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How Cyclops Became The Most Hated Marvel Character

As one of the original X-Men, Cyclops is a key member of the mutant squad. So you'd think the man with mad-cool optical blast eyes would warrant a little more respect within the Marvel Universe...but you'd be wrong. Perhaps it's due to his vexing do-gooder mentality, or maybe its because of his air of superiority, but the House of Ideas has done a pretty thorough job of tarnishing Scott Summers's name. Sadly, Cyclops has become one of the most loathsome characters this side of an X-book, so let's take a look at the many ways this mutant leader went from being kind of cool to a total creep.

He keeps choosing work over family

Being the unpaid leader of Charles Xavier's mutant squad—whether de facto or granted—is not an easy job. When the world has a hate-on for you, you're definitely fighting against gravity. Wanting to take a little time off from the constant struggle for mutant civil rights is certainly understandable. Sometimes, an X-Man just wants to get married, settle down, and make an omega-level mutant or two. However, once you've made that choice, it's time to stick by it. Most mutants would, anyway.

Not Scott Summers, though. Despite marrying Madelyne Pryor, the spitting image of his x-, er, ex-girlfriend Jean Grey, Cyclops never left his super-villain battling life behind. Instead, he managed to continually put the needs of the team before the needs of his wife and newborn baby. Fighting the good fight is one thing, especially if old Cyke was the sole mutant out there capable of paying it forward for the X-gene set. But by this point, the X-Men had already grown by leaps and bounds, and the Xavier Institute was overflowing with a talent pool of butt-kicking mutants. Even Storm confronted Scott at one point over his dereliction of family duties. His response? Well, he challenges her to a duel, of course. It was a battle Cyclops couldn't win, and as a result, the man lost his spot as team leader.

Come on, Scott. Would it have killed you to take a day or two off? Apparently so, or it might've had something to do with the reborn Jean Grey now working with X-Factor. Yep, that whole Scott-Madelyne relationship was a marriage pining for the fjords.

He moves on remarkably soon after the love of his life dies

In another comic book world—perhaps Earth-983 or something—Scott Summers and Jean Grey are the perfect mutant family. In this one, though, they're the ultimate star-crossed lovers. Not only does Jean keep sacrificing her life to save Scott, the X-Men, or the universe at large, but her twin flame (pun intended) keeps moving on with his life after she's gone.

True, everyone deals with death in their own way. But after Scott thinks Jean has died in a volcanic explosion, he moves on with Marvel mainstay Colleen Wing pretty quickly. Later, when Jean dies as the Dark Phoenix, what does Scott do? Once again, he leaps into the arms of a random woman from Florida.

He left his wife for her genetic duplicate

When keeping the peace between mutant kind and humanity, sacrifices will be made and lives will be lost. Such is the case with Scott and Jean Grey. True, losing your soulmate on a twice-a-decade basis is certainly enough to screw most people up. Of course, Cyclops already seemed plenty twisted beforehand.

After yet again losing Jean (or at least Dark Phoenix Jean), Scott is understandably shaken. Eventually, he comes to his senses and resumes life, getting back to normal by...marrying his girlfriend's clone in Uncanny X-Men #175. Admittedly, it's eventually revealed that Madelyne Pryor was a tool in Mister Sinister's nefarious plan. Still, that doesn't excuse Cyclops from gallivanting off with Jean Grey after yet another return from the grave, leaving his wife at home with a young Cable (Nathan Summers) in some cyborg Huggies.

True, Madelyne does get her sort-of revenge, becoming the Goblyn Queen and raising some hell. But when Madelyn dies later, Jean Grey actually mourns harder than Scott does for his former wife. Weak sauce, Cyclops.

He built an elite mutant murder squad

The group known as X-Force was always a bit rough around the edges, and the mutant squad often found themselves at odds with the X-Men and the government, as well as the anti-mutant/pro-human groups they sought to "disband." That's probably because Cyclops was something of a divisive leader. In Uncanny X-Men #493, good old Scott Summers shows some early signs of fascist-itis by reorganizing the team to kill his own son, Cable. (What, he couldn't have just called him instead?) As if tracking and murdering your own kid wasn't bad enough, he later re-rebuilt the team to neutralize threats to mutant-kind in ways the X-Men would find icky. On top of that, he took a traumatized, teenaged killing machine named X-23 on board, encouraging her murder streak rather than helping her reform.

