Is There a Connection Between X-Men: The Animated Series and Onslaught?
Did aspectd from the X-Men: The Animated Series story arc "The Phoenix Saga" inspire the '90s X-Men comic crossover event, Onslaught?
Disney+ isn’t perfect. The interface is a little bit underwhelming, the auto-play doesn’t always work and sometimes finding where you left off isn’t the easiest of tasks.
There’s a lot of content on the service, even if you have to dig for it through the search function. What we didn’t have to look very hard for is X-Men: The Animated Series. It’s not the first time it’s been available on a streaming service, but with it now being offered on Disney+ it’s been given new life.
Us older fans are allowed to relive some of the best times of our adolescent TV-watching careers. What it also gives us is the opportunity to appreciate some of the more subtle influences the books had on the series and vice versa.
It should be common knowledge by now that the classic X-Men comic crossover event of the mid-90s Age of Apocalypse was inspired by the 4th season, a two-part episode called One Man’s Worth.
In it, Professor Xavier is assassinated by the time-traveling mutant known as Trevor Fitzroy. He’s sent to the past by Nimrod where he successfully killed the Professor and subsequently altered future events.
Unlike the comics where Apocalypse came to power and ravaged the planet in the X-Men’s absence- in the TV-show, mutant/ human relations degenerated to the point where the present timeline had become an all-out warzone. The conditions of the two stories weren’t the same, but the cause and outcome were basically identical.
However, there is at least one more instance worth mentioning. Let’s look at something that I don’t recall being brought up before.
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In all of entertainment, there is only one successful adaptation of Chris Claremont’s Phoenix/ Dark Phoenix Saga. That honor belongs to XTAS. It’s nowhere near as expansive and drawn out as Claremont’s tale, but again, the show did it better than two movies.
During the first and second episodes of the 5-part Phoenix saga, Professor Xavier was haunted by an otherworldly presence reaching out to him from across the cosmos. In the end, we learned that it was Lillandra of the Shi’ar Empire, and while it wasn’t her intention, the contact drove Xavier quite mad.
Throughout the episode, Xavier’s subconscious lashed out and attacked his X-Men, one at a time, attempting to kill each of them while pointing out their faults.
Something similar to this happened in the books. After witnessing Magneto brutally rip the adamantium from Wolverine’s skeleton during Fatal Attractions, Xavier attacked Magneto’s mind reducing him to a drooling husk of a man.
What Xavier didn’t realize is what impact it’d leave upon his own psyche. A piece of Magneto’s mind merged with the darker impulses of Xavier’s subconscious and created a brand-new personality that would emerge when Xavier would lose consciousness.
The personality would come to call itself Onslaught. Wielding all the powers of Xavier’s mind and even Magneto’s manipulation of the magnetic spectrum. Onslaught would go on to manifest in the physical realm, and also absorb the reality shifting and telekinetic abilities of Franklin Richards and Nate Grey, respectively.
Something else that’s reminiscent of the animated series is Onslaught’s handling of Juggernaut. Similar to how Gladiator embarrassed him during the Phoenix Saga, Onslaught did much of the same to the unbeatable one in the books!
The stories concluded quite differently but that’s two instances of similarities we can track to the books in as many episodes.
I don’t know about any of you, but to me, it sure looks as if Onslaught creators Mark Waid, Scott Lobdell, and Andy Kubert may have drawn some inspiration from a Saturday morning institution.
It’s not an indictment against the X-Men writers. It is, however, a monument to how impactful X-Men: The Animated Series was to fans and creators alike.