Summary: On the plus side, this was the most watchable episode yet, largely thanks to the infusion of Hisako and Emma Frost, who have actual character and motivations and thingys. On the minus, this has got to be the dumbest team of X-Men I’ve ever seen.
This could just be me, but if someone says “Gee, they haven’t attacked us recently!” you’ve been hanging around in the enemy base for much too long.
I can buy the X-Men being flummoxed when they find Emma in the U-Men’s base and spending a minute trying to figure out what the hell to do, but this is ridiculous. Not only do Cyclops and Wolverine spend an eternity fighting over who gets to avenge Jean by killing Emma, but they proceed to debrief Emma about her experiences for a solid ten minutes while still inside the U-Men’s base. Really, X-Men? Isn’t the standard procedure in this instance to say “There’s no time to talk here, I’ll explain later?”
This sort of thing does happen in the comics periodically, but due to the magic of the medium, you tend to assume that these discussions are happening very quickly- like, in the time it takes you to read the dialogue. Also, comics allow you to assume that things are going on inter-panel that you’re not seeing, meaning characters are doing mission critical things, like unlocking cells, while they’re talking. But when it’s animated, and the characters do nothing but stand there and talk for a good while, it makes everyone involved look like a moron- even if the same amount of dialogue could credibly be communicated in comic form.
By the way, Cyclops and Wolverine’s macho-fest is much more amusing if you know what happens to Emma in the comics; apparently, Cyclops will refrain from killing Emma not because he believes she’s innocent, but because subjecting her to his lovemaking is apparently so much worse.
Strangely Armor, who has every reason not to know how her powers work, uses her powers more effectively than most of the X-Men. The way she finally overcomes her mental block and summons her armor is entirely predictable, but it’s also effective- it’s just satisfying to see a scared little schoolgirl become a Tezuka-inspired spirit golem and punch a deranged organ harvester right in the spleen.
I also think the animators did a great job with Hisako’s armor, which has always looked lame to me in the comics- I don’t know if it’s the motion, or the highly-stylized look they went for, but it looks much more impressive in animated form than it ever did on paper.
Okay, I know I bitch about Cyclops a lot, but how selfish is he that every situation becomes a venue to replay his own personal issues with the Phoenix incident? When Hisako loses control (as you do), Cyclops starts yelling at her to FIGHT THE POWAAA!, because he’s still stuck on the fact that it didn’t work out so hot when he tried it with Jean, and he just needs closure that badly. This show has managed to make me sick of the whole Phoenix storyline three episodes in, even though the actual Phoenix has been in it for less than five minutes.
Anyway, character-wise Hisako has yet to do much other than be the typical young superhero who can’t control her abilities yet (“Why is my body so hot!?” Why must they always say that????), but her reaction suits the situation, and I’m willing to wait for her to get the opportunity to put two coherent sentences together outside the U-Men’s base before I write her off as a non-character.
Your Weekly Nerf Indicator
Last time, I was complaining how they de-powered Storm in order to make Cyclop’s issues a bigger problem for the team than they really should be. In fairness to Madhouse, it’s not just Storm- they appear to be playing incredibly fast and loose with several characters’ powers in order to accommodate whatever they need to happen in the plot at that particular moment.
In this episode, while they did seem to genuinely capture the essence of Emma’s character- the way her genuine desire to protect children clashes with her otherwise morally questionable ideals, making her the most interesting character so far by a wide margin- I kept feeling like I needed to remind her what her powers were for. “No, he’s too insane, telepathy won’t reach him!” Umm, Emma? You’re a telepath with a lot of experience and very few scruples- you mind-rape people on a regular basis; it’s kind of your calling card. It doesn’t matter what he thinks he’s thinking, you THINK him sane.
You could make the “it’s a different continuity argument”- hey, maybe Emma Frost just isn’t that much of a hotshot mind-maniuplator in this universe- but it doesn’t appear to be consistent even within this show. One moment, the X-Men are talking about how Emma’s a psychic of such repute that she could have manipulated Jean into killing herself (and this is “I eat planets for fun” Jean, not happy-love-interest Jean!), the next moment she’s no use in battle even when their enemy is human.
Also, she lets powered-up Hisako bitchslap Cyclops around quite a bit before remembering that she can use her telepathy to calm her the fuck down, but in fairness, who wouldn’t?
On the plus side, Cyclops remembers he has an optic blast this time, so let’s hear it for progress! I’ll take what I can get.
[Cool ’90s Cartoon Narrator Voice] Next Time, On X-Men:[/Cool ’90s Cartoon Narrator Voice]
From the next episode preview, it appears that the next episode will feature quite a bit of everyone sitting around, drinking coffee and trying to piece together what just happened. I hope Xavier calls them on the ‘dilly-dally in the enemy base’ thing, but I’m not hopeful. That said, I am interested to see what the show does with Emma and Hisako going forward- although, in keeping with everyone being nerfed, Emma’s secondary mutation will probably not involve diamonds; it will be downgraded to another moderately hard substance. “Opal Form”?