So far this series has been a solid epilogue to “Avengers vs X-Men.”

REVIEW: “AvX: Consequences” #3 — Click to read entire review

“‘AvX: Consequences,’  by Kieron Gillen with art by Scot Eaton, serves as a direct epilogue to ‘Avengers Vs. X-Men,’ getting inside the head of the former mutant leader, forcing him to face the results of his actions in ‘AvX.’

Gillen has been on point with this miniseries and continues to be so here — the direction taken with Summers reinforces the idea he has indeed become the new Magneto — at least ideologically. Cyclops put mutantkind above everything else in ‘AvX,’ including the mass loss of human life. As a result he’s been imprisoned by Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes. However, these characters are living in a more complicated world than when Magneto was top dog and with that realization comes the crux of this mini: a muddied line between right and wrong.”

Here we are, in the middle of the Top 3 Power Rankings and only one number away from numero uno! It took us long enough but we’re about to rank the best of the absolute best the X-Men have to offer. So brace yourself. Things are getting intense!

So what are power rankings? Mostly used to rank sports teams on how well they are playing now, my power rankings are a list of X-Men based on what their power set is in current continuity (or most recent appearance). Other factors that determined a character’s ranking are: what their power potential is, what they’ve already proven they can do (so long as it is still relevant in current continuity), and their over all level of badassness. If you disagree with me that’s totally cool- please leave a civilized comment explaining why. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and while I believe this list to be very solid in it’s numbering, I want to hear your thoughts! So anyway, here is number 2:

cyclops#2. Cyclops: Think back to the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s when Scott Summers was Professor Xavier’s ‘yes man’ boy scout. A time when he was the hall monitor of the X-Men, the goody-two-shoes of mutantkind. Well, picture that time and then forget about it because in 2009 Cyclops is hands down the most bad ass X-Man on the roster. He has stones of steel and only one thing on his mind; preserving mutantkind as a race and going to whatever lengths necessary to do so. He has readily become the lighthouse for mutants everywhere, and is unofficially the new leader of everyone with the X-gene. For more reasons why Cyclops is hardcore and deserving of the #2 spot, click here and read the detailed article I wrote about him.

Powers: Cyke’s power, as I’m sure we all know, is to emit a concussive ruby colored energy blast (or optic beam) from his eyes. As the result of a childhood injury, his control over the beams is very limited, which is why he has to wear a visor (or sunglasses) made of ruby quartz to prevent them from escaping while his eyes are opened. However, in Joss Whedon’s run of Astonishing X-Men, there was a brief time where Cyclops had control of his beams which allowed him to fully open his eyes without them escaping. Since the conclusion of that story arc though, this idea has not been touched upon. The blasts do not harm him, and the thin membrane of his eyelids is enough to stop the emission of energy (of course, with his eyes closed he cannot see) from busting loose. Scott’s eyes act as a valve control for the width of his beams, meaning if he squints they will be more finely tuned than if his eyes are wide open. The visor he wears makes this job easier for him. The narrowest beam he can generate is the width of a pencil that can travel 4 feet with the concussive force of 2 pounds per square inch. His broadest beam is about 90 feet which can travel 50 feet with the force of 10 pounds per square inch. Cyclops’ most powerful optic blast is 4 feet across which from 50 feet away has a concussive impact of 500 pounds per square inch! After the distance of 2,000 feet his beam becomes ineffective. Also, if he were to blast away for a solid 15 minutes, he would become fatigued, causing the beam to be temporarily non-functional and forcing him to ‘recharge’ his power. There is speculation that Scott has yet to use his optic beams at their full potential- partly because of how dangerous it could be, and partly because he doesn’t have full control over them. Tony Stark once recorded that his energy output is well over 2 giga-watts- more powerful than a nuclear reactor. When in combat, Scott is attuned to his environment in such a way that he can see angles clearly with which to blast an opponent or have his beams ricochet in his favor. He is also a natural leader, stand out pilot, master tactician, and a very capable hand to hand fighter- in the past he’s stood toe to toe with the likes of Wolverine and Ghost Rider. Cyclops is also Havok and Vulcan’s brother.

First Appearance: X-Men #1, 1963.

astonishing-x-men-cyclops-5-50kSince M Day, mutant kind has been on the run from an enemy that cannot be defeated by any mutant power: Extinction. Scott Summers, the leader of the X-Men, has matured immensely with the grim situation, moving the X-Men from Westchester, NY to San Francisco, CA, and changing his team’s mentality from one of spreading the message of peace between man and mutant to spreading the seed of mutant survival- at any cost. As an effect of this decision, Professor Charles Xavier’s long-time mission for peaceful coexistence between man and mutant is truly all but dead; Cyclops, Xavier’s most promising student, has turned his back on ‘The Dream.’ It would seem that nearly every other member of the X-Men has come to accept these new ground rules as fact; survival over peace and reality over dreams.

However, with the current crossover event between the X-Men and the Dark Avengers, the new Utopia story line is seriously testing the mettle of Scott Summers. Mutant hate groups like the Humanity Now! Coalition and The Purifiers make the Friends of Humanity look like a group of pre-school teachers. Cyclops’ fellow X-Men are looking to him to lead them through this tumultuous time for mutants across the globe, and Scott has shown that desperate times call for desperate measures. Lets take a look at some of the recent transpirings of Scott Summers, and see if they mirror those of a long time nemesis of the X-Men:

as1. Cyclops is creating his own private safe haven for mutants. When the X-Men moved to San Francisco, Cyclops revealed that he had purchased a bunch of old and unused military bases. He has converted these underground bases into places of refuge for all mutants (powered or de-powered) and their families to live. Under the watchful eye of the X-Men they will be protected from anti-mutant groups who would look to harm them. Sound familiar? Well it should as Magneto has already done this; do the locales Genosha and Asteroid M ring a bell?

2. For most of his career, Scott Summers has had a father/son relationship with Charles Xavier. Cyclops was his top student, and deservedly so. However, during Messiah Complex, Scott literally kicked Xavier out of the X-Men, claiming that his methods were out of date and that he needed to evolve with the times if mutant kind hoped to survive. Notice a trend here? At one time Magneto and Xavier were working together for mutant advancement, but their conflicting ideals forced Erik to walk away. Once again- The Dream is dead!

3. The creation of X-Force is probably the most glaring evidence that Cyclops has crossed a line- one that he never would have thought to cross when Xavier was leading the X-Men. Essentially, Scott has commissioned X-Force, a team of mutantkind’s best hunters, trackers, and killers, to eliminate any and all threats to mutant kind. Talk about tossing peaceful coexistence out the window! Cyclops wants his message to be clear- this fight is about preventing the extinction of the mutant race. We may as well call X-Force a more capable version of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Throw in the fact that Scott is keeping this team secret from the other X-Men (including Emma Frost), and it’s apparent that the ‘yes man’ Scott Summers is a thing of the past.

image459244. Not all of Cyclops’ teammates have gone along with his shift of philosophy without speaking up. In Astonishing X-Men #26, Storm, the present Queen of Wakanda and former Gold Team leader, does exactly this. Check out Scott’s pointed response:

“No one enjoys killing. Not even Logan, really. But my first responsibility is to keep mutants alive. Everything takes second place to there being enough adult mutants alive to protect the new generation… You’re Queen of Wakanda. If Wakanda declared war on Zimbabwe tomorrow, which isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, I read the papers- you’d have to sign the declaration of war too. And that’s killing people.We grew up, Ororo. These are the jobs we got…. if you never want to be put in a situation where someone might have to be killed, go home now…  And don’t give me that ‘you’ve changed, Scott.’ I can see it in your eyes. I killed a man once. So did you. You killed in self-defense. I killed by accident. Neither of us will do it lightly again, that’s the way it goes.”

Like Magneto, Cyclops has become a total bad ass. Even Wolverine notices in X-Force #13, “Summers. He’s so hardcore lately, I’m starting to feel inadequate.” Coming from Logan, that’s not a remark to be taken lightly. He’s also sick of toying around with obnoxious villains who aren’t worth his time to fight. This is the verbal smack down he lays on Toad in Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men Utopia #1:

“I’ve been beating you up since I was a teenager Toad. I’ll stop whenever you’re ready to stop being the most useless cretin on the face of the Earth.”

In Dark Avengers #7 (Utopia Part III) Scott comes face to face with Norman Osborn, the head of H.A.M.M.E.R. and leader of the Dark Avengers, where he warns Norman to leave San Francisco and stay out of the X-Men’s affairs:

“Surrender, withdraw, pull out, retreat, whatever you want to call it. You’ve got the rioters under control by now, or you soon will. Get the fires out and the curfew to run quietly tomorrow night, and then get the hell out of my town. Come out, say you and I met, say we came to terms and you believe the city is in good hands. Say whatever you have to say to save face and go. You and your army can go find some other war to fight somewhere- I don’t care. But you can’t stay here.” How ballsy is that?

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5. Sure, the argument could be made that Cyclops is nothing like Magneto, as the Master of Magnetism usually accompanied his troops in battle by leading the charge, whereas Cyclops rarely joins his team in combat. To that I say, sure, but unlike Magneto, Cyclops is more useful to mutantkind calling the shots from the safety of a war room. Plus, he doesn’t have the comfort of a magnetic shield to repel all sorts of attacks. Also unlike Magneto, Cyke has plenty of accomplished generals at his disposal to direct troops in battle. Who was Magneto going to have lead in his stead- The Blob? Avalanche?… Toad? Please, don’t make me laugh.

With these thoughts in mind, I leave you with a brief conversation between Hank McCoy and Scott at the end of Astonishing X-Men #30:

Beast: Do you remember when we were kids, Scott? When everyone called you Slim, and everyone called me Hank?

Cyclops: Honestly? Not so much anymore.

And neither should you. It’s a new era for our favorite mutants, and Cyclops is the man to lead the way.

It has been awhile since I could say an issue of Uncanny X-Men was totally awesome. This issue blows the 500th anniversary issue out of the park and should not be missed by any X-Fan!

Brief plot synopsis:

After moving from Westchester, NY to San Francisco, CA only an issue ago, the X-Men are riding high and clearly enjoying the bright sunny weather and their new change of scene. Especially the young mutant Pixie, who is enjoying a night out on the town with her significant other. Things quickly go awry, however, as Pixie and her friend are lynched by a group of mutant hating, hockey mask wearing gang of men who call themselves The Hellfire Cult. After dealing with the Friends of Humanity on the East Coast, the X-Men must now face this adversity in their new environment and Cyclops isn’t happy…

Some thoughts on the issue:

-Both Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction do a stellar job on this issue. Where Uncanny X-Men #500 was flat and exposition filled, Uncanny X-Men #501 is the exact opposite. Both writers capture the fresh energy of the team as they adapt to their new location, and are able to create a West Coast feel, as it is more vibrant and lively than the East Coast. I especially enjoyed the scene where the X-Men are just hanging out at the new mansion. Moments like this are few and far between, and it is a breath of fresh air to see the X-Men kicking back, enjoying each others company, shooting the ‘stuff’.

-Artist Greg Land does great work setting the scene, as the X-Men come across as younger, hipper, and happier than they were on the East Coast. I highly commend Land for making Emma Frost look hot once again. Emma hasn’t looked this good in a long long time, and it’s nice to finally see her be the sexy vixen she’s supposed to be, especially when naked. That’s right: naked. Still, Land could use more variety as most of his women look similar, even though they’re always attractive!

-The cast is a good mix as it includes Cyclops, Emma Frost, Angel, Colossus, Beast, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Pixie. I wouldn’t be surprised if more mutants show up within the next few issues.

-It’s worth mentioning that Emma and Scott’s relationship has definitely evolved over the last few years, and it no longer seems like a forced convention. In this issue, the couple comes across as loving, committed, steamy, and sexy.

-I used to hate Cyclops, especially in the 90’s, but I’ve definitely done a 180 on the character as he’s turned into a total bad ass. It’s clear Scott is no longer Xavier’s golden boy as he isn’t afraid to make the hard decisions. Wolverine respects the guy, and that’s saying something.

-Some one liners:

“Warren Worthington. Angel. Flight. CEO Worthington Industries. Skajillionaire.” – Narration Bubble

“Am I imagining things, or are we all much more… squirrelly… since moving to San Francisco? Not just you and I– All of the X-Men seem much more sex-saturated…” – Emma Frost

“Whatever you say, Warren… Anything to make this awful morning commute go faster.” – Cyclops

“Besides, everybody on this bridge will spend the next day and [a] half telling everyone they know that the coolest thing they ever saw… was the Uncanny X-Men driving to work.” – Cyclops

**MINOR SPOILERS- SKIP TO ‘THE FINAL WORD’ BELOW IF YOU MUST**

I’ve never given spoilers before in my reviews, but I’m so pumped about this issue, I need to talk about a few things:

-Cyclops is setting up multiple bases in the mountains of Marin which are intended to be used as safe havens for all mutants, powers or not. This is very interesting as a move like this seems like something out of Magneto’s playbook as opposed to Xavier’s… remember Asteroid M?

-It was revealed in this issue that Beast is ‘devolving’ as his hands are now more dexterous than ever since his secondary mutation. Does this mean that he is losing his secondary mutation? If so, will others be losing theirs as well?

-The X-Men’s company name, Graymalkin Industries, was a funny touch.

**END SPOILERS**

The final word:

This book was my first ever 5 star rating and deservedly so as it was highly enjoyable. If you’ve been off the X-Wagon for awhile, and are looking for a convenient time to start reading again, this issue and the one that preceeded it are your perfect jumping on points. Make no mistake, Uncanny X-Men #501 is a must have for all X-Men fans and comic book readers alike!

5/5 stars

Uncanny X-Men #501

Let it be known that I really enjoy this series! Jeff Parker writes dialogue that has it’s own tone and yet compliments the original stories it is attempting to re-create. The art is spectacular too. Characters and their surroundings are cleanly and clearly drawn, with textured detail one can easily appreciate.

From their first publication in 1963, many of the original X-Men stories can be mind numbing to read. Such as when the X-Men battled The Locust way back in Uncanny X-Men #24. A villain who magnifies grasshoppers to the size of large dogs. He then has the giant grasshoppers munch on crops and magnifies some other bugs as well. A less than exhilarating battle ensues. Yet X-Men First Class Volume 2 takes the original five X-Men (Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, Angel, Jean Grey) and revives their past as something of the present. This book exists in the modern day and, in a way, rewrites the history of the original team as all the stories take place during their first year as X-Men. Of course, this title is most likely considered to be in an Alternate Universe, like the characters in Ultimate X-Men. Regardless, this book is very well put together.

Now onto the review!

I thought it was cool that Jeff Parker chose to revive the Man-Thing into the pages of an X-Men comic. Man-Thing’s appearance in Uncanny X-Men #144 also featured Cyclops and the villain D’Spayre. Cyclops fights them both and wins. When old characters like Man-Thing reappear in comics it is always a treat, especially after they have been missing for awhile. The Man-Thing’s power causes him to burn people who are afraid of him, but will burn himself if he fears his opponent. That is how Cyclops defeated him back in Uncanny X-Men #144; Cyclops conquered his fear of him. In this issue, the Man-Thing is also forced to mimic the emotions of people around him. If the people close to him are aggressive, Man-Thing will be aggressive. If they are calm, Man-Thing will be calm.

The issue begins when an extra-terrestrial is rocketed into space. This is good news for the X-Men because this extra-terrestrial hindered their powers from working while it was within the atmosphere of the Earth. With the E.T. gone, the X-Men’s powers have returned, but with a price. The X-Men are forced to enter the swamp of the Man-Thing and due to the departure of the E.T., a time nexus has been created there. The time nexus pulls living organisms throughout history into the present. This causes the X-Men to have close encounters with a Nazi sub, a group of spear chucking Valkeries, and a fire breathing sea serpent. They make it out o.k., but Iceman turns up missing. This is where things start to get interesting. When Man-Thing shows up, the X-Men believe him to be responsible for the disappearance of Iceman. A fight ensues and Jean Grey is sucked into another reality, as is Beast. Hank McCoy (Beast) then returns as he has been assimilated with a version of himself from an alternate reality. In this reality, Beasts mutation has gone ‘too far’ and he appears as the furry Beast pre-Secondary Mutation with the ferocity of Sabertooth. . . Got all that? . . . Man-Thing then takes hold of him and reverts Beast back to his human form. Angel, Cyclops, and Beast then begin to search for Jean Grey and Bobby Drake (Iceman). Due to the X-Men calming down and ceasing to fight, Man-Thing mimics their calm emotions and helps to locate Jean and Bobby. Luckily for the X-Men, Man-Thing has the power to find people in alternate realities.

First they encounter Jean. She has been assimilated with an alternate version of herself that has become the final incarnation of the Dark Phoenix Force. Dark Phoenix (Jean Grey) has killed all the mutants on Earth in an act of vengeance. She is shocked when she sees her long dead love, Scott Summers (Cyclops). “They killed you! That’s why they all had to die!”, the Dark Phoenix says to him in compulsive disbelief. Before more can happen, Man-Thing helps Jean Grey, like Beast, to separate from her alternate version self of the Dark Phoenix. She is returned to the correct reality and with the Man-Things help once more, the team finds Iceman. Being a huge Iceman fan myself, the two pages featuring his alternate version were kick ass. Bobby Drake became a gigantic ice monster who referred to himself as the ‘Ice Giant’. He is battling Thor one on one, and Thor calls out to him in battle, “You could have been the most powerful hero rather than a frost giant.” Those are pretty impressive props- Especially coming from the God of Thunder. Before all hell breaks loose, Iceman becomes his own entity once more via Man-Thing, and everyone returns to their normal reality. The X-Men learn that Professor Xavier had telepathically connected himself with Man-Thing in order to aid his students in their adventure. The time nexus then closes up, Man-Thing returns to his swamp, and the X-Men return home to the Mansion. This first eight issue arc ends abruptly, but in a good way; the door is left open for many future possibilities.

As I stated before, I really enjoy X-Men First Class Volume 2 as a series and would recommend it to a well read X-Fan and to anyone who has never read a comic book before in their life. It compliments the original stories in that it uses the first class (heh) of X-Men but gives them a modern trend. Still, elements of the first stories are preserved; Such as how Professor Xavier accompanies the X-Men on their missions via his telepathy. More importantly, this book doesn’t feel like it was rushed during the production process. The flow and pace is exciting and clear which makes it easy to follow. Plus, the Mini Marvels stories written and illustrated by Chris Giarrusso are highly entertaining. In this issue the Mini Marvels story featured Iron Man trying to convince the X-Men to don suits of iron. Hilarious! WithX-Men First Class Volume 2 #8, Marvel Comics has supplied the reader with a comic book to look forward to.