SDCC: Layman Sets a Course for Interstellar Adventure with "Cyclops"

The Marvel Universe is a wondrous place, but its mutant population doesn't always get a chance to appreciate that fact. Far too often they're battling for very survival against adversaries who want to exterminate them simply for being born with an X-gene. Experiences like those can leave you paranoid and cynical about your place in the world -- at least that's what a teenage version of founding X-Men member Cyclops (AKA Scott Summers) thought when he found himself confronting his older self in a strange and frightening future.

X-POSITION: Rucka Takes "Cyclops" on an Intergalactic Adventure

It's no surprise that when the adolescent Cyclops discovered that his father, Christopher Summers (AKA Corsair), was still alive and in command of a band of space pirates known as the Starjammers he chose go off and see the galaxy with them instead of remaining with his "All-New X-Men" teammates. Cyclops' adventures with Corsair and the Starjammers are currently being chronicled in a self-titled series by Greg Rucka and Russell Dauterman, but the intergalactic "Cyclops" ongoing will soon feature the new creative team of writer John Layman and "Indestructible" artist Javier Garron. CBR News spoke with Layman about his upcoming run on "Cyclops," which begins in October with issue #6 and was announced yesterday as part of Marvel's "Next Big Thing" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

CBR News: John, it's been about three years since your last project for Marvel, the "Identity Wars" storyline that ran through the 2011 Annuals of "Amazing Spider-Man," "Deadpool" and "Incredible Hulk." How does it feel to return to the company and the world of the X-Men?

John Layman: It's super exciting. I've always been primarily a Marvel dude and I've always loved the X-Men most. Cyclops and Nightcrawler are probably my two favorite X-Men, so this was something I jumped at.

"Cyclops" gives you a chance to write your favorite character, but was the status quo that Greg Rucka and Russell Dauterman set up for Scott Summers in issue #1 also a draw?

Yes it's a lot of fun. That's one of the reasons why I jumped at it. It's teen Cyclops in space. So it's Space Opera. It's "Star Wars," "Guardians of the Galaxy" -- basically fun science fiction.
The other thing that was a huge draw was the book's editors. Mike Marts and Katie Kubert were my Batman editors [on "Detective Comics"]. When they went from DC over to Marvel I was kind of hoping in my heart of hearts that I would get a call from them and I did.

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You mentioned Cyclops is one of your favorite characters and I know you wrote the older Scott Summers in an issue of "X-Men Unlimited" years ago.

Yeah, this is kind of coming full circle because that was literally my first Marvel work. Now here I am a decade later, a little more marketable and a few more people know who I am, writing him again.

What do you find most interesting about this teenage incarnation of Scott Summers? Which aspects of his personality are you especially interested in exploring?

I'm still not convinced that the current Cyclops is as bad as he's been made out to be in some ways. The older Scott got weighed down by the baggage of everything that's happened. This is a more pure, and perhaps a little more naive Scott. He's got less baggage. So we can have more fun with him.

"Cyclops" isn't just about Scott Summers, though. It's also about his relationship with his father, Corsair. What's your sense of their dynamic?

They're still figuring it out. It's kind of a second chance for both of them. Scott, the teen, never got to knew his father, and Corsair missed out on Scott's teen years the first time around. So they're both trying to get this second chance right.

It sounds like with when you take over"Cyclops" the status quo and character dynamics will remain largely unchanged, but will there be other changes to the book?

I'm going to play up more of the sci-fi tropes. The fact that they're on a ship with a crew is very "Star Trek" and "Star Wars." So I want to explore the dynamics with the crew a little more and I feel like in these kinds of books that the ship should almost have a personality. Every one of those space operas has a ship that's practically a character like the Enterprise, the Millennium Falcon and the Serenity. So that's what I'm going to do.

If the Starjammers and their ship are becoming a larger part of the series, do you have a favorite Starjammers you're especially looking forward to writing?

I'm still getting to know them. I'm looking forward to writing all of them at this point.

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Let's move from allies to antagonists. What can you tell us about the obstacles and adversaries you're interested in pitting against Cyclops and the Starjammers?

Having just said how interested I am in the Starjammers' ship and crew I'm taking them out of that in the first arc. The first arc has Scott and Corsair in an enemy pirate ship. Scott is someone that wants to prove himself and now he's in a position of having to prove himself to unfriendly strangers as opposed to a crew that was sympathetic to him beforehand. So he needs to get back to his ship, back to the crew, and also save his dad's life.

That arc kicks off with a rival pirate ship taking Corsair captive. They basically kick the Starjammers off to the curb, but Scott is the only Starjammer they don't recognize. He pretends to be a new crewman and he's got these great optic blast powers. So this evil pirate ship where Corsair is prisoner basically hires him on as part of the crew. He's going through the motions while he tries to get out of the situation alive and save his dad and his dad's crew.

Let's move from characters and story to art. What do you feel artist Javier Garron brings to the book? His aesthetic is different than current "Cyclops" artist Russell Dauterman, but their work has a similar tone and feel.

We're still pretty early into this, but it's definitely a little more animated and I think his work will appeal to fans of crazy action. He also knows how to make his characters emote very well.

Finally, "Cyclops" isn't just an X-book. It's part of a growing corner of Cosmic Marvel books. Are you interested in exploring some of the other elements of Marvel Cosmic? Is there a chance that Scott and his dad could cross paths with the Guardians of the Galaxy? Or the new Nova, Sam Alexander?

I would hope so. I think that "Guardians of the Galaxy" is going to be the biggest movie of the summer, and I think Rocket Raccoon is going to be the new Wolverine. So they're characters I would love to touch, and the Marvel Cosmic universe is so rich. It's also so hot and really fun right now. So I intend to play with as many cosmic toys as I can while I have a chance.

Working on "Cyclops" is literally a best case scenario for me. I'm working for one of my favorite companies with two of my favorite editors on one of my favorite characters. So when they offered it to me there was no hesitation.

I'm fairly particular in the work I take. I say no a lot. Mostly that's all I do, and with this there wasn't even a second thought. It was, "Yes! What hoops do you want me to jump through for this?" [Laughs]

Layman & Garron begin their run with "Cyclops" #6 in October.

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