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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Where Did Cyclops’ Ruby Quartz Glasses Come From?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at the strange case of where Cyclops got his his ruby quartz glasses. You wouldn’t think that it’d be something that would change much over the years, but you’d be mistaken.

In X-Men #39, Roy Thomas provided the first origin for Cyclops, including the optometrist who gave Cyclops the ruby quartz glasses (Scott had just run away from the orphanage he grew up in at the time)…

Later on, Chris Claremont delved more into Scott’s time in the orphanage in Classic X-Men #42…

And soon after, in X-Factor #39, Louise Simonson (presumably with Claremont still being involved), we learn that Mister Sinister (who Claremont established in the previous Classic X-Men #41-42 was heavily involved in making Cyclops’ life a living hell in the orphanage) was involved with Cyclops right from the get go…

including providng the ruby quartz glasses…

However, in 2010’s X-Men Origins: Cyclops, Stuart Moore showed the most recent origin of Cyclops’ ruby quartz glasses, skipping the glasses all together and having them be introduced first as a visor….

Thanks to worstblogever for the suggestion!

If YOU have a suggestion for a future Abandoned an’ Forsaked, let me know at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

60 Comments

That Sinister explanation was overly complicated for just a pair of special glasses. It needed to go away.

IIRC, the Sinister plotline seemed to imply that Scott was gaining control of his powers as a result of overcoming Sinister’s blocks. Don’t know if that counts as abandoned or forsaken, but if that was the intent, they never followed up on it.

In fairness, Vichus, the glasses were just one detail of Sinister’s involvement with Scott’s life.

I’ve always loved that in Thomas’ original origin the eye doctor just happened to stumble on ruby quartz as the solution.

I know that at that point in the development of his power Cyclops was just experiencing headaches, but I still picture him just blasting through the doctor’s ceiling as the doctor frantically places one different type of lens after another on Cyclops’ eyes. :)

I’ve always wondered about the glasses, and the visor for that matter. Surely the ruby quartz isn’t pressed up against his eyeballs. Shouldn’t there be optic blast energy bouncing around behind the lenses?

I always thought a better explanation would be that the specific color of the ruby tricks his eyes into thinking they were firing a blast. Like the red mimics what he sees while firing an optic blast.

@Cool Arrow: Usually the glasses are drawn such that they are ruby quartz all the way back to his head, like those large plastic wraparound sunglasses, or almost like swimming goggles, with little “pods” of ruby quartz covering each eye, connected by a nose piece (that’s how Cockrum always drew them).

The idea is that whenever his eyes are open, he’s always blasting, but the glasses and visor are designed to contain that blast in ruby quartz until the visor is opened.

I’m not too fond of when an origin is retconned so that a single villain is behind it all.

I see Cyclops’ ruby visor as a similar concept as noise cancelling headphones. Or maybe like when someone looks into the sun; looking into ruby quartz is too much for him to build up the blasts.

when you think about it, though, optic blasts are a stupid power. he’d boil the fluid in his eyeballs, making him blind.

ah, comic books, science is thy nemesis…

@Fury: His blasts are concussive; there’s not much inherent heat to them.

Which just means he’d probably blow apart the fluid in his eyeballs. :)

In Morrisons New XMen Emma Frost tries to ‘see’ through Cyclops eyes and she makes his outlook the color red. Scott then corrects her and tells her everything looks yellow. I kinda always wondered why that detail was there.

never liked that sinster might have been the one to give scott the ruby quarts glasses as part of the blockers he put in place to control scott from the start. for always thought xavier gave them to him when he joined the x-men or an eye doctor did at the orphanage.

Strangely enough, I always liked Cyclops as a character, but disliked his name. I mean ‘Cyclops’ because he had the visor. I get it. Love the X-Men forever, but I’d come up with a better name. I’d also come up with a better crossover. It will involve the X-Men, but not the Avengers. Original concept, I know.

They should change his name back to Mr. Sinister, too. Got to love that name. :)

What name does he go by now?

