Anatomy of a Child Soldier: Scott Summers’ Day Off

Cyclops with his champions teammates
“The company I keep is not corporate enough
Child Rebel Soldier, you ain’t orphan enough” – Pusha T

Look, I’m a Scott Summers guy. Cyclops is my favorite X-Man. My favorite thing to do is convert people to the house of Cyclops. Hey… I don’t cape many white men, but when I do it’s Scott Summers. I’ve always loved Cyclops, because he is a victim of his abilities and childhood circumstances. It’s been a popular joke and reality that Charles Xavier gathered the X-Men to be child soldiers in his fight for mutant rights. Scott Summers was the first X-Man. The original mutant child rebel soldier. I’ve always admired that about Cyclops. He’s been fighting for his mutant rights since he was a teen. While everyone else was learning to drive, Scott was parallel parking the X-Men’s Blackbird jet. My man’s summer job was diffusing bombs, fighting Magneto, and trying to keep his classmates alive amidst gunfire, sentinels, and genocide. I didn’t see the other side of this reality for Cyclops until his younger self was stuck in the present time back in 2016.

As wild as the young Cyclops of the past being stuck in present day was, I became appreciative of it when he found himself joining Ms. Marvel’s iteration of the Champions. It was in this book that I realized something about Scott Summers. Where most teens get powers and decide to be a superhero, Scott never got that. He got his powers, got a roof over his head from Charles Xavier, and then became a child soldier for a cause. In my eyes, Scott never got the chance to be a traditional superhero until his time spent with Ms. Marvel’s iteration of Champions.

Marvel Comics’ First Child Soldier: Scott Summers

When I think about the X-Men, it feels easy to put them in the superhero category. I mean, they’re a superhero team, right? I’m not so sure. When I think of a traditional superhero team, I think of how the Avengers are a collection of superheroes with their own lives coming together for a cause. The original X-Men aren’t separate superheroes, they are all mutants coming together to help humanity in order for them to be able to live in peace with humanity. You could say that the X-Men are like the New Warriors, a team of teens doing superheroing. I’d still feel that is wrong because the New Warriors are teen heroes that don’t have to fight for a seat at the table to just exist unlike this team of mutants. So for me, the X-Men don’t feel like heroes; they feel more like freedom fighters. Their cause is bigger than just doing the right thing; they doing this shit for their species to simply exist. The Avengers get to go on adventures; The X-Men were children going on missions. Each time the X-Men whipped out the Blackbird it was for a mission that would hopefully get them a seat at the table. These are children fighting for a cause. It could not be another way. Leading that charge at fucking fifteen years old is Scott Summers.

At 15 years old, Cyclops has taken his team up against Magneto and Namor. What? Who fucking does that? Scott’s time on the Champions really opened the door to just what his childhood was like before and after being in the foster system. Even when you look at the original members of the X-Men, Scott is the only one that can’t hide his ability. He’s the only one where his ability doubles as a disability. He’s the only one that was an orphan and has been wrapped up in the foster system. Scott Summers is the one white on the team that’s had really been through and seen some shit. He is the very first X-Man that Charles Xavier recruits. Through this action and the team being built around him, Scott was leading a team that he constantly felt responsible for.

The Champions go for paintball

My man is constantly on edge trying to keep everyone alive, keep his powers in check, and make sure he doesn’t make a bad call, all while fighting for Xavier’s version of a dream. I know child soldier has a negative connotation but to be a mutant, especially a visible one, what other choice do you have? You are damn near automatically indoctrinated into a war for your own survival. Dawg, Cyclops got a roof over his head and a fucking X-Men jersey with #1 on the back. Fam, that ain’t a normal childhood.

Scott Summers wasn’t having pizza parties with The X-Men. These muhfuckas weren’t having pool parties. They had to wake up and run drills in the Danger Room. After school, it was homework, dinner, then the Danger Room. If anyone ever had a tummy ache, the prescription was more Danger Room sessions. Xavier really had these kids doing drop in missions on the regular just for a crumb of some rights. However, after being displaced in time, we now see a young Cyclops getting to do something he never got to do while with the X-Men. Cyclops finally gets to relax.

Scott Summers’ Day Off

Scott Summers, Viv, and Ms. Marvel playing paintball

Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos’ Champions is the first time I ever saw Cyclops not have so much responsibility on his shoulders. When it came time for them to pick a leader for the team, Cyclops is the most experienced but he isn’t vying for the position. He constantly finds himself being Ms. Marvel’s right-hand man that she constantly debriefs with. When their lives were on the line to escape an underwater prison, Ms. Marvel had an idea to escape but asked what other options Scott may have thought of to do. Scott’s suggestion, “I think we should listen to our leader.” Leaders recognize leaders, and it was this moment that really solidified ground between the platonic friendship Scott Summers and Kamala Khan would have. Kamala is the person on the team that Scott connects with the most. If Ms. Marvel is the leader, then Cyclops is the hand of the king.

In X-Men: Worlds Apart, Storm mentions that Scott and she were not “friends,” like Storm was with Jean, Logan, and Kurt. He was always separate, above us, the leader. (It should also be noted they do have a friendly rivalry). This is an older Scott that Storm is talking about by the time she meets him. What we now get to see is the young Scott getting the chance to make friends instead of solely being the authority figure of a team. On the X-Men at first, Scott worried what he brought to the table. His talent wasn’t like the others, so why was he the best choice to lead? Why do the others follow him? With the Champions, for the first time ever, Scott gets to see what it’s like to have adventures where mutant-human relations aren’t on the line or the sole purpose of the mission.

Scott Summers, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Man paint balling with Nova

Nowadays, teen heroes get powers, and just go fight crime. Sometimes they even tell their parents they are a hero, and the parents are cool with it. Scott is now on a team with teens that are heroes in their own right, have their own things going on, but make time to be part of a team. Unlike the X-Men, the Champions aren’t an obligation. This difference is enough to see Cyclops thrive like we have never seen before. He’s playing video games, having sleep overs, and most importantly making friends. I mean, I suppose honestly, this is the first time, that Scott gets to just be a regular teenage hero. No, Charles Xavier looming over him with respectability politics. The responsibility of the team is on someone else’s shoulders. Plus, this is a different time than the one Scott grew up in. We are seeing our little orphan boy getting to make friends, and it’s honestly the cutest shit.

A great example is with Amadeus Cho. When Scott first met Amadeus Cho, he was in his Hulk form, Brawn. Scott mistakenly attacked him with his optic blast (thinking he was attacking Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Nova, and Viv). When Brawn got in his face after he apologized, Scott purposefully blasted him again, saying, “I already apologized, then you got in my face. I don’t take well to bullies.” Sooo they didn’t start off on the best terms. However, after running on multiple missions and adventures together, when the Champions fear that they may be forced to disband (due to infringement on their name by villains), Amadeus asks for Scott’s reassurance that they will still be friends if the group ends. Which comes as a surprise to Scott.

Something that I liked about this run as well is that Cyclops is the perfect straight man. For the team, he speaks like such an old man, and he’s only fifteen, which is a constant running joke. He’s not a genius but he’s always stating facts too add into the conversation that makes everyone ask, “Why do you know that?”. There are just so many good interactions Scott has with each teammate, and I loved getting to see him have these typical teen moments that he didn’t get to have in his time at the X-Mansion. Whenever we’ve seen an adult Scott summers smile (pre-Krakoa) it’s when he’s just pulled of some a slick plan. I don’t know if we’ve ever seen him laugh. I dunno if we ever saw Scott smile or laugh in the original comics to this extent.

Laughing at Spider-Man’s “Girlfriend”
Bird Watcher Scott Summers
Palaeontologist Scott Summers
Sassy Scott Summers
Why Cyclops and Fun Don’t Mix

As the leader of the X-Men and their authority figure, it always looked like Cyclops was allergic to fun. It was as if this man would fold if fun was even within his proximity. So what’s Cyclops’ idea of fun? Writing protocols. Running drills in the Danger Room. Checking the air pressure in the landing tires of the Blackbird. Cyclops himself states that he has an obsessive personality and fans have theories of him being autistic coded. For me, it was really put into perspective about why Scott Summers is wound up so tight when the Champions fought Psycho-Man. Scott struck a weapon of Psycho-Man with his optic blast which caused feedback. The feedback made Scott act in a manic manner, entirely different from his calm and reserved self. Ironically, the team had been feeling frustrated with trying to get him to unwind. They couldn’t get him to do karaoke as he said he’s a much better listener when it comes to music.

After going through these manic states, the team sees what it’s like when Scott truly lets loose. It’s as if he’s holding Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth and just word vomiting everything he usually holds inside. He lets the team know, “I love when you guys call me Slim. It’s cool. Nicknames make me feel like I’m being paid attention to.” It’s funny having this context knowing that this is what the X-Men, especially Wolverine would refer to him. What I loved about this moment, is that with this team Scott reveals things about himself that we haven’t heard him ever utter in his sixty-year character history. Scott tells this team, how he knows he seems so cold and reserved. He wishes he could let loose but can’t due to his powers.

He isn’t the one in control of his powers; his visor and ruby quartz glasses are. My man doesn’t do sports in fear of sweat making his glasses slip. He doesn’t go swimming. All these recreational things that most take for granted, Scott doesn’t risk doing for fear of not only hurting but the chance of killing someone else. This really put into perspective for me the scope of Scott Summer’s mutant ability. Yes, it is an ability, but at the same time it is a disability for him as well. Without glasses or his visor, Scott is essentially blind, as well as colorblind, but the biggest issue is just how much his powers take away from his everyday life.

I have loved this character Cyclops for so many years. I defend this man when folks make their jokes about him being boring, a horrible husband, and father. I fucking ride for Cyclops, but this moment made me realize after years of reading his adventures, just how much of the curse weighs on the gift of his mutant ability. Scott is under the influence of Psycho-Man so he can say this here, but it’s easy to assume that the X-Men don’t know this about him because he’d be preaching to a choir of mutants that have it worst. I loved this moment for Scott Summers and how the Champions now understand him so much better.

Cyclops & Ms. Marvel: Best Friends Forever

The most unlikely of friendships that stemmed from the young Cyclops being stuck in present day has to be the camaraderie between Kamala Khan and him. I mentioned earlier how Scott is like her right-hand man. Cyclops is the first person she will delegate to as leader. Cyclops is known to be a control freak but throughout Kamala’s tenure as leader, he only interjects when she asks for his opinion. He never undermines her or speaks over her. We see Cyclops in a position where he is perfectly fine just following orders. My favorite part about their relationship is that it is strictly platonic. They met when the inhumans and mutants were going through their beef, and Scott settled the uneasiness Kamala felt by assuring her that he liked her, and since she liked him, then they had no issue. Growing up, the X-Men were essentially teammates and co-workers before they became a family. If you look back, it’s hard to say who Cyclops’ best friend is on the original team. On the ’75 team, you could argue that his rivalry with Storm and gaining Logan’s respect make them Cyclops’ friends.

Honestly, this Champions run showed us that the first friend that Scott truly made is Kamala Khan. This was a team that joined together among each other and became friends. Kamala and Scott are just drawn to one another due to them both having big leader energy. We’ve seen Cyclops open up to people as an adult, but who did a young Scott Summers open up to? No one. It’s so fitting for Scott as an X-Man to make his first true friend through a time traveling adventure. We’ve never seen Scott share shit about his personal life. However, the Champions provided such a relaxing environment that Scott just organically opens up. Each time we saw Scott open up, it was with Kamala Khan sitting down and listening to him. Scott was on this team for a very long time, at least a year. Where Kamala, Nova, and Spider-Man are Marvels big three teen heroes. Ms. Marvel and Cyclops’ friendship was something of their own, which made it all the more sad when it was time for Cyclops to leave the team and re-join his X-Men.

Ms. Marvel fights Cyclops on this choice tooth and nail. Every way Cyclops explains it, Ms. Marvel isn’t hearing it. This mission with the X-Men isn’t something he wants to do; it’s something he has to do. Scott tries to explain how being the first X-Man means the team looks to him as an authority figure. When Kamala asks if he misses that, we get perhaps the biggest truth bomb behind Scott’s view as the leader of the X-Men. The position isn’t one to be missed. It’s a burden, one he can’t ever tell his team, because it’s his job to keep everyone alive on the field. He can tell Kamala though, because the Champions is where Scott actually gets to relax and voice things.

That shit is huge to me. As readers, we’ve been privy to how Scott feels about his position of leader. This isn’t something he can just give up either. When it came to the original X-Men, Scott was the one best suited for leadership. That’s just what it was. Scott has been the X-Men’s #1 quarterback. We got to see him be a kid again for once, minus all the trauma and now, he gets torn from that safe space, because it’s time for him and the rest the original X-Men to go back to their own time. It’s a heartbreaking scene to now know that through all those missions, encounters, and adventures the X-Men had, Scott felt this the entire time. Yet, before he goes, he still tells Ms. Marvel that her convictions are what’s going to take the Champions far.

Cyclops: The X-Man x Scott Summers: The Champion

When the young time displaced Scott Summers went back to his own time, it seemed that perhaps he’d never remember his time in the present. However, during War of the Realms, when the older Scott Summers was back and the X-Men had been wiped out, mutants were down bad once again, and he got his eye shot out, the Champions appeared where the X-Men were holding down the fort and saving people up in Met Stadium. When Cyclops heard that his good sis Ms. Marvel was pinned down taking fire over the comms? When Scott Summers heard his old teammate was getting dunked on in the 4th quarter with 8 minutes left on the board? Scott Summers did something we’ve never seen him do, ever. Something entirely out of character.

