X-Men ’97: Every Storyline Teased for Season 2

What to expect when the hit animated series returns for Round 2.

X-Men ‘97 has just wrapped up its ten-episode first season, but we know Marvel Animation is already deep into development on Season 2. What will the next season be about? What villain can possibly top the living Sentinel Bastion? Thanks to Episode 10, we have a much better idea of what’s next for our mutant heroes.

Let’s take a closer look at the important teases in “Tolerance Is Extinction” and other storylines this season. From the return of Apocalypse to Wolverine losing his adamantium to the possibility of Onslaught becoming a major threat, these are the plot threads we expect to see in Season 2.

The Rise of Onslaught

No sooner does Professor Xavier return to lead his students than he crosses a major moral red line in Episode 10. When faced with the realization that Magneto can’t be reasoned with, Xavier forces his way into his old friend’s mind and reverses the damage done to the Earth’s electromagnetic field. This is an act that’s sure to bring with it some serious ramifications.

This twist draws heavily on the 1993 comic book crossover “Fatal Attractions.” That story climaxes with Magneto ripping the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones and a vengeful Xavier lashing out and wiping Magneto’s mind. However, that mindwipe brings with it an unintended consequence. The dark side of Magneto’s psyche travels into Xavier’s mind and begins to fester. Ultimately, a new villain named Onslaught is created as a psychic melding of the worst parts of Xavier and Magneto. Once Onslaught learns how to take physical form, the X-Men are in for the fight of their lives.

Art by Ian Churchill. (Image Credit: Marvel)

Episodes 9 and 10 seem to be setting up that twist with Xavier entering Magneto’s mind. Onslaught makes sense as a major villain for X-Men ‘97, someone with the power to easily rival that of Bastion. In fact, Onslaught proved such a threat to the Marvel Universe in the original comic book storyline that the X-Men had to ally with the Avengers and Fantastic Four to stop him. X-Men ‘97 has already brought in one Avenger in Captain America. Could the full team be next?

The Onslaught storyline could also pave the way for the series to explore the connection between the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Reed Richards and Sue Storm’s son Franklin is himself a mutant. He’s arguably the most powerful mutant alive, with the ability to warp reality and create entire pocket universes out of pure imagination. Franklin becomes key to stopping the threat of Onslaught.

Wolverine Loses His Adamantium: What’s Next?

Just as in “Fatal Attractions,” Wolverine learns in Episode 9 what happens when you push Magneto too far. The Master of Magnetism pulls the very metal from Logan’s bones, which begs the question of why they didn’t put Wolverine on the Gold team instead. Fair warning – we’re about to spoil what happens to Wolverine in the comics, so stop reading here if you don’t want potential spoilers for X-Men ‘97.

Again, the immediate result of this act in the comics is that Xavier psychically lashes out and mindwipes Magneto. Xavier’s reaction in the show is comparatively mild, but he still hijacks his old friend’s mind for the greater good of humanity. And for Wolverine, the damage is already done. Losing his adamantium is the start of a long journey for the character, one that we may now see play out in Season 2 of X-Men ‘97.

In the comics, Wolverine’s healing factor shorts out due to the trauma of Magneto’s attack. This is also when he discovers for the first time (post-amnesia) that he has bone claws beneath the adamantium, raising new questions about his past and true mutant nature. Wolverine temporarily leaves the X-Men, coming into conflict with villains like Lady Deathstrike and Cyber and undergoing the same process of healing and self-discovery we saw Storm face in the “Lifedeath” episodes.

Wolverine’s healing factor eventually returns with a vengeance, no longer having to accommodate for all the toxic metal polluting his bloodstream. That eventually causes Logan’s body to mutate, transforming him into a feral, bestial shadow of his former self. Luckily, Logan eventually regains touch with his humanity.

Wolverine does eventually get his adamantium back in the comics. He’s kidnapped by Apocalypse and brainwashed into becoming the new Horseman of Death. To increase his Horseman’s fighting prowess, Apocalypse restores his adamantium skeleton. Logan eventually breaks free from Apocalypse’s control and returns to the X-Men, whole once more.

