It is always a different experience to watch a show in reverse. But that is exactly what happened when I watched the final three episodes of Wolverine and the X-Men on DVD. At that time, I did know there was a complete series dvd and blu-ray package coming but I wasn’t sure if I would be fortunate enough to bring that review to the loyal readers. Well, loyal readers your animated super hero guru is here and I am happy to present to you: Wolverine and the X-Men, The Complete Series on Blu-Ray.
Kitty Pride (I refuse to call her Shadowcat), Nightcrawler and Colossus are working hard in the Danger Room, the training facility of the X-Men. They are trying to last the specified amount of time to win the exercise but in the end, they all lose. Who is controlling the simulation you may ask? Why it’s Wolverine of course. It is his farewell present to the students before he embarks on another trip to destinations unknown.
Wolverine passes by Cyclops and Jean Grey who are having an argument about Logan. Beast is underneath a tree reading a good book and says goodbye to Wolverine as well. Apparently, Rogue isn’t too happy about Wolverine leaving and tries to act like it doesn’t matter if he leaves again. Logan does his best to smooth it over and continues to go see Storm and Professor Xavier before he leaves. Then suddenly, Professor Xavier is clutching his head (and Jean is as well) and there is a giant explosion.
The story shifts a year later. Wolverine is driving his motorcycle on an open road. There is an explosion in the distance. His mind flashes back to a year ago and he goes off to investigate. A house is burning and there is a small girl trapped inside. Logan goes into the house and is able to save the girl but injures himself in the process. The family is grateful but onlookers don’t share the same viewpoint. They view him as a filthy mutant who must be picked up by the MRD (Mutant Response Division).
The father of the family is able to rescue Wolverine from the hostile crowd and takes him back to their house. Thanks to Wolverine’s amazing mutant healing abilities, he recovers in no time. However, soldiers from the MRD are demanding they release the mutant. The MaRDies take the family hostage and Wolverine tries to rescue them but they get away. Wolverine decides to go to Beast (the only X-Men left he knows the whereabouts of) and they decide to go on a recon mission to save the family.
The two mutants are able to infiltrate the MRD compound and rescue the family. They also let out the mutants imprisoned there including the likes of Pyro, Boom-Boom and Dust (who unfortunately don’t stick around after the rescue). But this is just the beginning. Things are getting worse for mutant kind and the government is all but guaranteed to pass the Mutant Registration Act. It’s time for Wolverine and Beast to get the X-Men back together.
The rest of the series focuses on the story arc of getting the band back together so to speak and what exactly happened to Xavier and Jean that faithful day when the X-Men Academy exploded. There are tons of mutant characters added to the mix but the most interesting is perhaps Emma Frost who joins in the third episode. As a telepath, she has the tools to use Cerebro and be able to find not only other X-Men who have strayed but also the Professor and Jean Grey.
The show’s story focuses a lot on Wolverine’s leadership or many times his lack of leadership. Wolverine is more of a loner by nature but this show really shows that sometimes he can rise to the occasion even if he has his share of mistakes. The series also empties the bin on mutants as they have a thousand cameos of various mutants that even some of us geeks had forgotten about. It is a great cast of characters that makes for an incredibly rich show.
Since this show was marketed at kids primarily, some might find the very dark overtones to be a bit shocking. The Mutant Registration Act and Anti-Mutant bigotry echoes some of the racism (against all races) that exists in our own lives. It is a cartoon that is perhaps suited more for an adult crowd or at least a teenage one. The show can be gloomy at times but there is such a good dose of real storytelling here that it is hard not to get hooked in.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation at 1080p resolution. Since I was able to review the final three episodes in DVD, I could make the comparison of how well the series transferred over to Blu-Ray and High Definition. It is certainly better, crisper and more polished than the dvd copy but it still doesn’t make me a fan of the animation style. It’s not bad and they still do a good job of showing rich color, but wow the characters look razor thin. Wolverine shouldn’t appear this scrawny.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English DTS-HD track (2.0 Spanish Mix also available). As mentioned, the video didn’t change much, but the audio was sure turned up to 11. The upgrade did a lot of good for the sound and it really booms your speakers. It uses surrounds effectively and all dialog is crystal clear. The only negative I could give it is that it does have a tendency to be front heavy. Subtitles are provided for English SDH.
- Automatic Trailers: Thor: Tales of Asgard, Planet Hulk, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow and Battle for Terra
- Audio Commentaries: There are count them 29 different audio commentaries. For the first three episodes, we get two commentaries a piece. One team is Craig Kyle and Greg Johnson while the other is Steve Gordon and Boyd Kirkland. These aren’t really that strong at all. They hit some technical points but it seems kinda droll. However, once we get going on the other 23 episodes, they have Craig Kyle and Greg Johnson back but Chris Yost is added to the bunch who is practically gushing about the material. It creates an absolute party inside the commentating room and these tracks are some of the best you could ask for in sheer amount of fun and laughter. They also produce some good meaty information too.
- The Inner Circle: Reflections on Wolverine and X-Men Featurette 18:51: This is your extended featurette behind the scenes and they use a good part of it to talk about how they came up with the concept of Wolverine as the leader because of the Wolverine movie that was out at the same time. The creators used the comics a lot to recreate stories for the episodes because of the excellent fit some of them had (they mention Rover in particular). They actually talk a lot about many of the series’ best episodes and finish it up with how they tried to push the envelope with not only violence but also a little bit of romance.
- The Making of Wolverine and X-Men Featurette 5:15: This tends to be a rehash of the longer above featurette but here they focus some on the relationship between Wolverine and Cyclops. They also point out the Wolverine vs Hulk episode which was ripped right from the comics.
- Trailer Gallery: Alpha and Omega, Hulk Vs and Ultimate Avengers 2
As mentioned, unfortunately Wolverine and the X-Men ended after twenty-six episodes. It basically told the complete story and ended on a miraculous note. It certainly led the way for more episodes, but at this time it doesn’t look like they are going to pursue them. It’s unfortunate because outside of the original X-Men from the 90’s, this is the best one I’ve seen. There were so many well done episodes, that it is really hard to pick favorites.
The discs are also strong, with above average video and excellent audio. The extras might seem thin by the back cover packaging, but they are quite immense once you consider that there are twenty-nine different commentaries to enjoy. The two featurettes also cover a wealth of information. I give this an excellent recommendation. Its quality super hero animation with rich storytelling at the very best an X-Men fan could expect.
Hindsight Part 1
Hindsight Part 2
Hindsight Part 3
Wolverine vs. the Hulk
Greetings from Genosha
Code of Conduct
Aces and Eights
Shades of Grey
Foresight Part 1
Foresight Part 2
Foresight Part 3