‘X-Men ’97’: “Fire Made Flesh” Ending Explained

Like its predecessor, X-Men: The Animated Series, X-Men ’97 will likely never be criticized for moving too slowly. The original Fox series often moved quickly through popular arcs lifted from Chris Claremont‘s Uncanny X-Men and the third episode in ’97 followed suit in its adaptation of Inferno.

Published in 1989, Inferno was a line-wide crossover event for Marvel Comics. Told throughout more than 30 issues of mutant (Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, X-Terminators and Excalibur) and non-mutant (Avengers, Cloak and Dagger, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Power Pack and 3 different Spider-Man books) titles, Inferno focused on Illyana Rasputin’s transformation into the Darkchylde and the origin story of the Goblin Queen, Madelyne Pryor.

For “Fire Made Flesh”,  X-Men ’97 showrunner Beau DeMayo opted to do quite a bit of trimming and use the episode to resolve the clone Jean story while also setting Bishop and Nathan Summers on their path to a dark future. However, the final scene of the episode, which was set entirely apart from the main event, hints at another classic Claremont arc being adapted beginning with Episode 4.

After losing her powers and setting out on her own at the end of “Mutant Liberation Begins”, Storm finds herself alone in Tequila Mockingbird, a dive bar somewhere in Texas. As the Weather Witch watches the weather report, a slim and sharply mustachioed stranger approaches her and introduces himself as Forge, “an old friend of Charles Xavier.” Indeed Forge appeared in 10 episodes of X-Men: The Animated Series, half of which involved the wonderful timey-wimey stuff that is part and parcel of the X-Men experience. However, the timing of his latest appearance suggests that he’ll have an all-new, all-different role in X-Men ’97 that will be based on Claremont’s run on Uncanny.

It’s no secret that Storm was one of Claremont’s favorite characters. Claremont was the first writer to recognize her true potential and begin developing her as a character. Much like in “Mutant Liberation Begins”, Storm lost her mutant powers after having been shot with a Neutralizer. In Uncanny X-Men #186, Storm began working with Forge to recover and, in the process, fell in love with the alpha-level technopath. Titled Lifedeath, the issue and and its follow-ups are well-revered as one of the great love stories in the pages of the X-Men’s extensive history. For those peeking ahead, Episode 4 of X-Men ’97 is titled “Motendo/Lifedeath-Part 1.” Yeah, the next episode is going to include Mojo but did you know it’s also going to explore one of the more intimate stories ever told about Storm?

While even those with passing knowledge of the comics know that Ororo was once married to T’Challa and was the Queen of Wakanda; however, few know about her romance with Forge. Fewer yet know that Forge, the mutant Maker, designed the Neutralizer that robbed the goddess of her powers. Given the raging popularity of X-Men ’97, it seems as though a whole new generation of people are about to find out and begin to understand why legions of ’90s kids adore Storm. Outside of Logan and Jean Grey, not many mutants have undergone the type of emotional development in the pages of Marvel Comics as Ororo has. Given Episode 4 is only Part 1 of Lifedeath, it seems as though DeMayo and crew intend to go against the X-Men: TAS grain to take their time and give the goddess her just desserts.

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