The X-Men Episode Guide 3×02: ‘Out Of The Past, Part 2′
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: We hang out in the sewer for another half hour and never even see a single ninja turtle in “Out of the Past, Part 2!”
Previously, on X-Men:
Season 3 got off to a pretty rough start by dropping Lady Deathstrike, the Reavers, the Morlocks and the Shi’ar Empire (uh, spoiler warning) on us all at the same time. When Lady Deathstrike started poking around the caves underneath Manhattan, she discovered a crashed spaceship that could only be opened by hacking at it with adamantium claws, which in turn led her to interrupt Wolverine and Gambit’s basketball game, luring them down into the sewer so she could use Wolverine as a sort of living crowbar to pry that thing open. Once they got down there, it was revealed that Deathstrike is actually Yuriko Oyama, the daughter of the guy who invented the adamantium bonding process that gave Wolverine his claws, who became a giant-handed cyborg in order to get revenge for Wolverine destroying her father. There was some fighting, and eventually Yuriko accidentally caused the ship to open, unleashing some horrific green light. Thanks, Oyama.
In our discussion of the most ’90s names of all time, you brought some pretty strong contenders to the table, from Bloodwulf to Ripclaw to Stryfe to my childhood favorite, Kaine, the man who used his Spider-Man sticking-to-walls powers to rip dudes’ faces off. It was reader Ben Younkins, however, who took the top spot by alerting me to the existence of The Steel Slammer, which might not sound too bad until you realize that he is a POG-themed supervillain. That is basically the best thing I’ve ever heard.
Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be the last good thing to come out of this two-parter, so we might as well buckle down and get through “Out of the Past, Part Two!”
This week’s episode was produced and directed by Larry Houston, and according to Wikipedia, the script comes courtesy of Wolverine’s co-creator Len Wein, last seen here in the Episode Guide when he dragged everyone kicking and screaming down to the Savage Land for the second season finale. Interestingly enough, I had to check with Wikipedia because there’s actually no writer credit on the show itself, which makes me wonder if it was just an oversight, or if Wein asked to have his name taken off the episode. Either way, not a good sign for how we’re going to be spending the next twenty minutes.
Anyway, the X-Men, Reavers and Lady Deathstrike are being bathed in neon green light, which has the Reavers so freaked out that they start shooting at it. At the light. With guns. They are then very surprised that this has very little effect, because the Reavers are dumber than a pile of bricks.
Eventually, they stand around gawking long enough for the light to coalesce into a Class 5 full-roaming vapor, and a real nasty one at that:
This is the Spirit Drinker, and although the characters don’t actually know that, I’m going to go ahead and call it that so that I don’t have to spend more time looking up synonyms for “luminous green tentacle monster.” It only exists in an intangible energy form and, now that it’s free of the confines of the alien ship, the assembled mutants are starting to realize that they maybe shouldn’t have only brought guns, claws, and other weapons without the Ghost Touch ability (see DungeonMaster’s Guide, Page 328).
Before long, things start to get straight up Legend of the Overfiend down there, with the entire squadron of the Reavers getting drained by its mouth-tentacles before it turns its attention to the rest of the gang.
At this point, the X-Men and Lady Deathstrike decide that it’s probably a good idea to beat feet, and shocking virtually everyone, it’s that scumbag Gambit who volunteers to stay behind and distract the Spirit Drinker so that the others have a chance to get away. Even de Shi’ar ghost monster cannot resist de psychic charm, no? Alas, Jubilee didn’t get the memo, and jumps in front of Gambit, taking the tentacle lashing that was meant for everyone’s favorite cajun.
Back at the mansion, Professor X has entered his second straight week of freaking right the f**k out.
We only linger on him for a few seconds before it’s back to the caves, where Wolverine picks up Jubilee, takes a swipe at the Spirit Drinker, and beats a hasty retreat alongside Gambit and Deathstrike. Once they’re a safe distance away, he basically starts waving Jubilee’s body at Deathstrike, telling her to “take a good look, Yuriko — here’s your revenge!”
