For young Scott Summers—plucked from his own distinct moment in time and ushered to an inconceivable tomorrow—nothing looks quite as appealing as a blank canvas. The outstretched hand of a father thought long-dead presents just such possibility, as Christopher Summers, the pirate known to the galaxy as Corsair of the Starjammers, invites his son to join him out among the stars.
Writer Greg Rucka teams with breakout artist Russell Dauterman to weave a tale of father and son bonding over Badoon booty, as CYCLOPS blasts off from the pages of ALL-NEW X-MEN for an ongoing adventure beginning in May.
“It comes down entirely to their life experiences and that’s the end-all, be-all of it,” he says of the gulf between young Scott and his battle-scarred counterpart of the present. “That’s the only thing that can be a factor there. One has experiences that have brought him to the place he is now and the other is looking and can’t imagine the experiences that took him to that place. I find it real powerful and problematic. I think young Scott and our [adult] Scott would hate to admit that they both absolutely come from the same place and maybe are still pretty much the same person. You know, we are the aggregate of our experiences. That’s where our personality comes from. That’s what influences us; that’s what drives our decisions.
“When we’re 16, we have lots of heavy thoughts. And these are the heavy thoughts where when we’re in our 30’s we look at 16-year olds and sort of scorn it. They’re legitimate. It’s legit. Scott’s got real baggage but he’s also got this blessing of an opportunity. Which is for him, okay, his mom is gone. She’s not coming back. But holy mackerel, here’s my dad! And for Chris, for Corsair, who has reconciled with Scott and with Alex, this is an opportunity to be there for his 16-year old son.”
At this stage in his so-called life, Cyclops remains in desperate search for something, even if he can’t quite articulate it himself. Rucka explains that, far from Kree treasure vaults or the plundered salvage of Skrull derelicts, the unspoken aim in Scott’s quest will be more universal and far more complicated: “What does it mean to be a good man?”
Matters of the heart play heavily into this journey, though Scott initially pines solely for Jean Grey. Like many young sailors, this frustrated teen commits his thoughts to paper.
“Yeah, because that’s what we do when we’re 16 and we’re in love,” chuckles Rucka. “We write these letters and sometimes we actually send them. He’s also 16. That’s where he starts; it’s not where he ends. He’s going to meet some girls. [Editor] Nick Lowe just switched over to the Spider-Man office but he and I were having a lot of discussion about this before I even started writing and one of the things is, when you’re 16 and you don’t know how to talk to girls, even if you think you do, and you think everybody else knows how to do it. Here’s your dad and again, he’s sort of the Dread Pirate Roberts meets Han Solo. He’s got some moves. You can probably pick up a point or two.
“We’re going to have some fun with that. There has to be that sense of romance.
Rucka considers artist Russell Dauterman an ideal choice to render Scott’s starry-eyed coming-of-age.
“There were two things I was really looking for and Russell really brings both of them,” the writer says. “The first is that he’s got this lovely design sense that I think is going to bring that sense of wonder. I want this to be things that Scott has never seen and is spectacular and I think Russell brings that. Number two: I think Russell can draw teenagers as opposed to slightly out of proportion adults. Scott’s 16. That’s an awkward damn age. You’re halfway between finishing out the puberty run and there are elements about you where you’re still a boy and your limbs are long and you’re bumping into stuff and so on. Yeah, you can fire optic blasts and that’s awesome but you’re still 16.”
“Which is not to say I want him to draw acne,” he laughs.
Given that CYCLOPS represents Greg Rucka’s first-ever series set amongst the stars, what informs his vision for this extended stay?
“It’s more ‘Star Wars,’ than say, ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ certainly,” he notes. “Space travel is incidental in this; meaning that it is relatively easy in the Marvel Universe. It comes without the perils and baggage one would discover in a movie like ‘Gravity.’ More to the point, we want aliens. We want it to be fabulous. It needs to be wonderful. That’s one of the things we’re working for and one of the things I’m excited to see how Russell depicts it because at its root, this is an adventure story and I want it to be an uplifting one. I want it to be a fun one. There needs to be excitement and drama. There has to be stakes.”
He pauses for a moment.
“I don’t want to ever lose for Scott, ‘I’M IN SPACE! WITH MY DAD! WHO’S A PIRATE! AND IF THAT ISN’T THE COOLEST THING!’”
“I don’t ever want to lose that,” he stresses. “And I think one of the things with Scott is, and one of the reasons why I love the character so much is he and I share a lot of traits. He’s not really good at having a good time. He’s a very serious guy. To be able to have his dad say to him, ‘It’s okay. Lighten up, man. It’s cool.’ They’re going to have fun. That’s exactly it.”
Father to a teenage son himself, Rucka naturally draws from real-life experience. The focus remains on Scott’s journey, but the writer commiserates with the grizzled space pirate’s excitement at the opportunity to show off his son at the office—especially if the office happens to be a cold frigate adrift in the Crab Nebula.