Few family trees in comic book history can rival the Summers (with Cyclops, Scott Summers, of the X-Men as their most well known character) for sheer complexity and insanity. Even the most dedicated X-Men fans can get twisted into knots trying to wrangle the complicated, timey-wimey connections between the likes of Cyclops, Havok, Cable, Rachel Summers and many more. The family dynamics span space, time, alternate realities and Adam-X the X-treme. Often lost in the shuffle of sheer confusion, the Summers family also has a wide variety of creepy, wild and just plain weird elements to their lineage. There’s incest, beyond troubling pregnancies, and reality-hopping, and that’s just Nate Grey, the X-Man.
What about the Summers makes them so ripe for the bizarre? Some of it has to do with the obsession of Nathaniel Essex, aka Mister Sinister, who has made it his life’s work to perfect the combination of Summers and Grey mutant DNA. Admittedly, some of the sordid past is just bad luck too. As they say, let he who has never joined the clone of his brother’s formerly deceased wife in an S&M world takeover plot cast the first stone. Below you’ll find the flat out creepiest moments in the comic book history of the Summers.
15. CYCLOPS ABANDONED HIS KID (CABLE) LIKE IT WAS NOTHING
Scott Summers has had a strange and difficult life. Nonetheless, Scott’s decisions as a father are impossibly awful. Shortly after his first son is born — at the time called Christopher — Scott learned that Jean Grey had in fact been resurrected (due to editorial mandate, but hey, a rebirth is a rebirth). Basically immediately, Scott started to pack his bags to bail on his wife and child!
This is an absolute low point for Scott Summers and cemented his creep status until the more modern wave of “cool rebel” stories took hold from Astonishing X-Men through Death of X. Madelyne is unambiguous that if Scott leaves he will not be welcomed back into their home, and despite his newborn baby looking him dead in the ruby eyes, Scott runs out anyway.
14. CYCLOPS MARRIED HIS DEAD GIRLFRIEND’S CLONE
To be fair to Cyclops (big creep that he is), meeting a woman who is an actual clone of the (recently deceased) woman you love is not exactly something many individuals face. So while it may seem to us mere non-Summers that quickly marrying and having a child with this Madelyne Pryor is a horrifying reminder of the tragic death of the Phoenix, for Scott, perhaps it was his broken, creepy brain just trying to make a normal life out of insanity.
We can certainly begin to sympathize, but we draw the line at some of Scott’s additional decisions.
For example, did you know that Scott Summers sent his erstwhile father figure, Professor Charles Xavier, a postcard from his honeymoon in Alaska? Sounds perfectly normal, right? It is, until you realize Cyclops (the big creep) sent the photo of himself and Maddie naked in their Honeymoon heart-shaped bed!
13. A HISTORY OF BAD FATHERS
The Summers men are, almost uniformly, terrible dads. If we’re being honest, they might be the worst in comics. Their track record includes a nearly unimpeachable list of things to avoid for any father. For starters, Cyclops abandons his newborn son for an ex, then fails to prevent his infant son from being infected with a techno-organic virus. Havok finds a more stable relationship with Janet Van Dyne and their child, Katie, in Uncanny Avengers, only to have that child ripped from them due to the machinations of Kang the Conqueror. Meanwhile, Corsair loses kids like they’re car keys.
The time-hopping generation of Summers is no better off. Cable’s son Tyler descends into villainy and is eventually put down by Wolverine without nearly enough protest from his dad. The lesson: Don’t have a Summers for a dad.
12. HAVOK HOOKED UP WITH MADELYNE PRYOR
Poor Alex. Look, sometimes you just have to hook up with your brother’s wife, shortly after she learns she’s a clone of your brother’s true love, who was thought dead but has since returned to the living. We’ve all been there. It’s a little harder to justify Havok tagging along with Madelyne Pryor’s takeover of New York as the Goblin Queen, becoming her Goblin Prince and concubine, and wearing the skimpiest Havok costume you could possibly cosplay.
Mind control or not, Havok pulled the rare feat of betraying family and his X-Men teammates all in one fell swoop of an affair.
11. RACHEL SUMMERS IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CREATION OF STRYFE
Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that if they could clone an emergency backup of their beloved child (who they know will be the mutant messiah), they absolutely would (ok, don’t actually ask that). That’s exactly what Rachel Summers (aka Mother Askani, aka Time Travel is Confusing as Hell) did while raising and protecting infant Nathan Summers, the once and future Cable.
As is so often the case for good intentions involving cloning in the Marvel Universe, Cable’s backup baby clone is stolen away and brought up under the iron fist of Apocalypse. He goes on to become Stryfe, Cable’s arch-nemesis, and the villain at the center of the X-Men event “X-Cutioner’s Song”. The in-story explanation for Rachel’s cloning — she didn’t think baby Cable would survive his techno-organic virus — doesn’t do enough to obfuscate her role in the creation of Stryfe.
10. HAVOK KILLED A BOY WITH HIS MUTANT POWERS
Poor, poor Alex. In X-Factor #-1 we get a glimpse into Havok’s tortured childhood. Turns out, after the plane crash, Mister Sinister orchestrated for Alex to be adopted by a family, the Blandings, who had recently lost a son. Alex is fostered in their home until Sinister manipulates the school bully to harass the Summers boy.
In the course of being bullied, Havok’s mutant powers develop and he quite literally incinerates the bully.
Now, clearly the bully was a jerk, and Sinister is and forever remains to blame, but this is still a murder that Havok has never accounted for. For years before Gabriel Summers came along, Havok was the Summers brother most likely to quietly slip to the dark side, and that formative darkness begins here.
9. CABLE & CYCLOPS DATED THE SAME SHIP CAPTAIN
For the Summers, Cable romancing the same woman his dad romanced (very shortly after the first apparent death of Jean Grey) is actually extremely normal. In Cable #13, Nathaniel Christopher Charles Dayspring Rutabaga Bea Arthur Summers goes all in for a hot makeout sesh with sea captain Lee Forrester. Although she’s a relatively obscure character in X-Men lore, Forrester has taken a chance on love with Cyclops, Magneto, and Cable, in a pretty impressive array of powerful mutants.
In fact, it might just be that Cable has a thing for romantic partners that remind him of his parents. During his time in the future, Nate’s wife (and mother of his child, Tyler) is named Jenskot, in a chosen homage to a Jean-Scott hybrid too close for comfort. Whatever works for you, mutant messiah.
8. EMPEROR D’KEN AND ADAM-X THE X-TREME
Created by Fabian Nicieza and Tony Daniel in the early ’90s, Adam-X the X-treme’s history ranges from absurd to disgusting, and that’s before we even move on from his soul patch.
Adam-X was never formally declared the third Summers brother, but all signs point to intended family ties.
The implication is that Emperor D’Ken and Katherine Summers are Adam-X’s parents, which also just about guarantees extremely disturbing violence integrated into Adam Neramin’s birth. After Corsair and Katherine Summers were captured by the Shi’ar D’Ken kept the mother of Cyclops and Havok in his harem as a concubine. Mom Summers didn’t make it out of Shi’ar captivity, so we may never know the full truth about Adam-X the X-treme, and perhaps that’s for the best.
7. PRELATE SUMMERS AND CAPTIVE JEAN GREY BIRTH NATE GREY
There are a handful of creepy elements tied to the Summers brothers in the “Age of Apocalypse”. For starters, there’s their dedication, or at least complicity in working with renowned evil torturers Mister Sinister and Dark Beast. Yes, Scott Summers revolts in his own way, but they are nonetheless unequivocally on the side of the bad guys. Worse, they’re just the bad guys’ lackeys!
The grossest Summers-related move is almost all on Mister Sinister, though. While captive in the experimentation pens, Sinister merges Jean Grey’s DNA with Prelate Summers (Cyclops) to artificially manufacture Nate Grey. Not only is there absolutely no consent to this practice (Sinister has no time for such things), but Jean and Scott are ostensibly on opposite sides of the Apocalypse conflict in this reality!
6. NATE GREY MADE OUT WITH HIS MOM’S CLONE
Following the “Age of Apocalypse”, Nate Grey found himself jettisoned to Earth-616, one of the handful of expats to join the “classic” Marvel earth. One of his first contacts in this reality is Madelyne Pryor. Maddie helps Nate adjust to his new life. Heaven forbid Jean’s poor clone find a Summers that doesn’t want to give her a smooch, their relationship eventually builds into something more than friends.
