One of my favorite cartoon aired on Saturday mornings, in the early 1990s: “X-Men: the Animated Series”. It was a rare Saturday when at least 3 of us (me, my 2 brothers, and my sister) wasn’t watching the Fox Network block of cartoons that had X-Men and Spider-Man in it. Even to this day, I catch myself humming part of the opening theme.
I went back and watched 2 episodes from Season One: Episode 9 (“The Cure”) and Episode 10 (“Come the Apocalypse”). They deal with one of my two favorite X-Men cartoon villains: the ageless, almost-immortal Apocalypse (“Mister Sinister” is right up there as a favorite) and a possible cure for the Mutants of the world. So sit back and enjoy!
“The Cure”: S1, E9
Episode 9 starts with a “Previously on X-Men” segment, highlighted by the arrival of the warrior from the future, Cable. The actual episode starts with a couple sitting in front of a fireplace, in a cabin in the mountains. They are having the “Why won’t you let me get closer to you?”/”If you knew what I was, you wouldn’t like me” talk; I’m assuming, at this point, that one of them could be a mutant. While this is going on, Cable is on the same property, searching for someone or something in a storage room. Suddenly, the man of the couple shows up in the storage room… only to get grabbed by a cloaked/hidden Cable. Cable asks if he is “Professor Adler” (we now know that Cable was searching for a someone); the man responds that he’s Warren Worthington III: “Angel”(!). A scuffle ensues, ending with Cable blasting Warren out of a window, into a deep snow bank. As Cable leaves, Warren bursts out of the snow,, displaying his trademarked wings, and flies away.
(I just realized that he made a “Snow Angel” when he fell. Clever me!)
Cable returns to the house and confronts the woman that was initially at the fireplace .She eventually tells him that Professor Adler went to Scotland; Cable assumes (correctly) that he went to “Muir Island”.
Enter a ticked-off Warren.
Cable throws a flashbang grenade, blinding both Warren and the woman. This time, Cable flees. When Warren turns around, a blindly-firing woman shoots Warren square in the chest, knocking him back. “Warren is no more”, he replies, as he ignores the pleas of the woman to come back.
We then travel to Muir Island.
On Muir Island, we meet up with Professor X and Moira McTaggert, as they discuss Professor Adler’s blockbuster research announcement: he has found a way to “cure” Mutants.
(I think I am still used to hearing Patrick Stewart’s voice as Prof. X, because this version of the Professor sounds… weird.)
Professor X and McTaggert arrive at Dr. Adler’s lab, hoping to get more info on the research, when Adler shouts “No Visitors Allowed!”. Professor X tries to mind-probe Adler but gets some kind of psychic feedback in return: images of the mutant Mystique, images of destruction, and the most troubling image, one of the mutant Apocalypse; all of this basically knocks Prof. X out.
He wakes up a few moments later in a bed, with McTaggert beside him. He thinks that those images, something that doesn’t normally happen to him when he mind-probes, mean that Dr. Adler might be a mutant. There’s a brief argument over the word “cure” before Prof. X decides to call the X-Men and tell them about the research.
Speaking of the X-Men, our mutant superhero team is cleaning up from the damage that Juggernaut apparently did in previous episodes. Wolverine is wandering around, being a general nuisance and button-pusher to Gambit: he shows Gambit how to chop wood (with his claw), flirts with Jean Grey (who politely shows him a better way to put nails in a steel plate), and tells Storm that her plaster needs more water. Gambit’s patience crumbles, leading to a shouting match between him and Wolverine; Gambit ups the stakes by kinetically charging a brick that Wolverine was working on, with Wolverine retaliating with the unsheathing of claws. Cyclops shoots the brick away before it explodes and Rogue steps in between Gambit and Wolverine. Wolverine’s snide comment about Rogue and a tender spot for Gambit drags Rogue into the near-fight, before the ultimate optimist, Jubilee, runs up and tells them that the Professor is on the phone. Nice save!
Professor X tells the X-Men about Adler’s discoveries. Cyclops is reserved, Wolverine is “No one on this team will take the cure!!”, and Storm is diplomatic (paraphrasing: “you taught us to use our powers for the greater good but if anyone wants to get ‘cured’, so be it”). Unseen by the rest is the sad and guilt-ridden face of Rogue.
Rogue walks to her car, while Jean Grey, in the distance with Cyclops, warns Cyclops to keep an eye on Rogue – her sadness is getting to her. Gambit has no such worries, as he jumps into her car and tries to flirt with Rogue. Rogue throws him out and flies away. She unintentionally frightens an airliner passenger, when she forlornly sits on the wing of a plane, until she sees Muir Island in the distance.
