The X-Men Stories That X-Men ’97 Season 2 Will Likely Adapt

As X-Men '97 deals with Apocalypse, Gambit as Death, and Feral Wolverine in season two, here are the Marvel comics that will likely inspire future episodes of the series.

Magneto in X-Men 97
Photo: Marvel Studios

This X-Men ’97 article contains spoilers.

X-Men ’97 ended with more than a few spinning plates. Sure, Bastion was defeated, but the events sent some of the X-Men to the far future and others into the past. And yet a few others were zapped to parts unknown, such as Wolverine, who remains in critical condition after Magneto ripped out his adamantium skeleton. Back in the present, Forge and Bishop make plans to find their friends. Then there’s the matter of Professor X and Magneto’s mental states, which seems to be pointing toward the coming of the terrible Onslaught.

As that last point reminds us, as wonderful as X-Men ’97 is, a lot of its power comes from the Marvel comics that it adapts. The first season of X-Men ’97 ran quickly through some important storylines from the comics, including Inferno, Mutant Massacre, Lifedeath, and Operation: Zero Tolerance.

Even with a change of showrunner between seasons, there’s no reason to think that the series will stop drawing from the comics for future episode. So here are five of the comic book storylines we want to see X-Men ’97 bring to cartoon form in season two.

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X-Men 182
Photo: Marvel Comics

Blood of Apocalypse (X-Men #182-187, 2006)

The most heartbreaking moment of X-Men ’97‘s first season occurs in episode five “Remember It,” in which Gambit sacrifices himself to stop the Sentinel that Bastion sent to destroy Genosha. But the final scene of the finale saw Apocalypse musing upon death while holding one of Gambit’s playing cards.

That scene sets up the Blood of Apocalypse from X-Men #182-187, written by Peter Milligan and penciled by Salvador Larroca. Like most Apocalypse stories, the storyline involves the ancient mutant gathering his four horsemen, this time transforming Polaris into Pestilence and Gambit into Death. Beyond the obvious connections between the deceased Gambit and the dark horseman, Blood of Apocalypse also involves the X-Men considering siding with Apocalypse to help rebuild the world’s decimated mutant population.

Photo: Marvel Comics

The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix (1994)

During a rare quiet moment in the season one finale, Jean Grey bonded with Cable, the time-displaced son of her husband Cyclops and her clone Madelyne Pryor (aren’t comics a wonderful soap opera?). When Cable confessed his bitterness about missing time with his parents, Jean offered reassurance that felt empty at the time. But as she and Cyclops ended the episode in the far future alongside Cable as a boy, Jean now has the chance to be in her pseudo-son’s life.

Like her animated counterpart, the comic book Jean also didn’t get a chance to bond with Nathan until she went to the future, as depicted in the miniseries The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix. Written by Scott Lobdell and penciled by Gene Ha, The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix has a lot of mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t lend itself to an easy read. Among the more confusing aspects, Jean and Scott aren’t in their own bodies in the future, but rather possess the bodies of other people and even go by the names Slym and Redd Dayspring. X-Men ’97 will almost certainly streamline this tale, but we hope it keeps the emotional heart as well.

Rise of Apocalypse 1
Photo: Marvel Comics

The Rise of Apocalypse (1996)

In the past, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and Magneto meet Apocalypse before he takes his Biblical nom du mutant, when he was just the Egyptian outsider known as En Sabah Nur. Given the debates about mutant supremacy and bigotry that the three had in the first season, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and Magneto will have much to consider when dealing with a man who will come to adopt a “Survival of the Fittest” ethos.

In between those debates, the ancient Egypt stories will likely borrow heavily from The Rise of Apocalypse, a four-issues mini-series written by Terry Kavanagh and drawn by Adam Pollina. The Rise of Apocalypse depicts En Sabah Nur’s change from despised member of a nomadic tribe to the supervillain we know. Along the way, he encounters Rama-Tut, one of the aliases used by the time-traveler Kang the Conqueror, giving X-Men ’97 a chance for an even more unlikely MCU connection.

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Wolverine 77
Photo: Marvel Comics

Wolverine #76-81 (1994)

Both comic fans and neophytes were shocked with the penultimate episode of X-Men ’97 ended with Magneto pulling the Adamantium out of Wolverine’s body. On a plot level, the event kept the hairy mutant out of the final fight, making room for others to shine. But it leaves a huge question about Wolverine’s future, one that will probably involve stories from the comics.

Given the emphasis on Apocalypse in the story threads set up for season two, we’ll likely see his involvement in restoring Wolverine’s adamantium. However, before X-Men ’97 gets to that comic book plot point, here’s hoping the season will pause to include the stories right after Wolverine lost his metal. Written by Larry Hama and penciled by Ian Churchill, Adam Kubert, and Tomm Coker, Wolverine #76-81 follows the fallout of Wolverine’s new status quo. Filled with a sense of vulnerability, a more feral Wolverine faces off against old enemies, including Cyber and Lady Deathstrike, in hopes of proving his worth.

X-Factor 121
Photo: Marvel Comics.

“The Truth Path” (X-Factor #121, 1996)

A lot of characters had their time to shine in X-Men ’97‘s first season, but Forge might be the surprise MVP. A technopath, Forge has the ability to build almost anything he imagines, and he formed a strong romantic bond with Storm when she was at her lowest point. The finale set up a storyline in which Forge and Bishop go looking for the X-Men, which promises even more screen time in season two.

Forge has been a mainstay in X-Men comics for decades, but rarely got to play a major role outside of a later incarnation of the government-sponsored team X-Factor. Forge took a leadership role when Val Cooper (the human woman who freed Magneto from Bastion’s hold in X-Men ’97) asked him to serve as liaison between the team and the U.S. government, something that may happen in the cartoon show. If Forge’s X-Factor does show up on X-Men ’97, the creators should borrow from X-Factor #121, written by Howard Mackie and penciled by Steve Epting. In that issue, Forge reclaims his heritage as a Shaman and practices magic alongside science, something that might come in handy while looking for teammates across time.

X-Men ’97 season one is now streaming on Disney+.