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12 Stories From The Comics X-Men '97 Could Adapt

To this day, "X-Men: The Animated Series" is seen by many as one of the cartoons that have come the closest to adapting the essence of the X-Men on screen. Not only does it accurately portray many of the characters (particularly its leads), but it also adapts many famed stories from the comics, like "The Dark Phoenix Saga," "Days of Future Past," and "The Phalanx Covenant" — even if it does take a few liberties here and there.

Since the TV series concluded in 1997, however, roughly 25 years of new X-Men stories have been told in the comics. It's convenient, then, that Marvel Studios has decided to finally bring back "X-Men: The Animated Series" in the form of "X-Men '97." While the show has plenty of its own storylines it can revisit, one can't help but ask what other tales from the comics would make a perfect fit for the revival. 


Genosha goes through quite a reversal during "X-Men: The Animated Series," starting as a forced labor camp for mutants before eventually evolving into a mutant haven by the show's end. If humans remain among the Genoshan populace, however, then "X-Men '97" could adopt the famous Genoshan civil war from the comics, "Bloodties." 

The story features humans and mutants — or rather, mutates, which are mutants who've been genetically engineered — embroiled in conflict after Magneto attacks the Earth in the story "Fatal Attractions." Furthermore, Magnus' traitorous ex-Acolyte Fabian Cortez rallies the mutate forces onward by kidnapping the Master of Magnetism's granddaughter, Luna Maximoff, to make it look like he's acting with Magneto's approval, when in reality, Magnus is in a catatonic state. Things take an even more dire turn when Exodus, Magneto's actual spokesperson, enters the fray.

"Bloodties" would be a very natural follow-up to the "X-Men" series finale, in which Magneto leaves behind an army on Genosha. While it's unlikely Cortez would take part, as Apocalypse possesses his body in "The Fifth Horseman," perhaps Nur could claim the army as his own, assuming Magneto doesn't decide to pick up where he left off. If Luna is still involved, that'd be an easy way to bring in several players from the original crossover, including her parents Quicksilver and Crystal, her aunt the Scarlet Witch, and the Avengers. Quicksilver could even involve X-Factor, the team he's on in the original "XTAS," making it a three-team crossover. 

E is for Extinction

"E is for Extinction" is the first story of Grant Morrison's famed run on "New X-Men," and it really shakes things up. Not content with simply changing the X-Men's costumes to black and yellow biker uniforms, the series introduces Xavier's malevolent twin sister Cassandra Nova, whose Wild Sentinels (a new Sentinel breed that can be of any size and shape) wipe out 16 million mutants on Genosha in moments.

While "X-Men '97" doesn't necessarily have to change the characters' costumes (given how heavily fans associate the Jim Lee uniforms with the show), the Wild Sentinels, in particular, could easily fit into the series as a response to the mutant army Magneto nearly leads into war in the series finale. There was no way the original "X-Men" cartoon would kill off mutants en masse as the comic do, but "X-Men '97" likely won't be bound by the same restrictions, meaning the Wild Sentinels' attack could actually succeed. If not, then the X-Men can help repel the new robotic menace, which feels more in line with the original series' relatively hopeful tone.

Cassandra Nova, conversely, might be a little tricker to adapt, as her origin in the comics is a little complicated. Perhaps "X-Men '97" could draw inspiration from the comic series "X-Men '92," where Cassandra is the Shadow King in a new guise? Alternately, she could be Charles' estranged older sister from an earlier marriage of their father's. 


Of course, killing off so many characters in an "E is for Extinction" storyline does seem like a waste. So what better way to solve the problem than bring them back to life as evil techno-organic zombies? The original "Necrosha" features Selene Gallio of the Hellfire Club resurrecting and corrupting several X-Men friends and foes by combining a new strain of a techno-organic virus with magic. Her coup de grâce is bringing back to life all 16 million casualties killed in the Genoshan massacre, whose souls she absorbs to gain virtual godhood.

Should the mutants of Genosha from "Graduation Day" be killed off in an "E is for Extinction" adaptation, this next "X-Men '97" story could undo some of that damage, albeit in the most terrifying way possible. It would also be an opportunity to bring Selene into the "XTAS" continuity in a major way by adding a powerful female villain to the show's already imposing rogues gallery. Rather than kill off most of the resurrected characters again at the end, however, a version of "Necrosha" in "X-Men '97'" could bring in Warlock and his Life Mate to help dismantle the techno-organic side of Selene's plan. Thye might even find a more proactive way to accomplish this than Warlock does in the comics.


Introducing Cassandra Nova to "X-Men '97" presents another unique opportunity — a chance to bring Professor X back from the Shi'ar Empire, which is where he is taken to at the end of the series for healing. In the original version of "Imperial," Cassandra secretly swaps bodies with Professor X just before Charles leaves Earth with Lilandra and her Imperial Guard for some vacation time. Posing as Charles long enough to gain the trust of the Shi'ar, Cassandra then betrays them, using Xavier's vast telepathic powers to turn the empire's forces against the X-Men.

