The Magic of Buffy: Excitement for the BOOM! Studios Reboot Comic Series
An Editorial From Rafa Encinas
As stated so often already by so many different editorials, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of those series that was just part of the cultural zeitgeist of the 21st century as soon as it manifested in the late 90s. Now with over 20 years of content and history, BTVS lives on in pop culture infamy, and for good reason. Joss Whedon created absolute magic with his quirky teenage fantasy/supernatural “coming of age” / “monster of the week” television program. It was witty. It was funny. It was passionate. And most importantly, it was important.
Growing up, Buffy and the Scooby Gang taught me the value of family, both the one you are born into and the one you make for yourself. Like for so many others, I felt this show was special because it was a show that felt inclusive. It normalized and humanized all walks of life. I have many friends who felt that identifying as “queer” became much more acceptable because the characters onscreen created a safe and fun environment where sexual orientation wasn’t just a trope. It was an everyday thing that just happened to be part of the show; its cultural significance was huge. Buffy was my hero, and this was one of the first times feminism would become a huge staple in my mindset.
Not only that, but besides its cultural significance, on a personal level, this was the first show that showcased an intense unpredictability. SPOILERS to those who have not watched the show, but I still remember the feeling of shock and awe I felt when Angelus snapped Ms. Calendar’s neck, when Joyce unexpectedly passed away, and the final episode with Anya. These moments still feel like fresh wounds that never healed. There was a formula to the show, but danger was at every turn no matter how light-hearted the humor. Anyone could die at any moment.
And this is part of the allure of the franchise; why so many avid fans continued with the comic book series long after the television series had ended. This story was wild and magical, and it still boasts some of the most relatable and hilarious moments of any television show. However, the fact that it is grounded in empathetic and realized human characters made it powerful and ambitious. We were part of the Scooby Gang, so their successes were our successes, and their losses were our losses. We were family.
This is why I am excited for BOOM! Studios to now be delivering a revamped and modernized take on the vampire slayer. With three issues already out at the point of this editorial, I cannot express just how much fun and excitement I have had reading through this new imagining of the characters of Sunnydale.
Jordie Bellaire is a perfect choice for writer because she manages to capture the charm and wit of the characters, as they monologue through their everyday lives, while still giving it a modern look and feel for 2019. Not only that, but illustrator Dan Mora is such an a amazing artist who is able to bring these real life characters to life on the pages. Buffy looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar. Willow looks like Alyson Hannigan! The art style is gorgeous with colors that pop and a fluid motion that reads smoothly.
Some may not like the pacing of the comics, but there is so much lore that needs to be established, so I am okay with it. Buffy feels like Buffy. Other characters with their slight redesigns are interesting. I like the new origins for both Anya and Spike. Giles has the whole “hot librarian” thing going on. I especially like how they are playing into Xander’s deep-seated struggles with inadequacy (I’m curious to see where this will lead). I am a little taken aback with Cordelia’s “positive” characterization, but I’m on board for something new. And then Willow feels different, but I like her new confidence and style. Overall, this feels familiar enough with some new talking points which feels exciting!
Overall, these are my general thoughts and feelings:
Things I have really enjoyed:
- the colors and art direction that move the plot forward.
- Buffy’s characterization is dead on! Sixteen-year-old Buffy is portrayed with the right amount of sarcasm and heroism seen in the television program.
- The introduction of Spike; portrays all things cool. He seems more like an antihero than a villain at this point, and his interaction with Cordy was both interesting and enjoyable.
- All the little Easter Eggs and call backs to the Buffy lore (such as Anya name dropping Wolfram & Hart, Xander’s profile name: The Xeppo, and the foundation for Spike & Giles’ inevitable banter).
- Joyce and her boyfriend dynamic is new, and I am excited to see more.
- Anya’s introduction as the keeper of ancient artifacts instead of just some revenge demon.
- The comical introduction of Camazotz, Buffy’s pegasus. I’m excited to see what they do with this!
Things I am looking forward to:
- Xander’s story and how it plays out. It’s an interesting dynamic to see how feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome can come into play when surrounded by powerful people.
- The build of the Giles/Buffy father/daughter dynamic. I lived for these moments in the show.
- The introduction of Angel! Can’t wait! It will probably be when I least expect it. Also, are we going to get Angel or Angelus!?
- If no Angelus, I am looking forward to The Master! Hopefully, he’s got some cool stuff in store for Sunnydale and the hellmouth.
- The further characterization of new characters Rose and Robin.
It feels good to see Buffy reimagined for a whole new generation of people to read and enjoy. I am excited to see new ideas and fresh takes on characters I love; I mean, I’m already digging the introspective Xander, the kind Cordelia, and the confident Willow. If you are a Buffy fan, I highly recommend you pick this series up. If not, pick it up anyway. It’s a quirky coming of age story with demons and vampires. It’s going to be awesome!
