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Marc Guggenheim's Young X-Men: Who Do You Trust?

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By Luke Handley, Michael Colbert, Joey Davidson, Geoff Collins and Christopher Power

The ComicsBulletin contributors agree that deception is afoot in Marvel Comics' Young X-Men. All just can't be as it seems. Cyclops is training his latest mutant cadets to kill? The former New Mutants are the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants AND the leaders of the Hellfire Club? A Cerebrex unit inaccurately detects the number of mutants in the room? (Note: technology in the Marvel Universe was not developed by Microsoft; in most cases, it works.)

No, without a doubt we faithful readers are being punk'd by Young X-Men writer Marc Guggenheim. But how exactly? Could Young X-Men be tied to Marvel's current "Skrullabaloo"? Are we being shown an alternate Marvel universe? Perhaps something else entirely?

ComicsBulletin's True Believers were put to the task of predicting Guggenheim's game. Below are five different theories about what's REALLY going on in Young X-Men. We laid these theories out in front of Guggenheim who provided the answers you demanded.

And as you will soon see, one of theories was correct!

So allow us to post the obligatory SPOILER WARNING before you begin reading: Do NOT read the following if you do not want to learn the revelation of Young X-Men #4!




Michael Colbert's theory: Cyclops is really a Horseman of Apocalypse

We all know that something is up with Cyclops in Young X-Men. I'm presenting the theory that Cyclops has either (1) become a victim of some residual effects of his possession by Apocalypse or (2) the trauma of his Apocalypse possession is the reason that Cyclops has become so aggressive recently.

I know I'm going back here, but think about it. After the events of "The Twelve," Cyclops was acting quite out of character; he had a more gallows humor and became a little edgier in his actions. I believe, writing-wise, the avenue was left open for a return of Cyclops as a vessel for Apocalypse but that never really got explored. Grant Morrison decided to explore other interpretations: his celibacy kick, the black bug room, his telepathic affair with Emma. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a piece of Apocalypse still buried deep within him. Maybe recent events ("M-Day," "Messiah Complex") have nudged Cyclops to the dark side.

I think my second possibility is more likely though. For a rigid control freak like Cyclops, being possessed by an evil spirit and completely losing control would have a devastating effect on the very foundations he's built his psyche upon. Now fast forward to more recent events and the strain in Xavier's relationship with Scott. Xavier, it turns out, isn't the morally superior individual he presented himself to be. Another blow to Cyclops' world view; he worshipped Xavier and was the most dedicated to his dream. To find out that Xavier has been manipulative and arrogant in his actions has to degrade Scott's belief system even more. Where does someone turn to when everything he believes in is torn apart? In a form of Stockholm Syndrome, maybe Apocalypse's world view has new meaning to Cyclops. For all of Cyclops' tactical brilliance he's never been one to think outside of the box on big issues. Instead of finding his own way he's just adopted someone else's ideology.

A big clue for me can be found in Young X-Men #1 when Blindfold says "It looks like him, but I can't see past the music." Some telepathic jamming on Cyclops' part or is he mentally disturbed? This is a long reach, but Guggenheim has created the show Eli Stone where the main character may or may not be going crazy but one of the visions he has is George Michael performing in his living room. Is "music" a metaphor for some psychological disturbance? Either way, Xavier getting capped in the grape probably pushed this further. If Xavier was keeping either the Apocalypse incubus in check or had deeply buried Scott's psychological trauma the fact that Xavier is no longer in the picture opens the path for whatever is wrong with Cyclops to emerge.

A quick word on the fact that Cerebex only detected five mutants in the room in Young X-Men #2… It stands to reason that if Cyclops made the Cerebex (or at least controls them) he would make himself "Invisible" to it. Tactically, this is a great move. If it doesn't detect him, it can't be used against him. This still leaves a question open about the count. It seems there are 7 mutants within the detectable radius. If Cerebex doesn't detect Cyclops and assuming that the kooky guy in the air duct is a mutant, who isn't a mutant? Rockslide, Dust, Blindfold, and Wolfcub are all established as mutants, so that just leaves Ink. He's not a mutant. The last page of issue # 3 hints at this because there is someone else with… "Tattoo" powers. He sure don't look like he's related to Ink, so odds are it's something else.

Marc Guggenheim responds: This is a very interesting theory, Michael. I liked the fact you picked up on Blindfold's "music" comment from Issue #1. That was definitely a hint I dropped in there for eagle-eyed readers such as yourself to pick up on. However, I can safely say that the aforementioned "music" is not in the least way... apocalyptic.

As for the whole Cerebrex of it all... I think you're assuming that certain people -- at least one, at any rate -- are mutants when that's not necessarily the case. But good job including "the kooky guy in the air duct" in your theorizing. A lot of people miss the fact he's within the Cerebrex's range.

Finally, with respect to Ink, you're right that there's more to his story, as that sub-plot from Issue #3 suggests. In fact, we'll see that story play out in our next arc, "The Uncanny Y-Men."

Oh, and thanks for giving Eli Stone a little shout-out.




