X-Men ’97 is approaching one of the best weatherman Storm stories ever told

Perhaps the most impressive thing about it X-Men: The Animated Series is how it committed to directly adapting X-Men comics – or at least coming as close as the Saturday morning cartoon format would allow. And X Men ’97Disney Plus’ new continuation of the classic series does not shirk that mandate.

With the last-minute appearance of a certain mutant and a certain tragedy befalling one of the X-Men’s greatest heroes, ’97The first three episodes show that the season is closing in on one beloved X-Men arc in particular.

(Ed. remark: This piece contains spoilers for “Mutant Liberation Begins.”)

In just the first few episodes of the season, X Men ’97 features three events that will be very familiar to fans of ’80s X-Men comics: Storm receiving a laser beam that robs her of her powers, leaving the X-Men, and then encountering the mutant known as Forge.

Forge (voiced by Yellowstone‘s Gilbert Birmingham) comes up next to Storm in a bar, and she irritatedly asks what his deal is. He suggests that they should work together for reasons that remain mysterious. But based on X-Men history and what’s already been released about upcoming episodes, we can make a strong assumption.

Who is Forge?

Forge’s indelible first appearance, featuring: Smedium striped polo with stand-up collar, Freddie Mercury mustache and shorts. An icon.
Image: Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr./Marvel Comics

Even if you have good memories of it X-Men: The Animated Series, you might need a refresher on Forge’s deal. He was in the original show, but not in a particularly central way; he appeared as the leader of X-Force, but usually appeared in alternate timelines.

Forge has been part of the X-Men setting since 1984, when Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr. took him into theirs Creepy X-Men. Forge (he’s just “Forge”) is a mutant, a veteran, an amputee, and a member of the Cheyenne nation—and at least in Claremont’s early stories about him, he was a man whose unresolved trauma (looking at the rest of the film) his platoon died, causing him to make a major magical mistake) had made him selfish and self-isolating.

His mutant power is entirely mental: superhuman technological intuition. Forge can immediately perceive what machines will do and how to use them, and he can build a technological solution to any problem he is dealing with – although since he does all this intuitively, he may not really understand how the machine works, let alone how to explain how someone else can rebuild it. He used his abilities to make a living as a defense contractor and to build his own specialized prosthesis for the right leg and right hand.

Forge’s presence, combined with Storm losing her powers to a depowering gun, all points toward the classic X-Men storyline “Lifedeath” – considered one of the best Storm stories of all time.

(Ed. remark: If you want to see how “Lifedeath” plays out in the cartoon, without any spoilers, stop reading here!)

What is ‘Life Death’?

Based on this season’s previously released episode titles X Men ’97there are two “Lifedeath” episodes, which mirror the songs “Lifedeath” and “Lifedeath: From the Heart of Darkness” Creepy X-Menpublished in 1984 and ’85, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith.

In the first part of ‘Lifedeath’, Forge brings Storm back to his posh penthouse to recover from his injuries. They spend time together, testing each other’s emotional limits, but ultimately bonding over a shared sense of isolation, of feeling betrayed by their bodies (Forge when he lost his limbs, and Storm with the loss of her powers) and contemplating suicide because of It.

1711541235 674 X Men 97 is approaching one of the best weatherman Storm

Forge breeds in his high-tech penthouse apartment in ‘Lifedeath’ with the help of the holographic transmitters.
Image: Chris Claremont, Barry Windsor-Smith/Marvel Comics

That bond blossoms into a mutual attraction, but like any relationship where one partner guiltily hides something big from the other, it doesn’t last. Eventually, Storm discovers Forge’s secret: that in his job as a defense contractor he built the weapon that depowered her, and she leaves to wander again.

Lifedeath: From the Heart of Darkness finds Storm delirious and alone in an agricultural wasteland in Africa, where, while meeting and helping a community of farmers without using her weather-controlling powers, she comes to terms with her loss and decides to reunite with the X-Men.

It may seem strange that a story about Storm coming to terms with the loss of her mutant powers would be considered one of her best. There were very few female superheroes as titanically powerful as Storm in the 1980s, let alone black ones. But starting with his two “Lifedeath” songs, Chris Claremont made it clear that the purpose of taking away her powers was actually to tell a powerful story, one that added layers of complexity and humanity beneath the character’s operatic veneer . Storm would have many adventures with the X-Men in the three years before Claremont wrote the story where she regained her powers – she even dueled Cyclops for the role of team leader, and won!

So there’s no reason that Storm should get her powers back in this season X Men ’97, and now that a second season has already been greenlit, it’s entirely possible that she won’t. We’ll have to wait for “Motendo/Lifedeath – Part 1,” airing April 3, and “Lifedeath – Part 2,” airing April 17, to find out.