So remember the X-Men: Mutant High
and 1999 Spider-Man
show's I mentioned in my Excelsior! - A Retrospective of the late 80’s/early 90’s X-Men and Spider-Man Series guest post
? Well here at long last is the very long follow up to that:
New Millennium Heroes! - A Retrospective of X-Men: Mutant High and the 1999 Spider-Man Animated Series
Post from Nostalgia Zone Net-log, by Terry Vera. September 22nd, 2015.
So a few months back I did a retrospective on the heavily influential and legendary late 80’s/early 90’s X-Men
animated series which both debuted in the late 80’s and lasted well into the mid 90’s. If you haven’t seen it there’s a link here, but I thought it was about time I went over the two animated series based primarily on the same respective characters which followed in their wake, 1999’s Spider-Man
and 2000’s X-Men: Mutant High
Now the thing about both shows is unlike with their predecessors, I never actually watched them as they were coming out. I was in High School by this point and as much as Marvel and comics were becoming more mainstream and ‘cool’, I was going through a bit of a weird phase where I thought I just wasn’t interested in watching animated Saturday morning cartoons. While I did eventually watch both shows, it ultimately wasn’t until the mid-2000’s when both shows had finished their runs and I was in college that I finally took the time to give them a try.
What did I think when I finally saw them? Well I can honestly say I came to regret not giving X-Men: Mutant High
a chance earlier. As for Spider-Man
? Well I’ll go into that in a bit, but first here’s some context surrounding the creation of both shows.
An ITTL after effect of the rising Marvel Cinematic Universe in the late 90’s is that Marvel Comics started getting a huge boost in sales as the movies helped draw in new fans. Naturally Marvel TV execs wanted to tape into that for two of their main lines whose cartoons ended right before this new boost. (Source: TFW2005)
In late 1998, the Marvel Movie Universe was getting into full swing with the Avengers only a mere two years away from lighting up our theater screens. Comic sales meanwhile were reaching a bit of a high point as interest from the films and animated shows drew in more new readers every day. Of said shows, the original 90’s MCAU was on its last legs as the Avengers
were currently airing what would be their final seasons, while the original Fantastic Four, X-Men
animated series had all finished their respective runs on TV, with the latter two have finished their runs before Marvel had reached this new high.
Though both shows had seen a preview boost in sales from their films, it was noted that the hype for the upcoming Avengers
movie combined with the popularity of the animated series was drawing in a unprecedented number of new sales for Avengers comics and the respective main characters featured in a primary roles in the show, like Captain America and Iron Man. For Spider-Man and the X-Men however, both their animated shows had ended a few years before and the previous increase in sales had since begun to drop or weren’t rising as high, though X-Men would see some boosts following the release of each film. It was perhaps worse for Spider-Man, as even ignoring the current issues driving down sales in his comic at the time and the fact he would appear in then upcoming Avengers
film, his last mainline starring role in a film was in 1995 and he wouldn’t return again to star in his own film until 2004.
So as you might expect, Marvel became interested in bringing back Spider-Man and the X-Men to the small screen in the hopes it’d help boost comic sales. While Spidey and the mutants had appeared in supporting roles in the Avengers show, Marvel wanted to expand the recent sales boost created by the films and shows for Spider-Man and X-Men by ordering new shows centered on both to be made. Makes sense right?
Well there were two points of issue that Marvel had to figure out, that being continuity and well Spider-Man himself.
One repercussion of there being a smoother and less chaotic ITTL 90’s Clone Saga
that didn’t fail ITTL like it did in OTL is that Marvel was now forced to handle a weird situation it never had to in OTL: How to adapt Spider-Man in animation while still trying to boost sales when in said comics the more popular well known person known to the public behind the mask (whom let's not forget the most recent films were also about) is now retired and his replacement has a bit of a convoluted and complicated backstory that might turn new fans away. (Source: TVTropes.com)
The first was a fairly simple decision all things considered: Should Marvel try to fit both shows in the 90’s MCAU and make the shows continuations of the previous shows or should they start fresh in a new continuity? And if they did start in a new continuity, should both shows be set in the same continuity, or separate ones? Ultimately Marvel decided it’d be less of a hassle to try and start fresh then to continue where both previous shows left off. In terms of continuity they also decided to have 1999’s Spider-Man
and X-Men: Mutant High
to be set in two separate continuities and not have to worry about potentially contradicting each other as had been a frequent concern with the earlier animated shows. While the wider Marvel universe would exist and be mentioned or even shown in both shows, it wouldn’t be until 2009 that Marvel Animation would again attempt a single unified animated continuity, but I’ll get to that one day.
Unlike the relatively simple issue with continuity though, deciding how to handle Spider-Man would be much more complicated. See in 1998, Marvel’s current main Spider-Man was not Peter Parker, rather it was instead his clone Ben Reilly. Peter Parker at this time was basically “retired” for the most part, and wouldn’t officially come out of retirement for another three years. Instead the retired Peter was busy raising his first child Ben Parker alongside his wife Mary Jane Watson while also working as an assistant to Reed Richards. Whenever Peter did put the suit back on, it more often than not was to help the F4 as the unofficial fifth member of the Fantastic Four, leading to the team in this era to often be lovingly referred to by fans at this point as the Fantastic Five .
