X-Men Episode Guide 1×09: The Cure
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 Cure," in which the X-Men show me, show me, show me how they do that trick, the one that makes me scream, she said.
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, the X-Men returned home to find Professor X was missing, leading them to meet up with Cyclops and battle against the Juggernaut. The latter turned out to be far more stoppable than advertised, and was sent on his merry way when Jean Grey showed up wearing a colander on her head and gave him amnesia. Please note that this does absolutely nothing to negate his super-strength or invulnerability, thus keeping the X-Men's perfect record of dealing with problems in the worst possible ways intact.
Incidentally, you wouldn't know any of that from the recap that's actually at the top of the show, because that thing is just chock full of Cable, which means we are in for a treat.
In our discussion of the Toy Biz X-Men action figures, a lot of readers cited various versions of Wolverine as their favorite, which makes sense since there were about four hundred variations to choose from. I had the regular yellow-suited version, Civilian Logan, the Weapon X one who wore bike shorts and was covered in '80s cell phones, and, hilariously enough, Albert, the robot-armed Wolverine clone that used to hang out with a little robot girl named "Elsie Dee." Please note that I loved this action figure and its pop-out arms but have never read a comic in which Albert appears.
I never had the brown-suited Frank Miller-esque Wolverine with the removable mask, so I didn't realize (as one commenter pointed out) that you could wear the mask as a ring. Now that I do know, get ready for the worst marriage proposal ever... ladies. Now let's see what Robert Smith has to offer the X-Men this week!
After two months re-watching and obsessing over this show, I could not be more excited to announce that we open on Nathan Charles Christopher Dayspring Askani'son Summers, aka the Wild Man of Borneo, aka Cable, walking across some tundra. His destination: a cabin, in which a young woman with a completely unidentifiable accent is seducing her paramour by asking about a geneticist that she calls Dr. Frankenstein. This is, needless to say, a pretty terrible seduction technique. The gentleman explains that, um, actually, his name is Gottfried Adler, and then calls off the date. Let this be a lesson to all young lovers: Know your scientists, otherwise you're just asking for your lover to start brooding.
Once his lady friend is gone, the young man heads into the science lab that makes up the other half of his log cabin, and in one of my favorite moments of the series thus far, Cable ambushes him from behind a bookcase:
There is nothing that sums up Cable quite like punching someone through a stack of books.
Cable makes a start at a growly interrogation looking for Adler, but it turns out that this young fellow is actually Warren Worthington III, best known as Angel, the one X-Man that no one has ever or will ever care about. If you're not familiar with him, he has wings, he's rich, and he was the worst member of the Champions. Oh, and he also has a gigantic laser pistol that he produces from his jacket pocket so that he can have a gunfight with Cable.
As you might expect, getting into a laser gun fight with a guy whose entire deal is that he carries around a gigantic laser gun is not a very good idea, and Warren ends up getting blasted off a balcony and into a snowdrift. This is enough to make him Hulk out, for a definition of "Hulk out" that involves soft, fluffy wings popping out of your back without affecting your jacket or turtleneck at all:
He also shouts "You picked the wrong chalet to terrorize!" which is the richest, whitest battle cry anyone has ever had.
There's a brief and ultimately pointless fight between Angel and Cable, who learns that Adler has gone to Scotland from Warren's (possibly German?) girlfriend. Cable exits via the window, leaving Angel to get laser-blasted off the balcony for a second time, this time by the panicked (maybe Norwegian or something?) ingenue.
From there, we cut to Muir Island's Center for Mutant Research and Professor X. Sharp-eyed viewers may recall that Xavier left the mansion to consult with Moira MacTaggart three episodes back, leaving only a vague note that told his students he was going on "a journey." One assumes that he didn't get into specifics because he didn't want Cyclops calling him every time someone didn't wash a dish as soon as they were done with it. Speaking of Moira, we finally get to see her, too, in all her We Didn't Have The Budget To Actually Finish Drawing Her Face glory:
The reason for Xavier's visit is, of course, Dr. Adler, who claims to have discovered a way to reverse mutations. Moira, who sounds like Scrooge McDuck doing a falsetto voice to fool the Beagle Boys, attempts to introduce Professor X to Doctor A, but Adler refuses to open the door, claiming that visitors are verboten. Naturally, Xavier responds by going ahead and trying to read his mind, but instead gets flashes of Mystique and Apocalypse, which in turn gives him a seizure.
