Ruby Nation

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Uncanny X-Men 515; What Cyclops Needs

As the X-Men emerge from the Dark Reign crossover Utopia, now as an isolationist nation with an almost entirely mutant population ( a good summary can be found in Newsarama's review here ), I continue to be baffled as to what writer Matt Fraction is trying to do with the X-Men's leadership. And this generally isn't a good sign for an ongoing superhero comic in the traditional model, when you have no idea if you're supposed to be reading the book ironically; is Scott Summers supposed to be a brave leader in charge of tough decisions, or is he a blundering fool?

The presentation of the character in the last issue makes him seem especially unclear. Mere moments after securing his borders, Cyclops is finally getting around to making the X-Men's island a place that can actually support a population. He's just getting to giving orders to set up food and water and power, and it's clear that the other X-Men are quickly losing faith in him. At the same time, he's acting as though he's in charge and knows what he's doing, requesting that the other mutants have faith in what he's doing. He even tells his old mentor Charles " You had a dream, I have a plan ". Except that he hasn't had a plan, he's just been stumbling around from crisis to crisis, barely breaking even.

We see that Scott Summers is breaking under the pressure of being the mutant messiah; his few quiet moments show the man completely wiped out, like he's a feather's tap away from a nervous breakdown. But he's still acting as though he's the strong, confident leader. He's making decisions, they're just really sloppy, spur-of-the-moment ones. It's like he went completely mad years ago and nobody told him.

Which makes sense given the character's backstory-- this is a man who constantly has to be careful of the death rays coming from his eyes, who was orphaned at a young age and taken in by a strange telepathic teacher who molded him into a soldier ( instead of a son ), who has been in love with one woman to the point of being with three alternate versions of her, and who recently betrayed that woman to give into a mistress ( Emma ) that appealed to his repressed desires. Except that the " Cyclops is too riddled with PTSD to be a credible leader " plot has been going on for years now. And the other X-Men haven't done jack or shit about it; they're clearly questioning his ability to save the mutant race, but they still follow him.

It's a tremendous elephant in the room, and it's going from being interesting to being maddeningly frustrating. I think at this point, the other X-Men should stage an intervention for the guy, all of his closest friends confronting him on just how damaged he is. Instead of Hank being catty ( okay, pun intended ) about Scott's poor choices, or even leaving the team in a hissy fit, how about Hank telling Scott about how he hasn't dealt with his problems? Instead of Logan slapping Scott in the face every time X-Force gets another insane murder mission, how about Logan invoking Jean Grey's name to remind Scott of how far he's fallen?

It'd certainly be better to see one of the series' most important characters build back up, instead of remaining broken and pretending otherwise.


  1. Whoa! The X-Men are embracing mutant separatism now?!

    I haven't really been keeping up with recent issues of Uncanny X-Men --- part of it was that many of the characters I like most weren't on the new, rebooted X-team (the XSE?), especially now that Storm's gone off to be Mrs. Black Panther; most of the characters besides her were relative strangers to me, and part of it is that I kind of hate following current series because it's easier to wait for trade paperbacks, so I don't have to worry about missing an issue, and part of it is that the whole House of M/Decimation chaos kind of turned me off all the current Marvel titles that weren't Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men --- but this sounds like a really intriguing development. I just might have to pick up this story line.

  2. (Ha ha! Word verification was "bored")

  3. Welcome to my blog, Lindsay. It's good to see you crossing over here from Sarah's place.

    I'm not sure I'd recommend the storyline of the current X-Men, mainly because of the art-- Greg Land, whose artwork has become increasingly lifeless and airbrushed with all his women looking like porn stars, alternates as regular artist with Terry Dodson. If you can skip the stories Land draws, it's more palatable, even if it's well below writer Matt Fraction's standard on his other works ( most notably his Iron Man series, which I devoted a long essay to on this very blog ).

    There's also the fact that House of M still hasn't been reversed, and as long as the mutant population is 198 or so, the series can't work :(

  4. Greg Land, yuck. :(

    (I don't have anything he's drawn, but he's sort of infamous for the porn-face thing).

    I'm not familiar with Iron Man at all, outside of the recent movie, and his occasional appearances in X-Men/Avengers team-ups.

  5. Iron Man is just one example of Matt Fraction-scripted comics that are great, which makes me wonder what is going on with his X-Men ( since even the X-Men stories he's done that aren't infected by Land's porn-faces are well below his regular quality ).

    On the plus side, Magneto finally has his powers back, and showed up at the end of the last issue looking ominous. Hopefully he'll have a good plan to go with his rebirth, but at least the way-too-protracted " Erik-is-just-a-sapiens " plot is over.