This naturally led to the question of whether Marvel should make the show about Ben Reilly or Peter Parker, since at the end of the day the show was meant to help further boost the sales of the comic, especially since of all the comics at the time Spider-Man was the one receiving the smallest boost. As you can imagine, making a show about Peter Parker when he wasn’t even Spider-Man at this point in the comics seemed a bit contradictory to this, which left Marvel in a bind.
Though not actually a member of the team, this era of Peter’s life ITTL would eventually often be referred to by fans as his Fantastic Five era, having ironically all but finally joined the team after decades following their first meeting in Amazing Spider-Man
#1. (Source: Fandom.com)
On one hand, Peter Parker was considered the safe choice for the central character. Not only was he the more familiar Spider-Man to general audiences thanks to his previous three live action films and the original 90’s cartoon, but (at least to execs and some readers) he, unlike Ben Reilly, also didn’t have a complicated clone origin attached that viewers would need to accept and wrap their heads around if they wanted to watch the show. Ben Reilly on the other hand had a more complicated backstory but was the main Spider-Man, which meant the show’s mission to promote the comic meant they should be trying to focus on him rather than Peter.
This therefore led to a bit of a behind the scenes battle, with some prominent Marvel and Disney TV execs really wanting the show to be about Peter Parker, while Marvel Comics Editorial (who had a few influential ties of their own to some Disney and Marvel execs and used them to involve themselves with the show) strongly wanted it to be about Ben Reilly, with some even arguing that Ben, unlike Peter, outright needed the show. They arguably weren’t even wrong to think so, since despite Marvel Editorial’s stubborn support of Ben Reilly over Peter Parker at the time , sales for Spider-Man comics had indeed stagnated and weren’t exactly doing as great or at least as many new readers compared to other Marvel comics since Ben Reilly had fully taken over as Spider-Man.
In fact it was even noted by some detractors of Ben Reilly that 1995's Spider-Man 3
had not resulted in nearly as big of a sales boost as the first and second film had, in likely no small part due to the fact that by the release of Spider-Man 3
Ben Reilly had already seemingly permanently taken over the role of Spider-Man and Peter had retired. Simply put, far too many new comics readers seemed to get confused about Ben’s presence and the clone origin  or didn’t like the fact the comic didn’t star Peter (which still remained an issue even despite Ben’s growing fanbase) and despite this Marvel Editorial had no intention at this time of bringing back Peter officially despite some increasing pressure to do so.
And none of this was even getting into the fact that the original highly celebrated Spider-Man: The Animated Series
cartoon would no doubt cast a long shadow on this new upcoming successor show, so a lot of people at Marvel Entertainment wanted to distance themselves from it and make something distinct from the previous show, so the shows creators (Duane Capizzi and Patrick Archibald) also had to factor in the fact that later half of the last season of the early 90’s cartoon had already adapted the Clone Saga, nor that while the whole behind the scenes battle between Marvel TV execs and Comic Editorial was going on upper Disney management was currently distracted by a massive proxy war with right wing crazies and religious nuts.
The end result of all of this messy behind the scenes, which would notably continue a bit on throughout the shows run even after it’s premiere (though not nearly as openly since by the show’s premier in 1999 Disney upper management was no longer distracted by the whole proxy war), is that the showrunners decided to just split the difference and centered the show on both Peter and Ben by having both share the title of Spider-Man rather than have Peter retire, even opening the show  with yet another direct adaptation of the 90’s Clone Saga (meaning if you watched this and the previous show back to back, you’d be treated to essentially watching two consecutive adaptations of the exact same six month storyline).
The messy battle to decide who to center the show on would go on to dominate the behind the scenes for the 1999 Spider-Man
animated series, leading to the show to try and center itself on both. (Source: benreillytribute.x10host.com)
While the show’s dual protagonist nature was interesting in my opinion, in my view the show as a whole ultimately suffers a bit from a sense of listlessness as it struggles to both define itself and escape the shadow of its predecessor. It honestly just feels like the team behind it weren’t sure what to do half the time and often weren’t sure who (between Ben and Peter) to even focus on. A lot of that was certainly due to the ongoing behind the scenes drama and Duane Capizzi leaving after the first season, but another was clearly a sense of fear of being unable to match the award winning and critically acclaimed beloved show which came before it. Not helping things was the way the show decides all too often to just keep going back and adding even more Clone Saga-type shenanigans even after the conclusion of the first opening episodes, leading to it often being nicknamed by fan as Spider-Man: The Clone Saga Animated Series
as a way of differentiating it from it's predecessor when it's not simply called the 1999 cartoon.
