Friday, August 29, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Cyclops #4

Some people are better equipped to deal with shitty situations than others. These people will fuck up like everybody else, but they'll actually find a way to come out stronger. They're the ones that become accomplished athletes and businessmen. Sometimes they'll also become politicians and lawyers, but we take the good with the bad. Superheroes have to deal with shittier situations than any overpaid athlete or well-connected politician. They can't always buy or charm their way out of a problem, unless they're name is Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne. They have to be survivors. Cyclops has definitely survived some pretty amazing shit, including but limited two a couple of dead wives, a clone, and a homicidal lost brother. But O5 Cyclops hasn't survived these things yet and hasn't yet become the alpha male X-man who's equipped to confront any threat and still have the strength to bone Emma Frost and Jean Grey.

That's what has made the Cyclops solo series so enjoyable. We get to see O5 Cyclops on his journey to becoming this survivor with help from his father of all people. In Cyclops #4 he gets a chance to learn a very important set of survival skills, namely those that help him survive being stranded on an alien planet. Even though he's just a teenager, these are skills he needs to learn if he's going to live long enough to see Emma Frost and Jean Grey naked.

Being a good father and all, Corsair is dedicated to teaching his son the skills he'll need if he's going to hook up with women like Emma Frost and Jean Grey. That includes survival skills on an alien planet. I'm not entirely sure how that would help him deal with beautiful women, but I imagine it can't hurt. Like much of this series, O5 Cyclops shares some of his inner thoughts. He and Corsair are roughing it, doing what they can to survive in this alien world with the knowledge that his father won't be able to live much longer without the illegal drugs he's been using. It sounds like an awesome Breaking Bad spin-off, but it reveals O5 Cyclops' growing doubts.

When they're not just trying to survive, Corsair attempts to teach his son other skills that he might find useful when the time comes to get Emma Frost and Jean Grey out of their panties. That includes swordplay because beautiful women apparently love guys who can wield a sword. And Corsair shows that O5 Cyclops clearly has plenty of room for improvement. His current skills wouldn't impress a waitress at an Applebees, let alone the Emma Frost's of the world. Corsair is a tough teacher, not adhering to any the bullshit New Age parenting techniques that only permit feeding a teenager's bloated self-esteem. But he does it in a way where he doesn't come off as a dick. He just comes off as a competent parent. Seriously, why does that have to sound like such a novel concept?

O5 Cyclops, to his credit, accepts his shortcomings with more maturity than my entire graduating high school class. But he accepts them a bit too much in that he seems okay with knowing that he's probably going to die on this alien planet as soon as Corsair dies. And what teenage boy in his position wouldn't think that? He's not the experienced space pirate here. He only recently learned how to fly a space ship and flirt with alien women. How can he expect to survive on his own once his father is gone? He can't and for once, that's not just typical teenage angst. That's just plain logic.

Corsair, once again demonstrating the kind of parenting skills that are exceedingly rare in comics, refuses to accept that attitude in his son. Any decent, non-lazy parent wouldn't accept it. So he calls his son out on his angst. Anyone who has ever called a teenager out on their angst knows it's like trying to trim a pit bull's toenails when he's he's horny. It's a tough fight to even approach, but Corsair does in a way that once again doesn't make him come off as a dick. He's just being a decent parent. I know I should be used to this by now in this comic, but it still astounds me.

This leads to a much more meaningful conversation, which O5 Cyclops and Corsair have been having a lot of lately. Whereas previous issues focused primarily on Corsair, this time they focus on the man O5 Cyclops became. Corsair claims that the reason his older self went down such a dark path was because he lost hope. It sounds cheesy, like something from a Mel Gibson speech. But it's not wholly inaccurate. It's just overly simplistic, ignoring the really fucked up circumstances in which Cyclops found himself. I'm sure a lack of hope wasn't what drove him to marry a clone of his dead girlfriend or go Dark Phoenix when everyone in the Marvel universe was attacking him.

That said, there is some merit to it and Corsair even relates it to his own experiences. He mentions at some point how Cyclops traded hope for rage. That still doesn't account for the difficult circumstances he had to deal with, but it does show how his judgment and his outlook became so clouded at times. There's no doubt that Cyclops as an adult became a much darker person and not just because he dated Emma Frost. O5 Cyclops once again makes clear that he does not want to become that person, which he has said time and again since All-New X-men started. It's a powerful moment for him and one that couldn't have happened without decent parenting. And it didn't even require Corsair to threaten to take his cell phone away. He's rapidly becoming the anti-Darth Vadar of comic book parents.

