On September 4, we’ll be sitting down to record our 2016 Giant-Size Summer Special and second-ever tabletop episode.
In 2015, game writer and designer and friend of the podcast Logan Bonner has modified the amazing old Marvel Super Hero Adventures game to be played as it was never intended: in the spirit of the 90s animated series! This year, he’s joining us again–this time with an adventure set in the world of X-Men: Evolution!
No, not the blonde guy from Harry Potter. The “Draco” I’m talking about is an Uncanny X-Men arc where Chuck Austen retconned Nightcrawler’s origin story to involve a father from an ancient race of demon-looking mutants long exiled to a hell dimension by a bunch of quasi-angelic counterparts.1
The Draco is one of the worst arcs of Austen’s already fairly shaky 2 run; and generally considered to be one of the worst X-Men stories ever. It’s the continuity equivalent of awkward makeouts at your company Christmas party: everyone does their best to politely pretend that it never happened, and if anyone brings it up, everyone familiar with the story gets acutely embarrassed by proxy.
I am telling you about The Draco not because it has any relevance whatsoever to X-Men: Evolution–it doesn’t–but so that you will understand where the bar sits when I tell you that “Shadowed Past” is my least favorite take on Nightcrawler’s origin story.
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.
I mentioned in the recap that S1E8 of X-Men: Evolution is all about gratuitous Sabretooth close-ups, but just in case I failed to convey their full grandeur, here is a gallery of ten, each from a different shot. Yes, seriously.
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 we go back in time to take a look at two annuals; everyone is really excited about Excalibur; Claremont ups his illusion game; Horde should probably not be allowed to dress himself; Rachel fires the X-Men; Havok needs better role models; Psylocke’s secondary mutation is femme power; Kyle X-Plains giant monsters; we check in with Super Doctor Astronaut Peter Corbeau; and you should totally come see us at Vegas Valley Comic-Book Festival on November 7!
Uncanny X-Men Annual #11
Uncanny X-Men Annual #7
New Mutants Annual #3
The Hostage, by Brendan Behan
Wolverine vs. Historical Fiction
Horde and his amazing outfit
The Citadel of light and shadow
The fantasy lives of X-Men
Things to do with a shed human skin
The secret origin of Wolverine’s overactive healing factor
The Impossible Man (and how to defeat him)
The Shogun Warriors
What happened to Super Doctor Astronaut Peter Corbeau
Powers we don’t like
Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival
NEXT EPISODE: All-New X-Men with Dennis Hopeless!
You can find a visual companion to this episode on our blog!
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!
As some of you know, Miles is up at PAX this week, so I’m flying solo on Episode 73. I’ve lined up a super cool guest: Robert N. Skir, who–in addition to writing a handful of episodes of the ’90s X-Men cartoon–is one of the folks responsible for developing X-Men: Evolution, and co-author of the show’s series bible.
If you’ve got questions for Bob–or Evolution questions in general, NOW’S THE TIME TO SEND ‘EM IN! Drop them in the comments here or over at the Tumblr askbox any time today.
While I appreciate that people are so excited, the episode was recorded on Saturday, 8/29. You’re welcome to keep posting questions if it makes you happy to do so, but understand that at this point you’re yelling into the void. -R
Not only am I back recapping X-Men: Evolution, but I get to jump back in with my hands-down favorite episode of Season 1.
Remember back in Episode 3, when I told you that a lot of the best stuff in Season 1 revolves around Rogue? This is what I’m talking about, right here. “Turn of the Rogue” is a great showcase of my favorite aspects of X-Men: Evolution: the balance and interaction of the superheroic and the personal; emotionally resonant coming-of-age stories; and some of the strongest writing and performances of the season.