Within the world of the X-men, the Summers(-Grey) family is without a doubt the single most important family unit, past and present. Two of it's members are founding X-men, three are confirmed Omega-level mutants, two have been long-time hosts of the Phoenix Force, and four are active members of X-men teams. Many stories have either completely or in part focused on this bloodline, and there's actually a villain who had, for years, focused exclusively on genetic research on the Summers family (Mr. Sinister).
However, it can be hard for a new reader to understand exactly who the Summers family is, as well as why it's members are important, not to mention the history that surrounds them. In order to help introduce a friend to the X-men universe, I've prepared this brief rundown of the Summers family tree, explaining it to the best of my knowledge, to be a simple explanation of 'those people everyone keeps going on about'. For simplicity's sake, we'll focus on the more essential members (therefore leaving out less important relatives). Alternate reality characters will only be mentioned if they have played a large enough part in Earth-616(mainstream Marvel reality)'s timeline .
For the sake of this introduction, the Summers-Grey family tree begins with two families, explained as such:
- John Grey + Elaine Grey = Jean Grey
- Katherine Anne Summers + Christopher Summers (Corsair) = Scott Summers (Cyclops), Alexander Summers (Havok), Gabriel Summers (Vulcan)
So already we have two Omega-level mutants (Jean Grey and Vulcan) and two founding X-men (Jean Grey and Cyclops). Assuming one already has a basic grasp of who the two aforementioned characters are, I'll explain briefly who Corsair, Havok and Vulcan are:
- Corsair: Former leader of the Starjammers (think space pirates), swordsman, pilot. Had to throw Cyclops and Havok out of a plane when they were younger (I believe because him and his wife were being abducted by aliens?), felt guilty for the rest of his life about not coming back for them.
- Havok: Alpha-level mutant, absorbs solar energy and can emit blasts of pure...well,energy. Former X-man, current whereabouts and affiliations indefinate. Long-time romantic partner of Lorna Dane (Polaris), former member of X-factor. Heroic and generally well-intentioned but tends to clash with authority figures, such as Cyclops. After being thrown out of the plane, he got adopted while Cyclops stayed in an orphanage until found by Professor X.
- Vulcan: Megalomaniac Omega-level mutant, could manipulate many varieties of energy in vast amounts (among other things). Was ripped from his mother's womb by Da'ken (former emperor of the Shi'ar, a group of vaguely avian aliens, the 'triangle-heads') and aged to adulthood to be a slave, broke free and decided to take revenge on the Shi'ar (a group of vaguely avian aliens, the 'triangle-heads'). Became emperor, drove the Shi'ar empire to near ruin, died in space fighting Black Bolt.
Consider the fact that before Gabriel was introduced as a character, it was stated (by Sinister) that there were more than two Summers brothers. The third was supposed to be Adam-X the X-treme, but the writers got changed and that plot thread was left dangling until the introduction of Vulcan. So the Summers brothers can be neatly explained in this equation: Summers Brothers > 2.
Here is where things begin to get a bit more complex. Jean died, and her clone (Madelyne Pryor, created by Sinister to beget the offspring of the Summers/Grey bloodlines) married Cyclops, and they had a son. So now:
Madelyne Pryor (Jean Grey) + Scott Summers (Cyclops) = Nathan Summers (Cable)
Cyclops left Madelyne very shortly after the birth of his son (he wasn't even there for the birth, actually) to join X-factor alongside the now not dead Jean Grey (for the sake of expediency, I'm not going to explain her resurrections). Upon seeing Jean, Madelyne had something of a freak-out and ended up essentially selling her soul to the demon N'asrith (a Limbo demon, see the Magik page for further reference), starting a relationship with Havok (who promised he would take care of his brother's wife, even though his brother had abandoned her) and began the event known as Inferno (hailed as one of the must-read story arcs in X-men history). Madelyne died, but she's come back from the dead before and there's a decent chance she won't stay dead.
