Tag Archives: Cyclops

Today’s Super Comic — The Uncanny X-Men #201 (1986)

Many superheroes have lost their powers in various storylines, and that includes many X-Men. Usually, it’s presented as an obstacle interfering with an immediate goal, and it’s a solid trope—it shows the hero is more than his or her powers. But the best examples of the trope have also used it to further develop characters, to provide consequences beyond the immediate short story.

Storm lost her powers for a few years’ worth of X-Men comics. She took the bullet for Rogue and then had to figure out how to reinvent herself without the abilities that had defined her for so long. More than most X-Men, her powers affect her personality; in earlier days, she would often repress her emotions because of how her feelings affected the weather around her. She was already beginning to loosen up before this event (see the mohawk), but this pushed her further into new territory.

By Uncanny X-Men #201, she was ready to return to the X-Men, despite the continued absence of her powers. Meanwhile, new father Cyclops isn’t quite ready to leave the team. He obviously should leave to concentrate on his young family, but Professor Xavier’s recent departure and Magneto’s recent arrival as the New Mutants’ new headmaster give him an excuse to try to cling.

But Storm knows Cyclops is in no shape to lead the team at the moment, so she challenges him to a Danger Room duel, with the stakes being leadership of the X-Men. And she prevails, demonstrating the better wisdom, temperament, and physical fitness for the job, even without the aid of powers, and she reminds us why she’s perhaps the X-Men’s most formidable leader.

Storm’s power loss did prove her skills beyond controlling the weather, but it also humanized her. She could no longer be the aloof goddess of her earlier appearances, and her disconnection from the weather put her more in tune with the people around her. And when her powers inevitably did return, those lessons remained in effect.

The X-Men’s success isn’t hard to figure out. The characters grew over time, and their growth kept things interesting and fresh. The Storm and Cyclops facing off in issue #201 aren’t exactly the same people who first met ten years earlier in Giant-Size X-Men #1, but they’re10 consistent with everything that’s come before.

Writer: Chris Claremont

Penciler: Rick Leonardi

Inker: Whilce Portacio

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Essential X-Men Vol. 6 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — X-Men #123 (1979)

Fun fact: Colleen Wing, whom you may have met in the new Iron Fist Netflix series, briefly dated Cyclops of the X-Men. Yep—Colleen Wing and Scott Summers. That was a thing for a few seconds a long time ago, during the first interval in which Scott believed Jean Grey was dead.

The Marvel Universe can be a small world indeed, as shown in X-Men #123, which begins as Spider-Man just happens to run into Scott and Colleen strolling along the streets of New York. If your characters are going to share a fictional universe, why not have fun with it? And these sorts of quick guest appearances helped develop the MU as a setting worth visiting—you never knew who you were going to run into (well, unless they announced it on the cover so they could boost sales).

So Spider-Man, Cyclops, and Colleen Wing walk into the panel (or swing in)…and a kidnapping sets the plot in motion. This issue begins a two-parter in which the villainous Arcade captures the X-Men and a few friends and traps them in Murder World (it’s like Disney World, but the attractions try to kill you).

It’s a fun premise that splits up the X-Men and throws them into various death traps. But surviving is only half the battle! They’ll then have to navigate this maze, find their way back to each other, and rescue their friends from a sociopath.

It’s good times. Another classic from the Claremont/Byrne era. (I dare you to find one bad issue from that run. Just one. Can’t do it, can you?)

Writer: Chris Claremont

Penciler/Co-Plotter: John Byrne

Inker: Terry Austin

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; The Essential X-Men vol. 2 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — X-Men #133 (1980)

I just saw Logan, and it was amazing—a bit of a downer in some ways, but a fantastic, character-driven movie. So let’s look back at a much more upbeat comic from when creators were just beginning to realize Wolverine’s potential.

X-Men #133 is in the middle of the Dark Phoenix Saga, one of the all-time great comic storylines. The previous issue ended with the Hellfire Club capturing the X-Men after having seduced Jean Grey to the dark side. There was one X-Man they didn’t capture, though—one they assumed they managed to kill by sending him plummeting down through several floors and into the sewer. Silly villains.

