X-Men: Volume 1
Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection
US Release Date: April 28, 2009
Review Date: April 23, 2009
The Show - out of <font face="Arial[/img]
"No one knows who will be a mutant at birth. We discover our extraordinary powers at about your age. Professor Xavier is our leader and he has named us the X-men"
Widely regarded as one of the very best television animated efforts (IGN this year ranked it as the “13th greatest animated show of all time” out of their list of 100 ), Marvel’s X-Men is classic comic-book hero fodder. It premiered on FOX Kids, Fox’s Saturday morning cartoon line-up, back when FOX television itself was still quite a fledgling entity. It was a ratings success and was welcome by long-time fans of the comic book by remaining relatively faithful to the characters and storylines appearing in the library of ‘X-Men’ comics.
The X-Men world has exploded, building exponentially on the success experienced with the comic book and this animated series. In many ways, The X-Men film opened the gates for the waves of comic-book/Superhero films that have enjoyed a serious resurgence this decade. The films played around with the look of the key characters and borrowed some themes that you will find in these 16 episodes (and of course, from the original comic books), but managed to remain faithful to the core of the X-Men universe (though some would argue that part III failed in that endeavor). But the world of mutants, where characters hold unique ‘abilities’ such as the ability to quickly heal, to control the weather, to read minds, to ‘borrow’ abilities and more, seems to hold a fascination with audiences beyond the core comic-book and superhero fan base.
The series, which ran from 1992-1997, opens with the ‘Night Of The Sentinals’ two-parter, which was originally shown as a ‘not quite complete’ ‘sneak peak’ when production issues delayed the actual series premiere (animation errors were corrected for later broadcasts). The show then continues with what amounts to a high quality, uniformly solid set of episodes set across two discs. The surprising strength of the show comes from the more serious tone that threads through the episodes, even as the more easily enjoyed, simpler fun of pure carnage frequently plays out. Serious minded themes of prejudice, civil liberties and others can be found in this show and treated with some good writing (for a Saturday morning cartoon) and with a dedication to the source material which elevates this series beyond the typical.
The regular characters, under the watchful and mindful guidance of Professor Xavier, that populate this series are Wolverine, Cyclops, Jubilee, Storm, Rogue, Beast, Gambit and Jean Grey, in addition to a swarm of other characters that pop-up throughout the series. The animation is representative of early 1990’s quality (not that great), though the styling and often inventiveness employed helps set it apart from the throng of animated shows that have come since. Newer fans may initially be concerned at the lack of slick, clean and bright animation, but sticking around for a full episode will alleviate that concern and help them realize that the story is what is most important. Fans of the show, those who caught it when it first aired or who enjoyed the reruns (on UPN, ABC Family etc) will rejoice at this release (and its partner release, Volume 2).
This collection includes all the episodes from season one and three episodes from the start of season two.
1.Night of the Sentinels (Part 1)
2.Night of the Sentinels (Part 2)
8.The Unstoppable Juggernaut
10.Come The Apocalypse
11.Days Of Future Past (Part 1)
12.Days Of Future Past (Part 2)
13.The Final Decision
14.Till Death Do Us Part (Part 1)
15.Till Death Do Us Part (Part 2)
16.Whatever It Takes
The X-Men Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection comes correctly framed in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. This isn’t the best this show could look; there is some dirt and debris noticeable and there is a pale feel to the colors that seems to pervade the episodes. The image is also soft and could have really popped with some time spent cleaning it up. The animation style isn’t slick either. Some have commented that it’s down right ugly, though I won’t go that far. Issues aside, the quality of these episodes on the DVD remind me of how other cartoons from the late 80’s and first half of the 1990’s looked when I watched them on broadcast television and doesn’t detract from the good stories being told.
The 16 episodes spread over two discs come with an English Dolby Digital Surround Sound in addition to both French and Spanish language tracks. The surrounds don’t get much action at all as it is primarily front focused. The sound isn’t crisp, isn’t always clear but does ok for the experience. Again, a remastering would have made this show really come alive, but the audio is faithful to the original experience.
No Extras, No Stars
The X-Men show is really good stuff. Fans of the show will love having these episodes to keep and enjoy. Those introduced to the world of these mutants through the movies will struggle initially with the difference in the characters’ form from the films (Wolverines wardrobe and Cyclops’ height for starters) but that should dissipate quickly and fans of the X-Men universe will identify with the good stories and recognize the essence of these characters quickly. While these new DVD releases from Disney are not clean season sets, they are a real step up from the ‘best of’ style releases that have come before which plucked episodes out of broadcast order. Having no extras is a shame but overall, a good job!