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You Decide: Is Cyclops a Hero or a Villain?

With Uncanny X-Men #1 due out this week, we figured it’d be interesting to see where everyone stood when it comes to Cyclops. Is he a hero or a villain?

Vote here!

45 Comments

Hero is winning?

Did people READ AvX?

yes for seems no matter what cyclops did recently most fans see him as still the heir to xavier dream. for one can make the same argument about if magneto is a hero or villain since both are trying to full fill their one agenda keeping the mutant race alive. even though cyclops wound up committing murdering xavier. he still at his core a hero.

He’s at best an antagonist. How could he stille be qualified as hero ?

At a time when there is such a thing as a Secret Avengers team, and after years of having Magneto and even Punisher presented as “heroes”, it should come as no surprise.

Not that I read current X-Men comics, mind you. Way too many books, way too much Wolverine, way too much moral ambiguity.

Anti-hero.

Cyclops’ decline started with X-Factor #1 (possibly Uncanny #201) and has gone downhill since.

He is above your petty human morality.

@ Rusty Priske:

My first rule is that cross-overs don’t count in my evaluation of a character. They exist to spike sales short-term and, therefore, require someone to either die, do something shocking or both. 90% of the time, shocking behavior is out of character behavior.

Put it all together and the average cross-over is something that is best ignored.

A taco. He’s a taco.

Not only is he a hero, I find him the most fascinating hero in the current Marvel U. The guy with no personality has slowly become one of the more nuanced and interesting characters. His fall and redemption arc is pretty great so far.

Cyclops was right.

Cyclops is the new Magneto!

Bishop was right.

Important Reading Before You Vote (Tim O’Neil essay on Chad Nevett’s blog):

http://graphicontent.blogspot.ca/2013/01/blogathon-27-cyclops-was-right-cyclops.html

Hard not to admire a guy who would sacrifice just about everything for his people. It’s rare in superhero comics that changes develop as organically as Cyclop’s evolution. He’s definitely more of a gray character now, but those are generally the best kind.

Hard not to admire a guy who would sacrifice just about everything for his people.

I can think of plenty of reviled leaders throughout history who “sacrificed everything for [their] people,” usually starting with “people who are not my people.”

Cyclops was right.

Almost every instance of “Cyclops was right” seems to have happened through some very contrived plotting, from what I can tell. The character notes don’t work for me because the plot mechanics that got us here were miserably stupid, even for an X-Men comic.

That said, I am looking forward to Uncanny X-Men v.3 #1, and I liked Gillen’s run. Everything else from Uncanny #500 to AvX…well, it was pretty badly written.

Yes, Omar Karindu, Cyclops was such an awful guy that he used the Phoenix to end war and poverty. What a monster!

” Yes, Omar Karindu, Cyclops was such an awful guy that he used the Phoenix to end war and poverty. What a monster! ”

Only if you unequivocally accepted him as your lord and savior, and surrendered any dissenting notions you might’ve had. Being a well-kept slave is still being a slave, and that’s basically what the Phoenix Five regime amounted to. Note that all the apparent good Cyclops and his crew did fell apart the moment they were taken down. He was a noble tyrant in the same way as Doctor Doom– i.e. not.

What Xavier taught, what Magneto could never understand, and what Cyclops abandoned out of fear and ego, was that the only way peace can last is if people come to want it independently. The X-Men under Xavier were about teaching people that mutants have a lot to offer society. The X-Men under Cyclops were about scaring people out of prejudice, which only works in the short term and only fuels hatred in the long term.

Cyclops was such an awful guy that he used the Phoenix to end war and poverty. What a monster!

As I said, my main complaint is at the poor plotting designed to make Cyclops right. It’s hardly an accident that we don’t see much of how “ending war and poverty” actually worked, other than some shots after the timeskip of the Phoenix Five destroying some munitions plants and Sentinels.

Why not? Because it would be essentially impossible to make them look “in the right” to a plurality of comics readers doing what would have to be done to make that happen. It also helps that we aren’t shown the world — we’re told they’ve eliminated these awful, awful things, but we never really see much of the regular folks or how they actually live. What did they do with the world’s governments? What did they have to do to, say, middle-class First Worlders to make sure that Third Worlders weren’t poor anymore? Are they synthesizing all useful materials and creating a post-scarcity economy, or are they forcibly redistributing wealth? We see Emma Frost brainwashing folks in some of the tie-ins and Illyana tossing Avengers into Hell because they’re against the P5, but that’s about it.