While Cassandra wouldn't be able to swap bodies with Professor X right away in "X-Men '97," considering that Charles is already with the Shi'ar, Nova could certainly find a way to make the interstellar journey herself. Perhaps Cassandra manages to conceal her involvement in the Genoshan massacre at first and approaches the X-Men as a supposed friend, being quickly accepted for her relation to their beloved mentor. The X-Men can then take her with them to see Xavier on the Shi'ar homeworld, only for Cassandra to swap bodies with her brother when in close enough proximity.

Operation: Zero Tolerance

What if you were a Sentinel? That's the basic premise of "Operation: Zero Tolerance," a storyline in which a mysterious man named Bastion begins persecuting mutants by implanting technology in humans that can change them into Sentinel cyborgs and back. Bastion is relatively successful at first, even taking down a team of X-Men before he's defeated by a ragtag group of mutants led by Iceman. 

Like the famed Marvel alien species the Skrulls, the Prime Sentinels are the perfect hidden threat, as they can completely hide their robotics while in human form. "X-Men '97" can exploit the hidden enemy angle to the fullest by having Bastion secretly transform several of the X-Men's human loved ones into Prime Sentinels, along with several strangers. If the show stays true to the original "Operation: Zero Tolerance" story, it can also introduce fan-favorite characters Cecilia Reyes and Marrow into the "XTAS" universe, as well as bring back Iceman, last seen (not counting flashbacks) in "Cold Comfort." Omega Sentinel, aka Karima Shapandar, could also appear as an upgraded version or "Nimrod" of the original Prime Sentinels.

Not unlike Cassandra Nova, Bastion's origin is a bit complex, as he's a reincarnated version of Master Mold and Nimrod. Rather than find a way to get Master Mold and Nimrod into the Siege Perilous (the magical item that caused the reincarnation), the show could simply have Bastion be an appearance assumed by a time-traveling Nimrod.

The Wolverine miniseries

Despite Wolverine's status as one of the most prominent characters of "X-Men: The Animated Series," his most famous solo story is shockingly never adapted on the show. The four-issue miniseries sees Logan head to Japan to check on his lover Mariko Yashida, where he learns Mariko has been forced to marry another man by her recently-returned father, crime lord Shingen Harada. After losing to Harada in battle, Logan must prepare to face him again while surviving attacks by the Hand, receiving surprise help in the form of Shingen's assassin Yukio.

Wolverine's limited series changed the character's trajectory, evolving him beyond the impulsive, growling rebel of the X-Men. By embarking on a long-term quest, Wolverine gains greater wisdom and cunning, as well as control over his bestial impulses. While the more violent elements of the miniseries would have undeniably been toned down if made into an "X-Men" episode, the less restricted "X-Men '97" could really do the story justice, including Logan's iconic rematch with Shingen at the end of the story. Naturally, it'd also be an opportunity to finally incorporate Yukio and Mariko into the series, which would help Logan move past his feelings for Jean, especially since she and Cyclops get married in "Beyond Good and Evil."

God Loves, Man Kills

If there's one story that really captures what the X-Men are all about, it's "God Loves, Man Kills." Written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Brent Anderson, who is perhaps best known for his work on "Astro City," the graphic novel sees Magneto and the X-Men team up to fight a human reverend named William Stryker. In "God Loves, Man Kills," Stryker twists religious rhetoric to preach mutant intolerance and turns Professor X into a telepathic weapon.

The story could be pretty easily adapted to "X-Men '97." Seeing as Marvel has announced that Adrian Hough is returning as Nightcrawler, the character could appear in the story just as he did in the original, allowing the show to recreate one of the most famous moments between him and Stryker. This would also allow Kurt's own complex views on faith to act as a counterpoint to Stryker's. While Xavier may not be around to fill his function in the story, given that he suggests in "Graduation Day" he might not be able to return to Earth, another telepath could also fill the role.

Riot at Xavier's

Throughout its run, "X-Men: The Animated Series" largely sticks to its core cast of nine X-Men. That doesn't necessarily have to be the case with "X-Men '97," however, especially given just how many interesting characters have walked through the doors of the X-Mansion over the years. 

One particular student of note is Magneto sympathizer Quentin Quire, aka Kid Omega, who recruits his fellow students to form the Omega Gang and stage a riot at the school. Quire, much like Magneto himself, is the kind of villain who can challenge the X-Men on a philosophical level, even if his Gang doesn't pose the same challenge in battle. That said, Kid Omega could use his formidable telepathy to make X-Men like Gambit and Rogue weapons in his riot. However, he'd be most effective as a villain if at least one of the telepaths in the main cast, such as Professor X or Jean Grey, is absent for the story. It'd be quite fortuitous for him, for example, if Xavier is still lightyears away in Shi'ar space. 

