Last month, Marvel Comics sent the time-lost young X-Men back to the past, just one small step toward an all-new uncanny start. And this week, one more big step: the return of Cyclops.
After Marvel teased his return all fall, we got our first glimpse of the resurrected mutant leader in the final issue of the Extermination miniseries. This week, Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 gives us the full story of how Scott Summers, killed in 2016’s Death of X #1, is back among the living.
[Ed. note: This post will contain spoilers for Uncanny X-Men Annual #1.]
Last month’s Extermination series was about the villain Ahab attempting to kill the time-lost young X-Men while they were in the modern day. If he’d succeeded, it would have wiped out the entire history of the X-Men.
Fortunately, help came from an unexpected quarter: Teen Cable. A teenage version of the grizzled time-traveling mercenary appeared on the scene to send the young X-Men home. But while Teen Cable might have good explanations for his motivations, he’s still driven largely by his emotions — just like a teenager.
By his own assertion, Teen Cable is in the Marvel present to “keep the timeline in order.” That’s why the first thing he did was murder his craggy older self, who had allowed the young X-Men to hang out in the present for so long, endangering history. But there was one thing about the Marvel present that he couldn’t let lie: He had to resurrect his father, Scott Summers.
How to resurrect Cyclops (if you are Teen Cable)
Step 1: Find a Brilliant Scientist who owes Cyclops his life, you know, because he’s a superhero who has saved a lot of people.
Step 2: Go back in time and visit that scientist two years before Cyclops was killed in 2016’s Death of X.
Step 3: Give him the busted remains of the machine the Avengers built to cage the Phoenix Force in a 2012 issue of Secret Avengers. Tell him he has two years to use it to build something small enough to fit in the palm of your hand “that can siphon off a small portion of the Phoenix Force” and store it — and it will save Cyclops’ life.
Step 3: Travel through time again to just after Cyclops’ death, sneak that scientist into the morgue, and have him implant his now-completed Phoenix Force device inside Cyclops’ chest.
Step 4: Wait for the events of 2018’s Phoenix: Resurrection. When the Phoenix Force briefly resurrects Cyclops in a bid to convince Jean Grey to merge with it again, it will charge the scientist’s device with a fragment of the Phoenix Force.
Step 5: Return to the Marvel present, tell the device to wake up and bodily resurrect Cyclops with the fragment of the Phoenix Force.
As X-Men resurrection stories go — and there are a lot of them — Cyclops’ isn’t the most complicated. It’s not the simplest, either. But as a long-time reader of the wildest comic book plots, I find this one pretty clever.
But beside all that, how a character is resurrected will always be less important than what that resurrection means to the characters around them. And for Teen Cable, it clearly means a lot. Cyclops is confused and frustrated that Teen Cable would kill his older self for failing to preserve the timeline — but felt fine about altering the timeline in order to resurrect Scott Summers.
How can his son possibly square that circle? Not with logic, but with some good old lonely-boy-who-misses-his-dad emotion.
“You’re right,” Scott says, taking a fatherly knee. “Given the chance to save someone I loved, then absolutely ... I would have done whatever it takes.”
What’s next for Cyclops? Well, in last week’s Uncanny X-Men #10, the X-Men were in a pretty tough spot. It’s time for their fearless leader to ride in and save the day, presumably in February’s Uncanny X-Men #11. And according to that issue’s official summary, he won’t be alone: He’ll have a recently resurrected Wolverine by his side.