REVIEW: X-MEN: EVOLUTION – SEASON 1-4

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CAST (VOICES)

David Kaye (Happy Gilmore)
Kirby Morrow (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Venus Terzo (Arrow)
Brad Swaile (Zoids)
Maggie Blue O’Hara (My Little Pony Tales)
Neil Dneis (Stargate SG.1)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Kirsten Williamson (Juno)
Meghan Black (Elf)
Michael Kopsa (Apollo 18)


RECURRING / NORABLE GUEST CAST

Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Christopher Judge (Stargate SG.1)
Alessandro Juliani(Smallville)
Michael Adamthwaite (Black Xmas)
Megan Leitch (IT)
Mark Hildreth (V)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)

UntitledThe first season introduces the core characters and lays the foundations for future story lines. Professor X, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and Jean Grey make up the original X-Men. As the season develops, the ranks of the X-Men are bolstered by the appearance of Nightcrawler in the first episode,[2] Shadowcat in the second, Spyke in the fifth, and Rogue (who originally joins the Brotherhood in the fourth episode) in the third. In the later episodes of this season, Nightcrawler discovers the identity of his birth mother, Wolverine finds answers to his past, Rogue switches sides to join the X-Men and Xavier’s half-brother, Juggernaut, is released from his prison.UntitledConfrontations are typically with the Brotherhood, who vie for new recruits with the X-Men over the course of the season. Toad is the first to be introduced, followed by Avalanche, Blob and Quicksilver. The Brotherhood, led by Mystique, are in fact being directed by a higher power, the identity of whom was “revealed” in the two-part season finale as being Magneto. After Cyclops discovers that his brother Alex actually survived the plane crash that killed their parents, they are both taken by Magneto into his “sanctuary” on Asteroid M. Magneto captures several X-Men and Brotherhood members in an attempt to amplify their mutant abilities and remove their emotions. The Brotherhood and X-Men show up leaving Magneto, Sabretooth and Mystique trapped on the asteroid. Asteroid M is destroyed by Scott and Alex Summers, but not before two metal spheres fly from the exploding asteroid.

UntitledThe second season sees the addition of several new mutants, including Beast, who becomes a teacher at the Xavier Institute and an X-Man, as well as a version of the New Mutants: Boom Boom, Sunspot, Iceman, Wolfsbane, Magma, Multiple, Jubilee, Berzerker, and Cannonball. During the course of the season, it is revealed that the villains who supposedly perished on Asteroid M are actually alive. Sabretooth continues his pursuit of Wolverine, while Magneto continues to work his own agenda. Mystique poses as Risty Wilde, a high school student at Bayville High who befriends Rogue and breaks into the mansion to steal Xavier’s Cerebro files. Using the files, she recovers Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, Magneto’s daughter and Quicksilver’s sister. The mentally unstable mutant joins the Brotherhood upon Mystique’s return, allowing them to defeat the X-Men in a battle at the Bayville Mall. Before the finale, a pivotal episode aired featuring the telepath Mesmero opening one of three doors that would unleash a mutant known as Apocalypse.

UntitledIn the season finale, Xavier rigorously trains his X-Men to face Magneto, pairing them with the Brotherhood. Cyclops, furious with having to work with his former adversaries, leaves the team. The mansion is later set to self-destruct with Cyclops and several students still inside. Magneto, meanwhile, recruits Sabretooth, Gambit, Pyro and Colossus as his Acolytes to fight the X-Men/Brotherhood team. At the same time, Wolverine is captured by Bolivar Trask to use as a test subject for the anti-mutant weapon, the Sentinel. Magneto continues to manipulate events by unleashing the Sentinel onto the city, forcing the X-Men to use their powers in public. Wanda tracks down Magneto and attacks him while he is trying to deal with the Sentinel that is targeting him. The Sentinel is damaged and apparently crushes Magneto as it falls. When the mutants who have not been captured by the Sentinel return to the remains of the mansion, Cyclops and the students emerge from the explosion with minor injuries. Scott throws Xavier from his wheelchair and blames him for blowing up the mansion. Everyone is shocked as Xavier calmly stands up, transforming into Mystique.