The original is the best: a good natured optometrist gave him glasses that blocked certain specter of light, thinking too much light caused the migraines, and it had the side effect of blocking his powers

I’ve always liked the Sinister one, mainly because it’s the one I read during my “formative” comic years. Also the glasses fix seems esoteric in that decidedly Mr. Sinister way.

Knowing the original Claremontian “he’s a kid pretending to be the ultimate bad guy a kid would make up” plans for Sinister definitely colors the way I read this stuff too (even though that’s not what played out). Wish that would have been able to happen…if for nothing else than to explain the elf shoes.

I think Gillen did a good job of breathing new, non elf-booted non-segmented-caped life into the character though. Now let’s see how long THAT sticks.

Treebore,

Cool Arrow has a point. They often depicted Scott in his civilian guise wearing what looked like ordinary sunglasses with red lenses. I wondered why the beams didn’t leak around the edges myself.

Strangely enough, I’ve heard of ruby red glasses or contacts being tried to help color vision. Perhaps Stan heard some mention of this and extrapolated…

I meant to add: so Scott suffered “organic brain damage” way back then? There’s an easy out for his latest behavior.

@Mike: yeah, the idea of depicting Cyclops glasses as wraparound/completely covering really didn’t happen until after the new X-Men came around. During the original 66, they were a lot more cavalier about just giving him regular-looking glasses tinted red (and sometimes not even that).

If you’re not going to call someone who effectively has one eye because of his visor “Cyclops” what are you going to call him?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Cyclops changes his name to Basilisk now that he’s basically turned villain.

Would it be safe to consider X-Men Origins: Cyclops non-canon, considering how little attention to Scott’s past was actually paid? As I recall, it said something about Scott being 21 when he first met Professor X, and that they met in some random back-alley.

E. Nelson Bridwell used the “Basilisk” name for his parody of Cyclops in the Eggsmen issue of Inferior Five (along with Levitation Lass, Ape, Winter Wonderland and Icarus).

I was always fine with the glasses stopping the beams, except that I could never figure out why the beams didn’t push the glasses off his face immediately.

I didn’t know that. I was thinking of the Cyclops > Basilisk in Age of X.

Ah, and it just made me think of the actual Marvel villain Basilisk. Well, there are a few of those, but the most prominent one was the one killed by Scourge and resurrected by the Hood, who showed up in Herc not too long ago.

@Drax- there were several problems. It had Scott as 22 when he first saw Cerebro, which is inconsistent with previous stories and would make him several years older than Jean. Magneto saw Scott without his mask, circa X-Men 1, raising questions as to why Scott was surprised that Magneto recognized him without his mask in Uncanny X-Men 149.
The biggest problem was that it had Xavier give Scott his visor after his powers first manifested themselves and made it clear that Scott didn’t have the ruby quartz glasses before. That made no sense- how could Scott get away from the authorities after his powers first manifested themselves without ruby quartz glasses?

Im pretty sure that it was officially stated in an Xmen or Xfactor issue during the 80s that the red color was what tricked his mind into not firing all the time.

They just call him ‘Sinister’ now. Originally, he was called ‘MR. Sinister.’

I’ve read tons of X-books over the years and still am not sure how he has his amazing powers. I guess it’s because he’s a gene-doctor and gave it to himself.

It amazes me that those CLASSIC X-MEN back-ups don’t seem to get reprinted in X-Men collections that cover those issues. Claremont did some of best work when John Bolton was drawing those. They almost always added something to the story. Often, it was just a little character bit, but a welcome one.

That said, Mister Sinister was a terrible continuity implant. Kudos to Stuart Moore for abandoning & forsaking that nonsense.

In Morrisons New XMen Emma Frost tries to ‘see’ through Cyclops eyes and she makes his outlook the color red. Scott then corrects her and tells her everything looks yellow. I kinda always wondered why that detail was there.

Arbitrary but cool sounding pseudocscience factoids that sound kind of cool and call attention to themselves but don’t really add much to the story and are immediately forgotten are one of Morrison’s writing tics. His fans love it though. He’s not as bad with it as Warren Ellis however. However unlike Ellis he does have the extra writing tic of doing the same thing with mystical gibberish.