In fact not only do they make Jackal the main villain of the first season, but they keep adding additional new clone characters other than Ben and Kaine, to the point that the show just makes you honestly all cloned out and tired of clones in general. Marvel certainly got cloned out too, since clones got really uncommon in comics for a few years after the end of the first season. Don't get me wrong, sure some of the new clones created for the show like the Spider-Woman , Armsy , Spider Gwen Stacy  and the Spider MJ clones that show up in a few episodes are all actually kind of interesting and well written (even if the concept behind them are kind of simple and cliché), but if I’m being honest they’re more the exception than the rule. Instead most of thirteen new clones introduced in the show, like the kid clone from the 7th episode, the clone of Ben Reilly (not Peter) from the 9th episode, just overall all feel tacked on and lazy, ultimately feeling more like the showrunners just wanted to add more clones just for the sake of adding more clones.
Still there are plenty of things to like here despite the various problems the show has. Voice actor Rino Romano for example brings to the table a pretty well done take on wall crawler, even if he’s ultimately no Robert Hays (though to be fair, I don’t think any Spider-Man voice actor, except maybe Josh Keaton, has escaped Hays’ long shadow). In fact I’d go as far as to say that one thing he actually manages to improve over Hays is that he makes the effort and does a good job at making his voices for both Peter and Ben both distinct yet still similar enough to make it clear they are technically the same voice. Tom Kane meanwhile provides a memorable performance as the Jackel, while Jennifer Hale makes for a decent Mary Jane Watson, though like with Peter/Ben, one can’t help but compare her to OG 90’s cartoon MJ actress Joely Fisher.
Ultimately while the show has its core fans even to this day, it definitely struggled to keep most of its audience as it went along and ultimately only lasted two seasons before it got canned, something which I can’t say I’m all that surprised about having watched it. The main aftermath to note about the show’s relative failure and the behind the scenes spat that was going on during it between Marvel Editorial and Marvel TV Execs is that it barely did anything to increase sales of the main comic and in fact did a lot to weaken the strength of the pro-Ben Reilly faction at Marvel Editorial to the point that Ben got killed off in 2001’s ‘The Death of Spider-Man
’ comic  and Peter got brought back out of retirement during Tom Delfaco’s third run on Amazing Spider-Man
later that year, where Peter would mentor Stanley O’Brian, a teenager who like Peter before him would find himself gaining incredible Spider-like powers when he’s bitten by a radioactive spider .
So in a way Marvel Editorial’s steadfast and stubborn pushing for Ben Reilly to be made the sole star of the show inadvertently led to his death in the comics, the very return of Peter Parker that Marvel Editorial had originally been against, and the introduction of fan favorite and new Marvel Editorial golden boy Stanley O’Brian. Go figure.
While not really exact, there are definitely a number of similarities between OTL X-Men Evolution
and ITTL’s X-Men: Mutant High
where you can consider it it's OTL counterpart,
although the argument can be made that it's also this timeline's equivalent of Young Justice
despite being Marvel and not DC, due to being made by the same creators and having a similar kind of story telling. (Source: Wikipedia and GeekDad)
The good news is that for all the ongoing issues with 1999’s Spider-Man
, the other new Marvel show which followed it, X-Men: Mutant Hig
h, would manage to escape any such needless drama when it premiered in early 2000, which thank god because this show is way too good and I honestly don’t know what I would have done if it got sabotaged by pointless behind the scenes drama. Then again if it had been ruined by BS, I probably wouldn’t be here wanting to gush and rave about it.
Though it would also find itself facing having big shoes to fill (although not nearly to the extreme as Spider-Man
did), X-Men: Mutant High
chose to try and escape the looming shadow of its predecessor by not adapting any particular X-Men comic or team and instead creating something new and holy original, focusing not on the classic X-Men but on the next generation of young mutants who were destined to succeed them. Instead of giving the spotlight to the well known X-Men, the show would instead focus on a group of six young new and original mutants created for the show who would find themselves attending Xavier’s School for the Gifted and gathered together in a new young team as the next generation of the X-Men . Meanwhile traditional X-Men characters like Xavier, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Beast, Colossus, Shadowcat, Storm, and Jean Grey would be relegated to older mentor roles as the various professors of the school. While they were still recurring characters and there might be a episode or two where the OG characters got a bit of direct shine and attention, showrunners Greg Weisman, Craig Kyle, and Victor Cook pointedly kept the focus on the show's six primary protagonists. In fact, of the OG classic X-Men, only Wolverine (voiced by David Kaye) would find himself getting a really prominent role and even then only due to his familial connection and mentorship with one of the show’s main characters, Musume Oyama aka Weapon XIII .
I suppose that’s actually as good a jumping point as any to talk about the show’s main six protagonists, and there’s no better place to start than the aforementioned Weapon XIII (or as she’s later known in later seasons, Talon), who is voiced by Grey DeLisle. The tragic daughter of Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike, Masume was forcibly (although arguably only confirmed as such in the comics) conceived while both her parents were a part of the Weapon X program and grew up under the program that bred her where she was trained as little more than a weapon and assassin, at least until she escaped her handlers and sought out her father, leading to her enrollment at the school. Throughout the show the quiet and anti-social Masume is forced to learn how to be a human girl and not a weapon, growing over the course of the show’s seven seasons from a cold, emotionless former weapon to a thoughtful and caring girl, Masume would often find herself facing off against Weapon X and her own mother Lady Deathstrike throughout the shows run, as said mother sought to return her wayward daughter back to the Weapon X program she served.
