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Featured TV on DVD Review: X-Men: Volume Five

May 13th, 2010

X-Men: Volume Five - Buy from Amazon

A bittersweet moment for fans of the show, as X-Men ends its run on DVD with the release of the two-disc Volume Five DVD. Originally the show was supposed to end at the conclusion of the Beyond Good and Evil, but a further ten episodes were ordered. Was this a mistake? Beyond Good and Evil was a strong storyarc; should they have ended the series there instead of pushing their luck?

First a note: Volume Five is, well, a bit of a mess when it comes to the episodes. It includes episodes from seasons three, four, and five. This is due to problems with the animation for a handful of episodes, which delayed their original broadcasts. These problems could be part of the reason why for the shorted Season Five Marvel chose to switch animation studios. And it could be why there were fewer multi-part episodes.

Starting Season Five / Volume Five is the two-part Phalanx Covenant, which introduces the Phalanx, a techno-organic species that has come to assimilate Earth. They quickly get most of the X-Men, but Beast, along with a new ally, Warlock, contact Forge, Mr. Sinister, and Magneto to do battle. It's a very strange alliance, and it's one of the reasons this is arguably the high point of the season. Other contenders for best episode include Bloodlines, which has Nightcrawler receiving a mysterious phone call about his mother, who abandoned him as an infant. It also has the Friends of Humanity founder, Graydon Creed, trying to prove his loyalty to non-mutants by tracking down the mutants in his family tree. It's obvious from the start that these two threads are connected. While the episode is a little preachy at times (okay, a lot preachy), it still packs an emotional punch.

Over on disc two there's Old Soldiers, which is a flashback tale of Wolverine fighting in World War II. We see him in the present day in a French graveyard insulting one of the men buried there, Andre Cocteau. We then flashback to the mission where he was sent to rescue Andre, or kill him, and his backup for this mission is none other than Captain America. The series does end on a high note with Graduation Day. Professor X debates with the anti-mutant fanatic, Henry Peter Gyrich, when he uses a device that first causes him to momentarily lose control of his power before sending him into a coma. With the attack televised, mutants begin rioting and it is up to the X-Men to stop the war while simultaneously trying to find a way to save Professor X.

On the other hand, Jubilee's Fairytale Theater is clearly the low point of the season, perhaps the low point of the series. It has Jubilee leading a group of younger students in a cave system when there's a cave-in. While waiting for the X-Men to rescue them, she tells them a fantasy story set in medieval times with the X-Men as characters... yeah, it's as bad as it sounds. On the other hand, it is the only really weak episode on this DVD. Every other episode has strong replay value, even the ones I didn't mention individually.

There are no extras on the DVD, but there are subtitles, proper chapter placements, and play-all buttons.

The Verdict

X-Men: Volume Five might not be the best the show has to offer. However, it remained till the end one of the best comic book cartoons of all time. The lack of extras continues to be a disappointment, but this two-disc set is still worth picking up.

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