Anghus Houvouras reviews the third issue of Marvel NOW!’s Uncanny X-Men…
“Everything has changed for Magneto in the last few weeks. Can he prove he is still the Master of Magnetism?“
Has Scott Summers ever been this interesting?
That was the question that kept coming to mind as I read the latest issue of Uncanny X-Men. The third issue for those keeping track. As a character, I’ve always found Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops to be kind of a boring, one dimensional character. Throughout his fifty years of existence, he has teetered back and forth between boy-scout and pariah. He’s often forced to play the straight man while characters like Wolverine get to do all the scenery chewing.
It’s no surprise that Hollywood had so much trouble figuring out something for Cyclops to do. In the first X-Men movie he got to be the stern, single minded leader and was given little to do. In X2: X-Men United, he gets beat up by a girl and then vanishes until the tail end of the second act. And then, with nowhere remotely interesting to go, they kill him off five minutes into X-Men: The Last Stand. I think it shines a light on the most glaringly obvious fact in comics today.
Cyclops is boring.
He’s either rattling off Professor X’s talking points, or carrying on the cause in his absence. Or crying about losing Jean Grey for the 414th time. Stalwart soldier for the mutant cause or co-dependent, perpetually mopey lovestruck guy. The guy has two modes, and both of them are really boring. If the X-Men were Scooby Doo, Cyclops would be Fred. No one wants to be Fred. Especially when Fred spends an eternity crying over the fact that Daphne got taken over by the Phoenix Force and took her own life. Sorry. I got off track.
Wolverine has a half dozen titles with his name on it. So does Deadpool. You don’t exactly see much demand for a Cyclops solo title. Brian Michael Bendis might be able to fix that.
Uncanny X-Men #3 presents a Cyclops that feels completely reinvented. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still the same ideological podium thumper as he’s been in the past. However, Bendis has fueled Scott Summers with a fire I don’t ever remember seeing. As Cyclops leads his young, untested team of Uncanny X-Men to Australia, he is confronted with the Avengers who are looking to charge him with the murder of Charles Xavier.
Cyclops stares down a collection of the world’s mightiest mortals and makes a bold declaration. He will defend his mutant brethren no matter the cost. If they don’t like it, they can go to hell. The Avengers are itching to take a swing. It seems confrontation is inevitable, until one of Scott’s new mutant recruits manages to freeze the Avengers in a time bubble. Cyclops uses the opportunity to use the press to his advantage. He looks to the camera and says the baddest line you have ever heard Scott Summer utter.
“We just took out the Avengers and we didn’t even lift a finger. How do you think you’ll do?”
Scott Summers isn’t just towing the line anymore. He’s bold, irrational, and not afraid to get in the face of every superhero in the Marvel universe to accomplish his goals. Like many characters, Scott Summers seems infinitely more interesting with his back to the wall. Uncanny X-Men has been one of the biggest surprises of the Marvel NOW! relaunch. For the first time in ages, I find myself engaged with an X-Men story. It might be familiar territory, but Bendis works well with these characters. Chris Bachalo’s layouts pop.
Three issues in, I have no problem declaring Uncanny X-Men to be the standout mutant title in the line up.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the graphic novel EXE: Executable File, is available from Lulu.com.