The last three episodes of Wolverine and the X-Men are featured in this DVD release. Since the show’s initial airing in the US, these special DVDs have been released sporadically with three episodes each that feature a certain story arc or theme. The Final Crisis Trilogy DVD features the last three episodes, which focus on the epic Phoenix storyline. There are also subplots about Professor Xavier stuck in the past, as well as a Sentinel attack orchestrated by a certain main “villain” on the island of Genosha; but the Phoenix storyline takes center stage here.
The Phoenix Saga is a larger-than-life X-Men story. It was condensed and watered down a little for the original animated series, reduced to a single shot in X-Men Evolution and almost a sideplot in the X-Men movies. The version seen here is admittedly condensed—it tells its tale in just three episodes, and without space travel—but it is really amazing in its execution of the emotional impact this story has to have.
Wolverine is obviously the star of the series—his name is on the main titles and all—and the X-Men are featured as well as a few surprise cameos, but these last few episodes belong to the ladies. Holla! Jean Grey, voiced here by Jennifer Hale (Cinderella in Disney’s Cinderella 2 and 3), really gets to shine. Without Jean, there is no Phoenix Saga. It just seems very jarring that she’s absent for most of the series and then BOOM! Jean Grey explosion! Literally. Of course, in this DVD release, you don’t get that feeling since this is only three episodes. She also gets to wear a really fabulous red dress, which is a nice break from the black or yellow leather she donned in the previous animated incarnations and live-action movie. Fierce!
Scarlet Witch gets a nice amount of screen time here, too, as she is central to the Genosha subplot. It was very refreshing to see a portrayal of her that feels more faithful to her comic book counterpart. I was growing tired of her teen angst craziness in X-Men Evolution. She was like Stephen King’s Carrie with no focus in that series. In this series, she is a strong mutant woman. Also, the scenes in Genosha are so ethereal, it gives the series an almost sci-fi/fantasy feel. Very beautiful.
Emma Frost gets a huge amount of screen time here as well. Sometimes I think it should’ve been called Emma, Wolverine and the X-Men. Her role in these episodes is simply amazing, and the less I say about her at this point, the better. I love when she gets all sparkly!
Some viewers might get lost in the plot shuffle, especially if these are the first episodes you’re watching. The Phoenix Saga is already pretty grand and to have that storyline share screen time with the other huge subplots can make this a crazy experience. Imagine being on Willy Wonka’s boat ride; kinda’ like that. What made the series enjoyable was how it revealed each bit of information slowly, so you wouldn’t get lost. Having these episode alone on a DVD with no indication can be dissapointing for those who are unaware that these three episodes are part of a bigger picture. There’s not even a “previously on X-Men” intro that used to accompany the original two animated series. For the casual fan of Wolverine and the X-Men who doesn’t want to shell out the cash for the complete series, this DVD is perfect. This is an awesome finale to an awesome series, animated or otherwise. For new fans, I suggest you wait until you can watch the series as a whole.
Included is a very funny commentary track with supervising producer Craig Kyle and writers Greg Johnson and Chris Yost. They poke fun at the live-action films and even bring up X-Men Evolution, another X-series they worked on. A very entertaining track full of behind-the-scenes info and pop culture references. This is a very good-looking series, and the transfer is almost flawless, though I noticed a little bit of shimmering in some scenes. Still, this show looks great.
It’ll look even greater on the complete series Blu-ray set. You know I’ll be all over that!