Quickly becoming a fan favorite following her premiere in the show, Weapon XIII would also become the first original character from the show to make the transition from the small screen to the comics, debuting in the comics less than seven months following her debut on the show. While most if not all of her fellow teammates would follow her into pages of comics, Masume stands as the fastest to do so.
Basically the ITTL of both of these OTL fan favorites, as Weapon XIII is basically X-23 but with an origin closer to that of OTL Cassandra Cain. (Source: fightersgeneration.com and DCDatabase.com)
Joining Masume as a main character on the show is her best friend, a character who technically both is and isn’t an original character: Rachel Summers aka Marvel Girl (voiced by Tara Strong). Now if you're a X-Men comics fan who’s lived under a rock and never watched the show you might start scratching your head here since Rachel Summers is very much not a original character that was invented for the show having debuted all the way back in 1981 as part of the famous Days of Future’s Past
comic, and you’d technically be right to think so. The reason instead that I say that this Rachel is an original character is because though she shares the same name, powers, and parentage as her comics counterpart, she does not share her origin nor much of her comic personality.
Though her comic origin would be given a nod in Season 2’s Days of Future Past
themed episode , this version of Rachel was not a time traveler from a war torn future where mutants were hunted like her comic counterpart. Instead this version of Rachel grew up in a peaceful life, if somewhat sheltered life by both her parents. Having grown up without having to deal with anti-Mutant racism due to her upbringing, Rachel starts the series as a bit of an arrogant spoiled brat but quickly finds herself forced to face the ugly truth of just how the world views mutants as she leaves her sheltered childhood and joins the school where she also finds herself facing the scrutiny of classmates due to being the daughter of two of the school’s leading professors. Over the course of the show she goes from being arrogant and stuck up mean girl to humble and very empathetic woman who cares for others and finds herself being a proud defender of Mutant Rights .
Oh and did I forget to mention that due to being the daughter of Jean Mother F-ing Grey she’s also destined to be the next host of the Phoenix Force and therefore the most powerful mutant ever, which becomes a bit of a major plot line for Season 4? No? Well now I did, so you're kindly welcome.
Anyways I’d say that overall this version of Rachel is pretty different enough from her comics counterpart that I would honestly equate them almost as being two separate and distinct characters. She’s also debatably the more interesting of the two, though that’s probably more a matter of personal opinion. Sadly she’s the only one of the main show’s team to technically not debut in the comics afterwards, though comics Rachel did start taking on a lot of personality quirks from show Rachel, particularly her friendship with Masume/Weapon XIII and her memorable ice cream obsession.
Whether Marvel will ever do more than that, I guess we’ll see, but with the show reaching its 15th anniversary this year, I doubt it. 
The appearance of the show’s version of Rachel Summers would mostly resemble this image of her OTL comic counterpart. (Figurerealm.com)
Next is Matthew Lincoln aka Starforce (Voiced by Khary Payton), the leader of the young team of mutants. Just as Rachel stands in as the teams equivalent to Jean Grey/Marvel Girl and Masume stands in as its own Wolverine, Matthew stands in as the teams own equivalent to Cyclops, as not only is he the leader, but his light based powers are not too dissimilar from that of Cyclops own (although truthfully they arguably more resemble that of Cyclops brother Havok), as they allow him to store any light that comes into contact with him in his body, making his body almost like a battery, and then release that light energy in a devastating photonic attack .
While Starforce goes through less character development over the course of the show, with him already starting out as a charismatic and gifted leader who stands as the team's rock of stability. Instead where Matt’s development comes in is not through some massive character change, but instead that he has to learn how to actually gain experience and try to manage being a team leader. It's not just handed to him and he's suddenly a great leader, instead he has the potential of one but has to earn and grow into the role. Really the show does a great job of representing that just because someone has a natural talent for leadership, it does not mean they are instantly a leader or that they suddenly have the experience to do so.
Where the real juicy stuff with Matt’s character comes into the show is in how it deals with and demonstrates the struggle of a black kid who's already dealing with racism due to the color of his skin also has to deal with racism from being a mutant. If done badly that topic could honestly have sunk the show, but I think it does a great job at maturely handling the issue and providing good commentary on racism as a whole. In fact one of the episodes centered on Matt’s personal struggles with racism towards fellow blacks and mutants, “Sunkissed
” from Season 2, even went on to be nominated for an Emmy.
While I can't say he's exactly my favorite of the team (Masume, Tempus, and Biokenis are my personal favorites), he still makes for a pretty cool and compelling character. Plus his romance with Tempus in later seasons is honestly adorable.
Though not strictly the same, there would be a lot of similarities between the ITTL show and the OTL comic New X-Men: Academy X
. (Source: Amazon.com)
Next there was Julian Vargas aka Biokenis (voiced by Dante Basco), the loud and bombastic biokinetic (hence the name) whose powers, though at first seemingly giving him nothing but a simple ability to heal others, quickly grow in scope as they are revealed to actually give him complete and total control and manipulation over any and all biological matter he comes into physical contact with .