The “Tommy Oliver Variety Hour” Coming To Comic Stands Near You!
An Editorial From Rafael Encinas
The “Tommy Oliver Variety Hour” Coming To Comic Stands Near You!
BOOM! Studios has done such a wonderful job at bringing the Power Rangers lore to new heights. I have been a devout Power Rangers fan for many years, and specifically, these past couple of years have truly been a blessing because of the talent, excitement, and respect that the comic book medium has brought to the franchise. I have been reading these amazing stories since they have come out in January of 2016, and I now have a reason again to buy single issues and to collect variant covers again without waiting, like I normally do, for the trade graphic novel. Moreover, I have especially liked the attention to detail and maturity that Kyle Higgins’ has given us in his stories and in his characterizations of the cast. Whether it be Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Go Go Power Rangers, or Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink, I have loved the new adventures and situations that these teenagers with attitude have gotten into.
However, with all good things, there is always room for improvement, and unfortunately, sometimes there is a growing frustration. At Wondercon this past weekend, the BOOM! Studios panel revealed that starting with issue #21, the Go Go Power Rangers ongoing series would finally be introducing Tommy Oliver to the team; this in turn would begin the “Green with Evil” plot we have seen in the television program. The incorporation of Tommy into this series will coincide with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ issue #40 kicking off the new “Necessary Evil” storyline with a returning White Ranger Tommy.
So, basically, we are getting a whole lot of Tommy Oliver! This is great and exciting news if you are a Tommy fan, but Power Rangers is so much more than one single ranger.
Now, I do not mean to sound like a complainer. I mean, we have gotten some truly amazing stories these past couple of years. However, as many fans have pointed out on twitter and reddit threads, the love and focus on a certain Green Power Ranger has been at the forefront for these comics for some time now. Afterall, this past year we have seen Tommy’s evil future doppleganger take the spotlight during the “Shattered Grid” storyline, and we even got “Saban’s Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon” one-off graphic novel. Now, we are getting two heaping helpings of Saban’s Favorite Ranger in both the green and white variety. And honestly, this isn’t the color palette I’ve been craving.
Though I recognize the appeal for the Tommy character, after all, he is a foundation to what made Mighty Morphin Power Rangers so popular! However, I have always loved the power rangers for their team dynamics. The television show managed to change from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: teenagers with attitude in colorful spandex to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Tommy Oliver variety hour. I understand that Tommy was the cool Green Ranger, which I 100% loved as a kid; however, the shows got too focused on Jason David Frank’s character and the show was less about team dynamics and more about how many flavors of the Rainbow can Tommy fit into. Jason David Frank has probably done more for the franchise than any other ranger in the series, but at this point it is too much.
I am hoping that these stories will prove to be some powerful and engaging story arcs, after all, BOOM!Studios hasn’t failed me yet. However, it is disheartening when you see the spotlight on the same character over and over again, especially when there is such a rich history of so many awesome Power Rangers characters. But again, only the future will tell how we see these stories in tandem with their respective visions. I hope to see more Ranger variety in future stories.
Passion In Villainy: The Ballad Of Thaal Sinestro
An Editorial From Rafael Encinas
When it comes to iconic comic book characters, the protagonists themselves must be challenged by captivating and enthralling foils. Superman stops Lex Luthor. Batman incarcerates The Joker. Peter Parker overcomes Doctor Octopus. Ben Reilly tries to combat sabotaging creative & publishing teams. Basically, we need, no, we want great villains. Therefore, we see true acts of villainy from hundreds of different characters in all kinds of different comics. But what makes a villain so interesting? How does a villain stand out in the oversaturation of menacing grins and extravagant mustaches!? That can be hard to define, but it is also very primal and innate in human nature. A lot of the time, the villain has the same conviction as the hero. We see passion, determination, and focus in our villains; all traits we want to see in ourselves. However, though villains may have relatable motivations, the actions they take can be seen as less than ideal; after all, heroes are supposed to take the high road, but it’s more human and intriguing to think: What would we be capable of when we think no one is looking?
Well, Thaal Sinestro is the type of character who not only doesn’t care if someone is looking, but who will bare all with animated theatrics just to showcase his point and/or vision. And this is one of the many reasons that I am deeply captivated by this villain. Sinestro just so happens to be one of those villains that brings so much depth and awe to the DC Universe, specifically, the Green Lantern mythos. The greatest of the Green Lanterns; dictator of Korugar; alien super-villain; leader of the Sinestro Corps; reluctant anti-hero. These are all titles that Sinestro holds, and for good reason. Sinestro is one of the toughest and most terrifying villains in the DC universe.
