The X-Men Episode Guide 5×03: A Deal With The Devil
The early ’90s were spoiled for choice when it came to comic book adaptations. Not only was Batman: The Animated Series on the air, but X-Men led Marvel’s push to get on the small screen, diving right into the often convoluted continuity of everyone’s favorite mutants, luring in a generation of fans, and paving the way for cartoons to follow. That’s why we’ve set out to review every single episode of the ’90s X-Men animated series.
This week: Omega Red goes nuclear and Wolverine does one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen!
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, an even more rag-tag group of mutants than the rag-tag group of mutants that we usually have managed to defeat the interagalactic menace of the Phalanx by literally walking into a building and shooting them. Look: I realize it’s season five, and you’re as tired of this as I am, but at least try, X-Men. If you do, we’ll both have an easier time with the next few weeks.
For the discussion question of providing quick summaries of complicated X-Men, the Commenteers came through in full force, and there’s a lot in there that’s worth reading, so head back to check it out if you haven’t already. That said, there were two that I really thought captured the spirit of the question by going for brevity. First, from Commenteer Rhody Tobin:
Skin was an X-Man whose power was being really gross. He was crucified on the front lawn of the X Mansion and now he’s buried somewhere under a tombstone upon which his name is spelled wrong.
And, perhaps my favorite entry, from Patrick Ledet:
Adam-X is Xtreme.
What more is there to say?
This week, the final season continues with “A Deal With The Devil” from writer Eric Lewald, line prodoucer Frank Squillace and prodcuer/director Larry Houston, and before anyone gets too excited, let me go ahead and cut that off right here. Despite the title, this is not a story where the X-Men do battle against Satan himself. Instead, the devil here is more metaphorical, although considering that it mostly refers to an evil red dude who uses a MUTANT DEATH FACTOR! to make trouble, even “metaphor” might be stretching it a little.
We start off in the mountains of the former Soviet Union, where a team of American soldiers with suspiciously Canadian accents are digging Omega Red out of the ice, where he’s been frozen since his first appearance on the show back in Season 2:
Man, first Cameron Hodge and now this. This really is the season of the callback villain, isn’t it?
So why go through all the trouble of thawing Omega Red out only to chain him up when literally everyone involved has got to know exactly how this is going to end? Well, it seems Uncle Sam (or Uncle Gord, or whatever they have in Canada) wants to make a deal: If Omega Red helps them recover an unstable nuclear submarine that sank off the coast of Hawaii using his knowledge of Soviet security codes, then they’ll use the miracle of modern medicine to turn him human again. This, of course, is an offer that assumes Omega Red is not 100% into rocking communist headbands and carbonadium tentacles, which seems awfully presumptuous. In the end, though, he agrees, but demands to be accompanied into the sub by two teammates: Wolverine and Storm.
Now, for those of you who may have forgotten, Omega Red’s antipathy to those particular X-Men might need a little explaining. Wolverine, of course, is his foe from way back when, but Storm is the one who defeated him most recently, by flash-freezing him with “THE AHCTIC WINDS THAT CHILL THE BEWNES!” Apparently bewne-chilling is an offense that causes someone to carry a grudge.
With the alternative being the possible nuclear annihilation of America’s greatest surfing destination, Wolverine and Storm agree to the mission (well, Wolverine agrees, Storm just kind of sits silently in the background) and before long, they’re on the set of G.I. Joe Series 2 and ready to dive.
O-Red wastes no time and starts needling Wolverine immediately, trying to goad him into a fight, while Storm suddenly remembers that she’s claustrophobic and probably should not be the one left to try driving a tiny submarine while her two passengers have a tooth-gritting competition in the back. Fortunately, everyone keeps it together long enough to get to the sub, although Storm straight up rams into it and almost sets off the nukes before saying my favorite piece of dialogue of the season:
“I am sorry! These CONTROLS are rather VAGUE!”
