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Cyclops by Jordan Ferguson

Quick! Name your favourite X-Man!

It's cool, take a minute. I'll wait.

...

Okay, everyone good? Go ahead and turn your papers in, let's see what we have. Wolverine? Okay, traditional, maybe, but I can't front on it. Storm? Makes sense, the ladies love to see a powerful woman. Gambit? Umm... you know what? Cool. Lot of you 90s babies out there, he's what you came up with, I'm not mad at it. Huh. That's interesting. Of all these slips of paper, no one said Cyclops. Probably because no one has ever said Cyclops was his or her favourite X-Man.

SO WHY HAS HE BEEN SHOVED DOWN OUR THROATS FOR FIFTY YEARS?!

Yes, Scott Summers is one of the original five X-Men. But unlike the other four, Scott's not:

(a) Dead (Jean Grey)
(b) A constantly evolving supergenius (Beast)
(c) Happily relegating himself to supporting status (Iceman and Angel)

He's just... Cyclops. I've read comics since I was nine years old, and to this day, all I remember about Dude is ruby quartz goggles and crying over dead wives. It's not even like he shoots fiery hot lasers from his eyes, he shoots, "optic blasts," some sort of concussive force with no recoil. He's the de-facto leader of the most popular franchise in the history of superhero comics, but he's got no personality to speak of. So every few years Marvel tries to come up with some way to add value back to the character, try and make him more edgy or someone readers would aspire to be.

Put it another way: one thing the fellows at 22 Pages and I like to do is talk about comics using professional wrestling terminology (a gag used to great effect in a recent installment of Smells Like Maturity). For over ten years, Marvel's been trying to get Cyclops over, with gimmick after gimmick:

Possessed by Apocalypse.
Shtupping Emma Frost [all right, fine, I aspired a bit on this one].
The Mutant Joseph Kony, sending forth his child soldiers to fight Super Sentinels.
Phoenixed-possesed Charles Xavier murderer.
Underground mutant resistance freedom fighter.

And no matter what they try, none of it works for me. Cyclops can't get any heat out of me good or bad. I just don't care, I find him supremely uninteresting, white bread, plain vanilla, and I don't understand what it is about the character that causes writers to go back to the well with him again and again. He doesn't have Beast's struggle to redefine his humanity, he lacks the tragic gravitas of Wolverine or Magneto, he's not funny like Kitty Pryde or Iceman, he can't punch holes in tractors like Colossus, he's not half naked like Emma Frost or Magik, he's just … there. Which would be fine if editorial took the events of AvX to clear him off the playing field for a while, but instead they've made him the focal point of the X-books again, as some sort of fugitive militant, crossing his arms in a gesture of dissent against the established social order. They're trying to make Cyclops the rock and roll to Wolverine's Establishment, and it's backfiring again: while Logan's shift to put-upon Headmaster of the Jean Grey School has humanized his character and made him more interesting (while making Wolverine and The X-Men my favourite book right now), Scott's attempt at playing the stoic warrior, doing what needs to be done is going over like a fart in church. Top it all off with the fact that in the pages of All-New X-Men we have to deal with two Scott Summers...es (Cyclopses? Cyclopi?) running around as young Scott gets all Dawson's Creek because he turns into a power drunk psychopath who kills his father figure boo dee hoo hoo ugh. Just, I don't know, get some tattoos, listen to Slayer, read some Camus, do something to be interesting.

Listen, friends, I get that he has history. I understand he's been the leader since the franchise was launched fifty years ago. But damned if I know why he continues to be thrust into the center point of the books when all of his former teammates have stepped down into ensemble players and been better for it. Even the movies had the sense to kill his ass and sweep him to the side. But in the comics, they just keep hitting the reset button, hoping that something will stick, when he just ends up about as edgy as Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock brandishing a machete: I know I should be intimidated, but it's just so hard to take seriously.

But keep trying, Marvel. Eventually you'll put the toys back on the right shelf (such is the nature of intellectual property synergy), so maybe the journey he's been on will mean something before he goes back to being a boy scout. Or maybe you just drop him in the Siege Perilous and make him Lila Cheney's bodyguard. Anything would be an improvement at this point.

Jordan Ferguson doesn't think that new outfit with the x-visor looks stupid as much as impractical. He offers sartorial tips for the superheroic at poetryforgravediggers.wordpress.com.