I say this with clarity because of my background with the character. Green Lantern just so happened to be some of the first superhero comics I ever read, and Sinestro was always that villain who I disliked (I mean Hal Jordan is so cool) but still respected on a subconscious level. Sinestro stood up to the “out of touch” Guardians of The Universe. He put his life on the line to protect his people. He did do atrocious things, but there were layers to his actions. Reading through Geoff Johns magnum opus that was his 2000s era on the Green Lantern book not only revitalized the series but perfectly built on perceptions of heroism, redemption, and rebirth… not just for the titular character, Hal Jordan, but also for the refreshed Sinestro. Sinestro was written as THE villain.
We want menacing and believable villains. We want cool villains, and they don’t get much cooler than this bastard! He is the emissary of fear; his yellow power ring allows him to create any fearful construct his twisted mind can conjure. Afraid of spiders? Sinestro can create some and then have them eat you alive. He is also a being who relishes in the absolute control and order of all aspects of life. He is a villain of cool composure; ruthless and ever plotting. However, he is more than a super villain; albeit he may not even consider himself as the antagonist of his stories. And why should he? He is an enormously complex character, with motivation, depth, and humanistic tragedy. He is much more than the mustache twirling despot he is written to be at times. This is important because Sinestro started as a hero. His eventual fall from grace an be placed in two deeply rooted and relatable human aspects: tragedy and revenge.
First of all, Sinestro is one of my favorite bad guys because I can relate to him to a certain extent; specifically his tragic fall from grace. He’s a guy who values his self-worth, which to him is engulfed in his prestigious title as one of the greatest Green Lanterns of all time. He focuses solely on the ideal of order in a virtuously order-less world. He is strong-willed, and he will do everything that is necessary to protect the citizens of his home world, Korugar. His actions are aimed at Utopia, at control, and at peace. However, he takes a “by all means necessary” approach. This is a great example of the infamous saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
He is a man of vision, and he is respected for it, but then things start to unravel. He loses his best friend (Abin Sur); he loses his precious wife and daughter. He therefore only has his title left and his legacy. This is what leads him to such totalitarian madness. He becomes a dictator in order to save his world. He does this while creating a new bond with the new and idealistic Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. Sinestro ultimately reaches out to Hal, which is difficult for him to do, and this leads to Sinestro’s fall from grace. Hal does not side with his mentor but instead betrays him by outing Sinestro’s totalitarian regime in Korugar. Sinestro is therefore stripped of his lantern ring, and he is excommunicated from the Corps, he is banished, and therefore, he loses everything.
This is some powerful, Shakespearean stuff. However, Sinestro is not the kind of man to stay down. This is what leads me to the second reason as to why Sinestro is so captivating and one of my favorite villains, he fully embraces his newfound title as “ the bad guy” and allows his hatred to consume him. He is banished to the anti-matter universe. And you would think that’s the end of him, but no. Sinestro is not a man to be trifled with. He will play the long game to ultimately get the last laugh. He succumbs to revenge, which is a very human emotion. To him, it is all personal, and he unleashes hell. Passively, he unleashes Parallax upon Jordan, which sets off the events of Emerald Twilight (1994) that led to the corruption of Hal and the destruction of the Green Lantern Corps. Sinestro then actively created his own Fear Lanterns and went to actual galactic war with earth and the remaining Green Lanterns.
The Sinestro Corps War (2008) was such an explosive event in where Sinestro systematically almost destroyed those who slighted him all those years before. Sinestro would always remember, and he would never forgive. He almost beat Hal and the Guardians; he almost won. And honestly, on some level, the reader may have wanted to see it. After all, the Guardians of OA were self-righteous pricks. There was blood in the water, and the antagonistic feud between Hal and Sinestro could not possibly get any more raw.
But then apocalyptic events started occurring, the light spectrum was getting new ring slingers, and so the relationship between Sinestro and Jordan would only grew more and more complex. Sinestro fights alongside Jordan against Red Lanterns on Ysmault, he manages to harness the power of the Life entity within the White Lantern during The Blackest Night (2009); and he harnesses Parallax’s power fully to help destroy Volthoom, the First Lantern. And all of this occurs before DC’s current rebirth event. This is all pretty impressive.
Sinestro is the villain that can be seen as a cruel and twisted character (especially in the way he killed so many lanterns during the Sinestro Corps War and enslaved his entire world for peaceful order). After all, he is the quintessential 1984 Big Brother Totalitarian dictator described by George Orwell, but he has a face, a deeper drive, and a deep conviction. He is so cool with his alien demeanor; he can act like such a queen when talking to Hal. (Those are some of my favorite exchanges throughout the DC continuity). What makes Sinestro such a beautiful super villain, but more importantly, a character, is his rich motivations. An individual who loses everything, but keeps trying to get it back from malevolent, outside forces (the Guardians of Oa) and his once so called brothers in arms (the Green Lantern Corps). He might do perceptually evil things; but he never truly gives up on the ideal of the corps: to serve and protect, which is beautifully illustrated in War of The Green Lanterns, where he comes full circle and protects Hal against the crazed Krona.
