Lore-shaping X-Men writer Chris Claremont provided insight on what ruined team leader Cyclops.
Veteran comic scribe and creator Chris Claremont was the most influential force apart from Stan Lee when it came to the X-Men. He is largely responsible for bringing them back to prominence in the ’80s and introduced elements taken for granted today, from Gambit to Kitty Pryde to Sinister and the Phoenix.
For those reasons, he takes ownership of the mutant mythos and isn’t shy about speaking up when parties, namely Fox, in his view, misuse his characters. In a recent Reddit AMA, he did just that when discussing things he wasn’t satisfied with creatively.
One of those things was where the arc for the group’s leader Cyclops wound up. After being asked “Why does everyone think Wolverine is the bee’s knees when Cyclops is the best X-Man?” by a Scott Summers fan, Claremont went into what he thinks ruined the character — and made him less cool.
“Logan is cool, Scott is not… My problem is I thought Scott was a wonderful character until the moment he walked out on Madelyne, and went back to Jean—and that was dishonorable and destroyed him as a character.”
Claremont is referring to Jean Grey clone Madelyne Pryor who is also the mother of Cable. Scott dumped her for Jean when it turned out she hadn’t really perished in “The Dark Phoenix Saga.”
Bringing Jean back was a controversial decision Claremont, on the side of leaving her dead, fought with Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter over. He wanted to keep Scott grounded and thought life with Madelyne was the happy ending all involved really deserved.
“Scott was the base, the foundation of the team… He’s the core around which everything orbits, which is why with Madelyne, it meant so much to me to give him a happy ending to resolve the whole Jean conundrum. To get that death out of his system, and get on with real life. And for me, for Scott, it was all about real life.”
He further detailed Scott’s thought process when bickering with Storm about leading the X-Men, adding that Scott very much thinks he has “to stay with the X-Men,” because they needed him to be their leader even though “he’s got [a] wife and a kid now.” Claremont suggested that maybe it was “time to grow up” because, to Claremont, Cyclops and the mutants aren’t like Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four where family life with Sue and heroics are delicately balanced.
Claremont disclosed he wanted to deal with Scott as a husband and father as well as a grown-up experiencing the fear and joy of a commitment, adding that there “was all sorts of stuff there on both a [real-world] and a [superhero] perspective.”
Unfortunately, he never got to answer those questions as “it all got thrown away” and “it took Louise Simonson two years, if not longer to figure out how to resolve it.”
In closing, Claremont wrote he still bears a grudge 30 years later over losing the chance to let Cyclops be a father. Apologizing to readers for that, he still held firm his characters “deserve better than” how Marvel editorial treated them.
Claremont was later asked what he would rewrite and his response was his whole “one storyline” in Uncanny X-Men from issue #94 to #279 so that he could better lead into the title Excalibur, get his way on Jean’s death, and install Cyclops as the “Professor X” mentor of X-Factor.
Do you agree with Chris Claremont’s assessment? Is going back to Jean where Cyclops went wrong and do we deserve better? More importantly, is he cooler than Wolverine? Leave your remarks below or on social media!