The popularity of the X-Men is something that hasn't really diminished since they were originally introduced back in 1963. As is the case with most superhero franchises the characters have seen several revisions over the years in the form of various spin-offs, TV shows, and even the popular movie franchise. Whichever form of X-Men you prefer you do have to admit that there is something identifiable in each variation.
Characters like Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, and Professor Xavier are all commonplace across just about every series. Call it an alternative universe or re-imagination of the original concept, but X-Men Evolution was a television series that was (mostly) everything that fans wanted. In my opinion the show wasn't as entertaining as its competitors Justice League and Batman Beyond, but for a Marvel-based series it was pretty darn good. I say that because I just never got into of the other animated shows from Marvel. It's a shame too because since I was a kid they have been my favorite comic publisher.
Regardless, the idea behind this latest animated mutation took the X-Men and turned them into teenagers. It's somewhat similar to Smallville in approach and basically restarts the franchise with a younger, fresher crowd. Diehard fans may not appreciate the attempt wholly, but at its core Evolution is a solid representation of the classic. It was at least popular enough to run for four season and 52 episodes so you know the creators had to have gotten something right.
The third season here picks up where the second one left off. The X-Mansion has been destroyed, Mystique had been impersonating Xavier, Magneto was thought to be dead, and mutants everywhere faced persecution because of their powers. The last plotline in particular feels like a loose tie-in to X3: The Last Stand, but that story is not as overbearing. With their lives in pieces the mutant heroes band together to make their kind be accepted by regular humans though the task seems much more daunting with the Brotherhood standing in their way.
As the season progresses we see the X-Men rebuild their destroyed home while taking the time to fight off their enemies. Oh, and speaking of enemies it turns out that Magneto is actually alive thanks to his son Quicksilver. The speedy little demon dashed to daddy's aid moments before the sentinel fell on him in the last season. Naturally this angers his daughter, Wanda, and she sets out to take care of her father once and for all. Magneto has something up his sleeve, as he always does, and if you watch the show you'll appreciate where it goes with his character.
Spyke loses control of his powers and goes to live in the happy place known as the sewers with the Morlocks. Rogue also finds herself having issues with her abilities during the season and Nightcrawler has some personal issues involving his appearance. He wants to desperately fit in with regular humans, but as you'd expect with blue skin and a tail that isn't so simple.
As the season gets closer to its end Mesmero shows up and starts forcing other mutants to do his bidding. At first it's unclear what sinister goal he hopes to achieve but as the storyline progresses we learn that he's working to bring about the return of Apocolypse. Considering that he is the oldest and most powerful of all mutants you can just imagine the kind of stuff that's hitting the fan as things escalate. Just like the previous seasons this one ends with a cliffhanger and the promise of darker things to come.
If you enjoyed the first two season of X-Men Evolution then picking up the third is a no-brainer. There is a ton of action here and enough interesting stories to keep things moving at a brisk pace. It's a shame that this show ended after the fourth season because in my opinion this was the best series based upon a Marvel comic. It's fresh and classic all at the same time which is something that is hard to pull of.
Day of Recovery
The Stuff of Heroes
The Stuff of Villains
The Toad, The Witch & The Wardrobe
Under Lock and Key
Dark Horizon Part One
Dark Horizon Part Two
X-Men Evolution season three is presented with a 1.33:1 fullframe aspect ratio and looks about as good as it did during broadcast. The image quality is crisp, clean and vibrant with some great animation and attention to detail. A few spots popped up now and then with some aliasing, but those certainly were not overbearing. They were just something that I noticed. Overall this is a great looking show with a fantastic sense of style though it would have benefited from a widescreen presentation.
While there are three different language tracks to pick from they are all presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The quality is fair with an appropriate amount of channel separation from a track of this nature, but you can't exactly expect it to rock your house. I didn't encounter any technical problems with the release to complain about, I just was hoping for a 5.1 surround treatment. Subtitles are available for French and Spanish.
On each disc there are some supplemental features to take a look at. Some trailers are included for the rest of the X-Men: Evolution DVD releases, a DVD trivia game for the kiddies, as well as a six minute or so documentary with all of the bigwigs talking about the third season. It wasn't anything too earth-shattering but may be worth a look to see if you missed out on anything while you were watching. There is also a pair of video profiles for The X-Men and The Acolytes.
With the success of the films, the X-Men have been getting a lot of mainstream attention lately. Fans have been glued to the comic books for years though and following the acclaimed DC series for Batman Beyond and Justice League it seems only natural that Marvel released X-Men: Evolution. I enjoyed the fresh take on the old concept and had a great time with this season in particular.
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