Since the X-Men movie charmed movie goers everywhere with it's unique blend of kickass action, keen mutant powers, and some really shitty lines....seems like everyone's pining to get their hands on more X-Men crap. With that, the Fox cartoon series has become popular again, showing in reruns across the board and quenching everyone's thirst for Marvel's most famous mutant team. But there was another X-Men cartoon put out by Marvel that predated the Fox series by years...
Yes, made strictly for video - it's the Pryde Of The X-Men! You might think this served as a sort of pilot for the cartoon most of us know, but it's really not. This is like the Bizarro world X-Men cartoon. Everybody talks funny. They all seem to be going through personality disorders. And Wolverine sounds like friggin' Zartan from G.I. Joe. I really don't know what year this came out, but it's old. I bought this when I was pretty heavily into comic collecting, and that's a long time ago. And now that I think about it, I think I bought it as a rerelease...it's very old.
When an old lady spills her drink on your new rug, pisses herself, or talks to you...you find it in your heart to forgive her. Likewise, this being an old cartoon, we'll have to forgive it. It just doesn't know any better.
Off the bat, you'll realize that you're probably in for some trouble. The theme song, which was apparently co-written by a spider-monkey and a duck, is probably the most offensive thing you'll ever hear. "X-Men, X-Men, coming your way ..." starts it off. If you can survive the theme song, chances are you would've beaten Evil Rich for the million dollars if given the chance. Before we get into the actual plot, by which point I'll suggest getting coffee and strapping yourself to your seat, let's talk about some of the less...brilliant...parts of the cartoon.
* The campy narration by Stan Lee is found throughout the episode. Now, no offense to Stan, but if you've seen the 80s Hulk show, you'd know that it's really, really difficult to take a single word he says seriously. I guess the narration is supposed to give you feelings of 'awe' and 'inspiration', but two much better terms would be 'worthless' and 'parasitic'. Again, the show was animated, and created for kids. Kids usually have a much deeper appreciation for awful dialog. But it's fun rating this as if it's a legit drama series, so let's just say it sucks.
* The Claremont-era team certainly wasn't as hip and happenin' as the ones we know nowadays. Instead of Gambit and Jean Grey, brace yourselves for Colossus and Dazzler. Colossus has the stereotypical American interpretation of a Russian accent, meaning Colossus' vocabulary is limited to about four words, spoken...very...slowly. Dazzler? Now you see her, now you don't. She's there for a few seconds and then pretty much forgotten for the rest of the episode. Sort of like the plot.
* Weird voices. Wolverine talks like the guy from Crocodile Dundee on helium. Storm sounds like someone who should be reading from a crystal ball. And don't get me started on the bad guys. Juggernaut and the Blob's lines are limited to them repeating their names over and over again like they're fucking Pokemon.
* A lot of shows either run into problems in the character development department, or the action department. This show, being truly groundbreaking, managed to do both.
* Kitty Pryde. Kitty Pryde's the big problem here. You might know her as 'Shadowcat', but in the cartoon, she's just a whiny idiot. The show is about 20 minutes long. 15 of them consist of Kitty crying. What's worse - she doesn't get punched...not even once. She's the star of our story, so she talks a lot. And her voice - my GOD her voice - will send you down a spiral of insanity faster than you could ever imagine.
Now for the sinister plot.
After the suicide-inducing intro, we find Kitty Pryde wandering around the X-Mansion for the first time. She looks upset, and there's a few reasons. Firstly, she doesn't understand her mutant power to phase through solid objects. Secondly, her outfit is absolutely hideous. She runs into what appears to be...Professor X's ghost! Haha, silly, don't worry. Prof. X isn't dead. That's just a mental projection of himself to conveniently guide Kitty through the mansion. Hmmm...kinda reminds me of the X-Men movie, only here we get Kitty in Rogue's role. Well, Rogue grew on me. Kitty didn't.
Professor X eventually explains to Kitty that yes, she is a mutant, but no, she's not a freak. C'mon. I don't care if you're mutated into the most beautiful person on the planet with perfect lips and the ability to fly...if you're a 'mutant', you're a 'freak'. Just ask Ron Popeil. Kitty meets the rest of the X-Men for the first time:
Cyclops, who at this point didn't get headgear that let his hair out. For all we know, he's bald. But more importantly, he's far less brooding in this cartoon than we'll come to know him as later. I think he got about six lines in the episode.
Dazzler, who can turn sound into powerful bolts of energy. Judging from the fact that you won't see her much after this scene, she must also have the mutant ability to dissapear from career-killing television shows.
Nightcrawler, the mutant who looks scary, but who's got a friendlier disposition than a cat wearing a pink sweater. He has the power of teleportation. He also has a really long tail.
Colossus, the Russian who has the mutant ability to...hm. I guess you can say, he has the ability to turn into a metal version of himself. Unfortunately, even after he does, the bad accent stays.
Storm, who can control the weather. Again, more bad accents. You know how people talk when they try sucking on two Jawbreakers at once? That's where they got their inspiration for Storm's voice.
Wolverine, who can't get through a sentence without using the word 'dingo'. Wolvie fans are not going to be too pleased after seeing this. On a related note, neither will non-Wolvie fans, oxygen fans, or people in general.
Through the cartoon we realize that humans either fear or hate mutants, or both. It doesn't matter if you're a good mutant or an evil, sinister mutant...if you can do something weird, you deserve to be shot.
With help from the White Queen, (yes!) Magneto breaks free from his surrogate prison on an army truck. While the X-Men are away, he and Juggernaut invade the X-Mansion to steal something from Professor X. It doesn't matter what, just figure it's something that'll cause the world to explode or some shit. Juggernaut talks like an idiot to Prof. X while Magneto snatches whatever gadget it is that he needs away from Kitty. As an added bonus, the ceiling collapses on both of them. There's the show's highlight, enjoy it.
The X-Men return and revive their fallen friends. Professor X massages his forehead for a few seconds before coming to the stunning conclusion that Magneto's planning to use whatever he stole to redirect a comet towards the Earth. Naturally, this isn't the time for everyone to engage in a game of Scrabble, so the X-Men fly off into space. They tell Kitty she can't go, but she sneaks on-board, because after all, 'this is her planet too.'
Space was a lot different way back then. Breathing devices and spacesuits were optional. Nevertheless, the X-Men infiltrate Magneto's space fortress, but before they get up to him, they'll have to fend off his minions:
Pyro, the villain with the mutant ability to control fire. He wears what would've been a great costume for a themed exterminator.
Toad, but not the Toad like you saw in the movie. This Toad is about 3' tall and dressed like the Jack of Spades. He can jump around and stuff.
The Blob...his mutant power is the ability to be fat. And say his name. Right.
In any event, people start battling. Eventually, it comes down to Magneto, Nightcrawler, and Kitty. Kitty saves the day, and Nightcrawler has a close call. If Nightcrawler would've died, I could grade this one a little higher. Hey, I've got nothing against him, but I need something to remember about this cartoon besides the fact that it sucked. Everyone accepts Kitty as part of the group now, including Wolverine, who had previously tried to kill her. Well, not really, but he didn't particularly like her. All is well...for now!
Now, it's your chance to watch it. Judge it. Enjoy it. Show it to your friends. Just don't ever dress like Kitty Pryde. It's a RealPlayer file...
Oh yeah, for a special bonus, here's what the X-Men characters would look like in real life. On the left, the sultry White Queen. In the center, unassuming, young Kitty Pryde. On the right? Nightcrawler.