Back to Muir Island, where villains Pyro and Avalanche are in a bar, drinking away the time until their meeting (through Pyro) with Mystique. Rogue then enters the bar and gets mistaken for Mystique by Pyro: “Don’t you know what she looks like?” – Avalanche, with the Ridiculous Question of the Day. Pyro saddles up to Rogue, trying to flirt; she throws him, a la Gambit, through a dart board, head-first into a wall. Avalanche tells her to try that with him; Rogue throws him, a la Gambit and Pyro, through the wall, out into the bay, dozens of feet below. 3-for-3 for Rogue, in people-throwing. While Avalanche is treading water, Cable’s boat zooms by. Uh oh.
Rogue eventually finds Dr. Adler’s lab, breaks through the steel door – and confronts Adler, wanting to undergo the treatment. Pyro is eavesdropping in the hall. A much bigger problem is eavesdropping in the room:
Dr. Adler is Mystique, in disguise.
Standing behind the door is Apocalypse!
Apocalypse and Mystique reveal that the “cure” for mutants is actually a machine that steals mutants’ powers and turns them into slaves of Apocalypse. Rogue misses this revelation; Pyro does not. This ‘timing issue’ will play out some more, later.
Rogue is now sitting on a rock on the shore of the bay, reminiscing about what I assume was her first (disastrous) kiss. The boy she kissed had his health/power accidentally drained by Rogue, putting him in the hospital. A few hundred feet away, Pyro – wandering the beach in search of Avalanche – stumbles into Cable. Cable wants Adler; Pyro wants Cable dead; Pyro takes a Stun Blast from Cable’s gun. Winner: Cable. Avalanche actually finds Pyro in the water, a short time later; Pyro tells him about “Adler” and plots to kidnap Adler.
What could possibly go wrong? 😉
Rogue is now in “Dr. Adler”‘s lab, on the table, ready to get hooked up to the machine, when Pyro and Avalanche break in. They drop the machine on Rogue, grab “Adler”, and take off.
Cable is in the hall, watching. He follows them.
Rogue lifts the machine off of her and, now enraged, go after Pyro and Avalanche.
Professor X and Moira McTaggert arrive at the lab and see the destruction. A few seconds later, Cyclops and Jean Grey arrive, telling Prof. X that Rogue has disappeared. Timing.
Pyro and Avalanche find out that Adler is Mystique (she shapeshifted in front of them) and is not happy. Rogue flies in, looking to give someone another flight lesson; this gives Mystique time to change back to Adler and run off…
… right into Cable.
Rogue defeats the villain duo (now 2-1 against them in this episode) then goes after Cable, since she sees him with a gun to “Dr. Adler”. He shoots Rogue out of the air, sees “Adler” and grabs him, only for him to change back into Mystique; Cable is told that Adler is dead but, before anything else is said or done, he is stopped by the X-Men Blackbird, with Jean Grey and Cyclops joining the battle. After another fight, Cable is shot off of a cliff by Cyclops, but not before shooting Jean Grey. Rogue saves Jean, earning very warm gratitude from her, before Jean is hugged and kissed by Cyclops. Rogue looks away, crying.
There is no sign of Cable or Adler/Mystique.
Back at the lab, Rogue tells Adler that she changed her mind – she wants to her people with powers and that’s good enough for her. She flies away… and bumps into Angel! He is headed to the lab for the “cure”. In the shadows, Apocalypse calls Rogue a fool but seemed respectful of her wishes. However, is is very interested in Angel. The episode ends with Apocalypse vowing to destroy the world.
“Come the Apocalypse”: S1, E10
Episode 10 picks up right where Episode 9 ended: on Muir Island, with Warren Worthington III (“Angel”) meeting with “Dr. Adler” – the shape-changing mutant Mystique in disguise. “Adler” praises Angel’s money for funding the research, then straps him to the table.
As the machine is cycling up, Adler tells Angel that there’s no “cure” for mutants… and changes into her Mystique form. Out of the shadows comes Apocalypse, begging to hear Angel scream. He does just that, with the familiar “a scream in a building, while it’s storming outside” shot ends the scene. Poor Angel.
