DVD Review: X-Men Evolution Season 3

Now, just to get any confusion out of the way, X-Men Evolution Season 3 is the first season of the series to be released in a full box set. The previous two seasons have been released on individual DVDs consisting of 4 or 5 episodes per disk. So donâ??t go crazy trying to find box sets of seasons 1 and 2, as they donâ??t exist (yet).

On to the reviewâ?Š

X-Men Evolution got off on a rocky start. First it alienated many fans by making the cast of mutant peace-keepers hip and trendy teenagers. The first season didnâ??t endear itself to everybody as it basically stood to introduce new characters with every episode and pretty much just set up the next season. So the entire first season just felt like a primer for a REAL story.

However, once X-Men Evolution got its wheels turning it took X-Men fans for one Hell of a ride. Season 3 is where things REALLY picked up, with arcs developing tension between the X-Men, the New Mutants, the Brotherhood, the Acolytes and even the Morlocks. Long time X-Men fans are given a lot to chew on, and when the season finale leaves you cliff-hanging with the rebirth of Apocalypse, Season 4 just canâ??t get here fast-enough.

Like most American animation, the approach is to tell a story arc through a series of self-contained episodes, allowing viewers to pop in and out at their leisure and remain relatively clued-in. The first arc of the season picks up where Season 2 left off; the mutants have been outted to world and now must learn to live amongst people who hate and fear them. The high school-angle of the series, scoffed at by many during the first season, really shines through in this story arc. High schools are already breeding grounds of hate and negativity among human beings, add in the unrest of a new civil rights movement and things quickly turn ugly. The characters deal with the problems in different ways; Spike becomes too horrifying due to his rapid mutation and canâ??t bare to be seen in public, the Brotherhood chooses to use their powers for intimidation rather than acceptance, and Nightcrawler learns that with his image-inducer he can pretend to be a human, but at the risk of loosing his mutant pals. The anti-mutant racism and the high school setting leaves limitless opportunities for story potential and the writing crew handles it superbly.

There are a few throw away episodes in the bunch. The origin of X-23 breaks up the arc and doesnâ??t really feel like it properly fits in anywhere. Itâ??s a GREAT episode, with some of the most gorgeous animation in the series, a magnificent fight scene with Wolverine and the best characterization X-23 ever received (she was eventually brought into the X-Men comic, to a luke-warm reception). However, it throws off the pacing of the seasonâ??s arcs and feels like it was simply tossed in for the Hell of it. Thereâ??s also an episode where the X-Men attend a cruise to the Bahamas which acts as a character piece for the bland 4th tier mutant, Magma. Other than her discovering the extent of her powers, and lots of bikini fan-service, nothing really happens in this one.

The special features on the DVD are limited but interesting. Xavier takes you through narrated character profiles of a handful of heroes and villains. Most of the info is pretty much common knowledge, but Iâ??m a sucker for character profiles. Thereâ??s a short 15 minute documentary on the season which features a few key writers providing insight behind the creative process. They pretty much admit that the X-23 episode was a spur of the moment-thing, which is why it feels so awkward. Thereâ??s also a lame trivia challenge, but nobody ever bothers with that crap.

X-Men Evolution is where the series really hit its stride and is a must-own for any of you X-Men fans, even if you did prefer the 90â??s Saban series. You get 13 episodes for $19.99; not a bad deal at all. I thoroughly recommend it.

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