Fans of the animated X-Men series that first aired on FOX Saturday mornings in the mid-'90s can complete their collection with the release of Volume 5, the final installment covering this version of Marvel Comics mutant heroes. The team's line-up can be found detailed in the review of Volumes 1 & 2.
This two-disc set presents 14 episodes. Ten are from the fifth season, which was picked up unexpectedly by the network at the last minute. The timing of the decision required a new animation studio be employed for the final six episodes, and there's a noticeable difference in artwork. The four remaining episodes were postponed from previous seasons due to production delays.
As stated in a review of Volumes 3 & 4, the episodes are presented in airdate order as opposed to production date. This affects the continuity of "No Mutant Is an Island." In that episode, Cyclops quits the X-Men because he is distraught over Jean Grey's "death" at the conclusion of “The Phoenix Saga,” which occurred in season three. She subsequently reappears alive at the conclusion. The other episodes out of order feature characters that appeared earlier in the series. Former Soviet Union agent Omega Red returns in "A Deal With The Devil." "Longshot" finds inter-dimensional villain Mojo up to his old tricks. Nightcrawler teams with the X-Men in "Bloodlines" to help his mother who is revealed to be a familiar face.
As if villains on Earth weren't enough, the X-Men must deal with alien forces as well. The two-part "The Phalanx Covenant" finds heroes Beast and Forge working with villains Mr. Sinister and Magneto against the Phalanx, a techno-organic alien that is trying to assimilate all organic life. In "Storm Front," another two-parter, Storm travels to Akron's world as only her weather-controlling powers can help his people, but he is not what he appears.
The stories are written better than most superhero cartoons and some have previously appeared in comic books. The plots and resolutions are believable and realistic. They don't come across as if the writers thought children would accept whatever was presented. The only downside is many of the adventures feature a small number of X-Men involved. Unfortunately, there are not many battle royals taking place with the team's full roster. A special treat for Marvel fans is the appearance of new characters to the series such as Captain America, Red Skull, Cannonball, and Sunfire.
Animation and superhero fans don't need to be completists to find a spot on the shelf for X-Men Volume 5.