Flashy elements like the Krakoan homebase or Apocalypse’s X-Men squad may be dominating online conversation around the start of Jonathan Hickman‘s mutant saga, but the writer is just as skilled at subtle character work as he is developing big, memorable moments. Creepy Xavier and diplomatic Magneto are getting a lot of attention as the story unfolds, but Cyclops, an original X-Men and one of the team’s longest-lasting leaders, is also getting a badly needed facelift.
A lot has changed in the Marvel Universe over the last few years, with Captain America outed as a Hydra Agent and Jane Foster temporarily wielding Mjölnir, but no chain of events feels more out of place than the downward spiral Cyclops has been on since 2012. After absorbing part of the Phoenix Force in Avengers Vs. X-Men, and subsequently losing his mind in the process, Cyclops went on to kill his former mentor and even advocated for a mutant revolution alongside Magneto. While there has been a lot of work done to reposition Cyclops as a thoughtful figure under the supervision of writers like Matthew Rosenberg, the character has been so bogged down with meaningless stories — including his own death and resurrection — that it’s difficult as a long-time fan to care or keep up.
Luckily, in just two short scenes, Hickman reasserts Cyclops’ position as a self-assured, tactical leader worthy of fan-adoration. The writer’s not necessarily throwing all of those tedious stories out the window — things will become increasingly clear as readers learn more about Moira MacTaggert’s many lives — but it’s clear his version of Scott Summers is closer to the smooth commander depicted by writers like Chris Claremont and Joss Whedon than the wannabe martyr he’s been over the last few years.
The first time readers see Cyclops in Hickman’s new world takes place immediately after the Fantastic Four confront Sabertooth in New York City, during House of X #1. Even though he arrives knowing that his request for Sabertooth to receive amnesty won’t be well received, Cyclops still enters the situation calmly, complementing the Thing on his recent wedding and chatting with the others. Despite being confronted by Susan Storm for Xavier’s world-altering ideology, Scott comes across as capable and commanding without flexing a muscle.
Sure, the Fantastic Four emerge victorious and keep Sabertooth imprisoned, but Scott undermines the team’s sense of moral high ground and safety with just a few pointed words about what he’s willing to to defend his family of mutants, a family which Scott coyly and ominously reminds them that Franklin Richards is free to join at any time. Without throwing a punch, Scott makes it abundantly clear that he and his fellow mutants won’t take harassment sitting down anymore.
The second scene featuring Cyclops takes place in Powers of X #2 and sets up a mission the character will embark on in upcoming issues. Tasked with destroying a sentinel outpost in space by Xavier and Magneto, Cyclops doesn’t ask if the mission will be difficult — he simply asks if it needs to be done. Before a strategy is set or a team chosen, Cyclops is immediately committed once he hears how important the task is. Unflinching in the face of hardship or danger, Scott has no problem diving into action to protect his loved ones and support their cause, a positive trait for all mutants to see and emulate.
Both interactions include closeup panels that intentionally frame Scott as a swoon-inducing authority figure. Even though he’s saying relatively corny lines during these two moments, Scott’s strong jawline and shimmering visor give him an air of quiet confidence that hints at just how powerful he truly is. While fans shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for another Marvel Swimsuit pinup featuring Cyclops, it does seem like there is subtle work being done to reassert his status as a comic book sex-symbol.
As if Scott needs more attention, Hickman appears to be extensively highlighting the Summers family in the upcoming X-Men book. The cover for the first issue, dropping in October with Hickman on writing duties and Leinil Francis Yu on pencils, looks like a snap-shot from a Summers family reunion; Scott’s two brothers, his father, his wife and even his son and daughter from a dystopian future all seemingly have spots on the team. The issue’s synopsis teases, “the saga of Cyclops and his hand-picked squad of mutant powerhouses,” so Scott clearly believes he and his family are qualified to protect the world. Sure, Wolverine is there, too, because every good X-Team needs a hairy wildcard, but it’s unmistakable that Cyclops is calling the shots here.
It’s still unclear exactly what Hickman and his HiX-men have in store for readers over the next couple of years, but fans can rest easy knowing that Cyclops is back in protective, loving hands.