X-men Episode 3: Armor (Insert clever witicism here)
When we last left our Hero, Balladbird was documenting the attempts of a ragtag group of mutants to rescue an abducted girl. His adventures took him to the snowy plains of Japan, into the middle of a bitchin’ 10 minute fight scene, and ultimately to a hospital so darkly shaded that it made gaining a quality screencap all but impossible.
Now the dust has settled, and the lost girl has been found… along with another girl, whom cyclops believes killed his dearly beloved. Will sparks fly? Probably. Let’s watch:
Lest we forget what shocking twist occurred at the end of episode two, the X-men stormed the U-men headquarters and saved their girl. They even got a bonus: the woman whom cyclops remembers controlling Jean on the night she died! He shares this memory with the team, who respond with various degrees of shock. This is doubly true of Wolverine, who, after confirming with Beast that she’s Emma Frost, a woman who indeed was a leader of the Inner Circle, and with confirming with Cyclops that he definitely saw her, was all but ready to skewer her with his handy retractable claws.
Surprisingly, the calm one in the group is Scott, who stops Wolverine, saying that saving the girl is the first priority. Wolvy begins to object, but when Scott says that when the time comes, he’ll kill her himself, he seems content to let the issue drop. Beast and Storm decide that, at any rate, it wouldn’t be fair to kill her while she was unconscious, and promptly thaw her out.
There’s a brief cut the the U-men, hanging out down in their diabolical layer. Turns out that that Mr. Monocle and Mr. gray-dude-hooked-to-a-machine are having a difference of opinion. The latter is all happy that the X-men are there, and wants to hurry up and harvest him some organs. Mr. Monocle warns that you can’t be too careful when your opponents are the people after whom the series is named, and says that gathering more data would be prudent.
Meanwhile, Emma Frost wakes up, and we have some sparks flying between her and the main cast. Cyclops accuses her of being the one responsible for Jean’s death, but she claims that she left the Inner Circle over ideological differences long before the X-men had their climactic battle at the start of episode one.
There seems to be some precedence to her story, since she had spent a lot of time helping undeveloped mutants gain control over their powers, but Cyclops is less than willing to take her at her word. Good thing Hisako wakes up around then! She look about in a daze for a moment, and then runs into Emma’s arms. Turns out that, since the Xavier Institute closed its doors with the death of Jean, Hisako’s parents had to turn to Emma to handle her tutoring, and to the enigmatic woman’s credit, she does indeed seem to care a great deal for the girl.
Around this point, I gave up on my secret hope that Wolverine would be skewering a bitch this week. :(
So it is that the X-men have secured the girl they were meant to rescue, and decided against murdering Emma in a gruesome fashion, all that’s left is to defeat the U-men and escape unharmed, yes? Storm makes a passing comment on how they haven’t been attacked in a while, which leads to a variety of sarcastic remarks from Wolverine, and then, as if waiting for their cue, we see an onslaught of fodder-robot things. Storm guards Emma and Hisako while the others proceed to kick ass in the manner to which we have become accustomed.
As the battle rages on around them, Hisako asks Emma who the X-men are. Her response is that they’re people you can rely on… which is a pretty sporting thing of her to say, considering they just spent the better part ten minutes debating whether or not to kill her.
Our scene changes to Professor Xavier in the Cerebro room, trying once again to access the region of Japan where the X-men are. He comments how every time he tries he experiences a surreal sensation, and then, as if on cue, he hallucinates about that little boy who was immune to his powers in episode one. This time the image of the boy is followed up by a mysterious woman before the hallucination finally ends, leaving ole’ Chuck feeling a little drained. He starts to give exposition on “who that boy must be” but in typical anime fashion, we cut scene juuuust before he can deliver the last crucial word in the sentence he was speaking, leaving us still no closer to understanding any of it than we were the first time it happened.
