X-Men Evolution
Season 2 Volume 4
Mystique's Revenge
(Region 1 Edition)

Starring: X-Men
Warner Home Video
RRP $14.97
Certificate: Not Rated
Available 23 November 2004

Here we go with another batch of episodes from this excellent animated series. For those of you who didn't get a chance to check out my previous reviews (shame on you!), this interpretation of the popular
X-Men comics from Marvel is set earlier in the mutants' progression. They are nurtured by Professor Xavier at his mansion house, where they are taught to discover the full limits of their powers and to act as a team. The main characters are Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Spyke, Shadowcat, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast and Storm. Regularly returning villains are Magneto and Mystique and Sabretooth. These five episodes are the last of the second season...

In Shadow Dance, Nightcrawler is fitted with an experimental contraption which could extend his teleporting abilities. The theory is that he passes through another dimension when moving instantly from place to place. His timing is slowed down so that he can witness the environment he passes through. Ravenous beasts almost kill him, so Professor X decides to postpone the experiments indefinitely. However, the portals have not properly closed, allowing the beasts to slip through and make an entrance at the high school dance.

In Retreat, Mr McCoy (a.k.a. Beast) has a brush with the law during a night excursion into the streets and refuses to trust himself to leave the house again. Professor X suggests a nature field trip in a national park for those students a little behind with their Natural History. However, a group of hunters on the trail of Bigfoot captures Beast, forcing him and the mutant students to teach them a lesson in humility and respect - but not before they are obliged to save their lives in a flash flood.

In The HeX Factor, there's a new mutant in town. Professor X visits Wanda in an institute where they try to teach her to control her powers, which are like those of a witch. Mystique breaks her out to use as a weapon to go up against the might of Magneto, but as a test prompts a battle between the Brotherhood (the bad guys) and the X-Men, who have to learn to deal with defeat for the first time ever.

In the 2-part story Day of Reckoning, Professor X forces the X-Men into parnership against Magneto, but Cyclops hates the idea and leaves. Whilst at the mansion house Mystique manages to set a self-destruct countdown. The institute locks down; only one young student escapes and goes looking for Cyclops. Meanwhile, Wolverine has been captured and is forced to go up against the Sentinel, an unstoppable mutant-killing robot. The X-Men arrive at the scene and are forced into battle while the whole world looks on via the media. Back at the mansion Cyclops has to find a way into the building and save the young mutants, but there's only seconds left before destruction.

Extras are X-Men Evolution: Turning Point, a featurette explaining the plot differences between seasons one and two; and Toad's Test, seven easy questions which are answered before you've finished reading the question.

This is a good example of what can still be achieved with traditional animation. It's fresh, fast, exciting and quirky. Newcomers to the series might feel cheated here with the unresoved season two cliffhanger, but they can't say they're not getting their money's worth - well, not until the complete season discs arrive anyway.

Ty Power

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