Season 2, Episodes 7 and 8: “Time Fugitives,” 1993
What’s better than one time traveler with a big gun, facial scarring and distinctive theme music? TWO time travelers with big guns, facial scarring and distinctive theme music!
The 1990s X-Men cartoon introduced both Cable and Bishop during the first season, but a two-parter during season two saw them fighting each other in the present to correct terrible things that were happening in their respective futures. At the heart of those terrible things was Apocalypse, who was plotting to wipe out humans and weaker mutants with a techno-organic virus while disguised as a scientist working for Graydon Creed and the Friends of Humanity.
To 13-year-old me, who was just getting into comics and loved the X-Men, this two-parter was crazy-town banana pants. Apocalypse was empirically the show’s best villain. He was big, menacing and given the biggest bad-guy rants, saying things like “I am as far beyond mutant as they are beyond you.” He literally got to identify himself as the end of the world. That’s gangsta. And Cable and Bishop both represented the attitude of comics in general at the time, each having been co-created by the then-future founders of Image Comics (Cable: Rob Liefeld and Bishop: Jim Lee/Whilce Portacio). And they were all shooting lasers at each other. That’s probably the 1993 equivalent of the Cap-Tony-Bucky fight in the Civil War trailer.
Also there were certain characters on the cartoon who got their own cool theme music. Bishop’s blues-y harmonica and Cable’s paramilitary synths were two of my favorites. Mr. Sinister’s menacing four-note theme was a close third.