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rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks FAQ: 4/8
Section - X-MEN COMIC BOOK QUESTIONS

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Background information on the creators and the X-titles editorial 
offices is based on over a decade's worth of articles, interviews, and 
personal questions, and as such is not directly attributed here. Now 
that some of Marvel's staff members are on Usenet, they are welcomed to 
correct and amend any of the answers listed below. 


--- Why do so many people hate Scott Summers?

There tend to be two major schools of thought on this. People hate Scott
Summers, aka Cyclops, because:

   * Of what he did to Madelyne Pryor
   * Readers find him dull and/or unimaginative

On the first count, harsh people with long memories are not going to 
soften their opinion of a character's bad behavior. To them it is 
simple: Scott left his wife and child to run off after his first love in 
X-Factor #1. For the record, Madelyne did issue him an ultimatium and 
they had been having marital problems. The best defense of Scott is that 
Claremont had written him out and editorial staff of the time declared 
Scott (and Jean) must come back. Madelyne was an inconvenience and hence 
Inferno was born.

On the second count, many dislike Scott as a one-dimensional follower of
Xavier. Madelyne notwithstanding, they find his goody-two-shoes attitude
just plain irritating. Next to Wolverine, he's a nerd.

It's okay to like Scott, though. Usenet has lots of room for different
opinions.


--- How many Summerses are there, anyways?

Eternity only knows. But being a FAQ, we'll try to provide a reasonably
accurate starting count.

IN THE BEGINNING, lo, back in (Uncanny) X-Men #1, Scott Summers was
presented to the world, ironically enough, as an orphan. His parents had
died in a plane crash, and he knew of no other family. Also in #1 he 
meets Jean Grey. Simple enough so far.

Fast forward to X-Men #54. Scott and the rest of the X-Men attended Alex
Summers' graduation. Alex eventually becomes an auxiliary member (UXM 
#65) and becomes romantically involved with Lorna Dane. So far, still 
pretty straightforward. (Alex apparently died, but that's another story.)

Fast forward now to issue #104. While in space, the X-Men met the leader 
of a pirate band named Corsair. Sometime later (#108) it turned out that 
Corsair was none other than Christopher Summers, father of Scott and 
Alex. Christopher and their mother Kate had been kidnapped by the Shi'ar 
when flying home from Alaska. Kate had died at the hands of the Emperor 
D'Ken (Lilandra's mad brother). Scott discovered he had grandparents in 
Alaska.

In the meantime Jean Grey had gone through the whole Phoenix thing and 
died. In Uncanny X-Men #168, Madelyne was introduced. Scott fell in love 
with her almost immediately, and she was not unamenable to his attention. 
Scott proposed in #174, and they were married in #175.

Scott and Madelyne disappeared for awhile, but baby Nathan Christopher 
Charles Summers was born in #201.

To date, we have:

   * grandparents Philip and Deborah Summers
   * Christopher and Kate Summers (Kate deceased)
   * Scott and Madelyne Summers
   * Alex Summers
   * Nathan Christopher Charles Summers

Now it starts to get complicated.

In issue #141-142 the X-Men found about about a possible future (Days of
Future Past) where the X-Men had been mostly killed and mutants were 
hunted down and killed or enslaved. This future had sent back an 
emissary, Kate Pryde, by the power of Rachel Summers. It was quickly 
established that time had already diverged because in Kate Pryde's past, 
Scott had married Jean and had a daughter Rachel. (Note that Nate wasn't 
conceived yet, much less born, at the time of this storyline). Fair 
enough, except that in #184 Rachel made her way back to this reality, 
and eventually to the X-Men. Scott had been absent at the mansion when 
Kate Pryde made her journey, and the X-Men agreed not to tell him until 
Rachel was ready. Rachel was already completely shattered by the fact 
that her mother was dead, and didn't know how to talk to Scott. (Both 
Scott and Jean finally found out the truth in X-Factor Annual #5.) 
Shortly before Inferno, Rachel returned in Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn 
(aka Excalibur Special Edition #1). She popped in and out of Excalibur 
until issue #75, when she was sent to the future. She was last seen in 
The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, starting the Askani and finally 
dying. Of course, time-travelers never truly die, so when she popped up 
again in issues of Cable, nobody was truly that surprised.