In seasons three and four, the show notably begins to take a much more serious tone. After the battle with the Sentinel, the mutants are no longer a secret and public reaction is one of hostility. The show is brought into more traditional X-Men lore, dealing with themes of prejudice, public misconception, and larger threats. As the season progresses, the real Xavier is found, Mystique is defeated, the mansion is rebuilt, and the X-Men allowed back into Bayville High. Wanda continues to search for Magneto, who she discovers was saved by Quicksilver at the last second, until Magneto uses the telepathic mutant Mastermind to change her childhood memories. Scott and Jean develop a stronger and closer romantic relationship (particularly after Mystique kidnaps Scott and brings him to Mexico), and Spyke leaves the X-Men when his mutant ability becomes uncontrollable, deciding to live with the sewer-dwelling mutants known as the Morlocks.

 

As part of the series arc, Rogue loses control of her powers, leading to her hospitalization. During this time, she learns that she is in fact Mystique’s adoptive daughter. Mystique, through the visions of the mutant Destiny, foresaw that the fate of Rogue and herself lay in the hands of an ancient mutant that would be resurrected. Apocalypse emerges in the season’s final episodes. Mesmero manipulates Magneto into opening the second door, and uses Mystique and a hypnotized Rogue to open the last, turning Mystique to stone in the process. Now released, Apocalypse easily defeats the combined strength of the X-Men, Magneto, the Acolytes, and the Brotherhood before escaping

The final season contained only for nine episodes. In the season premiere, Apocalypse apparently kills Magneto while Rogue murders Mystique by pushing her petrified figure off a cliff, leaving Nightcrawler without closure. The Brotherhood become temporary do-gooders, Wolverine’s teenage girl clone X-23 returns, Spyke and the Morlocks rise to the surface, Shadowcat discovers a mutant ghost who is found in an underground cave, Rogue is kidnapped by Gambit and taken to Louisiana to help free his father, and Xavier travels to Scotland in order to confront his son David. The character Leech is also introduced as a young boy named “Dorian Leach”.

In the finale, Apocalypse defeats Xavier and Storm, transforming them, along with Magneto and Mystique, into his Four Horsemen. Apocalypse instructs his Horsemen to protect his three domes and his ‘base of operations’, which will turn the majority of the world population into mutants. In the final battle, the Horsemen are returned to normal and Apocalypse is sent through time. Rogue and Nightcrawler refuse the excuses of their mother, Shadowcat and Avalanche find love once again, Magneto is reunited with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Storm and Spyke are also reunited, and Xavier sees his students reunited as the X-Men.

 

X-Men: Evolution may not hold a candle to the 90s series, but on its own merits it is decent. I can see why people dislike it as even on its own terms it does have glaring flaws, but I do think it should be judged on its own rather than being compared all the time. Okay, Season 1 wasn’t brilliant, there was a lot of cheesy dialogue, slow and melodramatic story lines, not enough Wolverine, a great character, and too much of Spike, one like Kitty that annoys me to no end, plus Rogue seems bland to me in this series. However, Season 2 onward was much stronger, the pacing is much crisper, the action scenes are exciting, the writing was a little more intelligent.

REVIEW: THE SUPER HERO SQUAD SHOW – SEASON 1-2

CAST (VOICES)

Charlie Adler (Wall-e)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and the X-Men)
Dave Boat (Ultimate Spider-Man)
Jim Cummings (Darkwing Duck)
Grey DeLisle (The Fairly Oddparents)
Mikey Kelley (Gravity Falls)
Tom Kenny (The Batman)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Travis Willingham (Dragon Ball Z)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
John Barrowman (Arrow)
A.J. Buckley (Disturbing Behavior)
Ty Burrell (Muppets Most Wanted)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Taye Diggs (Private Practice)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Suisan Eisenberg (Justice League)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Nika Futterman (Futurama)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Cheryl Hines (The Ugly Truth)
Josh Keaton (Justice League: Gods and Monsters)
Wayne Knight (3rd rock from The Sun)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Phil LaMar (Free Enterprise)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
James Marsters (Smallville)
Jennifer Morrison (Urban Legends 2)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Ray Stevenson (Divergent)
Fred Stoller (Little Man)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Michelle Trachtenberg (17 again)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Jim Ward (Danny Phantom)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)