Back at the mansion, the X-Men are pitching in to help rebuild, complete with Gambit mixing up a barrel of roof tar while wearing his full superhero costume. Does he just not own other clothes? Or does he have a closet full of hot pink body armor and metal boots, including a slightly worn set that he wears for manual labor so that his good trenchcoat won't get dirty? Animated Gambit, you are an endless garden of delights.
Also of note is Rogue claiming that Juggernaut made a mess "like that Yankee general, Sherman." This may seem like an insanely over-the-top caricature of something a Southern person would say, but as someone who grew up in South Carolina, I can vouch for the fact that it is basically accurate.
There's a little bit of tension, both of the sexual (Wolverine and Jean) and the slightly less sexual (Wolverine and Gambit) varieties, which culminates in Gambit blowing up one of the bricks after Wolverine accuses him of being a useless pickpocket. Admittedly, that's 100% true, but it's still kind of a dick move.
And speaking of dick moves, here comes Grumpy Dad to ruin everyone's fun!
How they never made a Frowny Hands-On-Hips Cyclops action figure, I will never know.
Before they can get into a full-on intra-team brawl, Jubilee shows up to tell them that Professor X is skyping in from Scotland. You might assume that this would be a pretty big deal, what with everyone assuming that he was dead last week and all, but instead, they're all just concerned with Adler's research. Wolverine growls about it being a way to steal their powers, while Cyclops immediately starts talking about how bad he wants to be "normal," managing to reach that point even faster than the woman right next to him who can never, ever know the touch of another human being in her entire life.
Incidentally, despite the animators forgetting to draw most of Moira's nose in the earlier scene, Rogue's reaction to this news is shot really well. Or at least, as well as it can be when she's framed by Cyclops's right buttcheek.
"The professor says that hand-holding is the smart way to show affection before marriage, Jean!"
Given the choice of ditching her powers, Rogue hops into her car so she can head to Scotland and check things out, apparently forgetting that a) one cannot actually drive to Scotland from New York, and b) that she can fly under her own power. Gambit decides to tag along to talk her out of it, and even after she physically throws him into a tree and reminds him that making out with her will lead to his death, he keeps it up. Oh, Animated Gambit. You are the source of all Pick-Up Artist techniques.
Rogue finally remembers she can fly and hitches a ride to Scotland by sitting on the wing of a passenger jet and dropping down when she spots Muir Island from the air, and really, now. I can accept people who can fly and shoot lasers out of their eyes, but the idea that someone could know that much about geography after going to public school in Mississippi? No way.
Once she's there, Rogue hits up the local pub, where a bunch of mutants are apparently hanging out, waiting to see if they can get their mutations cured. Also in attendance: Pyro and Avalanche, who are sitting around waiting for Mystique, which is somewhat difficult when they're not sure what she's going to look like when she walks in. They try talking to Rogue, and she throws them through a wall.
It's an appropriate response, albeit one with an unfortunate camera angle.
Having dispensed with her would-be suitors, Rogue heads up to the lab for a conversation with Dr. Adler. He gives her the same line about verboten visitors, but unsurprisingly, it doesn't work so well on someone who can punch through a giant metal door without breaking a sweat. Rogue does exactly that, finding a Dr. Wily lookin' dude (which is really just an Einstein lookin' dude two steps removed) inside. He agrees to consider Rogue's request, then closes the door to reveal Apocalypse, just chillin' out like it's no big deal.
Can we all take a moment to consider that this show went ahead and got through Magneto in two episodes, then decided that Cable and Apocalypse should be the focus for the rest of the season? It's a bold move.
