Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Cyclops #12

If Murphy’s Law had actually been passed by a real politician, I’m confident that said politician would have been tarred, feathered, and forced to listen to every One Direction song until the end of time. It’s one of those laws that can’t be bribed or stashed away in the glove box like a bunch of unpaid parking tickets, some of which go back to the Bush administration. If something truly can go wrong, the universe will make it happen like a horny meth head trying to fuck a banana peel. It may take some creativity and some lube, but it’ll happen.

For the X-men, Murphy’s Law has an amendment regarding cosmic power on the level Phoenix Force. That amendment basically states that if anyone gets drunk on cosmic power, especially if that someone’s name is Jean Grey, bad shit is going to happen. It’s like giving Mel Gibson truth serum, a recorder, and a book of famous Jewish men. It’s not going to end well. The Black Vortex isn’t quite the same as the Phoenix Force, but it has the potential to be the light beer version of it. The X-men, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Starjammers are trying to stop too many people from going on a bender. In Cyclops #12, someone throws a few tequila shooters into the mix to test this amended version of Murphy’s Law. It may or may not end in a total cosmic shit storm, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining as fuck.

And when it comes to entertainment, how could a prison break involving pirates not be entertaining? Seriously, Joel Shumacher would have to come out of retirement to make something like that seem awful. This is exactly what O5 Cyclops, O5 Iceman, and Groot need. They ended up getting captured by Mr. Knife while helping the rest of the X-men and the Guardians of the Galaxy escape Spartax. And since Mr. Knife is about as welcoming as Tom Cruise at a convention of psychiatrists, they definitely need to be rescued. They can’t expect to stay in one piece for very long for a guy who probably jerks off to thoughts of torturing his son.

O5 Cyclops even fantasizes about the kind of rescue operation that his father would have to carry out to save him. It’s so vivid and specific that we don’t immediately know it isn’t happening and probably wouldn’t know if previous issues hadn’t already shown Corsair getting the Jurassic Park treatment in amber. But even if it isn’t real, it shows that O5 Cyclops has become pretty adept at thinking like a badass space pirate. And this kid is only 16. Most 16-year-olds these days are thinking about Jennifer Lawrence naked in a tub of chocolate pudding. O5 Cyclops knows how to make good use of his thoughts and unlike the Michael Jackson’s of the world, he has good reason to trust his father. It’s a big part of what has made this series so enjoyable.

Unfortunately, like a bad hangover coupled with a surprise visit from the IRS, O5 Cyclops gets a slap in the face from reality. And unlike most immature teenagers, he accepts it. He senses something is wrong because his father hasn’t shown up to pull off another one of his badass rescues. It’s not entirely inaccurate either, but his concern still feels genuine. This isn’t the callous, bitter adult Cyclops who probably misses seeing Emma Frost naked. This is a young, uncorrupted Cyclops who has come to appreciate his father’s skills while learning that he doesn’t have to be a total dick to get the job done. It even almost got him some alien pussy so it has to be genuine.

Unlike his experience with Captain Malafect, O5 Cyclops doesn’t have to endure this crap alone. He has O5 Iceman and Groot to keep him company. And also unlike his adult form, O5 Iceman hasn’t been corrupted by whatever powerful forces made his adult self such a douche-bag. He doesn’t bust O5 Cyclpos’ balls for shit he did or might do in the future. He just tries to be a good friend like he used to be when he was the kind of guy I didn’t want to punch in the jaw. It’s another one of those more innocent elements that adds sincerity to this moment. But it also shows just how fucked they are as prisoners of Mr. Knife.

They don’t stay fucked though. Unlike O5 Iceman, O5 Cyclops did spend a lot of time learning to be a badass space pirate. That means if his father can’t come to rescue him, then he’ll do it himself. And he’ll do it without the promise that Emma Frost or Jean Grey will reward him with lingerie and flavored lube. That in and of itself should demonstrate how awesome O5 Cyclops can be.

What he does would make Jack Sparrow and Captain Kirk both proud and confused. Somehow, he’s able to use his optic blasts to activate a fingerprint scanner. It sounds a bit too much like Batman’s shark repellant and it is. I don’t remember Corsair ever teaching him shit like this, but it definitely feels like something a pirate would do, as contrived it may be.

The only problem is that escaping didn’t even partially unfuck their situation. They’re still on a ship surrounded by mercenaries hired by Mr. Knife. That’s like sobering up while still in the middle of a bar fight. It doesn’t necessarily give them an advantage. It even has the potential to make them even more fucked.

