The X-Men Episode Guide 3×18: ‘The Juggernaut Returns’
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, the Juggernaut returns and spends the entire episode in bed, much like I wish I was doing.
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, Cyclops finally figured out that Corsair was his dad after a sequence of events that basically involved a flashing neon sign reading "UR DAD" pointing at Corsair, who was flipping through an album of pictures showing him getting married to Cyclops's mom while drinking from a coffee cup that said WORLD'S GREATEST DAD (OF CYCLOPS). Carefully considering the evidence, Cyclops decided that this whole paternity situation required a little more investigation to be sure.
To that end, I encouraged readers to think up other puzzlers that Detective Cyclops could take a crack at, and you folks cooked up a pretty robust case file for him. Here are a few highlights from The Scott Summers Mysteries:
"Detective Cyclops in: Who Is This Strange Woman I've Woken Up Next To Who Looks Strangely Like Jean And Is In Jean's Spot On The Bed But Is Not Wearing Jean's Clothes???" -- Joshua Daniel
"Detective Cyclops in: Who's This Guy In This Window Looks Like Me And Has My Visor And Is Mimicking All My Movements? Clone, Morph or long lost twin brother???" -- Joshua Daniel
"Detective Cyclops is hired by fellow X-Man Wolverine to discover why his check was never delivered." -- Tim Siltala
"Detective Cyclops in: How does the Professor always get me the most thoughtful birthday gifts? WHAT IS HIS SECRET TO KNOWING WHAT I WANT FOR MY BIRTHDAY??" -- Mike Christensen
"EnCyclopPedia Brown and the Case of the Disappearing People When I Close My Eyes." -- Randy Lee Potts
I think my favorite thing about all of these is that in the Marvel Universe, there is a genuinely sinister and convoluted explanation for all of these. Kind of like how Cyclops thought his dad was dead because he was in an airplane that crashed into a mountain in Alaska, only to find out later that he was abducted by aliens and became a space pirate. Things are complicated in that dude's life, man. Maybe I'm a little too hard on him.
Just playin', he sucks.
So you remember how the Juggernaut has been on this show a couple of times, and how it's never really ended all that well for him? Like how the first time he showed up he got knocked out like a chump by Colossus, who wasn't even on the team? And then when he showed up again and tried to kidnap Lilandra but got punched across an actual ocean by Gladiator? Well, I hope you enjoyed those, because this week's episode by writer Julianne Klemm and producer/director Larry Houston spends 22 minutes asking you to believe that the Juggernaut is a going concern. It's the show that dares to wonder what would happen if a jock was actually a nerd!
Said nerd has been saddled with the unfortunate name of "Eugene Torbit Witterspan," which as far as stereotypical nerd names go is only slightly above calling a dude Poindexter Nerdlinger. But, you know, this episode is also about a dude's evil brother who wants to kill him who is literally named Cain, so it's probably not a great idea to throw stones. Anyway, Einstein McDorkbag over here has traveled to the Far East on an archaeological expedition that seems to involve busting through the floor of a temple with a pickaxe and then pelvic thrusting at it for a little while, so... not exactly Henry Jones Jr. over here, I guess.
The object of all this thrusting: A tablet that reveals the secret to obtaining the legendary power of the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, which, I feel I should point out, are neither crimson nor are they actually what I would call bands. They are, however, the source of power for the Juggernaut, as manifested by a sort of brownish orange helmet and some muscles.
This might leave you all wondering what the Juggernaut himself is up to, and the answer is amazing. Apparently this dude has spent the last 15 episodes straight walking across the bottom of the ocean from Ireland to New York CIty, hell bent and waterlogged on getting revenge on Professor X. Now, keep in mind that Professor X is not actually the dude who punched him across an ocean. That is not the amazing part.
The amazing part is that Juggernaut gets a friendly smile from a seal...
...punches a shark in the face...
And then drives off in a little tiny taxi cab.
This is, without question, my favorite sequence of events that has happened on this show. Seriously, I was willing to write this whole thing off after the absolute mess of the Dark Phoenix Saga, but it suddenly turned delightful on me.
And it doesn't stop there, either. When Professor X gets the news that his musclebound half-brother is on his way to slap him right out of his flying yellow chair, he flips out and tries to get all the X-Men to come rescue him. Unfortunately, that proves to be difficult, because nobody's wearing their communicator belt. Jubilee's busy swimming and in the second most amazing shot of this episode -- and really, it's only a first-person view of a shark getting its jaw jacked that pushes this one down -- we find GAMBIT CHANGING THE SPARK PLUGS ON A BROKEN DOWN SCHOOLBUS.
So many mind-boggling things about this. First off, that dude is in full costume. Like, imagine you are a teacher or someone else that is in charge of a group of small children and your bus breaks down while driving through a forest, and the first person who stops and offers to help out is wearing that. A skintight black and hot pink ensemble with actual metal knight boots and a crazy head sock that you just know he has a weird ponytail stuffed down into, and as he gets off his motorcycle, he takes off his trenchcoat -- of course -- AND HIS BELT. How is this scene not Gambit being slammed facefirst into the hood of the bus by every cop in Westchester?
Second, CHECK OUT THAT DUDE'S POSE! Back straight! one leg cocked! There is no way he is not looking back over his shoulder at Miss Jorts and soon as he replaces the spark plugs and asking if anyt'in else be gettin' a motor runnin', cher. You can hear "Cherry Pie" playing if you look at this picture long enough. Lord knows I have.