I’ve read enough X-Men comics in my time that I know that this is supposed to be the old saw about how revenge only causes suffering, even for innocent bystanders, but it’s a pretty terrible way to make that point to Lady Deathstrike. For one thing, it’s not like she could possibly give a damn about Jubilee — she was, in fact, trying to murder her about five minutes ago — and for another, isn’t this kind of the best-case scenario for her revenge plan? She only came after Wolverine to get revenge for him “destroying” her father (they never actually say “kill,” which is weird as all heck), so isn’t killing someone Wolverine obviously cares for, even accidentally, a pretty good result, all things considered?
To the show’s credit, Deathstrike remains pretty unmoved, reminding Wolverine that she wouldn’t have gotten hurt if she hadn’t been tagging along into the Reavers’ obvious trap to begin with, and they bicker until even Gambit is sick of hearing it and tells them to shut up and move along before they’re eaten by the Spirit Drinker.
Meanwhile, at the art museum, there appears to be some sexy Star Trek cosplay happening:
Also, the Beast is there, loudly yammering on about the differences between Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso while putting his arm around people who are very clearly uncomfortable. I think the implication here is supposed to be that they’re uncomfortable with a mutant, but let’s be real for a second: Dude is actually being extremely rude, and even though he’s wearing a suit and not just hanging out in his underpants like he usually does, draping that gigantic, hairy hamhock of an arm over someone’s shoulders is a pretty clear violation of the social contract. Quit being such a dick, Hank. Yeesh.
Fortunately for everyone who wanted to enjoy themselves and see some art, his reign of terror is cut short when a mental summons from Professor X sends him heading back to the mansion. He’s not the only one, either: Cyclops and Jean are finally sitting down for their first real date since they found out their marriage was a sham perpetrated by a shapeshifter they’d left for dead when they get the alert too. Cyclops does his best attempt at “wry” and tells the restauranteur, Sidney, that they’ll be taking their order to go, again, and I have to say, this really would’ve been a nice setup if it had paid off later. I actually really like the idea of Scott and Jean, on the train back up to Westchester, eating a romantic Italian dinner out of a couple of styrofoam boxes. Alas, we don’t see it, and my all-consuming hate of Scott Summers and all of his works remains unchallenged.
Back in the sewers, things are going from bad to worse, and not just because Deathstrike and Wolverine are having a dramatic scene about why he has chosen to defend a world that hates and fears him, which I assume was brought up because they needed something to fill time while they waited for a cyclopean horror from beyond the stars to show up and try to eat their souls. Which, eventually, it does, only this time projecting an image of Jubilee on its forehead:
It seems that the reason they haven’t been able to revive Jubilee is that the Spirit Drinker has drunk her spirit, and they need to “destroy” it if they’re ever going to get her back. The intangibility makes that a pretty big problem, though, so they just run through the sewers for a few minutes while the Spirit Drinker is hot on their heels, broadcasting pitch-shifted Australian accents from the trapped Reavers.
Finally, Gambit hits on the bright idea of dropping a bunch of rocks on it.
They’re big rocks.
When Deathstrike points out that this is a pretty dumb plan since it can just burn through like it has been with all the other walls they’ve put between them, Gambit brushes it off with a classic “yeah, I meant to do that.” Or, in his case, “oui, chere, but dis give us time to figure out a plan!”
Wolverine hands the husk of Jubilee off to Gambit and tells him to get her back to the mansion while he and Deathstrike hold off the Spirit Drinker. This is a pretty dubious plan, what with one of these people definitely wanting to kill the other in revenge, but needs must, I suppose. Unfortunately for them, the Spirit Drinker seems to have learned a little about strategy, burning its way through the floor and then re-emerging from the ceiling like a mid-level Mega Man boss. I do not remember that many Mega Man bosses with tentacles, though.
