X-Men: From the Ashes Wants to Make Cyclops the Leading Man He Was Always Meant to Be

Exclusive: X-Men writers Gail Simone and Jed MacKay and editor Tom Brevoort talk about the future of Marvel's Merry Mutants in the From the Ashes relaunch.

X-Men: From the Ashes
Photo: Marvel Comics

After spending years as a respected leader of the sovereign mutant nation Krakoa, Cyclops is back on the run. With Krakoa destroyed and humanity ready to oppress mutants again, Cyclops has gone back home to Alaska to refresh and regroup.

And yet, things have never been better for Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops. The upcoming From the Ashes relaunch will force the X-Men back into the world after the end of Krakoa in the Fall of X storyline, with a new X-Men book with Cyclops in the lead.

“We wanted to start with Cyclops and wanted to bring him back to Alaska,” X-Men writer Jed MacKay tells Den of Geek during an exclusive interview at SXSW. “And from there we started thinking what his mission would be moving forward because he’s Cyclops, he always has the mission.”

Working with artist Ryan Stegman (Amazing Spider-Man, Venom), MacKay will bring Cyclops to the home where he lived with his parents and brother Alex until the former’s apparent death. Throughout his life, Cyclops has returned to Alaska to find direction and it comes in the form of his new mission.

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Despite nearly 15 years of fighting as a mutant revolutionary, even becoming a freedom fighter who gave Magneto pause, Cyke is back doing what he does best: leading a team of mutants that help other mutants live in a world that fears and hates them.

“The mutants that he assembles with him are parts of that mission,” explains MacKay. “These are a group of people who are not especially well suited towards simply going back to a normal life in the world.”

We get a look at those mutants in the teaser image Marvel published as part of the From the Ashes announcement. Cyclops will be working with bad attitude heroes such as Magik and Quentin Quire, as well as former villains Magneto and Juggernaut.

Credit: Marvel Comics

The only traditional hero on Cyke’s team is Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast, a fellow founding member of Charles Xavier’s original X-Men. But in addition to his rapidly slipping morals, as seen in the recent X-Force book, Beast has problems with Cyclops, so extreme that it drove the furry blue mutant to go back in time and retrieve the original X-Men from the past to talk some sense into his old pal.

This motley crew presents MacKay with a very different challenge to the one he faces on his other team book, The Avengers. Where Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Thor all have their own books, MacKay’s X-Men don’t have any solo comics (“For now,” X-Men group editor Tom Brevoort interrupts).

X-Men is their home book, so that’s going to associate a very different way of writing a team,” MacKay says.

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MacKay is hardly the only one dealing with these dynamics. Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Deadpool) and David Marquez (Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, All-New X-Men) will follow Gambit back to his old New Orleans stomping grounds in Uncanny X-Men, where he’ll team up with Wolverine, Jubilee, Nightcrawler, and Rogue. Over in Exceptional X-Men, Eve Ewing (Ironheart, Ms. Marvel) and Carmen Carnero (Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America) will take Kitty Pryde back to Chicago, where she and Emma Frost try to work together and train a group of new mutants.

For Simone, Gambit’s retreat to the bayou gives Rogue a chance to rest after the complicated events during the Fall of X storyline. But her retreat gets interrupted, not only by some young mutants who need help, but also by a frightening new baddie.

“Besides the Southern Gothic vibes, [Uncanny X-Men is] probably the scariest X-book,” she teases. “The new villain in there is someone that I would put up against any horror movie, psychological villain out there … and the sexiest.”

According to Brevoort, these various retreats to old, familiar places is a natural outcome of the From the Ashes event, in which Marvel’s mutants must find a way to live without their Krakoa home.

“All of the assorted mutants of the world need to go and reintegrate back into the rest of the planet and live and coexist alongside a whole bunch of people that they just spent the last five years saying that they were the new inheritors of the future and that you have new gods now,” Brevoort says. “People around the planet have not taken that message to heart in a purely positive fashion.”

As tough as that situation certainly sounds, things aren’t all bad for Cyclops, at least in our world. At times, Cyclops has come to represent the boring leader, a character whose sole function is telling cooler characters to stop being so cool. That characterization didn’t apply to the comics, but the live-action X-Men movies and X-Men: The Animated Series haven’t always given Cyke the most to do.

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But the reboot series X-Men ’97 begins with Cyclops at his strategic coolest, bringing down an army of baddies with well-timed concussion blasts. If MacKay gets his way, Cyke will only get more attention when he gets back home. Maybe, just maybe MacKay can prove Scott’s worth to the greatest Cyclops hater of all: his fellow writer Gail Simone.

Even if he can’t win over Simone, Cyclops can’t complain. Things are still pretty good for Marvel’s most maligned mutant.

From the Ashes begins with a Free Comic Book Day special issue Blood Hunt/X-Men #1, coming to shops on May 4.