Dr. Adler is, of course, actually Mystique, who reacts to Apocalypse as though she just didn't notice a nine foot-tall blue monster standing behind her door this entire time. It's enough to make you wonder how long he was standing there waiting to make his entrance. He refers to Rogue as a fool, then gives Mystique the go-ahead to use the machine to make her his slave.
Rogue, meanwhile, has wandered into a flashback where we find out that she liked wearing green and yellow outfits and accessorizing with headbands even when before she joined up with the X-Men. Teenage Rogue gets her first kiss from Cody, who promptly drops into a coma. Rogue is sad about this, and is actually so wrapped up in her brooding that she somehow misses Cable blasting Pyro with a giant laser shotgun like teen feet away. Fortunately for Pyro, Broadcast Standards and Practices have set Cable's lasers to stun, and he gets away with a slight dunking in the ocean rather than a smoking hole in his chest.
Rogue heads back to Adler's lab to get the treatment, but Pyro and Avalanche, who have been waiting all this time for Mystique without actually being privy to the con she's running with Apocalypse, show up to kidnap Adler. This is because of reasons that are not shared with the audience, but that can be safely filed under the heading of "they're a couple of ne'er-do-wells."
They bust in and blow up Dr. Adler's Mutant Curing Machine (which is actually Apocalypse's Mutant Enslaving Machine), stuff Adler himself (Mystique herself) into a potato sack, and beat feat. They soon discover their mistake, though, and Mystique gives them a stern talking to about how Apocalypse is going to crush them for interfering. She reveals her plan and the true nature of the machine, and Pyro responds with "personally, I find this frightfully confusing," representing the first time that I have really identified with him as a character.
It's at that moment that Rogue shows up, prompting a brief tussle that doesn't really accomplish much other than to send "Adler" straight into the waiting and gigantic arms of Cable.
To add yet another wrinkle into this ongoing saga, it turns out that Adler -- the real Adler, not Mystique -- was responsible for the technology that the Genoshan government was using in their inhibitor collars. Cable is there to kill him, although you'd think that what with him being a time traveler and all -- spoiler warning? -- he would've shown up to do the job before Adler actually invented them. Apparently there weren't any copies of Terminator that survived to the future to explain how this was supposed to work.
Cable also decides that the best way to eliminate Adler would be to lead him to a cliff at gunpoint, explain all this and then force him to commit suicide, rather than just shooting him. Cable is not very good at being a Terminator.
Rogue shows up to stop things and is promptly knocked out with a plasma grenade, giving Mystique the chance to save her own life by revealing that Adler's already dead. She reverts back, though, when Cyclops and Jean show up in the Blackbird with Xavier and Moira, preserving her cover. Cable takes a shot at Cyclops, who responds by blasting Cable of the cliff, and the potential for paradox has never been so high, or so wearying, as it is now. Jean, however, continues her trend of being basically useless on this show by falling off the cliff herself, only surviving when Rogue wakes up to grope catch her in the nick of time.
Everyone's pretty casual about just murdering this gun-toting dude who showed up out of nowhere waving around a laser cannon, but, you know, they're the X-Men. That sort of thing happens every day.
Rogue decides to keep her powers after all and flies off, almost running into Angel as she leaves, prompting the new champion for best dialogue in the show:
ANGEL: How do you fly without wings?
ROGUE: I dunno. I just do.
Angel meets up with Adler and volunteers to get his own powers taken away, sending Mystique to a quick meeting with Apocalypse. He tells her "I know more of this world than you have even dreamed. That is why... I must destroy it!" which is pretty awesome.
Discussion Question: What with Rogue and Gambit, Scott and Jean and Professor X and Moira MacTaggart, this episode had a focus on the X-Men's love lives. So let's talk about who were the best romantic couple in X-Men History? I know you'll all be tempted to go with Scott and Jean, but a) one half of that pairing is basically awful, and b) you're clearly forgetting about Beak and Angel II. Feel free to make a case for it, though.
Next Week: Apocalypse's plan comes to fruition as he teams up with Ric, Ole, Arn and Tully in "Come The Apocalypse!"