Cyclops with Marvel Girl and Iceman in background. Artists: Jack Kirby, Alex Toth and Vince Colletta.

CYCLOPS

Original Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1963
Creator: Stan Lee (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)
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Early critics of Marvel Comics' X-Men claimed it was simply Fantastic Four redux, citing a long list of parallels between the two. The newer (by 22 months) team's analog to The Thing was said to …

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… be The Beast, also misshapen and possessed of super powers that were mostly physical — but in more important ways, The Thing could best be compared to Cyclops. In both cases, the hero had a lot of power, but would have been happier without it. Cyclops is able to project destructive force beams from his eyes, and the down side is, probably because of brain damage inflicted by an accident in early adolescence, he can't turn it off.

Like the rest of the group's founding members, Cyclops (non-superhero name, Scott Summers) was introduced in X-Men #1 (September, 1963). The creators were writer/editor Stan Lee (The Black Knight, The Blonde Phantom) and artist Jack Kirby (The Newsboy Legion, The Fly), who, together, created most of the '60s Marvel line, from The Mighty Thor to The Two-Gun Kid.

Cyke was first seen wearing the ruby-quartz lenses Professor X, their mentor, had provided as a means of blocking his force beams. Because of constantly having to worry about the destruction he could cause in a moment of carelessness, he was the moody and introspective member of the team — and not the only victim of shorthand characterization in that issue (e.g., Iceman, the kid cut-up; and The Angel, the good-looking rich kid), but then, there were a lot of characters to introduce; and like the rest, he was fleshed out in time. Within a few issues, he was the team leader (being the most serious of them), and carrying on a romance with the token female, Jean Grey, aka Marvel Girl.

By the way, he wasn't the first superhero with that particular problem. Back in the early 1940s, The Comet, part of the MLJ line, had to take special steps to keep the death rays that were constantly being given out by his eyes from killing the wrong people. But it didn't seem to bother The Comet anywhere near as much as it did Cyclops.

Cyke's situation remained fairly static during the group's original 66-issue run (ending March, 1970) and subsequent reprint series (1970-75), with the minor exception of introducing Scott's brother Alex (superhero name Havok) in #51 (December, 1968). When the series was re-started, with mostly new members, Cyclops was the only one of the original team to stay on. In fact, he maintained membership continuously until #138 (October, 1980), when he left following the funeral of Marvel Girl/Phoenix (the first time she died).

But he was back before long, and in fact doesn't seem to have much of a life outside of The X-Men. He was with them when he met his first wife, Madelyne Pryor, who first attracted his attention by looking just like his one true love, the late Marvel Girl. She turned out to be Jean's clone. When she became inconvenient (following the original Jean's recovery from death), she was written out by committing suicide, so Scott wound up married to Jean after all. They seem to have children in alternate futures, a couple of whom, Rachel Summers and Cable, have appeared in present-day stories.

Other founding X-Men moved in and out of other superhero teams, such as The Avengers, The Defenders and The Champions. But the only one Cyke was ever in was X-Factor — which existed for no purpose other than to re-unite the original X-Men. That one eventually went the way of all spin-offs, but he still hangs around with his old pals. Sometimes he's a member of the original X-Men and sometimes not, but when he's not, readers always know he eventually will be again.

— DDM

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Text ©2006 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.