Welcome, X-Fans, to another eXciting edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT! And, after pirate-writer Gerry Duggan hijacked last week’s column, a warm welcome back to X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White! Jordan’s here to talk Krakoa’s Captain Commander and the star of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men: Cyclops!
I love Scott Summers. I love him so much you’d think I was a Marvel telepath. While other kids may have found their way into the X-Men through “cooler” characters like Wolverine, Gambit and Rogue, I was instantly drawn to the team’s dour leader, who was always screaming about someone named Jean for some reason. And, as an X-Fan who was defending Slim long before Grant Morrison got his hands on him, long before he was “right,” it’s been a real treat to see him rise in popularity and receive the spotlight in the Dawn of X’s flagship series.
I like to think all the years I’ve spent following Scott as he strived to do the right thing–only to fail miserably, pick himself back up and try again–prepared me for this weekly column, in which I constantly let down X-Fandom (at least, according to certain parts of the internet).
Whoa, sorry! I think I just took a trip to my own personal Black Bug Room (Just a little Summers self-doubt to get everybody in the mood). I’m good now. As X-Men #2 goes on sale this Wednesday, this is the perfect time to give Cyclops the X-Men Monday spotlight. Take it away, Jordan!
AIPT: OK, Jordan, we always start these character spotlights with the same question (which mm (@moxie329) also wanted to know the answer to): What’s your favorite Cyclops story of all time?
Jordan: Honestly, I sometimes think you are rigging these X-Men Mondays to try to get me in trouble with fandom.
I came VERY close to saying it’s Grant Morrison’s use of him in New X-Men… but I think, in the end, I prefer him in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. That’s the book where he was able to pick up the pieces from a loss and turn things around for the better. He stood up as an inspirational leader. I think he was pretty damned cool there.
AIPT: Agreed–Joss Whedon provided a solid take on Scott throughout his entire run. Now, according to Jake But With An X (@MadClops), Cyclops is a complex character with a controversial history. His role in stories fluctuates between role model and a terrible example of a one-track mind. Do you think he works better as a mutant leader trying his best or a victim of being raised for a purpose?
Jordan: I definitely like him as a leader trying his best. He believes in their cause, he believes in what’s right, and he’s going to make it happen. He has been a terrifically heroic character at times in his history—suffering for what he knows is right, fighting through hardship and overcoming it. I can’t say I’m that big on leaning into Xavier as this sinister figure who ruined their childhoods and broke them. I get it, I understand where that interpretation comes from, and there have been times when the story has pushed that story point pretty hard. But I like to think Scott is living his best life, not destroyed by what he’s been through.
AIPT: Well, on a similar note, Cyclops has a long history of making poor decisions, which provides his detractors in X-Fandom with a lot of ammunition. But as the X-Men Senior Editor, does Scott’s lengthy history filled with questionable decisions–from abandoning his wife and newborn child in X-Factor #1 to killing Charles Xavier in Avengers Vs. X-Men–make him a harder character to work with, or a richer character with more story potential?
Jordan: Flawed characters are terrific. Marvel Heroes are human (so to speak) first, in that they are people who make mistakes, who screw up and have to face consequences, learn and grow. Spider-Man got his uncle killed. Scott is a terrific leader, he is amazing in battle, and brilliant strategist… and he screws up his personal life. That’s real. It’s not uncommon for someone to be amazing at their job while going through hell in their personal life. Daredevil is another great example of this—terrific lawyer, horrible, awful boyfriend/husband. Cyclops’s failures don’t make him any less compelling nor diminish his skills. On the contrary, they make me like him all the more because he’s sympathetic and relatable.
AIPT: Speaking of personal lives, KennyMcKormick (@Ikilledkenny7) said Cyclops has often been defined by his many romantic relationships. Of them all, which relationship do you consider to be the healthiest and why?
Jordan: The one with that one awesome telepath, of course.
AIPT: Well played, Jordan, well played. For many years, Cyclops was the main leader of the mutant race. Now that Xavier and Magneto once again occupy that role, House of V (@wevidal) wanted to know how you view the current state of Scott’s relationship with these two men?
Jordan: I would say that he believes fully in what they are doing, and that they, in turn, know they can count on him to get their goals achieved more than they could any other person in the world.
I think he is the rock that their island nation is built upon. And I think that he is still very much a leader of his people, I think the people of Krakoa know him and what he has done for them over the years, and they look up to him. He is the head of the X-Men in any Super-Hero activity which is essentially the military of Krakoa. He might not be RULING Krakoa, but he is definitely leading it.