A superhuman-imposed utopia has been handled interestingly in the past — see the Gaiman issues of Miracleman and the last Alan Moore issue, for example. Intelligently written, the concept is rife with ambiguities. AvX doesn’t want to deal with all that, so it just picks some things that almost everybody opposes, tells us that the P5 fixed it all behind the scenes, and lets the reader fill in whatever Candyland version of utopia they want.

Writing actual utopia is hard, so the AvX writers skipped it. It’s poor writing for the sort of people who think in banal slogans. And even then, most of the other characters in the story end up opposing the P5 on moral grounds…so, yeah, even the non-P5 characters seem to think they’re monsters because of that pesky ol’ “means vs. ends” problem.

” Writing actual utopia is hard ”

Probably because it doesn’t actually exist, because as you admit, the concept is rife with ambiguities. I get that you don’t mean an actually perfect society, but the very concept always seems to have an inherently foolish and/or sinister quality to me.

Cyclops fights not for himself but for others, and is willing to sacrifice himself. That’s simply not a villain, at best he’s an anti-hero. Cyclops WAS right about the Phoenix being containable by Earth mutants; one of his then-current teammates (Rachel) had done so perfectly well for YEARS. Yes other planets were destroyed by an unleashed Phoenix, but there’s ample precedent in the MU of Earth-616 being capable of pulling off feats that other planets in the universe consider impossible (such as fending off and at one point almost killing Galactus).

But Captain America didn’t want to hear any plans the Utopia mutants might have, opting instead to show up with a superhuman army and demanding that one of Utopia’s citizens be immediately surrendered to his custody, with a clear threat of violence if that demand weren’t obeyed. So the Avengers might have had a point, willfully ignorant of the Phoenix’s whole history on Earth as it was, but given the disrespectful way Cap handled it the X-Men’s refusal to kneel was hardly surprising. I mean, let’s take a look at the guy who actually started the whole conflict because someone dared to disobey his orders. If we’re going to consider all of Cyclops’ history to judge his moral standing, it would be fair to also apply the same criteria to the once-venerable Captain who led the opposition to the X-Men, and THAT man is hardly the moral standard he’s said to be, as someone who condones torture on civilian suspects as long as he’s not the one doing the torture (because good ol’ Cap draws the ethical line at getting HIS hands dirty!). And Cyclops was expected to happily bend his knee at this bully who showed up on Utopia with an army making demands? Personally, I can’t blame Cyclops for telling Cap to shove his demands.

And Xavier was only killed in self-defense (he WAS trying to shut down Cyclops’ mind at the time) at a moment when Cyclops was under the influence of a cosmic creature and being attacked by all sides… and after the dust had settled and the cosmic creature was gone, for some strange reason Cyclops didn’t deserve the usual leniency for having been possessed, as goes the usual modus operandi in these cases… I mean, Scarlet Witch did all sorts of nasty things to her teammates and caused the deaths of countless mutants worldwide but SHE sure got forgiven for everything as soon as she returned – y’see, she was feeling a bit upset at the time. The Vision once tried to take over the whole world and afterwards he was also forgiven, no hard feelings. Hell, Jean Grey Phoenix once incinerated a planet under the Phoenix’s influence and was never treated like a genocidal villain by everyone. Why? Possessed by the Phoenix. I can’t even remember all the cases of otherworldly-possession excusing superheroes from anything they had done “under the influence”. Of course, there’s ONE very significant difference between Cyclops and the Scarlet Witch: Wanda follows Cap’s orders like a good little soldier, and clearly allegiance counts for a LOT at the MU.

But as Iron Man learned in “Civil War” – when a perfectly logical legislation was received with superpowered insurrection – if you disagree with the Captain you’ll be PUSHED into the villain role, because it’s apparently unthinkable that Cap isn’t 100% right about everything always, so anyone who disagrees with him MUST be a modern Hitler. Fortunately these things never stick, and in a few years Cap and Cyclops will be teaming up again like nothing ever happened because that’s how these corporate IPs work. But right now? Cyclops was right. And frankly, between Cyclops and Cap, Cap is the one who currently looks like a dark parody of his younger self.

He’s fucking Magneto-Lite, the guy has become an even more useless X-Man than Maggot. I don’t like Cap, so the reason I disagree with him isn’t because I’m some mindless zombie that’s been convinced by Marvel’s weak marketing strategy to push Cap and the Avengers,

I disagree with Cyke because the man makes a good case with his moronic actions that he’s been making since Brubaker’s first issues that took the slow decline of the X-Books and kicked it into BS PIS highgear for a couple of years before the likes of Aaron turned the line around for a while (however now that Bendis has take over the “flagship” books, it’ll be the X-Books equivalent of if Romney had won, in that a couple years of slow but steady turnaround is now being undone).

