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, our time-spanning saga continues as the show forgets how literally everyone's powers work.

Previously, on X-Men:

In our last episode, "Beyond Good And Evil" began with everyone's two favorite shotgun-toting time travelers, Bishop and Cable, getting caught up in even more shennanigans than usual. Specifically, Cable accidentally handed Apocalypse his time machine and basically doomed everyone who has ever lived and will ever live in one fell swoop, while Lucas "Bishop" Bishop found himself jolted right off the arrow of time and into an extradimensional Mario Kart level. Also, Jean Grey got kidnapped, because it's Tuesday.

In our discussion of signs that Apocalypse somehow missed in his five thousand years of attempting to dominate the world and destroy all who oppose him that may indicate that he's actually evil, the Commenteers came up with a few solid leads:

"Do you somehow feel incomplete if you are not accompanied by people called "War," "Famine," "Plague," and "Death?" You might be evil." -- Patrick Adair

"Now, I'm no expert on moral relativism or theology, but hasn't Apocalypse made kind of a habit of capturing and torturing Angels? That sort of thing is usually frowned upon." -- Harry Jenkinson

"His baseline tip is 10% and he adjusts up or down based on the service. Only the strong should be tipped well!" -- Anthony Capraro

"Apocalypse: (Plops down on throne of skulls in giant menacing pyramid) 'Why doesn't anyone want to just, I don't know, hang out or something?'" -- Seth Shaw

I dunno, I'm still not convinced. Let's see if we can find any more clues to Apocalypse's undefined morality when we continue his team-up with a dude whose teeth have been filed into points named Mister Sinister.



This week, we open in space, and hoo boy, that's off to a pretty bad start right there in the first second of the show, isn't it? Better settle in, folks, it's going to be a long one.

Since this is an X-Men story, it should be pretty obvious that writer Jan Strand and producer/director Larry Houston have taken us to visit with everyone's favorite imperialist space birds, the Shi'ar, and we have arrived in the middle of a pitched battle for control of the cosmos. Specifically, Lilandra, the good queen of the space birds who is also Professor X's Girlfriend Who Lives In Canada, is having to deal with yet another insurrection by one of her good-for-nothing relatives, Deathbird, who is... well, her name is Deathbird. It's a little on the nose, but in a word where Apocalypse can wonder just why it is that people don't want him in charge, Deathbird probably feels like she has some really good ideas about outer space governance that could really help people if they'd just give her the chance.

It's worth noting that she's attacking with "renegade starships" that look an awful lot like the Klingon Birds of Prey, which are blasting their way past a bunch of planetary defense towers that I am almost positive were lifted straight from Star Wars:


Or possibly Super Star Wars for the SNES.

Despite the fact that she has an entire space-army, a team of super-powered bodyguards and someone who can actually see the future on her staff to help her deal with exactly this sort of problem, Lilandra proves to be no match for Deathbird, who blasts her way right into the Throne Space-Room with truly ill hair and an army of soldiers dressed as marital aids.



Also there is no way that isn't definitely, 100% a frowny penis on the middle of her space-bra. How did this episode even get close to passing through BS&P?

Anyway, with Deathbird's revolution having a sudden and total success, we are led to the important questions of this episode: What is the secret of her space-success in space-battle? Who is the mysterious force helping shape the space-destiny of the Shi'ar Empire?

Take. A. Guess.



That's right, folks: Apocalypse is no longer content to restrict himself to messing around with Earth and its attendant one-eyed, metal-armed defenders, and has decided to expand his meddling to the stars. But wait! It turns out that it's all a clever ruse! Rather than crushing Lilandra into a fine, feathery space-powder as he promised, Apocalypse instead grabs Oracle of the Imperial Guard and then krumps back to headquarters to fill up another one of those mysterious tubes in his basement.

Back on Earth, Cyclops is whining, so obviously this episode is just full of surprises. To be fair, though, his grief over Jean being kidnapped has driven him to be drawn alarmingly off-model.



I know I give Cyclops a pretty hard time on this show, and that that's not always fair since it's based on a snap judgment that I formed when I was a child and never bothered to change, but dudes. For real. This guy is complaining not about Jean being kidnapped, but literally whining about how he wasn't kidnapped too. I'm not even kidding. It's like Mr. Sinister took Jean out for ice cream and Scott wanted Ice Cream too and you said if he got an A on his test he could have some Professor you said.

