Imagine this. You are a young boy and you’re with your family in a plane high in the sky. The airplane suffers severe damage and there is one parachute. Your dad puts it to you to save yourself and your younger brother. You both become wards of the state, then separated. You are alone with no family, no real friends for years of your life. In your teenage years weird blistering headaches start happening which leads to your mutation, optic blasts you can not control. A boy on the run in a new world where mutants were emerging and being hunted and attacked. A mystery man offers you refuge and tutelage. There is you and four others. One is named Angel-pretty and rich. There is Beast, he might have a brutish figure but is a kind, well educated genius. There’s Ice Man-the class clown. Then there is Marvel Girl, a young beauty with class. What do you have to offer? What makes you special? The man named Professor Xavier telling you that you will help lead the mutants to equality. Or maybe its his rival, a terrorist who says you will lead the revolution. Who is Scott Summers? He’s Cyclops, and to me he’s the definitive X-Man.
I admit, as a kid Scott was a non factor to me. Wolverine was cooler. HA! I grew up out of that. You see that kept playing Wolverine as the definitive X-Men and if it was not him it would be someone else. The only one that comes close for me is Storm but Scott-once I got into reading many of the classic runs and stories, it became clear Cyclops is the X-Man. No other mutant in the entire universe signifies what the X-Men is about more than him. He’s been there since the beginning and has toiled in the various eras. Yeah, some of the original X-Men have been there with him but few have really fought the same battles, waged the same wars, and struggled between ideologies. This is a man who has walked the line between Professor X and Magneto. A lost teenager who was raised and molded to be a leader, an example, and a voice.
Going back looking at the classic X-Men run, its interesting at Chris Claremonts take on Cyclops. My familiarity with old school X-Men stories is limited but from what I remember Claremont did infuse the character with more of a hard edge. However Claremont was able to balance that edge with showcase on his tactical abilities, his skill and most importantly his self doubt. Most writers, specifically of the 90s era, took Scott at face value. To them he was just a hard ass leader who could not relax. Looking at Scott in Claremonts run he’s a man who couldn’t relax because he was raised to always be on the guard. Scott was the leader-he had to be ready. He had to have the team ready. He doubted his abilities, self worth and even his place in the team at times but he always held onto the principles of Professor X and wanted to please him. Do right by him. Xavier was his father and he poured himself into his role-and he was good.
One of the best examples of how good Cyclops actually is goes back to Uncanny X-Men #175 where Mastermind creates the illusion that Scott is the Dark Phoenix and the X-Men team try to take him out. Cyclops, out-manned and out poured has to diffuse the situation. What does he do? Lures the team into the danger room set to a program, out maneuvers them, grabs Rogue-uses her absorbing powers on a incapacitated Professor X to break the illusion. Cyclops beat the game. It showed him to be whip smart and just such a clever character.
I also go back to various other X-Men runs. Cyclops in New X-Men was interesting because Grant Morrison seemed to go back to the Claremont characterization. He pushed the self doubt, the lack of confidence that Cyclops had in himself. I believe there was always a feeling in Scott he was not worthy of Jean grey-that no matter how much she loved him he still did not feel worthy of her. His betrayal of her is an interesting turn of events in mainstream comics. One of the oldest relationships in superhero comics that crumbled. Morrison got into Scotts head to show how that even at his lowest he will still go into a fight. Another aspect was how does Scott attract these women and Wolverine pretty much hit it over the head:
“You know something–you always get the best girls, Slim. I watch these smart, interesting, beautiful women going nuts trying to crack the Summers cool.”
You can watch as Scott opens up to Emma and she falls for him in a way that surprises herself. It starts with her interest in who is Scott Summers and what is his relationship issues into Emma wanting to be with him. Morrisons New X-Men was really the first complete X-Men run I read, before that I read X-Men on and off through various comics and trades. So of course the book means a lot to me and at the time, made me Cyclops in a new way.
