X-Men ‘97 makes mutants’ worst tragedy even more heartbreaking

Episode 5 of X-Men '97 pulled a Red Wedding and the story is based on a previous X-Men story in Marvel Comics.
Marvel Animation's X-Men '97 | Official Clip 'A Place To Call Home' | Disney+
Marvel Animation's X-Men '97 | Official Clip 'A Place To Call Home' | Disney+ / Marvel Entertainment

There are some moments in the world of comics books that will always hurt when you think about them. The first time people read the The Death of Superman and Captain America being shot may have stuck with you; they are certainly two that come to mind. However, neither compares to the tragedy on the island of Genosha during Grant Morrison’s New X-Men.

Genosha finally being recognized by the United Nations was an unprecedented moment for Marvel's mutants. It seemed like they would be freed from attack and persecution. They minded their business and built a nation of prosperity. There was mutant art and technology and evolved ways of thinking. Simply put, Genosha was the first Krakoa. If you’re a fan of the X-Men, however, you know happiness is just a prelude to misery.

During Morrison's New X-Men, tragedy struck. A giant sentinel rose from the water and slaughtered mutants. Millions were killed in seconds. All anyone could do was watch helplessly as Genoshan citizens were slain by these machines made for murder. Charles Xavier was using Cerebra at the time and experienced some of those deaths. What was once a promised land became a graveyard for innocent people and hope. If you think that’s saddening, what X-Men ‘97 did was more disheartening.

X-MEN '97
(L-R): Magneto (voiced by Matthew Waterson), Gambit (voiced by AJ LoCascio), and Rogue (voiced by Lenore Zann) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL. /

There’s a difference between reading something in a comic book and seeing it play out. That’s what happened during X-Men ‘97. The creative team knew that comic book fans had seen this moment. Therefore, they had to add something to make it hit harder. How did they do that? By making viewers experience what happened before and after. 

X-Men ‘97's fifth episode, "Remember It", started by showing us that Genosha has become a place of happiness and acceptance. Later, Rogue told Magento she was choosing Gambit over him. You think that things are looking up. Then, out of nowhere, Cable shows up and says he’s too late... and the carnage begins.

Kids who were dancing earlier are now bleeding out in the street. Magneto seemingly dies protecting his people. Gambit sacrifices himself to protect Rogue and the mutants of Genosha. The last thing we see is Rogue touching Gambit's hand and saying she can't feel him as the episode fades to black.

Grant Morrison's New X-Men certainly inspired this moment, but X-Men '97 somehow improved on the original. All it took was adding some happiness before the eventual fall, luring us all into a false sense of security. It ensured that the tragedy that followed the attack that much more heartbreaking. All that's left is to learn if Cassandra Nova was behind the massacre here, or if someone diferent is responsible.

Stay tuned to Bam Smack Pow to see what's next for the X-Men, Genosha, and more.

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What did you think of episode 5 of X-Men '97? Have you read Grant Morrison's New X-Men? Did you see this event coming?