This, however, proves to be the Spirit Drinker’s undoing! It seems that adamantium counts as a magical weapon for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction, and they pretty handily just start chopping up all the tentacles. Deathstrike misses one, though, and she gets Spirit Drunk, presumably because Wolverine cradling a woman’s body and screaming “NOOOOOOO!” was such a good idea that they didn’t want to use it just once.
In true action movie fashion, Wolverine gets up as soon as he’s done no-ing and calls the Spirit Drinker “a piece of alien gutter trash,” and I think we can all agree that there is no reason for space-racism. He waves his claws menacingly, but before he can suffer the same spirit-drunk fate, the Spirit Drinker gets zapped back by Cyclops’s optic blast, heralding the arrival of the rest of the X-Men.
Professor X takes advantage of the lull in the battle to ask who the young lady with the aluminum siding hair is, and Wolverine gets in a pretty good line with his explanation: “An old friend. She wants me dead,” prompting a stuffy rejoinder from Cyclops. It’s almost like they forgot they were in the middle of a fight, but it’s only a few seconds before they’re reminded when the Spirit Drinker shows back up and tries to eat them all.
Jean Grey, whose seemingly limitless telekinesis make her, perhaps, the most powerful of all the X-Men, attempts to use her powers and immediately falls down.
Her record of being useful remains a pristine zero point zero. Those two deserve each other.
The Spirit Drinker continues to just sort of stand around while everyone takes turns offering up exposition. Jean claims it has a “repellant” mind, Beast asks about this spaceship everyone found, and Professor X reveals that he’s been sensing a dangerous alien presence since last week’s episode. Then they all casually decide to go check that out, while the Spirit Drinker, who seemed pretty hell-bent on attacking them just a few seconds ago, graciously obliges by leaving — but not before Gambit warns them that “that monster make it topside, dis city gon be its buffet.”
At the spaceship, the Beast is having a pretty hard time figuring out just what’s going on here.
Good thing we’ve got an exposition dump coming up! Professor X touches one of the signs, prompting an electric shock that suddenly gives him the ability to read the Shi’ar language. Charles starts explaining how it’s a prison ship that crashed into Manhattan, information that comes a little too late to be of value once the Spirit Drinker is heading up to the surface through the subway, while also digesting the souls it’s already absorbed.
Finally, they realize that the solution was teamwork, and that it’s been inside them all along! Wolverine just needs everyone else to distract the tentacles so that he can give the Spirit Drinker a good stabbing. It’s like Dr. Forrester always said: If violence isn’t the answer, you’re asking the wrong question.
That’s pretty much exactly how it works out, too. We even get a theme song reprise, which seems to give people’s powers the ability to affect the Spirit Drinker, even though Gambit’s cards have been completely ineffective for the past 18 minutes. During the fight, they also learn completely by accident that it’s vulnerable to electricity, so they just shove it onto the subway’s third rail, and that’s that. Everyone gets their souls back, and since Wolverine saved her life, Yuriko decides to call this one a draw. Good hustle out there, team.
We’re not quite done yet, though. Before the credits can roll, Professor X has a flash forward of “terrible beings with ruthless, unimaginable power” (which means D’ken) and we get the most hilariously amazing next episode teaser of all time:
Check that real fire, y’all! Somebody got a video toaster at the Season 2 wrap party!
Discussion Question: The Phoenix Saga will have to wait a little bit, because I’m skipping ahead next week for a bit of holiday cheer. So, in the spirit of the season, What do you think the X-Men want for Christmas? These X-Men, I mean, the ones from the cartoon. A pillow for Jean so that she doesn’t hurt herself when she inevitably faceplants from using her powers? A pair of pants for Beast, who’s been too shy to ask for some since nobody acknowledges that he’s walking around in his drawers? Put yours in the comments, and I’ll pick my favorites for each character when we take on…
Next Week: It’s Christmastime, and that means we’re going to jump to Season 4 for “Have Yourself A Morlock Little X-Mas!”