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.
That Important Spider-Man Story Everyone Should Read
By Rafa Encinas
With the recent interest in Spider-Man at an all time high, especially after the popularity of Insomniac’s Spider-Man video game, the success of the Into The Spider-Verse movie, and the insanity of the Spider-Geddon comic event, I think it is time for new fans and old fans alike to venture into some of the quintessential stories that got us to this point. That is why I highly recommend J. Michael Straczynski’s “Coming Home” (2001) story from his run of The Amazing Spider-Man (issues #30-35).
First and foremost, this is super hero storytelling at its finest. When I first picked it up, I was expecting just another flashy Spider-Man story. Something that would be fun, but overall probably forgettable. However, I was pleasantly surprised. This is one of those stories that hit hard, and ultimately actually set up a lot for future stories. We get the introduction of the enigmatic Ezekiel and the unstoppable Morlun, the concept of totems and the supernatural, as well as a huge reveal as the story comes to a close.
This adventure hits hard because the action is nonstop. If you are looking for some Spider-Man action fights, then this is the story for you. The inner monologue and desperation that comes from Peter as he trades blows with Morlun feels important and showcases the internal grit and perseverance that the Spider-Man character embodies. There are actual stakes to this battle, and you see the inner turmoil and despair Peter is facing. You do not get the usual banter. It feels serious. This is also expertly complimented by Romita Jr.’s art style which always seems to work best for the Spider-Man character.
But besides the superhero slugfest that this comic details, there is also real heart in Peter’s personal life. The reader gets to see him create something for himself. He pays it forward by becoming a high school teacher. He attempts to do more than just be a superhero. The high school sequences are endearing and actually produces a powerful sequence in which there is a school shooting; something that is unfortunately very familiar for our current times. And this is important because Spider-Man always feels relevant. This story further solidifies it.
And that is why it is with great pride that I recommend this story to all fans of the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. It feels important, and it showcases exactly why Peter Parker is such an endearing character. It accurately portrays the magic in being responsible and in holding oneself to a higher standard. And luckily, Spider-Man can reach those higher stands. It helps when you have the agility and web slinging prowess of a spider.
An Editorial From Christopher Franey
We are in witness to the ending of an era now that George Perez has announced his retirement from comics. Now before we get to a sad moment, let us look at it this way…he is going out on his terms. Lots of writers, artists, editors, and many others get fired or downsized and their job is gone; George made it to the finish line and the best part is he will still be there at Conventions when he can, so you too can meet this amazing giant who is responsible for gather Titans and Avengers, showing us the darkest of evils, and some amazing eye candy along the way.
George was born June 9th of 1954, to family who hailed from Puerto Rico, in New York City which is probably where he gained his enjoyment of drawing big crowds of people and heroes. The man is known mostly for his art skills but he is also a great collaborator and has written stories on his own as well. He has made major impact on the big two of comics, DC & Marvel, along with helping to bring about independent comics from companies such as CrossGen and Gorilla Comics. I will try to give you a nice tour of his time at DC, Marvel, and his Independent works as well. I can honestly say that Mr. Perez is my favorite artist of all time, his drawings are iconic and the man is a great pleasure to meet, so full of life and discussion. I was lucky to have met him at SDCC back in 2004 and he gave me a Hal Jordan sketch…I’ll admit I was very nervous as this was meeting a superstar and I was the guy holding the last in line sign at DC’s booth, so I was worried I might not get much time with him, but we talked and he sketched.
His first professional gig as an artist was penciling Marvel
Comics’ Astonishing Tales #25 (Aug ’74) working on Deathlok.
This helped him out to being a regular for Marvel and working on
such titles as Sons of the Tiger, Creature on the Loose, Inhumans,
Fantastic Four, and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, and while on that
title he created the first Puerto Rican superhero, White Tiger.
Now the big moment came with Avengers #141 in George became the artist of Marvel’s premier team. This got him on big teams of colorful characters and also allowed him to have fun with characters such as Beast and Wonder Man, building their friendship. With his Avengers membership, he drew the first part of Jim Shooter’s epic Korvac Saga featuring every Avenger at the time and co-created Taskmaster with David Michelinie. While working on Fantastic Four Annual 14, this would partner him up with Marv Wolfman and forge a creative duo of massive legend, but we’ll talk more about that later.
George would return to Marvel several times, in 1991 he would pencil the crossover event Infinity Gauntlet for Jim Starlin, but troubles from his DC event, War of the Gods, would cause him to not finish the Gauntlet. Unfortunately this would cause a bad reputation as him not finishing projects, but luckily that would be disproven with future works. Later in the 90’s he would draw Hulk: Future Imperfect for Peter David and have another shot at the Avengers with Kurt Busiek; which in my opinion is something you should read on your bucket list.