What truly breaks my heart in Sinestro’s characterization though isn’t his loss of compassion or empathy; it is the evolution of his relationship with Hal Jordan. Once a mentor, then a friend, then a mortal enemy, Jordan is a huge motivator for Sinestro because as much as he does loathe this particular Green Lantern, he will always consider him a brother. They get into so many spats, so many bare-knuckle brawls. One minute they are trying to kill each other; the next they are working together. And that gets me every time. Two friends on opposing sides forever entwined in a dance of death. At the end of the conflict with the First Lantern, Sinestro says it all, “That’s the tragedy of all this Jordan. Hal. We’ll always be friends”.
Geoff Johns does such a good job in that panel. It breaks my heart every time. And that is why I appreciate everything Geoff Johns has done for the DC Universe, especially the Green Lantern story for the past many years. He is a creative mind who creates stories through character growth; and never has it shone as brightly than in the tales of Hal Jordan and Thaal Sinestro.
Sinestro is an amazingly complex super villain, and he is a pretty vindictive and ruthless character; however, that sense of order in a world that keeps trying to introduce chaos that he has is understandable. Sinestro is just trying to make sense of the world. And he will take it by force to save it as he sees fit. And honestly, that is pretty cool.
An Editorial From Rafael Encinas
It is not always easy being a superhero, especially when you end up in an alternate dimension. But this is exactly what happens in Brian Michael Bendis’ exciting Spider-Men (2012) epic in where our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is blasted into Marvel’s Ultimate Universe where he comes face to face with that dimension’s Spider-Man, Miles Morales. With the ever growing popularity of the Miles character, it made sense for the new Spider-Man to meet the OG one. What is awesome is the fact that it is done perfectly in this story. Peter encounters Miles. Shenanigans ensue.
Even reading this story so many years after its initial release, it still holds up as a perfect little Spider-Man story. Though it is only five issues, it tells a well-paced and contained narrative that manages to be both fun and entertaining. As our two spider heroes meet in a hilarious encounter, the tone is automatically set up to be one of fun and wonder. Reading their adventure is an absolute blast because it elicits strong feelings of adventure. It isn’t too serious, and could possibly be described as a fever dream because of the ridiculous concepts; however, it is the first step into their future team-ups.
Both characters are genuine hero archetypes that people can rally behind. They are characters of virtue but are also grounded in the Everyman dynamic. The teacher-student dynamic feels strong, and we witness something that we know is special. But besides delivering this kind of thematic appeal, it also delivers strong artwork that jumps off the page. Sara Pichelli compliments the vivid narrative with strong colors and elegant detail.
To anyone who wants to explore more of the Spider-Man universe and are particularly interested in Miles’ story, I think Spider-Men (2012) is for you. It is non intimidating and one does not need to know much to really delve into the pages. It is for casual fans, and it is meant to be its own one-off story. And this is a good thing because it manages to capture the magic of what makes comics so much fun and meaningful. It is a story of adventure; of family; of passing the torch.
An Editorial From Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas
With the resurrection of Scott Summers in Extermination and Uncanny X-men Annual #1 (2019) there has been major buzz surrounding this iconic character. Specifically, many are buzzing about the old age question: Was Cyclops Right? According to Renaldo Matadeen in CBR.com’s article “Cyclops Finally Settles Marvel’s Most Popular X-men Argument,” the author goes straight to the end result of Cyclops, himself, saying he was wrong. Although Matadeen makes some good points about the decision, we argue that in the context of Scott’s full story not only was Cyclops right in his actions, but these decisions were paramount to the survival of the mutant species. It is easy to criticize Scott out of context and as a hero, but Scott is more than that. He is ultimately responsible for the mutant population’s survival during their most perilous time.
Why Cyclops Was Right
If you go back and look at the crossover event, House of M (2005), with the New Avengers and the Astonishing X-men, we can see that both teams faced hardships and essentially had to fight for their existence. However, once reality gets restored to normal, the Mutants have to deal with Scarlet Witch’s curse of ‘No More Mutants.’ So, did reality really go back to normal for the X-men? This was a turning point into the way Scott Summers saw himself; basically, Cyclops the hero was traded in for Cyclops the War Time General; Scott was the man who inherited the crisis after M-Day. In a time where fellow Mutants he counted on were gone, missing, or depowered, a time when powerful enemies were empowered to wipe them out, and a situation where fellow heroes like the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. were not as sympathetic as they could have been, Scott and the Mutants had their backs to the wall. During this time, the Avengers were getting ready for their split with the upcoming Civil War event, which did spill into the lives of the remaining Mutants; and S.H.I.E.L.D. was just suffering losing Nick Fury from his actions during the Secret War and were now adapting to new leadership under Maria Hill.
