Graphic Novel Review: Cyclops: Starstruck

Cyclops: Starstruck

Cyclops: Starstruck - Credit: Archant

Teen Cyke goes interstellar with dad Corsair...

(Panini Books)

The time-travelling teenage version of Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, has left behind his comrades in the original X-Men to embark on a space trip with his father, the intergalactic pirate Corsair, who he had long thought dead.

Ask anyone how they would pitch a solo series for one of the Marvel Universe’s original mutant heroes, and that concept probably wouldn’t have made their top ten suggestions. That’s not to say it’s a bad idea, because in practice that’s far from the case, it’s just an unusual one.

The “real” Cyclops, the morally-challenged version of the character we have grown up with over the past 50 years, doesn’t even get a look in during the course of this collection, busy as he is fighting rogue Sentinels in the Uncanny X-Men series. So what we have here is his younger counterpart, freed from years of emotional and physical baggage, without the same level of experience with his powers, and a determination to avoid his tragic destiny at all costs…

Corsair is more than happy to accept this younger version of his son, probably glad he doesn’t have to listen to the angst and hand-wringing which characterised his older self, and relishes the opportunity to spend time with his offspring at a point in his life he originally missed out on.

Leaving behind Corsair’s teammates, the Starjammers, Summers and son take in the sights across the different planets of Marvel’s wider universe, with the flamboyant Corsair dispensing paternal wisdom while teaching Scott swordsmanship, which is just the sort of bonding time any good relationship needs.

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And it’s that relationship which is at the heart of this series, despite the otherworldly settings, as both Scott and his dad learn who the other is, what motivates them, and how they can help each other, thankfully avoiding ever getting too sentimental in the process.

Writer Greg Rucka is assisted with art from Russell Dautermann and Carmen Camero, and the creative team succeed in bringing moments of grounded reality in between the sequences of spandex-clad pirates fighting bands of alien bounty hunters, adding a weight and depth of characterisation to their protagonists through first-rate dialogue, plotting and expressive illustration.

This isn’t the usual sort of X-Men spin-off by any means, and it works because of this, offering something reassuringly different and entertaining. Unfortunately, Rucka departed prematurely following this storyline, and a crossover with the Guardians of the Galaxy, All-New X-Men and Starlord titles is imminent, which may dilute just what it is about this book that makes it special. We shall see. For the meantime, this is a first-rate, self-contained story which succeeds against all expectations, and is well worth checking out.