By VioletPhoenix 5 Comments
So picture this. The Scarlet Witch de-powers 95%+ of the world's mutants. For years they are in a state of regrouping, survival and chaos brought on by this unimaginable terror. They become an endangered species, and there's not a single new mutant birth. Their days are numbered, this looks to be the end.
Cerebra detects a new mutant life sign. A new born mutation activating that BOOM knocks out Cerebra. For the first time in YEARS (for us readers and long long months in comic time) a single new mutant is born. Who is this child? What makes this newborn mutant so special that its birth broke Wanda's reality warp? How powerful is this baby that its mere birth knocks out Cerebra?
Hope Summers is born.
*spoiler alert but really it's been 7 years*
This was back in 2007, and when this event, Messiah CompleX, took place, it was a BIG FREAKING deal. I'm talking sold out first printings at your LCS sort of big. Mutants were dying, disappearing and could not hope to continue the mutant legacy. "No more mutants." and then Cerebra explodes because of ONE new mutant birth. Yeah, this. Was. Huge. The race was on. Every mutant and mutant organization was on the lookout for her. The town she was born into (in Alaska where Scott grew up and where he met Maddie Pryor) was burned to the ground. Not a single survivor. The awesomeness and nail biting moments keep coming. The X-Men, the Marauders, Xavier, X-Factor, Bishop, X-Force, Reavers, Forge, Purifiers, and Acolytes were all involved. And who turned out had gotten to the baby first and saved her? The previously presumed dead ultimate X-Man: Cable. WHAT THE WHAT?!
The hits keep on coming. Not only was Cable her protector, but turns out that, despite the plethora of villains in the mix, the person she had most to fear was Bishop. Stalwart and true X-Man Bishop would become this child's greatest enemy because he blamed her for the future he came from. In his logic killing her would prevent his world's suffering. How has this not piqued your curiosity yet? This was the clincher for me, the mystery mutant miracle child who had every mutant after her for different purposes. I was dying to find out why. How did this baby defy Wanda's reality warp? Why did this child's birth break Cerebra? What are her powers going to be? How was she able to touch and cure a comatose Rogue (before she learned to control her powers) without anything happening to her? And the smallest detail but important nonetheless. This red-headed green-eyed baby girl, where did she come from? Because there's only a handful of special mutant red headed green eyed females, so we know there's truly something special about this girl. A Jean Grey connection? Very possible. Safe to say, I was hooked. And I needed to know more, I needed to know her story.
If you haven't read Duane Swierczynski's 2008 Cable run. Do it. Like now. Actually like yesterday. Other than being a brilliant run, it was the first long-running series to feature Hope Summers immediately following Messiah CompleX. And to be completely honest no other series has done her justice since. Swierczynski had proven that he genuinely loved Hope and cared for the character and her development and who she was becoming and how Cable was essential to Hope becoming a hero, not mutantkind's "messiah". The series follows Cable and Hope from the second they arrive in the future after Messiah CompleX up until they return to the present with Hope being a full-grown teenager, with EVERYTHING in between.
If you ever wanted to get to know Hope, and I mean the REAL Hope Summers, not the bratty attitude-heavy whiny abrasive rude punk that readers have unfortunately come to know since Second Coming, the Cable series is where you go. Swierczynski takes the time for you to see this girl's struggle, to see Cable struggle with not just keeping her alive and safe but bringing her up as his own and raising her. You see her as a helpless baby saved from gunfights and thugs and time traveling creeps, to a precocious toddler and child who goes through loss after loss and still manages to keep her head up and keep fighting because of the badass father who teaches her strength and gives her love.
Swierczynski makes you absolutely fall in love with this girl. To feel for her hurt, to cheer for her to win, to giving her strength so she can fulfill her destiny. You get Hope when she's shy, funny, confused, smart, witty, heartbroken, happy, furious, terrified, insecure, out of her depth, gaining momentum, separated from her father, reunited with him, gaining a losing a family, fighting monsters, outsmarting Bishop and coming into her own. Every shade of Hope is explored and you cannot help but just love this character. And when you suddenly catch a Phoenix emblem in her eyes casually in a panel, chills run down your spine at the implications. Swierczynski gives her her due, he gives her full on character development so you see her grow literally and figuratively. He makes you see this new amazing side to Cable, wherein he's a father and you see how it becomes the most important thing to him (especially considering his history with his own father), he becomes an unkillable badass who's priority is this tiny little girl who he grows to love more than anything. Both characters are put through the ringer and manage to survive. The most beautiful moments between them are the silent ones once they survive yet another attack. This series also made me understand Cable as a character, and through him you end up loving Hope, because you see how she grows up and becomes this paragon of strength and might because of Cable.
The relationship between Hope and Cable is one of the most heartwarming father-daughter, hell even parent-child, dynamics in comics. Their biggest strength? They both give the other something they lack. Hope's innocence and representation of new life are exactly what Cable has lost in his lifetime(s). Cable meanwhile represents to Hope, survival strength and protection. All the things whose absence threatened her from birth. But most of all? Cable and Hope are each others family. Two against the world and against time itself. Hope's family was taken from her at birth, Cable's family was forced to first send him away and then followed all the complexities of his future stand-in families (askani, akkaba, x-force, x-men etc.) for better or worse. The two of them together? Perfect sense. Their immediate bond is the very fact that they were both sent into the future as children so they could be safe and protected.
They are each others perfect foil. Hope brings out the father in Cable, the natural protector that he is But with the softer fatherly side. Hope makes him a better soldier because he suddenly has this little girl to protect from the world and so his A-game is on point. Hope makes him a better person because she is able to bring out his gentler side, as his daughter Cable had never loved or feared for someone as much he does for Hope. His actions? Purely out of unquestionable love for this girl who destiny had decided to place him with through a cruel confluence of events. They're lone warriors, looking out for themselves in a hostile future, he has no one, and neither does she. But they have each other. This huge serious part metal mutant soldier finds his challenge raising this tiny innocent firecracker mystery child, and finds the only family he ever needed.
When X-Force visit the future and help Cable deal with his evil and deeply powerful clone Stryfe, it is Hope's first exposure to the past she comes from and the X-Men who need her. Lil five year old Hope has the BEST exchanges with X-23 and Elixir (remember him? Miss him). Elixir's biologically rooted powers, utters one line about her that confirmed my love for the mystery of this character "oh god, I know what she is. I know what she is!" Not explained though, which is fine since I'm patient. Hope's exchanges with Stryfe (who himself realizes how powerful she is) make you think this kid is definitely Cable's daughter.
Then came THAT moment. The singular moment you waited for while reading this girl's journey. When Bishop knocks out Cable and has a gun pointed to Hope's forehead, and bam! Her powers activate. Surprising her and Bishop. She telekinetically stops the bullet and knocks a terrified awestruck Bishop back. Safe to say at that point I was elated on Cloud 9. Finally. And she proved to be a badass. The powers? Seemed like telekinetic and telepathy at first, which made me giddy to think considering certain other people who have the same power set. When they return to the present for Second Coming, that marked the end of Swierczynski's amazing take on Hope Summers and Cable.
From a power display perspective, a heartbreaking perspective, a revelation of the "mutant messiah" perspective and her introduction to the chaos of the present Second Coming did Hope absolute justice. SO MANY POWERFUL MOMENTS. Nightcrawler's sacrifice, Cable's sacrifice, Hope clutching Cable's detached robotic arm exhausted on the floor. And the chills you get when she displays her full power and full on destroys Bastion, goosebumps..even more so when you see her calmly Phoenix-out while every character gulps at the implications. This girl is a powerhouse, this girl is the ultimate mystery, this girl I adore who since birth has known nothing but hardship.
Some readers weren't exposed to Hope during her formative years and only "met" her upon her return for Second Coming. They didn't know the hardships she's faced, the constant loss suffered, the barely getting by, the life on the run, the near misses, the always looking over your shoulder, growing up on battlefields and growing up as a soldier constantly being hunted and trained to survive by the most seasoned mutant soldier. Born into a waging war and kept safe barely through every imaginable obstacle and hardships. And worse yet? Born with a heavy burden forced upon her that she didn't ask for since birth, the role of a mutant messiah. Yeah, no pressure. Add that to an unsafe war-like life lived with little exposure to modern society and other people (let alone normal people), Hope has lived in a post-apocalyptic setting for all her life. Monitored and burdened. Chances are she isn't going to know how to interact with modern people from the past who don't realize what she's been through. Let alone having to adjust to a "safer" time with people who she doesn't know but who keep their eyes on her at all times, and all this after she lost the most important person in her life, the only family she has ever known and the only person who went through what she has: Cable. Some writers didn't know how to write her for the present.
A curse in reading comics is the different takes different writers have on established characters when they use them. How many times have different comic book writers more or less screwed up or changed our characters with their different spin on them? Some writers do them justice, while others..struggle. Or utilize them in a completely different way giving them a 180 degree flip. Hope Summers unfortunately fell into this trap. Tony G-Man Guerrero once wrote about the dangers of having characters with too much power. Too much power and too much hype mean too little to actually use properly (i.e. Sentry). After Second Coming, Hope was marooned in unfamiliar terrain and the soldier was left to redefine her life with all these people whispering about her. Writers clearly didn't know how to proceed with her in the present. Her abilities weren't defined at first "mutant voodoo doll, she is all of us" yeah that doesn't explain a thing. Then they settled for "omega level power mimic" which could make sense but again feels like a cop out for a 3+ year mystery they were exploring. They didn't do her justice she was wasted, written UNCHARACTERISTICALLY as a rude brat with no regard for others and completely rash impulsive behavior. So not Hope. Making her fight and mouth off to Emma Frost, Dani Moonstar, Cyclops, etc. Why? That's not like her. All it did was make readers hate her and shelf her. Did writers just not know what to do with her?
Then came the fiasco known as the Five Lights. Ugh. Mutations Hope was written as having awakened. This whole clusterf**k was a mess, uninteresting characters, no development and no long term purpose. Hope was made into this selfish hard-ass unit leader who bossed and ordered her team around with no regard to any sort of purpose or direction. What kills me is that it stuck. All future writers kept the bratty rigid dismissive soldier Hope for every time she was written. Her mutant messiah bit was left after Second Coming, and then it's as if all writers were like "Uuuuh what do we do with her now...? Have we figured out her story yet? Do we just kinda wanna make this up as we go along and disregard all established history and clues other writers built for her? Aah screw it we'll just throw it all into Avengers vs X-Men." It came as no shocker when Generation Hope was cancelled. An uninteresting group with uninteresting missions and zero team dynamics with a bland plot were left out in the cold. What a surprise. Most of the writers who handled Hope after Second Coming were quality writers with an amazing track record, but that doesn't guarantee they'll know how to handle all characters at any given time.
Mind you I haven't read AvX yet, it's coming up on my list and I'm excited to get some answers and to see whether Hope is given her due. It's my understanding that Hope is currently unused in All-New Marvel NOW! And in a coma. Completely discarded because they just don't know what to with her. And readers couldn't care less because they've got the wrong idea about her. Here's hoping I gave you something to think about and that I've maybe changed your mind.