Going back to when Brubaker first dragged Xavier through the mud to make his and Fraction’s pet look better (the definition of hack writing), his character has been made to look like a moronic tool of five-star general-wannabe, even being retconned into being trained from childhood by Xavier to be a military-style leader of mutants. Everything he’s done has gone against his foster-father’s philosophy, doesn’t he remember the time the two times he led strike forces on Magneto’s space-based mutant nation-states because they retaliated after being attacked? And then went after Cable, his son, for doing a non-aggressive version of that? And then he sets up Utopia, which, really, was even more militant than Magneto’s bases? Magneto never ran aggressive, strike-first-before-they-strike-you black-ops kill teams.

At least Wolverine copped to the hypocrisy of running those teams after he founded the new school and quit them, but then again the idea was that he’d done much darker things in his past, so what was a couple more murders in the name of the greater good if it kept school children from having to fight? At least there’s LOGIC to his character’s motivation for the past couple of years. Writers seem to have no idea on what to do with Cyke besides making him an irrational asshole.

Then you look at the fact that Cyke was basically running a mutant version of Waco – how is that supposed to promote human-mutant harmony and prevent the spread of irrational human fear of the next generation of homo sapiens? And the fact that he kept referring to mutants as a separate species – that’s Magneto’s shtick! Xavier always taught that mutants were just humans with some extras, that that was why it was possible for them to coexist, because deep down, both groups had some humanity.

I think buttler put it best – he’s a putz. Here’s hoping he gets killed off, because at this point, he’s a shadow of his former self when it comes to how nuanced the character used to be and the potential he had for good stories. A lot of the change that caused that is practically irreversible outside a Parallax-level retcon, and the X-Books don’t need another one of those after Whedon’s very ill-thought out Colossus resurrection.

Also, I don’t even want t get into how much of an asshole he is in AvX, but suffice it to say, no, Cyclops was NOT right. He pulled another Utopia-style stunt that shouldn’t have worked, and things worked out DESPITE his shitty leadership, not BECAUSE of it.

Also, Morrison showed in his first JLA arc back in 1997 why what the Phoenix Five did DOESN’T WORK.

” Cyclops fights not for himself but for others, and is willing to sacrifice himself. That’s simply not a villain, at best he’s an anti-hero ”

You could say the same about a suicide bomber. Cyclops long since stopped giving a shit about others, instead devoting himself to the nebulous cause of the mutant race while treating the actual mutants under his command as expendable.

As Hank put it, “The funny thing about those ‘hard decisions’….they never end with YOU in the torture chamber, do they? “

@ Omar Karindu

That said, I am looking forward to Uncanny X-Men v.3 #1, and I liked Gillen’s run. Everything else from Uncanny #500 to AvX…well, it was pretty badly written.

And guess who wrote most of that tripe? Marvel Architects Brubaker and Fraction! lol I love to point out just how much these two are overrated, and their X-Men arcs are prime examples. People say Austen sucked, I say he’s got nothing on these two. Also, I agree, XM v.3 looks like it will be good, and Gillen did a pretty decent job considering he was handed the worst status quo in the franchise’s history.

” I love to point out just how much these two are overrated, and their X-Men arcs are prime examples. ”

That you love to point it out speaks much more about your own baggage than their abilities.

Hero when he’s being written correctly. Which he hasn’t been in quite some time, sadly.

I’ve always been a big proponent of the “Don’t criticize if you can’t do better yourself” school of thought. Just saying.

Current comics Cyclops can kiss my asphalt. I’m sticking with the one I grew up with–the Marvel Animated Universe version.

Neil – yes you could say the same about a suicide bomber, the difference being that IIRC Cyclops doesn’t target civilians, as Scarlet Witch did when she unilaterally decided to remove all mutations from the world and got many people killed in the process. Cyclops also doesn’t torture civilians, like Cap’s Secret Avengers do. I just don’t see anyone with moral authority to throw stones at anyone else. In the past few years the MU has become littered with “Black Ops” teams that “cross ethical lines” (the Avengers have theirs, the X-Men have theirs, even friggin’ Red Hulk has his own wetworks team) and as a result the Marvel superheroes’ ethical standards have been eroded pretty much across the board. On modern Earth-616 almost nobody can point indignant fingers at anyone else (and Cap definitely was a raging hypocrite in that recent “Illuminati” meeting, with his righteous claim that he’d never EVER accept a necessary evil to save the world – sure you wouldn’t, Steve, you’d just have Moon Knight do it instead).

