Monday, June 15, 2015

Review # 160: "The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix"

As far as characters go, Cable is pretty ridiculous. Nathan Christopher Summers is this grizzled, battle-hardened half-metal dude with a cybernetic eye who carries ridiculously-sized guns to shoot things. Oh, and he's possibly the most powerful mutant of all-time. Oh, and that's because of genetic engineering by way of fraud. Oh, and he's the son of Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey. Oh, and he's also this messianic figure for a religious cult. Oh, and he's from the future. Oh, and he's not really from the future. Oh, and he has a psychotic clone who was raised by Apocalypse.

Get all that?

"The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix" tells of Cable's early years, with Scott Lobdell remarkably finding a way to make his messed-up past even more messed-up. Moments after setting off for their honeymoon, Scott and Jean are yanked into the long future by Mother Askani, the head of the cult that sees young Nathan as a messianic figure. Oh, did I mention that Mother Askani is a geriatric version of Scott and Jean's already-from-the-future daughter Rachel? Man, with a space pirate father he thought was dead NOT being dead, a brother he thought was dead not being dead, another brother he never knew about that he briefly thought was dead not being dead and the Space Future Offspring, Cyclops sure has a messed-up family tree.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Cable. As I was saying, Nathan's past gets even more messed up as Mother Askani has transported Scott and Jean into the future through avatars to raise Cable. So this boy that Cyclops thought he was never a father to? Turns how he DID raise him during his formative years.

Anyway, despite the convoluted plot, "The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix" actually ends up being pretty good. The Mad Max-esque mutant-powered future society has some weird elements but does not get out of control. Away from the confines of his maddening pathos in the main X-Men series, Lobdell's style almost comes off as subdued. He doesn't do a good job at making young Cable particularly interesting, but he makes up for it by telling a pretty tight story about a unique (and OH HELL are they unique) family trying to survive under extraordinary circumstances. Aiding that feeling of "extraordinary:" Gene Ha's pencils. His bleak, twisted environments are complimented by some unusual character designs.

The show-stealer, though, is isolated from the adventures of the wacky Summers family in the form of young Stryfe. The evil clone fills the void left empty by the uncharismatic young Nate, as he talks back to his attendants and has the nerve to do the same to Apocalypse. Bratty Stryfe may turn in the character's best performance, with the possible exception of his particularly nefarious turn in "Messiah War."

This holds constant in the sequel "Askani'son" which tells of teen Nate and fleshes out more of his backstory, including how he met Blaquesmith and acquired his computer the Professor. Plotted by Lobdell, the story is scripted by Jeph Loeb and there is a noticeable improvement in dialogue. The miniseries isn't that great, and the same can be said about the Rachel Summers-centred prequel included here. But it's better than expected.

To be honest, though: you can read "The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix" and put the book down. This collection is more like printing a single mini, adding twice its content in supplements and upping the price. That, sadly, makes it not worth what I paid for despite it filling a big gap for Scott, one of my all-time favourite characters. Better to just buy the first serial digitally.

Rating: 5.5/10


  1. The first miniseries was also collected on its own back in 1996, presumably to tie in with Askani'son (which began the next month) and The Further Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix (which began the month after Askani'son ended). I find the new collection's exclusion of that last miniseries pretty peculiar, especially since it includes the X-Men: Phoenix miniseries (from three years later!) instead. Do you have any thoughts on Further Adventures, or on why it may have been left out?

    1. Probably to release a second set with more supplemental material for another quick buck. They could tack on Scott and Jean hanging out with X-Man on his title since it sorta kinda maybe works.

      I've never read the Further Adventures. Eventually.