Scott wakes up to a “Days of Future Past” scenario played out on his front yard with the O.N.E. (Office of National Emergency) Sentinels assigned to protect the remaining Mutant population; an action, by the way, that the X-men were not asked about beforehand. The sentinels after all were monstrous reminders of genocide to the mutant population, so this action was not okay on both a psychological and cultural level. Though O.N.E. was created due to the sudden drop in population of the Mutants, the safe haven of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters now resembled a reservation camp with death machines as guards. One could argue that this was done in the best interest for the Mutants, especially considering that this time, the sentinels would be manned and controlled by humans. However, the Sentinel program doesn’t have a good track record with anyone, and ultimately, the O.N.E Sentinels did lead to the destruction of the Xavier mansion during Messiah Complex when Bishop comprised them. With the X-men and the rest of the remaining 198 Mutants on Earth being guarded, this raised tensions and did cause the 198 Riot. Needless to say, the little help that was offered was poor, and the Mutants didn’t feel safe amongst themselves.
Then the Superhero Civil War happened. After this debacle, Steve Rogers was an enemy of the state and then presumed dead before he could make it to the courthouse for his trial. Tony Stark had become the Top Cop and in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. and finally goes to the Mutants, a.k.a. Scott, and instead of offering aid or protection, he wants the Mutants to register. Scott tells Tony, “Being a Mutant isn’t what we do Tony- It’s not a choice. So, do you want us to register for being born? Is that really who you are now?” (Uncanny X-Men #495, 2008)
All these hardships were further complicated by Scott’s lack of support, specifically from his mentor, Charles Xavier. Charles was not in good graces with Scott and the X-men since he lied about Danger, an A.I., being sentient and then imprisoning her. He also erased the existence of Gabriel Summers and the X-men team before the All New All Different team. And more evidence was discovered by Scott and Emma that showed Xavier was manipulating people for the greater good, as he would call it, and also manipulating memories. Therefore, Scott’s surrogate father and longtime ally was both absent and at odds with the X-Men at the moment when Mutants were most vulnerable and in most need.
Not only that, but this was a time of a more aggressive campaign to exterminate the Mutant population. For example:
- The Purifiers killing Xavier students on school grounds, including the explosion of a school bus filled with depowered mutants.
- The return of powerful enemies, Apocalypse and Belasco.
- Nimrod’s attack on the younger New X-men team.
- The return of an angry Hulk looking for the head of Professor Xavier for his role in The Illuminati; a scenario where Scott did still stand in defense for Xavier.
- Violent campaigns of Mister Sinister’s Marauders and Exodus’ Acolytes.
- The extermination of the Grey Family line by the Shiar Empire.
In this context, one can see that Scott was on the defense of a never ending onslaught of extermination events. Therefore he had to change tactics, Cyclops the Hero would now have to become a Compromising Commander. The days of coming in and saving the day, astonishing the public, and fighting for Pro Human Mutant relations had to take a back seat to survival. No one could do that, except Scott; the Hero the Mutants needed, but not the Hero Scott had ever been before. It is during this time in comics from Messiah Complex, to the diaspora to San Francisco, to the founding of Utopia, and to the development of Scott’s Extinction team, that we see a more proactive and militant Cyclops.
After the Cooperstown tragedy, Scott went from the defensive to a full on offense to protect the preservation of the Mutant population and the newly born Mutant since M-Day. This lead to Cyclops to reform X-Force and have them recover the new baby from whoever had it. The twist is that Cable was the one to save the baby from Marauders, Purifiers, Acolytes, and Bishop so this would come to an apex when the X-men finally caught up to Cable. When Cyclops is confronted with all of this and hears Cable’s plea to go to the future with the new baby, Scott does something different, instead of playing it safe and demanding the baby stay in current times, he decides to trust Cable to protect the baby in the future.
This is a big moment for Scott because he understands the dangers Mutants are facing in the current timeline, and this new baby represents Hope for rebirth. Instead of striving for absolute control by keeping her, he takes a leap of faith and trusts his son even when his trust in others is shattered by Bishop’s defect. It says something to the perilous times Cyclops was in that he would let his last hope for Mutant survival be risked away into the future where Scott had no say; remember Cyclops is a man of total control.
This is important because now whereas Cyclops was originally trying to keep his people alive, he now has the goal of doing the same thing but with the added hope of bringing the Mutants back to safer numbers and reviving the species. Cyclops disbands the X-men after Messiah Complex in hopes that they will now find a new safe haven since the mansion was destroyed and Xavier was killed. We believe that Cyclops has three main objectives at this point:
- Migrate the Mutant population to a more accepting community to live and thrive.
- Build up a PR department that will humanize the Mutant struggle.
- Actively neutralize Mutant threats through the X-Force team.
