Cyclops #1 was a damn good issue. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being sceptical about its premise; I didn’t think there was much point in a solo Cyclops series that focused on the young Scott Summers. I could more see the point in one about adult Cyclops, even though he has Uncanny X-Men to romp around in. Against popular opinion I love Scott as a character and always have; I think he’s a flawed, real character that is one of only a few in comic books that shows semi-believable growth based on the pressures, responsibilities and experiences he’s faced.
So why, based on that logic, would I want to read a book about a character that has essentially reset the guy? Well, because Greg Rucka, that’s why. Because artist —– that’s why. Because in this first issue they’ve developed the character of Scott Summers far more than he has been in many years; through his relationship with his father, his love for Jean and his reaction after having seen his future self be “not such a nice guy”. That’s why.
It didn’t really have to be a cosmic book, but it is because his father is renowned Space Pirate Corsair, captain of the Starjammers (who, in my humble opinion are much more interesting than the flashy GotG anyway). While it’s true that all the book’s best features (indeed what makes me love the issue) – Cyclops’ very believable teenage turmoil; the doubts he has over his decisions, his emotions and his destiny – are, in no way, cosmic related at all, the addition of the Badoon bad guys and the Starjammers help to give this book a cosmic backbone. It’s the space (no pun intended) Scott needs away from the immense, confusing drama he’s left on Earth.
It’s also a fascinating ‘What If’ study of the character. What If Cyclops’ father figure was Corsair instead of Professor X? How different would the events of the last 10, 15, 20 years of X-Men history (and Cyclops’ life) have been if he’d been brought up without the pressure and responsibility of leading a team of mutants? By extension of that: seeing how different Cyclops as a man grows up without those pressures, ultimately how responsible is Professor Xavier in his own demise?
There’s no doubt the experiences young Scott has in space will influence the young boy he is and greatly change the man he becomes, and I believe that if this story is as influential as it could be (and I really hope it lives up to the potential of this first issue) then these experiences in space will not only affect the man he would become but the man he already is, i.e. adult Cyclops. How hard would it hit you if you saw a version of yourself who was raised in a different environment (arguably a better environment) and saw them grow up to be a better man than you have ever been? Would it make you realise how far you’ve fallen? Would it make you depressed, or worse? I’m clearly reading a lot into one issue, but these are all issues that Greg Rucka has raised within this book, and clearly issues that he is not only fully aware of but plans to address moving forward.
So why does this make me more invested in the Marvel Cosmic universe? Well, because it shows that no matter how far-fetched and ‘out-there’ the backdrop, you can still create deep, emotional character stories with resonance, and that’s crucial for a sub-genre that could all too easily slip into space-opera clichés. That’s why.