DC Comics would also get the two creators, Wolfman & Perez, to revitalize the younger heroes with their launch of The New Teen Titans. George also got a chance to be artist on Justice League of America after the famous Dick Dillin’s passing. His works for the distinguished competition helped to get him popular with fans. Since George was a household name it was logical for him to partner up with Marv Wolfman for the big 50th anniversary event, DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. As the event hyped, “worlds will live, worlds will die, and the DC Universe will never be the same!” With this event not only did George draw some amazing splash pages, co-create the evil Anti-Monitor, he also drew pretty much most of DC’s catalogue of characters. To add to his Crisis’ fallout works for DC he also drew the History of the DC Universe and inked Curt Swan’s last issue of Silver Age Superman for Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
Now with those big DC events, George would have a major hand in the 87 reboot of Wonder Woman. Greg Potter was the writer and George came along to join in as plotter and penciler, then eventually taking on full scripting for WW. His run is very much a strong basis for the character that we see in modern times and it connected her to the Greek Gods even more; which I’m sure we will see some of his work on the big screen with the sequal to Wonder Woman’s movie. Perez would return to the New Teen Titans with issue 50 and help build a new origin for Wonder Girl due to her having some troubles from Crisis. While with the Titans this would get him working with Marv again and together they would be reshaping some of the Batman mythos, esepcially with Dick Grayson. The Batman Year Three story explored the Post-Crisis origin of Dick Grayson in which George drew the covers for and then did pencils for the story of A Lonely Place of Dying which would tie in with the New Teen Titans and give use the third Robin, Tim Drake; kind of making him the uncle to that Robin. I would high recommend reading Year Three (Batman 436-439) and A Lonely Place of Dying (Batman 440-442, New Titans 60 & 61).
Perez would then go onto Post-Crisis Superman by being a part of Action Comics and Adventures of Superman. Before the Crisis, Perez would be responsible for the Battle suit look of Lex Luthor, but in Post-Crisis Luthor went all Business suit instead. George would get the chance to create a cross over in the New DC universe with War of the Gods spinning out of his Wonder Woman book, which was a great battle between the Greek Gods and Roman Gods, thus pitting Wonder Woman against Captain Marvel (Shazam); this also served as a 50th anniversary for Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, as mentioned before, there was a major monkey wrench between George and DC Editorial at the time causing a split for DC and Perez. Finally in ’96, Perez would return to Teen Titans with Dan Jurgens as his inker, since at this time he was the artist for Avengers with Busiek. The best is almost here…JLA/Avengers!
Back in 1979 DC and Marvel were all set to give us the big matchup between their two greatest teams with Gerry Conway writing and George Perez as artist, but again with Editorial disputes the book was cancelled. Sadly due to that cancellation we also lost the sequel to Uncanny X-men and New Teen Titans. Perez had already started working on pages of art for the big showdown, but we wouldn’t see for over two decades, or luckily for our younger fans, in the late nineties. Perez was also working for independent comics but managed to keep a clause in his contract that would let him work on the JLA/Avengers crossover should it happen, and when it did George returned. He and Kurt Busiek created a tour de force of both universes and managed to feature every member of the two teams, even Wolverine (who wasn’t an Avenger at the time). The cover to issue three is such a sight to see and George stated that it almost killed as he was so focused on it and forgot about his medication. Now you don’t need to know all about DC and Marvel but there are so many Easter Eggs that it helps, plus it has such great character moments that you should read this 4-issue crossover. Here is that beautiful cover:
While at DC George would work on the Crisis sequel, Infinite Crisis, a new run of The Brave and The Bold, and Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds; which gave us the return of Conner Kent Superboy and Bart Allen Impuse, who both have recently returned to the Post-Rebirth DCU. Perez would help to launch the New 52 Superman in the self-titled book but again issues with editorial made it a frustration to work on. Wolfman and Perez would reunite to give us the graphic novel New Teen Titans: Games and Perez would work as artist on the New 52 version of Worlds’ Finest.
When George Perez wasn’t working for the big 2 companies he worked for various independent comics such as Malibu (drawing Break-Thru & Ultraforce), Tekno Comix (I-Bots), and Topps Comics (Jurassic Park). While at Event Comics he was able to have more creator owned projects such as Crimson Plague but sadly the project wasn’t finished, there was an attempt over at Gorilla Comics, but was too costly. Over at CrossGen he worked on the CrossGen Chronicles and Solus, but cost was once again a factor and the company closed. Luckily at BOOM! Studios he has found fun and success with his own creation Sirens.
George has won various awards as the Eagle Award, an Inkpot Award, Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards, and Jack Kirby Awards. Several of his works continue to make many website’s “Best of” lists and his images are very universal due to his distinct art style. We at Geek Elite Radio wish George the best in life and health now that he is retired and many great adventures with his wife Carol Flynn. So dear reader if you get a chance to meet George Perez treat yourself and meet a fan who became a legend. Read on and Excelsior!