And naturally, Cyclops disavows any knowledge of X-Force's actions, until he's caught red-handed by the rest of the X-Men, that is.

He psychically cheated on Jean Grey

If you haven't figured it out by now, Cyclops is pretty awful when it comes to how he treats women. After ditching his wife for a resurrected Jean Grey, he decides his new relationship is getting a little tired. Ever the loyal lover, Scott tries spicing things up with a little telepathic "therapy" from Emma Frost, who's cosplaying as Phoenix, no less! But since he's married to another immensely powerful psychic, Jean quickly discovers his telepathic tryst. So what does Cyclops do? He tries to weasel his way out of it, claiming their liaisons didn't count because they weren't physical. And that is why you fail as husband material, Mr. Summers.

He welcomed yet another Phoenix into the world

Over the years, the X-Men have dealt with more than their fair share of ridiculously powerful beings: Onslaught, Apocalypse, Shadow King, Mister Sinister, to name a few. Nonetheless, few of their foes matched the awesomely devastating capabilities of the Phoenix Force. As one of the longest running members of the X-Men, Cyclops didn't just deal with this cosmic firestorm on numerous occasions...he basically married the woman who was possessed by it. But despite enjoying far too much face time with a creature that once destroyed an entire populated world out of spite, Scott Summers decided to welcome the being back to Earth with open arms during the Avengers vs. X-Men event.

Admittedly, his initial motive was trying to protect the "mutant messiah" Hope Summers. Having said that, he doesn't care when the Phoenix Force breaks apart and chooses to join with him (along with Emma Frost, Magik, Namor, and Colossus). Craving more of that galactic goodness, he steals the cosmic power from his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Frost, making himself nearly omnipotent. Insane with power, Cyclops goes full-Dark Phoenix and tries to kill the very woman he was initially trying to protect, as well as a bunch of Avengers and X-Men.

In the end, young Hope strips him of his powers, and Scott winds up in prison, moaning about his public image. Honestly, we don't really feel all that sorry for the guy.

He killed Professor X

Longtime cohorts at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, Cyclops and Professor Charles Xavier don't always see psychic eye to eye-blast. Of course, in the long run, it's not called Scott's School, so Cyclops usually defers to the nutty Professor X. Throughout all those decade—give or take a retcon or temporal event—both men got along for the most part, managing to hold the X-Men together through some trying times. But as it turns out, Scott and Charles had more passive-aggressive anger simmering beneath the surface than they let on.

During the Avengers vs. X-Men conflict, Cyclops yoinked the bulk of the Phoenix Force for himself, turning into a bona fide super villain. In the climactic 11th issue, the altruistic professor sought to help Cyclops escape his cosmic power trip. Still in bad guy mode, Scott declined, forcing Xavier to lay the psychic smack-down on him. Unfortunately, even an omega-level mutant like Professor X is no match for the intergalactic might of the Phoenix. Hoping to stop his former pupil, Xavier tells Cyclops, "That is enough," to which Scott replies, "It is," before killing the X-Men icon.

Mentor. Protector. Friend. Murder victim. At least Cyclops actually mourned for Professor X for a moment...before returning to his conquest of the planet.

He made out with Emma Frost on Jean Grey's grave

Once again, we're going to a place where Scott Summers looks like a total jerk, but it's not entirely his fault. During the New X-Men story "Here Comes Tomorrow," Jean Grey is still around and kicking 150 years in the future. As you've probably guessed, the X-Men universe is no Star Trek utopia. Digging into the root problem, Jean discovers all the future's woes come down to Scott Summers being a wuss and stepping away from his heroic actions after her "death."

