Thanks to YouTuber Vintage9x for hosting this video.
I adore this pilot. I really wish there was a second episode, to show off what they could do.
It was written by Larry Parr, who wrote the Morlocks Christmas and the titled Dark Phoenix episodes of the 90s X-Men series. Of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he wrote the Incredible Shrinking Turtles and It Came from Beneath the Sewers.
That’s the deal with this pilot. It originally premiered on September 16, 1989. It is definitely a product of its time. The animation and voice talent is the best of its era.
I wish I could say that I remember the buzz for this, or that I watched it when it debuted, but I didn’t. I would have been seven, so it would have been in my wheelhouse, but my first exposure to the X-Men was the animated series of the 90s.
Which means when I adopted Kitty Pryde as my favorite fictional character of all time, people were kind to direct me to this. Which was before YouTube so I had to buy a bootlegged copy. Which I don’t believe is illegal as there is no official version to buy. If they release one next year, I would totally buy it. Slap a making of feature and a legacy feature, make it $14.99 and sell a million of them.
This pilot sets up the Konami X-Men game of the 90s which is pretty awesome. It works as a sort of sequel or a complete extension / revision of the pilot.
It is narrated by Stan Lee, you all know Stan Lee, co-creator of the X-Men and so much more. Just looking at the characters he co-created for the X-Men (during the first 19 issues), the Original Five (Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Jean), Xavier, Magneto, Blob, the Danger Room, the Vanisher, the concept of the Brotherhood, Mastermind, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Toad, Cerebro, Unus the Untouchable, Lucifer (the guy who paralyzed Xavier), The Savage Land, Ka-zar, Zabu, Stranger, Juggernaut, The Sentinels, Bolivar Trask, Bernard the Poet, Master Mold and that’s just the first seventeen issues! Didn’t know it was that many, I just went to comicbookdb.com and clicked the first issue of Uncanny and went from there. Thought they both were only on the title for the first 12 or so. Then Lee wrote issues 18 and 19, then he was out. 19 is the first appearance of Mimic.
This came out in 1989, so we had six more years with Jack Kirby, shame he doesn’t receive a credit for any of this, especially as Xavier, Cyclops and Magneto are all present. Kirby did the first seventeen issues.
The episode starts with Magneto being a prisoner and they are transporting him to a prison. Magneto is voiced by Earl Boen. Who is in the first three Terminator movies as Dr. Peter Siberman.
It has the first animated Emma Frost. She is voiced by Susan Silo. She voiced Neptunia from Darkwing Duck and Sue from Pac-Man.
Before this pilot, Kitty had made her animated debut with The X-Men Adventure episode of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Next, is this pilot and then it is X-Men Evolution, Super Hero Squad (two appearances!) and Wolverine and the X-Men.
Which I have this theory that both Kitty and Lockheed were punished for the lack of success if this pilot and that is why they never make an appearance at all in the 90s cartoon. Especially with how much they included her in Evolution to make up for the lack of appearing in the most watched series.
I like how the Brotherhood are called mutant terrorists, they are not fooling around.
Once you hear Col. Chaffey speak, you know this is going to be a high quality program. Chaffey and the Blob are voiced by the legendary Alan Oppenheimer. Who is the voice of Skeletor, Man-at-Arms and Gringer of He-Man fame. On the Smurfs, he voiced Vanity and he was Rhinokey on the Wuzzles.
Growing up, I was a huge fan of Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters and He-Man. They must have been on the same channel or something. I never really got into GI Joe, Transformers or Captain Planet, I watched them and had a few toys but those other three shows? I had nearly every toy from those lines. Or at least, it felt like it.
At the two minute mark, we get Kitty Pryde. Voiced by Kath Soucie, who is a legend in her own right with just being the voice of Janine from Ghostbusters. She was Morgana McCawber on Darkwing Duck and Fifi la Fume on Tiny Toons, two mire favorite shows. She has been the voice of Kanga on most Winnie the Pooh programs and Lola Bunny from Space Jam. She is his mom on Dexter’s Laboratory and Butch from Recess. Which I know I was too old for Recess but it is a pretty amazing show, give it a chance, it will surprise you. I like how she is like Jodi Benson, Ariel of Little Mermaid fame, whenever you have heard Ariel speak, it is always Benson’s voice, same goes for Lola Bunny and Kath Soucie.
So Xavier projects a mental image of himself to Kitty and guides her into the control room of the Danger Room.
Xavier is voiced by John Stephenson. Who is from the original Flintstones as Mr. Slate and Chief Quimby from Inspector Gadget.
