Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

Rachel Recaps X-Men: Evolution
S1E1: Strategy X

I was a little too old to catch X-Men: Evolution the first time around. It debuted my freshman year of college, corresponding with the peak of my nerd pretension—that larval-geek phase where you insist on calling all comics graphic novels—and like the arch little fucker I was, I dismissed it sight-unseen as X-Men dumbed down.

A few years ago, I finally sat down and watched my way through X-Men: Evolution and came away with two conclusions: teenage Rachel was kind of a dolt; and X-Men: Evolution is delightful.

Not only is Evolution not X-Men dumbed down, it’s a really clever, appealing reinvention. In fact, Evolution accomplishes what the Ultimate universe never quite could: shaking off years of continuity and attracting an entirely new audience with a distilled version of one of Marvel’s most convoluted lines.

groupshotIf you’re not familiar with X-Men: Evolution, the premise is roughly thus: The Xavier Institute is an extracurricular boarding school of sorts, whose students are mainstreamed into their district school—Bayville High—for academics. Some of the characters—Storm, Wolverine, and Professor Xavier on the side of the angels; Mystique, Magneto, and a few others on the other end of the moral spectrum—stay adults; everyone else is aged down to teenagers. Evolution draws characters and some story hooks from the comics, but for the most part, it occupies its own discrete continuity.

And as continuities go, it’s a good one. It’s clever and fun, it’s got a ton of heart, and it stays true to the core themes and characters of the source material without becoming overly beholden to the letter of the text. By the end, it’ll become a really, really good show; but even when it’s bad, X-Men: Evolution is bad in really entertaining ways.

Which is important, because X-Men: Evolution gets off to a pretty rocky start.

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Sorry About That


Sorry. I’m sorry.

It has been a hell of a January, mostly for reasons I can’t really go into here. I was going to spend this week getting caught up on the stuff that fell behind while I was putting out fires in the first half of the month; but then Miles and I both got sick; and we decided at the last minute to do a Secret Wars episode, which meant reading about twenty issues very fast; and apparently there’s something in DayQuil that really messes with the way my eyes track, which is making everything involving text and images–which is to say, everything–take about twice as long as it normally would.

All of which is to say: X-Men: Evolution recaps will begin next week. Thank you for your patience. I’m going back to bed.*


*JUST KIDDING! I’m going to go research, write, and record a voiceover thing; then send about a dozen e-mails and finish reading Secret Wars II. Sick days are for people with real jobs!

Welcome to Bayville, Rachel. Hope You Survive the Experience!

Coming soon to R&MXtX-M: X-Men: Evolution!
Coming soon to R&MXtX-M: X-Men: Evolution!

Rachel here! As you may or may not know, Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men–the podcast, the videos, and everything we do here on the site–is entirely listener supported, via our kickass Patreon subscribers. And last night, while we weren’t looking, they unlocked one hell of a milestone goal:

Starting next week, I’ll be recapping and reviewing not one, not a dozen, but every single episode of animated high-school drama X-Men: Evolution.

It’s no secret that I love this show. I love it a lot. I love the awkward teenagers (and even more awkward early animation); the dubious fashion; the high-school angst; the godawful Season One finale. I love the way it starts terrible and then slowly and subtly gets awesome while you’re not paying attention. I love that there’s an episode where it stops being a superhero show and instead spends 22 minutes doing a straight-up homage to old-school girl-gang movies.

And I love seeing characters and premises I love reinvented and refiltered through very different sensibilities: what shifts and evolves, and what core themes persist through the changes. In a lot of ways, Evolution is the most daring adaptation of X-Men; certainly, it’s the one that moves furthest from any other incarnation of the series and team. Sometimes it succeeds brilliantly. Sometimes it fails spectacularly. But it never stops being fun.

If you want to watch along with me, you can find the full series on Marvel’s YouTube channel, starting here. I’ll be kicking off next week with Season 1, Episode 1: “Strategy X.”