Encouraged by his father, something I'm sure many teenagers aren't used to, O5 Cyclops decides to ditch the angst and get to work on this new hopeful approach. But unlike the bullshit self-esteem programs that are pushed in high schools, he decides that wishful thinking is for suckers and goes to work finding the quantum tracker from the ship. He's not an expert on quantum trackers or anything quantum related. But he knows that if they're going to be rescued, they need to fix this thing so some bounty hunters can find them. Technically, that's not a rescue. That's more like trying to hitch a ride with a state trooper by waving a bag of cocaine in the air, but it's better than staying stranded.

Now O5 Cyclops and Corsair divide their time between surviving and fixing some advanced alien technology that they're not equipped to understand. I won't say that's a productive use of their time, but I imagine that's also a skill that'll help O5 Cyclops with the ladies down the line. The pacing of the story does start to drag somewhat here. It's hard to tell just how productive they're being. But knowing that Corsair has only so many doses of that life-saving drug left, they have plenty of incentive to not sit on their asses and whine.

That's not to say there isn't some excitement. At one point, they do have to deal with the local alien animal life on the planet. And on this planet, the skies are full of these flying blue fish with bat wings. It's not nearly as terrifying as it sounds. Earlier, Corsair did warn O5 Cyclops that he might have to resort to eating these things if he wants to survive. These creatures must have heard that because they decide to attack Corsair. No matter what planet they're on, talking about turning someone into food is kind of a dick move.

This time, it's O5 Cyclops who gets to show he's got some skill to work with. He uses his optic blasts to take down the creatures. He even admits that he let his father act as bait so he could get as many as possible with one blast. It's also somewhat of a dick move, but it does show that O5 Cyclops has been paying attention to his father's survival training. And the first rule of survival training is that sometimes a dick move is necessary to survive in a hostile environment. I have a hard time believing that women don't find a man who can survive an alien world like that wouldn't find it sexy on some levels. Corsair seems to understand this and gives his son a deserved pat on the back.

This leads to a well-deserved feast with alien flying fish as the main course. It may sound disgusting at first, eating alien creatures. Even the Ted Nugants of the world would be somewhat reluctant. But O5 Cyclops doesn't complain. He just says it tastes like chicken. Apparently, chicken is the universal taste of all undefined meats in the universe. There's something about that which makes me smile. It also makes me hungry too. It feels like a fitting way for O5 Cyclops to put his father's advice about having hope to good use. Not only did it get him to stop whining, but it got them a good meal. It shows that being a decent parent actually has more benefits than just not being a dick.

Armed with hope and a full stomach, they're finally able to fix the quantum tracker from the ship. So in the end, their efforts were pretty damn productive. They learned to effectively survive in an alien environment, living off the land and eating alien creatures. Now they're going to have to learn how to survive being "rescued" by bounty hunters. Somehow being stuck on a planet and eating alien fish birds doesn't sound so unappealing. But O5 Cyclops has already learned plenty of valuable skills from his space pirate father. This sounds like it could be yet another teachable moment. And the more O5 Cyclops learns, the more he'll have to impress Jean Grey and Emma Frost when he gets back.

Now O5 Cyclops is one step closer to becoming the man that will one day see Emma Frost and Jean Grey naked. This was another issue that provided compelling insight into O5 Cyclops as he learns and grows with his father. He's not the same whiny, confused teenager he was for a good chunk of All-New X-men. He's more vulnerable now. He sounds more like just another anxious teenager than the future leader of the X-men. This time, there was more focus on the man he would become rather than who he is now. His father's insight was a little generic, sounding like something he got from a fortune cookie. But it's not wholly inaccurate either. And for once, the value of a good father really shows in how Corsair inspired O5 Cyclops to fight for survival rather than succumb to typical teenage angst. It's a beautiful moment, even if it dragged a bit at times. It's still sad that a father has to be stranded on an alien planet with son to have a little quality time in the Marvel universe, but that doesn't make it any less meaningful. I give Cyclops #4 an 8 out of 10. With that, I'm going to KFC. For some reason, I've got a strange graving for chicken. Nuff said!


  1. Great review and great observations! Picked this series up after you reviewed first issue, but still look foward to your thoughts on it!

  2. I'm still wondering if Marvel has any end-game for resolving the central conflict of All-New X-Men. It is established that the O5 are the originals and that if anything happens to them, their adult counterparts cease to exist. It is also established that none of their adult counterparts have any memory of the character development that the O5 are undergoing. Logically, that means that the O5 will eventually be sent back in time with their memories of the future erased -- which is the least satisfying resolution in the history of the universe. So I'm at a loss as to what they're going to do.