Anyway, with the X-Men's most underage and sketchy members indisposed, Juggernaut stomps across the lawn, right past the hidden machine guns (folks when are we going to have the conversation about how this is a school with multiple automated gun emplacements in the front yard), bashing through the wall and sending Xavier scurrying for the Danger Room. And again, we have a pretty cool moment, where he conjures up various foes for the Juggernaut to fight, including the Hulk:
It's not enough to stop him, though, and the Juggernaut smashes through all the robots and the Beast, who is apparently the only X-Man to not take off his belt at every opportunity. He eventually makes it all the way to Charles, scooping him up and getting ready to thrash the heck out of him.
But! Remember Dweeb Mathbook from before, the guy who was planning to steal the power of the Juggernaut? Well, he does, right before all the thrashing starts. All of the Juggernaut's strength -- and, weirdly, his clothes -- leave him, causing the whole Danger Room to collapse right on top of his big stupid head.
Now, most of the X-Men consider this to be a free win and plan to leave him buried while they go have a cup of coffee and compare notes to see who has the worst dad, but Professor X is stil hung up on this whole business where Juggernaut's his brother, so he insists that they dig him up and provide him with free health care. Thanks, Obama. Unfortunately (or not, depending), there's a problem: Without the resilliency of his mystical Juggernaut powers, Cain Marko won't be recovering. Which, you know, is pretty weird since this show's prohibition about blood and death means that he just looks like a regular dude in a dumb green jumpsuit.
Either way, X still wants to restore his powers, and tries to bring him out of his coma by going into his brain and poking at his memories. This seems like a dubious plan, but to be fair, I am neither a doctor nor a telepath, so I'm kind of out of my element in judging the efficacy of this treatment. In my defense, it does jack to wake him up, but we do get a glimpse of the character's troubled childhood, where young Juggernaut (Youngernaut) tells young Professor X (Education Major X) that since he's his step-brother, he's going to literally step on him all the time:
Like, with his foot.
This is brilliant.
With that not working, X decides to just go ahead and send Cyclps and Wolverine out to see if they can find the new Juggernaut (Juggernew) and figure out how to give his powers back to Cain. Predictably, Cyclops whines about it, and while he does have a point, you'd think that a guy who just reconnected with his long-lost, presumed-dead father last week would have a little more sympathy for the bonds of family, no matter how strained. But, you know. Cyclops.
So, what has Glasses Geeksworthy been up to while all this is going on? In one of the show's increasingly delightful turns, he has accidentally smashed up his own apartment and car, smiling all the while, and is now using his newfound body mass to dress like a twelve foot-tall John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever so he can pick up chicks.
Literally, in some cases.
So, just to be clear on this, Donkus Sliderule over here traveled across the entire world chasing down leads on some mythological archaeology and cast an actual magic spell so he could get into a dance club and flirt. Dude. You could just go to the gym.
It doesn't really work out that well, either. It seems women who are in the mood for a night down at the dance club aren't actually that into it it when some hill giant shows up and tears the façade off with his bare hands. It's when Cyclops and Wolverine show up, though, that this entire sequence gets straight up magical. First, Wolverine dramatically pops his claws and ask him if he needs any "pointers" on chatting up ladies, and then Cyclops -- Scott F**king Summers -- affects the smarmiest possible voice and drawls out "Women like guys to be themselves!"
So for all of you who have wondered, now you know.
Cyclops's advice falls on deaf ears, however, and Dopey Magicthegathering chucks them into the bar and then hits the floor for some dancing, during which he casually backhands Wolverine across the room:
Eventually, Cyclops just sighs and eye-beams the Ruby of Cyttorak out of his pocket, and the X-Men beat feat back to Westchester. As for the Juggernerd, he makes one last attempt to stop them by jumping at the plane, only to overshoot and crash through the roof of the nearby "Banzai Film" studio, where they are filming the latest episode of Power Rangers:
Guys... are we sure that I didn't go back in time and write this episode? It's fantastic.
There are some more flashbacks about how Professor X's stepdad wanted his mom's money and also hated both of his kids in equal measure, which is significantly less interesting than the Juggernerd pounding on a dude dressed like Godzilla, so I have no idea why we're even watching it. Even Professor X seems to be frustrated at the whole thing, actually saying "I thought I was over this!" at one point.
Eventually, Cyclops and Wolverine bring the Ruby of Cyttorak back to the mansion, and they rub it on Cain enough that he eventually turns back into the Juggernaut, re-stealing his powers from Eugene, with both brothers agreeing that this has changed nothing and we're right back to the status quo, except that the Juggernaut finally does the smart thing and chucks that damn ruby into space so nobody can ever mess with it again.
Discussion Question: Eugene Torbit Witterspan does not have very grand plans for the Ruby of Cyttorak. Seriously, dude just wants a date, and possibly to get the most out of a suit he mistakenly ordered eighteen sizes too big. But what if this was just the beginning? What other mystical Marvel Universe artifacts could he put to mundane uses? Throw some suggestions in the comments below!
Next Week: Nightcrawler finally shows up in "Nightcrawler!" And look, we've been getting these dumb literal episode titles ofr a while now, but trust me: The one after that is THE BEST.