X-Men: Evolution - UnXpected Changes Season 1 Volume 1

Starring: X-Men
Warner Home Video
RRP 12.99
Certificate: PG
Available now

For anyone out there who hasn't seen the Marvel comics, graphic novels, previous animated series, or the two Hollywood blockbuster films, the
X-Men are a group of people who have a mutating gene which allows them individual gifts or special abilities. They live and train under the guidance of Professor Xavier, who possesses remarkable mental powers, at his school for the gifted. The team's mandate is to seek out and help new mutants and to fight those who use their abilities for selfish or destructive gain...

X-Men Evolution is a modern-looking traditional animated series which is set early in the timeline of these popular characters. Mainstays here are Professor X, Cyclops (alias Scott Summers, who can unleash powerful optic blasts), and Jean Grey (who possesses telepathic and increasing telekinetic abilities). The suitably gruff, abrupt and bad-tempered Wolverine is a member, but comes and goes, clashing sporadically with his arch-nemesis Sabretooth. However, this series is more about the youngsters. The first six episodes, three of which are on this release explore the entry of newcomers to the fold.

In Strategy X, Kurt Wagner is brought to Xavier's mansion. Originating from Germany, Kurt (alias Nightcrawler) is blue-skinned, has pointed ears and a prehensile tail, but his astounding gift is that of teleportation and uncanny agility. Toad is a rather ugly and smelly boy with amphibian abilities who the X-Men try to welcome, but he rejects the offer. The school principal, who in reality is Mystique working for Magneto, tries to extract information from Toad; however, Xavier has already mentally wiped the boy's memories.

In X-impulse, Avalanche,who can create minor earthquakes, tricks Kitty Pryde into using her new-found powers to pass through solid objects, to help him steal the exam questions from a locked room computer. When she realises his objectives Kitty (alias Shadowcat) refuses to help him further. In anger, Avalanche causes a section of the school to crumble, but Kitty uses her abilities to get the people out safely.

In Rogue Recruit, the goth girl recluse Rogue is introduced. When her powers of temporary memory and ability absorption through touch emerge, Mystique let's Rogue slip through her fingers. The battle is then on between Mystique and the X-Men to get to her first. Rogue doesn't know who to trust, and this fear is heightened when Mystique takes on the shape of various X-Men. Taking on people's memories and abilities also confuses Rogue, and as a teenager too she is uncertain of her own identity.

Though quite short, these are very enjoyable stories. The physical shapes of the characters look a little elongated to begin with, but this is a purposeful attempt to capture the look of the old Jack Kirby comic illustrations, and you soon get used to it.

Extras include optional introductions to each episode and a short Evolution of X-Men featurette. I am confused as to why this and the next intended release contain only three tales, when X-Men: Evolution - Mutants Rising, which has already been released contains five, as well as audio-visual information on the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Ty Power

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