I'm going to say it right off the bat. I loved the early 90's "X-Men" series, and not just because I grew up on it. It had the right mix of action, drama, and comic book fan service. The later 90's series "X-Men: Evolution" was a different kind of cool, but didn't appeal to me personally. Of course, I probably had the wrong perspective on it, as I compared it to the old series and didn't judge it on its own merits (see also: "Batman: The Animated Series" v. "The Batman").
Now comes a new series that takes a different twist. This is not an X-Men origin series, but rather a "getting the band back together" series. The big twist comes as the Charles Xavier and Jean Grey pieces are taken off the board right off the bat, as they're seemingly killed off at the start, leaving Wolverine to put the X-Men back together.
Armed with my five-year-old nephew, I decided to get a fresh look at this: both from a fanboy's (me) perspective and from the target demographic's (him).
Episode starts with the aforementioned offing of Xavier and Jean by...well...no one knows yet. Fast-forward two years, as Wolverine saves a family from a car fire and they're rewarded by being taken prisoner by the Mutant Response Division for harboring Wolverine. Wolverine recruits Beast and saves the family, while saving a lot of other captive mutants, including Pyro, Boom Boom, and...holy crap, is that DUST?! It IS! Even if it's just a cameo, I was not prepared for that, and I hope that's an indicator of the fan service to come. Episode ends with Wolverine deciding to get the X-Men back together, which segues into Part 2...
The Brotherhood (this incarnation being Quicksilver, Domino, The Blob, Avalanche, and Toad) attempt to send various messages to Senator Kelly, but it only serves to push the Mutant Registract Act forward. Wolverine learns the failed logic of the show's concept himself, that being that Wolverine is no leader. With that in mind, he tries to get Cyclops, but gets blasted through a wall for his troubles. Logan and Beast do manage to pick up Iceman (with recruitment tactics that lack Xavier's diplomacy, but are tops in terms of speed) and Shadowcat. Rogue briefly flirts with the idea of joining the Brotherhood, but seemingly realizes what she's getting into and warns the X-Men of their plans. Of course, the X-Men tearing apart a press conference only serves to get public opinion against them, which is the intention, as it's all a giant swerve and Rogue goes...well...rogue. End episode.
The target demographic (my nephew) was loving every minute of this and he was doing Wolverine growls within minutes. The show was at least effective in that sense, but I had a feeling that wouldn't be a problem.
As for the fanboy, I actually really liked this. I expected Xavier and Jean to get written off (like in the preview) and then expected the X-Men to be back and ready to go within the span of the two-parter. Boy, was I wrong. They don't even have CYCLOPS yet! At the end of Week 1, the lineup consists of Wolverine, Beast, Iceman, Shadowcat, and Angel, but Cyclops, Colossus, Storm, and Nightcrawler are still unaccounted for. I appreciate the major twists, like Rogue actually duping the team and deciding to go full-on evil. And the pacing is good stuff, as it gives plenty of material for the entire season, not just with the recruitment drive, but also with billboards everywhere of Magneto advertising Genosha to mutants like he's a travel agent. The voice-acting is pretty solid, with Steven Blum starting to cement himself as the modern-day quintessential Wolverine (with Marvel: Ultimate Alliance already under his belt and a credit in the "Hulk Vs." DVD upcoming) and he's getting better with every outing. Overall, it's a good experience.
Thumbs up. Not required viewing by any means, but it's a solid show for comic fans and their kids.
Honestly, I'm a little tired of Wolverine. It's not that I don't like the character - I'm just sick of seeing him everywhere all the time. So I had kind of mixed feelings about Wolverine and Friends. But honestly, I thought it was pretty good, the random cameos were pretty cool, and overall the premise works. I like that it seems to be a blend of movie and comic book continuity, and I like that they're playing up Wolverine's shortcomings as a commander.
I watched both episodes with my 5 year old and 4 year old sons (I saw the first one On Demand previously to make sure they could handle it) and they loved it. I enjoyed it and now it will be part of our Friday nights. Much like Avatar was. Man, I miss Avatar.
"Marriage is like that show ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’, but it’s not funny. All the problems are the same, but you know instead of all the funny, pithy dialogue, everybody is really pissed off and tense. Marriage is like a tense, unfunny version of 'Everybody Loves Raymond', only it doesn't last 22 minutes. It lasts forever."
For any Americans that don't receive the Nicktoons channel (like me), you can also see full eps. at the network website (nicktoonsnetwork.nick.com). I don't know that it will or won't play outside the U.S., but stuff like that usually doesn't.
(edited by rinberg on 27.1.09 1241) One of the Thirty-two (or maybe Thirty-four....)!
"Book 'em, Danno." Of course, they said the line, as they should. And the theme music will always rock. Like Knight Rider a couple of years ago, Hawaii Five-0 has sentimental value as something I watched as a kid.