Their son, Cable, caught the Transmode virus and was sent into the future in hopes of finding a cure. He has come back and forth in time and reality to aid and sometimes assault the X-men, and was most recently hopping around in time raising his adoptive daughter (Hope Summers, who will be explained better later). He died during the battle of the Second Coming, but has been seen up and about and doing something that involved the Avengers. His powers have been many and variable over the years, but they do include telekinesis, which is an important trademark of Summers-Grey children.
During the early 80s, possibly before Cable was introduced, Rachel Grey (from Earth 811). In her timeline, Senator Kelly (someone who is now unimportant but had been a vocal disparager of mutants) was assassinated and mutants were being hunted down and killed. Rachel, the daughter of Jean Grey and Cyclops from that reality, was captured as a young teenager and trained as a 'hound' (due to her telepathy) to track down other mutants. Before the Days of Future Past, she managed to escape and warned the X-men of the plot on Kelly's life and prevented her timeline from occuring. Since then, she has served as a member of Excalibur and the X-men. Rachel has proven to be 'spunky', somewhat rebellious, fixated on Jean Grey, whom she adresses as mother (due to the trauma of seeing her own parents killed?), held the codenames of Phoenix and Marvel Girl (again, mother issues) and has been a long-term host of the Phoenix Force. After a few years in space dealing with the Shi'ar, Rachel is back on Earth, kissing Wolverine and helping out with his school is Westchester. In terms of powers, Rachel is essentially a photocopy of Jean Grey, and has been verified as an Omega-level mutant (her skills, however, are fairly unrefined and is thusly not as powerful a telepath as she could be). Note that Rachel currently/usually uses her mother's surname, instead of the proper Summers.
So Rachel's family tree looks like this:
Jean Grey (811) + Scott Summers (811) = Rachel Grey (811)
During the 90s, something called the Age of Apocalypse occurred after Legion went back in time to kill Magneto and accidentally killed Professor Xavier instead. Therein Mr. Sinister had biologically engineered the perfect child of the Summers-Grey bloodline, Nathan Grey (who will be referred to as Nate). Nate was aged to teenagehood and escaped, eventually being mentored by Forge and ended up defeating Apocalypse. After that, he donned the name X-man and spent time travelling between dimensions, eventually ending up in Earth-616. He had been absent for some time before showing up during Dark Reign, in which he was captured by Norman Osborn and strapped to the Omega Machine, which drew on his powers and caused him severe damage that resulted in his abilities being reduced to fairly low-level telekinesis (though it's highly unlikely he'll stay that way). Nate is a telekinetic and a telepath, and a master in both fields (he could manipulate sub-atomic particles telekinetically to create holograms, give himself physical enhancements, etc., and he could manipulate the astral plane in a variety of ways at will). His power levels were stated to surpass those of Dark Phoenix (who ate a solar system once, just saying), and he was skilled in pretty much every aspect of his abilities. Currently alive, he is a member of the New Mutants, who are based in San Francisco. His codename is X-man.
So now, the Summers-Grey family tree looks something like this:
John Grey + Elaine Grey = Jean Grey (who essentially equals Madelyne Pryor)
Katherine Anne Summers + Christopher Summers = Cyclops, Havoc, Vulcan
Cyclops + Jean Grey = Rachel Grey (811), Nathan Grey (AoA)
Cyclops + Madelyne Pryor = Cable
Then there's Hope Summers, the adopted daughter of Cable. The first mutant born after M-day, she's known as the 'mutant messiah' and has activated the abilities of five new mutants. She grew up hopping forwards in time with Cable attempting to escape the wrath of Bishop, who was hellbent on killing her ever since he heard of her birth. Eventually Hope killed Bishop and her and Cable travelled back in time to mainstream Earth-616 reality, in which she has become a member of Cyclops' team of X-men on Utopia. Hope is an Omega-level mimic of unspecified power, range and potential, and has remained relatively untested as of late. It's been stated on multiple occasions that Hope is also the current host of the Phoenix Force, though not much has been explained in that respect.
That's about as brief as I can make it. Comments, suggestions, corrections, anyone?