First, a confession. Cyclops is my favorite member of the X-Men. From the time I acquired those Claremont/Byrne-era back issues, Uncanny X-Men #109 thru 126 (minus #111), from a trade of some sorts [Is that where my Daredevil #3 and #4 went?] with a neighbor, I always liked him best. Maybe it was because he grew up without a father or because he was having trouble getting the girl he was interested in reciprocate; and I could certainly relate to both. Besides his costume and powers were cool too!
Although, he was also like the Charlie Brown of the mutant-set. Dark Phoenix is your girlfriend?! You finally are connected to the love of your life and you have to lose her right after! Then you find new love, but that's all destroyed when she turns out to be a clone-whatever. And the dead girl didn't really die like you thought, so you end up ditching your clone-wife! I may not have all the details straight, but things only got worse from there. He loses his leadership with the X-Men, establishes X-Factor, his son is kidnapped (I think), etc. etc. And all those soap-operatic events happened in the glorious Copper Age. Flash-forward to about 6 years ago or so, and he kills Professor X?! Later he dies himself?! Everyone hates his guts?! He dies again! Is it any wonder that I've had trouble consistently reading X-Men since the big relaunch, way back in 1991?
But soon after in late 2012, there was some hope. All-New X-Men #1 premiered and the original X-Men were brought back from the past to the present to fix all the royally screwed-up stuff going on or at least that was the premise. I followed the series for a good bit, before dropping off again for some reason. Hmm, character retcon, perhaps? Well, recently Marvel decided to send those kids back in time where they belonged in the really entertaining 5-part limited series, Extermination. Being able to come relatively cold to the current X-Men story line with their way-too-many side characters and totally dig the series was no small feat. Isn't it ironic how they always talk about how there are so few mutants, but there are actually too many to keep track of and follow?
The first issue really blew me away. BAM! Cable is killed...by a younger version of himself. He actually refers to it as "retiring". Wow, and best of all was the ending -- Cyclops is BACK -- ALIVE -- and wearing the visor again in a beautiful silver finish. I definitely had my local comic shop, the stellar Cosmic Comix, put this Annual in my box since it was a direct continuation... (more after the break [SPOILERS]).
This issue was written by the Extermination writer, Ed Brisson and drawn by Carlos Gomez. All I need to say is that the art is X-cellent. : ) Cyclops rises from the grave. Sure we knew that happened, but we get to see it happen. Then we have a flashback sequence of Cyclops saving an MIT student from a robot controlled by a crazy professor, which is further enhanced with the retro-style coloring. Cyclops is wearing his second (I believe) costume, the yellow and blue with skinny visor. So we're talking 1967, right? Sigh. Unfortunately, due to Marvel-time, this event is reported as having occurred only 13 years ago, instead of 52! I guess that's why everyone is dressed like it is 2006. I know it makes no sense -- just roll with it.
Then Cable -- I'm only talking about young Cable here, the other one's dead, remember? -- visits the guy, Paul Douek, whom Scott saved 10 years prior. He warns Paul to stay away from the leftovers, because his tummy is getting soft. And that's how I relate to characters at age 48! Cable gives Paul an assignment that he has two years to complete. Forget that the concept is crazy and could only occur in a comic, but I've got to respect that he was actually given time to do it. Man, if I were on the Enterprise, they'd have been dead -- a gazillion times over. "Sorry, Cap'n, when I say three-weeks, I mean three weeks." That's real engineering folks. The humor in the scene is awesome.
Basically, after Scott died the first time (Death of X), Paul and Cable implanted a Phoenix-pace-maker-magnet-thingamajig inside the corpse of Scott Summers. Then when the Phoenix resurrected him as part of, duh, Phoenix Resurrection, he died again but drew in enough of a spark to Kickstart [His] Heart (my favorite Mötley Crüe song by the way).
It reminds me of another song that only my Christian family and friends would know and appreciate:
It only takes a spark
To get a fire going
And soon all those around
Can warm up in the glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You’ll spread His love
You’ll want to pass it on
(Pass It On - first verse)
[Interesting song origin article - here]
Now we come to the end of Extermination #5, with father (Cyclops) and son (Cable) kicking back a couple of beers. When the young X-Men returned to their original timeline, the older versions got the young X-Men's memories. This sequence is very fan-pleasing. For all Cable's holier-than-thou-shalt-not-interfere-with-the-time-stream talk, he has to answer a very relevant question:
[Below: All Caps is NOT yelling, Bold is or for emphasis.]
Cyclops: "THEN HOW COME I'M NOT STILL DEAD?"
Cyclops: "IF YOU'RE SO CONCERNED WITH MAINTAINING THE TIMELINE THAT YOU'D KILL MY SON IN ORDER TO FIX IT -- "
Cable: "I AM YOUR SON!"
Cyclops: "WHY DID YOU BRING ME BACK? I SHOULD STILL BE DEAD."
Cable: "BECAUSE IT WASN'T RIGHT! YOU'RE... YOU'RE THEIR LEADER. THEIR HOPE. FOR YOU TO DIE ON YOUR KNEES FROM A DAMNED INFECTION? FROM MIST? THAT'S NOT THE WAY THAT IT SHOULD HAVE GONE DOWN. I COULDN'T LET THAT BE THE END."
Cable's not letting Scott get out in the world yet though. He has to be tested to see what sort of man came back from the dead. Cable creates a situation where Scott can either join in some X-Men madness, where they could certainly use his help, or save the life of Paul Douek and his family. He can't do both, he has to choose. After he's made that choice, Scott gets to explain his wacky actions (when he was going-off-the-rails) and repent (of sorts).
To be continued in Uncanny X-Men #11. I'll certainly be there, will you?
Thank you Ed Brisson! You've done what I thought was impossible, but what can only be done in comics. You've restored a character who had been ruined and abused for years back to his former glory or at least started him back on the right path. I no longer need to be ashamed to say that Cyclops was my favorite X-Man. You could sell hats to celebrate.