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-travel epic continues with the revelation that Wolverine has some next level eyeliner game.

Previously, on X-Men:

In our last episode, Bishop and Shard were sent back from their crappy furture to prevent it from becoming an even crappier future, and promptly screwed up. Then they went to a crappy present, where they recruited alternate universe versions of Wolverine and Storm, who were in loooooove, and gave it another shot. Then they screwed up again. Those kids really do have the making of X-Men!

In our discussion of the highs and lows of Season 3, we all pretty much agreed that despite a few readers singling out the sheer amount of fun Marvel Universe cameos that stocked up the otherwise lackluster episodes, it was not very good. We did, however, learn a few things! Apparently I may have been slightly mistaken on my timeline: It seems this episode wasn't inspired by "Age of Apocalypse," it was actually the other way around. While the comic crossover launched in 1995 -- with this episode airing in September of that year -- the lead time for the cartoon and the collaboration going on suggests that maybe having time travelers kill off Professor X was an idea that had its roots on the show before going into comics. If nothing else, that would explain why they didn't bother to match up the outfits for the show, even though they were dedicated enough to give us a 100% comics accurate look at Maverick.

Now, let's see how many times the X-Men can screw up the past before they manage to screw it up just right!



If that establishing shot of Bard College looks familiar, then you might want to brace yourself. Thanks to the handy plot device that is time travel, there is a shocking portion of this show that recycles footage from last week's episode, which wouldn't be so bad if they did not lead every episode with a recap that uses recycled footage already. Seriously, there are multiple recaps of what happened last week crammed into 22 minutes of footage. Apparently the people who made this show -- which in this case include writer Gary Greenfield and producer/director Larry Houston -- decided that their target audience for these episodes included kids age 8 to 12 and goldfish.

Season 4. Not off to a great start.

Anyway, as you may recall, last week ended with our ragtag team of ersatz X-Men completely failing to prevent Young (But Bald) Charles Xavier from being turned into a fine red mist by Trevor Fitzroy and Nimrod. But to be fair, they did master the fine art of the comedic pratfall.



So that's something.

After dusting themselves off, Bishop just sort of shrugs and decides that they might as well give it another shot, which is the only time that anyone in this show ever mentions that being able to travel through time gives you infinite mulligans. You'd think that instead of getting increasingly frustrated, they'd just keep popping back from the future like that one episode of SeaLab.

Then again, Mario Sunshine had infinite lives, too, and those bonus levels caused me to shatter multiple Gamecube controllers with my bare hands, so I can see where he's coming from.

Speaking of frustration, before they can make the jump, the racists from the diner show up to cause more trouble, pinning the explostion at Bard College on the team and causing all kinds of ruckus. Bishop, who is quickly becomoing my favorite character in this episode, is getting ready to just shoot them with that gigantic laser-shotgun and be done with it, but Storm takes the opportunity to go Full Storm once again with another pretty astonishing Battle Pronouncement™:




I don't think I've ever seen an episode from Seasons 4 or 5 before, but I really hope Marvel Dracula shows up and those two just get in a full-on bluster-off.

Wolverine, whose actual mutant power is resilience, decides that he's done with this after fifteen minutes and one botched rescue attempt, and asks Bishop to send him back to his own timeline, because it "wasn't so bad" to live in a full-on apocalyptic wasteland where his race was hunted to extinction and nobody could find a pair of pants that wasn't torn to shreds. Storm, however, encourages him to stick with it.



Hey, is that the Punisher's belt?

Of course, there is a problem. If the "time waves" from Xavier's murder have reached all the way to 2055 (The Future!), then coming back is going to be far more complicated, because they'll have to deal with all that, and it's at this point that I have to shove my glasses back up, clear my throat, and announce that That's Not How Marvel Universe Time Travel Works, You Guys.

See, as established very early on, the Marvel Universe (including, one assumes, animated adaptations), has very strict rules governing time travel. Picture, if you will, a rope that's frayed at the end. Those frayed edges represent the multiple possible futures of the Marvel Universe -- They're all in there, existing more or less concurrently, which is why we can have Cable, Bishop, X-Man, Rachel Summers, Deathlok and all the other characters who have come back existing at the same time, even though they came from different futures. The reason for this is that every someone comes to the past, they don't prevent their future from happening, they just create another timeline, splitting so that we follow that rope from the main body of the present down to one of another strand. All the other strands still exist; nothing changes for them. Just for us, reading the books (or following the rope) here in the present. I mean, c'mon. That's the entire premise of What If.

