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Dec 10

X-Men: The Exterminated

Posted on Monday, December 10, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

X-Men: The Exterminated is an epilogue to Extermination, which you may have noticed isn’t finished yet.  It’s been a while since we’ve had a book spiral off the schedules like this.  How I’ve missed it.

So, spoilers – well, kind of.  This issue contains two stories saying farewell to Cable, who died at the beginning of Extermination, in an issue that came out a while back.  The spoiler, then, is that he’s still dead at the end.  But that is a spoiler, though, isn’t it?  Because people who die in the first act of a story tend not to stay dead.  Plus… well, it’s Extermination.  It’s a series that presumably exists to get rid of the time travelling X-Men who are nowhere to be seen in Uncanny X-Men, but the heavy lifting on that score was already done in X-Men Blue.  And so Extermination has a distinct vibe of not mattering in the slightest.  All of which means I was honestly a little surprised to learn that Cable was actually meant to be properly dead.

Two stories, then.  Writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, and artist Neil Edwards, bring us a story about Hope Summers and Jean Grey – two characters who don’t really know each other, but are linked by being Cable’s kind-of daughter and kind-of mother.  It doesn’t get off to a great start, with a really awkward opening page that’s supposed to be Hope giving her team an inspirational pep talk about Cable, but reads more like a ponderous first person narration has been accidentally put in speech balloons instead of captions by mistake.  And then it makes the mistake of reminding us of that time Bishop was a murderous psycho for a couple of years, something which is best ignored and relegated to “didn’t happen in this timeline”, because it was totally destructive of Bishop as a character; trying to square it away is a suicidal mission, as the scene regrettably demonstrates.

But the story picks up once we get to Hope and Jean together (the art is a little stiff at times but does a decent job of making them look like mother and daughter), and the point.  Notionally, the idea is that Hope has a remit to go around Cable’s old safehouses and clear them out.  That leads them to cross paths with Deadpool, who’s doing exactly the same thing, and points out with some justification that he was arguably closer to Cable than either of them (at least in recent years).  There’s a nice bit of detail about Hope not being able to remember what Cable looked like, without Jean’s telepathic assistance, and of course the pay off is that Hope is really looking for the time travel gadget which she hopes to use to save Cable’s life.

For the purposes of this story, apparently meddling with the timestream is really bad (well, I suppose we are just coming off Extermination), and so Jean puts a stop to that without any great drama.  It’s not bad.  It works for Hope; her grief plays out pretty convincingly.  It’s not so great for Jean, who falls back into the mother role that she was trapped in for most of the nineties, and which X-Men Red has been trying to distance her from – but at least it’s a role that it makes sense for her to play here.

The back-up strip, by Chris Claremont and Ramon Rosanas, is a Cyclops and Corsair story in which Cable features only as an infant and as the narrator.  Apparently (and I don’t recall this coming up before) Cable has perfect recall of everything in his life, which allows him to tell stories of things that happened when he was an infant.  Claremont isn’t an obvious writer to turn to for a Cable eulogy story; while he technically created baby Nathan, and he did use Cable briefly in one of his comeback X-Men runs, he’s not particularly associated with Cable.  If anything, Cable epitomises the shifts of circa 1990 which led to Claremont’s departure.  But then Claremont’s recent X-Men stories have often been best when they approach later contributions with generosity (as they often do).

Still, despite the conceit of Cable as narrator, this is really Scott’s story, and the link to Cable is symbolic at best.  While Cable has his perfect recall, Cyclops’s late-70s stories made great play of his lack of clear memory of his childhood; this story is supposed to be Cyclops and Corsair reconciling, and the idea is that repairing his relationship with his father gives Scott more confidence that he can be a father to Nathan.

The idea is sound, and the art is lovely.  But the story also gets tied up with period continuity that isn’t really explained, in the form of tension between Scott and Madelyne that also gets resolved over the course of the story.  There’s no real context for any of that, unless you have a good recollection of where their relationship stood at that particular point in the series (and we’re going back thirty years here, so you probably don’t).  It’s prominent enough in the plot that it really needed a bit more explanation, but that’s the only serious problem here.

Back in the 90s, these are the sort of comics that Scott Lobdell would have done for a breather issue after a major crossover.  While The Exterminated is another one-shot for the completists, and not something you need to go out of your way to hunt down, it does at least offer a couple of solid stories for those who choose to check it out.

Bring on the comments

  1. Evilgus says:

    Didn’t Claremont randomly gift Bishop with perfect recall and geolocation too? He has a terrible habit of reusing his conceits.

    That said, I do appreciate his efforts to fold in wider stories from later writers. It’s very respectful.

    Don’t give two hoots about Hope: a cypher of a character. Only vaguely interesting under Gillen’s pen when she creepily influenced those around her.

  2. Ben says:

    Yeah the first story was alright if a little clunky.

    I don’t get what was happening in the Claremont stuff.

  3. MasterMahan says:

    In regards to Hope, it’s hard to make readers care about a blatant plot device. PAD managing it with Layla Miller was one of the few cases of it succeeding, and he ended up dumping what little characterization she got in House of M.

    Then again, Hope’s fulfilled her editorially-mandated purpose, so maybe someone can salvage her.

  4. Brian says:

    If Marvel intends to keep Cable dead for a while, it might be interesting to see Hope playing the Cable role for a bit, jumping through time again (as she’s spent most of her life doing — living in a linear fashion in one time period should feel unnatural to her) on “missions” (I’d consider borrowing Forge for the Blaquesmith role to give him an ongoing role, given his recurring appearances across her comics “lifetime” helping Cable). Given the jokes folks make comparing Cable’s status to Doctor Who, effectively replacing him with a young female Cable at this point would be a clever meta-joke (and honestly, her adaptive powers are better suited to traveling around that hanging around waiting to duplicate random X-Men like a backup Rogue).

  5. Luke H says:

    I was kind of confused by the Claremont story because it seems like it resolves Scott into deciding to be a real father and husband but, at the point that story leaves off or very close after, he abandons them both. And it was strange because Cable is narrating it as looking back without any of that abandonment stuff happening.

    People were theorizing on Bleeding Cool that this was some kind of altered history by Claremont but another commenter stated he believed this was what happened in the alternate teen Cable’s history and he in fact was the narrator. Not sure if it’s been established been Cable is from an alternate timeline but that theory made more sense to me.

    Also, as an aside, I will never understand the thinking behind allowing Scott to legitimateky abandon them. Editorial couldn’t have manioulated it somewhat where he thought they were dead or something??? It was always really hard for me to reconcile and it seemed kind of unnecessary.

  6. Chris V says:

    Cable isn’t actually dead though. He’s been replaced by a younger version of himself from earlier in the time-line.
    He’s going to be leading the new X-Force team.


    Yes, I thought that the Claremont story was meant to be his correcting the editorial mandate that was forced on him all those years ago.
    I thought it was another of those cases of Claremont deciding to write the story as he wanted it originally to happen, instead of what ended up on the page.
    It was a very well written story, regardless, I thought.

    I couldn’t help but laugh at the ending though, where Cable’s narration was saying that Scott will make a great husband and father….except for the fact that he’s soon to leave his wife and kid, abandon his son to the future, and then later cheats on his second wife.
    Scott and his dad have a great deal in common.

    Maybe this younger Cable is from an alternate reality, where Scott never left Madelyne though.

  7. Joseph S. says:

    I vaguely remember it being mentioned that baby Nathan had perfect recall, but not sure where. Didn’t Claremont also establish that Ororo also remembers her infancy and childhood perfectly for Reasons?

    As for Cable…I suppose it’s best not to overthink these things, but does it make any sense at all to clear out a time travelers safehouses? Just in the last year we’ve had Cable traveling forward through time and using said safehouses. I’m also entirely unconvinced by Jean’s ‘we can’t time travel anymore’ argument, nor Hope’s “I know I’ll never see him again” shtick. Maybe they can’t go to the moment he was killed by Young Cable, but again, we’ve seen Cable traveling through time quite a lot lately, and it would be very easy to see him in another time we know he is visiting and warm him about Young Cable. And in any case, it’d ridiculous to mourn a character who was only just resurrected a couple years ago.

    As for the Claremont story, I can kind of square this with continuity. Scott and Maddie had their problems, which haven’t been entirely resolved in this story, but it’s only really when he learns that Jean is back that he bolts. And post-Inferno X-Factor does have Scott become a pretty attentive father, to say nothing of the Askani Son timeline, all of which Cable-narrator (whether Young or Old) would remember.

  8. Nate S. says:

    All I could think of is why wasn’t Rachel in the first story with Jean and Hope, possibly instead of Hope? Rachel is shown grieving a bit in Extermination proper, so why didn’t that carry over to the oneshot?

  9. Nu-D says:

    Also, as an aside, I will never understand the thinking behind allowing Scott to legitimateky abandon them. Editorial couldn’t have manioulated it somewhat where he thought they were dead or something???

    In discussions of the first year of X-Factor, I find the actual sequence of events, narration and dialogue are often forgotten in favor of the summation that Scott “abandoned” Maddie and Christopher.

    When Scott walked out the door of the Alaska home, he didn’t know Jean was alive. He had recieved an urgent call from an old friend (Warren) telling him that it was very important he come to New York. His intention was to be gone only a few days, to come to Warren’s aid. He was being a dutiful friend.

    Maddie refused to let him go. Perhaps she was justified, but that’s not clear. It’s fairly unreasonable for one partner to refuse to allow another to go on a weekend trip to see a friend who calls with an urgent need. She never really gave a reason. When he left, she told him not to come back. That was likewise unreasonable.

    I grant that Scott perhaps should not have chosen his loyalty to his friend over his duty to his family. He should have told Warren he needed to sort out his marital situation first. But if Maddie was being unreasonable and demanding he stop seeing his friends and coming to their aid forever? I’m not sure that’s a reasonable demand.

    So Scott leaves and learns Jean is alive. He is quite shocked and actually leaves immediately to spend some time alone. Throughout the first eight or nine issues of X-Factor his is constantly equivocating about what to do. He never decides to stay; he just doesn’t get around to leaving. Remember, Maddie told him not to come back.

    Somewhere around issue #6-8 Scott calls Maddie, and she has had the phone cut off. Scott concludes she’s intentionally cutting him off and he’s maudlin and depressed about it. He’s still not committed to staying, but feels she really doesn’t want him back.

    In issue #13 he does go to find her, and the house has been destroyed. The police show him a red headed corpse they found nearby, and Scott concludes she’s dead.

    Based on this sequence and characterization, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to say he “abandoned” his wife and child. My reading has always been that when he walked out the door he was thinking, “I’ve got to deal with whatever Warren is going on about, and Maddie isn’t going to be reasonable. I’ll fix things up with her when I get home on Monday.” But when Monday rolled around he was a mess and she was nowhere to be found.

    Admittedly, the requirements of the genre inserted a lot of other action into this sequence—rescuing Rusty and later Artie and Hank, a fight with the Alliance of Evil—that make Scott’s delay in returning less reasonable. If my buddy calls me from California and I go to help him for a weekend over my wife’s objections, it’s not reasonable for me to extend my stay for weeks and weeks. But these are superhero comics, and action sequences and villains are a necessary part of the genre. If this was straight soap opera, the plot would have been squeezed into a more plausible timeline.

    I’m not saying Scott made the right choices. I’m saying his choices are plausibly justified from a careful reading of the comics.

  10. Mikey says:

    Marvel killed off Wolverine… just to inundate the books with X-23, Old Man Logan, Logan’s Ultimate son, Daken, Goodguy Sabretooth

    Marvel kills off Cable… just to follow up with an event surrounding his duplicate X-Man, and launching an X-Force starring… young Cable

  11. Nu-D,

    Scott is told that Jean is alive, though he doesn’t tell Maddie that’s the reason he’s going to New York. Even prior to that trip, Madelyne was being extremely shrewish – openly resenting that Scott cared about his fellow mutants (maybe Maddie was an Objectivist?).

    Scott phoned Maddie in issue #2 of X-Factor, which is when he found out the number was disconnected.

    Anyway, X-Factor #1 framed the Scott/Madelyne relationship as an impending trainwreck. But the real trainwreck was what Bob Layton did to fan perceptions of Cyclops; for a guy who only scripted five issues, Layton certainly scored a lot of lasting damage.

  12. Chris V says:

    I thought that the writers were purposely making changes in character to hint that Madelyne wasn’t acting sane, so that they could explain away Scott returning to Jean and leaving his family.
    The seeds for, “Madelyne was just a clone of Jean created by Sinister, and Scott instinctively knew this was the case subconsciously.” were already being planted.

  13. Moo says:

    I blame Shooter more than Layton. It may not have even been Layton’s idea to have Scott ditch his family like that, but even if it was, editorial signed off on it and the buck stops with them. Someone in charge should have had the good sense to recognize that this was a terrible idea where Scott’s character was concerned.

  14. Moo says:

    @Chris V

    There were no seeds. Sinister didn’t even exist yet and Madelyne wasn’t acting oddly then. Maddy, I assume, was simply brushed aside and filed under “deal with later”. The first time I read the name “Mister Sinister” (and I remember it well, because I burst out laughing) was in an issue of Marvel Age in some article promoting the upcoming Mutant Massacre crossover. X-Factor was underway already by this point and I believe Layton had just left.

  15. yrzhe says:

    As somebody who got into X-Men during the early ’90s wave, it’s really interesting to see how the perception of Scott/Madelyn changed over the years, because as presented in Lobell/Nicieza-scripted issues and the cartoon, Cyclops was just this traditional uptight straight man, and the entire marriage was largely ignored. From what I gleamed from assorted back issues and references, it boiled down to “She was a clone and then evil and now she’s dead”, and the whole thing could be shrugged off as a weird story arc that had long since concluded.

    By the ’00s, it was so much easier to look through old storylines thanks to the internet, and getting to actually see how their relationship played out… and damn, it does not paint Scott in a good light.

    I think Morrison’s the first writer who really tried to integrate Scott’s past failings into his character, as a man who might be a competent superhero but who’s utterly incapable of functioning in a healthy long-term relationship, rather than just being a victim of bad writing. And it’s a completely valid take on the character, though at the same time, it’s a pity it pretty much killed any chance of ever realigning Cyclops back into the “slightly bland straight man” persona he had for most of Claremont’s run.

  16. Chris V says:

    I wasn’t saying that all the details were exactly planned out.
    I realize Sinister didn’t exist yet in the comics.

    I was thinking that they were hinting that Madelyne knew about Jean returning, and that was why she didn’t want Scott to leave.

    Other commentators are correct that it’s really obsessive and controlling behaviour to not be able to allow your husband to go away to be with one of his best friends for the weekend when the best friend says he needs something.
    That shows a very dependent personality on Madelyne’s part, one that was never shown with the character before.

    Claremont wanted to write Scott and Madelyne having a positive relationship, where Scott was fine with retiring from the superhero world and raising a family.
    I think they were planting the seeds that Scott would leave Madelyne for Jean at that point.

    It would eventually evolve in to the whole “clone” explanation for why Scott was in the right to abandon his family.

  17. Moo says:

    “I was thinking that they were hinting that Madelyne knew about Jean returning, and that was why she didn’t want Scott to leave.”

    The “Maddy is a clone of Jean” stuff hadn’t even been thought of yet so how would she know anything? It was just a poorly written story. All of the characters are behaving inexplicably. Scott says Warren needs him in NY right away. Maddy doesn’t ask why and just forbids him to leave. Scott marches off anyway and doesn’t even attempt to explain. Hank tells Scott that he can’t run from his problems. Problem is that Hank isn’t even referring to the fact that Scott walked out on Maddy. He’s just trying to get him back over to Jean and put the band back together. Nobody seems bothered that Scott abandoned his family.

  18. Chris V says:

    I’m not saying it’s anything other than a badly written story.
    Don’t mistake what I’m saying to be, in any way, a defense of this mess.
    I think it was all a horrible idea, and liked Claremont’s original plan.

    I can’t remember when it started, but Madelyne started showing some unusual powers while she was hanging around with the X-Men.
    I’m not sure if Claremont and co. had arrived at the solution of Madelyne being a clone yet at that point or not.
    I was thinking that there might be hints given that Madelyne did have powers, and that was how she knew that Scott was going to meet Jean.

    Of course, I could just be rationalizing the fact that Madelyne was being written totally out of character using hindsight.

  19. Nu-D says:

    I stand corrected. We only see Scott’s end of the phone call, but he says, “But…how can that be? It’s impossible! How?!” I think you’re right the most reasonable inference is that Warren did tell him Jean was alive. And by the time he’s in NY, it’s explicit that he knows even before he sees Warren. So I was wrong on that count.

    The writers put two different strains on Scott & Maddie’s marriage in that issue. The first was the strain from Scott’s love for Jean. The second was the strain from Scott’s duty to mutants and the X-Men. The opening scenes focus on both. When Scott is brooding on bad news, Maddie says, “the X-Men don’t need you, I need you!” Later, when Scott is on the balcony in his PJs, he confesses to Maddie he’s thinking about “her” again.

    Both of these elements were always present. The Jean issue was obvious from the very beginning. But it was also well established that Maddie was resistant to Scott’s commitment to the X-Men from early on. I think it first comes up in the honeymoon issue, but it certainly gets some replay when Scott is missing for Secret Wars, and again when he’s off in Paris while she gives birth.

    On the other hand, I don’t think they had yet decided Maddie was a clone, and I’m confident there had not yet been any hint of her having powers (aside from Mastermind’s illusions and Loki’s shenanigans). The idea that she influenced Scott’s lost to Ororo was first mentioned in Inferno, and not at all present in Uncanny #1.

    So when Warren calls, Maddie is saying, “no, you can’t be at the beck and call of the X-Men.” She’s not thinking of Jean; she’s thinking of Scott’s dangerous vocation. I don’t think there’s any previous textual support for the idea that somehow Maddie sensed Jean was involved. When Inferno rolls around Maddie says that was the case, but she’s either lying, or it’s a retcon by CC.

    Nonetheless, from the beginning of XFA, the writers were definitely including a theme of the Scott+Jean is destiny; that the love for Maddie was a pale imitation of the “real” thing. I think that was a mistake. I think if Scott’s duty to mutants had been forgrounded instead of his love for Jean, then the perception would have been that Maddie was being unreasonable, and not that Scott was being unfaithful. This builds on insidious gender stereotypes of women’s demanding domesticity interfering with men’s destiny to greatness, but it would have played better as a story.

    If they had built more on the tension between love and duty—instead of the tension between true love and pale imitation love—I think Scott could have come out a lot better.

    Nonetheless, I don’t think Scott ever made a decision to end his marriage (not even in Inferno, where I think he’s written as trying to get Maddie to come back to work things out). I think Scott was continually equivocating and never made any real decision about what to do until it was too late.

  20. Nu-D says:

    where Scott was fine with retiring from the superhero world and raising a family.

    Scott was not “fine with” retiring under Claremont’s pen. In Uncanny #201, he is so convinced that the X-Men need him that he challenged (powerless) Ororo to a duel for leadership. He does this even though he just got back to find out his wife gave birth while he was away in Asguard and Paris. When he loses he is dejected.

    Claremont has been clear that his long-term plan was for Scott to retire and move on, and just be a “reserve” X-Man. But at least around the time of XFA #1 he had not come to terms with retirement status yet.

  21. Chris V says:

    Once again though, I thought those were elements added by Claremont and co. to try to set up the new status quo for X-Factor.
    Claremont wanted Scott to be fine with retiring and living a normal life, but Shooter wanted to see the return of the original X-Men, in some form.
    So, Claremont rewrote Scott’s retirement, that it was forced upon him, rather than his decision to go raise a family.

    Also, I’m pretty sure that Claremont did have some sort of plans for Madelyne, other than that she was a regular human.
    Madelyne Pryor was introduced as a baby in that Avengers Annual that introduced Rogue.
    Then, Madelyne shows up as an adult in Uncanny X-Men.
    That was never properly explained.

    I know that Claremont claimed that everything about the similarities between Madelyne and Jean were simply synchronicity to set up that Madelyne was Scott’s true love.
    Plus, Madelyne didn’t look exactly like Jean originally. They looked similar, but not as if Madelyne was a clone.
    As you said, I don’t think Claremont had the clone idea from an early point, and only came up with it later as an excuse, but it seems that there was some other intent with Madelyne.

  22. CalvinPitt says:

    I had always figured Maddy’s hardline stance against Scott leaving was because of how reluctant he had been to leave the X-Men to focus on being a father and husband in the first place.

    In Uncanny #201, when he and Storm fight it out, Scott acts as though, with Xavier off in space, he is the Indispensable Man. That the X-Men can’t function without him. Maddy’s already steamed she had to give birth alone and he didn’t even bother to call and check in (which she mentions both Storm and Kitty did), and then Scott gives the impression all responsibility for the kid is going to fall on her, because he can’t leave the team. Storm even gives him a chance to gracefully step aside, show his wife he’ll put her and the baby first, and he won’t do it.

    So yeah, I think she had a reasonable concern that Scott wasn’t committed to their relationship and family, and was looking for any excuse to run off and rejoin the old life. And here’s his old buddy Warren calling, and it’s just urgent Scott rush to New York! It’s not good she has that level of mistrust towards Scott, and trying to control him was never going to work long-term, but I can see why she’d be frustrated with him.

  23. Chris V says:

    Also, the X-Factor #1 story is very much adolescent, as something that a child would be able to relate.
    Scott wants to go out and have fun adventures with his buddies.
    He doesn’t want to be tied down with responsibilities and love.
    Madelyne is that harping female who doesn’t understand the male, and just wants to tie him down.
    She comes across as unreasonable and written out of character.
    The reader is meant to empathize with Scott.
    Sure, he’s got a wife and kid now, and is supposed to retire.
    Yet, his buddies want to go back to having fun. He even have a chance to reconnect with his first girlfriend.
    I think an adolescent reader could easily understand everything in X-Factor #1.
    While, to an adult reader, it all reads as horribly written, badly explained, and character assassination.

  24. Dazzler says:

    It seemed pretty clear to ol’ Dazzler that the whole Cable-killing-Cable bit was a move to bring the character closer to his movie counterpart, but what do I know?

  25. wwk5d says:

    “Madelyne Pryor was introduced as a baby in that Avengers Annual that introduced Rogue.
    Then, Madelyne shows up as an adult in Uncanny X-Men.”

    I think CC is on record for saying that was just a coincidence, and that he just liked that name and thought about re-using it.

    I always felt Maddie originally was CC giving the middle finger to Jim Shooter. CC and Byrne were originally going to have Jean survive the Dark Phoenix Saga and have both her and Scott leaving the X-men eventually to start their own lives together. So since Jean was dead…let’s give Scott a happy ending of sorts, with a woman who looks veeeeeery much like Jean. Which is kind of creepy when you think about it, but whatever, Scott gets his happy ending, and eventually a family.

    Then Jean is revived, X-factor needs to form, so editorial decides Scott needs to detach himself from his wife and child. And…the execution of it all was not good.

  26. Voord 99 says:

    I seem to remember Claremont saying somewhere that the way he worked was to throw out subplots, and then, when he didn’t have an idea for the next story, go to his notes, pull out one of the subplots he’d already planted, and write a story around it.

    Now, I don’t remember the source, and I may be misremembering. But if accurate, then one thing that suggests is that Claremont didn’t necessarily always have concrete plans mapped out in advance, so much as made sure always to give himself plenty of material with which to improvise. See especially the way in which he used the Classic X-Men backups to go back and do continuity implants to create a coherence that definitely wasn’t part of any original plan.

    For instance, I think the question of how closely Madelyne is supposed to resemble Jean is ambiguous. It’s clearly very close indeed – one can take that as a given. But some things suggest that she’s identical, such as the fact that Scott thinks that she might actually be Jean. And then, when Claremont decides to shut that plot thread down (which is the sort of thing that reads like improvisation rather than a plan that was mapped out from the beginning), it seems that Madelyne can’t actually be identical to Jean, because there’s a limit to how far you can press something that turns out just to be a coincidence.

    I think there’s no there there — there was no original plan for Madelyne, just a series of improvisations around the idea of “Scott meets a new love interest who looks exactly like Jean.” The final improvisation was “Madelyne and Scott get married, and that’s how I get Scott out of the book, except when I want to use him from time to time as a foil.” In particular, I don’t think Claremont gives Madelyne more than very thin characterization before X-Factor happened. She’s a two-dimensional mystery, followed by being a two-dimensional device to end Scott’s story.

    Obviously, when X-Factor happnes, strongly against Claremont’s wishes, things shift radically and Madelyne becomes quite an important character to whom Claremont gives quite a lot of attention. Cf. the way in which he felt compelled to rescue Carol Danvers after you-know-what. But I suspect that, if X-Factor had not been created and Claremont had been left to his own devices (which was never going to happen, admittedly, but let’s imagine), Madelyne was never going to be more than “Scott Summers’s wife.”

  27. wwk5d says:

    With regards to the whole “How much does Maddie resemble Jean” thing…I do remember Lilandra freaking out enough to want to kill Maddie as soon as she met her, thinking she was Jean re-incarnated or something. I think it was during Wolverine and Mariko’s aborted wedding during the Paul Smith era.

  28. Nu-D says:

    I always thought the “Scott loves Maddie because she looks like Jean” plot betrayed a very adolescent idea of love. And I was a (young) adolescent when I read From the Ashes.

    And yes, the Madelyn Pryor who appeared as a child in the Avengers Annual has always been a separate character. It’s only a matter of time, however, before she is retconned into the same one.

  29. Voord 99 says:

    To be fair, I think the way you’re meant to read it (at the end – as noted above, I think there’s a definite element of making things up as one goes along), the other way around, that Scott loved Jean because she looked like Madelyne — that Madelyne was his Destined One True Love all along.

    Waot, there’s no “to be fair” about that at all. That’s just as adolescent.

    Still, we’ll always have Logan being obsessed with Jean because he was in love with that red-haired Irish woman back in the late 19th century. Opens up more space for sideburn-based Wolverine/Banshee shipping.

  30. Nu-D says:

    @Voord describes Claremont’s writing process exactly as I understand it. Though I think Maddie had a little more characterization prior to XFA #1 than he’s crediting.

  31. Moo says:

    Hey, let’s not overlook the stupid Warren scenes in X-Factor #1. When Warren gets the call from Reed Richards that Jean’s turned up alive, he says to Candy “No time to explain!” and bolts.

    No time to explain? Jean’s hanging out in the FF’s headquarters, not being slowly lowered into a vat of acid by a supervillain. He couldn’t take five seconds to fill Candy in?

    Then there’s the bit where he takes HOURS to decide whether or not he should call Scott or not. How could this have taken him hours when two things should have immediately occurred to him: 1) Scott was bound to find out Jean was alive eventually, and 2) If he made no attempt to contact Scott, Jean eventually would have. I mean, how did he expect that conversation to go?

    Warren: “I can’t reach Scott.”
    Jean: “Oh, ok. I guess I’ll just move on with my life then.”

  32. Voord 99 says:

    @Nu-D: Though I think Maddie had a little more characterization prior to XFA #1 than he’s crediting.

    It’s been a while since I read all that, so you may well be right.

    Still, I think Aleytys Forrester wins the “post-Jean Scott Summers girlfriend with a weird y in the last syllable of her name who has the most personality” award. 🙂

  33. wwk5d says:

    Another thing that I realized; the second story doesn’t really fit into continuity. Nathan was born off-panel either in Uncanny #200 or in-between #200 and #201. Except…by the time he is born, the Starjammers have already left Earth with Xavier and Lilandra, and don’t return at any time while Cyclops is still with Maddie and Nathan.

    And CC is the one who originally wrote #200 and #201.

  34. FUBAR007 says:

    wwk5d: Another thing that I realized; the second story doesn’t really fit into continuity. Nathan was born off-panel either in Uncanny #200 or in-between #200 and #201. Except…by the time he is born, the Starjammers have already left Earth with Xavier and Lilandra, and don’t return at any time while Cyclops is still with Maddie and Nathan.

    In an earlier age, such discontinuity would be set up for a storyline.

    In this case, though, I’m pretty sure it’s just CC and Marvel forgetting/ignoring continuity and telling a story they wanted to tell regardless.

  35. Chris V says:

    I don’t think Claremont never intended it that “Scott loved Madelyne because he looked like Jean”.
    I think that was just the initial attraction.
    We are almost always attracted to another person due to some physical characteristic we find appealing, before we really get to know the other person, most of the time.
    Claremont was making some comment about “fate” with the Madelyne relationship.
    It might be quaint “romanticism”, but I wouldn’t call it “adolescent”.
    Claremont never changed his idea that Scott was always destined to be with Madelyne, not with Jean.
    He even touched on it again with X-Men: The End, where Claremont had Jean take the blame for their relationship failing, because she wasn’t Madelyne, and it was Madelyne who truly loved and was meant to be with Scott, and not Jean.
    That’s kind of problematic, considering that Scott cheated on Jean, and Jean seemingly did nothing wrong….but, it shows that Claremont meant the Scott/Maddie relationship to be all about “fate”.

    So, the Madelyne Pryor from Avengers Annual wasn’t meant to be the Uncanny X-Men woman?
    Except, I remember Madelyne Pryor having a hallucination when she was with the X-Men where she remembered herself as that baby though.

  36. Chris V says:

    I don’t think Claremont ever*, not “never intended”.

  37. Chris V says:

    As far as Madelyne’s characterization, well, I’d say it was within the confines of a superhero series, where the domestic situation isn’t always able to get fleshed out in the way it would in “literature”.
    The write needs to focus on action and adventure, or risk losing their core readers.
    The main characters are always going to get a lot more attention than friends and family, for the most part.

    She got more interesting when she became a part of the main cast of the X-Men later.

    I think one good bit of characterization was when Madelyne punched Scott for still thinking she might be Jean.
    It showed she was more than just “Scott’s love interest”.

  38. Luis Dantas says:

    The Avengers Annual #10 Maddie Pryor was connected to the wreckage plot one by Claremont himself.

    She was revealed to have that child’s memories (presumably put there by Mr. Sinister) somewhere between Uncanny X-Men #235-#238.

  39. FUBAR007 says:

    Chris V: He even touched on it again with X-Men: The End, where Claremont had Jean take the blame for their relationship failing, because she wasn’t Madelyne, and it was Madelyne who truly loved and was meant to be with Scott, and not Jean.

    Close. CC had Jean reveal that Madelyne was the part of her that loved Scott most and that she and Madelyne “were never supposed to be apart”. In other words, Madelyne and Jean were two parts of one person. Scott and Jean’s marriage failed because the Jean that married Scott was the non-Madelyne leftovers, and her feelings for him weren’t as strong.

    It was a tweak the background Claremont and Louise Simonson presented for Madelyne in “Inferno”: the Phoenix creates a Jean duplicate using a piece of Jean’s soul and places Jean in stasis; when Phoenix later commits suicide, it tries to put that piece back into Jean, but Jean rejects it because of what Dark Phoenix did, so the Phoenix gives it instead to Madelyne, Sinister’s clone of Jean. Claremont’s addition in The End was to specify that that “piece of Jean’s soul” was the part that truly loved Scott.

    Now, of course, that glosses over the fact that getting married was ultimately Jean’s idea. She proposed to Scott. But, it’s par for the course for Claremont to ignore what other X-Men writers wrote, and The End was set in an alternate timeline, anyway.

  40. Claremont named Madelyne Pryor after the singer – but when obsessive fans pointed out he’d used the name before as the name of the child in Avengers Annual #10, by then he was reworking Madelyne into a clone so he transplanted it into her backstory. Claremont has always been adaptable, as any one of the many Iron Fist plots which migrated into X-Men will demonstrate.

    I enjoyed the subversion in Uncanny X-Men #175 where Madelyne was revealed to have no connection to Jean – that it was all pure coincidence. It was a neat commentary on how in a comic book universe, characters would naturally assume there is never such thing as a coincidence and assume she must be Jean/Phoenix.

    But we obsessive fans, we HATE coincidences. Hate ’em immensely. I blame us for the ‘Maddie is a clone’ retcon.

  41. Chris V says:

    I know it’s a joke, but it wasn’t the fans’ fault. It was Marvel editorial and the existence of X-Factor’s fault.
    The writers had to do something to save Scott’s character. He wasn’t a hero anymore. He just dropped his wife and kid because his “old girlfriend” was back, and he was having a lot more fun with her and his old buddies.

    Maddie had to be destroyed, to make it so that it was ok that Scott left his family.
    So, she was a clone, part of an evil plot by Scott’s arch-enemy.
    In his subconscious, Scott knew all along that Madelyne was just a clone, and that’s why he felt it was ok to abandon his family.

  42. Moo says:

    “In his subconscious, Scott knew all along that Madelyne was just a clone, and that’s why he felt it was ok to abandon his family.”

    Huh? Since when?

  43. FUBAR007 says:

    The problem with the whole Scott/Madelyne relationship from the get-go was it only worked if Madelyne actually was Jean reincarnated.* Otherwise, one has to believe the notion that Scott marrying his dead girlfriend’s exact doppelganger wasn’t a sign of serious psychological problems.

    I remained convinced for years that Claremont had always secretly intended for Madelyne to be Jean. There were the hints he dropped during the original “From the Ashes” storyline as well as more in the couple of years after Scott and Madelyne’s wedding. But, no, Claremont has been consistently adamant that he really did intend for Madelyne to be a totally random Jean lookalike and those hints were all red herrings.

    What Bob Layton did in X-Factor #1 was take Claremont at his word on that and try to expose how bad and how nuts that made Scott look. To anyone normal, marrying your dead girlfriend’s lookalike isn’t true love; it’s a sign of morbid obsession and a severe inability to let go. From that perspective, Scott’s coldness to Madelyne was because he’d come to realize the mistake he’d made in marrying her.

    *As a side note, it mystifies me to this day that, once the decision to bring Jean back had been made, not one person at Marvel thought to simply reveal that, yes, Madelyne was Jean after all. It would’ve averted all the character assassination of Scott that followed. Madelyne had no backstory so they still could’ve worked in Busiek’s suspended animation/replacement concept.

  44. Voord 99 says:

    If one views it realistically, that’s absolutely true.

    But the Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest (as TV Tropes calls it) is a reasonably common literary device. I think that’s the way to take it – it’s about symbolizing the idea that there is a destined “one right person” for everybody, and one probably shouldn’t apply real-world standards.

    So if one looks at is as a reading of Claremont, I think what Layton did was a bit obtuse. But in any case, there is good reason to think that Layton was not particularly invested in reading Claremont sensitively. 🙂

  45. Will says:

    When considering the implications of Scott’s attraction to Madelyne, I always think it’s worth considering one other thing: Sinister.

    In one of the many time travel plots, Scott and Jean ended up in 19th century London, where Sinister got hold of their gene samples and noticed that “oh, hey, if I breed these two I’ll get an Apocalypse-killing badass”.

    Then, later, he got hold of Scott after the plane crash, and is known to have put a fuckton of stuff in his head, doing all kinds of damage along the way.

    My theory is that one of the things Sinister put in there was programming Scott to have a serious thing for redheads, and especially redheads who look like Jean Grey. Then, when Jean died, he cloned Maddy and sent her out to trigger Scott’s ginger fever.

    … That doesn’t take away from Scott’s shittiness as a husband, but I think it’s worth considering as an explanation for his high-speed marriage with a Jean-alike.

  46. Moo says:

    X-Factor #1 would’ve played out the same way even if Claremont hadn’t created Madelyne Pryor and instead had Scott marry Lee Forrester. Or Colleen Wing. Or a bookshelf.

  47. FUBAR007 says:

    Voord 99: But the Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest (as TV Tropes calls it) is a reasonably common literary device. I think that’s the way to take it – it’s about symbolizing the idea that there is a destined “one right person” for everybody, and one probably shouldn’t apply real-world standards.

    …which just means accepting Madelyne as Jean in a symbolic, meta sense only.

    It’s a crap trope. As executed, Scott/Madelyne was still a bad idea.

    Though I suppose one way it could’ve worked is if Claremont had revealed that Maddie didn’t really look like Jean and that the resemblance was all a mindfuck by Mastermind.

    IMO, for the story Claremont ostensibly wanted to tell–Scott “graduating” from the superhero life and becoming a civilian, he should’ve had Scott marry Lee Forrester.

    Will: My theory is that one of the things Sinister put in there was programming Scott to have a serious thing for redheads, and especially redheads who look like Jean Grey. Then, when Jean died, he cloned Maddy and sent her out to trigger Scott’s ginger fever.

    If Marvel ever wanted to deconstruct Scott and Jean’s relationship completely, such a retcon would be one way to do it. “Scott and Jean never loved each other at all; it was just Sinister’s brainwashing.”

  48. Voord 99 says:

    …which just means accepting Madelyne as Jean on a symbolic, meta level only

    Yes. That’s what “symbolizes” means.


  49. Paul Fr says:

    It always surprises me that Uncanny X-Men #201 and X-Factor #1 were only a month apart. I always assumed that Cyclops was retired from the X-Men for at least a little while before he went to join X-Factor not that it was practically the next issue.

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