New X-Men, classic Claremont stories were one part of what made me enjoy the character but also X-Men Evolution did a good job with Cyclops. While I grew up on the classic 90s show Cyclops Evolution I believe was a better show. Animation, story structure, and finale wise. Scotts role in the series was growing into the leader. You got that during the portion where Mystique disguises herself as Prof. X and takes control of the team. Scott, upset with how Xavier/Mystique is pushing them is relieved. While Mystique leads the X-Men and her Brotherhood against Magneto and his Cyclops has to race back to the mansion when he finds out its been put in lock down and wired to explode. Scott has to break in and save the students left behind. he then teams with Mystique to rescue their partners from the government and he actually betrays her. I was stunned. It was a cool bit. He soon got into Wolverines face-and in the show Scott is just a teenager and Wolverine is a more senior member-so that was ballsy. Just that string of episodes did good by the character and is the best representation of Cyclops outside comic books.
I appreciate the versions in Joss Whedons and Mark Millars takes as well. While I skipped much X-Men after Whedon I thought the little I read here and there up through Avengers vs. X-Men was interesting. The current crop of X-Men books have got me hooked. Well, Uncanny and All new by Brian Bendis and his talented artistic collaborators. I normally dislike Bendis and dreaded his run (no to House of M, no to his Ultimate X-Men) so I was surprised by these books and they have not disappointed me yet.
Young Cyclops, trying really hard to handle the situation he has been thrusted into. His older self labeled a terrorist, having killed Xavier while in Phoenix power. Scotts a celebrity, a threat, he is something to everyone around him yet he’s still trying to come into his own identity and deal with his new location in the future. In Uncanny Scott is-well, that man. A threat to national security who believes in protecting his even if it comes into conflict with other mutants. In between his issues I really enjoyed the scenes he had with Magik in a couple issues. I also like the just general “I GIVE ZERO FUCKS” attitude. In the issue where the new mutant on the team freezes the Avengers in a time bubble and Cyclops broadcasts a speech in front of them.
Cyclops gives zero fucks. He will stroll into SHIELD headquarters and handle his business.
Man, I’m getting Cyclops flashbacks. The time he took out that sentinel on the lawn and Wolverine was all like:
“Every now and then, Summers… I remember why you’re still in charge.”
This swings around to Wolverine, a character I liked as a kid who I have grown out of. Wolverine is ‘the cool, loner, berserk, mysterious hero.’ Not anymore. He has “grown” since then and a lot of my interest in the character evaporated. I prefer Logan working off others-in X-Men comics. But yeah, people try to talk about how Wolverine can beat Cyclops. Really?
These two have barely had a clean fight with a real winner. There is a few things we do now-Scott is not scared of Logan. In fact in Proteus Saga he started a fight with Wolverine. Another great Cyclops moment he sees Wolverine visibly shook up and trembling after their encounter with Proteus and he FUCKING TAUNTS WOLVERINE INTO FIGHTING HIM! Zero fucks given. Cyclops did it to get his head back in the game. Cyclops and Wolverine would tussle here and there including a drag out brawl in X-Men: Schism that did not quite end with a winner. Their fights generally end in a draw but there was that time in Ultimate X-Men where Cyclops beat Wolverine with one blast off panel. This was of course Cyclops months after Wolverine dropped him down a cavern. Body broken and barely alive. Gets found, ends up in Magento’s headquarters, gets himself up and ready for a fight. Gets the X-Men into it. Then after that, takes a more well rested Wolverine out. Yeah.
Hey, remember that time Cyclops got Wolverine to infiltrate a vampire den, turned into a vampire, just so he could lead them back to base so Cyclops and the team could whup their collective asses. Cyclops-he’s not a superhero team leader. He’s more of a military leader.
Damn-I love Scott Summers. The crimson eyed X-Men. The lost child who became a teen soldier, grew to be a superhero leader, became a militant and now he’s label a threat to national security all while fighting for his people and making fools of SHIELD and the Avengers.
Cyclops is a character as a kid I hated, then I read the good X-Men stories. I read these stories that blew me away. These stories where he was a focal point and the writers expertly crafted him into a fully faceted individual. A character who grew up in one ideology, been seduced by another, and tried to find his own way-walking a gray line between. A character whose fought, won some, lost some, had his will and faith broken only to come back and do it all again. Cyclops is the X-Men, and he is one of the most consistently evolving characters in mainstream comics I have ever read.
I salute you Scott Summers. You are one of the greats.
(I also hope you knock up Emma so we can get Ruby Summers. She’s a peach)