In X-Factor #1, Scott (living in Alaska with Madelyne and Baby Nate)
received a call from New York. Jean Grey was in fact alive, and Warren 
wanted to create a new mutant team. Scott left Alaska, Madelyne, and 
Nathan Christopher behind. Madelyne was not happy, but shortly afterward 
was kidnapped with her son by Sinister and the Marauders. Eventually, 
she was rescued by the X-Men, but not before losing the baby to 
Sinister's clutches. Fast forward to Inferno. Madelyne became the Goblyn 
Queen and died, and Scott and Jean took custody of the child.

All was fine and dandy until Apocalypse got ahold of the child and the 
baby got the Techo-Organic virus. Scott was forced to let the Askani 
take Nathan into the future. Off in the future, Nathan was cloned 
(Stryfe), trained as an Askani (Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, 
Askani'son), and eventually married to Jenskot (aka Aliya). His progeny 
(or adoptive son; it's stated both ways) was Tyler, going by the name 
Genesis (until he died in Wolverine #100). Cable came to the present in 
New Mutants #87. During the X-cutioner's Song crossover, he was revealed 
to be the child (more or less) of Scott and Jean, with much angst all 
around. (At the time, Cable thought he was the clone.) One of the 
advantages of coming from the future is that you can be older than your 
parents.

Scott married Jean in X-Men (Vol. 2) #30. For the mother of multiple 
kids, she's never had a baby in our time. She is not pregnant so far, 
but dinos can't wait to see what happens when/if she is.

To recap:

   * grandparents Philip and Deborah Summers
   * Christopher and Kate Summers (Kate deceased)
   * Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, and Jean Grey-Summers, aka Phoenix
   * Alex Summers, aka Havok
   * Rachel Summers, aka Phoenix II
   * Madeylne Pryor, aka the Goblyn Queen (deceased)
   * Nathan Christopher Charles Summers, aka Cable, and Aliya, 
     aka Jenskot (deceased)
   * Stryfe, a clone (deceased)
   * Tyler Summers, aka Genesis (deceased)

Scott fought Mr. Sinister several times, as Sinister is for some reason
obsessed by Summers DNA. In X-Men #23, Sinister made a cryptic comment:

     "...but I care enough to wish you and your brothers to be
     protected from this illness."
     "Brothers?"
     "Excuse me?"
     "You said brothers--plural."
     "I'm sorry, did I? I meant your brother, Alex."

Now, Scott has a complex family tree, with all the chronological
displacement and clones, but he had been sure he only had one sibling.
Shortly afterwards, Sinister (under the guise of Milbury), started 
stalking a guy named Adam X, including pitting him against Shatterstar 
in X-Force #29-30. In Captain Marvel #3, it was revealed that Adam X was 
the scion of D'Ken and a human woman. Due to blantant hints in the X-Men 
(see X-Men #39), it seemed pretty obvious the human woman was Kate 
Summers. In semi-confirmation on racmx in 1998, Fabian Nicieza wrote: 

     ADAM X was INTENDED to be the illegitimate offspring of D'Ken and 
     Kate Summers. Taken from D'Ken and raised on a farming planet. 

     BUT--and it's a big but--since I never had the opportunity to tell 
     the entire story, what I intended is worth the screen it's printed 
     on. 

So far this has not had any effect on the rest of the Summers clan, if 
they know about it at all.

Just when things were mostly sorted out, Marvel sprang the Age of 
Apocalypse on Summers devotees. As if the Marvel Universe didn't already 
have enough chronologically displaced Summerses, there appeared Nate 
Grey, who inconveniently didn't stay in AOA but crossed over. Nate was 
the genetic progeny of Scott Summers and Jean Grey (a test-tube baby, 
created by Sinister). Nate, called the X-Man, was essentially a younger 
Cable without the T/O virus (and was much stronger as a consequence). For 
more information on Nate and his death, see the Cable/Stryfe/Ahab/Nate 
question below. (Alex apparently died, but that's another story.)

Rachel reappeared in the pages of Fantastic Four #414. Here, we learned 
she had a child with Franklin Richards, named Hyperstorm. This had to be 
in yet another alternative future, because Rachel wouldn't have had a 
chance to give birth in her own. 

