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Through the Eyes of the X-Men: Cyclops

Brian Michael Bendis concludes his look at his All-New X-Men cast with the controversial Scott Summers!

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By Brett White

In his new ongoing series, ALL-NEW X-MEN writer Brian Michael Bendis drops the teen-aged original X-Men into the middle of Avengers vs. X-Men's fallout.

Professor Xavier lies dead, killed by Cyclops. The mutant race has bounced back from the edge of extinction. Mutant-human-relations stand at a new level of volatile. For all intents and purposes, the apocalyptic nightmare the X-Men were created to prevent has come to pass.

To get a better understanding of where these teenagers come from, Bendis spoke to Marvel.com about each original X-Man separately.

Now a revolutionary fugitive with his mentor's blood on his hands, Cyclops didn’t always inspire such controversy.

Scott Summers began his career with the X-Men as their stalwart leader who struggled to control his powerful mutant eye blasts as well as his bombastic teammates. Through years of hard work and battle experience, Cyclops became the figurehead of the entire mutant species only to have all of those accomplishments burned away by the Phoenix's fire.

Brian Michael Bendis explains how Cyclops fits into the X-Men's past and the future of ALL-NEW X-MEN.

Marvel.com: Of all the original X-Men, Cyclops has undergone the most recent change. He’s the X-Men's freshest wound. How do the rest of the X-Men react to seeing a teenage Scott Summers?

Brian Michael Bendis: I don’t want to spoil anything, but one of them may pop their claws immediately.

Marvel.com: I’m a big Cyclops fan.

Brian Michael Bendis: I am too, and it’s funny because he’s in such a dire strait right now. There’s a smaller group of readers, but vocal, that think that we hate Cyclops. They think that Marvel, or I, the writer, don’t like Cyclops. I was faced with this on DAREDEVIL, where I always put Daredevil in some horrible situation and they go, "why do you hate him?" And I go, "no, it’s the opposite." It’s not my job to hug him and give him a nice bowl of soup. It’s my job to create the most interesting environment for him to be in.

Marvel.com: Readers would hate it if you just wrote love fests.

Brian Michael Bendis: And listen, you’ve seen other writers over the course of the decade take their favorite character and do nothing with him because they love him so much. It’s the opposite of what you should do. Every great story you’ve ever read about a character is because some writer really put this character through the mill, and then we discover things about them, and find out what kind of hero they are and what could possibly happen next.

And Cyclops is now in a position that is worse than any Marvel character has ever been in. It’s like you can’t even see the heroic arc now, he’s so dark and fallen. And now here I am, with him as the lead character of this book, on a road to somehow possibly redeem this, without any going back or any cheap stuff. Like everyone thinks Xavier is going to be back next week, and he’s not. Now here’s a character that has to deal with the fact that no matter what mindset he was in, it was his hands, and his father figure is dead. And everyone blames him for it.

All-New X-Men #4 variant cover by Jim Cheung

Now what’s interesting is that young Cyclops comes here. Everyone blames him for it. Everyone is mad at him. And an hour ago, he was the most popular mutant and everybody loved him. You have a mutant, who as his younger self is able to stay controlled, and now we go in the future and everything is out of control, and he’s best friends with Magneto. It’s a huge shock to his system. He can’t even imagine how this could be. Everyone, including the people on his own team, is looking at him differently, including himself. Jean is quite in love him at this point in the story. How can she love him now? Could she possibly? The normal story would be what happened with Cyclops and Xavier, and how does Cyclops redeem himself and pull himself together and pull himself up by his bootstraps. Now add in, here’s the younger version of himself to face him. It’s quite a story

Marvel.com: Where does teenage Cyclops fall on the activist scale? What are his viewpoints on where mutants belong?

