DVD Review: X-Men: Volume 5

Filed under: Recaps & Reviews

X-Men: Volume 5 is the fifth, and final DVD release of the animated series that was broadcast on the FOX network in the nineties. The series became known for its mature themes, complex character dynamics, rich backstory that was taken from the comic books, and for plots that were continuously carried over from one episode to another. Mysteriously, this DVD set, along with the ones that came before, put the episodes in the order of the air dates, instead of the script date, placing some of the stories out of order. Fortunately, this is not a deal breaker for anybody that owns the previous four volumes, as episode list orders can be easily found on the internet.

There are a few oddities that stand out in Volume 5. The first and most obvious, is the DVD box cover. On the bottom of the cover is a caption that reads, "Featuring Old Soldiers Starring Captain America." Despite Captain America being in all of one episode in the entire series, and not being an X-Man, he is the most noticeable character on the box. In addition to this oddity, keen viewers will also notice the art being different in the final six episodes of the series. This is because these episodes were produced by a different animation studio, hence the difference in art style and animation. Also, the episodes where Jubilee was the main character were rather weak. Jubilee's role has always been that of the child that prompted important exposition dialogue, but when a storyline is centered around her, it just does not work well. Lastly, the DVD also had a horrific episode, also the name of the featured guest character, entitled "Longshot." It does not help that this character and his luck powers make him boring and gimmicky, and his arch-nemesis, Mojo, has got to be one of the most annoying and obnoxious characters ever created in the Marvel Universe. Mojo is meant to be a critique of the ratings obsession of television executives, and storylines involving him take away the interesting reoccuring themes that define the franchise, and into a pointless non-sequitur. Instead of coming off like a villain that is asking to be defeated by the X-Men, Mojo ended up ironically, demanding that viewers stop watching.

Despite these flaws, Volume 5 is a decent conclusion to very polished animated series. Standout episodes include "Descent," that took place in Victorian era, with an ancestor of Professor Xavier battling a young Nathaniel Essex, who is losing his sanity and connection to the human race. "Storm Front," has Storm recklessly indulging her own suppressed personal needs, while "The Phalanx Covenant" has Beast leading and uniting the most unlikely set of mutants together in a fight against an alien enemy. The most interesting episode is "A Deal With The Devil," where Wolverine and Storm reluctantly agree to be hostages in an insane deal between the government and a thawed Omega Red, wherein the three mutants embark on a suicide mission into a sunken nuclear submarine. This episode had everything right: international politics, shady government motivation, Omega Red being a menace to the world out of vengeance, Wolverine's past history and anger leading to irrational outbursts, and Storm being the voice of reason, all linked together by the theme of mutants and their role in the world. It is too bad that there is nothing in the form of bonus materials supplementing these great episodes. The box set contains only the episodes, a few commercials, and nothing else. For twenty dollars, these fourteen episodes are worth it for people that know what they are getting.

Tags: X-Men, Marvel, Volume 5, Comic Book, Wolverine, Magneto

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