Meanwhile, the X-men are in the same bar from Ep. 9(?); many other mutants are also in there. Professor X states that they are waiting for a “cure”, with shots of them displaying their powers.Suddenly, Warren Worthington III bursts in, proclaiming that he’s cured and that everyone should him in getting rid of their “curse”! He’s confronted by Cyclops, who wants everyone to stay as Mutants; the situation gets tense until Prof. X and Rogue diffuse the situation. Turns out that the Worthington in the bar is Mystique; the “real” one has undergone some… changes:
Apocalypse then gives this big speech about how he will “burn the humanity out of Mutants”, how he will destroy the world, then rebuild it. It’s also shown that 3 of the mutants at the front of the line to be cured were “cured”: they’ve become Pestilence, Famine, and War. Along with Archangel – “Death” – they have become Apocalypse’s first iteration of The Four Horsemen. He sends them out into the world, to bring in chaos!
Back at the bar, Gambit is about to lose a game of pool to Rogue. He ups the ante: loser has to kiss the winner. Rogue gets rattled, misses the 8-bar. Jean Grey advises her not to listen to him, then gives him “some of his own medicine”: she causes Gambit to nick the felt. Even Storm gets a jab in at Gambit. Checking the news, Storm tunes in as a Human-Mutant-Disarmament Summit gets underway.
Naturally, it’s disrupted.
Apocalypse shows up, with the Four Horsemen. They lay waste to everything, from vehicles to monuments to buildings. Apocalypse debuts his shape-shifting and size-shifting abilities in this attack. The Army counter-attacks but to little effect; Archangel and Horsemen War retaliate to devastating effect. The Eiffel Tower is brought down by a crashing helicopter. Professor X has seen enough: he sends the X-Men to stop Apocalypse.
I sense a big battle after the break.
I was slightly wrong about a couple of things. First, there wasn’t a big battle right after the break. Second, not all of the X-Men went after Apocalypse. Rogue and Jubilee stayed behind; Rogue was sent back to Muir Island to investigate Warren Worthington III.
Apocalypse gives another “kill all humans, rebuild the world!” speech, interspersed with clips of the Horsemen terrorizing various parts of the world: people turned gaunt and starving; weapons turning against their users; various infrastructures destroyed. Rogue, meanwhile, arrives back at the lab on Muir Island. She is met by “Dr. Adler”. Rogue then grabs “Adler”, straps him into his own machine, and is about to start the machine, when “Adler” morphs into Mystique. Mystique spills the beans on everything: Apocalypse, what he’s doing, why she helped, and a previously unknown fact: Apocalypse has a secret base under Stonehenge. Rogue tells Mystique to hide, seeing that Apocalypse isn’t going to be too happy with her; she responds by shooting Rogue in the back, knocking her up into the machine, bringing it crashing down on her for the 2nd time in 2 episodes! Mystique escapes and Rogue flies out of the lab before it blows up.
The rest of the X-men arrive in Paris (where that Summit was taking place), in the middle of a 4 Horsemen attack.
Now we have the Big Fight.
Pestilence, via fog from Storm and an Optic Blast from Cyclops, was taken out of the fight, only to be rescued by Archangel. War was attacked by Wolverine but managed to kick him away and escape. Gambit saved Wolverine from a falling tower, as the Horsemen finally retreated.
At Stonehenge, Rogue is surprised by Apocalypse. He subdues Rogue, as the Horsemen return; before he can get off another shot, Apocalypse is blasted by Cyclops.
Big Fight #2 begins. Archangel enters the fight but is stopped by Rogue… wearing no gloves. Meaning, her touch can affect Archangel… and it does. Archangel turns on the Horsemen, but Rogue’s skin changes to a sickly pale blue, taking her out of the fight. The rest of the Horsemen are defeated, leaving Apocalypse to face the X-Men. Instead, he goes underground. Archangel helps Rogue up as Apocalypse unveils a spaceship from underground; he escapes. Rogue informed a repentant Archangel that she absorbed the evil from him – he’s back to his old personality (well, minus the fact that he has metallic angel wings that can fire missiles). He tells her that he hopes she is strong enough to contain the evil, then flies away to parts unknown. This ends the episode.
These are (probably) resolved in other episodes but after watching Episodes 9 and 10, we’re left wondering:
- Where did Apocalypse go?
- What will happen to Rogue – does she turn into the Horseman Death?
- What happened to Cable? Where did he go?
- What was with the tension between Gambit and Wolverine in Episode 9? I’ll have to watch Episode 8 and see if something in there sparked it. That scene with them arguing reminded me more of a Cyclops-Wolverine thing in the few comics that I’ve read.
Nevertheless, these episodes unleash Apocalypse on the X-Men world, which I liked. It’s nice to have a non-bumbling threat against the ‘good guys’. I also liked that both episodes centered around Rogue’s struggles with her powers and the conflict within her to be “normal”, ultimately choosing ‘helping people’ over her own wants. A lot of depth from a cartoon, over 25 years ago.
Hope you enjoyed the review!