Thursday, May 17, 2007

What do you guys think of this?

The Third Summers Brother

When I was offered the opportunity to write Cable for Marvel approximately four years ago, I accepted the assignment with great pleasure. Despite having only written a few comic book scripts during my career, I had been a comic book fan and collector for over forty years and was especially fond of the X-Men. Being given the chance to write one of the X-books was a dream come true. And, to top things off, Cable had always been one of my favorite characters.

Now, when I was hired by Marvel, I made it clear to Mark Powers, my editor and editor of the entire X-Men line, that I considered Cable a long-term project and that I intended to keep writing the series for the foreseeable future. With Apocalypse killed and the Twelve story-line finally completed, Cable needed a new direction and a new purpose in life. I was determined to clear up old plots that had never been resolved. Along with fleshing out his history, I wanted to establish that Cable had a greater purpose in life than just fighting Apocalypse and Stryfe. To accomplish both these aims, I studied Cable’s adventures, reading every issue of his own comic, his origin in New Mutants, and any other comic in my Marvel collection dealing with his life. I didn’t abandon continuity and past history. Instead of ignoring Cable’s complex life and continuity, I used it. I came up with a four-year master plan that would take Cable in new directions and hopefully establish him as one of the most powerful and most interesting characters in the Marvel Universe.

Tying this immense story together was an ongoing narrative involving two incredible powerful prime movers, beings of extraordinary power I dubbed the Lords of Probability and Possibility. Aiding them were three shape-changing sisters who liked Macbeth. These Sisters were the ones who declared that Nathan Summers was a nexus of the multiverse, the infinite number of alternate worlds that made up all reality. While popularized in science fiction and fantasy circles by Michael Moorcock in his Elric novels, the actual multiverse concept came from real science, the Many-Worlds Theory Interpretation Quantum Mechanics as developed by Hugh Everett III in 1957.

Unfortunately, my run on Cable was cut short after 18 months, and near the end of the run, I had to rewrite some scripts to fit into the narrower demands of the new editorial policy at Marvel. After I was replaced, my successors abandoned all of Cable’s wonderful and complex continuity and transformed him into a mercenary with a clouded past and uncertain future. The powers that be felt the more gritty Cable would sell better than my version. He didn’t and the comic was canceled.

Now, I’m not writing this column to second-guess the powers that be, so please don’t write posts for or against their decision to change Cable’s focus. Instead, I merely want to share with long-time Cable and X-Men fans one of the theories I dreamt up to solve a dangling plot line involving the X-Men, the Summers family, and Cable in particular. It’s where I was headed when my four- year plan was terminated. You might not agree with the concept, so feel free to argue about it all you want in the forum that follows. In my not-so-humble opinion, it would have made a fun, though possibly quite controversial, addition to Cable’s convoluted history. As the title of this column proclaims, here is my solution to the identity of the third Summers brother.

If you’re a long time X-Men fan, you know the problem. Years ago, Mr. Sinister hinted that there might have been three, not two Summers brothers. (In X-Men #23, Sinister makes mention to Scott of “you and your brothers.”) We knew of two – Scott, the mutant called Cyclops; and Alex, the mutant known as Havok, who starred for several years in the original (non-TV show) Mutant X comic. Scott was always one of the most powerful X-Men and Havok, who shot bolts of plasma at his enemies, was equally deadly. Many readers felt that Sinister’s hint somehow referred to Gambit, whose childhood was shadowed in mystery and who seemed to owe Sinister a powerful debt. Since Sinister had run the orphanage where Scott grew up, he seemed like a strong candidate to further mess with the Summers DNA. Sinister always was quite clear that he felt the merging of the Jean Gray/Scott Summers genetic codes would produce a super-powerful mutant. And he was determined to find a way to make that happen.