In some ways representing the teams equivalent of Bobby Drake and Shadowcat due to being the youngest and the least mature, Julian ultimately goes through the darkest arc of the series when in season 3 it’s revealed that with his powers not only can he remove another’s mutant mutation, but he can also make anyone who’s not a mutant now suddenly a mutant, which can be transmitted worldwide when combined with his ability to affect bacteria in order to create any kind of plague or virus he desires. Over the course of season 3 Julian finds himself becoming the number one target of various mutants like Magneto and his Brotherhood as well as the various human factions who oppose mutantkind, as each wishes to either use his power to either make everyone mutants (in the case of Magneto, who I should mention is voiced here by Tom Kane), use him to end all mutants, or simply kill him to ensure he can no longer potentially do either, culminating in him eventually becoming orphaned when his home is attacked and his family is killed.
From then on Julian goes from the comic relief of the main cast to a much darker and more moody character, bitter and angry against the world. And while it ends up being the love and support of his team that helps to prevent him from falling off the metaphorical edge of the cliff and truly going down a darker path, we still end up paying witness to the devastating destruction Julian can cause if he ever snaps across multiple instances of the show. A prime example of this comes in late season 3 when a angry and vengeful Julian infects the entire town of human supremacists whose leaders killed his family with a painful mutation that not only makes them all mutants but deforms their appearances and leaves them all looking monstrous and inhuman, before leaving them all at the mercy of a group of oncoming Sentinels, an act which comes to haunt him and fill him with guilt throughout the rest of the show.
Yeah, for a supposed kids show, it surprisingly doesn’t hold itself back. This show can and does get very dark, despite being technically aimed at kids.
Anyways, even with the support of his friends, it’s not until season 5 when Julian encounters a future version of himself in Bio that our Julian finally starts trying to move away from the dark path he’s been marching himself towards over the past two seasons. Bio, a alternate future version of Julian who snapped and wiped out most of all life on Earth in his future with a deadly virus, becomes the central villain of the show’s 5th season when he travels back in time and decides to ‘fix’ everything by forcibly turning every human on Earth into mutants , leading to the team and Biokenis to have to undo it (even if it puts them at odds with Magneto who wants to defend what Bio has done) when it’s revealed that Bio’s fragile psyche caused him to mess up the virus and that all the new ‘mutants’ he created are cellularly degrading and dying.
Like I said, Julian is probably one of my favorites, as he goes through the darkest arc yet he still manages to come out of it a (mostly) good person, even starting to crack jokes again by the seventh season.
While Biokenis is sort of this timeline’s equivalent of Elixir from OTL’s X-Men, as a character he and his powers end up coming more in line with Amy Dallon/Panacea from OTL’s Web serial Worm
. (Source: Fandom.com and Pinterest)
Next is Cynthia Cartwheel aka Tempus (voiced by Venus Terzo), probably the most heroic (she's certainly the shortest) member of the team even if she arguably has the weakest power. Though her power allows her to control time by pausing, speeding, slowing down, or reversing it, she can only do so for a limit of up to 15 seconds for each and she can’t try going back or forward consecutively after use without becoming exhausted or blacking out. While she can and has temporarily broken that 15 second limit during times of extreme stress, even in one episode going back a whole day into the past and in another accidentally launching herself decades into the far future (leading to my favorite episode of the second season that gave us its own interpretation of Days of Futures Past
), for most of the series she tends to be stuck with the small 15 second interval time limit to her powers.
Yet where she lacks in power she makes up for in motivation and pure heroism, being the first team member to decide to join the X-Men and serving as the team’s heart and soul, if not the Team Mom . Of course she’s not perfect, and like a lot of the characters on the show she has her own flaws. In Tempus’ case it’s the fact that she can at times be a little too selfless and overbearing, which stems from the loss of her grandfather, a police captain who lost his life saving hundreds from a terrorist attack a few years before. It’s his heroism which ultimately inspires Cynthia to try and follow in his example and be the best inspirational hero she can be. Yet often this results in her both being willing to get involved and put herself in danger she sometimes can’t handle if she thinks someone else is in danger and needs help as well as often being overly concerned for her teammates and being willing to sacrifice herself for them due to fear of losing them.
Still it is something she eventually gets a handle over during the course of the series, as in later seasons she’s willing to trust her teammates to handle themselves and not being as self-sacrificing as in the beginning. Plus hey, despite being the weakest member of the team, you can’t say she isn’t a total badass considering she gets pretty skilled and eventually even manages to solo and take down freaking Magneto in the sixth season with nothing but her wits, her fists, and her short term control over time.
There's a reason I love this pint sized total badass.
Basically an earlier version of X-Men character Tempus from OTL, although with a different real name, personality, and origin. (Fandom.com)
Finally completing out the original six members of the main cast is Jake Jackson aka Canvas (voiced by Quinton Flynn), a character whose powers allow him to temporarily bring up to five things at a time from any image he sees to life which he can fully command and control. An example of this is during his first scene when he takes a photo of a rampaging Juggernaut who’s trying to capture Jake under the orders of Magneto and then proceeds to bring to life two weaker copies of the Juggernaut himself to fight the original.
