X-Men ’97 1×03 Review: “Fire Made Flesh”

Jean Grey vs Madelyne Pryor in 'Fire Made Flesh' (Screengrab: X-Men 97 Season 1 Episode 3)
Jean Grey vs Madelyne Pryor in ‘Fire Made Flesh’ (Screengrab: X-Men 97 Season 1 Episode 3)

The third episode of the X-Men 97 animated series, titled ‘Fire Made Flesh’, didn’t waste time unveiling the Jean Grey clone and her connection to Mister Sinister.

With a Jean Grey doppelganger showing up at the X-Mansion at the end of the previous episode, ‘Fire Made Flesh’ picked up a second later with the X-Men clearly confused about the identity of the true Jean Grey. According to Nathan’s mother, the two redheads shared the same memories. So, it made sense for Beast to step in and conduct a genetic analysis.

Beast’s results concluded that the visitor Jean Grey was indeed the real Jean (her carbon signature was older) while Nathan’s mother (aka Madelyne) was the clone. I liked how the revelation disturbed Madelyne, especially with the team doubting her authenticity so quickly. I kind of felt for her during that particular moment.

With Jean reuniting with her team and Madelyne feeling insecure about her position, Mr. Sinister decided to contact Madelyne and share the reason behind her creation. As usual, all Mr. Sinister wanted was a way to have a baby between Scott and Jean. He wanted to harness the potential of the Summers and Grey genes. Due to that having been accomplished, it was time for Madelyne to bring Nathan to Mr. Sinsiter.

Now, why didn’t Mr. Sinister simply make a Cyclops clone and have him hook up with a Jean clone in his basement to make everything easier for himself? Well, I guess, Mr. Sinister enjoys the drama of messing with the real Scott Summers. The X-Men narrative threads have always been heavy with soap opera elements.

Madelyne’s transformation into the Goblin Queen made for some enjoyable visuals (every Evil Magical Girl-esque). However, I do feel the writers could have done a better job of explaining her connection to the Goblin Force and the accompanying green energy power signature.

Under Mr. Sinister’s control, Madelyne decided to psychically mess with the X-Men before leaving the X-Mansion. The attack sequence at the school was Gothic Horror inspired which is to be expected when Mr. Sinister is involved in the storyline. Jean Grey had to come to the team’s rescue as they fought a horde of hellish demons in the astral plane. Yay to Cyclops charging up Bishop with his optic blast for a powerful combo attack against the creatures.

The psychic assault also played into the insecurities of certain characters. Gambit was obviously uneasy about Rogue rekindling her relationship with Magneto. She’s able to touch Erik without harming him. We got some queer drama concerning Morph’s crush on Wolverine. And we got to see Sunspot’s mother being ashamed of his mutation.

I do feel that Rogue and Magneto won’t be hooking up ever again. She’s very much in love with Gambit and won’t hurt him like that (or so I hope!).

As for Morph, the way he walked into the shower after seeing Wolverine naked did make the fandom raise a certain question. Morph was too casual with his attitude, insinuating that he and Wolverine might have messed around in the past or Logan was a bit too comfortable showering with Morph. Let’s see if Morph’s feelings for Logan come back up again.

X-Men 97 Season 1 Episode 3 review Fire Made Flesh
Punk-era Storm in ‘Fire Made Flesh’ (Screengrab: X-Men 97 Season 1 Episode 3)

Magneto, Morph, and Cyclops vs Madelyne at Mr. Sinister’s base was well-choreographed even though Erik going to face a telepath without an effective counter made no sense to me. Anyway, Magento facing off with Madelyne showcased that even if you’re going against an Omega-level mutant, you can gain the upper hand through versatility. While Mags can control metal, Maddie can control basically everything!

With the men losing to Madelyne, an exhausted Jean Grey showed up big time by astrally projecting herself to the hidden base all the way from the X-Mansion and trapping Madelyne. Again, even though Maddie’s a clone of Omega-level Jean Grey, the original’s way too competent in her powers. There’s no way Jean Grey was losing a psychic battle, even in a weakened state. Also, Jean Grey is the Phoenix. No clone can replicate that.

The astral plane was well-animated with Jean’s powers visualized via her signature pink energy. And while immensely powerful, Jean still felt empathy toward Maddie and tried to help her through her current emotions.

Even though Maddie was a clone and her past was “borrowed” from Jean, she was still a living being. She was still Nathan’s mother and his well-being took priority. Maddie didn’t have to do Mr. Sinsiter’s bidding. Her teaming up with Scott to rescue Nathan from Mr. Sinsiter made sense.

Mr. Sinister managed to infect Nathan with the techno-organic virus and he had to be sent to the future with Bishop by the end of the episode to find a possible cure. I get that the situation with Nathan’s origin story might ruffle some features in the X-fandom. But I’m personally okay with the changes made in the episode. Frankly, I’m very “Meh!” when it comes to anything related to Nathan aka Cable.

After sending Nathan to the future, ‘Fire Made Flesh’ had Maddie leave the X-Men to carve out a new path for herself while Jean Grey stayed behind to try and bond with her teammates. I’m looking forward to seeing how she will reconnect with Scott after everything. Also, a major side-eye to Logan for trying to (kind of) take advantage of a weakened Jean Grey by having her tap into his romantic feelings for her. Logan needs to move on already.

Coming to Storm, she appeared during the closing moments of the episode. Storm, in her Punk-era look, was having a drink in a pub in Dallas, Texas, when Forge took a seat next to her. I knew she was going to cross paths with Forge to begin the ‘Lifedeath’ arc, but what I wasn’t expecting was Forge introducing himself as an old friend of Professor Xavier’s and ready to help Ororo regain her powers.

The writers are definitely going to change certain things from ‘Lifedeath’. Let’s see if said changes are good or not. We will find out soon enough. At this point, I just want Ororo back on the team ASAP.

As for the pacing, I understand certain viewers feeling that the series is breezing through the storylines. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m digging the quick pace. It reminds me of how the classic comic books would go through a major arc in 2 or 3 issues instead of dragging storylines for months with numerous tie-ins.

The iconic X-Men: Days of Future Past storyline from 1981 only covered issues 141 and 142 of The Uncanny X-Men series. So, depending on the type of story being told and the team of creatives working on it, I feel a faster pace allows for better editing and a tighter narrative, elements the X-Men 97 animated series has displayed three episodes in. 

What did you think of X-Men 97 season 1 episode 3 ‘Fire Made Flesh’?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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