Greetings, true believers! The summer TV binge continues here at Multiversity as we travel further down my coverage of X-Men: The Animated Series. In this installment we will realize that for all the talk of how great this series was in adapting “The Phoenix Saga” and its later dark follow-up, it actually played quite fast and loose with its source material.
Our previous entries covered episodes addressing Apocalypse, Genosha, and the “Mutant Massacre” among other things; but this is a big one. Here, the show first tried its hand at presenting one of the most well-remembered arcs from a decade prior.
Here are five thoughts on the two-part episode “Days of Future Past.” I probably shouldn’t need to give this warning for a twenty-plus-year-old-show but, as always, beware of spoilers.
1. That Sweet, Sweet Harmonica
“Days of Future Past” sees the introduction of everybody’s favorite sentient Jheri-curled mullet wearing a man-suit, Bishop. The beloved classic character made his debut here as he first encounters Wolverine, proxies for Franklin Richards and Rachel Summers, and finally Forge–who sets him on his mission to find and stop the assassin responsible for this dystopian future.
The best part of watching these and later episodes is that every single time Bishop appears he is accompanied by a blues riff with a prominent harmonica accompaniment. Whether that score is appropriate to the scene or not, it plays. This mouth harp cares not about how welcome it is, it has downtrodden hobo-feels to bring you and nothing is going to stop that.
This audio cue was lost on me as a kid but as an adult I can’t not notice it. It is an earworm that sticks with you long after the credits roll and I will forever associate it with the character.
2. We JUST Fixed That
When Bishop is shunted into the current-day of X-Men: The Animated Series he begins to feel the effects of a temporary amnesia, hampering his mission. This confusion causes him to at first seek out the X-Men with an aim to destroy them, causing him to steal a bus and ram it through the front door of the mansion.
The mansion they just rebuilt. It’s almost a running gag of the X-Men across comics, cartoons, and even movies that the mansion is in a constant state of being rebuilt and torn down but this serves as the second major damage it receives in this first season. Damn it, Bishop. You’ve got one job but you’re doing anything and everything else possible.
3. The Graveyard Shot
“Days of Future Past,” much like “Slave Island” features a number of cameos. In one scene we even see future-flashback-footage of Havok–who has not yet appeared on the show–fighting alongside his brother Cyclops. But “Days of Future Past” sees two more interesting bits worth noting.
The first is the Graveyard shot featuring the tombstones of some of our key players. What is especially pleasing here is Jubilees tombstone, which states she died in 2010. Infamously, Jubilee was turned into a vampire in the “Curse of the Mutants” storyline which was published in 2010. This effectively solidifies that date of passing, as vampires are, after all, undead.
4. Do You Know What Your Children Are?
The other major easter egg of this two-parter is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment that sees a phrase commonly associated with the X-Men, “Do You Know What Your Children Are?” This is often attributed to the graphic novel “God Loves, Man Kills” but that actually came out five years prior to the ad campaign that spoofed the “Do You Know Where Your Children Are?” PSA of the mid-80s.Continued below
5. You Won’t Hurt Me, Rogue
“Days of Future Past” also sees the revelation that Mystique is Rogue’s adopted mother, or “momma.” This thread, like many in the cartoon, would carry on across not only several episodes, but entire seasons. Rogue helps Mystique escape after the assassination attempt and their relationship will play out through “A Rogue’s Tale”–which sees the addressing of Rogue’s relationship with Ms. Marvel–and beyond that.
There’s honestly not a lot of meat to these episodes, but we are treated to a ton of fun with these little tidbits. Whether you were catching them at the time of airing as a fan already or doubling back to pick up on them. These moments are a big part of why there is so much nostalgia for X-Men: The Animated Series.
Our summer binge will continue next week with the first season finale “The Final Decision.” Until then, remember, it’s ten pm, do you know what your children are? Excelsior!