And Cyclops DOES give a shit about others… but the others he cares about are his own species, and his cause was to stop the extinction of his species, which seemed imminent after the Scarlet Witch’s cataclysmic whim and the Genosha genocide – a genocide that was widely ignored by the rest of the MU’s heroes as a “mutant” issue and not their problem, which naturally made the X-Men less receptive when Cap showed up with a super-army demanding that Utopia surrender one of their own because they couldn’t be trusted. Is Cyclops a militant ideologue? Oh yes, but he doesn’t kill on a regular basis like Wolverine for example. Cyclops isn’t mentally unbalanced like Moon Knight., and he was never an agent of an actual terrorist organization like Spider-Woman. Black Panther also works for his people’s best interests before anything else, and nobody calls him a villain. Cyclops’ greatest moment of “villainy” was under a cosmic creature’s influence and in self-defense, which doesn’t seem less exculpatory than Vision’s or Wanda’s or Jean’s alibis for their own occasional villainous turns (Wanda actually did it twice, there was that also evil handjob she gave Wonder Man in John Byrne’s last.Avengers run). My point is, what is the difference that makes Cyclops a “villain” but excuses the habitual murderer or the unhinged near-omnipotent witch? Ah, if Cyclops had just apologized to Cap when they met in prison after AvX, if he had humbly offered his allegiance and service, it could’ve all gone away, everything forgiven; and Cyclops could be Cap’s second-in-command right now instead of Cyclops’ uncharismatic brother. I mean, Cap has a murderer AND an unhinged loose cannon in his team; Cap obviously doesn’t care who works for him as long as they get the job done and know who’s the man (and I know, Cap told Havok that Havok would be the Avengers’ leader, and it was ADORABLE but seriously: it’s little more than pranking the newbie).

Clearly, there’s a lot of people who aren’t willing to throw out all of Cyclops’ history because of the events of the past couple of years. Especially since a lot of it was ridiculous editorial/writer’s fiat, rather than out of any real evolution of the character. I mean, the feud between Cyclops & Wolverine was pretty poorly done and requires a MASSIVE suspension of disbelief. And the AvX post-script of Cyclops as the greatest villain in the entire world ignores so much history it’s a pretty big joke too.

I mean seriously: the MU’s reaction of Professor X’s death is a little absurd. And I haven’t found the decision to recast Wolverine as the true heir to Professor X’s Dream to be particularly compelling, or particularly in character. It’s really just the people in charge saying “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if?”

I think a lot of how people come down on this is whether or not you think MU history matters. Right now, I’m seeing a lot of writing at Marvel that doesn’t care: they’re going to write/draw whatever they want. I suppose that’s fine, so long as it’s good, but when they’re this over-saturated with books I think its much more likely we’re going to see a big implosion.

Ever since he founded Utopia, Cyclops seemed to me like the kind of guy who had the guts to do what he thought was right, no matter how unpopular. I totally would have sided with him during Schism.

And guess who wrote most of that tripe? Marvel Architects Brubaker and Fraction! lol I love to point out just how much these two are overrated, and their X-Men arcs are prime examples.

I’ve liked most of Brubaker’s work a lot, but sometimes a writer and a series are a bad fit, and I haven’t liked any of his X-Men stuff that I’ve read. Mind you, there are a number of writers I usually like whose X-Men stuff I can’t stand, and I’ve partly chalked that up to the ridiculous baggage they have to work with from past runs. That franchise has been a mess for a very long time, and it’s always a pleasant surprise when someone can come in and conveniently ignore enough past history to just tell a good story.

Im sorry but in Brubackers defense i must say that he only did co-write issues 500 – 503 with Fraction (and i think that Fraction was main writer). So saying that mostly everything from 500 + was badly written by Brubacker is absurd.

I’ve always been a big proponent of the “Don’t criticize if you can’t do better yourself” school of thought. Just saying.

I agree. That’s why I don’t think anyone who hasn’t held federal office should ever complain about the incumbent president.

You have to remember that it’s largely pointless to ask online comic fandom a question about a well-established character as depicted, because a large portion of the answers are always going to be responses about that character as fans believe s/he “should be,” instead.

I was pretty upset with the direction Cyclops had gone in, because I DEFINITELY considered him a villain, which wasn’t something I wanted to see, but Consequences and All-New have really made me appreciate it.