Now you’d rightfully think that’d make him really OP, especially with the fact that the copies he creates can have the same powers and memories as the original person at the moment the photo or painting was taken/made, but there are tons of interesting little limits to Jake’s power. Some of these include a time limit for how long a copy can exist in the real world before it begins to weaken and disintegrate (which will occur at a faster rate depending on how more powerful the original source is), a copies powers often being somewhat weaker than the original, a hard limit that lets him only create five copycats at once and makes him wait until one disintegrates before he can summon another, and a limit which makes copies of objects more stable and long lasting than copies of people, particularly mutants. A result of that last means he more often tends to create copies of really powerful objects like Thor’s Hammer (which lacks the worthy limit of the original but otherwise gives him the same power of Thor while using it), Captain America’s Shield, Doctor Strange's cloak, or even a fictional plasma gun from a video game he likes playing, since he ultimately has less reason to worry about them quickly disintegrating at an inopportune moment.
Jake of course isn’t a perfect character despite his arguably OP power. In fact, as much as this sarcastic and witty kid did start to grow on me over the course of the show, he nonetheless starts off as a very unlikable and rude brat, not helped by the fact he can and has caused drama due to abusing his powers. In one season 1 episode he gets rejected by a pretty girl while visiting the town near the school and has the bright idea of stealing a photograph of her to create a copy of her that will date him, which if you’ll remember the fact that he has complete and total control over all his copies and that they have the memories of the original makes this honestly pretty creepy and disgusting (especially with some of the implications the show eventually makes about the copies behind sentient/aware living beings), even if you excuse it due to Jakes being so young (he’s barely fifteen in the first season). Thankfully the show and it’s other character agree with me at it being creepy and disgusting since it makes a huge point to show how wrong and vile Jake was for doing that, but that ultimately is just an example of how terrifying Jake’s power is and how willing he is to abuse it.
And sadly it’s not the last and only time he will abuse it. When his mom dies in a car accident in season 3, he keeps trying to bring her back as a copy and tries to hide the fact from his team, thereby nearly getting them hurt in a battle because he didn’t tell them he was using one of his copy slots and could only create four copies rather than his usual five. When the anti-mutant Senator Kelly seems poised to get a worrisome piece of Anti-Mutant legislation passed in the 4th season that the rest of the X-Men are trying to peacefully and legally prevent getting past, Jake has no issue going on his own to betray the teaching of Xavier and the professors as well as the rules of law by creating a copy of Emma Frost to change the memories of four senators allied with Kelly while creating and marching four impersonating copies of those very same senators to ‘turn’ on Kelly and vote down the bill.
If you've ever watched something like Chalkzone
, you'd think being able to bring anything from an image, whether fictional or real, to life as a power seems pretty tame, but now imagine having complete control over them and the people or objects being brought to life having the same powers and memories as the original, and put it in the hands of a completely irresponsible teenager. Not so tame now is it? (Source: Pinterest)
And while he does improve over the show, even choosing in season six to only create copies of people who approve being copied beforehand, his is definitely one of the most terrifying and most easy to abuse powers in X-Men and they are ultimately in the hands of a person who very frequently demonstrates over the course of the show that isn’t entirely responsible with them. Let’s just be thankful that he never went villain, at least not in the show (yes readers, I’ve read the recent issue of Uncanny X-Men and yes Canvas going bad is definitely terrifying .)
Still I can’t deny that some of my favorite episodes from the show have involved Jake’s powers or been caused by them.
One great example of this is season four’s, Phoenix Reborn
, which involves the one and only time Jake ever manages to actually break the limit on his power and create a permanent copy of a person that doesn’t disintegrate or affect his number limit. For those who haven’t watched the episode, basically during a fight with Emma Frost and her students (I’ll get more into that in a moment) he creates a copy of a eighteen year old Jean Grey from when (at least in the timeline of the show, since she was probably much older in the original comic at that point) she was Dark Phoenix, only for her to then not to disintegrate as normal after a certain time, even when he loses his control over her and regains his fifth copy slot. Long story short, the X-Men realize the Phoenix Force intervened to save the copy of its favorite host, they have to fight her, and we get treated to an awesome battle between a Phoenixed up Jean Grey and Rachel Summers against the Dark Phoenix and defeat it. Not a super complicated episode, but definitely a cool and fun one, especially since it ends up giving us the show’s version, and what is arguably my own favorite version, of Madelyne Pryor .
As for the aforementioned Emma Frost thing, in the the show’s second season they decided to introduce and adapt the Generation X
storyline from the comics, which in case you might have forgotten basically involved a rival mutant school that was headed by X-Men nemesis Emma Frost (voiced by Erica Schroeder). Naturally it had its students who served as rivals to our heroes, with the most prominent and recurring being Chamber, the M-Twins, and Synch. Eventually the school would be attacked by human supremacists in opening of Season Six, resulting in most of what’s left of the school either merging with the Xavier institute or joining Magneto, thus forcing our heroes to have to get used to the idea of not only having former enemy Emma Frost as a teacher but being classmates with the kids they were rivals with and once fought against. That season as a whole does a good job at showcasing former enemies and rivals being forced to get used to the idea of no longer being on opposing sides and having to come to accept each other and work together for the common good.
