Jonathan Dobres

x-men re-examined: cold vengeance

Air date: February 6, 1993

If you love Wolverine, this episode is an A. If you don’t, it’s a C. They can’t all be generation-defining bangers, you know? We’re picking up with Wolverine, who has decided to clear his head with a trip home to Canada. He’s having a lovely time skiing around the middle of nowhere, when Sabretooth pops up yet again with a detonator in hand, somehow already well prepared to blow up the ice bridge Wolverine is skiing across. Their fight ends with Wolverine falling into a freezing river. “Let the ice be ya’ tombstone!” Sabretooth screams. Which, what is this accent, exactly? Philadelphia? I find it baffling.

Wolverine is luckily rescued by some local indigenous people. The show doesn’t attempt to name them as a specific tribe or nation, so let’s just leave it as “indigenous”. Given how these portrayals tended to go up until the—let me just check my notes—today, I’m already uncomfortable. Wolverine wakes up in the village and recovers fast (wink), and immediately ingratiates himself with the locals by being super strong and great at everything. The village’s previous #1 favorite person, Kiyoek, does not like this one bit, and he decides to collude with Sabretooth.

In a quiet moment, Wolverine comments that bringing some happiness to these kind strangers has made him happy, too, and the feeling is so foreign that he doesn’t know what to make of it. In a first for the show, he’s even smiling when he says this. All of this reads as incredibly sad to me. The show hasn’t gotten into the Weapon X stuff yet, but if you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen the movies. This dude has led a very traumatizing life.

You know Wolverine’s happiness can’t last. Kiyoek takes him ice fishing, and while they’re gone, Sabretooth ransacks the village and seemingly kidnaps its entire population. This leads to Cal Dodd’s incredible reading of the line, “THERE’S NO PEACE FOR ME!” As he walks toward another confrontation with his old enemy, he takes his mask out of a backpack. I think it’s supposed to read like John Wick un-burying his guns or Kratos retrieving the Blades of Chaos, but this is undercut by an earlier animation error where he woke up in his X-Men costume for no reason.

Sabretooth has gone full Snidely Whiplash. He’s got the villagers tied to an ice bridge and another detonator in his hand. Where, exactly, is he getting this stuff? Who is supplying him with C-4? How did he singlehandedly abduct and restrain what appears to be several dozen people? The show denies us answers. The actual fight isn’t all that great. Kiyoek redeems himself by intervening long enough to give Wolverine an edge, and in true Saturday morning cartoon fashion, Sabretooth miscalculates and lunges off a cliff (never to be seen again, I’m sure).

The episode’s depiction of the indigenous village isn’t too bad up to this point, but in the end they decide to move to the city rather than rebuild their old lives. The show portrays this as a happy ending, but man, that is not how it reads to me.

Barely in this episode at all, Storm, Jubilee, and Gambit (he’s fine after that encounter with Plague, apparently) are on a trip to investigate Genosha, purportedly a mutant-friendly nation. Cyclops was against sending anyone, and he’s such an unbearable jerk about it that even the Professor tells him to consider maybe chilling out. Genosha seems like a fun tropical getaway, never mind the retinal scanner that the hotel concierge is using without your consent, Storm. Everything’s cool until knockout gas starts seeping into the bungalow (like most AirBnBs I’ve stayed at, amirite?). The trio fight their way outside, only to be greeted by what look like some unused character designs from an episode of G.I. Joe and a single, looming Sentinel.