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X-Men: 

Pryde of the X-Men

     "Yes, the X-Men have won; but only for now ... Magneto is still out there, waiting, planning, plotting the destruction of the human race. But, whatever the challenge, whatever the peril, the X-Men will be there!"

-- Stan "the Man" Lee   

 

     

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Sights &
Sounds:
Pryde of
the X-Men
(1989)
 Original Airdate:
  September 16, 1989
  Syndicated
 Episodes :: 1
 New World Television /
 Marvel Productions /
 Toei Animation
 

 
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Pryde of the X-Men

 
We begin with a voiceover by Stan Lee (-- 'natch), warning each and every viewer about the possibility of mutants; people born (-- or cursed --) with extraordinary powers, living among us. Luckily, he says, there are good mutants and bad mutants. And while the good mutants just want to coexist, the evil ones kinda wanna take over the world and subjugate mankind. That said, we zero in on an armored convoy escorting a large tanker truck. Inside, the military authorities are transporting Magneto (-- pronounced either Mag-neat-oh, or Mag-net-oh, or Mac-nug-get), the most evil of mutants, to parts unknown. But after Colonel Jaffe lets Magneto know how he really feels -- that all mutants should be wiped off the face of the planet -- the convoy comes under the psychic assault of the White Queen; another evil mutant, who manages to run the armed escort off the road and disrupt the power supply to Magnetoís containment field, allowing the Master of Magnetism to strut his stuff as he tears apart the metal tanker, like tissue paper, and makes his escape.

Meanwhile, halfway across the country, young Kitty Prydeís taxi ride comes to an end at the gates of a certain Westchester mansion. However, it's quite apparent that Ms. Pryde (Kath Soucie) isnít so sure about the mysterious invitation to come here and is having second thoughts. But the taxi driver wonít wait around because, apparently, a bunch of "freaks" live in that mansion and roars off. Left alone, Kitty rereads the invite. Seems the sender somehow knew about her special power: the ability to walk through solid objects (-- a/k/a phasing.) Then, the front door opens and the wheel-chair bound Professor Charles Xavier welcomes the young visitor inside, where he starts to give her the tour of his School for Gifted Youngsters. When he tells Kitty that she is a mutant, like him, the girl confides her "gift" is a curse but Xavier thinks differently. Asked how he found out about said powers, Xavier reveals Cerebro -- a mutant detector/super computer. She then gets his sales pitch about the band of do-gooders heís assembled: the X-Men, who right wrongs and fight for mutant tolerance and acceptance. 

Kitty isnít sold outright, but the tour and sales pitch continues as her host shows her the famed Danger Room, where his students train and hone their gifts. (Think of the Holo-Deck from Star Trek.) Appearing to be set on Tomb Raider-mode, as the X-Men raid a Mayan Temple, they must avoid giant rock creatures, carnivorous plants and nasty deathtraps. And while Kitty watches from the control room, Professor X introduces his X-Men:

First is team-leader, Cyclops, who can shoot destructive beams from his eyes; and the Dazzler can transform sound into laser beams; Colossus, meanwhile, has great strength and can transform his body into living steel; and though he can stick to just about anything, Nightcrawler's true power is teleportation; Storm can ride the winds and command the weather; and lastly is Wolverine, our favorite psychotic Canucklehead with the claws. (Who for some inexplicable reason has an even thicker Australian accent than the last time we saw him. More on this in a second...) Xavier then reveals his own telepathic powers, which, frankly, kinda creeps the girl out until he assures Kitty that he doesnít pry into peopleís minds. Unfortunately, whatever ground her host might have been gaining is lost when Nightcrawler teleports into the control room because his demonic appearance -- complete with fangs, deformed digits, and forked tail, frightens Kitty. (Or maybe it's his German accent?) To top that off, when the other X-Men join them and Xavier introduces Kitty, all are cordial except Wolverine -- seems the nasty little cobber has got a snit in his didgeridoo about letting a kid on the team. Anyways...

Suddenly, an alarm klaxon goes off, signaling trouble of an evil mutant variety has just erupted somewhere. And so, the X-Men, minus Kitty and Professor X, roar off in the Blackbird to answer this distress call. But after they clear out, the X-Mansion comes under attack by Magneto and the monstrous Juggernaut. (Who we all remember from Marvel Comics 101 is Professor Xís half-brother.) As they bust their way inside, Kitty accidentally phases through the control board and shorts out the mansion's defense systems. His victory now assured, Magneto announces that heís after Cerebroís "power-circuit." Thus, Xavier gives the vital piece of equipment to Kitty and orders her to keep it away from Magneto at all costs. And while the Juggernaut brings the control room crashing down around Xavier, Magneto chases after Kitty, whose underdeveloped powers prove no match for him. Still, once caught, he offers the girl a place in his ranks but she refuses. Shocking her unconscious, then, the dastardly villain absconds with the coveted power-circuit.