It’s easy to see X-Men ‘97 adapting some or all of these storylines. The series hasn’t prominently featured Wolverine in Season 1, but that looks to be changing for Season 2. We may see him leave the team to recover from his injuries and get back in touch with himself, paving the way for episodes revolving around his rivalries with Lady Deathstrike, Cyber or Sabretooth and maybe even delving more into the character’s connection to Japan. This could also be a perfect opportunity for X-Men ‘97 to explore Logan’s full origin story, something the comics hadn’t yet established when X-Men: The Animated Series was originally on the air.

We may also see the series explore Logan’s regression into a feral monster and his recruitment into Apocalypse’s Horsemen, especially with all the Apocalypse teases in the Season 1 finale. Whatever happens, it seems safe to assume we’ll see a lot more of Wolverine in future seasons of X-Men ‘97.

The Rise of Apocalypse

“Tolerance Is Extinction” may have left the door open for Onslaught in a future season, but it seems the focus is shifting to another, more familiar X-villain in Season 2. The closing scenes in Episode 10 strongly hint that the next season will revolve around Apocalypse.

In fact, that episode teases a three-pronged conflict set at multiple points in Apocalypse’s long lifespan. One group of X-Men have traveled back in time to 3000 BC, when a young En Sabah Nur is battling against the Pharaoh Rama-Tut (or as we like to call him, Kang the Conqueror). Another group has traveled to the distant year of 3060 AD, when a young Nathan Summers and Clan Askani are the last form of resistance against Apocalypse’s reign. Meanwhile, in the present, Apocalypse is seen mourning the dead of Genosha and contemplating resurrecting Gambit as his new Horseman of Death.

Art by Adam Pollina. (Image Credit: Marvel)

How exactly these three time periods are meant to intertwine remains to be seen, but we assume all of these threads are connected. Based on his appearance in the final season of X-Men: The Animated Series, we know Apocalypse has hijacked the body of Fabian Cortez and returned to power. But is world domination his goal, or does he see himself as the protector the battered mutant race needs in these dark days?

Again, we’ll likely see Gambit resurrected as the Horseman of Death in Season 2, and we doubt he’ll be the only hero recruited into this fearsome foursome. If tradition holds, Apocalypse will recruit other mutants to his cause, either willingly or unwillingly. This could be how Wolverine recovers his adamantium. Apocalypse will likely also be the catalyst that brings Archangel back into the picture, as he usually has a vested interest in fighting his old master.

Also, expect a big reveal regarding the identity of young Cable’s protector, Mother Askani. Suffice it to say, the Summers/Grey family tree is one confusing mess, and it’s only going to get messier. Speaking of which…

Vulcan: The Missing Summers Brother

Season 1 dives headlong into the convoluted nightmare that is the Summers/Grey bloodline, introducing Jean’s clone Madelyne Pryor and revealing Cable’s tragic origin story. We’re expecting Season 2 to dig even deeper into this bizarre family tree with the return of Vulcan, Cyclops’ long-lost brother.

Vulcan is teased in Season 1’s sixth episode, where he’s shown to be a member of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. In the comics, Vulcan was born into Shi’ar slavery after his parents were abducted. There, he eventually escapes and returns to Earth, becoming a member of Professor X’s forgotten second team of X-Men. But after Vuclan and his team are seemingly killed by the living island of Krakoa, Xavier wipes all traces of their memory, robbing Cyclops of a brother. That is, until Vulcan returns with a vengeance.

We don’t know how closely X-Men ‘97 will adapt that material, as it appears the show’s version of Vulcan has remained under Shi’ar servitude rather than returning to Earth. Regardless, we expect Cyclops to face a flood of emotions as he uncovers the existence of a brother he never knew he had. Presumably, the series will also get around to exploring the sibling relationship between Cyclops and Havok. And it may even show Vulcan trying to usurp the Shi’ar imperial throne for himself, as in Uncanny X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire.

Art by Billy Tan. (Image Credit: Marvel)

Operation: Galactic Storm

When Vulcan makes his debut in Episode 6, he’s shown fighting as a member of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, who are serving in the cataclysmic war between the Shi’ar and their rivals, the Kree Empire. That war is based on a 1992 Avengers crossover called “Operation: Galactic Storm.”

In Operation: Galactic Storm, the Avengers once again find themselves caught in the middle of an interstellar war between two opposing empires. We know the same is true in the animated series, as former showrunner Beau DeMayo revealed that many of the Avengers have been called away from Earth to intervene in the war (hence why they’re not around to lend a hand against Bastion).