All of this is pseudoscience, now isn’t it?

Yeah, if X-Men Origins is canon, then it forsakes and abandoned a lot more of Scott’s origin than just the source of his glasses.

Also, in a future installment can you tackle a theory I read somewhere years ago but now can’t find? I feel like I remember a creator, maybe Marc Silverstri or Chris Claremont, saying that Mr. Sinister’s original origin was supposed to be a kid with powers masquerading in the body of an adult, similar to post-Crisis Captain Marvel over at DC (I specific post-Crisis because the original Golden Age Captain Marvel was a separate and distinct being from Billy Batson). He was supposed to be an actual kid at Scott’s origin who made himself into Mr. Sinister. That is why the name and design is so awful. He was supposedly supposed to be like what a kid would come up with in a sketchbook if creating supervillains for fun. The creator I was reading said he was actually designed to be hokey and have that childish name on purpose to reflect that.

Later creators went the opposite route and made him actually far older than he appeared rather than far younger. Again, I don’t know if that is true but it does make a lot of sense.

All of this is pseudoscience, now isn’t it?

Yes, but it’s the “trying extra hard to call attention to itself” part I’m focusing on. It’s always got this self-congratulatory air of being really proud of how clever it sounds. That is, it’s not the fact it’s pseudoscience that is unique but rather how seriously it takes itself and how it just sticks out and disrupts the flow. But like i said, I’ve found Ellis to be worse at this.

@Daly: the disparity of perception between yellow-tinted and red-tinted is probably just a nod to authenticity; people’s perceptions differ, and Grant Morrison is nothing if not all too aware of that. It is a significant part of the mysticism he puts in his tales.

As for the exact mechanics of the ruby quartz lenses stopping his optic beams, I used to wonder about that myself. Thinking of it now, the best I can think of is that his power is psychokinetic in nature and doesn’t really manifest inside his eyes, but rather only in front of them. The beams are a result of his power, and not the power itself.

That might help also in explaining the effect of the lenses: they are more of a trigger than a cure proper, and could perhaps be safely substituted by other lenses of similar optical properties because they work by flagging Scott’s brain into ceasing the production of the beams instead of by actually containing already existing beams.

Of course, if that were true, then armor of the same material would be innefective, and I believe early X-Factor stories had Cameron Hodge showing otherwise.

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

October 16, 2012 at 12:55 am

” But like i said, I’ve found Ellis to be worse at this.”

It’s good to know that even if I haven’t been reading CBR regularly for a while now, the random Ellis-hating still thrives. What exactly did Ellis and Morrison do to you that was so bad that you have to keep repeating your bullshit in every unrelated comment post? Accidentally forced you to read -gasp!- a good comic book?

I did not know it took some kind of special privilege to dislike the ego writing of Morrison and Ellis.

@Dean Hacker:

Claremont did some of best work when John Bolton was drawing those.

Agreed. I really wish those got reprinted more often. There were a couple trades years ago, but that’s about it. It’s really strong stuff, definitely some of Claremont’s best, and the Bolton art is fantastic.

@T:

I feel like I remember a creator, maybe Marc Silverstri or Chris Claremont, saying that Mr. Sinister’s original origin was supposed to be a kid with powers masquerading in the body of an adult

Brian featured that in an older Legend Revealed post. He also mentions Claremont’s original intention of Gambit secretly being a bad guy, though I’ve also heard that Gambit was supposed to be the heroic counterpart to Mr. Sinister. So Mr. Sinister was a manifestation of the kid’s villainous side, whereas Gambit was a manifestation of his heroic side (which is why Gambit was so “kewl” in the same way Mr. Sinister was evil in such a hokey way). But I’ve never seen that particular rumor sourced.

Have none of you ever worn red-tinted glasses or ski goggles for an hour or two? There’s nothing mystical or pseudoscientific about Morrison’s comment: your eyes adjust to the red and everything starts to take on an orange or yellow tint. The effect is especially noticeable once you take them off; then everything looks REALLY yellow for a while until your eyes can adjust again.

You’re clearly just saying that to sound smart, Ski Goggles.

