X-Men ’97: Do You ‘Member?

When Marvel Studios first announced X-Men ’97 I was cautiously optimistic. It seemed like an odd choice to continue a series that ended last century, and (to me at least) it felt like yet more nostalgia bait. But, while it clearly is feeding off nostalgia, it is arguably the best animated superhero series to date.

I grew up watching the original X-Men series. It was one of my favourite shows and I’d try to catch every episode I could. Back then there was no streaming, you could only watch a show when it was scheduled to air. If you missed an episode, you had to wait and hope that some channel would air it again.

So I had the general gist of what happened in most of the arcs during the original run. Thankfully, ScreenCrush did a great recap of the series to help remind people like me what happened during the original run. I watched it and one question hit me as I did.

Who the fuck is Morph?

Either I’d forgotten about the character, or I somehow managed to miss every episode that he was in. This sort of makes sense. On reruns, channels would often play only the most popular episodes and arcs. Which means that while I caught a lot of the overall story, I probably watched the Phoenix Saga 100 times over.

So I’m ready to watch the new show. I’m not expecting much. With great shows like The Boys and Invincible they have stiff competition. At least this would be one suitable for a younger audience. Titles roll and the nostalgia hits. It’s going to be that kind of show.

But it’s so good. Seeing the story continue and go in new directions is waking up the child in me. They’ve managed to find that sweet spot of bringing back our childhood while continuing and creating new stories. It doesn’t feel like bait, it genuinely feels like the team is back together and doing what they did best (which is pretty much what it is).

The show is a little bit more mature than the original. They know their target audience. But it’s not so mature that it can’t be watched by children. There’s a bit of blood in the show, but it’s a far cry from the guts that often explode in the screen on Invincible.

And it’s genuinely good. Amazing in fact. Probably the best superhero animation to date. After a certain episode I was broken. It’s weaving several plotlines from the comics together and telling a compelling and emotionally involved story.

The only criticism I can give is that there are only 10 episodes.

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