Monday, July 19, 2010

Mutant evolution, revolution

(Published Juy 19, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


Thematically darker than previous animated shows starring Marvel Comics’ mutant adventurers, “Wolverine and the X-Men” depicts the characters at their most desperate and vulnerable.

Separated after the mysterious disappearance of their telepath leader Professor X, the X-Men are reassembled by Wolverine and the Beast, who’ve had encounters with the mutant-hunting members of the MRD (Mutant Response Division).

Most characters that appear in “Wolverine and the X-Men” have previously featured in the comic books, so those already familiar will recognize them in the show despite changes in appearance or allegiance. Some of the characters are younger than their print incarnations; others are now counted among their foes.

While older TV shows like the 1990’s “X-Men” and the early 2000’s “X-Men: Evolution” had their share of dark moments, “Wolverine and the X-Men” explores a world where the powerful outcasts—believed by many as the next phase in human evolution—are constantly hounded and incarcerated. In this reality, the X-Men fight to liberate fellow mutants from their human oppressors, as well as to protect humans from disruptive mutants like Magneto, the Brotherhood and the Shadow King.

Inspired by popular story lines, but immersing the characters in a number of new situations, the series gives most of the team members ample focus: The destructive potential of Storm is partly realized in one episode; Nightcrawler shines in a solo mission against mutant-abducting pirates in another. The show also has unexpected guests, just like in the comics. Marvel’s iconic man-monster, the Hulk, makes his rage felt in an action-heavy episode.

“Wolverine and the X-Men” is accessible to newbies, but it doesn’t hurt to be familiar with the established mythologies. It’s not as fun as the visually brighter and more dynamic “X-Men: Evolution,” but the more serious tone still works. The series impressively reshapes the X-universe and effectively reintroduces the dramatic struggles of mutantkind.

“Wolverine and the X-Men” airs weekdays, 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., on Cartoon Network.

No comments: