Original air date: December 23, 1995
Forced to deck the halls of people who hate and fear them, the X-Men must band together and learn the true meaning of opportunistic holiday specials.
Given how ubiquitous comic book movies and cartoons are today, it’s hard to believe that just 18 years ago, such programming was few and far between. Sure there were oddities like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and a host of other related works, but nothing that really sucked in non-comic fans and got people talking about these decades-old characters.
That all changed in 1992 with the one-two punch of Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men, Marvel’s first most successful and longest running cartoon to date. Both shows paid proper tribute to the comics, yet presented their stories and characters without all the baggage – and even when they strayed from canon, it was usually within reason. Thus, fuel for the ‘90s comic book boom (which would later become a bust) and a green light for several more Marvel/DC cartoons.
To be fair, even the X-Men cartoon got pretty crazy in just a few seasons, dragging the team into space and fighting cosmic beings and flying aliens and all kinds of other shit that slowly defeats the original “being different is OK” message of the X-Men.
Weird fact: X-Men was distributed by Saban (of Power Rangers fame) until 2001, when Disney bought all rights to Saban shows. Disney then went on to air the X-Men cartoon on the Disney Channel or Jet-X or whatever the hell it was called back then. Today, Disney owns Marvel outright. PROPHETIC?
Our exercise in “I guess we should finally do a Christmas episode” begins with a heartwarming scene at Professor Xavier’s mansion – Cyclops, Jubilee and Rogue are apparently decorating the Rockefeller Christmas tree inside their own home.
The Christmas spirit comes easy when you’ve got 50-foot ceilings
We hear the trio singing “Deck the Halls,” which is just the first of a barrage of public domain Christmas jingles If there’s an establishing shot, halls are getting decked, nights are being silences and herald angels will be singing. But, it turns out Cyclops can’t sing at all, so Jubilee wanders over to ask a stewing Wolverine to sing instead. Bad move, bub.
WEAPON X LACED MY BONES WITH GARLAND! I HATE CHRISTMAS AND EVERYTHING IT’S DONE TO ME!
Cut to the kitchen, where any and all attempts at normal dinner preparation must be met with crippling holiday frustration. But instead of worrying about the number of guests or glazing a ham, ol’ ragin’ cajun Gambit feels the food needs an extra bit of bayou spice. Naturally, as a woman, Jean Grey is insulted by this, and uses her mutant powers to prevent Gambit from dropping even ONE extra ingredient in the pot.
“The day I need your help in the kitchen IS THE DAY I STOP COOKING!” – actual line of dialog, I’m not kidding
So not only is Gambit forced to talk like an ignorant Louisianian who only knows about Cayenne pepper and gumbo, but Jean Grey, telekinetic superstar and host to the Phoenix Force, is a homemaker shrew who views every comment about her cooking as an affront to her womanhood.
“YOU STILL DON’T KNOW NUTHIN BOUT NO CHRISTMAS DINNUH” – again, actual dialog
Meanwhile, Beast is hanging upside down, naked, reciting poetry
But what of Professor X and Storm? What yuletide festivities are they engaging in?
Oh, they’re watching everyone else on CCTV. Notice Xavier floating in a wheelchair seemingly designed to draw attention to his disability instead of just blending in with everyone else. I never understood that – it’s just a hovering wheelchair, it doesn’t do anything special. How often does it have to be charged? How long can one charge last? Can it navigate stairs any easier or do ANYthing that makes it superior to a regular chair?
OMG! A crashing noise outside! To which Storm replies: “Could we be under attack… on CHRISTMAS EVE??”
Huh-derp! Just ol’ Beast blowing up the cranberries again!
Wolverine was of course hoping for violence – alas, no, poor metallic monstrosity; no ire doth dwell twain these irradiated halls!
Jubilee then asks Wolverine (aka “Wolvie”) to go shopping with her and Storm at the mall. Mall shopping? On Christmas Eve? You’ve got a whole school full of mutants on hand and none of them have the power to order online?
This Christmas cheer is killing my healing factor… and I’ve been shot in the face!
After copious amounts of shopping, Storm requests they all make their way back to the mansion, but they’re intercepted by a roaming perfume saleswoman with a terribly forced Jamaican accent
AXCUSE MEH SUHR, WOOD YAH LAHK TAH TRY ME NOO FRAYGRANCE?
SPRAY ME WITH THAT AGAIN AND YOU’LL BE GETTING YOUR KICKS ON ROUTE SNIKITTY SNIKT, BUB-ETTE!
So frazzled is he by this encounter with a foe he cannot legally dismember, Wolverine literally runs away. As in, leaves the scene entirely at top speed.
This from a man who’s had his bones ripped through his pores
However, Jubilee and Storm manage to convince him to go ice skating. As you may imagine, Wolvie is more terrified of having fun than eating a possum’s beating heart.
Worse than his tours in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined… and then FROZEN
After less than five seconds of skating, Wolverine thinks he hears sirens. Actually, the line is, “Something’s happenin’ up there… I can smell it.” He can smell sirens, apparently.
AMBULANCE, FUCK YEAH
So this ambulance comes crashing down into the skating rink, which sends all the regular humans running scared. Wolverine, apparently so desperate to do something heroic, picks Jubilee up and skates her over to the ambulance… which has to be only like 50 feet away.
“I can still walk, you know”
And then they hold the shot until his crotch fills the entire screen
Meanwhile, at the ambulance 50 feet away, two people get out to inspect the damage and open the back doors. But wait – are these humans… or something else?
Ah, here we go
The culprits are mutants who turn their hands into, uh, plastic flippers?
No, silly! They’re Morlocks, the mutants so tattered and ugly they have to live in the sewer (aka Marvel’s thinly veiled allegory for the homeless). Turns out their grotesque friend Leech is so sick that these two were willing to steal the ambulance and take the medicine to their underground Hooverville. But wait, why can’t they just go to the hospital?
Because Leech’s powers are being nasty and hurting anyone who tries to help
Oh and BY THE WAY Storm, you’re actually the leader of the Morlocks, but you’re never there to help so they HAD to steal this ambulance. Shame! MORE SHAME
Storm then covers their escape to the sewers with a flash and chant that rivals even the loudest Dr Orpheus impression. Did she have to do it directly into Wolverine’s face?
Down they go to deliver the stolen medicine to Leech, where they quickly discover the Morlock lair. Continuing the homeless analogy, they wear shabby clothes and all suffer from some kind of disfigurement or unsightly mutation.
Though they mostly look like 80s punkers with remarkably elaborate hair
What’s this – a pitiful Christmas tree in the corner? Do any of the X-Men notice this heartbreaking sight?
Only one – and even the ever-hatin’ Wolverine feels a swell of pity for the Morlocks
A decision is made – the X-Men will move Leech to the mansion via their private jet (…) where he can receive proper medical attention from Beast, who, last we saw, was busy exploding fruit like a werewolf Gallagher. Wolverine moves in to scoop up the boy, then discovers he’s too sick to move.
My heightened senses tell me… my hair is ridiculous
Jubilee hears that Leech may not survive the night, to which she replies:
“Not survive? Leech? No… he can’t… not today.. IT’S CHRISTMAS EVE!” she says, as if diseases celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But – she’s learning that presents don’t matter if your friend is dying on a table, so there’s that.
Storm refuses to accept this fate, and they all suddenly decide that since Wolverine can heal quickly, that his blood must be able to heal other people. Naturally he refuses, because THAT’S NOT THE WAY IT WORKS.
But think of the suddenly anime children, Wolverine!
And then think of these hideous monsters! Especially the one that’s clearly just a homeless old lady
But after much wringing of adamantium hands, Wolverine relents and thinks there’s like one a thousand chance his blood will magically heal the unspecified, undiagnosed sickness that’s killing Leech.
Golly, I feel like I’m learnin’ a lesson ‘bout givin’ or somethin’
For a transfusion, they obviously need two tables – one for Leech (who has one) and one for Wolverine to lie on next to him. But they’s so poor, they’s only gots one table!
Oh wait, this guy’s power is turning into tables?
Meanwhile, Storm is going to call the mansion and have Rogue fly Dr Beast to the sewer hideout. But they’d better hurry, for Leech is so, so close to death. What we need, friends, is a Christmas miracle.
“Do you believe in miracles, Mariana?”
The point of course is to make us sympathize with the coarse, unpresentable Morlocks and view them as equals. However, they don’t do this through one of the ugly ones – they use an adorable, blond-haired anime girl instead. Even our hideous folk must be pretty!
Meanwhile, back at the mansion! (cue public domain Jingle Bells)
Jean Grey is STILL threatening Gambit, now with broccoli
She even THROWS it at him, which Cyclops shoots out of the air with his laser eyes
CEASE THIS DOMESTIC TOMFOOLERY, X-MEN – THERE’S TROUBLE AWHEEL
Okay shugga I’ll jus’ fly Beast on down to yonda sewerin’ hole an’ fix that boy right up
While Wolverine pumps his fanciful unicorn blood into Leech, Mariana takes Jubilee on a tour of their home. If you think this is about to slowly lead into the lesson of the episode, about how you only need family and friendship to be happy, not presents and good looks… then you are sadly correct.
Look at our tree! It’s depressing and gloomy!
Look at our food! It’s tasteless and without nourishment!
“Jesus Christ Storm, these people are POOR”
“Wrong, child – as long as you are part of a loving family, every day is Christmas Day”
(Yes, that sounded pretty good)
Uh oh – it looks like Wolvie’s mystery blood isn’t doing the trick. He’s about to call the whole thing off and run away crying again when Rogue arrives with Beast in tow.
Did anyone call for a blue-furred cat doctor in matching blue underwear?
And less than a minute after Beast arrives, Leech makes an instant and complete recovery. I guess their crappy, non-canonical blood plan actually worked!
What was the problem again? Oh right, it’s Christmas Eve and we’re in a sewer!
The Morlocks extend a Christmas invitation to the X-Men, but say they don’t have enough food for everyone. Luckily, most of those presents Jubilee was clinging to were food, so they eat that, plus let Mariana and Leech open the rest.
GAH! You’re getting worse by the minute!
They’ve opened their first Christmas presents… now they have a taste for blood
And even Wolverine learned to respect Christmas!
I couldna dunnit without ya, bub. Merry X-MAS LOL
So that’s nice and wrapped up – but what about the mansion? Surely they’re not still fighting abou-
For fuck’s sake
Well there you have it, a complete X-Men Christmas experience. Oh wait, what happened to the Professor and his wheelchair?
Hello? Family? My batteries died
If this all seems too straightforward and lovey-dovey for the X-Men cartoon, don’t worry – this happens in the next episode
A flat zero! This was safe-ass Saturday morning cartoonery at its height, so naturally there is no overt reference to anything even remotely approaching spirituality. Unless you want to count the public domain tunes, which, while instrumental, do technically contain references to Jesus.
There’s only ONE reference to Santa at all – when Beast asplodes the cranberries, Jubilee mentions that he’s just a beard away from a Santa suit. Honestly the reference doesn’t make any sense, unless there’s a version of Santa that’s mostly blue and has fangs that I’m not aware of.
They touch on dinner, family, sharing, giving, miracles and the power of love over presents, so I guess as cartoons based on comic books go, it’s pretty OK. It’s kind of a mixed message though, as they end the day with everything – all the presents, a saved child and a family united. Well, except the professor, who’s idling in the study.
PRODUCT INFORMATION (Shop Amazon through us – it helps!)
Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas is available on X-Men: Volume 4. Almost all of the five seasons worth of X-Men are also available across six volumes, although they appear curiously out of order and under the even more confusing banner Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection?