A Comic Book Entry – Cyclops is Bella Swan

I can’t promise that statement will make total sense by the time you’ve finished reading, but I’ll say there’s a high likelihood it will at least make more sense.

First, I’d like a word here to remark on some of the comments on the Marvel Wiki regarding the relationship between Cyclops and Jean Grey.  Yes, I could respond directly but then I’d have to sign up and deal with people who are objectively wrong in their views.  Or I could post my snarkage to my blog without the high risk of a flame war.  Really, not a hard choice.  Anyway, the upshot of these comments was that Jean was a cheating whore with Wolverine and Cyclops is so much better off with Emma Frost.  To which I say – [Expletive!]  These people are wrong.  Flat out, completely, and incontrovertibly wrong.  Briefly, here’s why:

1) I will grant that Jean and Wolverine’s flirtatious relationship went on much too long.  As adults, they should have worked out their feelings and made a decision and stuck to it instead of stringing along a thing that would never work.  That said, I’m pretty sure Jean never actually had an affair with Wolverine of any length, nor actually had sex with him.  An intense make-out session, maybe.  This does not, to me, qualify Jean for the designation of “cheating whore” although it does qualify her for the designation of “irresponsible.”

2) Cyclops did damn near have a psychic affair with Psylocke somewhere in the mid 90s. This was not just a few encounters either.  Granted, part of this is the fault of the writers that thought it was a great idea to put Cyclops and Psylocke on one team and Jean and Wolverine on the other.  But, in that instance, Cyclops acted much more on his straying urges than Jean ever did and as far as I could tell, no psychic manipulation was involved.

3) Cyclops was actually having a psychic affair with Emma Frost.  There’s no question of that.  It was made very explicit he was cheating on his wife.  Although I will grant in this instance he may not have had much of a choice given Emma’s mastery of manipulation and telepathy (that’s totally her thing; see below).

4) Emma Frost is an objectively terrible person on every level.
a) As a reminder, her introduction in the comics was during the Dark Phoenix Saga (or at least her important introduction; she may have shown up before then; I really don’t know) as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club.  She was working with Jason Wyngard (Mastermind) to psychically and psychological brain-wash Jean into becoming the Black Queen.  That was how the White Queen was introduced – as trying to destroy Jean Grey.
b) Also as a reminder, Xavier told Cyclops to talk to Emma for help with his marriage problems (something I will rant on again).  Cyclops went to Emma for help and she took advantage of that by further destroying his marriage because she hates Jean Grey.
c) Apologetic retconning back stories aside, she has never really reformed from her villain days.  She was manipulative and cruel and selfish as the White Queen and she still is.  The only way Marvel could have made her personality more obvious would have been to name her Bitchy McManipulator.  She is the female equivalent of a douche-bag (note to self – find or coin word for female douche-bag).

Actually, this does segue into the title of this rant.  I tried to get away from the unfortunate pop-culture phenomenon that is “Twilight” and somehow ended up watching three movies.  I also documented my attempt to read (or at least listen to) the books and how that ended up with failure as my brain shorted out on the sheer ridiculous angst of it.  To say these books have also generated a lot of criticism is to say that Bella is a little whiny.  One criticism I have heard is that Bella has essentially no role in the story except to be fought over by two powerful men.  She doesn’t really assert herself when Edward’s being stalker-ish and over-protective; she doesn’t really assert herself when Jacob’s being stalker-ish and over-protective either.  Both men treat her like she’s some fragile flower incapable of taking care of herself (which she kind of is) and neither seem to trust her with her decisions.  She tells Jacob she’s chosen Edward and Jacob’s response is basically, “You’ll get over it,” and Edward’s response is basically, “I’ll have to watch over you all the time to make sure that’s true.”   The central drama of the story is that choice between Team Edward and Team Jacob and Bella’s personality, attitudes, opinions, basically everything outside of that choice are irrelevant to her character or character development.  She is little more than a prize to be won than a person to be in a relationship with.

Now, consider the literary lobotomy done on Cyclops in the past few years, especially in regards to his love life.  Does he get a say in his marriage?  Once, maybe, but not lately.  We find out as Jean tries to talk to Xavier about Emma’s unsubtle attempts to break up her marriage that Xavier loved Jean, but since he couldn’t have her (being an old man and her being a teenager), he arranged for her and the boy he considered a son (Cyclops) to be together.  So that basically retconned all of their past and plainly stated Cyclops had no choice but to love Jean Grey.  Because when the world’s most powerful telepath says, “You will…,” it happens.  Of course, given that Jean was the only girl in a group of four boys, Xavier could have also let nature take its course (but that’s also the writers’ fault for forgetting the man is supposed to have a degree or two or three in psychiatry).

So now Cyclops is caught between Team Jean and Team Emma, although for reasons stated above I have no idea why anyone would be on Team Emma (then again, I thought Edward and Jacob were obnoxious too).  But in all this fighting, where is Cyclops?  Being manipulated by telepath and master manipulator Emma and going right along with an affair that is destroying the last vestiges of his troubled marriage with little to no awareness of it.  I will grant that Cyclops may not have been able to resist the psychic affair because his mental defenses just aren’t that good.  Then Jean catches on and kills Emma, has second thoughts, and resurrects her. Why do that?  Because Jean knows she’s dying and has some vision of the future where an emotionally devestated Cyclops fails to save the world and she decides the way to prevent this is to psychically manipulate him into dating Emma Frost, that woman she hated so much (and rightfully so) she ripped her apart on an atomic level (clearly the Editor in Chief, if not actually on the side of Team Emma, was firmly against the side of Team Jean).

I hope the parallels are obvious now.  There’s tension between Jean and Emma (rightfully so; see their history above), and Cyclops is caught in the middle, but he is irrelevant to that drama.  He is merely the plot point that drives the drama, which is been Jean Grey and Emma Frost, forward.  In the end, the motivation for both women isn’t even about being with Cyclops.  Emma’s motivation from beginning to end was to hurt Jean Grey, and then the opportunity to do so by wrecking Jean/Cyclops’ marriage almost literally falls in her lap (as does Cyclops…).  She’s a villain; she wasn’t going to pass that up but does she actually care about Cyclops?  I’m going to go with ‘no’ since aside from having sex with him, she treats him like everyone else, which is to say she treats him like garbage.  He was a prize to be won away from her hated rival, Jean.  Like Jacob/Edward and Bella, Emma didn’t trust Cyclops to make the decision she wanted for him, so she was forcing it.

Jean’s motivation in the end also wasn’t about Cyclops; it was about saving the future as she saw it.  I’m sure she wanted him to be happy, but like Jacob/Edward and Bella, she just didn’t trust Cyclops to make the decision she wanted for him, so she forced it.  She basically gave Cyclops to Emma as though he was just a possession with no will of his own.  What Cyclops might or might not have wanted in a relationship, or who he wanted a relationship with, was irrelevant.  His own decisions were never taken into consideration except how they weren’t what either Jean or Emma wanted.  Now Cyclops is living with a decision two powerful women made for him and he’s gotten essentially no say in the matter.

Here’s the weird thing, though.  The role of a female character as little more than a plot point for a man is sadly not new or uncommon.  It is pretty unusual, I think, to see a male character receive the same treatment.  However, I don’t view that as progress in the cause of gender equality.  Bella Swan is a lost cause.  The books are written and the movies soon to be out and over with.  But Cyclops may have a chance at salvation (although to be fair, his relationship with Emma may be one of the least poor character developments that have been made in the past few years).  How about someone be on the side of Team Cyclops for once?


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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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