The X-Men Episode Guide 1×08: The Unstoppable Juggernaut
Hitting at the height of the franchise’s popularity, the 1992 X-Men animated series translated all the action and melodrama that made the comic such a success to the world of Saturday morning cartoons, and it got its hooks into me like almost nothing else. That’s why ComicsAlliance is heading back through the archives for an in-depth look at every single episode of X-Men. This week: “The Unstoppable Juggernaut,” in which the X-Men fight Professor X's half-brother without ever actually mentioning that he's Professor X's half-brother.
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, the X-Men battled against the slavers of Genosha, and we were introduced to long-standing plot points characters like Bolivar Trask, Peter Gyrich and, amazingly enough, Cable. Gambit remained the sketchiest X-Man, but he ended up not turning traitor and helping to rescue his teammates from Master Mold, a giant robot with the power of pregnancy. Then everybody went home, only to find that home wasn't there anymore.
In our discussion of who reigns supreme as the greatest Marvel mutant outside of the X-Man, the crowd favorite was Molly Hayes, AKA Princess Powerful, AKA Bruiser, best known from the late, lamented Runaways. There were a few other strong contenders like Squirrel Girl and, inexplicably, Scarlet Witch, but really, who doesn't love a ten year-old who routinely punches Wolverine through buildings?
Speaking of demolishing buildings, it's time to find out just who it was who smashed up the X-Mansion in... "The Unstoppable Juggernaut!"
Kind of gave it away in the title there, didn't they?
Yes, the X-Men have returned from their tropical adventure to find that in their absence, Professor Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters has been reduced to Professor Xavier's Vaguely House-Shaped Pile of Rubble. What's worse, Xavier himself is missing, although that's really only "worse" if you forget that he's a dude who left a sixteen year-old girl alone with a seven foot-tall serial murderer so that he could go torture his ex-boyfriend with memories of the Holocaust. Seriously, at this point, Professor X being crushed under his own breakfast nook is probably the best thing that could happen to the team.
Unfortunately, despite everyone pitching in to sort through the wreckage -- well, everyone except Cyclops, who goes to park the plane because the professor says putting things back when you're done using them is really important, Wolverine! -- there's no sign of Xavier. Don't worry, though: While everyone else was frantically digging through wreckage, Cyclops wandered into the basement and found a note.
The "note" in this case is a giant floating hologram head announcing that Xavier is mysteriously "taking a journey," because I guess a post-it reading "went 2 moira's" would be impractical. It's all very dramatic, but if Professor X had already left and didn't arrange for J. Walter Weatherman to destroy the mansion in order to teach Cyclops the value of leaving a note, then who was it?
Fortunately, there are gigantic footprints left by the culprit, and the X-Men happen to have someone whose super-powers include being able to track people by scent. Unfortunately, Cyclops, the leader of a team of superheroes, has a plan that boils down to "sit around and not do anything," so Wolverine stomps off in disgust.
I'm right there with you, pal.
For some reason, Cyclops reacts to all this by insisting that Wolverine isn't working with the rest of the teeeeeeam, despite the fact that Wolverine bluntly states that it's probably a good idea to find the guy who wrecked the mansion before he, you know, murders people. So, in the name of teamwork, he sends everyone else to go watch Wolverine, while he hangs out at the mansion by himself. Truly, Cyclops is the absolute worst.
Jubilee, Storm and Rogue set out to look for Wolverine, and upon finding his jeep, they split up to cover more ground. Jubilee heads for a nearby construction site, assuming (rightly so) that Wolverine will want to follow in the footsteps of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper in They Live, and stumbles upon a mutant who fits the description. He's a big guy, not well-liked by his coworkers, and singlehandedly demolishes a building as they watch. Problem is, he's not the one they're looking for.
That's right, hot on the heels of Cable, the show has elected to introduce everyone's favorite steel-plated communist, Colossus! He rolls out of the smashed up building and is completely bewildered by the rest of the construction workers, who seem inexplicably terrified of a gigantic metal person who has literally arrived to take their jobs. This leads to one of the best dialogue exchanges so far:
FOREMAN: What did you say your name was?
COLOSSUS: I am Colossus, from Russia.
