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SYFY WIRE Superheroes

Five failed superhero summer vacations

By Sara Century
X-Force #75

Superheroes are the best at what they do, as long as what they do is definitely not have a nice relaxing vacation. In fact, superheroes are notoriously bad at doing relaxing of any kind, and their vacations tend to dissolve into chaotic, messy affairs involving supervillains, poachers, aliens from the plant Popup, and any number of other highly stressful entities.

No matter how messy things get, very few of us are going to be sent into the distant future by our alternate reality child to battle a tyrant in the middle of our honeymoon, so we're already doing better than the X-Men. Yet, the X-Men aren't the only superteam that doesn't know how to vacation properly. Here are just a few of the most memorable attempts superheroes made to enjoy their summer vacations that went horribly, horribly awry.

Uncanny X-Men #323

Rogue & Iceman's cross-country jaunt

The alternate reality crossover Age of Apocalypse was a pretty huge deal for the mid-'90s X-Men, and the fallout of the event had repercussions for years to come. In the first moments of the crossover, Gambit and Rogue shared what they thought would be a final kiss, throwing caution to the wind and ignoring that Rogue’s power would entail Gambit’s possible death. When AoA ended, Gambit was in a coma, and Rogue was plagued by out-of-context memories she had absorbed from him. Meanwhile, the still-closeted Iceman was going through his own crisis of identity, and when Rogue chose to leave the X-Mansion to clear her head, he volunteered to go with.

This led to a series of chaotic events, such as their car breaking down and being antagonized by locals. Ultimately, Gambit followed them to San Francisco, where he and Rogue had a tearful break-up, which, though temporary, showed that Rogue was not ready to deal with the darker parts of Gambit’s past or his self-loathing. It definitely all needed to happen, but this was not the fancy-free vacay any of them needed, to say the least.

The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #1

The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix

One thing that is pretty consistent among the X-Men is that they all have terrible lives. Perhaps the two with the most terrible lives are our friends Cyclops and Phoenix. Sure, it’s not a competition, but if it were, they would win. Case in point, the happiest day of their lives, when they tried to go on their honeymoon away from all of the X-Drama, they were immediately shunted off into a post-apocalyptic future from which there was no return by their alternate reality daughter Rachel. She dies immediately, and Scott and Jean are left to raise Cyclops’ son from a previous marriage (to Jean’s clone Madelyne) who was transported to the said future to save his life after he contracted the techno-organic virus.

This probably doesn’t even make sense to you if you haven’t read a lot of X-Men (or even if you have), but that’s the point — it’s not great to be Cyclops and Phoenix. They attempted to have a nice summer vacation one time and it did not go great.

Impossible Man Summer Vacation Spectacular #1

Impossible Man Summer Vacation Special #1-2

Impossible Man is one of those characters that really only exists in comics. He’s an alien from the planet Popup who can shape change and has seemingly limitless power, but uses it to antagonize superheroes for the most part. In his two summer specials, many writers and artists team up to tell a series of vignettes about him, his wife, and their many, many children. These stories are chaotic and definitely a little silly, but they show us the lighter side of the superheroes.

Impossible Woman pleads with Quasar to help her daughter learn how to have fun and “be normal” only for Quasar to gently explain to her that she can be any way she wants to be and it’ll be just fine (after, of course, their hijinks nearly destroy the city in the process). Doctor Strange is deeply annoyed when the Impossible Man visits him, while She-Hulk is delighted when an otherwise tedious fashion event is broken up by the Impossible Woman. These two issues are definitely a product of their time, but they are pretty fun regardless.

Gen 13: Going West

Gen 13: Going West

Gen 13 spent a lot of their existence in a sort of suspended summer vacation, but this adventure was the most summery of them all. When the Apache-born Sarah Rainmaker heard of the birth of a white buffalo, mythical in native legend and symbolic as a rare, unifying omen, she urged her insensitive teammates to accompany her on a road trip to witness the calf in person. While she dealt with a slew of microaggressions along the way from her friends who didn’t see the point of the trip, she still got to witness the beautiful calf, lying peacefully in the hay. Hunters tried to kill the creature for no reason other than malice, but the calf was saved and ultimately the baby buffalo ended up with a local Lakota man for safekeeping.

For this summer vacation, the real failure was Sarah’s friends’ inability to allow her to enjoy something that meant so much to her, but Sarah came out of it pretty good, and the calf lived, so it was actually a happy ending. Surprise!

X-Force #70

X-Force road trip

In the previous arc, the X-Force team went head-to-head with a new breed of human-passing Sentinels working against mutants under the orders of the mysterious Bastion and they barely escaped with their lives. When they made it back, their team leader Cable revealed that his plan was to keep them in hiding and give them secret identities that would help them hide from the growing anti-mutant hysteria gripping the country as an after-effect of Bastion’s machinations. The team refuses, and they decide instead to go on a road trip.

For most people in their early twenties, this is a standard summer activity, while, for the students at Xavier’s, it is a tense, murder-filled affair during which they all very nearly perish. Their car breaks down almost immediately, the very rich Sunspot realizes all his credit cards have been canceled, they fall into mob-affiliated hijinks, the villainous Reignfire murders a waitress for no reason… it’s a whole thing.

The best thing that happens during this… vacation (?) is that they end up at Burning Man, where they run into their former teammate, Karma, who is out there living her best life. Overall, though, they might have reconsidered going into hiding, because that trip was a disaster.