@ Neil
I disagree – they get all this credit and get called architects when honestly, they’re guilty of producing the wors Uncanny X-Men run of all time. No, Austen and Lobdell were not worse, because both of these guys did similar stuff to them, but did it worse and did it after them, plus they didn’t even have Mad, Andy Kubert and Pacheco drawing their scripts. Seriously, how do you show Cyke not giving a fuck about his daughter and brother being stranded in space and then tell fans to write fan-fiction if they want a character to actually show some emotion? You can call that baggage, but it’s also still poor writing on his part. Bruabaker’s not as guilty as Fraction though, I’ll give him that – the guy has written stuff that didn’t suck, and some stuff that was actually quite good.

Meanwhile, Fraction wrote one of the most padded Uncanny runs in a long time, had no feel for the characters, AND NOTHING EVER HAPPENED. It was one long exercise in killing time, because even when there where moments where characters did stuff, it was so undersold and lacking conviction that what should have been big moments felt like tedium. If it had been on purpose, it would have been brilliant, but it clearly wasn’t, which shows just how weak a writer he is. You throw in a shitty start to a Fantastic four run, a tepid-at-best Thor, and one of the worst Iron Man runs since Kavanaugh was on the book and it’s hard for me to see why anyone would cut him slack. He can only fallback on his Casanova and Iron Fist credentials for so long.

@ indy83
I wasn’t counting issue 500 as a hard cut-off, clearly, I think it goes back to when Brubaker started, but it definitely got worse the deeper you get into his run; plus, Utopia was Bruabaker’s baby, along with his Mary-Sue, Cable-wannabe, Magneto-Lite Cyclops that GOT SHIT DONE THE WAY HE SHOULD HAVE ALWAYS DONE IT. Seriously, his Cyke is one big exercise in “trying too hard.”

@ The Anonymous That Isn’t Me
I do think I could do MUCH better as an X-Men writer, that’s WHY I’m complaining. If the writers were putting out stuff better than the currently published crap (Aaron, Humphries and Wood aside), I’d be happy because I’d be enjoying good stories.

@Les Fontelle
Cyclops, better than ANYONE should know the dangers of fucking with the Phoenix force, and he chose to play with fire anyways. He can’t blame it all on “Mind Control” since he consciously made the choice to meddle with a cosmic entity for his own political gain. i’m sorry, but the writers didn’t leave him with a leg to stand on when they wrote him in AvX. Wanda has been to shown to not be responsible for her mental issues, while Cyke was actively seeking to control the Phoenix through Hope and use it for his agenda (but because he’s doing it for mutant-kind that makes it okay right? Well, name a dictator who HASN’T said that before; can’t find one, can you?).

And why is he complaining about the Avengers showing up on his doorstep and being dicks? He JOINED with the Avengers to do the same thing to Cable’s island sanctuary that was nowhere near as militant and aggressive as Cyke’s Utopia, and Cable wasn’t doing anything more than what Cyke was trying to do. Hell, Magneto’s Avalon was less aggressive – like I said, Magneto never ran proactive kill-teams that MURDERED people before they actually committed crimes. Wolverine admitted the hypocrisy of these teams and quit, plus he admitted to having murdered for the government before, so a few more bigots on the pile so it wasn’t mutant kids who died or had to fight these battles makes sense with his characterization going back to the early days of Claremont, where his reason for joining the X-Men (and Way’s terrible retcon doesn’t count because it’s so shitty) was to find a better way than the one he’d always been led to believe was the ONLY way.

Cyke’s characterization, meanwhile, is not reconcilable with ANY of his past portrayals. So his foster dad turned out to have made some bad decisions – remember how leading up to Onslaught a lot of his past questionable actions were called out as being possible manifestations of the proto-Onslaught personality gaining control, like the time his “evil” side tried to take over while sporting a cape? Because Xavier is such a powerful telepath, when he repress what would be normal urges for us, they have big consequences for him. This is what laid the foundation for Onslaught, the fuel that was set off by the match that was Magneto’s “dark side,” and Cyke won’t even consider the possibility that Xavier isn’t 100% responsible for some of the shitty stuff he’s supposedly done? Screw it, if I become an X-Men writer, I’m retconning all this crap away as shit proto-Onslaught was responsible for, just to make this interpretation of Cyke look even more like a douche.