But of course they didn’t kill Wolverine. They just made him mad, and in #133, the X-Man’s lone wolf has to fight his way through innumerable minions, without any scrupulous teammates to hold him back. It’s the sort of thing the comics medium conveys very well—awesome character being awesome as he tries to save his teammates.

And meanwhile, old-school villain Mastermind continues his mind games against the X-Men, particularly Cyclops and the brainwashed Phoenix. The whole issue is great, but it’s really Wolverine’s time to shine. He’s still largely a blank slate at this point in the character’s history, but a strong foundation is being laid.

So watch the excellent movie, and then look back at the character’s formative years that made that excellent movie possible.

Writer: Chris Claremont

Penciler/Co-Plotter: John Byrne

Inker: Terry Austin

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga (TPB); The Essential X-Men vol. 2 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — X-Factor #13 (1986)

x-factor_vol_1_13Comics have been playing the nostalgia card for a long time. The first X-Men spinoff series to reunite the original five members was the original X-Factor in the mid-80s. It was fun from the start, as it’s always enjoyable to see these five X-Men together, but the initial premise had some major problems.

Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Angel, and the recently resurrected Jean Grey (then Marvel Girl for the last time) were posing as specially trained humans who hunted mutants. Their marketing was anti-mutant to the point of contributing to the public’s fears, but of course, instead of “capturing” their targets, they were actually saving and training them. Still, not the most well-thought-out plan.

And then there was the fact that at this time, Cyclops was creepily married to a woman who looked exactly like dead former lover, and he had a son with this woman, but when he learns his dead former lover is no longer dead, he skips out on his wife and kid to join a team with her. Scott has never been more of a jerk, and that’s saying something.

But soon, to save the book from itself, the wife-and-husband creative team of writer Louise Simonson and artist Walter Simonson took over the title, and they began to rectify these foundational problems. By issue #13, characters are already getting some comeuppance for their bad judgment.

Millionaire Warren Worthington III, who is publicly known to be the winged mutant Angel, has been outed as the financial benefactor of the mutant-hunting organization, which raises some questions. And Cyclops finally returns home to his wife and child…only to find them missing, with hardly a trace they ever even existed, while the evil giant robot Master Mold is on a warpath toward him. (Not really enough comeuppance for Cyclops.)

There’s also the whole Scott/Jean/Warren romantic triangle thing going on. You know it’s not the ‘60s anymore, because the triangle has an extramarital element this time around. (So maybe it’s a square?)

It’s the X-Men at their most ridiculously soap operatic, but damn if it isn’t fun.

Writer: Louise Simonson

Artist: Walter Simonson

Inker: Dan Green

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; included in Essential X-Factor vol. 1 (HC)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comics — All-New X-Men #1-5 (2012-13)

all-new_x-men_vol_1_1Pop culture, you may have noticed, is locked in a trend of repeatedly resurrecting old stuff in the modern era. Results have varied, but at least with All-New X-Men, nostalgia serves an interesting story.

The original five X-Men are transported from their early days to the much darker present, and these inexperienced teenagers confront the decades’ worth of convoluted backstory that lie ahead of them (decades to us, about one decade to them).

The X-Men had kind of gone off the rails in the time leading up to this—no X-Man more so than Cyclops, who’s basically on his way to becoming the next Magneto. While possessed by the Phoenix force, Cyclops killed Professor Xavier…and yeah, that sentence pretty much sums up the state of affairs.

So the Beast decides to bring their innocent younger selves to the present as the ultimate guilt-trip to Cyclops. Of course, the plan is to send them right back after modern Cyclops comes to his senses, but also of course, things don’t go according to plan, and five very young founding X-Men must integrate with the present.

Young Cyclops must deal with the fact that he grows up to become basically a villain. Young Beast witnesses the hubris his future self has developed. Young Iceman sees how little his future self has achieved. Young Angel observes that his future self is kind of crazy and not at all himself due to Apocalypse-related machinations. And young Jean Grey learns she’s dead and it wasn’t even the first time she died (she’s truly the standout character in this series).

