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The strange loves of Cyclops
Cyclops is usually dismissed as being the uptight dad of the X-Men, and there are a good two decades worth of stories that back that assessment up. Animated series Cyclops is verified as one of the biggest dweebs of all time, and in the first few X-Men movies, he’s pretty much just there to make stern faces while his girlfriend makes out with Wolverine. We'd love to tell you that that's all there is to Cyclops' relationship troubles, but boy howdy, it really isn't. Not even close. There are years of comics where this guy is just frowning in the background because of his many heartbreaks. Xavier might have taught our guy a lot about life, but he didn't do that great of a job in preparing Scott for the nuances of interpersonal relationships.
One of the most important elements to understanding Cyclops as a character is that he has had several intense relationships with women that he works with — he was never taught to separate work and romance. We've covered the two great loves of his life, Emma Frost and Jean Grey, but let’s get into some of the other Strange Loves of our boy Scott Summers, aka Cyclops.
After Jean’s apparent death in the Dark Phoenix Saga, Cyclops was, understandably, an absolute wreck. The guy had gone to space multiple times just to return to earth minus one girlfriend and plus a boatload of abandonment issues.
Part of his mourning process was to leave the X-Men and get a job as a grunt working on a ship that ran out of Florida. The captain of this boat was one Lee Forrester, who had a no-nonsense, take-each-day-as-it-comes attitude that was just what the doctor ordered for Cyclops, considering he was barely hanging on by a thread. Even from the start, though, this was not going to be a professional relationship, as Lee was immediately interested in Scott. I’m telling you, that brooding thing really does wonders for this guy.
As usual, X-Men stuff intervened whether anyone wanted it to or not. The two of them almost died in the Bermuda Triangle during a shipwreck and found themselves stuck on an island with none other than the dreaded Magneto, who immediately outted Cyclops to Lee. Though they did enjoy a few more appearances as an incredibly well-dressed item in their weird octopus shirts (see above), Lee eventually broke up with Cyclops because she realized that there’s no way their lives would mesh. She’s a regular sea captain and he’s all wrapped up in trauma from a deceased ex-girlfriend made of cosmic fire. They’re both leaders of their own crews, and there isn’t much crossover between sailors and X-Men (though there is more than you would think, because comics).
Despite her best efforts, Lee’s life never really went back to being what it had been before she met Scott. The X-Men kind of do that to people. She ended up in another mostly causal short-term affair with Magneto himself. If Cyclops was complicated, Magneto was complication times one billion — another nonstarter. After that, she almost dated Cable but opted not to. Say what you will, even when Lee dallies with danger she still tends to make some pretty darn prudent choices, which is actually why she might have been the best match on this whole list for poor Scott.
Betsy Braddock, the incredible Psylocke, sure is a problematic bundle of surprises. Psylocke definitely has her own story, but she is particularly important for our purposes here because of that time that she and Cyclops couldn’t stop flirting like school kids in the background of about ten issues of '90s X-Men, after which they pretty much never spoke again.
The early ‘90s were a strange time for the X-Men, and this is where we started seeing a lot more of boring dad Cyclops. Most of this era was just possible future children coming back to kidnap him and Jean and/or yell at them for being bad future parents. As the X-Men’s leader, Cyclops had had just about enough, so while in charge, he could usually be seen sighing with disappointment, pointing at things and fighting with his mind-controlled brother. Let’s face it, this is not someone who loved his life. So, when Psylocke joined the team full-time and started lowkey flirting with him, he was more than a little tempted.
Cyclops sure has a thing for telepaths, but of all his mismatched love affairs, Psylocke may have been the very strangest. Not only is it totally out of character for both Betsy and Scott, but once it's all finished, they both basically chalk it up to a bad case of mutual confusion. Indeed, Scott would be married to Jean within 15 months and Betsy began a love affair with the man that would go on to be perhaps her greatest romance: Warren Kenneth Worthington The Third. In short, these two didn’t have so much a relationship as they both just mumbled stuff at each other awkwardly for a few months and then everything was fine. We’ve all been there.
Cyclops met and married Madelyne after his short romance with Lee Forrester ended. Madelyne was a beautiful pilot who wasn’t afraid to tell you what was on her mind and never backed down against anyone. Minus the pilot part, that sure sounds a lot like Jean! She also happened to look exactly like Jean. That probably won’t come up again later. Oh, it does? It does. It turns out she was a clone of Jean Grey and apparently Scott didn’t even notice. That seems like it would be out of character for most, but Cyclops also didn’t realize that Corsair was his dad for a really long time. The other X-Men noticed the similarities, but they liked Maddie, so they didn’t make a big deal out of it.
They probably should have made a bigger deal out of it! After he heard that Jean had apparently returned from the dead, he just straight up walked right out on Maddie and their child. When comics fans say they don’t like Cyclops, this is usually the moment they bring up, because it was truly an ugly thing to do to Maddie. For her part, Maddie hung out with the X-Men in the Outback, began an affair with Cyclops’ brother Havok, made a deal with the demons Sym to take over the dimension of Limbo with them, captured the X-Men, and attempted to murder not only them but also her infant son. More or less, she became Medea, X-Men style.
None of this is great, of course, but you have to admit that Madelyne made some valid points. Ditching your new wife and your child for your ex-dead girlfriend — who, incidentally, your new wife was cloned from — after putting them through a ton of X-Men drama is extremely not good. Maddie, you deserved better, but then again, that part where you tried to kill everyone wasn’t great either. Anyway, she and Cyclops don’t date anymore.
Yes! You read that right! Our girl Carol Danvers returns to Strange Loves! Well, kind of. This is Carol Danvers of the Mutant X alternate reality, which is a whole different world from regular comics continuity. In short, Mutant X was a pocket dimension that “our” Havok was trapped in for about thirty issues. Everything was pretty much the same there, only with even more late ‘90s vibes.
The Cyclops of Mutant X more or less followed his father Corsair’s path rather than becoming the leader of the X-Men. This is actually really depressing in a way because Cyclops of Mutant X comes off as being actually really happy in a way we have never seen from our world’s take on Scott Summers.
That brings us to what was one of the briefest and most off-panel love affairs of Cyclops’ existence: his relationship with Carol Danvers. We don’t learn a lot about this version of Carol, but obviously, she still somehow ended up in space with the Starjammers just like our Carol did, and that’s what matters. Though not at all fleshed out, the match-up between a fun-loving Scott and a stoic Carol who takes care of business every day deserved at least a few more pages of focus. Though the pairing was brief and mysterious, we ship it.
Fun Fact: there are so many alternate reality versions of Cyclops that they have their own separate Wikipedia page. One of the best beloved of these many Cyclopses would be Corporal Summers of the second volume of X-Treme X-Men, a Black civil war soldier who was pulled from a terrible life as a slave to an also terrible life as a soldier. Training under Doctor Xavier and Colonel Nick Fury to fight the bloodiest battles on the side of the Union, this Cyclops definitely has a lot of emotional wounds that might not ever fully heal.
Meanwhile, the Dazzler of X-Treme X-Men was just regular ol’ Alison Blaire, former X-Man suddenly tasked with taking a multiversal team of mismatched heroes on a quest to destroy ten evil Xaviers. Through the first several interactions, though they challenged each other, it was pretty clear an attraction was forming between the two. Where this romance stands currently is pretty up in the air, but Corporal Summers is now wandering around our reality, so who knows what could happen.