Revisiting X-Men: “Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas”

In the early nineties, two animated series came along that literally changed the game going forward. There was Batman: The Animated Series which is still heralded as one of the great cartoons of our era for its distinctive art style and episodes which didn’t dumb themselves down (too much, at least) for its intended grade school age audience. The second was X-Men, which was probably one of the more narratively ambitious animated series up to that point simply because it cared about continuity. These two shows matured the medium and led to the embarrassment of riches we’re experiencing today. They also each had Christmas episodes, but we’ll be ignoring Batman’s in favor of “Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas”.

We open on Christmas Eve with Rogue (Lenore Zann), Jubilee (Alyson Court), and Cyclops (Norm Spencer) decorating a massive Christmas tree while singing “Jingle Bells” and by that I mean the two ladies are drowned out by Cyclops and his atonal warbling which I hope the voice actor enjoyed doing. Meanwhile, Wolverine (Cathal J. Dodd) is sitting nearby and suffering under the title of “grumpus” since he’s not a fan of Christmas for reasons unknown and which are never elaborated upon. Guy just doesn’t like Christmas, but I suppose a man that old with such faulty memories wouldn’t be a fan of family get-togethers.

The other X-Men are busy prepping, with the exception of Storm (Alison Sealy-Smith) and Professor X (Cedric Smith) who are just hanging around chatting. Jean Grey (Catherine Disher) and Gambit (Chris Potter) are battling over Christmas Eve dinner in a conflict that lasts throughout the episode. Beast (George Buza) is off by his lonesome trying to make things for dinner using various chemicals. Then an alarm goes off! Who is attacking the Mansion on Christmas Eve?!

The answer is no one. Beast’s culinary experiments have literally blown up in his face and it’s probably a good thing that particular dish didn’t make it to the dinner table. Unfortunately, this brief promise of violence was the only thing that cheered Wolverine up and he’s none too happy when he’s drafted into a shopping trip with Jubilee and Storm. He rightfully calls the wisdom of such a trip into question.

This begs the question of whose money they’re using for this since none of them have actual jobs. This, too, is never explored. While they’re shopping, Wolverine’s ire grows and once they’re out of the mall and at the skating rink he wants nothing more than to disembowel some skaters. Luckily for them, two Morlocks soon crash an ambulance onto the ice and his anger is redirected towards them. Storm and Jubilee are more understanding and learn that they stole the ambulance for the medical supplies in the back which they need for an ailing Leech. Storm, who is the leader of the Morlocks after an earlier duel with former leader Callisto, helps them escape the incoming police and the three X-Men follow them to their sewer lair.

Storm quickly formulates a plan: Wolverine will use his field medicine expertise to stabilize Leech so he can be taken to the Mansion. He can’t be taken to a hospital since the first attempt resulted in Leech’s powers going haywire. Unfortunately, Leech’s condition has deteriorated too much and he can’t be moved. Plan B is for Wolverine to swap blood with Leech in the hopes that the former’s healing factor will keep the latter alive long enough for Rogue to bring Beast to the sewers, possibly by carrying him the entire way and it’s a sad thing that we don’t get to see this.

It turns out that Wolverine isn’t on board with this plan since he’s tried it twenty times and it only worked twice, but Storm forces him to do it anyway. He snaps back that maybe Leech wouldn’t be in this predicament if Storm had actually done her job as the Morlock leader (a sentiment openly shared by Callisto) but Storm isn’t having it. Wolverine still goes through with it.

This whole time, Jubilee has been hanging out with a little anime-eyed girl named Marianne and talking about how sad everything is, especially on Christmas Eve. Marianne responds to this by showing Jubilee around and being generally happy about her lot in life. We also learn that Leech is responsible for obtaining the food and decor, so without him the Morlocks are kind of screwed. Jubilee expresses wonder at all of this but Storm assures her that the Morlocks have more than the young mutant thinks.

Eventually, Wolverine decides he’s had enough of this and just yanks out the transfusion needle which seems like it would be messy. Luckily, Beast and Rogue arrive just in time to give Leech a clean bill of health. Leech awakens and freaks out when he sees Beast, which seems weird since he’s a Morlock and sees such sights on the regular.

Leech’s survival fills everyone with Christmas spirit. Storm relinquishes control of the Morlocks to Callisto and Jubilee offers her presents to the Leech and Marianne and one must wonder why she bought toys for her adult teammates. The team also decides to stay to eat dinner with the Morlocks in the sewers, much to Gambit’s chagrin, but why didn’t they just bring all that food to the Morlocks too? Or take them to the mansion? Anyway, the episode ends with everyone but Gambit happy and isn’t that all anyone could ask for?

As an episode of X-Men, this wasn’t their best effort but what else could they have done? Most of their villains wouldn’t have cared a whit about Christmas, especially Magneto who is canonically Jewish, so a relatively low-pressure low-stakes adventure like this is all they could have done. It does succeed as a Christmas episode, what with Wolverine slowly coming around to the holiday and the dying kids. Everyone knows dying kids are super Christmasy.

Except Gambit, probably.

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