These five issues are just the beginning of a story that’s yet to be resolved, and it’s a strong start. It’s time-travel shenanigans without a reset button in sight, brought about by one X-Man’s misguided good intentions.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Stuart Immonen

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; ­All-New X-Men vol. 1: Yesterday’s X-Men (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — All-New X-Men #7 (2016)

all-new-x-men-7This may be the strongest issue thus far of the relaunched ­All-New X-Men (among what’s available on Marvel Unlimited).

Old-school villain the Toad has kidnapped young Cyclops with the intent of murdering him, in hopes of erasing the adult Cyclops’s misguided actions from the timeline. Toad doesn’t actually want to kill him, but he’s convinced himself that it must be done for the good of the world. So he gets really drunk to work himself up to the deed. The character has often come across as the stereotypical lackey, so this may be his most human portrayal yet—which makes him all the more monstrous the closer he gets to going through with it (Mark Bagley’s art deserves lots of credit on that front, too).

Dennis Hopeless’s script exploits the limitations of Cyclops’s power to superb dramatic effect, and the result is a riveting, tense issue that compels you to pick up the next one.

It does help to know at least the basics of what’s been going on in recent years’ X-books, though. Otherwise—excellent issue.

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Penciler: Mark Bagley

Inker: Andrew Hennessy

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Guardians of the Galaxy #12 (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy 12The problem with crossovers if sometimes you’re not reading both or all series involved, which then requires a decision. Do you spring for the extra books and potentially feel coerced into buying them? Or do you just skip them and try to make sense of a partial storyline?

I’ve gotten pretty good at the second option over the years. It’s not ideal, but it works well enough. One recent time was when All-New X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy, both written by Brian Michael Bendis, crossed over for “The Trial of Jean Grey.”

I read the X-Men parts as they came out and enjoyed those issues, even with the other half of the story missing. But thanks to Marvel Unlimited, I’ve finally caught up on the other half, and it’s also full of good stuff.

A particularly strong part was Guardians of the Galaxy #12, during which young, time-displaced Cyclops learns his father is not dead, and present-day Corsair experiences a second difficult reunion with his son. Also, the Shi’ar confront young Jean Grey with the horrors she will someday commit as Phoenix. It’s an interesting sci-fi conundrum—is someone culpable for crimes they haven’t yet committed but are destined to?

My only quibble is that the story demotes the Guardians to guest stars in their own book. But it’s a solid X-Men story.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Pencilers: Sara Pichelli and Stuart Immonen

Inkers: Sara Pichelle and Wade Von Grawbadger

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; Guardians of the Galaxy/All-New X-Men: The Trial of Jean Grey (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — All-New X-Men #4 (2016)

All New X-Men 4Back in 2012, writer Brian Michael Bendis kicked off a brilliant concept—plucking the original teenage X-Men from their relatively innocent youth, sending them forward in time, and dropping them in the middle of the convoluted present-day continuity.

I would have thought Bendis and/or other writers would have resolved this tale of time-displaced X-Men by now. But I’m glad they haven’t. They haven’t nearly exhausted the creative possibilities yet, as evidenced by the relaunched ­All-New X-Men title, written by Dennis Hopeless and drawn by Mark Bagley.

I picked up the first trade paperback, and while the whole thing is solid the strongest issue within is the fourth, which kicks off the second storyline. By this point, the mission statement of the series comes into focus—this series will follow a group of seven young mutants trying to figure out their crazy lives and seize their own destinies after the adult Cyclops has totally made a mess of things.

The cast consists of the time-displaced younger versions of Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel (Jean Grey is hanging out with the adults in Extraordinary X-Men), the young female clone of Wolverine, and Idie and Kid Apocalypse from Wolverine and the X-Men. Too many X-titles over the past twenty-some years have juggled too many characters, so narrowing the focus to just these seven is a wise move.

Angel and the new Wolverine’s relationship gets the most attention in this particular issue, but every character is grappling with some personal problem or another. Cyclops’s is the most interesting—he’s seen that he’ll grow up to become basically a villain, so how does he avoid a future that has already played out?

Also, Angel and Wolverine run into the Blob, who’s a bit more formidable than he was in the good ol’ days.

Fun stuff so far, and I suspect the best is yet to come.

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Penciler: Mark Bagley

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; included in All-New X-Men: Ghosts of Cyclops (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up