The X-Men Episode Guide 5×07: Storm Front, Part One
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 that adaptation of X-Men Annual #3 that you wanted. What's that? Well, somebody wanted it.
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, the already complicated family tree of the X-Men got even more complex when it was revealed that Nightcrawler is Mystique's son, Rogue's half-brother, Graydon Creed's haf-brother, Sabretooth's stepson and Cable's step-cousin-in-law. This revelation was the source of no small amount of consternation for Creed, a tooth-gnashingly virulent racist, who attempted to lure most of his family to an ambush at a suitably dramatic dam. Unfortunately, he failed to kill any of them and was then thrown from a plane at Sabretooth, who then presumably killed and ate him. It was... it was kind of a weird one.
This week, we're moving into "Storm Front, Part One," from writer Mirith Colao and line producer Frank Squillace, which is a pretty ominous title until you remember that there is actually a character on this show named Storm who controls the weather, meaning that it barely even qualifies as a pun. It does, however, provide us with a couple of pretty important milestones. First, and perhaps most important, it's the first episode on the last disc of the series, meaning that we are officially in the home stretch. Second, with script number 69, it's the first episode in a long time that's actually airing in the order that it's supposed to. From here to the end of the series at Episode 76, everything is actually where it belongs. More or less. But we'll get to those.
For this one, we're opening on Washington DC, in the middle of the storm of the century, complete with a news reporter in a rubber hat proclaiming the existence of hailstones the size of softballs. It's not the wind and rain that's most concerning here, though, it's the color scheme. This nightmare hurricane is so severe that everything in our nation's capital has turned into shades of hot pink and neon yellow.
It's like an episode of Jem exploded in here. Which isn't a complaint.
Clearly, the storm is unnatural, which has given rise to speculation in the media that there are mutants involved, which in turn leads Cyclops to huff angrily about how "it never changes." And look, to be fair, yes, it's unfair to blame the X-Men simply because they're mutants, but on the other hand, you are literally an ideological paramilitary organization whose roster includes someone who can control the weather. You can't be that angry that peole are applying Occam's razor to hot pink lightning.
Thing is, it's not actually Storm's doing, and in fact, she's suffering worse ill effects from the jacked up weather than anyone, proclaiming with her typical bombast that "THE SKY, THE AIR, THE WIND, INJURED, CRYING, NOT OF THE EARTH!" It gets so bad that the X-Men, who are flying over Washington DC for purely plot-related reasons, end up making an emergency landing at the Washington Monument.
Hey, quick question. Which color is the Washington Monument again? Is it banana yellow?
Let's just go with banana yellow.
So if it's not Storm that's causing Hurricane Lisa Frank, then who's behind all this weird weather?
Oh. It's Arkon. They're seriously doing a two-part episode about Arkon.
When Arkon sees storm, he hits the giant TV remote that he has strapped onto his chest, and the thunderstorm stop -- this is important, so remember it for later. Having called off the weather, he scoops up storm and proceeds to cart her off to his home dimension, Polemachus, by taking a bead off his collar and then throwing it on the ground to create a boom tube. Storm has the presence of mind to grab a second one, and leave it on the ground along with the X logo from her costume so that her teammates will know how to get to her, which is pretty good under the circumstances, even if it requires Cyclops to figure out that he should throw a bath bead down and then jump through a glowing portal to another dimension.
At this point, you may be asking yourself just what the hell is going on here, so the show provides you with one of the most welcome dumps of blatant exposition you're lkely to find. It seems that Polemachus is on the verge of destruction, with hot pink storms raging over the entire planet and weakening the rings that protect it from deadly cosmic radiation. It's starting to get so bad that background characters from She-Ra have started to take ill:
Obviously, something needs to be done to stop these storms, and since Storm controls storms (hence the name), she has become the most likely candidate. Which, of course, is why Arkon, who somehow heard about Storm while he was in another dimension that has had no prior contact with Earth that we know of, decided to pop over, create a massive day-glo superstorm, and thereby lure Storm into action so that he could kidnap her and ask her to save his planet with her mutant powers.
This plan is dubious at best for literally every reason, but the biggest problem is that the only thing we actually know about Arkon at this point is that he has the ability to create and disperse storms that look exactly like the ones that are giving his home planet so many problems. The first thing he does when he shows up onscreen is use that remote to stop the storm. If he can do that, then what the heck does he need Storm for? Just build a bigger remote, dude.
Meanwhile, the X-Men have commandeered a vehicle.
Wait, no. Stolen. When they do it I'm pretty sure it's called stealing.
Eventually, they figure out how to use Arkon's discarded golf ball to get to Polemachus, where they're promptly met by one of the Marvel Universe's more ostentatious angry mobs. This isn't really anything out of the ordinary, even once the Poelemachan peasantry starts busting out floating robots with laser hands, but while they're dealing with that, Storm is having a problem controlling the weather, having managed only enough power to get a half-decent hair-blowing gust of wind going.
Note that it only blows hair, and only her hair. Capes remain unaffected.
It turns out that there's something out there running weather-pattern interference: A "Central Energy Transmitter" that's being used for vague logistical purposes like "defense" and, presumably, energy transmission. Arkon refuses to turn it off, telling Storm that she's just going to have to work around it, and she does. It's really that simple. My guess is that Storm just had to take some time to figure out the most overwrought dialogue to say while using her powers, and when she hit on "HURRICANE WINDS, PUNISH NO MORE! FLOODS OF DESTRUCTION, CALM YOUR SURGING STRUGGLE!", that was that.
Having fisted all the robots to death...
...the rest of the X-Men make it to Arkon's palace, and since Storm is knocked out from the effort, she can't explain to the rest of the team that she's totally cool with being kidnapped since it was for a good cause, and we get our mandatory superhero scuffle. To be fair, though, it actually looks really good -- it's one of the few times where it genuinely looks like Wolverine is trying to stab someone right in the face, and the struggle with Arkon is animated really well:
Wolverine even pulls off a headscissors takedown at one point!
Storm wakes up, tells everyone to chill, and reveals that she's sorted out everyone's problems, and there's a big celebration where Storm and Arkon decide to get married.
Discussion Question: Surely there are better ways for Arkon to get Storm's attention than by attempting to wreck the Eastern seaboard with a superstorm, but is there any worse way that he could've gone about getting the X-Men's help?