After the political overtones of “Mutant Liberation Begins,” “X-Men ’97” episode 3, “Fire Made Flesh,” pivots into fantasy. The “Jean Grey” who birthed Nathan discovers she is a clone, one crafted by Mister Sinister to infiltrate the X-Men. Jean 2.0 dubs herself the Goblin Queen and lets loose hellish psychic visions on the X-Men.

If this sounds sillier than the previous episode, then remember: “X-Men” is a superhero comic, not a polemic. “Fire Made Flesh” honors the fantastical side of the comics by adapting Claremont and Louise Simonson’s crossover event “Inferno.” The atmosphere in the episode is unrivaled, from Sinister’s gothic “Frankenstein” styled laboratory to the cathedral where the X-Men face the Goblin Queen. The demons in the episode are just as creepy as those drawn by Marc Silvestri in “Inferno,” with the added bonus of slithering and shapeshifting thanks to the motion of animation.

Speaking of, the clash between Magneto and the Goblin Queen, where they both use the stained glass of the cathedral as telekinetic ammo, stands up as one of season 1’s best action scenes. It’s not the only barbs they trade; the Goblin Queen also drops some kinky lines about wanting Magneto “as a toy” and then kisses Cyclops with her own blood as lipstick.

The MCU is infamously sexless, which is just another example of how its heroes don’t feel like real people with genuine problems and emotions. “X-Men ’97” is the cure to that; from the Goblin Queen’s presence to cracks about Rogue testing her stamina in Danger Room sessions with Magneto, the show honors the psychosexual imagery of Claremont’s comics.

“X-Men” is a soap opera, and what’s a soap opera worth without sex?

 X-Men ’97 season 1 is Marvel’s highest rated title on Rotten Tomatoes, and deservedly so.  Read More