Marvel Already Revived X-Men: The Animated Series in Comics

Even though the last new episode of X-Men: The Animated Series debuted well over two decades ago, the iconic ‘90s cartoon still defines Marvel’s mutants to a meaningful extent. Shortly after the X-Men comics reached their commercial peak thanks to creators like Chris Claremont and Jim Lee, the show cemented the X-Men as figures in the wider pop culture landscape outside of comics starting in 1992. Over 76 episodes, the animated series mixed contemporary characters with classic storylines, turning heroes like Wolverine into household names for a generation of fans.

Now, X-Men: The Animated Series is set to return in 2023 in the form of the upcoming Disney+ animated series X-Men ’97. However, that cartoon won’t be the first time Marvel has revisited the world of X-Men: TAS. During the latter half of the show’s run and long after it ended, Marvel told new stories about the show’s corner of the multiverse in a few comic book series.

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Shortly after X-Men: The Animated Series began in 1992, Marvel started publishing X-Men Adventures, which adapted episodes of the show as a comic book up through Season 3’s adaptation of “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” The comic was a faithful adaption of the TV series and supplemented on newsstands by original X-Men: TAS-style stories in kid-focused titles like Spider-Man Magazine that mixed educational facts with Marvel-themed activities.

However, X-Men Adventures was replaced by Adventures of the X-Men in 1996, That series, largely by Ralph Macchio, Mike Miller, Ben Herrera and Yancey Labat, told new stories in the aesthetic of X-Men: TAS. Beyond fights with standard villains like Mister Sinister, Magneto and Mojo, these stories also featured encounters with the Hulk and X-Factor and villains like the Leader, D’Spayre and the Dweller in Darkness, who fought the Phoenix in a series-ending battle that restarted the universe.

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When the many worlds of the Marvel Multiverse crashed into each other in 2015’s Secret Wars event, Marvel unofficially revisited the  X-Men: The Animated Series through X-Men ’92, by Chad Bowers, Chris Sims and Scott Koblish. Set in a relatively serene corner of Battleworld, this cameo-heavy series incorporated several characters and events that never made it into the cartoon. The most prominent of these new characters was Cassandra Nova, who was reimagined as the Shadow-King-possessed leader of the Bureau of Super-Powers.

As Nova set her sights on the X-Men, the series also introduced a version of X-Force, which featured Cable and a mix of characters from the various Marvel Universe incarnations of the team. By the end of this miniseries, Cyclops and Jean Grey left the X-Men, Bishop and Psylocke joined and the Xavier Institute reopened to welcome the young mutants of Generation X.

In 2016, the light-hearted X-Men ’92 spawned a follow-up ongoing series of the same name by Sims, Bowers and Alti Firmansayah. Like the miniseries that preceded it, X-Men ’92 featured appearances from Abigail Brand and S.W.O.R.D., X-Force, X-Factor, X-Men 2099 and the Russian heroes of the People’s Protectorate. Several members of the X-Statix were enrolled at Xavier’s as members of Generation X, and the infamous Adam X joined Marrow, Maggott and Random in the hyper-aggressive X-Tremists team.

In addition to Apocalypse, the X-Men faced the Upstarts, a team of early ‘90s mutant villains who hired the powerful son of Dracula, Alpha Red. In the final issues of the series, the X-Men and all of their allies teamed up to take down Xodus the Forgotten, a Celestial who wanted to exterminate all of the universe’s mutants.

As X-Men ’92 attests, the X-Men have gone through a tremendous number of events and recruited dozens of characters since the cartoon ended in 1997. With almost the entirety of the X-Men's 21st-century adventures unadapted outside of comics, there are several seasons' worth of stories and characters ready to be adapted and reconfigured in the X-Men: The Animated Series aesthetic. And as the ongoing flashback comic book series X-Men: Legends and the continued prevalence of ‘90s X-Men merchandise suggests, there are still plenty of X-Men adventures to be told in this world and a receptive audience waiting to receive them.

KEEP READING: Where Will the X-Men: The Animated Series Revival Pick Up - and Where Could It Go?

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Tim Webber (613 Articles Published)

Tim Webber is a writer, journalist and content creator based out of Atlanta, GA. With over a decade of experience, Tim has written everything from news analysis to cultural criticism about comic books, film, television and music. In addition to his work for CBR, Tim has written for a number of print and digital publications including Creative Loafing and Frequency Magazine. To put his worryingly deep knowledge of comics and superheroes to good use, he also helped design and teach courses based on graphic novels at Emory University, his alma mater. He can usually be found sipping tea, hitting deadlines or trapped under a very large pile of X-Men comics from the 1990s. If he sounds mildly interesting, you can follow Tim on Twitter @MrTimWebber.

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