One of the best (if not the best) animated series ever made is the 90’s X-Men series. Vastly superior to the recent “Evolution” series, it baffles me to this day why they haven’t released decent DVD volumes of this classic Saturday morning fare, especially with the success of the movie trilogy. The stories, the action, the massively appealing characters all made this a series both kids and adults can appreciate. I to this day at the age of 23 can’t get enough of episodes I’ve seen dozens of times over the last decade and a half. That being said, out of the 76 episodes of its 5-year run, I’ve assembled what I think are the 10 best episodes/episode arcs of the series. Since I couldn’t come up with an order of greatness I’m satisfied with, here they are in order of air date with my top favorite at the end:Night of the Sentinels Parts 1-2
In this 2-part premiere episode, a mutant registration program funded by the government is initiated as simultaneously a brigade of large robots called Sentinels begin apprehending mutants. When the X-Men link the captures to the registration program through a young mutant named Jubilee, they set forth a mission to raid the Mutant Control Agency and destroy the files. A solid start to the series, introduces the characters well without dulling down the action and even throws in a surprise death for dramatic emphasis. Nicely done.Enter Magneto
As Beast awaits trial for the Mutant Control Agency attack, a new mutant named Magneto declares war on homo sapiens and attempts to destroy a military base. This episode is absolutely top notch in the dialogue department and does a great job of establishing Magneto as a truly evil individual who on the other hand may have a good point with his arguments against humanity.Captive Hearts
When Scott and Jean go out for a night on the town, they become captured by a group of underground mutants called Morlocks. This was the first episode I saw of the series and is why to this day I’m a huge fan of X-Men in general. Days of Future Past Parts 1-2
In a hellish future, the Sentinels control the world and nearly all of humanity is slain. In an attempt to change the present future, the mutant Bishop takes on a mission to travel back in time to stop the assassination by killing the assailant, who could very well be Gambit. While very loosely based on a 2-issue story by Chris Claremont in the original Uncanny X-Men comic series, this still ranks very high in my book as a good adaption.Till Death Do Us Part, Part 1
As Scott and Jean get married, we learn Morph has been resurrected by a new villain, Mr. Sinister, as an organization hell-bent on destroying mutants called Friends of Humanity is founded by Graydon Creed. This is one hell of a fun episode, and also the only episode to have multiple simultaneous cliffhangers of several characters in peril.
When Wolverine returns to Canada, the group Alpha Flight captures him as General Chasen and the Canadian government begin performing procedures to learn the secrets of his adamantium skeleton. This episode was appropriately written by Len Wein, who created the character Wolverine in the comics in the mid 70s, as there’s some great sequences of back story revealed of my all-time favorite character.Time Fugitives Parts 1-2
A mysterious plague begins infecting humanity courtesy of Graydon Creed as Bishop returns from the future to assist the X-Men in stopping it. When the mission fails and Cable’s further distant future becomes threatened, he goes back in time to fix the mistakes. This is an interesting 2-parter, as part 2 basically repeats the events of part 1, only slightly different this time around.A Rogue's Tale
Rogue begins experiencing disturbing visions of her past, as Mystique intends to recruit her back to her brotherhood of evil mutants. Lots of great back story to one of my favorite characters.Cold Comfort
A former X-Man named Iceman attempts to break into a government facility, and is stopped by the X-Men. When he refuses to disclose his motives, Xavier incarcerates him until he’s ready to talk. However, Jubilee takes a shine to Iceman and decides to help him on his mission which ultimately leads to the discovery of a new team of mutants called X-Factor. This is the only episode to feature Iceman and it’s a fun entry in the series.
And my favorite entry in the series is…Dark Phoenix Saga Parts 1-4
As the Phoenix entity in Jean’s body lingers on, a society of mutants and cyborgs called The Inner Circle intend to use that power by manipulating her through hallucinations. When that fails the Dark Phoenix emerges and becomes a threat to the entire galaxy. The X-Men must fight to save Jean’s life as the Shi’Ar Empire desires to destroy her to save the universe. This is by far the best adaption the series did of a story originally done by Chris Claremont in the comics. It’s literally like seeing the comic panels come to life, I especially enjoyed part 2, where we got to see Wolverine’s classic Dirty Harry speech word for word. Now true the ending in part 4 has been completely altered but that’s excusable when the rest of it is so well done. Absolutely the best.
With so many other fantastic episodes in the series, one can only hope that one day we’ll see complete season DVD boxsets released. Until then, however, I’ll have to keep perusing my eBay bootlegs.[/b]