For example, Cyclops turned down Emma Frost's request to restart the Xavier Institute and has basically given up on everything. So Jean decides to put aside their personal issues for the good of the past, present, and future, and sends a psychic ripple through time, urging Scott to move on with his life. Not only does he embrace his dead-resurrected-dead (we give up on that one) wife's suggestion, but he celebrates his newfound lease on life by making out with Emma over Jean's grave. Couldn't it have at least waited until you got back to the Institute, guys?

Of course, their union is at Jean's psychic behest. So either she's a touch on the kinky side, or Cyclops is just a creep. We're guessing the latter.

He killed a bunch of Skrulls with a virus

Throughout their extensive Marvel history, the Skrulls usually wind up on the villainous side of things. In later years, they've become a bit grayer in the morality area, but for the most part, these green-skinned aliens are pretty bad news. For example, there was that one time where they played superhero dress-up and tried to take over Earth.

In the "Secret Invasion" storyline, the Skrulls hatch an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-esque plot, posing as Earth's mightiest heroes in a bid to colonize the planet. In one of the spin-offs, Secret Invasion: X-Men #4, the X-Men are confronted with the potential deaths of thousands at the hands of the invasion force. So Cyclops comes up with a drastic plan...to kill millions of Skrulls. Rejecting Beast's sage counsel, he intentionally infects a number of the Skrulls with the devastating Legacy virus, giving them two options: surrender or die an agonizing death within two days.

Sure, the Skrulls were up to some pretty nasty business themselves, but infecting their entire force with a virus? What if, like viruses often do, the Legacy mutated? Couldn't it potentially kill billions and not just the invaders? Apparently, Scott Summers has no regard for the Geneva Conventions.

Scott went from mutant hero to mutant extremist

Scott Summers's long history in the Marvel Universe makes him one of those characters that writers love to mess with. Undoubtedly, his oft-bland characterization and his Luke Skywalker-style whining painted a big target on his back. In any case, Cyclops underwent a not-so-subtle shift from reliable, old Scott to a quarrelsome crank (mostly after Wolverine joined the team) to a straight-up Magneto wannabe.

Most readers agree that everything changed after 2000's X-Men #97, when he merged with everyone's favorite Ivan Ooze-lookalike, Apocalypse. Not long after that, he cheated on Jean Grey with Emma Frost, turned the X-Force into his own personal hit squad, and signed up with the Phoenix Force. But things only got worse after the Phoenix Force finally left Scott's body. In Avengers vs. X-Men: Consequences, Magneto and his crew bust Cyclops out of jail. The X-Man then goes on a rampage, attacking cops that look cross-eyed at mutants, threatening anyone and everyone with the wrong end of an optic blast, and trying to incite a "Mutant Revolution." In the months following his "death" in Death of X, Summers even inspires a crew of brutal mutant thugs to carry on his genocidal uprising, a not-so-merry band that calls themselves "The Ghosts of Cyclops."

It seems Cyclops's days of being a regular old jerk are long gone. We can now call him a full-fledged war criminal.

He incited a war with the Inhumans from beyond the grave

Whether as the leader of the X-Men or just a sage adviser, Cyclops has been through some serious stuff. After a visit to Muir Island in the subtly titled Death of X #1, Mr. Summers discovers a pea green fog has killed every single duplicate of mutant photocopier Jamie Madrox, a.k.a., the Multiple Man. (Even the original Madrox is dead.) And that's when it dawns on Cyclops: the Inhumans' life-giving "Terrigen clouds" are responsible for this deadly mutant plague.

In an effort to destroy the mutant-blighting mists, Cyclops recruits a small army. Using Magneto as a distraction, Cyclops then confronts the Inhumans outside of Madrid, managing to destroy one of the clouds with the help of a chemical whiz kid named Alchemy. Of course, this act is tantamount to genocide. However, during the battle, Cyclops is killed by Black Bolt's wonderful singing voice, thus becoming a martyr for everything wrong with the pro-mutant cause.

Okay, so technically he wasn't alive at the time, merely existing as a psychic projection created by Emma Frost and coming off as something of a mutant Hitler. Sadly, dead men have no PR departments.