Since they can’t expect Mr. Knife to treat escaped prisoners any better than he treats his outlaw son, they fight. And by that I mean they run. I know Captain Kirk would’ve probably fought, but he probably would’ve been killed too or made useless to all sexy alien women for the rest of his life. There are times to fight and times to run and this one doesn’t leave much wiggle room.

So they run and they eventually find the Black Vortex. This isn’t as contrived as it sounds. In a previous issue, the Slaughter Lords did retrieve the Black Vortex for Mr. Knife. So it does fit the overall narrative. But the fact that it’s not locked up in a safe guarded by an army of Chuck Norris clones is a bit confusing. Maybe Mr. Knife just too cheap to splurge on a vault or something. I guess if the Death Star can be destroyed by one shitty thermal exhaust port, Mr. Knife can be cheap.

But finding the Black Vortex presents O5 Cyclops, O5 Iceman, and Groot with a tough dilemma. They’re surrounded in a ship of Mr. Knife’s ruthless mercenaries and they quickly end up trapped. They’re not going to fight their way out of this shit. The only chance they have of surviving is to give into the Black Vortex. O5 Iceman is all for it, but O5 Cyclops is understandably reluctant. He still remembers how cosmic power fucked up Jean Grey and led him to killing Professor Xavier. It’s another moment of sincere conflict and the fact he hesitates shows that learning about his adult self has affected him in a meaningful way. He’s trying to not be that guy and getting drunk on cosmic power certainly can’t help in that effort.

As time starts to become a factor, he gets what he believes to be a telepathic message, courtesy of O5 Jean Grey. I guess this is her way of making up for O5 Beast cock-blocking him earlier. This allows him to get a heartfelt message from Corsair, who tells him what has already been made painfully apparent over the course of this series. O5 Cyclops is not like his adult self. He’s shown that he can do the right thing for the right reasons. He doesn’t have to be a ticking time bomb waiting to kill Charles Xavier or jump into bed with Emma Frost the first chance he gets. He can be something better and his father trusts him to be that man.

Because of this trust, O5 Cyclops decides to take a big chance at pissing off karma again and submits to the Black Vortex. It’s a powerful moment in that he does this in a very different set of circumstances compared to his older self or Jean Grey. He didn’t have this power thrust on him. Tony Stark didn’t shoot it at him with a big ass gun. He chose to embrace this power and intends to use it for the right reasons. That may still fly in the face of the whole concept of power corrupting, but that shit is a lot less meaningful when surrounded by Mr. Knife’s thugs.

So once again, Cyclops is imbued with cosmic power. O5 Iceman and Groot get it too. And with this power, the fight becomes about as fair as a cage fight between Andre the Giant and Justin Bieber. It makes for a beautifully potent moment where the three of them paint the walls with the humiliation of Mr. Knife’s thugs. And this time, Cyclops’ cosmic costume isn’t a complete rip-off of Red Robin. So DC’s lawyers can put their dicks back in their pants.

There’s no cosmic rage. No planets start burning and nobody starts blaming O5 Cyclops for launching an attack on Wakanda. They remain in control and badass. The only thing that doesn’t work is O5 Iceman’s cosmic form. Seriously, he looks like a frost giant fucked Orlando Bloom. It is by far the least imposing cosmic form he could possibly have. I guess this is the universe’s way of telling him his adult self is a total douche.

Armed with this power, they fight their way out of Mr. Knife’s fortress and make sure they take the Black Vortex with them. They are now feeling pretty damn good about themselves. They can finally let their cosmic nuts hang a little. They don’t get to hang for very long though. They end up running right into a battle between the X-men, the Guadians of the Galaxy, Nova, and the Slaughter Lords. I still think it’s an upgrade compared to being in the same ship as Mr. Knife, but not by much. This also helps link this issue up with the events of the others because the other cosmic-enhanced friends also realized that it was in everybody’s interest to keep the Black Vortex away from Mr. Knife and the Slaughter Lords. It shouldn’t take cosmic power to realize that, but I try not to hold that against them. Mr. Knife is just that big a douche.

O5 Cyclops, O5 Iceman, and Groot immediately try to help their friends. But O5 Cyclops is more concerned with contacting his dad again. He fails and even loses track of the Black Vortex at one point. Captain Marvel ends up saving his ass, saying she and the others have plans for dealing with this thing. They just have to get through the Slaughter Lords first.

Captain Marvel even gives O5 Cyclops more incentive by revealing that Mr. Knife had Thane encase the entire planet Spartax in amber and that includes his father. So right now, she doesn’t know if his father is alive or dead. But he is in a shitty situation that can become a lot shittier if Mr. Knife gets his hands on the Black Vortex.

