So, for those who don't know, Wolverine & the X-Men was a cartoon series done not too long ago. It had a prequel in the form of a one-off episode called Hulk vs. Wolverine (part of a double-feature package called Hulk Vs), and only managed one season of 26 episodes before being cancelled. This year the whole show (bar Hulk vs. Wolverine) was repackaged in a complete collection, and that's the one I picked up. £10 for 26 episodes, each about 20 minutes long. Talk about a bargain.
I'm now halfway through the set, having watched volumes one and two, and so far I'm really enjoying it. It fits in with how the X-Men comics have been going in the past years, with allusions to events from various spin-offs and adaptations. There's hints towards Wolverine's romantic past with Mystique at times (detailed in comic form in Wolverine: Origins, I believe), he's been shown as he was in Hulk vs. Wolverine and also the Wolverine: Origins movie with Hugh Jackman. A lot of the lesser-known or more superfluous mutants get a showing, too. I've noticed my beloved Mercury in a couple of episodes, X-23 appears in at least one, Pixie does appear but is sidelined (whereas in the comics, she has a much more prominent position), and so forth. It's really good as someone who's dabbled in X-Men over the past year or two, because I know who certain characters are and/or I can relate to certain events.
Steve Blum is cast as Wolverine, and I feel he does an excellent job. He gets the voice, the tone and even the anger down perfectly (I wonder if it's because he tends to get cast in those sorts of voice roles), and Tom Kane is a very excellent Magneto. A number of the supporting cast also sound really good, plus Nolan North is in it as Cyclops. I'll get to Cyc later. I also noticed Jennifer Hale, known to me best as the female Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series, is cast as Jean Grey, but she's not in it too much. I think they all tend to work together really well, but I feel that the more classic characters, such as Storm and Nightcrawler, are sidelined a little in favour of the newer or "improved" characters, such as Shadowcat and Iceman.
It's not all great, though. With Rogue they went back to Anna Paquin's performance from the X-Men movies for inspiration, including the accent. Her costume is back to the '90s style one, though, which is an improvement over what little she wore in X-Men: Evolution. Whilst Emma Frost is finally wearing something semi-decent for a woman of her age, I can't help but feel that she's the most pretentious, unlikeable and irritating "good guy" ever. She's so far up her backside that a colonoscopy wouldn't be sufficient to find her head. I mean no disrespect to the voice actress, but whenever Emma Frost talks I want to kick a puppy.
I mentioned Cyclops earlier, and I think he deserves a bit of explanation. Nolan North is a pretty good voice actor, I loved him in Portal 2 as the Space Core and his portrayal of Deadpool in Hulk vs. Wolverine was absolutely spot-on, but it's doing nothing to make me like Cyclops. I must admit I've never really cared much for the character, and as I've read more into things, it's becoming clear why. He's such a dick, and there's no other way to put it. He's self-absorbed, he's an idiot, he's arrogant, he's stubborn... I just can't stand him. All he does is get angry or whine, and this show is no different. One episode has him freaking out about Jean Grey (who pulled her disappearing trick again), and he creates a huge amount of destruction. It's stupid.
I suppose that leads to another problem I have. Wolverine has six blades, yet never cuts anyone (I believe he's only been shown to slice Deadpool). Cyclops' power can destroy cars and such, but it's more of a physical hit on people/mutants. They all take huge amounts of damage, like Arclight who got thrown from a bike at a high speed, but take no actual injuries and often don't even sustain damage to their costumes. I understand it's a kid's show, but it's really grating that they don't even show grazes or tears in costumes for the most part. They also cause huge amounts of damage to the surrounding environments, whether it's destroying roads, severely damaging buildings, breaking windows - everything is there to be destroyed. There's no sense of responsibility on either side.
The episodes also seem to wind between various plotlines. The next episode you watch isn't guaranteed to directly follow the previous one, and may in fact relate more to an earlier episode. They do have introductions with clips of the episode they link to, so often it takes no time at all to remember what happened before.
So far, so good. I've got two more volumes to go, and I'm looking forward to them.