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When I saw a preview of The Super Hero Squad Show back in February of 2009, I thought it looked pretty interesting, but certainly aimed at the kiddies, and as it aired on Cartoon Network, I never saw an episode. In fact, I forgot all about it, and when I got my hands on this disc, I thought it was an animated take on the old Fisher-Price Marvel kiddie figures. So I had no expectations coming in. Well, my only expectation being that it would be bad. So it was with a good deal of shock that I found it to be a pretty entertaining action-comedy series, if you don’t mind the cheese-level of many of the jokes.MV5BMTY4MzMzMzM2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTE2OTc3MjE@._V1_The Super Hero Squad (sort of a loose version of the Avengers) is made up of an assortment of Marvel heroes, including Iron Man (as the leader), Captain America (who provides aid on a regular basis), Wolverine (adding the X-Men’s popularity,) The Hulk, Thor, a spacey surfer-dude version of the Silver Surfer, and Falcon (obviously added to bring some diversity.) Joining them is the mostly unknown Reptil (a dinosaur-powered bit player from the Avengers comics) who is both a young guy and Hispanic, helping fill out the P.C. scorecard a bit more and give younger viewers a stand-in.  They go up against Doctor Doom and his legion of bad guys (and ineffective henchmen), as he searches for the Infinity fractals, shards of the Infinity Sword (which seems connected to the Infinity Gems of the Infinity Gauntlet. Infinity.)MV5BMTUwMzc1OTEzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjU3MDg3MjE@._V1_Though the storylines are pretty solid and offer big action-packed battles, the bulk of the show is comedy, with the character’s out-sized personalities carrying the jokes, be it Thor’s overwhelming concern about his appearance or Captain America being stuck in the ’40s. Maybe I don’t give kids a lot of credit, but I can see a large portion of these gags flying over their heads, which will make the show far more enjoyable for adults than one would have expected. There was more than one joke that got a genuine laugh out of me, though many of them rely on bodily functions or pratfalls for the punchline. The wordplay and character-generated jokes are much more entertaining and fun, especially Thor’s Asgardian versions of modern language, the Silver Surfer’s alien view of Earth life, and anything involving the always-ridiculous floating head known as M.O.D.O.K. (voiced hilariously by Tom Kenny.) One joke about the Hulk swallowing a yo-yo is technically genius. The only thing about the show that doesn’t really work is Reptil, who feels like the Poochie of the show, coming off as a bone tossed to kids, with his dino-focused power, youthful role and extreme behavior.MV5BNzQ1MjI0NzUzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzk1OTc3MjE@._V1_This version of the Marvel Universe smartly keeps the same look for its characters, giving long-time Marvel fans an in for the series, but presents them in a super-deformed style (squat bodies, large heads and feet, four fingers) that’s kid-cartoon friendly and which easily separates it from any other version of the Universe you’ve ever seen. That way, there are no issues with continuity or previous incarnations, and the show can be enjoyed on its own merits (allowing them to do something like make Dr. Strange a complete lunatic.) That’s a good thing, because the show is loaded to the gills with fan-service goodies, like the episode titles (which reference famous comic titles) and title cards which replicate memorable cover art. The show also pulls characters from the depths of the Marvel roster, like Screaming Mimi and the Melter, and having silly cartoon fun with them. Taken simply as a silly, almost What The–?! treatment of the characters, it’s well worth a look for comic-book fans out of grade school.MV5BMjM1ODQ2NDUxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjk1OTc3MjE@._V1_On a non-story note, the theme song, provided by Parry Gripp of Nerf Herder, is an energetic blast, while the voice cast for this series has to be one of the best for a non-prime time animated series, with tons of veterans of the cartoon industry, like Kenny, Tara Strong, Jess Harnell, Grey DeLisle, Cree Summer and Charlie Adler, along with plenty of genre stars, including Robert Englund, Tricia Helfer, Jennifer Morrison and Adrian Pasdar. It’s rare to see a show like this pull this kind of voice cast.MV5BNzQ1MjI0NzUzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzk1OTc3MjE@._V1_The overall plot of the cycle will feature the villain Thanos seeking the six stones of the Infinity Gauntlet, a powerful cosmic weapon. Opposing him will be the titular Super Hero Squad, which is made up of goofball takes on Iron Man, Thor, Falcon, Wolverine, Hulk, Ms. Marvel, original character Reptil, Scarlet Witch, and sometimes Captain America. While the first two shows focus specifically on the Thanos plot, other episodes detour into one-off excursions. For instance, “World War Witch!” takes the heroes back in time to when Cap was fighting the Red Skull alongside the Invaders in WWII, while “Support Your Local Sky-Father!” pits Olympus vs. Asgard, and it features the Marvel Universe rendition of Hercules.