And speaking of Xavier, Cyke’s reference to “mutant-kind” as a separate species goes against EVERYTHING stood for; I know Cyke stopped working with Xavier, but I thought they stated a couple of times he at least somewhat respected his old mentors beliefs. Clearly this isn’t true, since Xavier always taught that the underlying similarity between mutants and non-mutants is that they’re BOTH human, one group just has extra abilities. This was what gave him hope for harmony between the masses. More than isolating mutants from humanity with an island full of militant zealots, THIS is the flaw with the direction the X-Books took for so long under shitty writers, this was what the zealots and their horribly written leader used to JUSTIFY their actions, actions which were the ultimate betrayal of Xavier’s ideals. Guys like Carey tried to make the best of it, but the problem was this hugely flawed ideal. Maybe if Cyke had practiced the methods of Xavier before AvX, a man he claimed to care for so much in the days after AvX, Xavier wouldn’t be dead. We get the death of a character that still had so much potential for good stories to complete the transformation of another character into somebody that has no more potential left. Nice job Marvel, you couldn’t have fucked up more if you tried.

BTW, I just read through that last paragraph again and realized I wasn’t entirely clear – the ideal that has been expressed in the past few years in the X-Books, the one that goes against Xavier’s ideals and is being used by Cyke to justify what he does, is that mutants are a separate species. This started after Marvel started dragging Xavier through the mud, having Cyke refer to mutants as a species. Xavier taught the opposite of this because it makes is way too easy to justify the other “species” as not human, and thus doing things to them through evil means is ok.

The more I think about it, the better Wolverine looks and the worse Cyke looks, based off the past few years of stories. Wolverine is actually nuanced, he tries to do better but is still susceptible to his human flaws. He tortures Matsuo Tsurayaba because of what he did to his wife, but at the same time he knows it’s wrong. It doesn’t change the fact that revenge feels good. The whole underlying theme of Uncanny X-Force is that Wolverine’s black-ops approach doesn’t necessarily work, and thus he gives it up to fully embrace something greater than himself. Meanwhile, the Cyke we got from Brubaker and Fraction, the Cyke that reached his logical conclusion with AvX, is a creation of B&F’s ultimate ideal of what they would do in Cyke’s shoes, their fantasy of the perfect X-Men leader, a Gary-Sue that lays down the law and doesn’t take crap from nobody. He’s a completely bland character that is so out of step with what he was established to be over the forty years or so of prior stories featuring him. They actually had him using guns at certain points. Guys, if you wanted to use Cable, you should have just used Cable; it would have at least made sense, since he has been shown to be a militant with some ideas contrary to Xavier and has tried to establish something like Utopia before. It would have been flogging a dead horse, but it would have at least MADE SENSE.

Also, one thing 90s X-Men has over what I call the Dark Age of the X-Men – variety. Yes, Nicieaza and Lobdell had their pet favorites, but at least they occasionally spread the love around to characters like Iceman, Psylocke, Angel, etc. Meanwhile, all we got for like four years was Cyke, Emma, Wolverine and then Magneto. You can debate the merits of 90s X-Men events, but the central focus characters for each event seemed to alternate a bit, meanwhile it’s been nothing but Cyke and Wolverine for like five years now. And during those old events, it seemed like the writers actually gave half a fuck about all of the characters involved and tried to do something worthwhile with all of them. Meanwhile, the past few X-Men events have relied on the cliche’s of bad fan-fiction – a focus on a small group of pet favorites with smaller fan-favorites used as nothing more than window-dressing, big “Wouldn’t it be cool if so-and-so di this? events within the story loosely connected by a flimsy plot, and previously mentioned pet-characters spouting overwrought dialogue that is nothing more than thinly-veiled insertions of the author’s own viewpoints and opinions inserted into the story rather than trying to think and understand things from their character’s perspective.

Also, people can lay crap on Lobdell, but one thing he got right was Xavier; he may have been a pet character, but it was a pet character he got right most of the time and made interesting. He was a guy who had foibles, who could stumble, but ultimately was likable because he never compromised in his belief that the ends never justifies the means. He always tried to do the right thing, and the one time he failed, it led to Onslaught. He could have tried to excuse himself for his actions, but he ultimately felt responsible and chose to serve his time, both because it was the right thing to do and it showed that mutants are not above the law, which was an attempt to show that humans and mutants could cooperate. Magneto-Lite, though – you read the first paragraph, right? Plus, Cyke doesn’t feel accountable for anything he did as Phoenix, even though he’s more responsible for the things the Phoenix Five did than Xavier was for Onslaught’s actions. He only went to jail for so long as it served his agenda. He does feel ultimately accountable to some kind of higher authority, but this was something that was introduced by Gillen and then dropped when Bendis took over, which once again is a testament to Gillen’s ability to take a shitty status-quo and do something positive with it. I mean, talking about taking lemons and making lemonade….

He’s not a villain per se, just a douchebag.

But he’s always been a douchebag. People are just noticing it now.

The Savior, Wolverine is getting a little old, though. I don’t mind him being a leader, Wolverine has proven he can lead, but his indigence towards Scott is annoying.

