Wolverine and the X-Men, Volume 2: Deadly Enemies – Season 1, Episodes 4-8: “Overflow,” “Thieves’ Gambit,” “X-Calibre,” “Wolverine vs. the Hulk,” and “Time Bomb.”
If you’re waiting for Disney to post the new Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes online (they’ve only got the first two episodes posted, although the Marvel YouTube channel has the micro-episodes) and you don’t want to Torrent them, and you’ve got a Netflix account, WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN is a pretty good alternative.
WATX is a really well-made cartoon. The animation is crisp (even though most of the faces are a bit weirdly rendered), the stories are engaging, the action is solid, the characters are mostly interesting, and there’s a definite feeling of the world existing outside the plot. If there’s a complaint, it’s that it sometimes drops the larger plot (building directly, though the X-Men, towards this dark future they’re supposed to prevent, or picking up the Rogue subplot) for a character-centric episode, but those episodes tend to be rather strong ones, so it makes for a good watch.
Every one of the five episodes included in the DEADLY ENEMIES compilation is a winner, though these episodes are designed more for individual enjoyment rather than working to further the larger plot. We get individual episodes focusing on Storm, Gambit, Nightcrawler, and the Hulk, and end with a team episode that revolves around the Brotherhood and, awesomely, Nitro.
“Overflow” is the Storm Episode. Professor X shows up in Logan’s head to tell him that Storm destroys Africa. Thanks, Chuck. She’s doing what she rarely gets to do in the comics – use her powers to make Africa more fertile for crop growing – and because that’s too good to last, she gets infected by the Shadow King and the X-Men have to show up and stop her. The X-Men part of the plot revolves around the growing tension between Logan and Emma Frost, which means that Emma gets to save the day to prove herself to him.
I wonder if the X-Men, or any superhero team, for that matter, sit around their mansions and try to figure things like that out.
Bobby: “Logan and Emma are fighting again. He’s got trust issues with her.”
Kitty: “That means she’s going to be the big hero in the next fight. You know that, right?”
Bobby: “But we’re fighting Storm! She does weather! I do weather! I’m going to save the day!”
Kitty: “We haven’t established any larger issues for you today. Trust me, Emma’s going to save the day, and since she’s a telepath, we’ll end up fighting a telepath.”
Bobby: “But … but … I want to be the hero!”
Kitty: “Nah, your powers make too much sense. You’ll probably get knocked out before the fighting even starts.”
Kitty: “Told you so.”
A solid episode that sees Storm rejoin the team, which is important because she spends the next four episodes doing absolutely nothing.
“Thieves’ Gambit” is the Maggot episode. Wait, that’s is, it’s the maggot episode. Fixed. Clever. Forge creates a device that temporarily inhibits a mutant’s powers, Gambit gets hired to steal it, then he and Wolverine semi-team-up to steal it back. It’s probably the weakest of the five episodes, and it raises one of the unavoidable burps about a cartoon like this – the X-Men don’t know Gambit and it can be a bit much trying to keep straight who the X-Men know and who they don’t. (The same problem happens with any cartoon like this, whether it’s WATX, or Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, or Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.) Gambit crosses and double-crosses and crosses back, so it’s nice that he doesn’t just fall in line with the X-crowd, but it’s a less-than-thrilling story. There’s a nice cameo by Magma, but the other guest stars (Dr. Zane, Bolivar Trask) are snoozers.
“X-Calibre” is the Nightcrawler episode and it’s a strong one. There’s a dubious trade going on with tankers shepherding mutants to Genosha, and these tankers are getting attacked. Kurt shows up to protect the transported on this particular trip. He starts off protecting the refugees from the ship’s crew and ends up protecting them from Spiral and the Reavers. The X-Men show up too late to help and Kurt tells them he’s not going off with them because he wants to see his current mission through to Genosha. What makes this episode work is Kurt – he’s brooding, he’s concerned, he’s dramatic, he fights with swords, and he teleports all over the place.
In one of the best scenes in the series, he’s trying to figure out how to turn all of these mutant kids weird powers into a functioning unit to save the ship. It’s got humor and gravitas.
“Wolverine vs. the Hulk” sees Nick Fury saving Wolverine’s bacon from the MRD, then lying to him to get him to do SHIELD’s dirty work (SHIELD cameo = Win) and take down Wendigo and the Hulk. It’s a totally fun episode with pretty good fight scenes, though the HULK VS. story with these two is better. What’s nice here is that both Banner and the Hulk have a role to play.
“Time Bomb” gets us back to the larger plot. The Brotherhood breaks Nitro out of prison and Quicksilver (who’s awesome as a total dick) uses Nitro’s inability to stop himself from blowing up for the Brotherhood’s benefit. When Pietro tosses Nitro down a shaft to blow up a MRD complex … awesome. Just awesome. Pietro is fantastic all over this episode – before he breaks Nitro out he goes into the prison just to take pictures of Toad’s reaction to being told Pietro wasn’t going to save him.
We also get more of the Rogue subplot, as we see her care and concern for Nitro in the face of the Brotherhood’s ill treatment. When the X-Men show up to capture Nitro and send him back to the MRD (Nitro had checked himself in so he wouldn’t blow anyone up on accident), they all give Rogue the cold shoulder. Nice guest shot from Psylocke, who’s in her ninja hottie body.
Another fine set of cartoons, though I’d have liked to see a little more overall story building.