Scott Summers, also known as Cyclops, was the first teenager that Professor X recruited for what would become his team of super-heroes, the X-Men. The X-Men were mutants – humans born with strange and amazing powers, and they were trained to use those powers to protect humanity in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Don’t you know all of this already? Of course you do! So let’s skip this part of the history lesson, shall we?
Scott Summers has changed a lot over the years – he’s been an awkward teenager, leader of the X-Men, and everything in between. While I think that certain changes to his character have been extremely positive in recent years, some may disagree. Not only is that ok, but anyone that doesn’t like Cyclops will love this next part.
Summers was a whiny jerk throughout many decades of the X-Men’s publication. He seemed like the pouty emo-boy of the group before pouty emo-boys were cool (they were never cool). His girlfriend for what felt like an eternity, Jean Grey, selfishly died on him all of the time, forcing him to find comfort inside the panties of a slew of other women. He married one of those women and had a child with her. Isn’t that sweet? No, because she looked exactly like his dead girlfriend, and it turned out that she was actually a clone of Jean Grey. When the real Jean returned from the dead, Cyclops promptly left the cheap knock-off in order to reunite with his long-lost love. But after he married Jean, Scott psychically cheated on her with a former enemy, Emma Frost. When Jean died yet again, Scott made his relationship with Emma official and public.
Doesn’t that sound like a bad daytime talk-show? Sure, Cyclops didn’t make the best decisions in the past and I’m not going to try to convince anyone otherwise. But eventually, Scott grew up and was no longer a student of Charles Xavier’s – he was running the school for mutants alongside Emma Frost. Of course the school was still in danger and mutants were hated and feared for being different (otherwise it wouldn’t be the X-Men, now would it?), but since the event known as M-Day until recently, Cyclops became one of the most badass X-Men in their entire 50 year history. However, this wasn’t an overnight change.
For anyone who doesn’t know what happened immediately after the crossover event known as M-Day, millions of mutants lost their powers and fans of Jubilee everywhere cried themselves to sleep (damn right I did, don’t judge me). To help the unfortunate situation, Summers opened the doors of Xavier’s school to any mutants seeking refuge and reluctantly allowed the government to plant piloted sentinels on the school grounds for protection. That probably wasn’t an easy decision to make because Cyclops could have been inviting a lot of trouble into the school. Actually, a lot of trouble occurred, but my point is that he made a tough, yet noble choice and stuck with it. After some time passed without any mutant births, Cerebro located a new mutant signature. Summers did everything in his power to find that new mutant baby, including assembling a black-ops team of X-Men to stab, maim, and aggressively nudge their way to nab the infant and protect it from those who would have brought it harm. Cyclops also used this team of killers to “take care” of severe threats to mutant-kind in secrecy.
Historically, the X-Men had always been a team dedicated to protecting others from threats. Whether a large-scale Magneto-on-an-asteroid sized threat, to an “Oops, someone left the Danger Room door open again” threat, the X-Men were there. But with only 200 mutants left with their powers intact, Cyclops had to adapt and make choices that weren’t always moral in order to protect his people. By “his people,” I don’t mean the X-Men, I mean all mutants, good and bad, because Cyclops managed to do one thing that Professor X and Magneto never did: unite both heroic and villainous mutants.
I truly believe that the decimation of mutant-kind and the subsequent birth of a new mutant baby set Cyclops on the path to become the excellent leader that he was, and I’m not the only one. Many (awesomely D-List) villains including Random, Frenzy, Toad, Dragoness and Avalanche thought so too, and followed the X-Men to San Francisco after an invitation from the mayor. However, anti-mutant sentiment came to a fever-pitch when Norman Osborne was in charge of national security. Humans were rioting in San Francisco, protesting mutants’ presence in their city and Osborne was publicly threatening Cyclops. What did Scott do? He raised Asteroid M from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, built a fortress on it, named it Utopia, and led his people there to live and continue being awesome. The above-mentioned villains were not the only (former-ish) criminals to follow Summers to their new home, as Magneto paid the X-Men a visit and pledged his loyalty to Cyclops.
Maybe it was a matter of circumstance rather than virtue, but Scott Summers was effectively leading mutant-kind. He rallied all of his people together on an island, stood up to those that threatened them, and made the hard decisions (though sometimes secretly) in order to ensure mutantkind’s survival. What more could anyone ask from a leader? I could understand those that say it was wrong for him to put together a team of killers or allow certain villains to walk free, but I think he had little choice. When they numbered in the millions, it was acceptable for mutants to fight over domination of or peaceful coexistence with humanity. But with so few mutants left, could they really afford to be fighting against each other? A short, hairy Canadian said yes.
A bunch of evil kids unleashed a Sentinel to destroy the mutant’s island in the sun (which, for the X-Men, was a Tuesday), so the X-Men prepared for battle. Wolverine was surprised that Cyclops was willing to let students volunteer to fight the robot. Scott felt that the kids should have had a choice whether they fought or not, whereas Wolverine thought that they shouldn’t have been allowed to fight at all, because they were kids, not soldiers. Scott and Logan not only had strong words for each other, but the tiff between the two was so intense that the Sentinel was destroyed amidst the temper tantrums.
