The Importance of Being Cyclops

Cyclops-vs-WolverineI’ve been working full-time for close to two weeks now, and it’s been a bit crazy here at the Ideal Comics Eastern Nebraska office. It isn’t that I’m not getting things done; I keep this site up and running, and we’re working on a number of projects behind the scenes, which we hope to announce very soon. And I’m still writing and editing and planning and plotting, and all of the good things that come with running an independent comic publisher. And of course, the money-making side of things hasn’t been any less busy. In addition to working 40 hours a week at my new job, I’m still finishing up the two classes I‘m teaching. It’s been hectic to say the least.

Through it all, though, I’ve learned one specific thing about myself that has been surprising to say the least: I am Cyclops.

Let me explain for those few of us unfamiliar with the X-Men. During the Claremont run, one of the most intense dynamics within the series was the relationship between Wolverine and Cyclops. While they had a mutual respect for each other, they could not be more different as characters.

Wolverine was brutal and unrestrained. He said what he wanted to say, and he did what he wanted to do. He was short and stocky, and he took no guff from no one. As a young male comic reader, like most young male comic readers, I wanted to be Wolverine. Heck, I probably thought I was Wolverine at times, much to the amusement of those around me.

Cyclops, on the other hand, was a tool. He was stiff and proper, and he always played by the rules. He was an authority figure within the world of the X-Men, and because of that, he seemed to limit the fun of the rest of the team with a stern, disapproving glare. In my world, when I looked at Cyclops, I saw my parents and teachers. I saw boring, and above all else, I saw everything I never wanted to be.

Which is why I’m so shocked to find that now, at the age of 32, I seem to have become Cyclops. Not with the laser eyes, of course. Though, admittedly, that would be pretty cool. No, I’ve become Cyclops, because I seem to want to kill fun where ever I look. Much like I would have, if I had laser eyes.

It’s not that I want to kill fun. It’s not like I go out of my way to kill fun. It’s just that when fun approaches me, I can’t help but beat it to a bloody pulp until there’s nothing left but, well, bloody pulp. Let me give you an example. We have a podcast that we record here at Ideal Comics. For the first month, we recorded an hour every week. I had a blast recording, and honestly, it was one of the things I looked most forward to each week. It was just three dudes chatting about stuff we enjoyed. It was like giving listeners a glimpse into our company meetings, because how we are on those ‘casts, is how we are in real life. I love sitting and chatting with those guys, and I think the results are awesome.

But, I can’t record them at the moment. I just don’t have time. And that kills me.

As I write this, I’ve just finished a twelve hour shift at my new job. I am tired, and my mind wants to shut down. The only reason I haven’t gone to bed yet is because I still need to finish this column. I’m quickly running out of steam, and I want to just skip the column this week, but I’ve made a commitment, and I have a responsibility to keep that commitment.

When did that happen? When did I become responsible?

In the old X-Men comics, Cyclops was the field leader of the X-Men, and he took that responsibility very seriously. This often lead to the stodgy, no-nonsense, authoritative persona I found boring as a kid. As I’ve grown older, however, I’ve come to realize the truth of that character. Cyclops has to be responsible, because he is the leader, and he is responsible for the well-being of every member of his team.  If they get hurt, or if they die, it’s on his head, and in light of that, it’s easy to see why he comes off the way he does. It’s not that he’s boring; he just carries an immense weight on his shoulders, and weight like that tends to take its toll over time.

I get that, though my weight isn’t as heavy as, say, the responsibility for the lives of a group of people. As a teacher, I have a responsibility to educate my students. And as a husband and someday father, I have a responsibility to my family. I didn’t become Cyclops overnight. It was a slow process borne over time, and out of necessity. As I took on more and more responsibilities in my life, I became Cyclops. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to. It was either do that or let a lot of people down.

As a kid, I wanted to be Wolverine. Wolverine got things done, but he did it his way. He spit in the face of authority, and as an angry, hormonal teenager, that sounded like exactly what I wanted to be. But, looking back, through the eyes of a 32-year-old, I’m pretty happy I didn’t turn out like that. As fun of a character as he is, and as loyal of a teammate as he is, I wouldn’t follow Wolverine into battle. He’s too unpredictable, and I’d be more concerned about being hit by a flying Sentinel head than by the Sentinels themselves. No, I’m happy just being Cyclops.

If that makes be boring, I think I’m okay with that. Personally, I think it would make me an excellent field leader for the X-Men.

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Christopher David Lawton

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