A warning from Charles (Jim Ward) sends the team to Africa, where Storm (Susan Dalian) is about to trigger a continent-wide apocalypse. Wolverine (Steve Blum) doesn't believe Storm capable of such horrors and as it turns out, she isn't: the Shadow King (Kevin Michael Richardson) has made his way across the Sahara to the village she currently protects as a patron goddess. An extended struggle for Storm's soul ensues. Tricked into believing the continent is on fire, Ororo creates hurricane conditions that disrupt weather patterns across Africa.
As they approach her location, a tornado knocks the X-Men's Blackbird out of the sky into a nearby reservoir. The team swims to safety with a little help from Kitty (Danielle Judovits). Still deceived by the Shadow King, Storm sends sheets of deadly hail into their path, which they deflect using their various powers. Wolverine leaps up to where Storm floats in the sky--boosted by a blast from Cyclop's (Nolan North) eye-beams--and pulls her to the ground. Emma Frost (Kari Wahlgren) manages to get through to her, allowing her to throw off the Shadow King's influence and restore the weather over Africa to normal. Enraged at his defeat, the Shadow King tries to possess Wolverine, only to be thwarted by Frost after an extended battle on the astral plane. The act leads Wolverine to treat Frost with more trust.
The episode delivers a nice re-imagining of Storm's origin story, along with a better-than-expected incarnation of the Shadow King (liberally borrowed from the movie Fallen). His way of moving from person to person is well executed, and gives the episode a terrific visual signature while providing a credible threat for the team to face down. Kudos to Richardson for some good vocal work too. Emma Frost makes herself indispensable, and her manipulative bargaining with Wolverine is a blast. We're not going to miss Jean Grey much with the White Queen around… and judging by a few suggestive moments, neither is Cyclops.
Some clunky animation here and there (especially the team's inert slide along Iceman's "travel ribbon") undercuts the show's less-than-stellar animation budget. In addition, the plot feels a bit like it's marking time: existing mainly to get Storm back to the team and flirting with that "mutant of the week" cliché that the show needs to avoid at all costs. Ororo is a key member of the X-Men of course, but if they go back to that well to many times, it's going to cause problems.
Also, I know it's in keeping with the character (and as a skeevy old perv, I'm not complaining), but isn't Frost's outfit a little skimpy for a kid's show?
Still looking good for this latest incarnation of the X-Men. They've found their rhythm and the concept of Charles providing psychic advice from the future lets him maintain his presence without crowding the other characters out. We still have plenty of questions to be answered and a lot of cool concepts to explore, which the show has approached thus far with solid reliability.