1994's Generation X
comic still comes into existence ITTL just like it did in OTL, leading to it getting adapted in the show as a recurring rival mutant school who often come into conflict with our heroes. (Source: TVTropes)
Honestly there’s a whole lot more about the show I can gush about, like how it introduced a lot of fan favorite characters who would see themselves make the transition to the comics like Pixie, Surge, Prodigy , Hunter, Freightrain, and Weapon XIV , the show’s outstanding third, fourth, and fifth seasons (all the seasons are great, but those three are really when the show reached its height), or how it did a fantastic jobs of dealing with a lot of the themes of the original comics like overcoming and peacefully fighting discrimination and still also balanced in everyday normal regular teenage problems and issues like relationships, school, and puberty, or how it went on to define and influence the course of X-Men comics for years after more than even the 90's cartoon did. But honestly if I did we’d be here all day if I did and this post is getting way too long, so all I’m going to say is that I’m really glad I finally went back and watched this masterpiece when I did and if you haven’t watched it you really need to give it a shot, even if you aren't an X-Man fan.
Anyways, next time I’ll be talking about Marvel's second attempt at doing a Spider-Man show following the end of the classic 90’s animated series when I discuss 2002’s Spider-Man Unlimited
 - Not surprising perhaps since while Peter isn’t really officially a member of the team, he joins in their adventures often enough that he’s all but a fifth member.
 - This is sort of tying into the attitude of Marvel Editorial that in OTL lead to the infamous and justifiably hated One More Day
comic where Peter Parker and Mary Jane sold their marriage to the devil to save a dying Aunt May. Essentially a number of people at Marvel Editorial don’t like Peter and MJ’s marriage and don’t want to have to deal with it, hence why a lot of Marvel Editorial is rallying so much around Ben Reilly here ITTL. Basically Ben being the main Spider-Man lets Marvel have its cake and eat it too as they get to retire Peter without undoing his marriage and give him his happy ending, while at the same time telling all the stories they want with a single Ben Reilly. The fear of bringing Peter officially back is that it’ll undo all that and open the can of worms they just shut on whether or not to end the marriage like they eventually did in OTL, while also disrupting Peter’s happy ending.
 - Let's be fair, Ben’s origin is a lot more convoluted for a new reader than Peter’s relatively simple origin is, meaning new readers need to understand or know about both the 70’s and 90’s Clone Saga just to understand Ben and his origin. Seriously, as much as I like Ben Reilly, it’s hard to imagine him being able to stay as the main Spider-Man for long, even with the ITTL 90’s Clone Saga being a lot cleaner and shorter than in OTL.
 - The first three episodes of the show that adapted the comic clone saga would then later be merged together and repackaged as a TV movie that could then be sold on home video, kind of like how the first few episodes of Aladdin: The Series
and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
in OTL became Aladdin 2: Return of Jafar
and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
TV movies that in OTL got sold on home video.
 - Sort of a ITTL version of Ultimate Jessica Drew, in that she’s a female clone of Peter that appears in a one off episode. She notably eventually makes her own ITTL comic book semi-debut in the form of Mary O’Brian during the ITTL early 2010's when the third Spider-Man, Stanley O’Brian, gets his own little three issue clone saga, with the main difference between the cartoon and comic versions being which Spider-Man she’s cloned from.
 - Basically a clone of Peter from a one off episode who was born with 6 arms and becomes Man-Spider like in the OTL 90’s show.
 - Before anyone complains, Jackal is known for having a Gwen Stacy obsession and frequently makes Gwen clones when he's not making Peter clones, so the idea of him making a clone of Gwen but with Peter's powers is not outside the realm of possibility. Ultimately this Spider-Gwen, for lack of a better term, won't really resemble her OTL in any way, simply being a clone that shows up in a one off episode who's a version of 616 Gwen who also just so happened to have Spider powers. In a show that keeps almost seemingly throwing darts at a wall to see which clone idea can stick, it was bound to have eventually created Spider powered clones of Peter's love interests, Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy.
 - Notably since this was the death of the second Spider-Man and led only to the original Spider-Man returning, there’s no general expectation that Ben will necessarily return, so don't worry about this leading to the beginning of the OTL comic trope of death being a vacation that emerged prominently after the OTL Death of Superman
 - As mentioned before in my ITTL Spider-Man 2 movie guest post
, Stanley is basically a earlier ITTL equivalent to Miles Morales.
 - So basically the ITTL equivalent of OTL’s X-Men: Evolution
, but if it leaned more into New Mutants aspect, with elements of OTL’s 2001’s and 2004’s New X-Men
plus New X-Men: Academy X
mixed in. I’d argue it can also be viewed as this timeline’s equivalent to the Young Justice
cartoon, since it’s from the same creator as that and OTL’s Spectacular Spider-Man
and has a number of similarities to Young Justice
despite being X-Men focused rather than DC. In fact, considering this show ends up treating the older classic X-Men much the same way Young Justice
treated and handled the Justice League, I’d say the comparison is even more appropriate.