CONSTRUCTION WORKER: His name is "Mutant Scab!"
It's pretty great that Colossus, working in non-union construction, is already going by his superhero codename, but his workers are less than impressed. If they don't have a building to smash, they don't get paid, and to make matters worse, Jubilee (who was almost crushed by the building and got rescued at the last second by Wolverine) is convinced that he's the one who demolished the mansion, too.
Wolverine, however, remains unconvinced, so the superheroes hang back while a race riot erupts and somebody tries to run Colossus over with a truck. Colossus is astonishingly dumb and bewildered by the whole thing, but to be honest, it's actually kind of charming.
Eventually, a fight scene breaks out and this poor sap who just wanted a paycheck for smashing a building has to contend with some Canadian in yellow spandex jumping at him crotch-first, twice.
Wolverine finally takes a deep sniff of Colossus's musk, realizes that he's not responsible for what happened to the mansion, and sends him off on his merry way. Then Jubilee gets a call on her cell phone about a bank robbery, and when they get there, Colossus is being carted off by the police.
This occurs over the course of literally twenty seconds. How it all managed to happen with the X-Men apparently standing within thirty feet of each other, I will never know.
Colossus pleads innocent but gets locked up anyway, so Storm and Rogue head off to interrogate him while Wolverine and Jubilee track the scent of the real bank robber to his next crime. They arrive at the Hut, and it's worth noting that while Storm is still in her flowy pink civilian garb, Rogue is in full costume, just straight up hanging out in a spandex bodysuit with knee-high boots and a headband. Nobody seems to think this is unusual at all, though, although it does explain why the one (1) guard at the prison seems to be alarmingly easy to seduce:
Rogue zaps him with her touch to knock him out and Storm blasts a security camera with lightning, and they head back to the cells. Apparently some time on the drive over, in a scene that the people actually watching the show were not privy to, this suddenly became a mission to actually bust Colossus out of jail rather than just talking to him about what he saw in the bank. It seems kind of unnecessary, what with Colossus's ability to turn into a gigantic invulnerable metal dude whose only established power is to smash through walls, but there's something else about this scene that bothers me.
See, while Rogue and Storm are more than willing to jump into action to break someone out of County who just got locked up ten minutes ago, there's someone else they maybe should've helped with his incarceration. And here he is now!
Oh yeah! Beast! Remember him? Remember how he's been in jail for the entirety of this show so far, while all of his teammates were going on dates to see Phantom of the Opera or taking vacations to tropical islands and/or Canada? Well, he's upgraded his reading material from G. Orwell to "H. Thoreau," and the Law of Superheroic Coincidences has led him to be Colossus's cellmate.
The great thing about this scene is that when Rogue and Storm are running down the hall, Colossus is sitting there bemoaning his wrongful arrest, with Beast making the occasional noncommittal response. Then, when you actually see him, he's just hanging there reading, which he was apparently doing the entire time, not even looking up from Civil Disobedience while this poor sap told his whole sob story. Total dick move, but it kind of makes him my favorite character on the show.
To their credit, Rogue and Storm actually do ask Beast if they want to break him out -- something they didn't bother to do with Colossus, incidentally -- but he defers, instead putting his trust in the legal system. He does ask them to come back for a visit though, and I have every confidence that this will never, ever happen.
Across town, twelve minutes into a 22-minute program, we finally encounter the person this episode is named for: It's The Juggernaut, and he's robbing his second bank of the day!
Oh no! He's taking all of our bright yellow papers with two dots on them! Our economy is ruined!
Wolverine, in his official civilian outfit of a plaid shirt and a bomber jacket that I think he stole from Hal Jordan, watches the whole thing going down from a rooftop across the street. He's waiting for backup, because either a) this show can't remember if he's supposed to be a team player or not, or b) they want to make it clear that Cyclops is just being a complete and utter tool every time he opens his stupid mouth. Honestly, we're looking at a 50/50 chance on that.
Wolverine recognizes the Juggernaut when he busts through the wall and stands in the street unscathed while the police open fire with actual tanks, but it's not really explained how they know each other. What matters is that at this point, he can no longer wait, and so he does the heroic thing... and drags Jubilee into action.
Oh, The X-Men. Sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them because they are in gross violation of any and all child endangerment laws.