One last time:

   * grandparents Philip and Deborah Summers
   * Christopher and Kate Summers (Kate deceased)
   * Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, and Jean Grey-Summers, aka Phoenix
   * Alex Summers, aka Havok (presumed deceased)
   * Adam X, aka Xtreme
   * Rachel Summers, aka Phoenix II, and Franklin Richards
   * Hyperstorm, aka Jonathan Reed Richards
   * Madeylne Pryor, aka the Goblyn Queen (deceased)
   * Nathan Christopher Charles Summers, aka Cable, and Aliya, aka 
     Jenskot (deceased)
   * Nate Grey, aka X-Man, from an alternative timeline (deceased)
   * Stryfe, a clone (deceased)
   * Tyler Summers, aka Genesis (deceased)

The scary thing is this is the simplified version of the Summers family
tree. I've kept it mostly to blood relations, but by widening the field 
just a little, it's astounding. "Six Degrees of Scott Summers" as 
applied to the entire Marvel Universe is something of a party game on 
racmx after the other discussions start to dwindle.


--- What's the relationship between the Phoenix, Jean Grey, Madelyne 
    Pryor, and Rachel Summers?

Okay, it's Ultimate Confusion time. Once upon a time, there was a X-Man
named Jean Grey. She served well and true with the first team (in the 
1960s run of the book), and was around for the new team, in the mid-70s. 
She was a telepath, a telekinetic, and the girlfriend of the team's 
deputy leader, Scott Summers, also known as Cyclops.

Well, during the first year of their new series, Jean Grey, in a 
selfless act of heroism (UXM #100), sacrificed herself, giving her life 
so that the rest of the team could survive a rather brutal reentry from 
orbit. Then, from the crash site, Jean seemed to burst forth from the 
water in a new form, a form that called herself Phoenix. She said she 
was still Jean Grey, but had tapped somehow into a universal power 
source which called itself Phoenix--hence her new name.

Phoenix proved to be a bit out of the usual X-Men's power range. She not
only saved the entire universe in her first major adventure,  but was 
also capable of telekinetically rearranging reality around her to her 
liking. Unfortunately, she was also capable of being emotionally preyed 
upon by Mastermind and the Hellfire Club.

The windup of this whole affair was the Dark Phoenix Saga, one of the 
few storylines from Marvel that actually earned the right to call itself 
a saga, and widely held not only to be the best single storyline in all 
of the X-titles, but also one of the best stories in all of comics. Torn 
between her human and cosmic sides, Phoenix eventually chose to commit 
suicide on the moon to save Scott Summers, her lover (UXM #137). In the 
words of the Watcher, "Though Jean Grey could have lived to be a god, it 
was important that she die...as a human."

The death of Phoenix was also unusual in that it apparently affected the
creative staff as much as the characters they were working on. Unlike a 
lot of comic book deaths (and all the cliches that go along with that 
term), Phoenix's was referred back to by the characters, and actually 
had some long-term effect on the path of the comic book. So much so that 
it was a shock in #168 when Madelyne Pryor was introduced, since she 
looked exactly like Jean Grey. Even more suspicious, she was the only 
survivor of a large plane crash which happened at the exact moment that 
Jean Grey died on the moon. Hmm.

Now, there had been a prior (heh) appearance of a Madelyne Pryor in a 
Marvel comic--Avengers Annual #10 (note: first appearance of Rogue),
also written by Chris Claremont, featured a little girl who said her 
name was Maddie Pryor, who was once sick but is much better now. A lot 


of energy was wasted trying to link the two Pryors together until 
Claremont, who was notorious for being lazy with walk-on character 
names, admitted that the Maddie in Avengers Annual #10 was named after a 
favorite singer of his, Madeleine Prior, the lead singer for the folk-
rock group Steeleye Span, and that the two comic characters had nothing 
in common besides their names. Likewise, David Goldfarb reminds us that 
in the first Genosha storyline Madelyne is shown having a flashback in 
virtual reality (UXM #238) which shows her as the little girl from 
Avengers Annual #10, singing "Gone to America," which is one of Steeleye 
Span's biggest hits. It's likely just Claremont having a bit of fun.

In any case, Maddie's familiar looks and shared interests with Scott 
(they were both pilots) led to them getting married in UXM #175, and 
Scott leaving the X-Men to finally enjoy the peace and quiet of a 
married life, notwithstanding the occasional jaunt into Asgard. Al 
Patterson commends the FAQ for not even "getting into Madelyne's 
transformation in X-Men/Alpha Flight, which demonstrated conclusively 
the authors clearly never intended Maddy to be what she became." (The 
firefountain did not affect mutants, but Maddy was transformed into 
Anodyne, a healer. That should be impossible if she was, for example,
supposed to be a clone of Jean).

Around this time, however, Rachel Summers had successfully projected 
herself back in time from the "Days of Future Past" future. The daughter 
of Scott Summers and Jean Grey in that time line (Jean was still 
Phoenix, but had had a lobotomy performed so that she couldn't access 
her powers), Rachel was yet another in the endless line of mutants from 
the future coming back in time to try and make things better for their 
friends back up the time stream. Actually, she was one of the first--
back when she did it, she was just the second who had pulled it off, so 
it hadn't become a cliche yet.

Rachel ended up being adopted by the X-Men, but terrified by all of the 
differences she saw around her (Scott marrying Madelyne, for instance), 
she didn't tell Scott of her partial relationship to him. The birth of 
Nathan, son of Scott and Madelyne, also further distanced her; in her 
timeline, she was Scott's eldest child.

This relatively nonconfusing state of affairs lasted for a while, until
X-Factor was given the go by the Marvel editors. The whole "hook" of
X-Factor was that the original X-Men would take secret identities and 
save mutant lives while posing as mutant exterminators. Because all of 
the original X-Men had to show up for the idea of the comic to work, the 
New Defenders title was cancelled to free up Iceman, Angel, and the 
Beast, while Scott Summers was shown to be a deserter to both his wife 
and son by being called from New York by... Jean Grey.

Yes, to get X-Factor "right", they resurrected Jean Grey. In the pages 
of Avengers #263 and Fantastic Four #286, Jean Grey was found stuck in 
an energy cocoon by the Phoenix Force, and then freed by the genius of 
Reed Richards. The retconned story was now that Jean wasn't possessed by 
the Phoenix Force, as before, but merely Xeroxed by it, with her real 
body being placed under the sea in the cocoon so it could regenerate 
from the radiation damage. Meanwhile, it was the actual deity-like 
figure of the Phoenix Force itself who merely pretended to be Jean Grey 
during all the adventures it had with the X-Men, all the way up to, and 
including, the Dark Phoenix Saga.

Now this last bit annoyed a lot of older X-fans, a population which some
jokers have commented that Marvel apparently doesn't remember exist. The
whole strength of the Dark Phoenix story was that it was Jean Grey, the
human, who was able to overcome Dark Phoenix, the cosmic force, even if 
she had to die to do it. Despite the claims from Marvel that the Dark 
Phoenix story still had all its emotional strength and punch because the 
Phoenix duplicated the emotions and thoughts of Jean Grey and had even 
convinced itself that it was Jean Grey, it just doesn't hold up under 
even casual scrutiny. It's no longer a human choosing to die from love, 
it's a cosmic force pretending it's human who decides to fool a human it 
supposedly loves into thinking that it's committed suicide, when really 
it hasn't. No longer a sacrifice, it makes it a cosmic shell game, with 
Scott's and the readers' emotions as the victims.

Hence you will get the odd comment on racmx about how the "real" Jean 
Grey died on the moon. Some simply refuse to accept the retcon.

Eventually, Madelyne Pryor was revealed to be a clone of Jean Grey, 
created by X-villain Mr. Sinister, in yet another of his endless 
attempts to try and get some genetic material out of Scott Summers (in 
this case, apparently, a son). Seduced by the renegade demon S'ym, 
Madelyne was transformed into the Goblyn Queen (UXM #234), which brought 
about the crossover called Inferno. This transformation was revealed to 
be possible from yet another retcon.

Now, when the Phoenix Force pretended to commit suicide on the moon (UXM
#137), it sent a portion of itself back to the still-comatose Jean Grey
beneath the waters of Jamaica Bay, in order to give her the memories the
Phoenix had gained in her place. Jean rejected these memories, however, 
and instead the portion of the Phoenix imparted them to the then-dormant
Madelyne Pryor, Jean Grey's clone by perennial villain Mr. Sinister. 
This was such a traumatic procedure that Sinister was resorted to giving 
her false memories of being the only survivor of a plane crash to ease 
her troubled mind. It was that portion of the Phoenix Force that allowed
Madelyne to wield the powers that she did as the Goblyn Queen. All this 
was revealed by Mr. Sinister in UXM #243. Inferno ended when Madelyne 
killed herself in X-Factor #38 (who then fled as a psychic presence into 
Jean's mind, only to be expelled forever in X-Factor #50, but that's a 
minor subplot). The real Madelyne is dead.

