The X-Men Episode Guide 4×16: ‘Family Ties’
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, it's Magneto's family reunion, which involves a talking cow. Really.
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, we got the only thing more boring than a solo story about Cyclops: A solo story about Professor X. The Shadow King returned to make all kinds of trouble, leading to Jean Grey just up and jumping into that dude's head to sort out his problems by helping him dress up as a gladiator and then fight with imaginary lightsabers. It all worked out for the best, despite making about as much sense as... well, literally anything else that has happened during this season.
In our discussion of other secret powers that Jean Grey might have to go along with gladiatorial astral projection, the Commenteers came out in full force to fill in all the blanks her Marvel Universe trading card left out:
"Straight from the mouth of the woman herself: 'Trust me, I compensate for unnaturally thin wrists and ankles with an extremely buff mind.' So yes, she has the superpower of 'unnaturally thin wrists and ankles'." -- Robin Zimmer
"Jean Grey has some sort of weird codename powers that make people think Jean Grey is a perfectly legitimate superhero name and still prevents people from discovering her secret identity." -- Eric Chandler
"She can put up with Cyclops." -- Matthew Draper
This week, it's time to learn everything you always wanted to know about Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch! The obvious problem with that, of course, is that no one ever has or ever will care about Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, even when you throw in the knowledge that they grew up around a whole bunch of weird animal people. But that's not going to stop writer Marley Clark and producer/director Larry Houston from telling us all about them anyway, so I guess we all have to deal with that this week. I'm not any happier about it than you are.
We open at X-Factor headquarters, where Quicksilver is uggggggghhhhhhh.
Sorry, everybody. I'm really sorry. I just... does anyone like Quicksilver? I'm not even being snarky at this point. I can acknowledge that there are some people who might actually find something to enjoy from reading about Cyclops, but this dude? Is "What if the Flash was terrible, just terrible" a compelling concept for a character?
Okay. Okay. I'll try to keep it under control from now on. While I've been grousing, Pietro and his goofy little hair horns have been getting a few Skype calls, one from Forge, and then one that interrupts it from Scarlet Witch, who starts things off by saying "QUICKSILVER, IT'S YOUR SISTER."
Keep in mind that this is a video phone. He can see her. And she doesn't even announce herself as "Wanda," but just "your sister." I get that the show needs to explain the relationships between these characters as quickly as it can, but I half expected her to follow that up with "Your sister, Wanda Maximoff? You know that new sound you're looking for -- well listen to this!" and point her iPhone at Marty McFly rocking out at Avengers Mansion.
Turns out that she's calling for a slightly more serious reason: their dad's on his deathbed, and he has something that he needs to tell them. Turns out that he's not their biological father. Instead, he raised them when a local midwife brought them to his house as babies and asked him to, which is a pretty weird way of dealing with babies. She swore Maximoffs to secrecy, and oh by the way she was a cow.
Kinda buried the lede there, Papa Maximoff.
Now that he's kicking the bucket, Pops is no longer afraid of whatever dairy-based retribution will come from telling the secret, so he tells them that they should go talk to Bova if they want to find out who their biological parents are. Quicksilver, being a complete and utter jerk, is initially skeptical of this, and look. If some 90 year-old man told me in the throes of his final hallucinations that I was actually delivered onto this Earth by an animorph, I probably wouldn't believe him either, but I'm not standing there next to my sister who has ACTUAL MAGICAL POWERS. There's really no reason for Pietro to be doubting anything at this point.
While all that's going down, there's another visit happening, as Magneto shows up to the X-Mansion to talk to Professor X, bringing with him some severely orange lighting:
Incidentally, Magneto made sure to bypass all of the X-Mansion's security by shorting it out with electromagnetic pulses, and also ties Wolverine to a chair with lightning, because at this point, why not. Professor X reacts to this news pretty calmly, and dude. This guy occasionally tries to murder you and all of your surrogate children. Maybe don't cheerfully ask him what he's been up to when he saunters into your house wearing business casual murder gloves.