Brian Michael Bendis: I think he’s very proud of where they are, because even though the X-Men don’t think they’ve come forward enough, to the original five, including Cyclops, to see them fully thriving, to see mutants around, is a gigantic step forward from where they were an hour ago, which was that Beast was about to quit because he couldn't handle it. There’s a lot to be proud of but there’s a lot to negate that. And they are going to face all of this. And not only the young Cyclops, but one of the stars is this book is a modern day Cyclops, who we do not know everything about. We’re going to discover some brand new things about him in these first few issues. We’re going to find out where he’s at in the Marvel Universe, what the fallout to him physically is because of the Phoenix Force, and what the public perception of him is, which is very different from what the Avengers and X-Men perception of him is.

Remember, to a large part of society this guy stood up and tried to feed the homeless and purify the water and make everything better, and all of a sudden he’s in jail. There’s a conspiracy about what has happened with him. It’s literally like somebody tried to invent the electric car and then they killed him. Cyclops’ public persona and the advent of all these new mutants popping up make Cyclops’ public persona much different than the private one.

The heroes have a big problem with him. Remember, the Xavier assassination happened in front of everybody. We’re going to discover, like those that are familiar with Akira Kurosawa’s "Rashomon," everybody can see the same thing and have seen something different. Some will say, "no, Cyclops murdered Xavier; I saw it and he murdered him." Others will say, "Cyclops was not in control of himself," and others will say that Xavier put himself in a position to be murdered, so he could stop this. And everyone will see something different, and there will be those who argue online about it forever and ever.

I saw some people were criticizing us for not having a moment in AVENGERS VS. X-MEN where somebody in the crowd yelled, "oh my god, Xavier’s dead!" We were purposely leaving that image for interpretation. Yes, he’s dead; but how people perceive that death is different.

Marvel.com: Cyclops at the beginning of his career as a leader is coming face to face with Cyclops as he begins a new era of leadership. How does seeing that affect the youthful version? Does it make him be less aggressive? Or does it inspire him at all to see the great leadership that he’s capable of?

Brian Michael Bendis: All of the above.

Marvel.com: So is he going to be getting any lessons from his older self?

Brian Michael Bendis: I think everything that he sees and does is going to be a lesson. I think right away, it’s more about the question that he will have, and the questions of why are you with Magneto? And what happened with Xavier? And why isn’t Jean speaking to me?

Marvel.com: From your point of view, what makes Cyclops a natural leader?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, I’m fascinated with leaders in general. And people that stand up and say, "I will lead, I can do this," always fascinate me. You have to have a little bit of ego and narcissism and quite a fantastic view of yourself to decide that you are leadership potential, or that you know better, or that you can take responsibility for others. It’s fascinating to me, but the best leaders are also humble and world wise, and all of that is something that Cyclops has. In their best moments, that’s something that Cyclops has, but in their worst moments, their ego gets in their way, or their self-loathing gets in their way, and all that is worth analyzing.

Cyclops isn’t like Captain America, where Captain America always seems to know the balance. Cyclops is a very passionate character. And you always joke about how he’s the most vanilla or boring, but that’s because he’s trying to control himself. And he’s good at it, so he can keep calm. But under that control, is a bubbling passion that is stronger than anything that Wolverine or Jean Grey or any of the other X-Men have. Watching that manifest itself in this arena, in this crazy X-Men arena that we’re laying out for him is really the point of the book. And also Cyclops, because of him being a leader, his every action has either an immediate or delayed reaction, all of which we will be exploring in this book.

Marvel.com: Anything else you want to say about Cyclops? 

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s exciting to come into a book with a character that is this out there as far as story goes. And I’m sure there are some people reading this that are going, "there is no way that you’re going to get him back to a character that is perceived as heroic by the other heroes." There’s no way there’s a road of redemption for this character. There is, and it’s not the one you think it is.

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Comments

3 comments
REALCyclops
REALCyclops

I am going to sue Stan Lee for plaguerizing my story if he doesn't contact me soon. ;)

Madman1er
Madman1er

I love Cyclops both as a hero and as a semi-villain. I just hope through his journey, he gives a couple of bumps to Cap, Beast, Iceman and Wolverine.