Joey Davidson's theory: Cyclops is really Rogue

What's going on with Cyclops in The Young X-Men? Well, for my whack-o theory, put yourself back in the closing chapters of "The Messiah Complex." There you'll find an unconscious Rogue waiting to be revived through the sought after mutant child and Mystique. As a nervous Gambit looks on, Rogue comes to after contact with the newest addition to the mutant gene pool. When she discovers that it was through the work of Mystique, she makes contact with her and, thus, takes her energy. Here's where this gets really hairy. Rogue turns to Gambit and essentially tells him that before Mystique she was a blank slate and an empty jar. Now that she has touched Mystique she holds all of Mystique's thoughts and emotions.

There are a few gaps ahead, but I'm not concerned. See, Rogue somehow disposes of Cyclops behind the scenes and makes her way into the school. Once there, she takes the reins and leads The Young X-Men as Cyclops. This would almost certainly explain all of the strange happenings where Cyclops is concerned. Cyclops never believed in killing, ever. And Rogue has taken the mindset of Mystique who, let's face it, isn't exactly Mother Teresa. Cyclops is okay with killing because, wait for it, Cyclops is actually Rogue with Mystique's mind……boom! (Your head just exploded, didn't it?)

To add even another piece of "evidence" to my incredible argument, when Cyclops is gathering the new team in the first issue, he makes his way into a prison to rescue Ink. He is, of course, taking on the body of a prison guard. Once this prison guard with red glasses sets Ink loose, readers see the guard shapeshift back to Cyclops. Now, what I'm willing to admit with this last bit is that when Cyclops is in the form of the guard he has red glasses on. Rogue probably wouldn't need those. And when Cyclops shifts back into Cyclops form, he does so with a strange electric, almost computer murmur.

There you have it! It's the greatest and most plausible theory of all time. It's more plausible even than the Kennedy assassination second-shooter idea, than landing on the moon, than the idea that male models are behind every single politically motivated assassination in the world!

Sorry for ruining the plot of the book.

Marc Guggenheim responds: So Cyclops is Rogue with Mystique's mind. Um... sure. Why not? Seriously though, how'd you get your hands on my original plot? Unfortunately, Marvel didn't have the guts -- nay, the vision -- to go this route, Joey. And the day that decision was made, my friend, was a sad day for comics, indeed. In fact, it was a sad day for America.




Geoff Collins's theory: Cyclops is really Warlock

Between Cerebrex only registering five mutants in a room that was supposed to have six, the ramblings of that weirdo hiding in the vents, and Cyclops' general behavior in Young X-Men, it's obvious someone else is posing as Cyclops in this title. My theory? An incarnation of Warlock or Phalanx (which Warlock is a part of) is the imposter. All of the original characters from the first volume of New Mutants and its second wave of characters have either been referenced or shown as targets… except for Warlock (in vent-boy's ramblings he even refers to the long deceased Cypher as being alive). Though the New Mutants involved in Hellfire Club and Messiah Complex can be seen as threats and could be chalked up to coincidentally being both the original group and the Young X-Men's targets, one character breaks that theory. Magma was jogging down the street when she was attacked by the Young X-Men, and she didn’t appear to be any threat except to Cyclops. Clearly, this storyline is connected to New Mutants Volume 1.

Warlock was an alien, so that would explain why he didn't register as a mutant to Cerebrex. The technology that Cyclops suddenly has could also be explained by a certain Marvel Universe extraterrestrial, which would also explain the shape shifting that was performed when Ink was released. However, the "Cyclops is Skrull" theory doesn't convince me because Young X-Men isn't listed in the Secret Invasion checklists, and Cyclops isn't a character who died and arrived, like Bendis revealed the Skrull imposters to be in one of the Avengers titles. It seems like a weird stretch for Warlock to appear on Earth after his involvement with Nova and Annihilation: Conquest, but Guggenheim's stories are often weird, and Warlock has risen from the dead more than once. In one instance, he came back as Cypher--and Phalanx appears in X-Force which is closely connected to the recent volume of New X-Men. Plus, I don't necessarily think it's Warlock himself, just a character connected with Warlock.

Marc Guggenheim responds: Waitaminute. "Guggenheim's stories are often weird???" What the hell, Geoff? I thought we were friends here. What the hell, I'll take it as a compliment. As far as your theory is concerned, I'll tell you: My original plan was to make Warlock -- at least an incarnation of him -- a villain in this first arc. I had a whole jaw-dropping surprise planned for the end of Issue #3. Unfortunately, as you point out, Warlock is busy on the other side of the universe in Annihilation. Then again, there have been whispers in the book of a certain "Cypher" which is, you might be aware, the code name for Doug Ramsey, the mutant who was bonded to Warlock as "Douglock." So you may end up seeing a piece of your theory -- in some form -- down the road...




Christopher Power's theory: The New Mutants are NOT really the new Hellfire Club

It seemed odd to me as soon as I heard Cyclops' claim that the former New Mutants were forming a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Even though it would not be the first time that a mutant had changed sides (or changed back), it seemed particularly implausible that these heroes would suddenly change their allegiance.