If you read my run of Cable, you know that Jean’s mutant powers were due in part to her being a direct descendant of the Dark Mother, a centuries-old mutant whose DNA had been reshaped by the radiation of a strange meteor from space. She inherited much of her mutant power, which was later enhanced by her mental encounter with the Phoenix Force. It was during the time that everyone thought Jean was dead that Mr. Sinister managed to complete the Summers/Gray genetic jigsaw by having Scott marry Madelyne Pryor, Jean’s clone. Their child, a product of the Summers and Gray DNA lines, was Nathan Dayspring Summers, the young boy who would grow up to be Cable.

Now, we know the source of Jean (and Maddy’s) incredible mutant powers, the Dark Mother. What about Scott’s and Alex’s powers? Their father was Christopher Summers, who later became known as Corsair. He was not known to possess any mutant powers. Their mother, Katherine Summers, also had no mutant powers.

The Summers family was split apart when an aircraft being flown by Christopher crashed into a flying saucer from the Shi’ar empire. Scott and Alex parachuted to safety and thought their parents dead. The two boys were raised as orphans. Christopher was thrown into the Shi’ar slave pens (slave labor used by a galaxy-wide space empire? Pretty ridiculous). He later escaped and became one of the Starjammers. Katherine became a member of the harem of D’Ken, the mad Shi’ar emperor. One popular theory has Katherine giving birth to D’Ken’s son, who became known as Adam X, before she died in captivity.

The Adam X theory has never been officially confirmed and is based on stories never told and oddball coincidences. Jean Gray feels an emotional attachment to Adam X when she encounters him in Alaska. Since Adam X at best is the half-brother of her husband, raised on another planet, one wonders at the validity of Jean’s empathy.

While Katherine can’t be entirely dismissed as the source of the X-gene inherited by Scott and Alex, Marvel history suggests the source is more likely Christopher. The main evidence pointing at Christopher’s side of the family is that Mr. Sinister has been interested in the Summers’ DNA for more than a century. According to The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, when Scott Summers and Jean Gray fought Mr. Sinister in the 19th century, an orphan named Daniel took the name Summers in admiration of the two time travelers. The Summers connection with Sinister’s first appearance is too much of a coincidence to be ignored. But, at the same time, with Daniel being an orphan who never knew his parents, the Summers genetic map comes to a dead-end. Or does it?

Like many others who have examined the Summers’ family tree, I believe there is a third Summers brother. One who fits perfectly into the jigsaw puzzle that makes up Cable’s life and times, and at the same time, solves many of the mysteries of the Marvel Universe.

I believe that before Christopher Summers married Katherine he had a love affair with another woman (not yet identified) in the Marvel Universe. She may or not have been a powerful mutant. I suspect she was. In any case, Christopher, an Air Force officer, left her before she discovered she was pregnant… and for reasons not known, she never informed him she was going to have his son. His first child.

Then, in typical Marvel melodramatic style, shortly after this nameless woman gave birth to this incredibly powerful mutant child, the boy was taken from her. Stolen by a mysterious figure from the far future, a being who used a time machine to complete his master plan. Not only did this time-traveler kidnap Christopher Summers’ first child, but the traveler then took the baby back into the past and left him there. The time traveler abandoned the baby, who knew neither his father nor mother, on the burning sands of Egypt with only a name. He was called The First One, because the baby was the First Summers’ child, and the most powerful. Or as he became known in the language of those who found him and raised him, En Sabah Nur, the mutant known as Apocalypse.

I’m not going to explain all the details of my theory, as that would take away the fun of debating the validity of my conclusion. But, I do want to present some evidence in defense of my claim.

His name? Surely no one reading Marvel Comics ever believed that Apocalypse was the first mutant? He may have been one of the first powerful mutants, but the first one? Never. Evolution is based on the theory of survival of the fittest. Modern man is the result of thousands of mutations over a hundred thousand years. Claiming someone in early Egyptian times was the first mutant is not only bad science, it’s just ridiculous.