Meanwhile, the rest of the X-Men find two more of Magnetoís Brotherhood of Evil Mutants -- the Blob, whose power should be obvious, and Pyro (-- another Aussie), who can control fire -- at an astrological observatory. In the ensuing dust-up, the X-Men save the astronomer and his family, but the Blob and Pyro escape with the information they needed on the Scorpio Comet ... Returning to find the X-Mansion rubbished, the strike team happily find Professor X and Kitty still alive, and, after comparing notes, their mentor reaches out telepathically to try and find out what Magnetoís intentions are and why he stole the power-circuit ... We cut to Asteroid-M, Magnetoís secret hideout, orbiting above the Earth, where the Brotherhood has assembled, including the White Queen, the Blob, Pyro, Juggernaut and the Toad -- a grotesque little gargoyle blessed with great agility. (X-Fans will also spot Lockheed the dragon fluttering around for some reason, who is the victim of much abuse from Magneto and Toad.) Plugging the pilfered power-circuit into a cosmic do-dad, Magneto then steps onto a platform and powers it up with his magnetism. Meanwhile, Xavier mentally "watches" as the device amplifies and focuses his rival's powers as he reaches out and snares the Scorpio Comet, which he sets on a crash course with the Earth!

Having seen enough, Xavier breaks contact and assembles his troops for an assault on Asteroid-M. Again, the mission will be far too dangerous and Kitty, despite all protests, must stay behind. Meantime, all the other X-Men mount up and launch the Blackbird for a deadly rendezvous with Magneto ... As they approach the asteroid, the X-Men suit up for a little extra-vehicular jump. Using their powers they manage to breach the Asteroid-M's defenses and get inside. Back inside the cockpit, Professor X watches their progress, and then calls for Kitty to come out of hiding, knowing the whole time she had stowed away. Only wanting to pitch in and help, Professor X admires her spunk and tells her to be careful as she follows the X-Men inside. Once she catches up, the team tries to make there way to the control room, but, one by one, their numbers are whittled down as they engage the evil mutants separately. (Colossus takes on the Juggernaut. Dazzler takes on Pyro etc...) Soon, all thatís left is Kitty and Nightcrawler for the main assault on Magneto and his machine.

Undaunted and under the telepathic lead of Professor X, the two attack, with Kitty doing most of the damage as she phases through the machine, causing it to go haywire. And when Magneto strikes back, he accidentally severs the main power line, making things even more critical because I don't have to remind you that they're all trapped on a rock floating in space, right? Right. So, Professor X orders Nightcrawler, whoís still in his insulated space suit, to become a human fuse-conductor to keep the power flowing. To make matters even more dire, well, you all remember that comet, right? Right. Get this: Kittyís phasing has also, somehow, reversed the polarity and now the Scorpio Comet is on a direct crash-course with Asteroid-M!

Before he makes his escape, Magneto can't help but gloat over how his enemies may have won the battle but lost the war because Nightcrawler must continue the power flow or the comet will revert to its original crash course with Earth, meaning heís as good as dead. But Kitty wonít leave Nightcrawler when Professor X orders her back to the Blackbird with the others. Assured he has a plan, she finally relents, but itís going to require precise timing. When all the others make it back to the ship (-- with Lockheed in tow), Professor X forms a mental link with Nightcrawler that allows him to teleport off the asteroid in the knick of time before it and the comet goes kablooey ... Unfortunately, the distance was too far and Nightcrawler didnít make it. And as he tumbles into the atmosphere and starts to burn up in reentry, the Blackbird races to his rescue but they appear to be too late.

Overcome with grief over the loss of their comrade, Kitty is hit the hardest because she treated Nightcrawler so badly. Suddenly, they hear something coming from the hold. Colossus opens the hatch and is happy to find his little tovarisch, alive and well. Seems Nightcrawler managed to teleport again before burning up. Thus, the episode ends as the X-Men return to Earth and officially welcome Kitty into their ranks -- although Wolverine, by crikey, still isnít so sure if she can pull her weight. Whatever, Crocodile Dumbass. 

The End

A lot of people mistake Pryde of the X-Men as the pilot for Fox's highly successful X-Men cartoon that premiered around 1992 -- if memory serves right. That's understandable, but a misconception nonetheless. They're close. This was a pilot episode, but it was the pilot for the first and failed attempt at bringing Marvel's famed mutants to the small screen in 1989.

Now, there had been rumors and rumblings of an X-Men cartoon as early as 1984. On the heels of the highly successful Spider-man and His Amazing Friends animated series, the proposed series was set to spring from the team's two cameo appearances in that cartoon and would feature Cyclops, Sprite, Storm, Wolverine, Thunderbird, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Video Man. Yes, Video Man -- a character that made his debut on Spider-man's cartoon. I can't explain it, either, people; folks just had Space Invaders and Pac Man on the brain back then. That incarnation never came to fruition, but the popularity of the team only increased on the newsstands. Marvel Productions then tried again, when they commissioned Toei studios to scrap the 13th planned episode of RoboCop: the Animated Series and use the aborted funds for an X-Men pilot instead. Word spread quickly through the comic vine, and we eager fan boys and girls waited impatiently to see it. And waited. And then waited some more.

