X-Men 97 – Fire Made Flesh

Beware of spoilers for the show in the article. Please do not continue reading if you are interested in watching the show and you are not okay with being spoiled since this article will discuss events from the 3rd episode of the show that aired on the 27th of March 2024 on Disney +.

Introduction :

Episode 3 of the animated series ended on an exciting cliffhanger last week with another Jean Grey showing up at the X-Mansion. The episode got right into the action by revealing courtesy to Beast that our version of Jean Grey from Episode 1 and 2 is genetically younger than the Jean who knocked on the X-Mansion door, thus making our Jean a clone. This episode of the show is an adaptation of a 1980’s story arc that introduced Jean Grey’s clone Madelyne Pryor , the character first appeared more specifically in Uncanny X-Men # 168 in April 1983.

The Truth Revealed :

The biggest give away that Madelyne was the clone all along to comic book fans was that Madelyne is Nathan Summer’s mother in the comics. Madelyne’s story is also important because it is the first glimpse of this season’s main villain outside of a nod in the opening credits (which show Morph is still dealing with PTSD from being resurrected by Mr Sinister who makes his presence felt throughout the episode before the climax). I liked the reveal from Beast that Mr Sinister had a signature for his work that Beast was able to identify , Mr Sinister being that cocky is true to his character in the comics.

Sinister’s Attack :

I’m more surprised with how well the show made certain emotional beats work even with the episode having a fast pace. Madelyne’s dialogue that Storm would have believed her when Beast reveals that she is the clone was sad. Madelyne reacted realistically for someone who just discovered she was a clone , she was in denial. Her transformation into the Goblin Queen was inevitable once Mr Sinister came for the baby because she didn’t know what Mr Sinister did to her and didn’t have any measures to protect herself. Madelyne has wanted to leave the X-Men since the first episode and this episode ends with her deciding to leave, clearly even with Jean’s memories Madelyne never felt like she belonged in the team with how fast she wanted to get out of the X-Mansion.

Jean vs Jean:

Jean fainting in this episode was clearly a nod to her fainting a lot in the original series whenever she used her powers , she however came back in a major way in the third act of the episode when she had a telepathic battle with Madelyne. This episode was a great showcase of how powerful telepaths are. Madelyne is also able to go toe to toe with Magneto and defeat him with her telekinesis , she is even able to force Mr Sinister to retreat once she regains full control of her mind.

Ultimately in the end only Jean Grey could stop Jean Grey as Jean confronted Madelyne telepathically and used her love for her son Nathan to break Mr Sinister’s hold on her mind. Saving Nathan however came with a tragic price since they stopped whatever Mr Sinister was doing to Nathan to make him stronger which gave baby Nathan a techno organic virus. Madelyne and Scott had to make a difficult decision to let Bishop take their baby to the future to find a cure. Scott found it too painful to say goodbye to his son and checked out leaving Madelyne to do it alone. Madelyne makes the decision to leave the X-Men as soon as Bishop leaves with Nathan. Jean Grey and Scott Summers ended the episode awkwardly looking at each other about to talk , since so far it’s unknown when Mr Sinister switched the two Jeans and which one of them married Scott.

My other thoughts :

Pacing :

The pacing of the episode was fast in line with the first two episodes , as we essentially went through what could easily have been two or three episode’s ( or a season’s ) worth of material in the span of 30 minutes. In the comics this arc for Madelyne spanned multiple issues. On the positive side, the show is not dragging out storylines until people are sick and tired of them but on the more negative side it feels like stories like Madelyne’s aren’t allowed to breathe. Whilst I am enjoying the show, that could be an issue for some viewers. Another downside of the fast pacing of the show is perhaps that small details like the reason why the Jean Grey clone decides to re-name herself Madelyne Pryor / Goblin Queen can’t be explored, so her naming herself those names comes out of nowhere within the context of the story.

Visuals :

This episode at it’s core feels like a Halloween special episode because of the way Madelyne’s powers manifest throughout the episode and Mr Sinister’s overall character design and gothic inspired lair. The animation in this show continues to be really, really good. I love that the episode had a lot of horror visuals spread out across the episode. It was clear Madelyne was making the X-Men see their greatest fears from Gambit’s nightmare about Magneto and Rogue that from his own words he can never unsee, Morph’s vision of Mr Sinister attacking him (alluding to his PTSD), Sunspot seeing his mother through the monster that attacked him and Jubilee e.t.c…. It was a nice piece of continuity to have Jubilee And Sunspot hanging out and watching a movie together after the writers established their connection in the first episode. I also appreciated that the show seems to have made Jubilee’s powers more offensive this time around, I always found them to be kind of weak in the original 90’s series.

Storm :

We also caught up with Storm in the final scene of the episode when she meets Forge in a bar and he tells her that he was Professor Xavier’s friend and he wants to help her regain her power. I have so many questions about how Forge knew about what happened to Storm. Is he really a friend or a foe ?. I like Storm’s current mohawk hairstyle with the dark punk rock look compared to when it’s paired with her traditional white costume. I hope the show takes some time with Storm’s storyline and doesn’t rush through it, it’s one of her character’s most epic storylines.

Verdict :

Overall, a very enjoyable episode, though the pacing was a bit fast , the show maintains the same quality from its first two episodes. I’m so glad the X-Men are back.

Rating :

Story: 10/10

Visuals: 10/10

Sound: 10/10

Performances: 10/10

Overall: 10/10

Join me weekly for more reviews of the first season of X-Men 97.

“What did you think of the show’s first two episodes this week ?”

“What are your hopes for the rest of the season ?”

Let us know in the comments below.

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