Let us consider first the things that the mutants Sam Guthrie, Danielle Moonstar and Alison Crestmere have survived together over the years. They have fought the Hellfire Club, the Hellions, demons, and the Technarchy, besides enduring the deaths of several friends and family. At no point did any of these characters go on to become evil villains bent on the elimination of humans. They stayed true to Xavier's dream.

Instead of being the new Brotherhood, is it not more likely the case that after the disbanding of the X-Men by Cyclops that Cannonball would fall back on the world that he knows? This is a man who was trained by Cable in X-Force and eventually became leader of that group. It makes sense that he would try to bring his old team together and try to bring about the type of change he believes is needed to protect mutants.

Indeed, in the Cannonball story in Divided We Stand, we see Sam return home as a frustrated young man. He is someone who has lost a lot for a dream that has now abandoned him. I think that he has the moxie to put the team back together. When he leaves his sister standing in the road, the look on his face is one of determination, not rage.

Perhaps the most damning contradiction to Cyclops' statements is that the "evil" New Mutants did not unleash the full force of their powers on the Young X-Men. Magma clearly held back, allowing herself to be captured. She could have turned Dust into a glass doll, turned Rockslide into a molten pile of goo and barbecued Wolfcub to a crisp. Why didn't she? What was it that stopped her? Could it be that she isn't evil incarnate?

Dani seemed to not even know what was going on when she was attacked. One would think that members of the new Brotherhood with all the resources of the Hellfire Club behind them would be a little more aware of why people would be coming after them, given their past experiences.

Finally, we have seen elsewhere in the X-universe, the Hellfire Club is not being led by Cannonball, but by familiar faces. This leads me to believe that Cyclops is lying to the young mutants.

That leads us to the question: why is Cyclops doing this? Is this a training exercise for the Young X-Men? Is he working with the Hellfire Club? Is he a robot? Is he jealous that Cannonball got all the cute young girls on his team? Or is he something else entirely? We will have to wait to find out from Mr. Guggenheim!

Marc Guggenheim responds: Well, Chris, Cyclops never said the former New Mutants (the Old Mutants?) were the new Hellfire Club. He said they were the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Well, why would he say that? Hmm. Good question. Read on and you just might find out...





Luke Handley's theory: Cyclops is really Donald Pierce

Three issues in and I think it's safe to say that the Cyclops running this new team of Young X-Men is not Scott Summers (and no, I don't think he's a Skrull). There have been hints throughout but the biggest one has been the least subtle of them all: Cyclops would never order these kids to kill. A lot has been made about Scott's newfound homicidal tendencies expressed through his X-Force death squad. But however questionable his attitude in that title has been, he hasn't specifically ordered anyone to kill, and there's simply no way he'd tell these kids to kill (ex-)friends. No, Cyclops is not Scott Summers; he's Donald Pierce, or a construct controlled by Pierce.

Think about it. Pierce has always harboured a visceral hatred for the original New Mutants, so what could be more satisfying that siccing the New X-Men on them? The young mutants "Cyclops" chooses for his squad is telling: he's chosen members who are followers, not leaders, people who will obey any order he gives them as long as he waffles on enough about the reasons for said order. Dust, Rockslide and Wolf Cub all fall neatly into this category and their power levels--or slightly unstable mental state in the case of Wolf Cub--make them perfect blunt instruments. He never wanted Blindfold on the team, which is not surprising; if you're not who you say you are, you hardly want a precog in the mix. Solution: partner her up with your inside man. Indeed, Pierce is not in the least bit surprised to see Ink deliver Blindfold.

There are also a bunch of other mysteries. Just who, or what, is Ink? The scene featuring the jailbreak presents a different "Ink" (Carlos, not Eric) with different tats. So is Ink the mutant or the tattoo artist? Who, or what, is Graymalkin? He seems to be wise to the Cyclops imposter and is possibly communicating with the same invisible entity as Blindfold. Finally, what are Roberto and Sam up to? My guess is forming their own team now that the X-Men have disbanded. Issue #5 marks the end of the first arc and promises to leave things all new and all different, and I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to see a completely different line-up and mission statement by issue #6.

Marc Guggenheim responds: I'll tell you something, Luke... You're right. Yup, "Cyclops" has been Donald Pierce all along. Remember when "Cyclops" used an image inducer back in Issue 1 when he went to meet Ink in jail? Yup. Same image inducer.

Judging from my unscientific review of the Internet, some people have already come to the same conclusion and, like yourself, they were first tipped off by the notion that the "real" Cyclops would never send a group of kids to kill. In hindsight, this was a rather large misstep in more ways than one from a storytelling perspective. If I had to do it all over again, I would've dropped the whole "killing" angle, which proved to be far more controversial than I'd anticipated -- particularly in light of what the real Cyclops is doing over in the pages of X-Force. Ah, well. Live and learn.

And you're right about another thing: There are still plenty of surprises in store. My first arc lays the seeds for three big mysteries/twists. The first, as you correctly surmised, is the whole Cyclops-is-really-Donald-Pierce thing. The second has only been sniffed around by a couple of people on the Internet (at least according to my aforementioned unscientific review). The third nobody has even gotten wind of yet.

One thing you’re wrong about, though is what Sam and ‘Berto are up to. It’s actually a lot simpler and more straightforward than you realize...


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