As for Jean's whereabouts, we go now live to that goofy looking spheroid that Bishop's been hanging out around for the past week, which turns out to be, per Apocalypse, "the Axis of Time -- where all times cross!" It seems that Apocalypse's first attempt at time travel didn't quite work out the way that he thought it would...



...and ended up bringing him here, where he wandered around for centuries unlocking the secrets of his new Escher-esque headquarters and, presumably, repairing the roof. It's actually a pretty interesting reveal, since it means that in part 2 of the story, Apocalypse is hundreds of years older than he was in the first part, but still laser focused on the same goal. And that goal, I would remind you, has basically just been putting women in tubes.

Dude has some weird ideas about things.

At the mansion, Cyclops notes that between Jean, Oracle their his failed attempt to kidnap Professor X, Sinister and Apocalypse have been focusing on targeting mutants with psychic powers. To that end, Cyclops -- who is still technically a superhero -- suggests just using other psychic mutants as bait to catch them in the act. When Storm raises some objections about the morality of this plan, which is Dubious At Best, Cyclops's response is essentially, "yeah, well, f**k 'em," and I'm not gonna lie. That made me like him a lot more.

So! Time travel! Apocalypse! Mr. Sinister! The Shi'ar! Is there anything else we could add to this that would make it even more complicated?



Psylocke attempts to use her ninja skills to rob Archangel's ancestral castle in England (which he has now), but he catches her in the act and kicks off a fight scene where here can't help but talk about her smokin' hot bod while she's trying to kill him. Romance! The thing is, Cerebro has predicted this rash of Ninja Crime, leading the X-Men to send Wolverine and Shard in an attempt to stop Pac and Sinister from kidnapping Psylocke by staking out... England? I guess?

Needless to say, it pays off. Psylocke reveals that Archangel was targeted for robbery because she disapproves of how he uses his money to deny his mutant heritage, in order to raise money for her brother so that he can better the lives of all mutants. They start to scrap again, but -- Good Lord -- Mystique and Sabretooth show up to try kidnapping Psylocke. Fortunately (I guess?) they are foiled when Wolverine elects to launch himself neck-first through a stone wall.



We are now onto a six-way fight scene between Wolverine, Sabretooth, Mystique, Shard, Psylocke and Archangel that involves characters literally throwing chests of pirate treasure at each other, and I'll be honest, for a minute or two, this part is actually exactly as good as it sounds. But then the show starts to get a little confused, with Psylocke manifesting her psychic knife (you know, the focused totality of her psychic power?) and then shooting it out of her hands to zap Sabretooth with electricity.



That's... that's not really what knives do, is it? Have I been using them wrong all this time?

So then Magneto shows up.


I do not even know anymore.

Big Mags wraps up Psylocke in some convenient metal and then disappears into the same kind of glowing portal that Apocalypse has been using, handily defeating Wolverine by chaining him up to a cruise ship and then dropping it before he vanishes. Then, Storm and Gambit arrive by straight up teleporting inside a tornado like they found the warp whistle, and while I'm wiling to give you psychic knives, that is definitely not how Storm's powers work at all.

Back at the Axis of Time, Magneto and Mystique have a conversation about what they're doing without actually explaining what that is or why, leading me to believe that everyone in this show has the secondary mutation that allows them to use the vaguest possible pronouns. And speaking of vague, a few more of those tubes have been filled by psychic mutants that are a little too blurry to be easily identified -- at least by me.

From there, we cut back to the year 3999, where Cable and Cable Jr. are doing some lazer-knife rock climbing becuse APPARENTLY THERE WASN'T ENOUGH CONFUSING NONSENSE HAPPENING ALREADY.



They are, of course, trying to kill Apocalypse before/after/during his plot to kidnap all the psychics, which may or may not have already succeeded/failed in the future that happened last week. So they need to steal a time machine.

Friggin' X-Men.

Discussion Question: Wolverine mentions that it feels like every mutant on Earth is involved in this plot somehow, and while that's certainly an accurate description of the feeling in this episode, I'm not sure it's really accurate. What could a few of the lesser-known mutants be doing to help Apocalypse fill his tubes with psychic women? And please note that Gambit is already involved.

Next Week: Cable & Son steal a time machine. Which actually sounds kind of rad?