AP NEWS

Fox wields mutant powers

October 1, 2017

Here’s the second new TV series based on Marvel Comics characters in almost as many days.

But Fox’s “The Gifted” is everything ABC’s “Marvel’s Inhumans” is not: exciting, suspenseful and brimming with interesting, smart characters.

It helps that in this series set in the X-Men universe the right people are behind the screen.

Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg, all veterans of the big-screen X-Men franchise, are among the executive producers.

Singer directed the pilot, from a script by Matt Nix (“Burn Notice”).

The United States is roiled by anti-mutant hatred and fear. The X-Men have gone missing.

A young woman named Clarice (Jamie Chung, “Gotham”) runs from a veritable army of police.

They’re not the only ones chasing her.

Marcos (Sean Teale, “Reign”) has light and heat powers. Lorna (Emma Dumont, “Aquarius”) wields magnetic forces much like Magneto. John Proudstar (Blair Redford, “Satisfaction”) has heightened tracking powers and strength. These leaders of the mutant underground are here for a rescue mission — that goes horribly wrong, leaving one a prisoner.

Attorney Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer, “True Blood”) interrogates the captured mutant — and cherishes a blessed family life. He and wife Caitlin (Amy Acker, “Angel”) have two teenage children, Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White). Yes, Andy is being bullied at school, but the Struckers are convinced they can get the principal to help — by threatening to sue the school into oblivion. It’s maybe half a joke.

Lauren and Andy head out to a high school dance that turns out to be the kind of night Stephen King’s Carrie would enjoy. When bullies assault Andy, his rage unleashes powers that rip the building apart. And when Lauren rushes to her brother’s aid, this popular girl at school reveals a secret she’s been hiding for years — she can manipulate air — turning it solid, to create shields or to use as a weapon.

The Struckers’ happy middle-class family life is blown to smithereens. Their children are mutants — and no one knows better than Strucker (a name familiar to fans of the X-Men comics and film universes) what can happen to mutants — as a government agent (Coby Bell, “The Game”) representing the Sentinel Services (another name with sinister implications) shows up on their door and demands the kids.

“We are Americans! We have rights,” Dad says.

Now Strucker has to turn to the same mutant underground he helped persecute for years as he and his family run for their lives.

The pilot introduces some genuinely terrifying critters that look like spiders who escaped from the “Terminator” universe.

Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee cameos in the pilot. That’s a good luck charm you can’t beat.

Will we ever see a genuine X-Man in this series? Moyer is married to his “True Blood” co-star Anna Paquin, who played Rogue in the films. For now, “The Gifted” delivers more than enough treats to entertain.