The funny thing about Xavier and Kitty in this scene is that he just straight up tells her everything about the X-Men. I do like how it is implied that the X-Men have had various other adventures prior to this one. I like that as it creates a great energy, you feel like you are catching up on something, they have a bunch of room to grow on and hint at previous adventures.
Xavier introduces the current team and not only their code names but real names, powers and weaknesses.
First up is Cyclops, voiced by Michael Bell. He was Zan and Gleek in Super Friends, the Riddler on Challenge of Super Friends, he was Plastic Man on Plastic Man’ Comedy/Adventure Show, he was Doc Ock from Amazing Friends. On Smurfs, he is Grouchy, Lazy and Handy. He’s Duke from GI Joe (a bit of a type casting there – but in animation that is how it works, you want that same guy).
Second, Colossus voiced by Dan Gilvezan
Third, Dazzler in her Outback era costume. She’s voiced by Alexandra Stoddart.
Fourth, Nightcrawler and fifth is Wolverine, both voiced by Neil Ross. On GI Joe, he is Shipwreck, He’s Clyde from Pac-Man, on the 90s Spider-Man cartoon, he was Green Goblin/Norman Osborn, who he also voiced on Amazing Friends along with Wolverine and Cyclops.
So let’s get this out of the way, Wolverine is apparently from Australia, it is such an odd choice and the voice director, Stu Rosen, must have been pleased with himself once Hugh Jackman was cast as Wolverine.
Nightcrawler has a very interesting costume design, it isn’t quite the Cockrum design, it’s more of a weaker design and his eye patches are weird, like if those diamonds were white, it would be like Dazzler’s first appearance.
Wolverine is in the brown and tan costume, so that’s a plus. Wolverine keeps calling Kitty a kid or a brat, like over and over again.
Sixth is Storm, in the classic Cockrum outfit. She is voiced by Andi Chapman.
I liked how they kept Kitty being scared of Kurt, they did the same thing in Evolution. It only works if by the end, she likes him. I remember thinking that they ran with it for like three additional episodes on Evolution and thinking that that makes Kitty look like a jerk but it is probably only one additional episode.
Kurt keeps trying to charm her.
One side effect of having phasing power is that when she phases through electronics, she completely ruins them. It happens twice in this show.
The Brotherhood attacks and the X-Men have to go investigate. Cyclops makes an awesome comment about “what if it is a trap and Magneto comes here” and then of course, that happens!
Magneto and Juggernaut attack the mansion. The Juggernaut is voiced by Patrick Pinney, who sings the Spongebob Squarepants theme song.
Kitty phases through a computer and the security system goes haywire.
They establish that Juggernaut is Xavier’s stepbrother.
Kitty stands up to Magneto and tries to out run him but it is like a 14 year old child fighting a war criminal, all she can do is delay.
Magneto gets the device he wanted the whole time.
The X-Men go and fight Blob and Pyro who are only there to distract the team. Colossus, proving he is an idiot, just walks up to the Blob and hugs the heck out of him as hugging equals caring. Blob wants nothing to do with it and tosses the fool.
Storm fights Pyro
At the 10:45 mark, Lockheed shows up!
Magneto keeps trying to kick him throughout the rest of the show.
We see Toad chasing Lockheed around the base. Lockheed is clearly modeled after Paul Smith’s version, which makes sense as Smith created him and by September 1989, the cover dated issue of Uncanny would have been issue 248 but who knows when they first started working on the production. I was going to say by then, only Smith would have drawn him but by 248, Alan Davis would have had his chance and various others too.
Now is a good as time as any to speak of our final voice actor. The legend that is Frank Welker, who voices both Toad and Lockheed, which makes sense as those two share nearly every scene together that Lockheed is in. People should just know who Frank Welker is, as what Stan Lee did to creating comic book characters, Welker has done to voicing characters. He’s Fred Jones from Scooby Doo (like everything with few exceptions) and last year, he became the voice of Scooby Doo. He’s Jabberjaw. Dynomutt, the Dog Wonder (from Blue Falcon), he’s Doctor Claw from Inspector Gadget, Slimer and Ray Stantz from Ghostbusters, Hefty Smurf, Nibbler from Futurama, Malebolgia from Spawn, Abu in Aladdin (he’s like Jodi Benson, he’s always Abu – and himself with Fred Jones), he is the new Garfield since 2005. And all of that before even saying the thing that we all know and love, from Transformers, he is f’n Megatron and Soundwave. Still a crime that he is not Megatron in the live action Transformers films. One of the reasons why I have only ever seen the first one. I’m still glad they used Peter Cullen for Optimus Prime but why him and not Welker? I thought I was over this but I guess I’m not.