Why shouldn’t Wolverine be mad at Scott? Scott’s poor decisions and sudden weakness after Deadly Genesis has slowly forced Wolverine to become something he can never pull off – a mutant statesman representing Xavier’s ideals. Logan has too much blood on his hands, and he sees the hypocrisy of what he’s doing. Still, he needs to at least try to do the right thing because at his core, Logan is an honorable man who cannot always overcome his human flaws. Scott was always meant to take up the role Wolverine now fills, and the fact that he chose to become a a poor imitation of Xavier’s greatest enemy to spite Xavier for what happened to Vulcan. Scott was the one who was always calling Logan out for not taking the high road when he should, and when it came time for Scott, the paragon leader of the X-Men, to do it, he crumbled, leaving Logan to shoulder a burden that he knows he can’t carry. He’ll still try, but ultimately he’s doomed to fail.

If I were Logan, I’d be pissed too.

Scott didn’t “become a a poor imitation of Xavier’s greatest enemy to spite Xavier”, he simply realized that Xavier wasted his life (and risked all mutants’ lives) pursuing a futile crusade. Because the bitter truth is that NOBODY in the Marvel Universe treats mutants as “just like humans but with superpowers” – not the government that builds sentinels, not even the other superheroes who treat mutant issues like someone else’s problems. Building the school only turned the students into targets for threats ranging from terrorists (both mutants and humans) to government-built sentinels; and when mutants were on the verge of being completely wiped out by a psycho’s tantrum, Cyclops realized “Xavier’s dream” was a hopeless delusion. The biggest evidence that mutants aren’t treated like humans even by those who claim to be their friends was Genosha. If a city of humans were obliterated like Genosha was, you KNOW the Avengers would’ve been all over it, demanding justice and avenging the victims. But they were just mutants so nobody cared, it was the mutants’ problem. Because mutants are treated as a separate species even by those who claim to be their friends.

Do you want further evidence that mutants are treated as a separate group and not a part of humanity? When the “Illuminati” were first gathered, Xavier was invited specifically as representative of mutantkind, just like Black Bolt and Namor were there representing their own separate species; and after Xavier was gone his position in that cabal was inherited by another member of the same species (because mutants are seen even by their allies as a SEPARATE SPECIES that deserves their own representation in the Illuminati; if mutants were seen as just superpowered humans, those were already represented in the Illuminati, so there would be no need to bring in another mutant unless he was there to fill the group’s mutant quota). So Cyclops eventually realized that Xavier’s “dream” was about as effective at protecting mutants as holding hands. Despite a lifetime of Xavier repeating the same lofty ideas, NOBODY treats mutants as “humans with slight differences”, they are in fact treated as a separate species by friends and foes alike. So Cyclops decided to protect the almost-extinct mutants through deterrence, by promising brutal retribution to those who would harm them, because extending olive branches accomplished nothing and made them easy targets. Was than an extremist move? Sure. But I’m not convinced that Cyclops was wrong. It IS true that Xavier’s “dream” was laughably ineffectual when it came to actually protecting mutants, and it IS true that deterrence is a historically proven method of self-defense.

And before we start labeling “villains” let’s not forget that the great Xavier had a long history of lying and manipulating people to achieve his goals, both traditionally “villainous” gestures, but is Xavier treated as a villain? Of COURSE not, Xavier was the man with the NICE dream who put children on the frontlines as cannon fodder and lied to them for years to secure their loyalty. Let’s face it, Xavier was irresponsible scum, an ideologue who risked children’s lives for his personal dreams.

And that brings me to my big question: I’m still wondering what specific unforgivable act Cyclops did that made him a “villain”. Was it because he endangered the world while under the influence of a cosmic power? Heh, other heroes did the same or worse and were immediately forgiven once the possession was over, that’s the biggest double-standard of them all. Is Cyclops a villain for welcoming a genocidal cosmic creature that might threaten Earth? I remember Reed Richards saving Galactus’ life once, and I’m pretty sure Galactus has killed more planets than the Phoenix (and unlike the Phoenix, Galactus didn’t have a long history of being safely controlled by mutant hosts). Was it because Phoenix-powered Cyclops endangered civilian lives? Nah, Namor once flooded NY in an official act of war (inevitably killing thousands) and they still accepted him in the Avengers without blinking an eye, who cares about a few thousand corpses if you’re Cap’s personal friend? Did Cyclops become a villain when he killed Charles Xavier? It’s hard to treat that one self-defense kill as an unforgivable crime when good ol’ Wolverine is still widely respected as a hero (not to mention Namor’s countless victims both in NY and Wakanda)… for all his alleged “honor”, Wolvie has rivers of blood in his hands and has no intention whatsoever of quitting that habit, so clearly murder isn’t such a big deal for Marvel’s finest heroes. Is Cyclops a villain for having defied the authority of US government agents, then? Nope that can’t be it, Cap himself once led an insurrection of superpeople against the goverment because he didn’t personally approve of a law, effectively committing armed treason, and after he came back from his travels through time nobody ever mentioned it again because it would upset poor Steve, and once again all was forgiven. And unless I’m mistaken Cyclops didn’t torture anyone either, unlike other ethically challenged “heroes” we might mention. So what WAS the specific crime that pushed Cyclops into villainy which wasn’t also committed by one of the “heroes”?