Scott gets focus and clarity of vision in creating a better world for mutants, especially for when Hope, the mutant baby, eventually returns. These goals are met when Scott has the mutants migrate to the tolerant San Francisco area, when he joins forces with Katie Kildare in creating a positive PR department making the Mutant menace image go away, and by having X-Force eliminate Apocalypse on their first mission. Scott leads his people into a new age of hope and prosperity, but like all X-Men stories, the good times do not last long, especially when a threat from Outer Space comes along, the Skrulls.
The Secret Invasion event occurs, and the heroes have an identity crisis. But not the X-Men. In a world where no one knows who to trust because they may be a Skrull in hiding, the X-Men get ready to defend all the people of San Francisco, not just the mutant population. Cyclops knew that the X-men wouldn’t have to worry about a Skrull in hiding since he knew the X-men are more than a team. If a sleeper Skrull was in the X-Men ranks, they would have approached San Francisco differently. Here one can see the Skrulls miscalculated Scott Summers, and that was costly as this was the battlefront where they lost ground and troops.
Interestingly, this is one of the moments in where fans feel uneasy about Cyclops since he does threaten Skrull genocide by weaponizing the Legacy Virus. That is understandable, but let us not forget that the Skrulls are a highly aggressive alien invading force with a track record of absolute savagery. The stakes were also at an all-time high because the Skrulls almost successfully conquered the Earth since the Avengers were uneasy trusting themselves after the Civil War. And lastly, instead of choosing to purge themselves, the Skrulls could have surrendered and left earth because Scott did offer them a cure for the virus, which technically, was a bluff since it wasn’t created…yet.
We want to note that in the context of keeping his people alive, Cyclops did do and sanction un-heroic acts in the name of Mutant preservation. With the classic heroic Cyclops and the X-men, we would have seen them fight the Skrulls in a typical comic book fashion that would’ve been more ethical and close to the wire as the Skulls would have had a sleeper. However, we are watching Cyclops transcend from heroic leader of the X-men to face of the Mutant nation; just like Black Panther to the Wakandians, Black Bolt to the Inhumans, Namor to the Atlantis People, and Odin to the Asgardians. So holding Cyclops’ actions as despicable and vile hold no weight when he does these things for his peoples’ survival. After all, what is the age old rule? If it is in self-defense, you have the right to defend yourself. So, why does he get painted as Marvel’s Mutant menace? He starts to be seen as a menace because of rising tensions and crime in Human/Mutant relations in the San Francisco area. This means that the new Top Cop has to come in and fix these issues, so Norman Osborn comes to town.
Now, we as fans know that Norman Osborn is a bastard, killer of Gwen Stacy and many, many other horrendous acts. The super human community knows this as well, but can’t do anything since Norman becomes the Government after the events of Secret Invasion. So when Scott and Norman come to blows in public, Scott’s already controversial image is now amplified and public fear rises when Scott successfully secedes from the United States and creates his own Mutant nation of Utopia. This is important to his public image because Cyclops has now beaten Norman, aka the Government, and surrounds himself with other controversial figures such as Magneto, Namor, and Emma Frost (fellow Mutants and X-men) on the island of Utopia which was once Asteroid M. In context, the reader who has perspective into Cyclops’ actions sees what Scott is doing. He is furthering the cause by showing strength, by raising Mutant defensives in a hostile world. However, to the general public in the Marvel universe, they see Cyclops becoming aggressively militant with a group of powerful mutants, and they are right next door. Both characterizations of Cyclops’ actions have truth to them, but the image is a necessity in Cyclops’ actions for the Mutants in their survival.
Just to keep a track on the other major players in the Marvel universe, we see that Steve Rogers is about to return from his “death” and will become Captain America again to help stop Norman’s Dark Reign; after that Steve gets to be the Top Cop in the MU. Tony Stark had to go into running since he knew all the heroes’ information about their secret lives which led to him being reset in terms of his memory. Xavier had to rebuild himself after being “killed” by Bishop, which led to him rediscovering his memoires and now just being another Mutant on Utopia.
Things look pretty good right? Cyclops has effectively united the mutants and created a fortified safe haven to protect his people. Well, things go from zero to one hundred real quick with the events of Second Coming. Cable returns to the current timeline from the future with an older Hope. However, they are not welcomed by the X-Men, but instead an onslaught of militarized mutant hate groups, specifically the devilish Stryker and his Purifiers. So, in this event, Cyclops pulls out all the guns in order to extract Hope and Cable from hostile territory. Many casualties amount, including the notable deaths of Nightcrawler and Cable, and then there is an epic showdown on the Golden Gate Bridge with a horde of Nimrod Sentinels led by the relentless Bastion. To put it simply, Second Coming is a very serious and important moment for the mutant population. It showcases that Cyclop’s faith in a mutant renaissance was not in vain. This proved to be Cyclops’ most important gamble and battle for the survival of the Mutant species, which paid off in the form of the Five Lights. To give credit, the Fantastic Four and Avengers did try to assist but were blocked from the battle by a force field, and after the battle, Steve Rogers wanted to give a good public image to the Mutants by giving Scott the Presidential Medal of Freedom award. Ultimately, Cyclops’ faith paid out and the Mutants have a fighting chance.