Meanwhile, the X-men, having given a sound thrashing to the fodder and restored peace for a moment, are now walking down a long hallway. Turns out however, this is just as the enemy planned! We see the U-men in their secret layer cackling about how they’ll be able analyze any powers the X-men display as long as they walk in that particular hallway. Then we see Wolverine humbly suggest that they take a different route, and slash through one of the walls. This… was NOT just as planned, as not only are they no longer being monitored, the suppression on Emma’s telepathic powers is gone, too. She tells the X-men about the plan they just avoided completely by accident, and the continue on down their new path.
Back in the secret layer, Mr. Gray-dude-hooked-to-a-machine has decided that he’s been patient long enough, and since the series needs a first villain casualty anyway, he heads off to go collect him some nummy mutant organs.
The X-men arrive at a different laboratory, this one filled with tubes containing a nondescript red liquid. Trying to touch one turns out to be one of Gray Dude’s berserk buttons, since as soon as they do he comes flying out in a rage. It’s here I feel I should point out that Gray Dude has an obsession… it’s probably more like a fetish really… for organs. Dude can’t get enough of them… in fact, 90% of his dialogue is just the word “organ.” I wanted to share this, so that you could understand the many facets of his clearly complex character.
His inability to think of anything but organs aside, I gotta admit that gray dude sure had the X-men’s number for the most part. Within seconds he has Cyclops pinned to a wall, with his hands trapped so he can’t activate his visor, sends beast flying off against a all, uses magnetism to trap Wolverine, and then uses said trapped Wolverine to force Storm to abandon her attack. That’s some efficiency, right there.
Unfortunately, he failed to realize that being slammed into walls doesn’t really slow X-men down much, and Beast, being the clever fellow that he is, jumps over to cyclops and activates his visor for him, the concussive blast tearing through Gray Dude’s body. Now really badly hurt, but not beaten, Gray Dude lunges at Emma and Hisako. Emma tries to use telepathy to stop him, only to find that when a dude’s got nothing but organs on the brain there’s not a lot telepathic suggestion can do. Fortunately, just before he can make contact with his target, Hisako steps forward and demonstrates why her code name will eventually be “Armor.”
She promptly finishes off Gray Dude, and everyone is on the verge of relaxing when she suddenly loses control of her powers and starts going berserk. Seeing a mutant losing herself to her powers, of course, reminds Scott of his dear Jean, but I won’t give him too hard a time about it because he doesn’t use the memory as an excuse to mope this time. Rather he tries his best to reach Hisako, but is unable to, and gets smacked around for a while.
Fortunately, Emma is able to reach Hisako’s mind before she delivers what would have been a nasty smack to Scott, and helps her work her powers back under control. Wolverine points out that he has a gut feeling that Emma truly didn’t have a role in Jean’s demise, but Scott says he remains unconvinced, since as a telepath, Emma could be using Hisako and everyone else to make it look that way.
I may well share his skepticism, were it not for the fact that Emma is featured prominently in the opening credits fighting alongside the X-men, albeit in a different uniform. Still, I guess we can’t be 100% sure yet… and aside from that, I guess it would be wiser to assume that characters aren’t privy to the spoilers provided by opening animations.
The surviving U-men are seen escaping in a jet, swearing that they may have lost this time, but they’d definitely have the upper hand next time. You know, the classic villain spiel. Meanwhile, the X-men free the remaining trapped mutants and emerge victorious from the hospital. All seems right with the world! Oh wait, Gray Dude’s still alive somehow, and he decides he’ll end the episode by firing a beam of green energy at Hisako! Cue credits.
The heavy emphasis on action over exposition makes the plot come across as thin, but by no means has X-men been an un-enjoyable ride up to this point. The fights remain intense, and watching the characters banter with one another has the charm fans of x-men would expect from the series. As villains go, the U-men have yet to really wow me, but I suppose we’ve only just met them and they’re already a hell of a lot more intimidating than they were in the comics, so again, judgement must be reserved for a later date. XD
Also, I apologize for the tardy review publication this week. the weather refused to cooperate with me, and my personal schedule slowed me down some earlier. I’ll have a review of the first two episodes of Ringu out later this week, and X-men 4 should come out between monday and tuesday of next week, as is my standard.