 - Basically ITTL’s version of X-23, who still exists because her creator Craig Kyle is still involved like he was with OTL’s X-Men Evolution
. Though she has a somewhat similar origin and identical powers (like OTL X-23 she has two claws on her hands and one on her feet along with the general Wolverine power set), the ultimate big difference (other than her prominent Japanese ethnicity) between this version of Laura (named Masume, which is Japanese for Daughter. If you can’t take the hint, it’s because that is the only thing she was ever referred to as growing other than Weapon XIII) and her OTL counterpart is of course the lack of cloning in her origin which is mostly as a result of cloning headache caused by the then ongoing 1999 Spider-Man
show making the showrunners for this X-Men show want to steer clear of clones whenever possible. Instead her origin is kind of more similar to that of OTL’s Cassandra Cain, except instead of Lady Shiva for a mother, it’s Lady Deathstrike.
 - If you know about Rachel Summers in Days of Future Past
, you can probably already guess what said hint is of. If you don’t, look up Rachel Summers Hound. It's honestly kind of messed up.
 - I’d kind of almost compare her to Weiss Schnee from RWBY
, if you want a example of a character with a similar character development and transition.
 - In ITTL 2018, so about three years after this was written, they would sort of finally do this by having Rachel Summers in the comics experience and gain the memories of an alternate life and childhood which is basically almost or at the very least similar identical to her life from the X-Men: Mutant High
show. Thus sort of trying to merge comic Rachel with her popular show counterpart.
 - Admittedly I’m taking inspiration for this character's powers (Just the powers mind you) somewhat from an original character from a X-Men fic called Extraordinary Times
. I’d highly recommend reading it if you haven’t and are a fan of the X-Men.
 - While one could argue that he could be considered the ITTL counterpart/equivalent of Elixir, in truth Biokenis’s powers (and arguably much of his character direction after season 3) more closely resemble that of Amy Dallon/Panacea from the web serial novel Worm by Wildbow
, minus the fact that like Elixir and unlike Amy, Biokenis can also affect his own biology. There’s no manipulation of life force like Elixir has, instead Biokenis how the full ability to control, reshape, and manipulate any and all biological matter he comes into physical contact with.
 - Arguably that makes this arc from the show’s fifth season the ITTL equivalent of House of M,
since it features a world where mutants "win" and everyone is a mutant.
 - If you want examples, you can almost say she’s the Katara (from Avatar: The Last Airbender
) of the show, though sort of also mixed with Ruby Rose from RWBY
 - You'd know that if you read the Hensonverse's Uncanny X-Men #598!
In all seriousness though, Canvas has a scary OP power and when combined with his willingness to abuse it and his general a-hole type attitude, it's unsurprising that ITTL comic book writers would decide to make him a villain for a bit. The show writers for X-Men Mutant High
even briefly considered doing it for the show's third season as well before they went with the dark and tragic Biokenis arc by considering having Canvas betray the team. While it didn't happen, knowing his character doesn't really make it all shocking.
 - So yeah that’s sort of how the show introduces Madelyne Pryor, who both is and isn’t a clone. She’s basically a copy of Dark Phoenix era Jean Grey created by Canvas that due to an intervention by the Marvel Universe’s literal embodiment of life and creation basically got saved when she would have started disintegrating after Jake’s power was no longer attached to her and therefore keeping her alive. She then goes on to fight the X-Men, her older self, and her alternate daughter before getting defeated and separated from the Phoenix by the combined efforts of her older self and alternate daughter. Then she kind of finds herself struggling to move past the trauma of not being the real Jean Grey, having been Dark Phoenix and briefly being completely and totally having her body and will controlled by Canvas, as well as having a hard time adjusting to living in what is essentially her future with her alternate future self and said alternate future self’s daughter and husband Cyclops (who from the perspective of young Jean was her boyfriend before she got copied and brought to the future). In the following season young Jean runs away from the school, goes rogue, and meets Magneto. She briefly then becomes a villain in Magneto's Brotherhood for a while before getting a redemption arc in the final season, rejoining the school, and even starting a romance with Logan. Oh and during all this she decides to adopt the name Madelyne Pryor, which in the universe of the show is Jean’s middle name (Madelyne) mixed with her mother’s maiden name (Pryor).
 - All three of whom you might notice are the ITTL equivalents of the characters from the same name. Though all of them were created in OTL in 2004, the reason they or rather alternate versions of them still exist here is because they were all created by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir. In case you aren’t aware they’re both comic book and television writers, having worked on X-Men comics and the show Kim Possible
. I figured therefore it’s not outside the realm of possibility they end up working on this show and end up introducing some of the same, or at least close approximations, of the X-Men characters they created in OTL.
 - Think X-24 from the OTL movie Logan
. He’s basically a mindless clone of Wolverine who’s under the control of Weapon X.
So yeah that was a lot. I guess tell me what you think?