Chris-Bachalo Cyclops

4 Emporer: Cyclops

“In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” ~Desiderius Erasmus

Today we continue our look at the Major Arcana through the lens of Marvel’s X-Men comic book characters! Thus far we have discussed Professor X as The MagicianStorm as the High Priestess and Jean Grey as the Empress! This week we celebrate the mutant leader known as Cyclops!

At an early age, Scott Summers was separated from his parents and little brother in a plane crash. He and his brother Alex, the mutant later known as Havok, were sharing a parachute but it caught fire.  For the first time, Scott’s optic blasts manifested and saved them from certain destruction. Unfortunately, it was rough landing and Scott landed on his head, resulting in him not being able to control his power without his specialized ruby quartz lenses.

Scott and Alex lost their memories due to the trauma they experienced and were separated by the evil geneticist known as Mr. Sinister. Scott spent years in orphanages being genetically tested on by Mr. Sinister, never realizing that Sinister was the reason he was never adopted.

Frank Quitely Cyclops

A public display of Scott’s power in his teens brought him to the attention of Professor Charles Xavier. Xavier took Scott in and explained his dream of mutant and human peaceful coexistence and gave him training. Professor X gave Scott the code name of Cyclops and became his substitute father figure. Xavier believed that Scott had great personal control and wanted to instill confidence in the boy by giving him leadership of his brand new team of X-Men.

Angel, Iceman, Beast and finally Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) joined the team and they had many missions in the name of Xavier’s dream. Cyclops was attracted to Jean, but repressed his natural feelings for what he thought was the good of the team.

Cyclops found self worth in protecting and supporting others, even deciding to train the All-New, All-Different international team when Jean and the original X-Men chose to leave. It is interesting to think that if Scott left with Jean the Phoenix Saga would never have happened. However, because Scott’s dependence on rationality overruled his feelings, Jean moved away to New York City. Eventually her love for Scott had her return to the mansion. On an outer space mission, Jean was replaced by the Phoenix and Scott was never quite the same after her “death.”

Cyclops represents the Emperor archetype due to his leadership skills, his quest for stability and order between mutants and humans, and his confidence in his own authority.

Marc Basile Cyclops (after Jack Kirby)

When the power of the Emperor is reversed, the authority becomes self-righteous tyranny. This can lead to trust betrayed as when Cyclops, under the power of the Phoenix Force, murdered Professor X. This tragedy has informed Scott’s new persona as mutant revolutionary. With his new team of X-Men (which includes Emma Frost and Magik, also former hosts of the Phoenix), Cyclops has little room for other leadership perspectives. Like the Emperor archetype reversed, Scott has become frozen in his rigidity, overly critical and judgmental of any other mutant or superhero leaders other than himself. In his failure to protect his mentor and father figure, he has taken a severely critical stance on what it means to “save” the mutant race.

Perhaps one day, Scott can forgive himself for the mistakes he’s made and forgive those he feels are responsible for the current state of anti-mutant hysteria. Until then, we are left with his myopic vision.

Cyclops by Dan Panosian

In my X-Men Tarot series, Cyclops represents all of the Kings. Kings depict mastery, ability and authority in each of the Minor Arcana suits. This matches the energy of Cyclops as Emperor even if Scott seems to not possess the benevolence he once did in his younger days. However, the discipline and strategic decision-making is still with him.

Artwork in this post is by Chris Bachalo, Frank Quitely, Marc Basile (after Jack Kirby), and Dan Panosian, respectively.