Not sure why Moore’s story has to be read as abandoning the other stories. Xavier just happened to have a ruby quartz visor on his person when he tracked Scott down? He got the idea from the optometrist.
And the optometrist either came up with the ruby quartz glasses independently of Sinister, or more likely was himself influenced to come up with it as a cover for Sinister’s own research.

The dialogue in Moore’s story can then be read as:
Scott: “The lens…it holds back my power…[just like my old red glasses!]”
Xavier: “[Yup. In case your optometrist didn’t fully explain it to you or you forgot, it’s called] ruby quartz. It’s designed to stop many wavelengths of light and energy. [You’d probably know that if you weren’t so busy eating, say, ice cream sundaes every time someone was talking about your condition at, say, an airport.]”
Scott: “Who are you? Why are you giving me this? [For reasons that are probably buried so deeply that even a master telepath would not suspect, I have an instinctive distrust of anyone who tries to give me ruby quartz eyewear!]

For some reason, I thought his blasts were solar powered and the shades blocked out the sun so no blast with the shades however he does have a lot stored within him to use for a good while away from the sun.

I think this was explained in the X-Men animated series. Maybe I am confusing things though it has been a good long while.

His blasts are indeed solar powered and he does indeed store some of that power even without the sun to recharged him. Or at least that is how it was explained quite a few times.

How the lenses stop the blasts is however far less clear.

I know Children of the Atom back in the 1990s specifically threw out Cyclops’ origin, but I’ve no idea if that hasn’t been retconned out in turn.

It’s good to know that even if I haven’t been reading CBR regularly for a while now, the random Ellis-hating still thrives. What exactly did Ellis and Morrison do to you that was so bad that you have to keep repeating your bullshit in every unrelated comment post? Accidentally forced you to read -gasp!- a good comic book?

Wait, so someone specifically makes an ON-TOPIC observation about a Morrison story moment that he said he found momentarily sucked him out of the story, I respond to that, yet somehow I’m repeating bullshit in “every unrelated comment post?” How exactly is what I said “unrelated?”

Also, I’m pretty sure I rarely talk about Warren Ellis. I only remember bringing him up in a Nextwave thread or two.

It’s also worth noting that there is an origin for ruby quartz as well. In “The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix” Scott and Jean go back in time to one of Apocalypse’s awakenings which brings him into contact with Nathaniel Essex. During the miniseries, Essex becomes Mr. Sinister and two individuals become the first Summers after using Scott’s name. But while Scott battles Apocalypse, his machinery evolves into ruby quartz to protect itself from the blasts.

I don’t think the one comment was directed solely at you T. Or more, it was directed at the idea that all of us here have a secret hatred of Morrison and Ellis (probably jealousy of their shiny bald heads, I imagine). You just happened to be today’s Morrison/Ellis hater. Or something.

That said, if Ski Goggles isn’t just saying that to sound smart :) then Morrison’s bit in New XMen is pretty damn cool. I think it’s neat to have something like that pointed out, that what we’d assume that Cyclops would see actually wouldn’t necessarily be what he’d see. And while Morrison certainly talks himself up a lot, I suspect that wearing red goggles to get a sense of what Cyclops sees (particularly since GMozz was using Cyke as a main character) is definitely something he would do.

I also believe that HypnoToad and Tony Macaroni (obviously their real names) are right in that it has been presented that the ruby quartz is telling Cyke’s mind that he’s blastin’, so he stops blastin’. Where I’ve read that, though, is escaping me. Probably an answer to that question in Wizard, so it’s probably not canon.

Who drew that X-Factor 39? That’s neat lookin’.

@Travis: X-Factor #39 was drawn by Walt Simonson, though I forget offhand who inked it.

T, we have eyes, and your previous posts have not been deleted. You’re not exactly on the Grant Morrison cheer squad. Please don’t play victim.