Wolverine cuts open the giant cartoon $ bags that Juggernaut's carrying, recovering the money -- it's green now, by the way -- and giving it to Jubilee to return to the bank. Then he confronts Juggs on the street and leaps into action. It works out about as well as anything else they've done on this show.
Juggernaut reveals that Xavier wasn't at the Mansion when Juggernaut trashed it -- which, you know, was kind of revealed in his floating head note fifteen minutes ago, but whatever -- and that his bank robberies are all a not-so-clever ruse to trick Xavier out of hiding. This is all explained while he's effortlessly trouncing Wolverine and dropping a building on Jubilee, but when Rogue, Colossus and Storm show up, we get the best explanation of the episode: "I'm not a mutant! My powers are magical!"
This is basically amazing. For all the goofy stuff we've seen in the past eight episodes, it's all been goofy mutant stuff. The casual "oh, by the way, there's dudes with magical powers too" just hits me as hilarious.
Juggs and Colossus throw cars at each other for a while, and then Cyclops shows up to start barking orders -- specifically an order for Storm to drop yet another building right on top of his head:
Jubilee seems pretty shocked by this and lets out a "You killed him!", to which Storm responds with "Nothing we know of can kill him." This seems like a pretty dubious statement considering that, from what I've been able to tell, this is the first time they've met this guy, and have no idea whether dropping an office building on him would actually be lethal. To me, it just sounds like Storm's getting her defense ready. "I mean, we didn't know it would kill him..."
Jean tires to zap the Juggernaut's brain, but she can't, and at this point, I'm trying to think of whether we've actually seen Jean do anything on this show. She's basically just been kidnapped by morlocks and worn an outfit dumb enough to make Gambit and Cyclops seem reasonable, right? Either way, Cyclops delivers the pretty amazing line "HIS HELMET PROTECTS HIS MIND FROM PROBES!" and starts grousing about how they need to use teamwork... "for a change."
One more time, that's Cyclops, who has spent the entire episode back at the mansion making sure the coffee machine still worked while literally everyone else on the team did the work. I f**king hate you, Cyclops. You somehow keep getting worse.
Besides, his plan is stupid.
Everyone works together to tear off Juggs' helmet, and then Rogue latches on to absorb his power. The thing is, there is no reason to do this. Look at the Juggernaut! Dude is wearing a sleeveless costume. If Rogue wanted to absorb his powers, I'm pretty sure all she had to do was buy a ticket to the gun show and grab onto his shoulder!
Instead, we go through that whole rigamarole, which ends with Rogue doing some flexing of her own, having absorbed Juggernaut's hatred for Professor X:
It's taken a few weeks for her to grow on me, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Lenore Zann's voice acting as Rogue is actually pretty solid here. She gets a nice rant about how Charles had it easy when he and Big J were growing up together, but "now I'm the strongest and I'll destroy you -- and your precious X-Men!" that keeps just enough of her over-the-top Southern accent to be fun.
It works, too. After Rogue absorbs his energy, Jean shows up and brainwashes Juggernaut to forget that he's a ten foot-tall indestructible monster wanted for two bank robberies and probably the murder of whoever was in those cars and tanks that he stomped on. He wanders off, not remembering who he is, which I think we can all agree is the absolute worst possible way to have solved this problem. Of course it is. It was Cyclops's plan, after all.
So that problem's solved, and with Colossus's help and his experience in construction, they rebuild the mansion in no time. Rather than staying, though, Colossus mentions that he's looking for his sister. There's still one more mystery though: Where the hell is Professor X?
(Hint: He's with Moira MacTaggart on Muir Island. He said so like two episodes ago.)
Discussion Question: This episode is the first time we've gotten a good look at Wolverine's goofy civilian outfit. When I was a kid, that costume was the source of my favorite action figure, and since this show basically existed to move those little chunks of plastic at the behest of Toy Biz, let's talk about the X-Men action figure line! What was your favorite figure? What was the worst? Did you also beg your father for an "Ugly Rogue" in the Christmas of 1994? Lord knows I did.
Next Week: We finally get to Muir Island when someone discovers a way to erase mutations (or possibly just the music of Robert Smith) in... "The Cure!"