Unlike perennial competitor DC Comics, Marvel Comics hasn’t been able to mount a culturally influential animated show based on its legendary superhero roster. That ends Friday, when Marvel and Madhouse’s dazzling anime X-Men makes its American premiere on G4.
In Wired.com’s second exclusive peek at debut episode “The Return,” Wolverine and Cyclops battle for primacy and purpose after the mysterious loss of X-men teammate Jean Grey, whose incendiary powers incinerated everything within range in last week’s clip. It’s much more impressive than the throw-downs in Bryan Singer’s tepid X-Men blockbuster films, or even the mostly amazing animated series Wolverine and the X-Men.
Most of the credit goes to Japanese anime dynamo Madhouse. The Tokyo-based production company has parleyed the success of amazing features like Ninja Scroll and Metropolis, as well as impressive franchise spinoffs like The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight, into a slate of Marvel reboots that also include Iron Man, Wolverine and Blade.
“When it came time for Marvel to experiment, to try to do something that the worldwide audience [could] appreciate, we went and we got the best people that we could,” acclaimed comics writer and current Marvel television head Jeph Loeb said during the Marvel Anime panel at last week’s New York Comic Con.
Even better, Loeb righted a serious fandom wrong when he contracted deserving talent from his late, not-great series Heroes to star in Madhouse’s excellent superhero cartoons. Adrian Pasdar landed Iron Man’s golden playboy Tony Stark, and Milo Ventimiglia scored Wolverine’s patented snarl.
“I had to follow Steve Blum and all those greats,” Ventimiglia said during a surprise appearance at Marvel Anime’s Comic Con panel. “I grew up on comic books, my dad took me to [the comic store] once a week from when I was 7 years old until I graduated high school. Of course, working with Jeph Loeb, it’s like this is fucking insane — excuse my language — because of all the work that he’d done and the stuff that I had read when I was a kid.”