X-Men Episode Guide 5×02: The Phalanx Covenant, 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, the technological takeover continues, and only a plucky band of mutants can stop it (for some reason) in The Phalanx Covenant, Part 2!
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, the Phalanx arrived on Earth and promptly turned everyone into weird black and yellow robot monsters, which is a lot like a dream I had that was sort of like Terminator but with Wiz Khalifa instead of Skynet. With the X-Men incapacitated, it’s come down to Beast, Forge, Warlock, and their unlikely ally, Mr. Sinister, to save the day.
In our discussion of big events that people just skipped over and the reasons why, Commenteer Tim Siltala cited Secret Invasion, and Laurence J. Sinclair replied by saying that while the main story was a little disappointing, all the tie-ins were actually great. This may in fact be the most accurate thing that has ever been said in a comments section. Like, remember how Captain Britain and MI-13 had to fight a magical Super-Skrull because England was the center of magic? And how Hercules had to fight all the Skrull Gods that had absorbed the power of dead gods conquered by the Skrulls? And how Hercules and Beta Ray Bill had to bench-press a city? That stuff is the jam.
Also, Commenteers Bob McLennan and Gary E. Poisson mentioned the Atlantis Attacks issue of What If, where you find out that the Avengers only won that battle because of Moon Knight and the Punisher. Seriously.
Getting back to the crossover at hand, writers Steven Melching and David McDermott and producer/director Larry Houston drop us right back where we left off, with our Mötley Crüe of heroes discovering that the Phalanx has taken over the Empire State Building and is using it as the center of their operations. There’s a brief discussion about what they’ve done so far, and since they’ve raided both the X-Mansion and Mr. Sinister’s secret laboratory, the only conclusion they can draw is that they intend to copy the super-powers of every single mutant on Earth!
Can you imagine it?! The unstoppable force that would be created from the oily sleaziness of Gambit, the incomprehensible accent of Rogue, Jean Grey’s power to faint during moments of mild stress and Cyclops’s uncanny ability to contain an entire stick in his ass? Who could stand against it?!
Incidentally, this entire discussion takes place on Mr. Sinister’s airplane, which is just gross as heck:
I think it’s meant to be some kind of techno-organic thing (because at this point in the X-Men mythos, there’s precious little that isn’t some techno-organinc thing), but I can’t see it as anything but Mr. Sinister being way too preoccupied with trying to get Cyclops and Jean to smush their parts together to ever clean anything, so his airplane’s just full of half-eaten sandwiches that have fallen behind consoles and under chairs and gotten hella grody.
While all that’s going on, Wolverine has found himself in some Empowered-level bondage.
While Wolverine strains against his bonds, his muscles rippling under skin-tight spandex that clings to his body as beads of sweat form on every sensual bulge, an astonishingly phallic snake with a face on it pops up from between his legs and starts chatting with him about his adamantium skeleton. It seems that while Wolverine’s healing factor keeps him from being taken over by the Phalanx as easily as the others have, but since his bones make a good conductor, he’s going to be at the center of the Phalanx’s takeover plan. Because of course he is.
Incidentally, the snake with a face? It’s our old friend Cameron Hodge!
Now, some of you (like me) may not remember Cameron Hodge, since he hasn’t shown up since the Wild Man Of Borneo was tearing it up against Master Mold and Gambit was looking for a hotel discount on Genosha way back in Season 1. I actually forgot he was even in that, so to explain just who this dork is, I asked resident X-Pert 6 Edidin for a brief summary:
Cameron Hodge is Warren Worthington’s childhood not-actually-friend who, jealous of Warren’s general golden-boy status and fancy wings dedicated his life to destroying mutants in general and Angel in particular, mostly under the guise of friendship. He ran the original X-Factor, came up with the idea of having them pose as mutant hunters and run anti-mutant scare ads as a means to find and rescue mutants (which actually mostly just fueled anti-mutant hysteria), while subtly hardcore gas lighting them and, in particular, using holograms to convince Scott that Jean was lying about no longer hosting the Phoenix force.
He also gave the order to cut Angel’s wings off after the Mutant Massacre, and then–because Angel died still thinking they were bros–was named executor of his estate, which meant he got to take over X-Factor, kick everyone else out, and channel the rest of their resources into his insane militia, the Right.
