I can summarize most episodes of X-Men: Evolution from memory, in a fair degree of detail; so it surprised me when, in reviewing the Season 1 roster, I realized I recalled almost nothing of “Survival of the Fittest” beyond the fact that it involved some kind of summer camp scenario. When I started to watch, I realized why: in a season where even the bad episodes are usually entertaining, this one is just boring as all hell.
On my first pass, I stopped taking notes five minutes in, because nothing was happening. By the halfway mark, I was actively fantasizing about watching paint dry.1But I am nothing if not committed, readers. I promised you a recap, and a recap you would have, come hell or high water.
Ah, well. At least I get to judge cartoon teenagers for their fashion choices.
Oh, Evolution Season One. You try so hard. And sometimes you hit your mark: sometimes it’s “Turn of the Rogue.”
And then, sometimes, it’s “SpykeCam.”
Here’s the thing about Spyke: he’s a character born of good intentions and just stunningly thin execution. He’s got a lot of potential, but the actual episodes that focus on him–which are fairly few and far between–and his eventual, deeply dubious fate are almost universally weak. I want to like this dude, and sometimes I really do–but often, it’s in spite of, not because of, the stories built around him.
Ah, well. We’ll always have Dracula: The Rock Musical.
In which Rachel holds down the fort; Robert N. Skir X-Plains several cartoons; teenagers are basically mutants; Southern goths are the best goths; and you should really just watch X-Men: Evolution already.
Bad parenting choices
Rachel & Miles @ Rose City Comic Con
Secret origins of Robert N. Skir
The development of X-Men: Evolution
The Unauthorized X-Men
Point-of-view points of entry
The Evolution series bible
Spyke (Evan Daniels)
Mutants in society
Brushes with fandom
NEXT WEEK: Fantastic Four vs. X-Men
There’s no visual companion to this episode, but you can find links and further reading on our blog!
I like this episode, because this is where Evolution starts to catch its stride and find its voice. “Middleverse” is kind of a mess animation-wise, but it’s also a one-off, a lighthearted breath of fresh air before we dive headfirst into the Big Ongoing Story next episode.
It also gets bonus points for being a Forge episode, which is almost always a plus. Comics Forge tends to be dark and brooding and at the center of convoluted storylines and soap opera, but two out of three animated Forges are uncomplicatedly delightful. The best animated Forge, of course, is Wolverine and the X-Men Forge, who just straight-up is Miles to the extent that we had his action figure in college and more than one person assumed it was a custom portrait. But Evolution Forge is pretty great, too.
Before we jump into this one, let me tell you kids a story.
Once upon a time, there was a gentleman by the name of Dwayne McDuffie. McDuffie was an incredibly important figure in comics: these days, he’s best known as the creator of Static Shock and the co-founder of Milestone Media; for his work across the DCAU; and as a tireless and outspoken advocate for black representation in superhero comics.
In 1989, when McDuffie was an editor at Marvel Comics, he wrote a biting, satirical pitch that has since become industry legend. In his pitch, McDuffie points out that 25% of African-American superheroes appearing in the Marvel Universe over the last year have had skateboard-based superpowers or fighting styles, and proposes a new team to take advantage of this and other equivalently exciting trends, featuring four black guys on skateboards:
Twelve years later, the fifth episode of X-Men: Evolution would introduce the Xavier Institute’s sole black student and the show’s first original character, Evan “Spyke” Daniels: