Greg Rucka has worked in the framework of the Marvel Universe before, but this month, he transitioned to a new side of it with “Cyclops” #1, heading back to the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel U after an extended absence. Following the events of “The Trial of Jean Grey,” Rucka and Russell Dauterman are currently following time-displaced young Scott Summers as he goes on an interstellar adventure with his father, Corsair — and the duo are currently about to embark on a father/son road trip through space.
Joining X-Position for the first time, Greg Rucka took on your questions about the recently-debuted series, including Cyclops’ romantic prospects as a time-displaced, hormonal sixteen year-old, his relationship with Corsair and much, much more. Plus, Rucka lets readers in on when they can expect an explanation of why Corsair showed back up alive and well following the events of “X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire.”
CBR News: Greg, there was somewhat of a common thread to the questions this week, and many wanted to know whether Cyclops would have any romantic connections during his time as a space pirate. Is there anything you can tease about that side of the series?
Greg Rucka: He’s a sixteen year-old hormonal boy, who I think is coming to terms with the fact that whatever he felt for Jean, he is — I think — trying to leave that behind. Whether or not that’s successful is a question for other people to answer; ultimately, I think that’s something that’s going to be in Brian [Michael Bendis]’s hands. He’s definitely going to try to play the field, but let’s face it — girls are still a mystery.
Much like they were for many of us when we were sixteen.
Right, and — for many of us — still are. But, of course there’s going to be romance! It’s an X-Men book! There will be a girl or three, not at the same time. Ironically, there was a beat in the second issue, there was a character and there was a subplot there that I wanted to play with. Russell and I talked about it, but it’s a 20-page book and we weren’t able to get it in, so I’m hoping to be able to bring that character back.
[Cyclops] is a hormonal sixteen year-old! [Laughs] If it’s pretty, he’s going to look at it! And I love Scott, I’m not maligning him. This is not to bash him. Despite what may have happened with the older model of Scott having some poor judgment in regards to his choice in women, maybe, this is a sixteen year-old young man! And, I should point out, this is a sixteen year-old young man who’s never actually had any opportunity for romance. If you look at his history, he’s been in crap situation after crap situation, and he just got to Xavier’s and there’s Jean — the only girl there! Of course he falls for her! That’s the first time he’s in a stable environment.
Now, he’s jumped into the future, we saw the stuff with Laura, and now he’s out in space with Dad. So, of course he’s going to be looking around.
Before jumping into specific questions, there were also quite a few readers that wanted to know about adult Cyclops and his relation to young Scott. How will knowing his future will affect Cyclops’ actions in the series?
It is an interesting question, right? Because you have to ask if it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think it’s very clear in that first issue that Scott does not like what he has seen of his future. He does not want to be that. He certainly doesn’t understand how he got there, but he’s got enough information now to know that there was a hell of a lot of pain involved, and that pain led to some poor judgments. Who he is going to become is an overarching question. I can’t reveal the answer to that yet, otherwise there’s no point to the series. What I really wanted to do with this book is give this Scott a chance to be a young man full of all the promise and hope and dreams and desires he had at that age, and to remove him from the situation of — frankly, near unending persecution, both from humanity outside and the conflicts within the X-Men. That’s one of the things that Brian has allowed us to do, is to step away from that.
There are very few of us that wouldn’t look back on ourselves at sixteen and go, “Wow, if I could do it over again, I would make some significantly different choices.” Yeah! [Laughs] There were lots of mistakes that we made. In a sadistic way, our Scott is lucky because he has — imagine what would have happened to older Scott if he had found his dad at sixteen. Just imagine that. You’d get a very different man.
I remember reading the original [Chris] Claremont issues where Scott shows up and goes, “Hey, Alex! This is our dad!” I remember reading that and thinking, “That really should be a bigger moment.” [Laughs] There’s a conversation that we need to see and we’re not seeing it. There’s a significant conversation that comes up in issue #3. Issues #3 and #4 are going to be where everybody drops the book, because that’s where Scott and Corsair do a lot of talking. [Laughs] “More optic blasts! What the hell?! I thought this was a space thing!” They’ve got to have a come-to-Jesus and both of them are kind of afraid of it. They get into a situation where Scott calls his dad on a perceived thing and that leads to some other stuff, because Chris has got a lot of guilt — and a lot of it is well-earned.
Ultimately, I am not writing “X-Men.” I am in service to the title that Brian is writing. As far as I’m concerned, my job is to make sure that when he wants Scott back, Scott is returned intact and the way that he wants. With that in mind, what I want for this is for Scott to have a break. I want him to get a little healthier. I wanted him to be — Logan is Clint Eastwood. Scott is Gary Cooper. That’s who Scott has always been to me. He’s the guy who does the right thing and it’s kind of boring, but there’s core heroism in that, that has clearly been lost in the older version. Agree or disagree with what older Scott did — and that’s not a debate I have interest in taking a stand in right now, because it’s not relevant — to this Scott, it’s established: he doesn’t want to be that.
Ztopia kicks off reader questions with a question about alternative fighting methods for Cyclops in space.
First off! Great issue! Now that the young Scott Summers has found a melee weapon, I was wondering will Kid Cyke explore combat alternatives, instead of just solely relying on his premature concussive beam? Being a pirate requires one to be flexible with their abilities.
Yes, indeed. There’s a bit of a running gag in the first three issues about his inability to use the sword properly, and that will be resolved. He’s still learning to use that blade.
Next up, Kuwagaton wants to know about the challenge of writing a younger, sixteen year-old Scott.
I’m happy to say that I enjoyed “Cyclops” as much as I thought I would. I’ve been a fan of Scott Summers since I was five and the FOX cartoon debuted, so I was looking forward to this… but it’s kind of a different character, right? How do you balance the character traits we know and love with the traits that make a different Scott worth following?
That’s a really good question — and very nice compliments from everybody! I’m glad you liked the issue and more than a little relieved. How do you balance it? For me, in a way, I’m writing the Scott that I came to — and I’m old! [Laugh] When I started reading “Uncanny,” it was in the #140s. The real formative issues for me were Claremont and Paul Smith following those initial [John] Byrnes and [Dave] Cockrums. Much like Kuwagaton, it’s easier for me because I can go back to a Scott that I remember. That Scott has much less baggage. There’s a whole lot of baggage that comes up after, but this young man is exactly that, so a lot of what’s informing the way I write it is those early issues where I first encountered him and going back prior — and his age.
I’m lucky, I’ve got a fourteen year-old son. I look at him and I look at the way he deals with things and the way I failed to deal with him dealing with these things [Laughs] and that’s grist for the mill. If this book is going to work at all, it’s only going to work on the basis of it being emotionally honest or emotionally fair in the context that we’re dealing with — because we’re dealing with space opera, and there will be more opera to come — but every time I’m writing it, I’m trying to remember this is a sixteen year-old kid and he’s really confused about a lot of things. Quite legitimately so.
He was cursed. Hank did an awful thing by saying, “Here, this is what you grow up to be.” That’s an awful thing to do to a sixteen year-old. At the end of it, Hank was desperate, and I get that, but it was kind of sadistic. You see what Hank does — it’s one thing to say, “Look, that man — he’s going to cause a war. That’s what you grow up into, man!” That’s one thing, but here’s the other thing: “Oh, by the way, here’s a wedding invitation. You and Jean got married. You and Jean tried to make a life. Jean died — Jean died horribly.” Jean’s been back several times, but come on — putting that on a sixteen year-old? You put that on a 40-year-old and they’ll have trouble parsing it. The fact that Scott didn’t curl up and say, “Okay, enough, I want to go home,” and instead it’s Warren who has that. The fact that it’s not Scott that says that says a whole lot about him already at sixteen; that he can stand up under that weight.
Here’s the other thing: he’s not running away with what he does with his dad. He’s being exceptionally smart. I think that’s him trying to save himself and preserve himself emotionally and mentally and try to get some equilibrium, because if he stays in the middle of that morass on Earth — he knows there’s too much information, he hasn’t been able to process it. He hasn’t had any time. I think he’s very smart.
And that’s something we tend to lose, I think we’ve lost that. He didn’t become leader of the X-Men because he said, “I get to be leader.” He was leader of the X-Men because he was smart enough to do the job. He could do the job; you don’t get it simply by drawing straws. He led the team for a long time for a very good reason.
Anduinel wants to know about what kind of alien races are going to show up during the course of the series.
Thrilled to see you on an X-Book, Mr. Rucka.
Corsair and son off exploring the galaxy looks like it’s going to be a tremendous amount of fun. Can we look forward to seeing some expansion on some of the established alien races — Shi’ar, Kree, the Badoon, possibly Mephitisoids (hey, I could go for a whole planet of Hepzibahs!)
[Laughs] Yeah, he can take a number. There are a whole bunch of people that could go for a whole planet of Mephitsoids.
[Laughs] …or are you leaning more toward showing us something altogether new?
Honestly, it’s the latter. One of the reasons I was so excited that Russell agreed to do the book is that we seem to see the same alien races over and over again in the Marvel Universe; and yet they’ve established there’s this whole galaxy — I mean, it’s huge. It’s teeming with life. One of the things, and again, one of the things Russell and I specifically talked about was, “Let’s open it up, let’s go crazy with it. Let’s see things that we’ve never seen before, let’s go places we have never been before, so that it isn’t simply a travelogue of meeting the same cluster of races over and over again.” Will we be encountering races that are established? Yes. But that’s not the primary agenda.
I looked at it like this: if Corsair goes, “You. Me. Road trip.” He’s not going to take him down the beaten path. He’s going to take him to the places that are off the beaten path. In issue #2, you see that they end up — Corsair describes the city they’re in as Las Vegas on the spin ward arm of the galaxy. There are some crowd scenes where I gave Russell some notes and said, “We need to see this kind of alien because it’s going to come back, and I have an idea here, but let’s go nuts” — and he went beautifully nuts, and I love it. I think one of the things that I’m fortunate enough to do in a book like this and the freedom of a book like this is I get to add to the galaxy. You want to put stuff in, you want to make the universe bigger for people, you want to make the universe bigger for writers, so ideally they’ll go, “Oh, I like these guys, let me use them!”
Renaldo is up next with a question about Hepzibah and her relationship to Scott’s story.
So far, all people Scott relates to is his dad and brother, but he had no mum as well. How focused are you going to be on Hepzibah in that mother-role and how big is she to the displaced-kid-from-time arc?
The Starjammers will factor significantly in the story. They will not factor significantly until about issue #4 or #5. When they come back, they come back. I love Hepzibah. She is awesome. I’ve been really gleeful about writing her, she’s also really, really cute. [Laughs] I love the way Russell drew her. I’d be an idiot not to be using her. I think it’s a very valid point — I was thinking about the lack of women in Scott’s life, in the forms of role models. The whole family’s a bunch of guys. Mom dies and then it’s dad and two brothers. That relationship with Hepzibah, I think, is going to be a very important one, so yeah, we’re going to see more of it.
It’s complicated by the fact that Scott doesn’t know how to relate to her. [Laughs] That’s his dad’s girlfriend — she’s kind of a sexy skunk creature. That’s weird, and he’s a hormonal sixteen year-old, so that’s really weird. It’s kind of like dad’s got this hot trophy wife even though she’s not — she kicks ass and takes names and she’s really nice to Scott. That’s what it’s like from Scott’s point of view; what’s it like from Hepzibah’s point of view? The question of whether we’re going to see more Mephitisoids? I have been trying to get a definitive answer on that. I don’t know if the race is still out there, if they’re enslaved or what. I don’t know if there’s a home world we can actually go to. There’s a lot of confusing continuity here. So, I’m still trying to thread it.
I don’t want to do anything where people go, “That’s wrong.” I’m more than happy to do things where people are like, “I’m not sure about that,” if I do it deliberately and I have an answer, but I don’t want to make dumb mistakes, so I try to be really careful not to.
This is going to lead inevitably to the question where you ask, “Oh yeah? Well, how come Corsair’s alive?”
Well, now that you mention it — [Laughs] It was something our readers were curious about.
Well, there are two things — let’s sidetrack out of this question. Someone asked me on Twitter, “Why didn’t you explain why Corsair was alive?” And I don’t like questions like that because it implies the answer’s not forthcoming. You’re one issue in! It’s 20 pages long! There was a lot I had to do! [Laughs] The first thing in the issue was not, “Explain why Corsair is still standing.” It will be explained. I know what happened to him. I will have an explanation for it. It will come out at the appropriate time in the story. It will not come out until then — because you’ve got to remember that young Scott doesn’t know this happened to his dad. So, his first question to his dad isn’t, “Well, weren’t you dead twice?” He got the first one — “I thought the plane blew up! Oh, okay! You were abducted by aliens! Well, that’s not the weirdest thing that’s happened in my life. Sure, I can accept that!”
But he doesn’t know to ask Corsair, “Hey, weren’t you killed?” You’ve got to remember who killed him — and who killed him is a big deal and is a huge issue, which might be why it’s not the first thing Corsair wants to talk about! It might be a little painful for Corsair to say, “Oh hey, by the way, son…” Right?
So, it will be addressed. Trust me, I know. It’s a big elephant in the room, but it’s got to come out at the appropriate time in the story — and it will.
It is a fair question. I absolute don’t begrudge any fan going, “But Corsair died! And you can’t just have him come back and not just explain how.” They’re right. But, you don’t have to explain it immediately. There is an explanation, it has to be answered. They are right.
It’ll be answered by — hell, I’ll say it: you’ll have the answer issue #3! Okay?
Keeping with the theme of Corsair questions, Yoshida has a question about how older Scott’s actions might affect the relationship between young Scott and his father.
It is obvious a lot of this book will deal with a father/son dynamic between young Scott and Corsair. However, I was wondering with older Scott’s actions will we see how that affects the relationship Young Scott and Corsair are trying to develop?
It absolutely influences almost everything Scott is saying and doing with his dad — because almost everything Scott is saying and doing is with the shadow of the man he becomes behind him. Corsair I think you actually have your answer. I think there’s a big part of Corsair going, “Wow, if I had actually been there for older Scott, older Scott would not be where he is now.”
Finally, Matt D is hoping for a hint on the possible future of the series.
Cyclops seems perfect for you in the short term because there’s little room for crossovers and interference to get in the way of your story.
Eventually, though, they’ll want him back on Earth. Could you see yourself continuing to write the book even in that eventuality?
Yeah, absolutely. Though, I will say that space is big, but Marvel space is also very busy. There will be crossover-y things. We will be seeing other people at the appropriate time, and I can’t say who or what.
Thanks to Greg Rucka for answering this week’s questions!
Next week, X-Position heads over to check in with Cable’s black-ops squad, courtesy of “X-Force” writer Si Spurrier. Got a question for Si? Send me an e-mail with the subject line “X-Position” or if 140 character questions are more your speed, try Twitter. Whatever you decide, make sure those questions are in by Friday! Do it to it!