AIPT: Yeah he is! Now, try harder, Marvel Girl (@GeneQueer) wanted to know what, in your opinion, makes Scott’s extended family so interesting. And who is your favorite “other” Summers?
Jordan: Well, I think because it’s a big soap opera, and the Summers clan is one of the big Dynasties of the X-World. It’s gone through a lot and has expanded in crazy and nutty ways, and has had branches sawed off and other ones grafted on… seedlings have been suddenly turned into great oaks and back… identical trees have popped up and then been reabsorbed… it’s complicated.
I think my favorite is probably Rachel, though, because of her entire run of Excalibur. Speaking of X-Men being brought back from the dead, Rachel in Excalibur was completely destroyed and reformed by the Phoenix force out of its memory of her. So she was ahead of her time. Also, she has this crazy time power that no one ever talks about, which I kind of love?
AIPT: Based on X-Men #1, Hickman seems to be leaning hard into Scott, the father, with him talking fondly about his family–especially his son. What is it about the new world order that’s made Scott embrace the domestic life, right down to doing the dishes?
Jordan: I think this is part of the big shift that has happened for mutantkind—for a long time, they had no choice but for their focus to be on survival. What they have on Krakoa has completely changed the game. They are coming from a completely different place. They are operating from victory. There is time for family, there is time for culture, for imagination, for magic. Scott has a job to do, yes, and it’s vitally important for the continued existence of his nation… but it’s operating on the national and global scale. He can go home at the end of the day and rest because he believes that mutants are inevitable.
AIPT: In a past edition of X-Men Monday, Uncanny X-Men writer Matthew Rosenberg said the following about Cyclops and Wolverine:
“Brothers who don’t get along. There is a bond that goes deeper than whatever the current fight is, but that doesn’t mean they will ever get beyond the fight. They both respect each other, and deep down they both sometimes wish they were more like the other, but they also can’t stand each other a lot. It’s complicated, like family often is.”
Obviously, that was a different time, and these two certainly seem closer than ever. How do you view the current state of their relationship?
Jordan: I still think that is true, for the most part. They love each other, they respect each other, they do not always like each other. But they have been together, as part of this family, for so long. They have a deep knowledge of one another that comes from the closeness and camaraderie of the X-Men, and all the schisms in the world aren’t going to separate them completely. There’s always going to be that deeply rooted connection, even if they are literally punching each other on the surface.
AIPT: While on the topic of the X-Men’s complex relationships with one another, Krakoa offers a fresh start for former enemies, and yet Storm seems hesitant to work with Emma Frost in Marauders #1. Do you feel as though there are mutants on Krakoa who still haven’t gotten over what Cyclops was up to between Schism and Death of X? Quite a few X-Men were pretty annoyed with Scott at the time.
Jordan: People having to work with people who have tried to murder them for the good of a cause larger than themselves is one of the great parts about this setup. But while everyone has been granted legal immunity and a general get-along-ness, Xavier isn’t mind-wiping anger for past actions away. Storm hates Emma’s guts, and that’s her choice. If someone is still mad at Cyclops, so be it, that’s their business. But there are rules on Krakoa and there are systems in place for how things are done… and a lot of stories in the future to reveal them all.
AIPT: Can’t wait! Finally, a question from another era. We know how Cyclops’s visor works, but how did he fire his optic blasts during his X-Mask period? Tim. (@urbane_turtle) wanted to know.
Jordan: He had an experimental form of eye surgery to install Ruby Quartz lenses inside of his eyes that he trained himself to slip in and out of the way at will, then he had Magik make him stepping disk contact lenses so he could teleport his eye beams out of the mask without tearing it. Obviously.
AIPT: Well, now someone has to go update Cyclops’s Wikipedia page. Jordan, thank you so much for indulging my 35-week-long dream of doing a Cyclops edition of X-Men Monday. And hopefully you’re not in trouble with X-Fandom for any of these answers. And hey, speaking of X-Fans–thanks to all who submitted questions! Here, have one more eXclusive Cyclops image for the road!
If you love Cyke as much as I do and want more stellar Scott content (Scontent?), then definitely revisit AIPT’s Cyclops Week, which I organized this past January. Lots of great stuff from lots of great contributors!
In our next edition of X-Men Monday, we’ll be discussing the X-Men in other media. TV! Video Games! Movies! So much non-comics storytelling to discuss!
You all saw Dark Phoenix, right?
Get those questions ready and respond to the official prompt on AIPT’s Twitter tomorrow (November 12).
Oh, and have an eXceptional week!
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