And THEN he made a deal with some demons to give them babies to sacrifice, which allowed him to survive for a while as a severed head on a robot body; and THEN he got infected (or infected himself) with the transmode virus and took over Genosha and was the main villain of Phalanx Covenant; and THEN he got revived during Second Coming; but I think he’s dead again. Also he had a full suit of Ruby Quartz armor and it was hilarious.
Oh, and I think he killed Candy Southern.
That should clear everything up.
Halfway around the world, Beast and his crüe have landed on Müir Island in search of a lab so that they can do some science to save the world from the Phalanx. This isn’t actually all that exciting — I’m pretty sure the show actually throws it to commercial with Forge going “we need to find… a laboratory!” which might actually be the most snooze-inducing incentive to stick around I’ve ever heard — but I suppose that’s what you get when your team includes Beast, Forge, and two useless shapeshifters.
Amelia Voght is also there, for those of you wondering what happened to Professor X’s gassiest girlfriend, hanging out with Moira MacTaggert.
After looking through enough microscopes that they can create a virus that will destroy the Phalanx if they can trick it into absorbing it — complete with Warlock offering to sacrifice himself to end the threat — the gang abandons Muir Island just as it’s taken over by the Phalanx. In the process, they end up leaving Banshee and Moira to their fate, but Amelia has an idea on where to go for a little assistance.
So that’s when they go talk to God.
Or… maybe super-buff Santa Claus? I mean, he does live in the Arctic Circle.
Nah, J/K, it’s actually Magneto, who has grown a rather impressive beard in the two weeks since he was last on the show. He’s rather grumpy, which you have to expect when someone finds out that his kids were delivered by a talking cow, but he eventually agrees to help them since his son’s life is at risk. Worth noting: Nobody even bothers to mention his daughter, the Buster Bluth of the Lensherr-Maximoffs.
With Magneto on the team, they gear up for to infiltrate Phalanx HQ, which involves Magneto actually wearing Warlock like a suit to avoid detection, and once again, I do not like that at all, especially since it results in the word “selffriend” being thrown around. Despite being detected, they manage to escape with a sample of the Phalanx that’s still connected to the hivemind, with hopes that they can infect it with Forge’s virus and take them out. Of course, it’s not going to be that simple, as evidenced by the sample turning into Cameron Hodge’s head.
No weird phallus this time, though, which I think we can all be happy about, but that just means that there’s nothing stopping you from noticing that this dude is still wearing glasses for some reason. Oh, and just in case you didn’t catch the subtle genocide metaphor going on here, Hodge actually refers to the Phalanx’s plan as “the final solution.” Yeesh.
Back at PHQ, Hodge and the tower of heads absorb Gambit and start taunting Wolverine for making it all possible with his “help,” and Wolverine growls out “the only thing I’ll help you do is carve your tombstone,” which, considering the BS&P restrictions on mentioning death, violence, punching or anything else children love to see in their cartoons, is actually pretty badass. I mean, as badass as you can be while you’re trussed up doing nothing to actually stop the plot to take over the world, I guess.
So who is doing something? Forge, Sinister, Amelia Voght and the Beast, who just cold walk in with guns looking like a crossover between X-Factor and Archer:
Look, even if you’re a techno-organic empire that is sure you’re going to conquer the planet, maybe just put someone on the door just in case. Otherwise the Maker and Cheryl/Carol are just going to stroll in and heck up your plans.
Along with Sinister, they free the other members of the X-Men and X-Factor — which just consists of walking up to their little pods and pulling them open — and while the Phalanx is distracted, Warlock jacks in with the virus and takes out the entire collective.
Seriously. That’s it.
That’s the climax of the story.
It turns out that Warlock survived, and so did his lifemate, Lifemate (she is never referred to as anything else), and then the X-Men stand in a circle congratulating each other while Cyclops grumbles about having his life saved by Mr. Sinister.
I assure you, I’m not any happier about it than he is.
And really, that’s it. I didn’t go look at the list of episodes until this was over, so I was kind of expecting this to be a long, complicated, “Beyond Good And Evil”-esque bunch of nonsense that would last for the next month. So we’re… lucky? I guess?
Discussion Question: Inspired by Rachel’s explanation of Cameron Hodge, why not take a single paragraph to see if you can offer up a quick summary of your favorite X-Men character? Or your least favorite. Or one you have no strong feelings about, whatever works.