WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Uncanny X-Men Annual #1, by Ed Brisson, Carlos Gomez, Guru-eFX and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Thanks to his years leading the X-Men, Cyclops is one of the most famous heroes in the Marvel Universe, even if he hasn't really acted like a hero for most of the past decade.
After evolving into a proactive mutant revolutionary, Scott Summers turned into a full-on supervillain when he bonded with the Phoenix Force in 2012's Avengers vs. X-Men crossover. In the thrall of the Dark Phoenix's power, he fought his mutant allies and Marvel's premiere super-team before killing Professor X, the man who essentially raised him.
While that story marks the darkest point in Cyclops' superhero career, Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 reveals that it also paved the way for Cyclops' resurrection.
Although Cyclops died from a mutant plague in 2016's Death of X, the X-Man recently came back from the dead in Extermination #5, by Ed Brisson and Pepe Larraz. And though that story revealed that Cyclops was working with a relatively young version of his son Cable, it left the circumstances of his resurrection unexplained.
As this week's annual explains, the so-called Kid Cable was the primary force driving Cyclops' resurrection. Using a deep understanding of recent X-Men history, Kid Cable was essentially able to revive his father with a discarded piece of Avengers technology combined with a sliver of the Phoenix Force's cosmic power.
During Avengers vs. X-Men, a team of Avengers developed the Phoenix Cage to try to contain the Phoenix Force before it reached Earth in 2012's Secret Avengers #26, by Rick Remender and Renato Guedes. By chance, Beast and Captain Britain, two X-Men veterans, designed and built the Phoenix Cage while they were serving as Avengers.
Despite the best efforts of those two heroes, Thor and War Machine, the Phoenix Cage only held the unimaginable power of the Phoenix for a few moments before totally failing.
Using future technology that allows him to travel through space and time, Kid Cable retrieved the burnt-out remains of the Phoenix Cage and delivered it to Paul Douek, a brilliant engineer who Cyclops saved years earlier. On Cable's orders, Paul miniaturized the device and redesigned it so it could siphon off a small portion of the Phoenix Force.
After Kid Cable and Paul placed the modified Phoenix Cage in Cyclops' dead body years later, Scott was briefly revived by the Phoenix Force in 2017's Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #5, by Matthew Rosenberg, Leinil Yu and Joe Bennett. While Cyclops only stayed alive long enough for a quick conversation with Jean, the device used "infinity coils" to absorb a minuscule portion of the Phoenix Force and charge itself up until it could permanently revive Cyclops.
Kid Cable kept Cyclops captive in an isolated bunker during the events of the recent "X-Men: Disassembled" storyline. During this time, Scott discarded the red-and-black costume that he wore as a mutant revolutionary and began wearing the blue-and-gold costume he wore during his last period as an unambiguous superhero.
To test Cyclops' character, Cable released Cyclops and gave him the choice of helping the X-Men in an ill-fated battle against an all-powerful foe or saving Paul from a robot-controlling villain. Even though his decision may have sent the X-Men into the "Age of X-Man," Cyclops chose to save Paul and thanked him for "bringing him back," which the engineer did in more ways than one.
In addition to literally constructing the device that revived Cyclops, Paul also helped the X-Man remember who he really was. Thanks to Paul's continued gratitude, Cyclops remembers that he was a hero who should fight for a protect a world where mutants and humans coexist, instead of a revolutionary who fights the Avengers and endangers the world to help mutantkind.
In a superhero genre that's often resistant to legitimate change, Cyclops has evolved into a genuinely complex character, especially in the 21st century. While Cyclops' new status quo could be viewed as a regression to a more comfortable status quo for the character, Scott's realization is still very much in-line with the nuanced character that he's evolved into.
Cyclops has made some massive mistakes in his life, but he's always owned up to them after the fact. That level of self-reflection and willingness to take responsibility for his actions only makes Cyclops a richer character and is the core of his enduring appeal.
And now, Cyclops has to atone for the worst thing he's ever done, in a world without mutants.
On the last page of this issue, Cyclops vows to start setting things right by finding the missing X-Men. If the covers to the next few issues of Uncanny X-Men are any indication, he'll also team up with Wolverine to put together a ragtag team to help him save a world that hates and fears him more than ever.
Cyclops' story will continue in Uncanny X-Men #11, by Matthew Rosenberg, Salvador Larroca, John McCrea and Juanan Ramirez, on sale Feb. 6, 2019.