  2. Please elaborate on what S&P didn’t like about Fabian Cortez’s name?
    I hope that it’s not just the implication of a “mixed-race” relationship.

    1. Not as bad as that, no! But it was indeed about race. From the Broadcast Standards & Practices notes for the episode “Sanctuary, Part One”:

      “Also, please change the villain’s name from “Cortez” to something non-Hispanic. There are no prominent Hispanic X-Men to provide balance for this kind of negative character.”

      Semi-related, here’s my favorite note from the episode right after that one:

      “Another funeral for another person who isn’t really dead? Please could you just show the X-Man talking informally about Magneto over coffee or something, not have another death ceremony in the garden.”

      1. Headcanon:

        Whenever Xavier “dies,” the X-men just gather for morning coffee since they’ve been burned enough before and coffins are expensive

  3. The second season is going to be all about Apocalypse!

    Yeah, just like the second season of Wolverine and the X-Me…… Aww.

  4. In the aspect of Cap, I agree with Jay with him not being the best being adapted, but I think there’s an in-universe explanation for it. If the events of the Spider-man 90’s cartoon are also canon here, Cap was just recently freed from being trapped inside on another dimension fighting the Red Skull, he probably still trust the system and hasn’t seen the many failures of it yet

  5. I had a bad habit of combining Phalanx Covenant and OZT in my mind so I totally missed the change in Prime Sentinels. Arguably, there’s a bit of combining going on there (despite already doing Phalanx Covenant). Having the Prime Sentinels be racist against mutants makes sense. It does raise questions about Trish Tilby that suggest that thought rule of cool outweighs story logic, though.

  6. My two cents on the Prime Sentinels: I’ve always thought they were a missed opportunity. If you have mechanically-augmented humans who’ve become that way because they’re bigots who think mutants are a threat to humanity, I think from a story angle, that’s *great* — because they’re humans who’re giving up their humanity in a misguided attempt to save “humanity.” I’ve always found that really powerful — and since the Prime Sentinels always seemed like the best option for pursuing that horrible irony, I’ve always found the Prime Sentinels kind of thematically disappointing.

    Until ’97. This is much more in-line with what I’d like to see the Prime Sentinels be: People who turned themselves into actual monsters, out of fear of “monsters” that are really just other people.


  7. I was not as fond of Lifedeath parts 1 and 2 as you were. I mean, the bits that were there were fine, and the Adversary was fine for what they were trying to do but… we basically only got the front and back cover of the book of Storm being depowered. The amazing thing about that in the comics was that Storm was depowered for 3½ years of publication, during which time she showed time and again that even depowered she was still extremely competent and a fantastic leader. This is something we really don’t get in this version. Instead she is depowered, Forge attempts to repower her but it seemingly fails, but it turns out that this is because of her self-doubt and once she’s over that she’s OK again. Much like Inferno, this is a plot that could have done with cooking over the course of a season or so.

    Other than that, my main beef was the same plot dumbness regarding splitting the team that was already in the comics and kind of a necessity for what’s happening. “Let’s split into two teams, one that’s going after Bastion and Sinister and one that’s going after Magneto. And let’s put the guy with the metal skeleton on the team that’s going after Magneto.”

    Oh, and two minor things that I thought were cool: When Cable’s team arrives in Bastion’s ruined village (19 minutes into episode 9), one of the first things they see is a building that was apparently a diner once. Except the N and R have broken off, so the first thing they see is… DI..E.. That *must* have been the reference to “Welcome to DIE!” Miles was missing from the Motendo episode. And when Cyclops gave his costume to Cable, I laughed out loud at the “What did you expect, black leather?” riff on Singer dissing the traditional costumes in the X-Men movie.

  8. To clarify, the sad and appalling Pulse nightclub incident was 8 years ago (I think 10 years was said) in 2016.

  9. I confess I have little nostaglia for the series. I watched it as it came out, but was never a huge fan. (Batman: the Animated Series, and the soon to be release Gargoyles were much more stylish and interesting to me) The line-up was decent, if unremarkable for X-Men, but it did seem to be very toyetic (I mean, because of this series Commcast got an action figure… sodding COMMCAST?!?) and yes, the Phalanx Covenant basically being “Warlock looks for his girlfriend” was… a choice I guess.

    I’d forgotten that the previous series ended with Xavier apparently being killed, so I came into this one a little surprised that he was dead, and not at all surprised that he wasn’t.

    Fascinating to see Cyclops become the kind of person he can be WITHOUT Xavier around to interfere with his life, which is what I kept feeling as I watched this. He’s more laid back because he doesn’t have his overly authoritarian not-Dad on his back (and in his brain) 24 hours a day.

    Sadly, the “Jubilee is now voiced by an Asian American” whilst selcome. was counterbalanced by the “Sunspot’s voice actor is Brazilian, but Caucasian”.

    The non-binary nature of Morph is an important representation, though it’s not helped by it never being mentioned on screen (It’s all “word of writer” as far as I know), and the fact the non-binary character has no features at all by default seem a cop-out. Though their (potentially requited) crush on Logan was cute.

    I’m one of the one’s Miles mentioned who was just irritated by the teasing nature of Morph becoming bigger names in the X-verse with no context or explanation, especially as Magik in New Mutants uniform. The face we later saw Sunspot in the same uniform, suggests there’s a larger story to be told, maybe post-Xavier the X-Men starting a training program, and honestly, I wanted to see that story instead of the same old X-Men line up after so many years.

    In covering Inferno, you don’t mention one point which I think is very important and very different from the comics. In the comics Madelyne Prior was her own person, with a lifetimes worth of distinct memories and experiences (Fake as it turned out, but real to her), so her loathing of Jean was based on her seeing her as a different person she could never live up to being.

    In this series, she IS Jean Gray, with her memories and experiences, and she has never known any personality or life beyond that, which makes her claim to the name seems a lot more real. In taking a new name I wish they might have revealed that it was a name derived from Jean’s past, maybe her mother’s middle name and her grandmothers maiden name, because it felt weird and arbitrary.

    I do feel sightly smug that the writers chose to go with making Mr Sinister the villain behind the plot as I had a bit of a rant about that back in the day with the N’astirh situation.

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