If my theory is true, then Apocalypse would be Cable’s uncle. They would share the same DNA. Why did Apocalypse infect the baby Nathan Summers with the techno-organic virus? To kill him? Nonsense. If Apocalypse wanted to kill the baby, he would have just done so. Infecting his nephew forced Nathan to survive – to prove that even as a child he was strong enough to survive. And, in doing so, Apocalypse was also creating a powerful body, with tremendous mutant powers, for him to someday possess when his own body gave out. What better replacement for a body than one that shares the same basic DNA code?

Need more proof? Apocalypse woke from cryogenic sleep when Nathan was born. Telepathic cries being heard by a relative make a lot more sense than Apocalypse being jolted awake by the birth of a powerful mutant, considering how many powerful mutants inhabit the Marvel Universe. If that was really the case, Apocalypse would have been thawing out every few months in the mid-20th century.

Apocalypse, when first found, was supposedly an orphan, abandoned by his tribe. But we never once saw any evidence of this tribe or learned anything about his supposed family.

When the Twelve gathered, Apocalypse wanted to take over the body of X-Man, genetically identical to Cable. As mentioned before, what better host body than a DNA match? Still, while that didn’t happen, Apocalypse had little problem taking over the person who pushed X-Man out of the way – Scott Summers. In my theory, the First One’s brother. A man possessing matching DNA.

Moreover, since we know Apocalypse posed as a God more than once during his lifetime, it seems quite likely he may have fathered children. Who in turn had children, and so on, until one of his descendents could have been in London at the time of The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix. So, it would be quite possible that the X-gene that developed in the Summers family came from Apocalypse, who inherited it from his own descendents, in a closed-circle time loop. An anomaly in four dimensions, sure to attract the attention of the Lords of Probability and Possibility to Earth, where their servants would encounter Cable, a nexus of time and space... and result in the beginning of my story line featuring the three sisters.

Who stole the First Summers child and took him back to ancient Egypt? Could it have been Apocalypse, returned from the future, guaranteeing he would grow up in the past? Or might it have been Stryfe, for the same reason? Or maybe some other time traveler (there sure are enough of them in the Marvel universe) for reasons still to be explained? I know what I think, but that’s for another column someday.

There it is: my theory of the third Summers brother. Exactly as I had planned it four years ago but never had a chance to see in print. Consider it an alternate version of Marvel history, for your amusement and entertainment. Something to think about over the holiday season.

I know that Vulcan has since been revealed as the third Summers brother. But Sinister never said "I've keeping an eye on you and your two brothers", so - while farfetched - there could actually be four Summers brothers.

I think that Apocalypse is a much cooler idea than Vulcan, and since we already have Weinberg on board and Cyclops on the team, this could be a storyline


Josh said...

For what it's worth, as a reader I have total Vulcan exhaustion, and I'd like to see the X-Men get back to basics for a while. I don't think the timing is right for something of that scale.

Michael Heide said...

Okay, fair enough.

Philip Schaeffer said...

Yeah, I don't follow most of this.

It's a cool idea, clearly, but it requires so much continuity juggling...

Complex and byzantine to the fourth power; one for every Summers Brother.

Patrick Cook said...

Truth, from an idiot who's been reading these things for almost four decades - I've lost track of what is canon and what isn't anymore.

I remember the whole third Summers brother storyline. In fact, fool that I am, I actually went back last year and read a good chunk of the X-books from that time all over again.

The bottom line? I've forgotten much more than I remembered. Had this story idea been followed up on within the first year after the seed was planted, I would have had a lot more interest in seeing it play out.

As it is, after all this time, I've completely lost interest in the plot idea.

Again, you're hearing from a diehard fan here, but I think that's one of those ideas that is best left to the shelves of history.

And for the record, to echo some of what Josh said, I still haven't completely embraced the whole Vulcan Summers story thread yet.

Sean Kleefeld said...

Good grief! I think my head exploded!