He’s been a leader and a revolutionary, a husband and a father, a hero and a villain–He’s Cyclops, the first X-Man. The many roles Scott Summers has played since his debut in 1963 have made him one of the X-Men and comics’ most complex characters. In honor of Slim’s full-fledged return from the dead in this week’s Uncanny X-Men Annual #1, AiPT! is proud to present: CYCLOPS WEEK!
When it comes to Marvel Comics’ X-Men line, it’s almost a badge of honor for creators to leave a lasting impact on not just Cyclops, but the extended Summers family. Take a quick glance at writer Fabian Nicieza’s body of ’90s X-work and you’ll see that this was definitely the case across titles such as X-Men, X-Force and Cable. From the Summers family revelations at the core of “X-Cutioner’s Song” to the wedding of Scott Summers and Jean Grey, it’s safe to say Cyclops received more than his fair share of character development.
Oh, and let’s not forget that Nicieza was the writer who introduced the mystery of the third Summers brother–a mystery he never really had a chance to solve.
In honor of Cyclops Week, Nicieza, who’s currently writing the webcomic Outrage for Line Webtoon, was kind enough to talk Scott, his son Cable, Adam-X the X-Treme–the third Summers brother that never was–and much more!
AiPT!: As the writer of X-Men, you had a chance to script Cyclops during one of the most popular periods of X-Men history. So how did you approach writing Scott Summers?
Fabian Nicieza: Reluctant (but accepting) Leader. Confident (but insecure) Man of Adventure. Shy in Personality, Bold in Action. Awkward in interpersonal and social matters, but aware of the need to engage in them. He didn’t like complexity, preferring simpler motivations: see a problem, solve a problem. The world of X, by the time I started writing them, had become full of grays and complications, which made Scott less certain of his role.
AiPT!: One of the most memorable Cyclops subplots from your run was Psylocke trying to seduce Scott. Was that added to inject a little drama into the series or was there serious thought to splitting up Scott and Jean Grey?
Nicieza: Just the opposite. The idea was to use it as part of the lead-in towards Scott and Jean getting married.
There was never going to be anything to it. Betsy certainly was interested, but that was as much the insidious whispers of Spiral and Kwannon in her as the “real” Betsy. We just wanted Scott to not be “the old man” of the book, and one way to do that is to inject a sexy soap opera subplot where he is deemed desirable.
AiPT!: I’ve read that Rob Liefeld never cared for the revelation that his co-creation Cable was actually Cyclops’ son. Obviously, you wrote many of the comics that helped cement their relation, but how did you feel about it as Cyclops and Cable’s primary writer for a significant period of time?
Nicieza: I agree 100% with Rob. Making Cable a grown-up version of baby Nathan was done in the spirit of team cooperation, but it was never Rob’s original idea for Cable. It was a case of people wanting to stick their fingers in someone else’s popular pie and an editor doing what he often did–falling in love with “the idea of the minute” without seriously considering its long-term ramifications on several characters.
For that matter, I still think my original plan to twist the trope and have Stryfe be a grown-up version of baby Nathan (with Cable a flawed clone) to be a better long-term plan for both characters. And that one was also editorially approved, only to be changed later.
AiPT!: Speaking of Summers family revelations, you co-created the character Adam-X with the intention of making him the third Summers brother. Do you remember where this idea to give Cyclops and Havok a half-alien half-brother came from?
Nicieza: It came kind of out of nowhere while I was scripting issue X-Men #23. I wanted to make Sinister live up to his name, so let him be a suspicious, malevolent trickster. A “slip of the lip” to either reveal a truth or send an opponent to chase after a lie made sense to me. I hadn’t necessarily thought of Adam-X or a backstory at that point, but when Bob Harras reacted positively to the idea, I immediately said, “The child of Kate Summers and D’Ken. The Shi’ar wanted to experiment with a human/Shi’ar hybrid and fertilized an egg outside of her womb and grew it in a lab. She never knew about it, Corsair never knew about it, but he’s still alive.”
Bob liked that, too, and we decided to introduce him in the X-Force Annual that was going to debut new characters.
AiPT!: Marvel eventually revealed the third Summers brother to be Gabriel Summers, or Vulcan, whose origin definitely shares similarities with what you had planned for Adam-X. How did you feel about Marvel’s resolution to what ended up becoming one of the biggest X-Men mysteries?
Nicieza: Never read it. Don’t think I ever will. That tells you all you need to know about how I feel about that. Sometimes, the lack of respect that can be shown by subsequent editorial and creative decision-makers resonates with some things more than others.
AiPT!: You eventually had the chance to write Adam-X again in the form of Burner in the Secret Wars: Age of Apocalypse mini-series. What made you want to revisit and revamp the character?
Nicieza: I just thought it would be a fun twist to the approach the original AoA took to Sunfire. Take a lower-level character and present them in a very different manner. Nothing more than that.
AiPT!: Every X-Men character, no matter how obscure, seems to have their fans. Adam-X has his, and seems to get brought up on Twitter more than ever. As a writer, is it flattering to co-create a character that only made a handful of appearances and X-Fans are still talking about?
Nicieza: Not flattering so much as understanding the fan mindset. A lot of fans don’t like to see “sub-plot interruptus” and in a family of X-titles that have derailed and unfinished sub-plots as part of their DNA going back to the days of Chris [Claremont], Adam-X is one of the most egregious of those examples.
I think any support for Adam is less a sign of his popularity as it is a reaction by the readers to not having liked seeing the story remain untold (or told improperly).
AiPT!: Switching gears, you seem to be having a blast writing Outrage and using the web comic to address some of the real-world insanity unfolding across social media on a daily basis. After so many years writing Marvel and DC-owned characters, would you say this is the most creative freedom you’ve ever had as a storyteller?
Nicieza: There have been times when I’ve had plenty of creative freedom working on Marvel and DC characters, but ultimately, this is very liberating in that–for good or bad–we decide what it is without any other input but our own.
Reilly [Brown] is a great collaborator, storyteller and idea guy, so I really think we work in much more of an old-fashioned “Marvel method” style which, in my opinion, is better in nearly all ways to the current working “writer-driven” styles.
Outside of hitting a really tough schedule grind for weekly release as we near the conclusion of the story, it’s been a tremendous amount of fun.
AiPT!: What can fans of Outrage look forward to in 2019?
Nicieza: Well, the first season is 26 chapters and we’re up to chapter 20 now, so what they can have to look forward to is the conclusion of the story!
The short-term goal for Outrage was to tell a story about the absurdity of how we are on the internet.
The long-term story goal was to explore why we are this way. If we do a second season, we’ll explore the ramifications of Outrage’s existence on the “real world” beyond a direct one-to-one confrontation between Outrage and an individual internet abuser.
AiPT!: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Fabian!