I mean, yeah, it doesn't make much sense, but are you gonna tell me TIME WAVES are better?

But anyway. Assuming that anyone out there is still awake after that diatribe, you can probably guess what happens when they head back... to the future!



Yes, it seems Bishop's continued screwups have caused those pesky time waves wash up an alternate future where Master Mold is in charge and Forge is dressed like a New 52 Parademon:



He's fully in the pocket of the Master Mold administration, having been presumably spared because his mutant power to build things is very useful in a future dominated by robots that need time machines. Surprisingly, this is never explicitly stated, making it one of the rare moments where the show lets a logical sequence of events speak for itself.

Forge doesn't want to show them how to operate his time machine, so the good guys heroically threaten to shoot and stab him until a robot arrives, at which time Bishop reveals his genuinely amazing strategy for dealing with his mechanical oppressors: Shooting them completely in the dick.



I take back everything I said about not being excited for Season 4. If this is the level of robot crotch violence we're going to get in the next few weeks, I am one hundred percent down.

During the action, Shard also tries to convince Forge to help her by telling him that Master Mold and his other genocidal robots "don't care about you," which is a really weird, Jack Chick tract way of doing things. I mean, I don't think Alternate Forge is helping the sentinels because he thinks they're best friends or something, it's not like he's trying to get in with the Cool Kids by shoplifting. I'm pretty sure that he's helping them because if he doesn't, they will murder him with lasers. "Caring" does not really enter that equation.

And yet, it works, and after the robots and their crotches have been dealt with, Alternate Forge agrees to send them back for their third try at stopping Fitzroy and Nimrod -- but not before Shard is killed because apparently the fate of the world wasn't enough motivation to get them to take things seriously.



It's worth noting that when Shard gets shot, Wolverine goes "Kid!" because her name still hasn't been mentioned. The only person to say it (unless I missed it at some point in the first half, I'm not going back to check), is Bishop, after she's dead, when he's telling everyone that it'll be okay because if their plan works, she will never been shot in the first place.


So, speaking of Fitzroy, what's he up to before he shows up to help murder Shard? Why, he's in a conference with Master Mold, whose robot crotch is the largest and most powerful of all:



That's why he sits like that. It's a power move.

Fitzroy gives Master Mold our third recap of the events thus far, but after failing to stop the X-Men from heading back through time again, he's sent to go do the job right -- but not before he hears Master Mold and Nimrod, two robots, discussing their plan to kill him once he succeeds, out loud. With him in the next room.

Robots are dumb, y'all.

With that knowledge, Fitzroy has a sudden change of heart, dropping by to help the X-Men before they go back through time and giving them a holographic note to show to the one that's already back there trying to blow up Professor X.

So how is Professor X?


X-Men episode guide screenshot


Well, I hope you liked the fight with the racists in the diner the first time last week, so we get it again, in its entirety, all recycled footage until Professor X beats feet and ends up running facefirst into Bishop and his magnificent mullet. Keep in mind that this Professor X has already met Bishop, Wolverine and Storm and read their minds to determine their sincerity, which I assume is why Bishop gets him to do it again so we can get another Goddamn recap.

Eventually, they take him back to the room where he was exploded to death twice in the last episode, and honestly, don't you think they'd try to take him literally anywhere else? Like, at this point, how are they surprised at all when Nimrod and Fitzroy show up with a giant bomb?



It's worth noting that in the fight against Nimrod, Wolverine drops what is arguably his best line since "Check please!", popping his claws and growling "Let's see what you had for breakfast!"

Rave Dracula traps the good guys in a force field sphere with a very large bomb, but once they show him the 3D video of himself talking about how it's in his self-interest to not kill them, he lets them out, goes back to the future, and that's pretty much that. The other set of X-Men from the first trip (Bishop's second) blink out of existence, and Bishop explains that the only reason they haven't is that their big metal bracelets are keeping them from being affected by... time waves.

So, in a moment that I honestly can't believe happened in a show where you can't say the word "kill" or show a punch being thrown, Wolverine and Storm embrace and commit temporal suicide.



But it's okay! Regular Wolverine and Storm are back at their picnic, flirting with each other while Professor X watches, smiling because he can remember them making out when he was 19, I guess.

What a bunch of creeps.

Discussion Question: One of the actually-pretty-cool moments of this episode was the reveal that Alternate Wolverine and Storm have pet names for each other, and hers for him is "Tough Guy." Awwww! So with that in mind, what are some other good pet names for the X-Men?

Next Week: Morph's back in "Courage!"