I understand Wolverine’s desire to protect the students because allowing them to fight could’ve gotten them killed. However, Cyclops’ approach throughout the events leading up to the Sentinel battle, though somewhat militaristic, showed a man willing to use all of the firepower he had available against a threat. In the face of extinction, this was the kind of leadership that mutant-kind needed. Besides, he didn’t mandate that all of the children needed to help, he left it up to each individual. Cyclops rightfully assumed that the kids were going to grow up to face a multitude of conflicts and should therefore be prepared. Wolverine didn’t care for such tactics, however, and left the island followed by others that agreed with his ideology. But a decline in population on Utopia didn’t stop Cyclops from fighting with the Avengers.
The Phoenix Force is nothing if not a sucker for redheads, so when this powerful, cosmic bird made a course for Earth, everyone assumed that it wanted to inhabit the redheaded mutant, Hope Summers. The Avengers thought it was going to destroy the Earth because the Force is enormous and cosmically powerful. Cyclops thought the Force could reignite the mutant race because the Phoenix isn’t just an agent of destruction, but also rebirth. So what did Summers do when Captain America wanted to take Hope “someplace safe?” Bitch-slapped Mr. Democracy right across the face and spent some of 2012 rumbling with the Avengers (Scott was probably just jealous of the box-office cash the Avengers movie scored.) While everybody was Kung-Fu-fighting, Iron Man decided to shoot a rocket at the Phoenix. Illustrating that billionaire playboys don’t always make the best decisions, the blast caused the Phoenix Force to split itself into 5 pieces, each one inhabiting a mutant, one of them being Cyclops. Did he use his new astro-abilities for good? At first, but then he became destructive and it took the combined efforts of the Avengers and X-Men to stop him. Hope absorbed the Phoenix out of Cyclops and helped use it to reignite the mutant race, but not before Summers killed the X-Men’s founder, Charles Xavier.
This is where I don’t totally side with Cyclops. Exactly how much destruction was Scott willing to risk hoping that the Phoenix would just calmly birth some new mutants? He put the entire planet in jeopardy on a hunch. However, I don’t agree with others who completely blamed him for Charles Xavier’s death. Surely Scott never expected to be inhabited by the Phoenix, and once the power of the Phoenix Force was inside of him, it was going to do whatever it wanted and there was little anyone could have done. While I don’t approve of the scope of Cyclops’ actions leading up to Phoenix possession, I don’t believe that either the Phoenix possession itself or his actions under its influence were his fault. Whatever anyone’s opinion, Summers was thrown in prison to either rot for the rest of his life or be killed by mutant-hating inmates.
End of the story, right? Who was going to stand with Cyclops after “he” killed Charles Xavier? A couple of mutants with loose morals, that’s who! Magneto and Magik broke Cyclops out of his cell and they, along with Emma Frost, created a new base in an old Weapon X facility. Since mutant-kind’s reinvigoration, the team went recruiting, and were pretty successful. It was interesting to watch Cyclops as a fugitive, pissing off plenty of people while training his new group of students.
Until Scott changed his mind, disbanded his team, and explained his actions in a heartfelt and honest monologue to his brother.
As a man who has been hated, feared, threatened, attacked, possessed etc. for the majority of his life, Scott simply didn’t know what to do after the decimation so he threatened the rest of the world and told it to back off. He was trying to do everything that he could think of in order to preserve his species until something worked. When Cyclops needed to be a hero and protect people, he did it, and when he felt that he had to play a villainous role, he did it. That really displays the type of character that Scott Summers was and the lengths he was willing to go for mutant-kind
So where the hell is he now?
Dead, apparently. However, Marvel has yet to reveal a visual account regarding Scott Summer’s demise. He was last shown immediately before the events of Secret Wars uniting all mutants in Washington D.C. in an attempt to show the world that it had nothing to fear from them. Since the conclusion of Secret Wars, 8 months have passed in the Marvel Universe, and there’s been a lot of talk about Cyclops attacking the Inhumans and getting himself killed. The terrigen mist, the stuff that causes Inhuman powers to manifest, is actually harmful to mutants, sickening and sterilizing them. The mist spread all over the world, making it difficult for mutants to escape its effects. After the relatively recent resurgence of the mutant population and the hope that it brought for mutants, the harmful effects of the mist must have enraged Summers. I can’t say that I blame him, but even a full-scale attack on the Inhumans would not have accomplished anything positive. If he had planned to eradicate all Inhumans, it would have effectually made Scott a hypocrite, as he knew firsthand the pain of his own species facing eradication.
Though Cyclops is dead, his ideology seems to have spread to other mutants. Both Storm and time-displaced young-Cyclops recently gave speeches in front of on-lookers that sounded like dialogue Summers would have delivered. Both X-Men spoke of mutant-rights, with Storm even promising to stand up to those that would threaten mutant-kind. Maybe more mutants are beginning to believe that Cyclops was right.
Over the last decade, Cyclops became the kind of leader that the X-Men truly needed. While mutants have always had a difficult time finding a peaceful place in the world, no time was more difficult than right after M-Day. However, the current situation that mutants face regarding the terrigen mist could prove to be just as bad, if not worse, than the decimation. Mutants need strong, effective leadership now more than ever. They need someone willing to make tough and potentially unpopular decisions in order to secure their future. But hey, it’s comic books, so no one stays dead forever. It’s my hope that Scott Summers returns soon, because mutant-kind needs him.
Was Cyclops right and his actions after M-Day justified? How do you think the conflict between he and the Inhumans went? Let me know what you think!