Scott willingly stepped away from the X-Men of his own free will to help his friend. There are two things that have a chokehold on Scott Summers. The mutant cause and the X-Men. He’s helped out other heroes before with X-Men, but this was personal. Scott didn’t leave to further the mutant agenda or save a mutant (more on that in a bit) but to help out his friend, his former teammate, and what she made that team mean. This may not seem like a big deal but, I can’t recall Scott ever abandoning his post to help out a personal friend because, he never had a close personal friend before. All his friends are his X-Men teammates, fighting right beside him. He’s already with his community but hearing that Ms. Marvel was in danger, shows us that now Scott finally has more than one community, and we already know the lengths he’ll go through to protect his people.

Yall don’t fucking hear me! Mr. Stick in the Mud, Mr. Control Freak, Mr. “The Mutant Revolution Will Not Be Live Streamed,” told his fellow mutants, “Aye yall, I’ll be right back.” THIS MAN SHOWED UP TO A WHOLE NOTHER WAR ZONE AND GOT FUCKING BUSY. You muthafuckas reading this shit don’t understand what I am telling you. Cyclops came in bucking on every fucking body. Please keep in mind he just got his fucking eye shout out, freshly injured and still shooting everything moving. Child Rebel soldier Cyclops was fucking back in this bish. Everybody talking bout him being a terrorist, bout him being too gung-ho for mutants, everybody talking that cash shit, but when Scott Summers clocks in and you see them results. It gets real fucking quiet.

The most heartwarming thing about this is that we as readers know Scott Summers is there helping the Champions because he remembers. Ms. Marvel doesn’t know that though, and she’s been going through it. The Champions have expanded and fallen apart at the same time. Ms. Marvel doesn’t have her friends to talk to anymore, because they are all at odds with one another or fighting amongst each other. Kamala is seeing the other side of leadership now. She feels isolated, and now she’s trying to connect with an adult Cyclops that may not recognize her. We then see that sometimes the universe works out, because Scott tells Ms. Marvel he knows exactly who she is an all that they been through together.

Look, I know I’m one of Cyclops’ biggest fans. I know a lot of folks don’t like him. Fuck all that, just look at this scene. Cyclops telling Ms. Marvel, “You guys were my friends,” gets me every single time I read it. (I’m not crying. You are. shut up.) At the very heart of all this is that Scott Summers, the reserved good soldier that fights the fight for Xavier’s dream had a cause, had teammates, but he didn’t have friends…until now. Scott as his grown-up self still holds Ms. Marvel and the Champions not only in high regards but as people that are deeply personal to him. So much so that when being a teenage hero became outlawed and the Champions were surrounded by law enforcement, Cyclops and Dust came to their aide by granting the Champions asylum under the sovereign mutant nation of Krakoa. This turned out to be Cyclops bluffing, because the Quiet Council of Krakoa wouldn’t grant them sanctuary.

Dust points out to the frustrated Champions that Scott risked a diplomatic disaster pulling this stunt. Which means Cyclops is so down for the Champions that he lied to United States law enforcement in order to buy time for them. Then on top of that, Cyclops informed them who the traitor was in their group, and then finally brought the Champions to the Marauders boat on the open sea in order to give them more time and distance. This is unheard of for Cyclops. Usually, he’s the one putting people up, but this grown ass man is helping his teenage friends evade the law and his people are entirely cool with it. Cyclops even dressed up in his old Champions costume for the occasion in hopes the team would still count him as an honorary teammate. We ain’t ever seen Cyclops be someone that’s that sentimental, and this is the first time we’ve ever seen him willing to go to war outside of the mutant cause for friends that aren’t even mutants.

CHAMPIONS (2020) #4 panel by Eve L. Ewing and Robert Quinn

What’s really fascinating to me is that Scott doesn’t treat the Champions like children, and he doesn’t little sister Kamala Khan. Scott doesn’t talk down to them or act like he has all the answers. When he’s with this team, he acts as a teammate and not the authority figure. Scott helps and even though he is older, with way more experience, he does not jump the chain of command. He simply falls in line. Now that Kamala Khan is a mutant, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic between Scott and Kamala will evolve. Even when it seemed Scott was too busy being an adult and fighting the cause, he never stopped looking out for the Champions and Ms. Marvel.

In 1963, Scott Summers became a child soldier. In 2016, Scott Summers finally got to have some semblance of a normal teen (hero) life, with paintball, video games, movies, and most importantly, a group of teens that got to know the real him as their friend “Slim”.

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  • Omar Holmon is a content editor that is here to make .gifs, obscure references, and find the correlation between everything Black and Nerdy.

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