A faithful adaptation of "Riot at Xavier's" would also allow the show to bring in other students, like the Stepford Cuckoos and the Special Class. Certain other elements of the story, like Cyclops' psychic affair with Emma Frost, are probably best left in the comics, as infidelity feels a little out of character for Scott's more upright animated counterpart.

Everything is Sinister

Details about "X-Men '97" are pretty scarce at the moment, including information about which villains might appear. One enemy who is virtually guaranteed to make a comeback, however, is Mister Sinister, given Marvel has confirmed that his voice actor, Christopher Britton, is returning for "X-Men '97." How best to celebrate Sinister's return than to recreate a storyline that's all about him — literally?

In the comics, "Everything is Sinister" reveals the X-Men's least favorite geneticist has used the power of the Dreaming Celestial to create many copies of himself, which he eventually organizes into a functioning society where he is the only resident. While Sinister is usually flanked by his gang, the Nasty Boys, in the cartoon, he'd now have his own army of selves to bedevil the X-Men with, along with his usual menagerie of mutant clones. Funnily enough, "XTAS" sets the groundwork for "Everything is Sinister" without realizing it. This is unknowingly accomplished by making Mister Sinister an active participant in its adaptation of "The Phalanx Covenant," as it's the Phalanx's hive mind that inspires Sinister to create a similar connection between himself and his duplicates in the comics. 

The Twelve

The fifth-season episode "The Fifth Horseman" leaves a thread dangling by bringing Apocalypse back in Fabian Cortez's body. Given how Apocalypse's plans on the show tend to be quite grand in scope, there's a storyline of his from the comics that would fit neatly into "X-Men '97": the saga of the Twelve. Uncanny X-Men notes that this storyline revolves around a fabled group of twelve individuals, each prophesied to be "a pivotal mutant around which others will gather" who will "lead all of mutantkind in war against homo sapiens in the twilight of earth." Later stories, however, reveal the Twelve are actually mutants whose powers Apocalypse intends to steal to gain absolute power over time and space.

As fitting a story as the latter would be for the Apocalypse of the animated series, it is similar to Season 4's "Beyond Good and Evil" storyline. In that arc, Apocalypse seeks to rewrite time using other mutants but focuses only on psychics. Perhaps an "X-Men '97" adaptation could stick to the original premise for the Twelve. For example, the series could have a battle-damaged Master Mold, such as the version from "One Man's Worth," travel back from the future after one of Bishop and Shard's attempts to change history leaves alive 12 mutants who lead mutantkind against the Sentinels. Alternately, Nimrod, the future Sentinel who Master Mold usually sends on time travel missions, can hunt down the Twelve instead, leaving Bishop and Shard to again oppose him with the X-Men.

House of M

What if Magneto ruled the world? "House of M" gives an answer, of sorts, to this question by having the Scarlet Witch transform the world into a reality where Magneto rules Earth and humans and mutants live in relative peace, though the former is subtly treated as an underclass in society. This changed world is created not just to satisfy Magnus' deep desires but also to keep the Scarlet Witch from being killed for her actions during "Avengers Disassembled." The true mastermind behind the altered universe, however, is the Scarlet Witch's brother, Quicksilver, who convinces his sister to grant everyone's inner wishes to keep her safe.

While "X-Men '97" could make its version an Avengers/X-Men crossover, it wouldn't be hard to make an adaptation solely involving the X-Men, as the original "House of M" relies on a lot on prior Avengers continuity. That's not to say the Scarlet Witch wouldn't play a role, however. Perhaps rather than having a mental breakdown, a telepathic mutant villain like the Gamesmaster (who frequently cameos in "XTAS" but is never a primary antagonist) could make Wanda warp the world. The story wouldn't necessarily need to end with Wanda depowering most of mutant-kind, as she does at the end of the original "House of M," although that would open the door for adaptations of stories like "Messiah Complex" and "Avengers vs. X-Men."

New Sun

While Gambit has only made a comeback in the comics' more recent years, he's always been a mainstay of "X-Men: The Animated Series," just as he was in '90s X-Men comic book stories. What better way to explore Gambit's prominence on the show than to adapt the storyline that makes him a virtual god? 

In the first Gambit ongoing series, it's revealed that Remy has spent years using only a fraction of his full power, as Mister Sinister removed a portion of Gambit's brain, so his full kinetic abilities don't overwhelm him. During a time travel adventure, Gambit becomes immensely powerful again when he asks the Sinister of the past to restore what his future self removed. This turns out to be pretty convenient timing, as he soon ends up fighting New Sun, an alternate version of himself who accidentally kills everyone on his Earth with his powers and then decides to kill every Gambit in the multiverse before they do the same.

Though it's an interesting story, the New Sun arc can get a little on the confusing side. "X-Men '97" could pare the plot down somewhat and tie it to Gambit's past feud with Bishop by having the time traveler return to the present to stop Gambit's power from causing a massive catastrophe in the future.