I'm gonna flat out say it, I've never been a fan of Cyclops. From the various cartoons, to the movies, to most of the comics I've read with him, not once has he ever appealed to me. Now i realized he has a fan base, and a number of defenders for all his actions, but really, I just don't get his appeal. And the further I dig into him, the more I just say "screw that guy". But this isn't about that (well, not entirely).
This is about the new Marvel event, "Avengers Vs. X-men". And I'll preface this by saying issue one was... alright. Nothing special, nothing I'm interested in following. But having read the book myself, and having read many reviews about it from various sources, the general consensus is that he's being written as way too extreme, almost like a fascist, driven and consumed by a singular purpose. And from what various people have said, I gather most people are saying he's being poorly written, and that he's not meant to be done like that.
But really, I feel that's pretty much exactly how he's always been: A massive dick. It doesn't matter if you think different... you're wrong.
Let's wind back the clock to the first volume of X-Factor. In this, the original 5 X-men have left the school because Magneto is now running things and Storm is leading the team. Jean Grey had recently passed away as a result of the Phoenix Force and Cyclops has unknowingly married a clone of Jean Grey (just roll with it) and had a son, Nathan Summers, and are now living in Alaska. Angel messages Scott to come see him at his company, where he reveals that for some convoluted reason or another, Jean Grey has come back to life. Now this leaves Cyclops with a dilemma: How does he explain to Jean he's now married with a child, how does he resolve his feelings? Who does he choose? How does he live with this? Certainly, as a hero, he'll make the right decision, and do the heroic thing fitting for a protagonist.
Wrong. He stays with the newly reborn Jean Grey for a few months, doesn't tell her he's married with a kid, and doesn't tell his family what he's doing or where he is. The rest of the team seems cool with this, for some reason. Ultimately, his lies are discovered (Don't lie to a psychic, dick) and he returns to find his wife and kid are gone, possibly dead. His wife becomes a villain years later, and Rob Liefeld turns his son into Cable, giving us enough crappy 90's stories to last us for years, all the way to Avengers X-Sanction.
But, you may ask, certainly such a huge event in his life will at least give him some angst or pathos, haunting him for years to come? Like how Hank Pym felt such guilt over what he did with his wife and the Ultron?
Of course not. Marvel may have been stupid enough to green light this, but they smartened up enough to realize making one of their flagship protagonists a dead-beat husband wouldn't sit well, so it was nicely swept away, and is only awkwardly half mentioned on occasion. Our hero, everybody.
And, unfortunately, this sort of thing kinda set the tone for future x-books. From constantly butting heads with Wolverine, to hooking up with Emma Frost over his wife's grave, to sending children to battle in Schism, Cyclops has always been plagued with actions that for the most part the fans can agree are pretty deep into the shades of grey (no pun intended). Each time, future author's try to sweep these things under the rug, avoiding mention to his track record of dickery as much as possible, but each time it's still there, it's still canon, and like it or not people will remember.
Now sure, Astonishing X-men helped make him a much more interesting character, and actually made him seem much more pathetic than he normally appears, introducing to us the idea that he was only made leader because Professor X felt sorry for him, as nothing about him was noteworthy. This was a stroke of brilliance, in my opinion, and addressed why people felt he was so boring while at the same time making him sympathetic. We can relate to not being special in many things we do, and Marvel is all about relateable characters. We also see that despite this, he's still a capable and effective leader trying to do the right thing, which is what makes him a hero. This is the closest thing to a redemption he's ever gotten, and even though his name is forever sullied, he's at least more understandable.
Of course, this new dimension to his personality was quickly forgotten thanks to the decimation, and now he's left as the cold douchebag that's so divisive nowadays. We never really got a chance to see this revelation used, because now he's been forced into being the guy who has to make tough decisions, and is now an "end justifies the means" character.
Now there's nothing really wrong with this, but I still can't help but feel this character is always being made into the bad guy. In fact, I feel he's being turned into the Strawman of the X-books. Much like how Tony Stark and Reed Richards we're made into such evil men during Civil War because Marvel writers, like all artists, are for the most part 90% liberals, and therefore their Republican stand-ins are meant to be wrong, Cyclops is meant to represent the well meaning but disastrous methods of dealing with the possibility of extinction.
This really makes total sense when you apply this theory to cyclops. Let's face it, the rivalry between him and Wolverine has always been a huge point in X-books, but at the same time Wolverine is massively popular among fans and writers, so when Schism happened, you knew that Logan was meant to represent the "Correct" choice, even if you agreed with Scott.
And so, especially after reading AvX, I've come to a conclusion about the character: He's not being mischaracterized, he's being made into a villain! he's been built up for over 25 years now as probably the most likable X-man ever, he's trying to control the Phoenix force with no respect to Hope's feelings or wishes, he's so intense and single-minded that he's becoming the next Magneto!
In the end, like it or not, I think that's the direction they are going. I won't spoil AvX if you haven't read it, but I will say that Brian Bendis has made it quite clear that Avengers Vs X-men isn't going to be about picking a side, it's made as obvious as possible that the Avengers are in the right. As such, Cyclops is going to either become full blown evil, be martyred, or be redeemed by the end of the arc. It's been set up, it fit's with the characters current mind set and motivations, and, above all, Cyclops is a huge dick. And that's going upset Cyclops fans, I know. But that's life. You don't control Marvel, Quesada and Brian Michael Bendis do. And at this point I don't think anything you say will change that.