Much like they did with superhero movies in 2000, X-Men: The Animated Series showed that you could tell relevant and interesting stories without it being a camp fest. (Ok, in fairness, Batman: The Animated Series began airing a month before X-Men to much critical acclaim, but that doesn’t help my intro.)
The series featured an X-Team similar in roster and look to the work Jim Lee and Chris Claremont were doing in the X-books at the time. Namely Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Beast, Gambit, Jubilee, Jean Grey and Professor X. It featured mostly original stories, but did adapt some popular comic storylines such as “Days of Future Past” and “The Dark Phoenix Saga”. X-Men and the also excellent Spider-Man animated series even crossed over for their own version of the original Secret Wars.
I previously looked at X-Men ’92 #1 in Part Seven of this series, and after the break I’ll continue with X-Men ’92 #2, X-Men ’92 #3, X-Men ’92 #4 and X-Men ’92 #5. These are all the Infinite Comics versions of these books as the print editions are much slower to come out.
Also, if you are like me and haven’t read all of Johnathon Hickman’s Avengers run leading up to Secret Wars, be sure to take Tom’s Road To Secret Wars course at gabbinggeekuniversity.com. The reading materials are online here: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7.
X-Men ’92 #2
The X-Men have arrived at Clear Mountain and the first order of business for director Cassandra Nova is: a tour. What the X-Men find are former foes, including Sabertooth, who are now as harmless as little puppies and just want to be friends. The X-Men are amazed, but highly suspicious.
Meanwhile, back at the X-Mansion, Professor X has a bad feeling about all this and decides to use Cerebro to look in on Clear Mountain. What he finds on the astral plane is the Shadow King. A powerful telepath and the first evil mutant that Charles Xavier ever battle. And the Shadow King is now more powerful than ever, having bonded with a female clone of Xavier from an old experiment by Apocalypse to form Cassandra Nova.
The majority the issue is a battle between Cassandra and Xavier on the astral plane that leaves Professor X a drooling mess on the x-floor.
Back in the real world, Cassandra offers to show the X-Men (minus Jubilee because “children aren’t allowed in the Mind Field”) the final stage of rehabilitation. The X-Men are hesitant but agree to partake. Of course, once they are seated, Cassandra initiates the “Xavier Protocols”.
X-Men ’92 #3
Welcome to the Mind Field. The final phase of therapy. Or as Cassandra Nova might put it, “#^@*ing up the X-Men”.
Up first, Wolverine. Logan initially battles his many foes but eventually they all shed their skin to reveal different versions of Wolverine like Weapon X and that feral Wolverine with the horrible bandanna mask. Logan fights his way through all the different incarnations and confronts Nova. She eventually breaks him and a kinder, gentler Wolverine decides it is just better to hug it out than fight his “brothers” anymore.
Storm is up next. Cassandra isn’t as lucky in attempting to break her and Storm learns that she is secretly the Shadow King. Cassandra offers Storm a place on her team as a leader, which Storm rejects. Knowing when enough is enough, Nova leaves Storm unconscious and trapped in the Mind Field.
Meanwhile, Jubilee (who was excluded from the Mind Field for no sensible reason other than plot) follows an astral projection of Artie to discover the Rej-X. A group of, well, rejects that need help against Cassandra Nova.
X-Men ’92 #4
More Mind Field madness as Gambit and Rouge believe they are sharing a romantic candlelight picnic. Gambit confesses his love in an attempt to get Rouge to remove her clothing. Which upsets Rouge and sends her off crying. We then get a recap of Rouge’s origin complete with starting out in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and stealing Ms. Marvel’s powers.
After a “poor ol’Gamit” broken heart love story, Rouge finally agrees to a kiss…but they are interrupted by Cassandra Nova who will have no part of this “vulgar display of sexual tension”. (There are several references throughout the books that Cassandra Nova is not only the Shadow King, but the television ratings board, trying to keep the domain of Westchester “wholesome”.) Needless to say Gambit is pissed and attacks Cockblock Nova.
Not that it does much good. Cassandra eventually breaks them both, leaving them in the mind field as “Proper role models” after Gambit gives Rogue a “promise” ring.
Next Cassandra confronts Beast. He is caged and while she admires his intellect, he is immediately rejected from being part of her team. “The children of Westchester need people to look up to, not furry animals.”
Beast is then thrown in with the other Rej-X’s, where Jubilee has been trying to help. Beast discovers that the Rej-X gang are still working for Cassandra for food. Stripping down old Sentinel’s for parts to make a rumored “X-Sentinel.”
Back at the X-Mansion, Cable and his X-Force team have arrived in answer to a physic distress call from Professor X. (This is an X-Force team that never appeared on the TV show, though some of the characters did. The group consists of Cable, Domino, Deadpool, Bishop, Psylocke and Archangel.) But they are too late…Professor X is dead!
X-Men ’92 #5
“Wait…Professor X is alive!” Well, glad that death and resurrection didn’t drag on. Using the X-Men computers, Domino discovers that the X-Men have gone to Clear Mountiain (they aren’t any more familiar with it than the X-Men were) and have not reported back. Cable and his team prepare to bodyslide to commence an x-rescue. Psylocke stays behind to enter the astral plane and help bring back Professor X.
Meanwhile in the Mind Field, Cassandra Nova attempts to recruit Jean Grey. Nova promises Jean that if she releases the Phoenix Force, Nova will absorb any access energy that Jean can’t control. It’s a win/win. Jean’s powers become stable and Cassandra gets the power she needs to help all the mutants of Westchester…and beyond the walls to all of Battleworld. Jean does not answer and as Cassandra moves in closer and closer we found out…
The tables are turned this time as Cyclops and Jean team up against Nova. Unfortunately, Nova is just too powerful. She restrains Jean and sends a multitude of villians after Scott. Using the old “join me or I’ll kill your boyfriend” routine. Jean is losing the battle of minds and fallen into a catatonic state as the Phoenix Force rises until Psylocke shows up and kills Cassandra. But wait…Cassandra is alive! Pyslocke remains busy, freeing Jean from her coma and then killing Nova…again.
Well, killing her only on the astral plane. She’s still alive and well in the real world and still has the X-Men held captive. War is upon them once again. Cable and his team have arrived and engaged Cassandra’s forces. Beast and the Rej-X have cobbled together an EMP to free themselves and join the fight. (Which is never needed once Deadpool rescues them.)
At the X-Mansion, Pyslocke has rescued the consciousness of Professor X and they both return from the astral plane. When the Professor was in Cassandra’s mind he saw her plan. She means to assassinate Baron Kelly!