This is the one-hundred and seventy-eighth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and seventy-seven.
Special Theme Week! Some how, some way, this week features three legends involving the animated version of the X-Men!
COMIC LEGEND: Steve Vai did the theme song for the X-Men animated series
Reader Mikey Reynolds wrote in the other day to ask:
Is it true that world renowned axe master Steve Vai wrote the theme song to the nostalgia filled 90s X-Men cartoon? I’ve heard this rumour countless times…
If you don’t know who Steve Vai is, he is a popular rock ‘n’ roll guitarist who got his big break playing guitar in Frank Zappa’s backing band when Vai was in his early 20s. He started a solo career soon afterwards, and has released over a dozen solo albums.
Now, right off the bat, I sorta figured “no way.” Then again,
A. It’s not like Steve Vai has not done some cheezy stuff in the past, like that Ralph Macchio movie during the 80s!
B. It was not just Mikey who was wondering this – I saw the Vai piece of information a bunch of other times on the ‘net.
So I figured it was worth looking into, and, when I did so, yeah, it is not Steve Vai.
The X-Men series had two theme music composers, Ron Wasserman and Shuki Levy. Wasserman did most of the series, but it was Levy who wrote the actual theme song.
Levy has the song available on his website for those who are interested. Check it out here!
Wasserman’s website has a neat music player, too, here, with some rather interesting songs (the Trollz cartoon series did not need nearly as good of a theme song as Wasserman gives it).
So there ya go!
If you ask most people where the X-Men first showed up on cartoons, they’d tell you the ubiquitous failed cartoon pilot, “Pryde of the X-Men,” which was aired quite a few times in the late 80s and early 90s.
This was the one that featured Wolverine as Australian instead of Canadian (an Australian as Wolverine?!?!? That’s prepostero…oh, wait…).
Some fans, though, might recall that the X-Men had a few rather ignoble appearance on the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends series, as Firestar and Iceman were, after all, intended to be former X-Men at the time.
However, the X-Men made their ACTUAL debut almost two decades earlier, in about as unlikely of a source as you might imagine – the Sub-Mariner TV show!!!
Readers Britt and Mick both wrote in to explain the deal, and it’s quite fascinating.
You see, the cartoons at the time were made up of basically just crudely animated actual comics by Marvel (as you might imagine, the artists who were having their work animated without being compensated were not too pleased). The problem was that was that the Fantastic Four were licensed to another cartoon company, so in this cartoon, made up of mostly an Fantastic Four comic book, the X-Men were substituted for the FF, fighting against the Mole Man.
Professor X shows up to say a precursor to Machine Man’s classic Nextwave line, as Xavier says, “My mutant brain senses danger!”
Xavier says this a couple of times, and finally, he sends the X-Men into action against the Mole Man’s crew…
Here comes the high-flying Angel!
Here’s Jean Grey!
There goes the Beast!
Here’s Iceman, running like an imbecile…
And here is Cyclops, ready to blast the Mole Man and his pals!
The X-Men Animated Series debuted on Halloween, 1992, with the first part of a two-parter called “The Night of the Sentinels.”
The premiere was a gigantic success. One Fox Kids executive noted that while the success of Power Rangers made Fox Kids a force to be reckoned with, it was the premiere of X-Men that took the network from third to first among viewers.
That’s how notable the series premiere was.
The amazing thing to note now, though, is that the premiere was aired before it was actually truly ready to be shown!!
The first episode was originally meant to air soon after Labor Day in 1992. It was moved back a month, from September 12, 1992 to October 10, 1992.
However, the animation on the program was just not ready yet, so it was pushed back another two weeks to October 24, 1992.
Finally, with delays still affecting the series, it was pushed to October 31, 1992.
At this point, the important thing was just making sure the series got started – a month and a half delay to the debut of a heavily promoted TV series is not a good way to go, so finally, the decision was made to just go with what they had so far, and what they had so far was an unfinished project, not so’s that most fans noticed, though.
One fan, though, DRG4, noted them all, and DRG4 helpfully lists them all at a website here, including deleted scenes, edited scenes, etc, DRG4 shows the original clip followed by the edited clip. Great stuff.
Here are a sampling of some of the changes (DRG4 has a lot more, though – again, do check out the site here).
Jubilee was in a scene she was not meant to be in…
The soldiers fighting the X-Men changed looks between Part 1 and Part 2, so that was fixed…
Cyclops’ glasses weren’t red…
Rogue absorbed Wolverine’s powers while her hand was colored as though she had a full gloved hand…
Gambit’s eyes weren’t glowing….
Beast was not finished being shaded….
And the special effects weren’t all put into the cartoon…
The corrections were made soon enough, and in January of 1993, the corrected versions ran as a one hour version of the X-Men (episodes 1 and 2 together).
Still, it’s amazing that the show as such a hit when it wasn’t even finished!
Thanks, of course, to DRG4 for the amazing amount of work put into detailing the changes! Be sure to check out DRG4’s site for more Marvel cartoon info!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!