Fortunately, Magneto's not there for any violence. He has received news that his wife, Magda, is actually alive years after she was presumed dead, and is on his way to the Balkans to check it out. Since he has made a few enemies over the years what with that whole thing where he tried to nuke the Eastern seaboard and then founded a separatist society on an orbiting asteroid that devolved into anarchy and rebellion in record time -- and hey, didn't Magneto actually die in that episode? -- he wants Xavier to check it out and see if there's any "unusual mutant activity in the area" that he needs to worry about.
Heads up, dude: Professor X didn't even know you were in his house until you were standing right next to him. Maybe he is not the guy to check out for shady characters on other continents.
Either way, Professor X decides to send Wolverine after him as a secret bodyguard, and we cut back to Pietro and Wanda, who have arrived at Mt. Wunadagore, and...
Oh buh-ruther. This guy.
For those of you who may not know, this is the High Evolutionary, perhaps the least of Marvel's eighty-six villains obsessed with evolution. His particular deal is that he's essentially a bright purple Dr. Moreau, and has created a secret society of animal-human hybrids. No one likes him.
The High Evolutionary is pretty stoked to have Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch at his weird little house, to the point where he even demands that they verify their identities. You'd think that this would be a pretty easy thing for them to do, what with having superpowers and all, but instead they calmly walk in and have their DNA scanned so they can compare it to his records from when they were babies. And for the record, yes, Pietro and Wanda seem exactly as creeped out as they should be that the High Evolutionary is just hanging out with DNA samples from when they were babies.
Eventually, they get an audience with Bova, and find out that their mother was Magda, who showed up at Mt. Wundagore "fleeing in terror from a mutant who had just destroyed an entire village." No prizes for guessing who that mutant was. She gave birth and then, having just popped out two superheroes, promptly died so that they could have the proper motivating tragedy, and set up a plot that would come to fruition a few decades later when Quicksilver showed up and decided that he needed... REVENGE!!!
Meanwhile, Magneto is meeting with his dead wife at her grave:
Except that it's not Magda.
It's a goat.
See, it was all a diversion set up so that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch could ambush him and confront him with the knowledge that they were there to get revenge for someone that Magneto killed, and it's at this point that the timeline of this episode has ceased to make sense. When they tell him why they're there, Magneto, who actually comes out of this episode looking like a badass, replies "you will need to be more specific. There have been many."
For him, it was Tuesday.
Wolverine, who is ostensibly there as Magneto's bodyguard, just kinda hangs out hiding behind a tree while they literally string up Magneto in a tree and get ready to kill him, and it's only when the Animorphs of Wundagore turn on the twins that he bothers to run over and try to punch people out, only to get the whole gang gassed and trussed up so they can be hauled back to the High Evolutionary, who elects to imprison everyone in giant plates of Jell-O.
Ooh! It's lemon!
Turns out that the Evolutionary wants to use the Magneto Family's powers to speed up his experiments, revealing that a) he's their father, and b) that nobody thought "Magnus" marrying a woman named "Magda" was maybe a little too on the nose.
If you're wondering what exactly you can do with the combined superpowers of Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch and Magneto, it turns out that you can turn Wolverine into a werewolf.
Of course it does. It makes so much sense!
Since Wolverine, Magneto, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch aren't enough to solve this problem on their own, Professor X and Beast show up in the Blackbird and remind everyone that they have super-powers, including absolute mastery over some form of magnetism that can also affect Jell-O. They break out, throw down, and eventually beat up enough people so that Wolverine no longer suffers from the curse of lycanthropy.
But can Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver ever forgive their father for leading directly to the death of their mother? No one cares.
Discussion Question: Believe it or not, this is the finale of Season 4, which means that next week, we start in on the final fourteen episodes, after which my labors will be done and my soul will be allowed to move on. But in the meantime, let's talk about Season 4. In my estimation, it is unquestionably the worst season yet, and the fifth is going to have to go all out to be worse. As much potential as there might have been in "Sanctuary" and "Proteus," four episodes of "Beyond Good And Evil" and some weird-ass solo stories would derail even the best episodes, and they sure as heck weren't that. What were the high points and low points for you, the Commenteers?