As I began thinking of what I could contribute to our 12 Days of Christmas event I was stumped. Top 5 and Top 10 lists have been done, and we’ll probably even see many more come out of the CB vault. Then I thought of what I’d truly like to have if I could have anything – well, at least TV related. The answer was simple, and its absence is the thing that needs to be rectified. So now I call upon the holy spirit of Christmas to stop listening to the blabbering of peace on earth prayers and give us what we all want: X-Men: The Animated series.

The geek culture has pervaded the mainstream in recent years. Films like The Dark Knight are heralded – not just by stereotypical comic geeks – as one of the greatest movies made in the last 50 years. Hollywood has cashed in on the milieu that is these incredible worlds of fantasy and What If notions. Off the top of my head there are only two events that truly transcended beyond the geek realm to inform us general folks in a detailed way of the glory that is geek culture: X-Men: The Animated Series, and Batman: The Animated Series.

I don’t discount Lord of the Rings or comic book films such as Bryan Singer’s X-Men. However those are films that, due to constraints of time and ease of viewability, could never delve deep into the mythos that exists. Both the X-Men and Batman animated series are the top two longest running Saturday morning cartoons on Fox Kids, with X-Men lagging slightly behind. In the right hands, and both of these shows were clearly carried by the perfect storytellers, that meant hundreds of hours to tell the stories.

Perhaps you think I’m overreaching with my proclamation of the importance a 15+ year old animated show has had on today’s popular entertainment. Let me give you a personal case in point: when I took my wife to see the first X-Men film I was a font of knowledge and lore for the characters and events being showcased. I explained the “issue” with the uniforms, and who these people were to each other. I, having never read a single X-Men comic at that point (I’ve since read the Joss Whedon run), was quite capable of giving details on a universe I should know nothing about.

This is the same for the millions who have watched the X-Men cartoon series. The uproar that did occur from the film’s change in uniforms came about because the iconic image of Cyclops is of a guy with a tight blue shirt spandex thing, with yellow Hulk Hogan briefs, and a visor. That image is embedded on our minds eye thanks to the animated series. It’s funny to say that, because those “true” hard core X-Men geeks will now rise up and scream that the series was based on the art of Jim Lee. Sure, but Jim Lee’s comic book art is irrelevant. Barely anyone read those comics, but millions of kids like myself tuned in each Saturday morning to see the next installment of X-Men.

That’s part of what happens when geek culture meets the world at large: the geeks lose their exclusive right of ownership over the stories. When X-Men began airing in 1992 I was immediately enthralled. The opening scene of the show sets the tone for the series with video of Sabretooth rampaging, Jubilee’s parents signing her up for the Mutant Registration Act and the attack at the mall by the Sentinels where Jubilee is saved by the X-Men. Remember when all of those people wrote articles about wanting to see Sentinels in the films? That movement rested solely on the fact the Sentinels played a pivotal role in the X-Men series.

I could probably spend the rest of this article discussing how each complaint and concern fans had over the movies is tied directly to the animated series. Would Singer do the Phoenix Saga justice? No, the real question is whether he would he do justice to the five episode Phoenix Saga run in the animated series’ third season. Turns out he didn’t do it at all, and the third film not only botched up Phoenix in general but also jumped forward to the Dark Phoenix Saga. Wait, actually Brett Ratner threw that all away too. At least Singer was capable of translating the best of the animated series to film in a satisfying way.

It saddens me that it is so very hard to catch X-Men: The Animated Series anymore. Reruns air here and there, and Fox even brought the series back for a brief stint when the first film was released. A DVD release of the series would go a long way in reminding us of why geek culture can be brought into the mainstream. Not only that, it’s important to note how influential a supposed kids show can be 10 years later. If it weren’t for X-Men kids wouldn’t have grown into adults with disposable income to burn on the entertainment based in the realm of the geek. And while you can’t directly attribute Spider-Man’s or LOTR’s success to the X-Men, I highly doubt so many would have been interested if a geek phenomenon hadn’t been brought to their attention with an intelligent and thought provoking style during their formative years.

Stories of intimacy (Morph changing into Rogue to get Gambit all hot anyone?), Christianity, the holocaust, racism, as well as others were a major part of the show. I was at the age where I’d stopped watching cartoons when X-Men premiered, but I recognized it wasn’t like the shows I’d enjoyed previously. It’s a wonder there wasn’t more of an uproar regarding the content of the series. There was a lot of darkness and death. Even Morph, a semi-original character in the series, was designed simply to be killed. To show that death is an option and a reality. That’s some heady stuff for a kid to handle on a weekly basis. His popularity did force the writers to bring the character back, but the simple act of creating a character on a kids show for that purpose is powerful.

I want a lot of things for Christmas, but what I really want is to be able to sit down and revisit the X-Men cartoon series one more time. A DVD release, an aired in order super marathon, or at least a promise from Fox that some sort of option to own the complete series is in the works. So much of what I enjoy today at the movies and on television is informed by the stories I watched unfold each week at the X-Mansion.

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