Meanwhile Rachel had ended up over in Excalibur, after becoming the new
Phoenix in UXM #199.  She remained so until the Adventures of Cyclops 
and Phoenix limited series, when the Phoenix left Rachel for an unnamed 
better host. This is a few centuries into the future, however. This 
mini, by the way, is when Jean took on the name Phoenix at Rachel's 
request. Hard as it is to believe, it's the first time Jean Grey ever 
used the name. Rachel showed up in a few issues of Cable, where Nathan 
rescued her. In the grand tradition of X-women who survive horrible 
events, she decided not to rejoin one of the teams, but instead to go 
to college. Of course, one can't be called Phoenix without the Phoenix 
force taking notice of it, and in UXM #128, Professor Xavier speaks to 
the Phoenix Force as it possesses Jean Grey. Currently, it looks like 
the Phoenix is an entity which possesses Jean and ramps up her powers, 
which is somewhat consistent with the spirit of previous stories. 
Xavier's description of the Phoenix as part of Shi'ar mythology works 
well enough--that's basically how the Phoenix Force was presented back 
in the Dark Phoenix Saga twenty years ago. 

This still leaves us to deal with the Madelyne who appeared in X-Man. 
At first, readers thought the Madelyne running around in X-Man was a 
construct; Nate Grey apparently created her in X-Man #5 out of her 
memories floating around in the ether (X-Man #25). At that time, Nate 
tried to un-create her and found he couldn't do it. In the Counter-X 
issues of X-Man, Nate eventually found out that the "construct" theory 
was a ruse. Evil Queen Madelyne was actually an alternate reality 
version of Phoenix (Jean Grey). Writer Steven Grant said that Queen 
Madelyne wanted to fool Nate, so in order to make the ruse work she 
hypnotized herself into being Madelyne Pryor. Of course, this 
information still can't explain the ghostly Madelyne that appeared in 
Cable #76. Some readers figure that Queen Madelyne herself tapped into 
Madelyne's memories floating around in the ether, which might explain 
the psionic connection in the issue of Cable. While it's first said by 
Queen Madelyne that she *replaced* Madelyne Pryor "several months ago" 
(which some readers though may have occurred during the six month gap), 
a later issue suggests that the Madelyne Pryor appearing in X-Man had 
been Queen Madelyne all along.

So, as it currently stands, barring any future retcons, the relationship 
is as follows:

   * Phoenix: A really bored cosmic force who currently lends its powers 
     to an unknown individual.

   * Jean Grey: A telepathic and telekinetic young woman who never had 
     the Phoenix Force, but now calls herself Phoenix. 

   * Madelyne Pryor: A clone of Jean Grey who had a portion of the 
     Phoenix force, became the Goblyn Queen, and was killed by Jean. 

   * Rachel Summers: An alternate-reality daughter of Phoenix, who has 
     gone into plot limbo.

   * Queen Madelyne: An evil, alternate-reality Jean Grey who tranced 
     herself (and Nate Grey) into thinking she was Madelyne.

And then Ken Arromdee chirps up, saying "You need to mention Excalibur
#52 here." Paul O'Brien is of substantial help at this juncture. You 
see, Excalibur #52 does not help matters. While it was supposed to clear 
up Rachel's relationship to the Phoenix, in many ways it complicated it
further. This issue consists of the Phoenix telling its story to Xavier,
Jean Grey and Excalibur as Rachel was lying in a coma. Unfortunately, 
the story the Phoenix told did not jibe with what had come before. In 
Rachel's timeline, the X-Men never met Phoenix. Jean Grey was killed in 
a nuclear explosion in Pittsburgh. Any differing stories would be 
"memory implants". That was according to writer Alan Davis. Sadly, that 
contradicts all of Claremont's stories that clearly had Phoenix as 
Rachel's mother. Phoenix: The Untold Story was published to set up 
Rachel's past. In fact, that was the whole point of Rachel's part in UXM 
#199: claiming the legacy of her mother. Phoenix:TUS, by the way, is UXM 
#137 with the original ending.