With Maddie having lost her memory and Nate a stranger in a strange land, there’s a built-in excuse that neither party knew better.
Nonetheless, a steamy kiss with your mom’s clone is creepy any way you slice it. Even weirder, the only reason Madelyne Pryor is back from the dead is due to Nate’s powers subconsciously resurrecting his “mother” as he crash-landed in the new reality.
5. VULCAN, JUST IN GENERAL
Gabriel Summers, the long lost third Summers brother revealed in X-Men: Deadly Genesis, has an extremely messed up life. Even more so than Scott and Alex, it’s actually pretty understandable why he turned out to be a giant creep and eventually a genuine supervillain. Honestly, given his beginnings, it’s remarkable Gabriel ever made it to Earth.
Everything about Vulcan’s origins is the stuff of nightmares. Turns out Katherine Summers was expecting a child when her and husband Christopher were captured by the Shi’ar. To punish Christopher (aka Corsair) for an attempted escape, Emperor D’ken stabs and kills Katherine. Unknown to Corsair (who vows revenge), D’ken has the Summers unborn child taken from his mother’s corpse and incubated in advanced Shi’ar technology. This is the violent reality Gabriel awakens to, and still, it’s only after Krakoa wipes out his covert X-squad that Vulcan dives into full-on villainy.
4. PROFESSOR X WIPED THE MEMORY OF SCOTT AND GABRIEL
This one files under both “terrible things to happen to the Summers family” and “Reasons Professor X is a creepy JERK!” It’s one thing to not know you even have a third brother, but it’s another thing entirely to realize you finally met him, and then had that memory wiped from your mind by your father figure in order to make you forget he may have promptly died.
Basically all of X-Men: Deadly Genesis is a testament to Charles Xavier’s sins, none of which are more devastating than his effect on the Summers.
For all intents and purposes, Professor X sent Gabriel Summers and other children to their deaths, then wiped the memory from Scott to hide his shame. Let’s just say that when Vulcan (Gabriel) returns after House of M, he’s not too happy about any of it.
3. MULTIPLE SUMMERS HAVE EXHIBITED GOD-LIKE POWERS
For a family with this much trauma and emotionally devastating history, it’s a scary thought to think just how powerful the Summers clan has been throughout X-Men comics. During Cable & Deadpool, Cable grows so powerful he is able to maintain a floating Utopian island called Providence. Despite his genuinely peaceful intentions, the unchecked power levels threaten S.H.I.E.L.D. and the entire global political infrastructure.
The Phoenix Force has also found a frequent home in house Summers. The likes of Scott and Rachel Summers have both succumbed to the cosmic entity’s dark desires. The threat of the Phoenix Force possessing Hope Summers was so disturbing it led to the events of “Avengers vs. X-Men”, with good heroes so fearful they turned to near thoughtless civil war.
2. HAVOK WENT HARVEY DENT MODE
Poor, poor, poor Alex. Always the bridesmaid, Alex Summers got the chance to head up a full-scale Avengers lineup in Uncanny Avengers, with the likes of Captain America, Thor, Wasp, Rogue and Wolverine all following his lead.
To say things ended badly for Havok would be a bit like saying Two-Face had some gentle scarring after his accident.
After being sent off Earth, Havok lives a full life on Planet X, marrying Janet Van Dyne, and raising a daughter, Katie Summers. The peaceful alternate-future can’t last, though, with Kang stealing Katie, and Alex suffering Doom-level facial scarring during the climactic final battle. The events of “Axis” cement Alex’s descent, with a personality inversion that drives him to hold his former wife hostage under threat of harm.
1. THEIR LINEAGE IS ORCHESTRATED BY MISTER SINISTER
The idea of a shadowy figure orchestrating every aspect of your genealogy like some kind of self-proclaimed deity is creepy enough. It’s even worse when that shadowy figure is unambiguously named Mister Sinister and rocks a cape that looks like someone ran sheet metal through the world’s most design-oriented shredder.
Mister Sinister’s disturbing hands are all over the Summers’ legacy from the mid-1800s onward, making it hard to determine what was fate and what was carefully orchestrated malice (albeit in the name of science!). While very little of this outwardly seems like the Summers’ own fault, it can be argued that Scott Summers and Jean Grey’s time-traveling escapades in The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix are actually to blame for Sinister’s obsession with their genes.
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