The X-Men made their return to US television last night, with parts one and two of the three part premiere storyline of Wolverine and the X-Men. The question is, should you have huddled around your TV at 8pm and turned on NickToons? The answer, thankfully, is yes.
The opening story shows first two things comic fans have seen many times: The destruction of the Xavier Institute and the dismantling of the X-Men. This time, it’s an attack centered specifically on Telepaths, which results in the immediate disappearance of both Professor Xavier and Jean Grey.
In the year that passes from this event to the “present day” storyline, the Mutant Response Division (MRD) is formed, arresting mutants left and right. Wolverine has his own personal experience with the MRD and a small group of humans that leads him to decide he needs to “Bring back the X-Men.”
Viewers are quickly introduced in this first hour of the show to this show’s version of quite a few mutants as Wolverine and Beast try to get the band back together. Rogue, Angel, Beast, several members of the Brotherhood including mainstays Blob and Toad, Pyro, and even some of the Young X-Men kids like Dust and Rockslide. The huge roster was a very pleasant surprise, and shows off a lot of characters that writer Chris Yost has more than a passing familiarity with. Drive-by guest spots are a fun treat for fans of the comics, as several newer and lower-tier characters get at least brief appearances on screen (even in the intro to the show). There are some surprises with regards to what characters are “good” and “bad” guys, and that promises to continue throughout the series.
The show doesn’t follow any specific story from the comics or any other established continuity, though some character designs bear a passing resemblance to those in X-Men Evolution, the last animated adventures of Marvel’s Mutants. There are definitely familiar tropes for long-time fans, but things are also presented in a new enough manner that any casual or new fans will have no trouble jumping in to any bit of the story.
Overall, the story seems it will have the underlying arc of what happened to Xavier and Jean and how Wolverine gets himself into the leadership position, while telling good self-contained stories at the same time. The animation is tight and fluid. The voice acting is spectacular, and features several voices from previous video games. Living VA legend Steve Blum voices the titular character, and stalwart Yuri Lowenthal voices Iceman, amongst many other well-known voices. It looks and sounds like Marvel wanted to bring their animated series to the high quality level of their recent animated movies, and so far, they’ve succeeded in every way. Wolverine and the X-Men is accessible to newcomers, easy enough to understand for kids, and faithful enough to the source material for long-time adult fans. I can’t wait to watch more.
Wolverine and the X-Men airs Fridays at 8pm EST on cable network NickToons, and is replayed several times throughout the week. Check local listings.