So, where do we hear the voices that claim Cyclops was wrong? First, they begin in the actual Marvel Universe. Up until this point, Cyclops has been gradually painted in a negative light by the press, especially considering the world’s intolerance of mutants. So that means that the press has deemed Cyclops the villain, especially after the psychic attack of Quentin Quire at the U.N., where Cyclops was asking the rest of the world to suspend their production of Mutant killing sentinels. Quentin’s outcry for attention negatively puts the Mutants back to the wall once again; leading to world leaders recommissioning sentinels in lieu of this childish outburst. Now the face of the Mutant menace has returned, undoing the good PR by Katie Kildare.
Mutants are once again attacked in the streets and even at public events, which we saw with the new child led Hellfire Club as they put Idie in a situation where she might have to kill in order to survive. Cyclops understood this and wanted her to do what she deemed best, while Wolverine wanted her to do nothing at all and figured he would make it in time to save her. Ultimately Idie did kill the Hellfire Soldier in self-defense, which would be the schism between Scott and Logan’s ideology. It is important to note that many claim Scott’s use of child soldiers as an unheroic act, even villainous act; however once again in the context of his situation, he always gave his students a choice and one could argue that the X-men were always founded as child soldiers. So, at best Cyclops used children in worst-case scenarios as a last means of defense; at worst, Cyclops was only doing what Xavier taught him to do, what he himself was raised to do. Let us not forget that Cyclops himself was a child soldier who has fought for his life and the lives of others for a very long time. Whether this is ethically correct is mute. Scott acts for the preservation of his species which is put above all else.
The Schism event weakened the Mutant population by having half of the residents relocate back to New York in the newly founded Jean Grey School for Higher Learning; which Wolverine used Jean’s name as a dagger against Cyclops. This would further make things difficult for Scott because he was now facing a war on two fronts; so he created the Extinction team as a nuclear deterrent to keep the students at Wolverine’s school safe. Cyclops was once again thinking of Mutant Human relations only this time, if humans weren’t going to respect Mutants out of equality, they would respect out of fear. Basically, the X-Men would become so essential to the earth’s survival, that the world wouldn’t want them dead; they would need them. Was this the best move for Cyclops? The real question was, “What was Cyclops’ alternative?”
Another talking point of Cyclops’ decent into full villainy is in his villainous role in Avengers Vs. X-Men. Does Cyclops kill Professor X? Yes. Does Cyclops go full Dark Phoenix? Yes. Does Cyclops distrust and refuse help from the Avengers? Yes. In this frame, one can say that Scott could have better choices about his actions. Especially in letting his fellow heroes help him combat the most destructive force the X-men have ever seen, the Phoenix. But why should Cyclops do this? Especially with the track record the Avengers have had in helping with Mutant catastrophe. What many people fail to realize is that Scott’s hostility toward Captain America isn’t just because he believes Steve is trying to take control of a situation he doesn’t understand or have experience with, but Cyclops is warned of the upcoming conflict between the Avengers and X-Men from his son Cable in the X-Sanction event.
At the start of this event, we see a newly returned from the dead Cable who goes on the hunt for Avengers. After successfully capturing Captain America, Iron-man, Falcon, and Red Hulk, Cable then sets a bomb to go off thus eliminating the AVX event. Spider-man, Wolverine, Cyclops, and Hope all arrive to stop Cable and save the Avengers. In the conflict, we see Cable be fully taken over by the T.O. virus and lose. Cyclops asks to take care of his son back at Utopia, and when they get him there, Scott witnesses Hope absorb the T.O. virus from Cable and burn it out like a Phoenix would. Cable and Cyclops then have a telepathic conversation in which Cable points this out to Scott and tells him that the Avengers cannot win this or the future is doomed for everyone.
This is interesting because many who blame Scott pinpoint his isolationist approach at combating the Phoenix to be his most arrogant, thinking he is the only one who can handle the Phoenix threat. For being such a great tactician, how can he possibly have faith that Hope Summers could contain this fire bird? However, he doesn’t blindly believe. He has seen the positive regenerative aspects of the Phoenix firsthand when Hope heals Cable, and also, he has no reason to distrust his son, a successful time traveler who hasn’t be wrong before and who has never betrayed Scott. So, Cyclops sets in motion events that will finally bring back the Mutant population. As he says the Phoenix is coming back to rebirth the Mutant population, and so he gets Hope ready. Everything he has done for the mutant species has led to this moment.
But things don’t go as planned. Because of interference from the Avengers, the Phoenix Force is split into five pieces and is thrust upon Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Illyana, and Colossus creating the Phoenix Five; a super group of mutants with the power of the Phoenix! Oh no, one would expect these individuals to run wild and destroy everything, considering that the Phoenix Force has a very bad track record.
