Monday, May 27, 2024

Fanholes Transformers Tuesdays # 95: Transformers #1-4 40th Anniversary

The Fanholes get together to discuss the first four issues of the Marvel Transformers Comic Book on its 40th Anniversary!

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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Mike's Top Ten Best Cyclops Moments From X-Men '97


I liked Cyclops before he was cool.  I mean, most regular readers of X-Men comics probably did too, and my fellow Fanholes Derek and Tony are also S.S.S. (Scott Summers Stans), but thanks to the recently concluded first season of X-Men '97, well...

The filthy cazzies have finally caught on too.

I don't mean to sound disparaging of fans who solely consume Marvel or indeed ANY comic book-based media via the movies, TV shows, or video games.  In fact, gamers probably have a healthy built-in respect for Cyclops as well, what with his featured appearances in well-regarded stuff like Capcom's fighters and various other X-Men video games.  It's just... Cyclops has never had a consistently good track record in the TV shows or movies.  

For every series that got him right (Evolution and surprisingly, the X-Men anime), you got stuff like Wolverine and the X-Men and just about ALL the live-action movies that relegated him to second or third banana status.  And any person with any knowledge of Cyclops from the comics or even the original 90s cartoon will tell you that Cyclops is NO second or third banana.  He's right up there with Wolverine, Storm, Jean Grey, Magneto, and Professor Xavier in marquee X-Men characters and it's about damn time a larger audience finally realized that. 

Here's my personal top ten best moments he got in X-Men '97, and I think it's really cool that I actually had to narrow it down to ten.  I probably could have done a fifteen.  Clearly the creative team had a goal in mind to spotlight Cyclops in this series and they succeeded pretty spectacularly, elevating him beyond even the stodgy stick-in-the-mud that the original 90s series largely kept him as.  Mad props to his voice actor Ray Chase, who not only channeled the late Norm Spencer's performance, but improved and perfected it.  A few more seasons of '97 and this version of Cyclops might become THE Cyclops that people remember most fondly.

Now on to the list.  SPOILERS for the entire first season of '97, obviously.

10.  "My boy, Nathan Summers."   






This is kind of both a Scott AND Jean (or Madelyne) moment, but the birth of their son is pretty significant.  Madelyne goes into labor and Wolverine of all people is forced to drive her to the hospital, while Rogue pulls Cyclops out of a fight with the X-Cutioner to fly him to his wife's side.  When the doctor refuses to deliver a mutant baby, Scott and Madelyne demonstrate complete trust in Rogue to absorb the jerk's medical knowledge and perform the procedure herself.

What's great about this scene, and I haven't seen a lot of people mention, is its direction.  See the gif above for what I mean; the staging of Wolverine and Rogue is so perfect, showcasing their own unrequited or unfulfilled wants and needs as they watch Scott and Madelyne''s happy family moment.  The final shot of the Summers family through a cracked-open door is also loaded with subtle meaning and foreshadowing.

9.  "Don't you dare break her heart."   


After Magneto's brutally torn the adamantium out of Wolverine, the X-Men bring him back to the Stratojet to recover.  Cyclops takes a moment by Wolverine's bedside to beseech him to survive, to "be the best he is at what he does" and heal.  No matter what animosity is between them, no matter that Cyclops is obviously aware of the complicated feelings between Logan and his wife, the fact is that he respects the hell out of Wolverine's tenacity.  I always find it more fascinating when Cyclops and Wolverine actually get along and it'd be nice to see their tentative friendship (as mostly seen in Grant Morrison's comic run) come to the fore in a future season. 

8.  "What did you expect- black leather?"






After Scott learns that Cable is his grown-up son Nathan from the future (a typical comic book sentence), the two have a bit of a rough time trying to relate to each other.  But they eventually manage it and before the final mission to stop Bastion, Cyclops presents his son with an official X-Men uniform.  Cable's not especially thrilled, asking he's going to war... or a circus.  Cyclops then hits him with the above quote, an inversion of James Marsden's line from the first X-Men movie ("what did you expect, yellow spandex?") and a deserved slam on Bryan Singer and other movie execs' fears that people wouldn't take these characters seriously in their comic book-accurate costumes.

7.  "Madelyne?!"


After the mutant massacre in Genosha, the X-Men head there to provide relief and search for survivors in the rubble.  Among the missing is Madelyne Pryor, Jean Grey's clone and the mother of Scott's son Nathan.  Jean was initially angry upon discovering that Scott was still in telepathic contact with Madelyne as they grieved their timelost child, but the two set it aside after the Genosha tragedy occurs.  As they search the rubble, Jean senses a nearby survivor- a fellow telepath.  Scott rushes forward, hoping that it is Madelyne, but it turns out to be Emma Frost.

After Emma is taken away for medical treatment, Scott's stony facade cracks for a moment as he openly mourns the loss of the woman who bore his son, who he had assumed WAS Jean for an indeterminate amount of time.  Jean doesn't judge him for it, merely wipes his tears away and offers support as the two move towards healing their rift.  

Ironically enough, in the comics, I actually PREFER Scott's relationship with Emma Frost over the one with Jean Grey, but this was a really touching moment for this version of the characters.  I also saw an amusing Youtube comment under this scene, which basically stated-  "Only in comics can you get a scene of a guy being comforted by his wife as he mourns the death of her clone who he had a baby with, just after they've rescued his future lover."

6.  "Let's show these toasters that you don't mess with the Summers'!"


Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Cable have a little family outing as they investigate Bastion's origins.  They soon find themselves attacked by a horde of Bastion's Prime Sentinels and fight a running battle against them. During the fight they lose another Blackbird and Scott pulls a "Fast and the Furious" by driving a Porsche out the back of the exploding jet with his wife and son in tow.  Dropping the above quote, Cyclops, Cable, and Jean proceed to seamlessly work together to evade the Prime Sentinels, with father and son even sharing a quick "blink and you'll miss it" fist-bump as they make their escape.  It's a great action sequence with some laughs too, as Jean scolds Cable enough for him to actually whine "Quit bossing me around!" like a frustrated teenager. 







Bastion gets his final boss form and takes down Rogue and Sunspot, leaving only Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Jubilee to face him within Asteroid M.  After weathering a teleport spree from Nightcrawler and some pyrotechnics from Jubilee, Bastion goes one-on-one with Cyclops.  Cyclops proceeds to showcase just why he's the field leader of the X-Men.  The fact that Cyclops can do much more than just "point and shoot" is something lost on a lot of writers, but not here as he showcases some slick athletics and nails Bastion with a cool bank shot, as seen above.  If you look closely, the blast hits Bastion AFTER he's dodged, meaning Cyclops predicted exactly what his foe would do.

Bastion and Cyclops then engage in a close-range beam clash, and Cyclops engages anime protagonist power by screaming the above quote and increasing the intensity of his optic blast to Capcom levels.  This blows Bastion away and forces him to break out the cheesy beam spam to finally take Cyclops out, but Cyclops even manages to counter that for a few seconds with his own rapid-fire response.  It's a great action sequence, and the coordinated way the three X-Men attack at first is obviously a Scott Summers plan.    

4.  "I love you, son."





Realizing that they'll probably have to sacrifice themselves to halt Asteroid M's cataclysmic descent to Earth, Cyclops and Jean take a moment to psychically contact Cable on the planet's surface.  In a touching exchange, Cable admits that the stories he was told of his parents (he's finally taken to considering Jean his mother after resisting it at first) during his youth didn't do them justice.  Scott tells his son that when he was born, Madelyne said that baby Nathan shared his father's eyes.  Jean telekinetically holds back Scott's optic blasts for a moment, allowing father and son to look each other in the eyes for the first time.  "Now, they're yours" Scott proudly asserts before he and Jean break contact to meet their fate.  Sniffle.

3.  "I have to stomach your questions and PROVE that I'm a PERSON!"



Just after learning the woman who bore his son Nathan was actually a clone and then having to send that infant son into the future just so the child could survive, Scott has to subject himself to an interview with Trish Tilby, who shows up at the mansion for an inside scoop on the X-Men.  At first, he manages to keep his cool and patiently answer questions that will only improve the public image of mutants.  However, when Trish starts questioning what happened to Nathan and the circumstances surrounding his birth, Scott loses his patience and unloads a lifetime of resentment on her.

He calls humanity a bunch of ingrates for treating mutants and the X-Men in particular as they have.  "Evil mutants, killer robots, crazy aliens!" are just some of the things Cyclops and his team have protected "normal" folk from and Scott has had enough of playing nice with them. Before ending the interview by storming off camera, Scott says the humans watching should be grateful he isn't "normal", because it's only reason most of them are still alive.  While seeing Cyclops lose his cool isn't something new, voice actor Ray Chase sells the hell out of this speech with a bitterness that makes one question if Scott isn't starting to lean towards Magneto's way of thinking over Charles Xavier's. 

2.  "Definitely the good guy."

Cyclops' entrance in this series, as he blows a hole through a wall and enters a room full of Friends of Humanity goons to rescue captured mutant Roberto Da Costa.  It immediately demonstrated the way this series would be handling Cyclops, as he confidently and easily takes down the entire room of bigots without breaking a sweat.  Using his optic blasts in a versatile way never really seen in most other multimedia portrayals of him, he mixes brief "optic jabs" in with fisticuffs, as well as using them non-offensively to boost himself around the skirmish.

When a couple goons finally get the drop on him with a severed Sentinel arm and knock his visor off, Cyclops pleads for surrender... only to reprise his "NOT" quip from the second episode of the original cartoon.  I must admit, when I heard that, I was afraid this series would lean heavily into "LOL, it's the 90s!" jokes, but fortunately that wasn't the case.  Also fortunately- Cyclops being a total badass wasn't a fluke, as this scene started as the series intended to carry on.

1.  "See you on the ground."

Also from the first episode, the X-Men are sent into freefall as a Sentinel tears the Blackbird apart mid-flight.  Storm, Rogue, and Morph quickly initiate Kurt Busiek "Everyone who can fly grab someone who can't!" protocols and secure the rest of the team aside from Cyclops.  He merely presses his com-link, praises them for solid recovery work, then straightens out for a skydive.  As seen above, he uses his optic blasts to achieve a Superhero Landing on his own.  

After standing, he presses his com-link again, says the immortal "To me, my X-Men" rally call and the rest of the team fall in behind him.  I feel like this scene was more of a big deal to non-comic reading fans than me, as I think I was more impressed when Scott first said "To me, my X-Men" in the comics twenty years ago during Joss Whedon's run.  Still, it was undeniably cool to see it on-screen and again, assured me that the creators of X-Men '97 had their priorities straight when it came to the handling of my favorite character.  


And well, that's that.  I think the first season of X-Men '97 was a smashing success, and I really can't see how the MCU could possibly make something that was better than this in live-action, but I guess we'll see.  Perhaps at the very least, movie-makers will take notes on how to handle Cyclops on the big screen from now on.  Maybe if James Marsden shows up in Deadpool and Wolverine, he won't be treated like a joke, but I'm not holding out hope for that.  All I CAN hope for is that '97 gets more seasons and they maintain this high quality.



Tuesday, May 14, 2024