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for Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wolverine and X-Men

Wolverine and the X-Men had its two-episode US premiere in January on the Nicktoons network. It's Marvel's latest animated show and its fourth animated X-Men series. There are good things to be said about these episodes; there are less than good things to be said about this series. Which is kind of why I'm here.

The most obvious "less good" things are the animation, which never rises above the so-so, and some character designs. Logan's mutton chops look like hairy squares fastened to the sides of his head. The Beast wears a vest that appears comically small on him. Most of the supporting characters look like we've seen them before, on other cartoons playing similar characters. Here's the average decent guy. Here's his bigot neighbor. Here's the evil rich guy. Here's the innocent child. Even supporting characters, especially when they play key roles, should have their own look.

The premise of this series is a good thing. A psychic attack takes out Charles Xavier and Jean Grey. A year later, they remain missing, Cyclops's wallowing in depression, Wolverine and the Beast are trying to figure out what happened, and the mutants are being hunted in the streets by our government. It's a very scary warning of what a fear-based "war on terror" could have easily led to in real-world America.

Another good thing: I very much like how Wolverine steps up to the plate when events require him to take command of the rebuilding of the X-Men and to lead the team he gathers. I was wondering how the show would justify his star billing and as such justifications go, this one works for me.

A "less good" thing from a "story logic" standpoint is that, though the Mutant Registration Act is not signed into law until the end of the second episode, the first episode shows the government already openly hunting, abducting, and incarcerating unregistered mutants. Where's the ACLU when you need them?

Another good thing about these initial episodes are their many glimpses of other Marvel mutants. Dust (from the Young X-Men team) gets a nice action scene. Magneto and Genosha get some background play. Previews from future episodes show dozens of other X-Men characters waiting in the wings. With 26 episodes scheduled in its first season, Wolverine and the X-Men is likely to introduce its Nicktoons audience to many of the Marvel Universe's newest and most interesting mutants.

Though there is considerable room for improvement, I like Wolverine and the X-Men enough to continue watching it. It earns a perfectly acceptable three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony



Surprisingly, only eight episodes of the Wolverine and the X-Men first season have aired to date. The best of these was "XCalibre," in which the rest of the mutants took a back seat to the dashing Nightcrawler. As I watched it, I kept thinking my late friend Dave Cockrum would have liked it very much. If you haven't seen this episode, it's worth keeping an eye out for its inevitable and frequent reruns.



It's Tuesday...and we have new Tony Polls questions for your balloting entertainment. From a list of choices - and write-in votes are accepted - we're asking you...

If someone had fallen way behind on their comics reading, which of these Marvel characters/titles would you recommend they catch up with first?

And also...

If someone had fallen way behind on their comics reading, which of these DC characters/titles would you recommend they catch up with first?

If you want to assume this "someone" is a writer who has been working on a huge book on old comics and so hasn't had the time to read current comics, feel free to do so.

The questions will remain active until sometime after midnight on Monday night, April 27.

You can cast your votes here:

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/20/2009 | 04/21/2009 | 04/22/2009 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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