We suspect the effects of the Kree/Shi’ar War will continue to play out in Season 2. If the show follows the example of the comics, the Kree will be devastated by the detonation of a weapon called a Nega-Bomb and the Shi’ar will emerge victorious. But how will Empress Lilandra react, and will she face new challenges to her throne from her treacherous sister Deathbird?

This subplot may be a way of bringing the Avengers to the forefront in future seasons. We already got a Captain America guest appearance in Episode 7, and saw both he and Iron Man protecting the President in the finale, but what about the full lineup of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?

Anti-Mutant Hysteria

Things were definitely looking up for the mutant race at the beginning of Season 1. Relations between humans and mutants had improved, mutants had a country of their own in Genosha, and Xavier’s dream finally seemed within reach. But that’s all taken a very dark turn thanks to Bastion and Operation: Zero Tolerance. Anti-mutant hysteria is on the rise, and at the moment, there aren’t even any X-Men around to keep fighting for the dream.

In that sense, we’re expecting Season 2 to carry a darker and less optimistic tone. The X-Men may have saved the planet yet again, but that only counts for so much in a world that seems to hate and fear mutants as much as ever.

We expect that Season 2 will focus on two characters in particular when it comes to exploring the boiling tension between humans and mutants. Reverend William Stryker is shown in a news interview in Season 1, suggesting that the series will eventually adapt the events of 1982’s X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. That story is also notable for inspiring the 2003 movie X2: X-Men United, though in that case Reverend Stryker was reimagined as a military officer and Weapon X leader.

The other character is Graydon Creed, who will be familiar to fans of the original animated series. Creed was the founder of the Friends of Humanity in Season 2, ultimately being discredited after his mutant parentage was exposed. But Creed seems to be on the rise once more, with a radio broadcast in Episode 10 revealing that Creed is fast becoming a major political rival to the more liberal, mutant-friendly President Kelly. If Creed manages to unseat Kelly, the X-Men could be facing an even more dire political climate.

The Debuts of X-Force & Generation X

There may not currently be an X-Men team in the wake of Episode 10, but Season 1 has hinted at the possible debuts of other mutant teams. We wouldn’t be at all surprised to see X-Force and/or Generation X make their debuts in Season 2.

X-Force is a more militaristic counterpoint to the X-Men, a team led by Cable and tasked with taking a more proactive approach to stopping threats to mutantkind. Based on Episode 10, it seems Cable is marooned in the year 1997, so we could see him spearheading a team to carry on the legacy of his time-displaced parents. If so, expect characters like Domino, Shatterstar, Feral, Warpath and Rictor to join the fray in Season 2.

Generation X, meanwhile, was the designated team of teenage mutants during the ‘90s X-Men comic book era. That team was led by Emma Frost and Banshee and featured members like Jubilee, Skin and Monet. Let’s not forget that Emma recently emerged from the ruins of Genosha, so the series seems to have plans for her down the road. Could she take charge of Xavier’s ruined school and recruit young mutants like Jubilee and Sunspot to form a team?

Art by Chris Bachalo. (Image Credit: Marvel)

T’Challa as Black Panther

Black Panther is among the many Marvel heroes who make a cameo appearance in Episode 10, as we see him defending Wakanda from the attacking Prime Sentinels. But interestingly, we later learn that the Black Panther of the X-Men ‘97 universe isn’t T’Challa, but his father T’Chaka.

We can only assume that this was an intentional choice on the part of the writers, one designed to pave the way for a story where T’Challa inherits the mantle from his father. But why would that be the focus of an X-Men series? One possibility is that X-Men ‘97 will explore the relationship between T’Challa and Storm.

The comics have established that T’Challa and Storm share a romantic relationship dating back to before the days when T’Challa was crowned king. The two even married during the midst of 2006’s Civil War crossover, with Storm becoming queen of Wakanda for a time. Their marriage was eventually annulled, but that doesn’t change the fact that she and T’Challa share a close bond.

Could we see Season 2 adapt the Black Panther/Storm marriage storyline? Will Storm be torn between her loyalty to the X-Men and her responsibilities as a global leader? Again, Season 1’s Black Panther cameo seems to be the harbinger of much bigger things to come for the character.

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