I mean, not even Namor was kicked out from the Illuminati after devastating Wakanda, and if anyone behaved like a true villain in AvX it was the Sub-Mariner. But for some reason Cyclops goes to jail while Cap’s old WW2 buddy gets a pass. If we really judge these alleged ‘heroes’ for their actions, Namor is a terrorist, Wolverine is a serial killer, Cap is a traitor and Reed Richards enabled multiple genocides. Who’s the “villain” again?

Oh boy, someone wants to play continuity cards! Let’s see what’s in the deck!

— At a guess, the reason is that Cyclops not only seems unrepentant about the harm he caused, but openly stated that he’d do it all again the same way in a heartbeat. Even the deterrence thing didn’t end up *working*. Anti-mutant types didn’t leave the X-Men alone; they promptly sent a super-Sentinel to the island in Schism. Post-AvX, we’re beign shown that the P5 takeover has made people even more afraId of mutants. Cyclops’s actions, which he so proudly owns, have almost entirely backfired. From a pragmatic point of view, he’s an *awful* leader. Strangely, everyone kept calling him brilliant as he did all of this stuff. It’s bad writing, where we’re probably supposed to agree with Cyclops and think he’s cool and then suddenly we’re not because Wolverine disagrees. (It does seem that the writers initially expected readers to oppose Cyclops by the end of AvX, and they even have the Phoenix damaging the P5’s powers as if it disagreed with them or something; they can’t even make *that* work for most readers, which ought to tell us all something.)

— When Reed saved Galactus in Fantastic Four #244, he did so over the objections of Earth’s other heroes. He also extracted Galactus’s oath never to threaten the Earth again *before* he saved the guy’s life. That’s quite different than welcoming him to the planet unconditionally.

— When Namor joined the Avengers in the 1980s, we were shown public protests about exactly the things you mention. Additionally, Namor was eventually placed under Steve Rogers’s recognizance as a condition of his staying on the team, and was hit with a multimillion dollar class action suit for his past actions. As to why Namor’s not in jail…same reason Doctor Doom isn’t: diplomatic immunity given to him as a head of state. This as the reason given for his freedom in Avengers v.1 #264, the issue where he publicly joins the team.

— Namor, by the way, isn’t getting a free pass this time. The current New Avengers series has T’Challa promising to kill him as soon as the more pressing threat is dealt with.

— I think the role given to Wolverine is deeply wrongheaded and problematic for exactly the reasons you do. I also think that Cyclops, whatever his intentions, probably won’t be helping mutantkind much by embracing “outlaw terrorist” status. You may note that my main point earlier on was that everyone’s been written pretty horribly to get Cyclops to this point, whether it’s Captain America acting in an unusually militant fashion in AvX #1 or Cyclops thinking that the Phoenix is coming to restore mutants when it’s never done anything vaguely like that in the past. The Phoenix has had hosts like Rachel contain it safely before, but they never used it to alter the whole planet; moreover, the Phoenix in AvX has been killing all sentient life on the worlds it visits before Earth, something that ought to remind Cyclops of the *first* time he met Burning Big Bird.

— From a continuity perspective, AvX is a mess. It’s a strange story in which Cyclops believes something that he has no reason to believe, the Avengers forget things they ought to know, and no one seems to suggest having *Rachel* host the thing even though she’s done it before. And then there’s the idea that the Scarlet Witch’s power is some kind of anti-Phoenix energy, which doesn’t fit with anything we’ve seen before either and arguably contradicts Children’s Crusade entirely. (And yes, everyone gives Wanda and her johnny-ome-lately return to sanity too much of a pass in that story as well.) It’s bad writing, and I can’t really worry too much about whether a character is “hero” or “villain” when I’m more upset that neither the charactrers not the plot are written well in the first place.

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