Summary: They’ve made Storm weak in order to make Cyclops’ ongoing PTSD over the whole “my girlfriend became a giant psychic bird-creature and died” thing an actual problem for the X-Men, and it’s a huge pain. While this episode is better than the first by virtue of stuff actually happening, these people are still really unlikable for some reason- something not likely to be fixed by introducing Emma “I’m a bitch, deal with it” Frost next episode. Oh dear.
You know, there have always been several major problems with the main metaphor that the X-Men franchise runs on. When it’s done well (or, as is often the case, when the people watching/reading it are ten years old), it doesn’t really matter, but in other cases, it can be very glaring.
Probably the biggest problem is that while mutants are used as a metaphor for how marginalized groups are treated, they are not really like those groups in many of the ways that matter. For example, and this is only one, the Nazis liked to say that Jews were the problem with the world and would destroy it if left to run amuck, and I think it’s safe to say that was not actually the case; however, in this reality, a mutant- just one, and Cyclops’ girlfriend at that- could totally destroy the world. She killed herself because that was the only way to save the world from the fact that she existed. She was, on conservative estimate, one million times more dangerous than an atomic bomb.
Yet Cyclops goes around grunting in existential pain for this whole episode because the world around him obviously fears mutants- that they can’t just be left alone to be the pretty, humanoid deathbombs that they are. Cyclops, you know all those people who are terrified of you? They’re not bigots- they’re just paying attention.
As an aside, the HBO series True Blood has a similar problem- vampires are used as a metaphor for how gays are treated, except equating the kind of fear that homophobes have of gays with the kind of fear people would logically have of vampires doesn’t make sense. Fear of gays: “I’m afraid of social change and threats to the sanctity of marriage, for convoluted reasons that have much more to do with my own feelings of self worth than the subject at hand.” Fear of vampires:”I am afraid of them because I am their food.” One of those fears is more rational than the other, but I digress.
Anyway, the bulk of the episode concerns the X-Men being introduced to the U-Men and their robot defense systems, after learning that Hisako is only one of many mutants who has been kidnapped recently. Hisako’s parents are understandably tearful over their little girl’s kidnapping, and there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that, but somehow their proximity to Cyclops and his totally inappropriate righteous indignation makes them annoying. Hmm.
Meanwhile, Cyclops’ issues are making him ineffective in combat- he rushes into the fight with the U-Men foolishly (and without using his optic blast, what’s up with that?), and later gets distracted when the group finds an abused, hideously mutated victim at the U-Men’s base, and almost loses the fight for the group.
Now, I don’t care if Cyclops (and especially THIS Cyclops) wants to run off and get himself killed, but they seemed to have nerfed Storm in order to make this storyline important. Normally, Cyclops could sit on the side with a cookie and a juice box until he was ready to do his shooty-laser thing like a proper superhero, and Storm could just zap anything with lightning in the meantime. Storm isn’t invincible, but she’s got a ton of firepower, even by mutant standards, and nothing they face in this episode looks all that tough.
But no, in this version, Storm can apparently only use her powers for about five seconds before nearly fainting- I swear, like a nineteenth-century woman in a corset getting the vapors. I mentioned in the first episode write-up that I was not a Storm fan, but this is kind of ridiculous. It’s like they realized their whole storyarc would have no drama if Storm was her normal self, so they’ve reduced her to a pathetic shell of her normal self- same giant boobs, one-eighth the effectiveness.
I have to say, it does make me happy that they didn’t put Rogue on this show after all- instead of draining away people’s energy into unconsciousness, Anime Rogue would probably just make them feel slightly less “fresh” or something.
Next episode should introduce Hisako in a non-kidnapped, non-unconscious capacity, so hopefully she will prove to be the likable POV character that, in my opinion, this show desperately needs at this point, because Cyclops as the main character is just all kinds of ick. Interestingly, the one scene with her from the comics that stuck in my mind is when she curses under her breath in Japanese, and is totally mortified when Wolverine responds in perfect Japanese. Now that everyone is speaking the same language, I don’t think that relationship is going to be quite the same.