Rachel's memories were not messed up until Excalibur; she didn't have 
that problem during her stint with the X-Men. Mojo was more likely a 
cause, as Longshot went through similar difficulties. Another sticky 
point was the nuclear bomb. Odds are good Kate Pryde would have 
mentioned that....

But why would a celestial avatar lie?

Apparently it did, as Phoenix admitted to manipulating Rachel in later
issues. But why? This issue only gets messier. At this point, since we 
now have all of the possible reference contradicting themselves, this 
neutral researcher says "to hell with it" and closes the subject.


--- What's the relationship between Cable, Stryfe, Ahab, and Nate 
    Grey?

It's important to remember two basic things about Cable: he was created
much later than his vastly rewritten history would make him seem, and 
the person who created him (Rob Liefeld) didn't set out to make him 
anything in particular other than a cyborg with a big gun (history has 
shown how such a character is appealing to Liefeld).

When Liefeld landed the job as new penciller for the New Mutants, he
immediately sat down and started sketching out new characters. He sent 
them off to his editor, Bob Harras. Easily visible among the detritus 
are most of the Mutant Liberation Front, and the two characters who 
would become Cable and Stryfe. (Marvel Age #81 and #82 show some of 
these early sketches.)

Walter Simonson, husband of then-NM-writer Louise Simonson, recalled the 
design process in a message on racmx:

     The design for Cable [was] originally one of several designs Rob 
     did for a villain (designs done for Stryfe IIRC). Bob Harras liked
     the design as did Weezie and asked if they couldn't make a good guy 
     out of him. Weezie was already working on creating a new leader for 
     the New Mutants (something Bob was also interested in) and the 
     military background/attitude was always intended to be a part of 
     the character.  Weezie was tired of the Prof. X attitude of whiny    
     leadership that was always agonizing over sending the New Mutants 
     into harm's way and thought that an interesting story direction 
     would be to create a leader who knew the score, understood the 
     dangers, and would in fact view the NMutants essentially as 
     soldiers, being sent into battle.

Interestingly enough, in an interview in Wizard #10, Liefeld states that 
he gives co-creation status of Cable to Bob Harras:

     I've told Bob Harras that if anyone should share creator credit on 
     Cable with me, it's him. Bob told Louise, "I want this character in 
     there." I can understand that she didn't want the character, but 
     the book was dying. [Snip to further down the paragraph.] I realize 
     the writer wasn't pleased with what happened, but there was a 
     reason for all of it; it wasn't just, "Let's make life hell for the 
     writer."

     I wish I had this on the record: Bob said to me, "I want to bring 
     in a new central figure; make him a new teacher for the Mutants. 
     Give him, maybe, a bionic eye." I took that and sent him four 
     sketches--incorporating a bionic arm, the eye, everything. Bob 
     said, "Let's call him Quentin." I said, "Yucch!" I had already put 
     Cable down as his name on the sketches. Then in Louise's plot, 
     after being told his name was Cable, he was called Commander X 
     throughout. I said, "If this guy is called Commander X, I want 
     nothing to do with it." That seemed ridiculous to me.

In any case, the beginning designs weren't of Cable's background and 
previous life; they were kewl designs based around a bionic eye.

According to Liefeld, the original sketch of Cable did include some 
characterization, attached on a character profile:

     The profile clearly identified him as a traveler from thousands of 
     years in the future who journeyed back in time to combat specific 
     menaces in the past that threatened the future of the Marvel 
     Universe. The menaces he had targeted were intended to expand the 
     title outside the mutant spectrum, and Dr. Doom and Kang the 
     Conqueror were chief among the threats I had suggested. I felt it 
     was necessary for Cable to face non-mutant nemeses in order to 
     increase his importance in the grand scheme of things. I was 
     determined to create a character with as much mystique and interest 
     as Wolverine and was deliberately mapping out a lineage that would 
     capture the attention of readers everywhere. He was a man of 
     mystery, a man with a mission that would slowly reveal itself over 
     the course of several years. 

Cable was introduced in Liefeld's first issue of the New Mutants (#87), 
as the not-yet-then tired idea of a mysterious mutant mastermind who has 
been behind the scenes for years, but who we, the readers, have somehow
just never managed to see yet. He took over the leadership of the New
Mutants straight off, and we learned that he had an archenemy, called 
Stryfe, whose face was always concealed by a pointy helmet. When the 
word came down that New Mutants was going to be turned into X-Force, 
with Rob Liefeld as its plotter/penciller, it was decided that a neat 
way to end the New Mutants would be to unmask Stryfe for that dramatic 
final panel. The only trouble was, nobody knew who he was really 
supposed to be, so they didn't know what his shocking secret identity 
should be.

Liefeld provides some additional insight into the process:

     I also created an adversary for Cable named Stryfe who would test 
     him to the absolute limits of his abilities and help define him and 
     his struggles by being a formidable foe, the likes of which the New 
     Mutants had never really seen. I offered several considerations for 
     Stryfe's origin, one of them being that underneath all that armor 
     was a woman. Ultimately, the idea that Stryfe was actually Cable 
     seemed to offer more in the way of interesting story opportunities, 
     and Bob encouraged me to follow that path. It was the right move 
     and it helped catapult Cable's popularity to new heights. 

So, there they were. Stryfe and Cable were now twins. 

Around about this time Claremont was briefly writing X-Factor (#65-68)
(although under Whilce Portacio's plots). The son of Cyclops and 
Madelyne Pryor, Nathan Summers, had by this time become a small plot 
embarrassment (after all, it was tough to have Cyclops mooning over Jean 
Grey again when he had a baby boy by his previous marriage to worry 
about). Chris Claremont had never really liked the tot, and apparently 
most of the readers shared his sentiments, so in a plot involving 
Apocalypse and the Moon, Nathan came down with a techno-organic virus, 
and was only barely saved when a visitor from the future, Askani, zapped 
him up the timestream to save him with her futuristic medicine (X-Factor 
#68). The reason? Nathan would become important to saving a bunch of 
mutants in the future, so she couldn't let him die in the present.

Ken Arromdee reminded us to include here the folk legend of the Marvel 
edict against having main characters of their superhero titles with 
young children. Supposedly because their target audience will not 
identify with such people, creators are strongly discouraged from having 
any major characters with young children. A quick rundown of the major 
births in Marvel, with perhaps the sole exception of Crystal and 
Pietro's Luna, shows how strong this apparent edict is. It's highly 
possible that the Nathan/Askani storyline came about from this pressure 
as well.

Around about here Cable was revealed to be from the future. Since Nathan 
was now in the future, it wasn't too far to suggest that Cable was 
really Nathan. Of course, since Stryfe was obviously connected to Cable 
somehow, now the question became "Which of the two was really Nathan?"
According to Liefeld, he'd been thinking that Stryfe was baby Nathan:

     So imagine my surprise when I received a call from Bob Harras, 
     informing me that he, Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio had crafted a 
     story that would reveal that Cable was the son of Scott Summers and 
     Madelyne Pryor. I politely protested and asked Bob repeatedly to 
     reconsider what I felt was a decision that would be damaging to the 
     character in the long run. It became very clear that my protests 
     would go unheeded and I reminded myself that Cable was not my 
     character; he belonged to Marvel and I needed to accept that and 
     make the best of a frustrating situation. I chose to never address 
     the issue in the titles I was invested in and continued to work 
     hard to create an element of intrigue around Cable, even though it 
     seemed futile after the mystery surrounding Cable's true identity 
     had evaporated without my consultation.

Now a neutral observer would probably point out at this time that this 
whole mess could have been avoided if these lads had been created with 
the usual backgrounds most writers give their characters: you know, like 
who they are. But that wasn't the hand that the X-writers had dealt 
themselves, and X-readers had no end of fun watching a bunch of 
plotlines swirl and weave about whether Cable was Stryfe's clone, or 
vice versa, or how maybe they were both clones, or maybe they had 
nothing to do with Nathan at all.

Fabian Nicieza provides another insight into the process:

     To this day, I don't know how that all came about. I don't know if 
     it was a Jim/Whilce idea that they ran by Bob and he okayed and 
     cajoled Rob into agreeing to, etc. Or what. I just know by the time 
     I got involved in it, we all had pretty much accepted that would be 
     the working plan.