Seems things were getting a little dicey at Marvel Productions. And though the pilot was completed, New World Pictures, who owned Marvel at the time, was going through some massive financial woes, which eventually forced them to sell the company to the Andrews Group, who quickly pulled the plug on all of Marvels animated adventures, save for the highly popular Muppet Babies. Thus, the X-Men pilot kinda got lost in the shuffle. Rumor has it that it did actually air once, and only once, but I, along with almost everyone else, missed it, bringing its very existence into question until an eventual release on home video, when the entire country went completely X-Men bonkers in 1991.

There is also one other amazing coincidence concerning the release of the video: it directly coincided with the release of Kanomi's X-Men Arcade game that just happened to feature the same team line-up and they fought the same bad guys (-- plus a few others. I seem to recall the Wendigo and a guy who I think was The Living Monolith.) So was this finally released just to be a 22-minute long commercial for the video game? When you consider the slam bang plot -- these are the characters, here's what they can do, now watch them kick butt -- it might as well have been. But remember, this was a pilot trying to introduce everybody and get the ball rolling. 

However, fans at the time of the release might have been scratching their heads at the line-up of characters: Where was Rogue? And Gambit? And the Beast? I don't know where Rogue was. But when it was made, Gambit hadn't been invented yet and the Beast was trying to form The New Defenders with his old buddies, Iceman and the Angel -- that only I and about three other diehard Valkyrie fans were reading. My favorite X-Man has always been Cyclops, despite the efforts of every scribe since Chris Claremont to make him look like a complete tool to make Wolverine look cooler. (In the old days, Cyke was one of the few guys who could tell Wolverine to shut his cake hole and live to tell about it.) Now, I do like Wolverine but I liked him better when he was a complete mental case and always one wrong look away from disemboweling everyone in the room. And speaking of everyone's favorite covert-Canadian super-assassin, it's high time we got to the bottom of his asinine accent of origin. Ten years before the movie Fargo made talking like a Yooper in vogue der, eh, some genius exec decided to make the character an Australian instead of a hosehead from the Great White North. And, believe it or not, back in the 1980's, with the soaring popularity of The Road Warrior and Crocodile Dundee, there was a concentrated effort at Marvel to make Wolverine an Australian expatriate by way of Canada to cash in. However you feel about this phenomenon, the experiment only made it as far as these first view animated adventures before the plug from down under got pulled. 

To be fair, I didn't care for the constipated approach the voice actor used in the later Fox series, either.

As for the bad guys? They're an odd mish-mash of the old Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the newer version. Magneto founded the original one with the hypnotic Mastermind, the Blob, Toad and the force field projecting Unus. Later, the shape-changing Mystique founded a newer version that included the Blob, Pyro, the earth moving Avalanche, the clairvoyant Destiny and Rogue, who eventually switched sides. The White Queen, meanwhile, was part of Sebastian Shaw's Hellfire Club, which consisted of several more evil mutants, who took their titles from chess pieces. Shaw was the Black King and Jean Grey, a/k/a Marvel Girl, was warped into being the Black Queen that led to the classic Dark Phoenix Saga in the comics. Honestly, I don't have a problem with her being included here. She's definitely better to look at then the homely Mastermind. But Juggernaut's inclusion is a puzzler -- he isn't even a mutant. He was transformed by the mystical ruby of Cytorak, and, when not trying to kill his step-brother, hangs around with Black Tom Cassidy, the Banshee's evil brother. That's me shrugging right now.

I touched on the barely perfunctory story already, but, wow, it sure does look great. The animation, courtesy of Toei, is really quite beautiful. And if it looks kind of familiar to you, it should. It's the same, high-gloss style you saw on the early G.I. Joe and The Transformers cartoons. Yeah, Toei was the king of 1980's animation as far as I'm concerned, where they teamed up with Marvel Comics and Hasbro for several animated adventures; or, depending on your point of view, half-hour long toy commercials. Sadly, Pryde of the X-Men would be Marvel's last joint venture with Toei, and the later series really suffered for it; unless you actually preferred the 'roided out look of what followed -- with one notable exception, X-Men: Evolution ... Sharp ears will also hear the familiar voices of Michael Bell, Neil Ross, Frank Welker and Kathy Soucie. The same voices you heard in those aforementioned G.I. Joe and The Transformers cartoons.

Tallying it all up, this aborted first attempt at an X-Men cartoon gets a lot of things right but gets some other things horribly wrong. It looks great but just fizzles, story wise as the characters comes off a little too one-dimensional. Kitty's too whiny, Wolverine gargles on some phlegm before spewing every line, and the villains were just lame. Given time, I think they could have hammered it out better, but, for that, they'd have to wait another four years.

Pryde of the X-Men (1989) New World Television :: Marvel Productions :: Toei Animation / EP: Lee Gunther, Margaret Loesch / P: Rick Hoberg, Larry Houston, Will Meugniot / D: Ray Lee / W: Larry Parr / E: Al Breitenbach / M: Rob Walsh / S: Kath Soucie, John Stephenson, Pat Fraley, Michael Bell, Earl Boen, Andi Chapman, Ron Gans, Neil Ross
Originally Posted: 05/18/02 :: Rehashed: 02/05/2012

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.

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