Having successfully docked — by the standards of success that we’ve seen on X-Men for five years, anyway, which basically amounts to “screwed it up, but nonfatally” — the gang heads in and Omega Red promptly hijacks the sub, tears out the “vial of liquid nitrogen” that they implanted in his skull to control him, and targets the fifteen largest cities in the world with nuclear missiles, declaring that he wants to see them burn.
Now, you would think that bringing Wolverine and Storm along with him would basically be shooting himself in the foot in terms of pulling off an evil plot (and you would be correct, as we’ll see eventually), but he has a plan to deal with them. See, the interior of the sub is incredibly toxic, and if their suits were to rip, even a tiny bit, they’d be killed. So naturally, the first thing Wolverine does is pop his claws right through the containment suit.
It is both alarmingly stupid and unbelievably impressive. Son does not give a dang. And neither does anyone else, since this is never mentioned as having any sort of dire consequences at all. Oh well.
Omega Red quickly regains control of the sub as Storm and Wolverine try to escape, but the X-Men have backup on the way, in the form of Storm and Beast flying in on the Blackbird, which somehow managed to cover the ground from Westchester to Hawaii in the span of a single commercial break, vastly oustripping the Canadiamerican military’s nearby planes. But while they’re en route, Omega Red decides that this is a good time to wax philosophical, explaining that he’s nuking all those cities because it is a terible thing to create a weapon and then not use it.
(Note: he is talking about himself)
Amazingly, Omega Red is planning on actually surviving this little nuclear holocaust that he’s engineering, but it’s right about then that Beast and Rogue start dropping depth charges in order to keep him from reaching launch depth, sending Omega Red tumbling like a goon as he continues to hold up the X-Men:
At this point, I think it’s pretty clear that Beast never got the memo about Storm dying a horrible, painful death if her costume is ripped.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s another complication to the whole thing, too: While most nuclear missiles don’t actually arm until they near their target, Omega Red’s knowledge of the access codes (which he has because the Soviet High Command apparently thought that their living energy vampire should also have access to all state defense secrets) means that he could have them arm immediately after they launch. If he does, then even if the fighter jets arrive to shoot down the missiles, there’ll still be 15 atomic ICBMs going off over Hawaii.
Or, as the shockingly Canadian voice of the army guy says..
“They could come owt HOT!”
Turns out they needn’t have worried. Omega Red just goes right ahead and launches the nukes, and Beast discovers that they’re in the standard configuration (ie, not armed). How does he discover this? Oh, you know, by blowing the missile up with a laser, which would have caused a nuclear detonation it if it had actually been armed. Fifty fifty shot, I guess.
Even though they’re a crack shot with the lasers (which makes me wonder why the X-Men don’t solve virtually every problem they have by shooting it with lasers from a stealth fighter), they can’t get all of them, but the F-18s arrive just in time to take care of the rest. So, good job everyone! The tension in this episode managed to last for almost two minutes!
Needless to say, Omega Red is not happy about this development.
He’s not done yet, though. He issues yet another threat, arming more warheads and vowing to blow Hawaii off the map, and at this point, seventeen and a half minutes into the episode, everyone finally remembers that Rogue has super-powers, and she flies down to the submarine to beat the living hell out of Omega Red until he stops trying to blow up the world.
Seriously, she just starts straight tearing the ship apart with her bare hands, and then we have my second-favorite bit of dialogue from this season:
BEAST: Rogue! What happened?!
ROGUE: AH BENT HIS BOAT.
Thus, with the boat sufficiently bent, Omega Red is trapped at the bottom of the ocean with a bunch of active nuclear missiles that he can’t launch, and the X-Men decide that’s good enough to count as a victory and go home. Seriously.
Discussion Question: This has come up before, notably in the Dark Phoenix saga, but what other X-Men stories could be simplified if Rogue was around to use her super-strength and invulnerability to just beat everyone up? Surely Krakoa the Living Island would’ve just been thrown into the sun back in 1975, right?