I went and looked up Cyke and his visor in the Essential OHOTMU:
•His power is psionically controlled. The reason it doesn’t turn his eyeballs to jelly is because he damps the energy down inside his body.
•Quartz does indeed absorb the energy.
•The energy is actually drawn through another dimension. His eyes function partly as tiny wormholes (the Handbook was prone to explanations like that).
Of course, there were entries in the Handbook that got retconned out within a year or two (Black Cat was one of them) so that hardly proves anything about what’s canon in 2012.

T, we have eyes, and your previous posts have not been deleted. You’re not exactly on the Grant Morrison cheer squad. Please don’t play victim.

The point isnt about whether or not im on a Morrison cheer squad. He accused me in this thread of bringing up Morrison in a totally unrelated post just to bash him. Since you have eyes, can you read this thread and tell me whether or not I was the one that brought up Morrison and whether it was unrelated to a topic that was already being discussed, or if rather i was responding totally on-topic to something someone else said?

@Teebore: GCD says Al Milgrom inked it. I should have looked it up myself first, but I wuz lazy. Thanks for helping.

@T: Well, you responded to the Morrison thing that someone else brought up, but you did kinda bring up Ellis out of nowhere just to bash him…. :)

(I totally get that you were making a logical connection with what you were saying about Morrison’s writerly tics and Ellis sharing a similar one. I have to tweak you on this because I can’t compete in the brains department. Seriously, people, click on T’s website link. All that stuff is way more smarter than I am.)

Did you know that if Warren Ellis put solar panels on his shiny bald head, he could generate enough power to resurrect his old computer and we’d finally friggin’ get Fell #10? It’s true because I said it on a comic book website. PSEUDOSCIENCE!!!

Sorry that I brought an argument to this thread, but two things: 1) yep, someone brought it up first 2) let’s be honest: you loved that someone brought up Morrison, so you could take the boots to him, and then some Ellis.

I always assumed that the ruby quartz filtered out some aspect of the light coming IN to Scott’s eyes, which then (by some pseudo-sciencey explanation) cancels out his blasts before they’re generated. That’s the only way to explain why the blasts don’t push the glasses off his eyes, and how lenses that just cover the front and not the sides could work. Just my $.02.

Y’know, it wasn’t until I became a geologist that I started to question the usefulness of ruby quartz glasses. Ruby and quartz, two separate minerals (Al2O3 and SiO2, respectively), crystallizing together but distinct from each other in one single mass? That’s pretty advanced science to pull off that trick with synthetic versions of the minerals. I suppose the polarizing effect of both minerals is what controls the strength of his optic blasts.

Ah, comics pseudoscience.

Ray, I always just took it as ruby-colored quartz, not rubies and quartz

@Daly,
the detail regarding the yellow tint to Scott’s vision through the visor was probably included for the sake of the dynamic between Scott and Frost at the time. One characterization that many writers use to display Scott’s more straight-laced manner is for him to be very literal and almost defensive in his description of his powers – in many instances he will correct those who refer to his optic blasts as generating heat as another example.

The point in which Frost was using Scott’s vision in New X-Men was during her psychic sessions in which she was attempting to break down Scott’s different insecurities and issues. At that point Scott was in a position where he was out of his comfort zone and Morrison would have been using his correcting of the yellow tint as something unnecessary from Scott in the context of what Frost was trying to say, but Scott’s natural defense mechanism

I think that’s why it’s in there, more of a detail no one would think of, but Scott would see as an important detail, so character as opposed to information.

You know, the weirdest approach to Scott’s powers was one Claremont story where IIRC, he shoots rays into Storm and she’s just able to absorb the energy to build her own power.

@Fraser: Yeah, that was in X-Men Annual #3, when they helped recharge the energy rings on Arkon’s world. It was kind of an homage to a similar scene in issue #65, when everyone blasted their powers into Cyclops so he could shoot the Z’Nox with happy thoughts, but both are a pretty dubious stretch on the idea that Cyclops’ body absorbs solar radiation to charge his power.

Thanks for the shout-out, Cronin!

Teebore: “I know that at that point in the development of his power Cyclops was just experiencing headaches, but I still picture him just blasting through the doctor’s ceiling as the doctor frantically places one different type of lens after another on Cyclops’ eyes. :)”

Hilarious!

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