It makes for one last emotional moment that helps sum up all the emotions that this series has explored. First, O5 Cyclops finds out that the telepathic message he got from his father earlier wasn’t actually a message. It was just his own mind creating the message for him. But for once, a voice in his head isn’t a sign that he’s going crazy or letting Emma Frost fuck with him again. It shows just how big an influence Corsair has had on him.

Spending time with his father has helped O5 Cyclops understand the man he ended up becoming. It also helped him understand the kind of man he has to be if he doesn’t want to become the asshole that Wolverine badly wants to stab. In the end, he realizes that he doesn’t have to become this morally gray asshole that bases his decisions on how much it’ll piss off the Norman Osbornes of the world. He can just do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing.

It’s a perfect way to sum up the journey he’s taken since joining his father. He’s rediscovered what it means to be the kind of Scott Summers that people don’t want to stab repeatedly. He can still be that lovable boy scout that he is at heart. He doesn’t have to be corrupted by all the crazy shit that happens to him. He can take all these skills and powers and use them to save the world. If anyone not named Wolverine can still hate him after that, then they’re just assholes.

Reading this issue was bittersweet and not just because it was another quality insight into the mind of a teenage Cyclops. Ever since this series began, it has succeeded way beyond a typical father/son getaway. At a time when legions of fans are bitching and whining about Cyclops’ character on every comic book message board in existence, this series helped remind everybody why Cyclops was such a great character to begin with. And more than anything else, this young version of Cyclops proves that his older self really did lose his way. And O5 Cyclops can still get the job done without becoming Emma Frost’s personal gigolo.

In addition to being bittersweet, this issue also did a great job maintaining the tone of the series while effectively tying it into the events of the Black Vortex. It effectively incorporates the events of O5 Cyclops, O5 Iceman, and Groot’s imprisonment with the events that unfolded in other issues. It wasn’t completely seamless, but it was effective in every meaningful way. It adds detail and depth to a story that has already offered plenty. It also adds a fitting cap to help give O5 Cyclops some perspective on the journey he’s had since this series began. It’s fun, heartfelt, and meaningful. And that’s something that Cyclops just hasn’t had since he first learned how clones fuck everything up. Cyclops #12 gets a well-deserved, albeit solemn 9 out of 10. I want to give it a perfect score, but I just can’t reward how goofy a cosmic-powered Iceman looks.

On a final note, I know Cyclops fans are in a strange place right now, bitching and moaning about how he’s handled the Last Will of Charles Xavier and AXIS. But please, my fellow nerd-rage addicts, take a moment to appreciate what this series has given us. This is a kind, caring, lovable Cyclops that doesn’t get overly drunk on cosmic power. He’s the kind of guy we don’t mind hooking up with the Jean Greys and Emma Frosts of the world. Please, for those not overly hardened by internet trolls, appreciate that and cherish this series for what it is. Nuff said!


  1. jean grey wasnt in it???? what the hell

    1. I'd just assume it's an elaborate April Fool's Day joke for Jean fans. Didn't stop the issue from being awesome though.

  2. "That amendment basically states that if anyone gets drunk on cosmic power, especially if that someone’s name is Jean Grey, bad shit is going to happen."

    WHY do people keep saying this?!?!??! Jean Grey contained the Phoenix Force for YEARS without incident until she was MIND-RAPED by the Hellfire Club into having an alternate personality that was expressly designed to be sadistic! There was never any reason to think she was in danger of losing control and become Dark Phoenix until Jason Wyngarde stuffed her into a push-up black bustier and made her fantasize about going fox hunting with humans in place of foxes! And when she came BACK she never lost control either despite considerable provocation.

    The idea that the Phoenix Force inevitably leads to the wielder becoming evil is received wisdom unsupported by the actual stories from which the idea comes and is about as sensible as painting Hank Pym as a serial wife abuser based on a single 30-year-old wildly out-of-character incident.

    1. You're right. The Phoenix Force doesn't have any corrupting influences. Probably the Phoenix Force has brought out the psychological damage within Jean caused by Mastermind.

  3. I just hope if 05 Jean Grey takes the Black Vortex's cosmic power, it's the same way as 05 Cyclops's: she chooses "to embrace this power and intends to use it for the right reasons".

  4. I couldn't give it a 9 with such gaping plot holes as a fingerprint scanner that can be activated by an optic blast and a wholly unguarded Vortex despite scores of mercs down the hall. Ridiculous. And why hasn't Knife submitted to it yet?