It’s so weird to see Cyclops, Rachel, and Cable talking to one another. For a long time, the whole idea was that writers would actively try and keep them out of each other’s way, so we don’t have to experience any of those things readers so infamously hate like “characterisation” or “family dynamics” or whatever. But all some readers have ever wanted is to see Cyclops spend more time with his kids, time-travelled as they may be, and see that other side of them all. The three characters are pretty much always in business mode, with agendas and plans and secrets which see them racing round the world on various missions, usually without anyone else kept in on the loop.
But with the X-Men getting everything they ever wanted thanks to Krakoa, one of the first things the creative team do is take those three characters and throw them together on a fun, inessential little adventure. For a second issue of a major relaunched title – one which is meant to set the one for the entire line of Marvel’s most popular franchise – that choice seems somewhat telling. It’d be easy to say that it’s very strange for Hickman to want to tell this story so early on but, really, the whole thing seems like a very deliberate choice.
If these three can have a nice time together, then things truly have changed.
More than seeing Xavier, Magneto and Apocalypse hanging out and saving the world, the sight of the Summers family actually sat in the same plane for a whole trip (which, noticeably, doesn’t crash for once) is a sign that we’re all off in new territory here. I mean yes, literally we’re in new territory, as the trio head out on a mission to a mysterious island which has appeared from nowhere. We’re also in new territory because this is not the sort of story which is usually allowed to happen in X-Men comics. Dad and his kids go off to fight some monsters, have a friendly bicker, but ultimately have a really nice time and come back feeling more bonded than before? What the heck is going on here?
It really helps get across the idea that this is a new, changed landscape for these characters. The fact that it’s young Cable here makes things feel very different, because usually he’s the most prepped and aware character in any comic he appears in. Now he’s easily lapped by both Scott and Rachel, each of whom are ten steps ahead of him and see him as a kid with a lot to learn about… well, everything. It’s almost a shame that more changes haven’t been made to really emphasise this new status quo: that Rachel still can’t shed her hound markings, or that Cyclops is still unable to control his powers. Seeing Cable in such a radically different place – and more than that, seeing how accepting everybody is of that place – really gives this comic a new feel. It’s hard to think of times before when Rachel and Cable had even really talked before despite sort-of being siblings: now we’re seeing Rachel joyfully giving him a hard time, as step-sisters should.
That dynamic between the pair is a joy, but even better is seeing Cyclops being a good dad. He has major regrets with both of his children, but here that gets left behind for a while as they just enjoy each others company. He seems to have so much more free time, as well, which gives him that ability to be a better dad. There’s a very sweet moment where he decides, spur of the moment, to take Rachel away on holiday. They’re just having a random chat, and he realises she’s never had that chance really to do anything but fight as part of the X-Men. He decides immediately that she should get to have a nice holiday somewhere – and more than that, he’s the one who’s going to take her. Not only is he being an active presence in her life, but he’s offering her things rather than taking anything from her. There’s no ulterior motive: it’s just a nice thing he’d like to do.
Krakoa offers that to him, because he’s got portals which can help him travel with his daughter. The inconvenience of prejudice has been taken away from him – the battles he has to fight, the internal struggles he has to overcome, the small details of travelling which are just not possible whilst he’s being hated and feared – and now he’s able to blossom. Throughout the issue he calls them “daughter”, “son”, “kiddo”. He’s just able to be a dad. When you give Cyclops room to become whatever he wants, he chooses to be a good dad. We’ve wanted to see that for decades.
X-Men #2 “Summoner”
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Designer: Tom Muller
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