But even with the destructive force of the Phoenix, does Scott lose control? No.
He leads the Phoenix Five into creating Pax Utopia, a world with sustainable energy and plentiful crops for everyone. They start working at making the world a better place for humans and mutants alike. They stop all conflicts and become the world’s nuclear deterrent. In this world of his, we see Xavier and Magneto meet with no hostilities and no reason to fight. Cyclops, who at this point is painted as a Mutant Supremacist, could have easily created his own version of House of M, thus making Mutants superior and Humans lesser. But, he does not do this. Under his leadership the Phoenix Five make a better world. However, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark do not like this, as the age old adage goes: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. Therefore, they assemble the Avengers and join with Xavier to provoke and challenge the Phoenix Five. One by one, Namor, Illyana, Colossus, and Emma fall apart and give into the fiery passion of the Phoenix, leaving Scott as the only one left in possession of the cosmic bird’s power.
At this point, it can be argued that Cyclops would have eventually lost control and could have gone full Superman from Injustice by initiating absolute and total control and fascist rule, even without the interference from the Avengers. However, from the evidence we have and the actions taken, Scott doesn’t lose control and legitimately tries to bring Xavier’s dream to fruition; even when his other compatriots with the Phoenix power give in. Only when the Avengers Vs. X-Men event succumbs to Everyone versus Scott Summers, do we see Scott pushed over the edge. We see him succumb to the influence of the Dark Phoenix, and he murders his mentor, Charles Xavier, in cold blood. But why does this happen? What evil had Scott actually done up until this point? He worked so hard for so long to help his people, to be a hero to all the world, and he accomplishes his goal by making a better world, by harnessing a destructive force for good, even with the fear and knowledge of what that power did to the first one he loved. He sacrificed so much and lost so many to get to this point. And what did he get in return? He gets hate, fear, and rejection from the people who are supposed to be his friends, allies, and family. He gets rejected by the very world that he was trying to save; Scott can’t win.
Needless to say, the Avengers are the favorites in the Marvel Universe, and they ultimately lay the smackdown on Cyclops. Broken and dejected, imprisoned and slandered, he is given no trial and becomes enemy number one. He becomes a war criminal in the aftermath of losing complete control of the Phoenix Force, but Scott is much more than himself and realizes Mutants still need him; especially with the new Mutants that will need him after their rebirth from the Phoenix. Cyclops was right. He was right about the Phoenix being a tool of rebirth for the mutant species, but there was a price and he had no time to wallow because he now took his character assassinated image to start the Mutant Revolution.
Again in this context, Cyclops can be seen once again as pushing the tensions between Mutant and Human relations. He was branded a war criminal by the Avengers and the world, escaped prison, and was threatening police and the world in general in favor of Mutant equality. Though he speaks of Mutant Revolution, which is a powerful word, and can understandably make people uncomfortable, Cyclops never advocated for Mutant Supremacy. His back was to the wall once again and these circumstances led him to be more revolutionary as the media turned him into a monster. So he played the part; but what did he really ever do? During Bendis’ Uncanny X-men run, with the help of Emma, Illyana, and Magneto, Scott liberated Mutants from government containment and homicide. At this point there was nothing Cyclops could do to better his image, so again he went on the offensive to proactively train and protect new Mutants, all while having a mental breakdown for killing his surrogate father (who, arguably, was acting like a bastard).
In the end, he still did right for his people even though a great majority of them now hated him for the execution of Xavier. He would go onto doing his best until finally succumbing to character assassination at the hands of the Inhuman Royal family’s retelling of the Terrigen Mist Cloud crisis.
So this leads us to Uncanny X-men Annual #1 (2019) which gives Scott a new chance for redemption. Does he need it? Yes, because, in universe, Marvel has painted him out to be a Mutant Hitler, which can be understandable due to the events as they are interpreted from the media and from a population that already discredits, fears, and hates Mutants.
Does Scott deserve redemption? The simple answer is no.
Yes, Scott does terrible things, it’s hard to rationalize some of his decisions, but in context everything he does, he does with his back to the wall. He uses strategy and tactics to keep his people alive; in times of war, which arguably, the Mutants were constantly in. Scott could not be the hero, and he understood that.
We are a bit upset with the Annual for Scott stating that he was wrong. In what context is he saying these words? We like to think that he believes he was right in what he did, but honestly what else could he have done when the deck was so stacked against him? He might be wrong in the fact that he ultimately lost sight of the future of Human and Mutant relations, especially considering that his heavy handedness could be problematic, but we are hopeful. This annual gives Scott the chance to change his public image. The world may no longer need Militant Cyclops, leader of the Mutants. Instead this is a chance for Scott Summers, the Astonishing Hero, to return and set it right.