Wolverine and the X-Men: Deadly Enemies

The second volume of Marvel’s new “X-Men” animated series may contain a few more episodes than the last DVD, but that doesn’t change the simple fact that anyone who wants to invest in the series will end up spending nearly twice as much as they would on a normal season release. I mention this not as a disgruntled fanboy, but as someone who believes that the show deserves much better. Like me, you probably had your doubts at first, but “Wolverine and the X-Men” is quickly shaping up to be just as good as (if not better than) the popular 90s cartoon. “Deadly Enemies” doesn’t feature an overarching story like the previous volume, but instead offers up five standalone episodes that longtime fans will appreciate. We probably didn’t need another Wolverine vs. Hulk match-up so soon after the release of the DVD movie, but we do get a cool Wolverine/Gambit team-up episode (“Thieves’ Gambit”), a story dedicated exclusively to Nightcrawler (“X-Calibre”), and the debut of fan favorite, Psylocke. If there’s one thing writers Craig Kyle, Greg Johnson and Chris Yost know, it’s how to please the fans with mutant cameos galore. Now if only we could enjoy them on DVD without having to worry about going broke.

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Wolverine and the X-Men: Heroes Return

It’s been six years since we’ve had an “X-Men” cartoon on the air, and with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” due in theaters this summer, there couldn’t be a better time to launch a new animated series. Enter “Wolverine and the X-Men,” Marvel’s latest show based on the superhero group that debuted at the end of last year. Combining the look of “X-Men: Evolution” with the storytelling of the popular 90s series, the latest iteration finds Wolverine in charge of the team when Professor Xavier suddenly goes missing. Though Volume One (dubbed “Heroes Return”) only includes the first three episodes, “Wolverine and the X-Men” doesn’t take long to pull you in. All of the familiar characters are there (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman and Beast), as well as a few welcome surprises (Emma Frost, Angel and Forge), while the overarching story of the season promises a clever spin on the “Days of Future Past” storyline. The character designs are solid (even if some of the costumes suck, like Cyclops’ angry rocker look) and the writers seem intent on remaining true to the comic’s long history by reintroducing and reinventing classic stories. It’s hard to imagine this show ever becoming as big of a hit with the fans as the aforementioned “X-Men: The Animated Series,” but based on “Heroes Return” alone, it certainly has the potential.

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