Anyway, so the X-Men find out that the Scorpio Comet is coming to Earth if Magneto has his way.
We find out that Magneto wants the comet to hit earth to create a new Ice Age and then, from the safety of his asteroid base, he will come down and claim the planet in a decade.
It dawns on me now that I really don’t need to do a play by play of the episode if you can just watch it above. But I’m committed at this point but I can read your thoughts and I guess it is unnecessary but I have to do it this way so that I make sure I hit on all the points that I want as I need to segue from moment to moment. Thanks for bearing with me thus far! I’m trying to pepper it with side stories and such but this is definitely becoming one of my longer posts.
Kitty is 14 years old but dresses like a 30 year old woman.
Kitty of course, sneaks on board of the Blackbird. Too late to take her back. I like how she sort of forces herself onto the team. Xavier probably just wanted to introduce her to the team and show her how cool things are and then put his teaching degree to good use and guide her through her powers, as really, how much X-Men time does a traditional day take? Sometimes the missions expand to days but mostly, Cerebro goes off, jump on a plane and you are back in maybe 12 hours. Then you have to do something for the next couple days, might as well teach some new mutants.
I like how their space suits work along with their powers, Xavier thinks of everything!
This is where the video game aspect kicks in, the team does a bit of a divide and conquer. The group comes across a villain, one of them chooses to stay behind and then the rest move on to run into another foe.
Dazzler fights Pyro
Toad fights Wolverine
Juggernaut fights Colossus
At the 16:50 mark, we get Emma Frost and Scott Summers!
Blob and Nightcrawler fight, as they are the last ones left. So is over before you know it as Kurt has places to be!
Then it happens, 17:25. Kitty and Lockheed are on the screen at the same time. This episode and the Mutant High episode of Super Hero Squad, they have two animated appearances together. That and the episode of Evolution where Kitty sleeps with a plush dragon, but that isn’t enough for this fan right here.
Kitty v Magneto, the rematch!
Kurt is so brave, making himself part of circuit to prevent Magneto’s plan to throw the comet off its course.
18:30, Lockheed is flying around Kitty
Kurt yells at her to leave as he has to wait until the last possible second.
18:37, Kitty picks up Lockheed and a friendship begins! So beautiful man
Kurt teleports into space and they shoot some hooks after him.
Storm sort of disappeared during all of those fights, now that I think of it.
They believe Kurt dead and at 19:30, Kitty hugs Colossus, gross!
At 20:01, Kitty finally gets to redeem herself and hugs Kurt.
20:07, Lockheed lands on Kitty’s shoulder. So precious
I do prefer a classic number of seven or eight characters for a X-Team. Five is too little and ten is way too many.
Wolverine, Dazzler, Colossus, Storm, Kitty, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, that’s a pretty decent line up. All seven have never served on the team at the same time to this day but it is largely the Paul Smith era, its Dazzler instead of Rogue.
I can only imagine what the next episode would have been.
I only own this with my bootleg copy of the first season of the 90s X-Men series, but it only works in our portable DVD player and only this episode was the only quality transfer. The 90s cartoon on that DVD does not look good at all.
I also own this as the X-Men Animated Special comic.
I can’t stop thinking about the era of X-Men comics when this came out. At the beginning of the Chris Claremont / Jim Lee era but the cartoon itself harkens back to years earlier, from 1989 all the way back to 1983/1984. Probably because no one would have wanted an Outback era cartoon at that time. Would take like three episodes to introduce why they were not living in Massachusetts. I imagine that is why Dazzler was added to the cast, to show that production knows who is in the X-Men at the time. Only Nightcrawler, Cyclops and Kitty don’t belong in that line up now as Kurt and Kitty would be in Excalibur and not sure where Cyclops is at that moment in time. Jubilee is a brand new character so the crew went with the original introductory character.
It just strikes me how much of a response to this failed pilot was the 90s cartoon. Like all the choices are based around what they imagined didn’t work. They made it exactly like the current comics, right down to the Jim Lee redesigns. The cast would have matched the comics’ Blue and Gold rosters as a combination, Jubilee is the introductory character. Kitty was the lynchpin that kept the pilot together and thus, the pilot didn’t work out and so they wanted to keep her away from the show completely. And the 90s cartoon suffers for it too, they try to do some classic stories but without those line ups they are lessen for it, you can’t just add Gambit to everything and expect it to be cool. That’s too much pressure for the cajun.
This would be my only time I can go at length for Pryde of the X-Men so I wanted to get all of my thoughts about it written.
Hope you enjoy the show! If your can’t get it the video to work, then you can just read along.