(L-R): Beast (voiced by George Buza), Roberto Da Costa (voiced by Gui Agustini), Jubilee (voiced by Holly Chou), Cyclops (voiced by Ray Chase), Jean Grey (voiced by Jennifer Hale), Morph (voiced by JP Karliak), and Wolverine (voiced by Cal Dodd) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.

X-Men ‘97 brings style, substance, and Storm out of the 90’s

Jacob Downey




I have very fond memories of my VHS copy of “X-Men: The Animated Series,” clutching my Cable action figure, and insisting to my Dad that Cyclops was not, in fact, a wuss. When the revival series “X-Men ‘97” was first announced I did my best not to let my excitement get the better of me, though my friends, family, co-workers, and just about anyone who would listen may disagree. 

The series picks up a year after the original “X-Men: The Animated Series” ended. Professor X is in space with his girlfriend following a botched assassination attempt. Mutantdom has been accepted by society at large as the mutant nation of Genosha enters talks to be admitted into the United Nations. Everything comes to a head, however, when Magneto returns, now an ally, and anti-mutant militias prepare for war. The series adapts Chris Claremont’s run on the book, the inspiration for the original series while moving out of the 90’s with elements from Grant Morrison’s “New X-Men” (The best X-title if you skip every issue involving Phantomex.)

Where X-media of the 2000’s was Wolverine-centric, “X-Men ‘97” gives the whole team room to shine. Cyclops, whose poor treatment in the FOX movies led to public perception that he is the N-Sync-listening, turtleneck-wearing dork who has his girlfriend stolen by Hugh Jackman, finally gets the respect he deserves. We see him not only as the stoic leader of the team but as a deeply flawed individual. I won’t lie, Cyclops is and always has been my favorite X-Man. All the ways Scott Summers sucks really resonate with me.

Though the entire cast is deserving of praise, Alison Sealy Smith’s return to the voice of Storm is a standout. What this show gets right that the movies never did is that Storm does not speak, she proclaims. Smith’s performance carries Storm’s grace even in her more vulnerable state this season.

Rouge’s original voice actress, Lenore Zann, also returns. Where Smith’s performance is nostalgic, Zann’s serves as a reminder that the original series came out over 30 years ago. She brings her A-game but when Rouge sounds significantly older than the rest of the team it can be immersion-breaking. 

I love comic book bullshit, I love minutia, but I also love media that is not totally alienating without having the Wiki open on my phone. Between alternate timelines, sentient islands, and interstellar deities, the X-Men’s greatest detractor is that 60 years of continuity makes a lot of their stories wholly inaccessible. What makes this show so good is that it takes these stories and reimagines them without the baggage of tie-in comics and Claremont’s unending war with Marvel editorial.

Leading into the season’s three-part finale, “Tolerance is Extinction,” the show has yet to disappoint. The series perfectly balances comic action, political commentary, and the ever-present sexual tension inherent to Marvel’s superhuman soap opera. 

“X-Men ‘97” can be streamed on Disney + with new episodes every Wednesday.


New X-Men 114-154, Grant Morrison – The jumping on point for 2000’s X-Men. It is somewhere between Y2K and 00’s edge with all the mindfuckery of something written by Morrison.

Astonishing X-Men 1-24, Joss Whedon – Picks up more or less where Morrison leaves off. Beware, Decimation happens smack in the middle of this book.