Monday, July 9, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Pryde of the X-Men

Pryde of the X-Men was a pilot for a television cartoon that was aired in 1989 but never picked up for an ongoing show. It was, however, eventually released on VHS.
X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men VHS

This show represents the first effort to give the X-Men their own media property. Previously, they were relegated to guest starring roles in some of Spider-Man's television shows. For a first effort, this show did a lot right.

First, the animation is great. The pilot mixed some static scenes with lots of exposition with action sequences. During the scenes heavy on narration, the creators did a good job of changing "camera" angles and giving the audience cool visuals to watch. Close-ups of faces really showed a great level of detail with realistic animation of the entire face, not just the mouth.

The show also reaches for some style points. For example, in once case when Professor X is using his powers the shot zooms in on his face and eventually down to one eye. The camera continues to push in tighter and tighter until the entire screen is filled with the black of the eye's pupil. This then focuses into the distant scene where Professor X is using his mental powers. It's a pretty impressive shot and shows the show's ambitions.

The show's X-Men roster was comprised of Professor X, Cyclopes, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Dazzler, and Colossus. The exclusion of Jean Grey for Dazzler is a bit of an odd choice but it was probably made because Dazzler's powers are more action-oriented. Of course, Kitty Pryde is introduced in the episode. Some have complained that she is a sniveling wimp in the episode but I would say that that's the point. Had the show continued, I'm sure we would have seen Pryde grow and change. In this pilot, Kitty is new to the school and we learn about it as she does. Even by the end of this one episode she grows character development. She also adopts fan-favorite Lockheed by the end of the episode.

The show also hosts an impressive array of villains. Magneto leads a team of mutant terrorists including the Blob, Juggernaut, White Queen, Toad, and Pyro. Each villain is given the spotlight at different moments

In all cases, character designs, personalities, and powers are extremely faithful to the comic books. Nightcrawler even kept his characteristic black patches around his eyes.

Stan Lee does the narration - a seeming must for any Marvel cartoon.

Now, the show isn't perfect, of course.

The BIG sticking point is the voice of Wolverine. The rest of the cast has great voice acting, including Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus with their heavy accents. But Wolverine has an Australian accent when everyone knows he's Canadian. The show's creators claim that the decision was made because, at the time, it was going to be revealed in the comics that Wolvie is an expatriated Australian but I don't buy it. It just sounds plain ridiculous and ruins almost every scene Wolverine is in.

Another big problem is that the story seems a little thin. At one point, the villains decide to take on the entire X-Men team one at a time. Why not take them on all at once, mutant team vs mutant team? It felt a little bit like an old Dungeons and Dragons game - open the door, kill the monster (repeat as needed). And the big, dramatic ending somehow had Nightcrawler using his body to complete a circuit but it really didn't make much sense at all... except that it was suppose to be "dramatic."

Overall, this first effort at an X-Men cartoon is a great start.

1LR REVIEW - 15 out of 20! It's a Hit!


  1. I remember having the graphic novel that used animation cells for the art. I loved the art. Never saw this show, however. Great find!

    1. It's available to watch online (of course). Worth checking out. I heard about the trade but I've never seen it. The Wolverine thing was probably the whole reason the series didn't get picked up!