     My original thinking was that Cable would be the clone and Stryfe 
     the real one, leading to more pathos for Cable and more tragedy for 
     Cyclops, but Bob and Scott both felt making them THINK that was the 
     case and then switching it around later would work better and I 
     quickly came to agree they were right.

So, finally, in issues of Cable written by Nicieza, most of the answers 
were provided. As revealed by Sinister, Cable was indeed Nathan 
Christopher Charles Summers (Cable #6), and the cyborg parts were 
actually those parts of his body infected by the technovirus, which he 
held in check with his telekinetic powers. Stryfe was his clone. 

We'll side-track for a moment to mention Ahab. Ahab was the Master of 
the Hounds from the "Days of Future Past" future--the one that Rachel 
Summers was from. Hounds are mutants with powers useful for tracking 
other mutants, who are controlled substances in that timeline. Back 
when Cable still didn't have a past, Ahab was introduced in the Days 
of Future Present crossover (Fantastic Four Annual #23, X-Factor Annual 
#5, New Mutants Annual #6, X-Men Annual #14). During one fight scene 
Cable and Ahab got close to one another, and Cable was shocked to see 
some similarity to himself in Ahab. This was compounded by having Ahab 
say: "What's the matter? See someone you know?" (X-Men Annual #14).

Since Cable was later revealed to be Nathan instead of Ahab, a new past 
for Ahab was needed. A new character introduced in Excalibur #72, Rory 
Campbell, was obviously intended to end up becoming Ahab, thus freeing 
Cable from that unneeded bit of history. To that end, Rory lost his leg 
(Excalibur #90) and became Mutant Liason for the British authorities 
(Excalibur #101).

Back to Stryfe. By himself, Stryfe presented quite a few problems, 
because he Just Wouldn't Stay Dead. Stryfe was first killed at the end 
of X-Cutioner's Song. He then reappeared as a consciousness in Cable's 
mind during the Sons and Fathers crossover between X-Men and Cable 
right after the X-Cutioner's Song (circa Cable #6-8). Where he died 
again, sort of. Stryfe then was seen in Hell years later in X-Force 
#74, and his later appearances, alongside dead Dark Riders, were 
assumed to have been a past version of Stryfe. Until, you know, he 
popped up more regularly. Again. Like in the Blood Brothers crossover 
between Cable and X-Man. Anyway, Stryfe is now apparently truly dead, 
since he was killed in Gambit and Bishop: Sons of the Atom #6 by Dark 
Beast, having his entire body crumble into bones and ash. Again. 

Back to the last part of the question: Nate. Go grab some refreshment 
or something now, you've been sitting long enough reading this answer. 
In the 1995 Age of Apocalypse crossover, for reasons too bizarre to get 
into now, Cable ceased to exist. In the AOA timeline, his counterpart 
was Nate Grey, called the "X-Man". Nate, who shares a name that fans of 
the X-titles should recognize as being a warning bell, was a genetic 
construct of the Mr. Sinister of that timeline. Once again, for various 
reasons that you had to be there to deal with, Nate was one of the few 
survivors of the Age of Apocalypse that made it into the normal 
timeline. On top of this, Cable reappeared with the resurgence of the 
original timeline, so for a while we had, in one way or an other, two 
(and a half, counting the psyche of Stryfe) versions of Scott and 
Madelyne's son roaming around the Marvel Universe, none of which was 
actually native to that universe. I don't think Hallmark prints enough 
cards for there to be enough for Scott Summers to send one to each of 
his relatives on Christmas. 

Nate Grey, at least, was easily distinguishable by his name, and the 
fact that he was at least 20 years younger than the others. He was also, 
just to be nitpicky, the son of Scott and Jean (albeit by test tube), 
not Madelyne. 

Nate eventually came to realize the "Madelyne Pryor" whom he had known 
since coming to this dimension was actually planning to use him as a 
weapon. During the time he tried to free himself, he met another 
dimension's Nate Grey, who helped to free his mind. Nate became a mutant 
shaman, and spent his time traveling all over the world helping mutants 
in need. X-Man came to an end with issue 75, in which Nate sacrificed 
himself to save the world. Basically, he dissipated himself and another 
being into every cell of every being on Earth, in order to stop alien 
seeders from controlling it.



*** Continued in Part 5 ***


   Compilation Copyright 2000-2003 by Katharine E. Hahn
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