And now a moment for assumptions.
Have you met Hope Summers? She’s been around for a couple years now but just recently has she made it back to the present. She spent her childhood in a distopian future (several of them, actually) running from Bishop alongside her for-all-intents-and-purposes father Cable. You remember now.
Now that she’s amongst the X-Men proper, she has taken the opportunity to learn about her real parents. In last week’s issue of Uncanny X-Men, Hope journeyed to Alaska for the first time since she was kidnapped as a baby by Cable as the Purifiers and Marauders were closing in on her. It’s implied that the X-Men looked in on the matter but didn’t take it too far. A name and a history, mainly, learning that her mother was killed in the attack and her father was unknown.
Hope laid flowers at her mother’s grave and was approached by the woman’s mother – Hope’s biological grandmother – who of course didn’t recognize her. Besides that the woman was not aware her daughter was even pregnant – Hope had not been missing as long as her present age would suggest. Time travel can be screwy like that. Even though Hope avoided revealing her true identity, the woman invited her in to talk about her daughter. Hope went alone – without her X-Men backup – and spent some time, seeing the picture of her mother, a local firefighter, before deciding she had enough and taking off.
And that’s where I got thinking.
I initially said – and restated in my New Comic Day hangover – that the picture of Hope’s mother looked like Jean Grey, but didn’t want to presume as much. It could be an unintentional part of the artist Whilce Portacio’s work. But since I am making assumptions, I am going to say that is definitely something more…sinister going on here.
It’s no secret that Hope greatly resembles the deceased Jean Grey, nor can it be a coincidence that she was born in Alaska. All of the screwy things based around Cyclops during Jean’s previous stint in the ‘deceased’ column happened in Alaska. Sit back and enjoy my trip through history.
Back in the early 80’s, an editorial edict decided that Jean Grey would be killed off during the Dark Phoenix Saga so writer Chris Claremont decided to bring back Jean Grey (sort of) in the form of Madelyne Pryor. The same edict demanded that Jean not be revived unless she could be cleared of the death of millions of asparagus-looking people, so it was made certain that Madelyne was not Jean. But the story was far too complex for anyone to really buy that.
Madelyne was a freighter pilot who had been in a horrific plane crash before her first appearance. As the story had been told, her plane crashed upon landing and burst into flames. All involved had been killed, but Maddie herself escaped the inferno without a scratch. Weird, huh? As it also turns out, that plane crash just happened to have taken place on the very day that Phoenix took her own life on the moon. All of these things weighed heavily on the mind of Cyclops, but he couldn’t bring himself to part from Maddie and eventually even asked her upfront if she was Jean Grey somehow back from the dead. She didn’t take it well.
Oh, and all of this just happened to take place in Alaska.
Eventually, the two married and had a son together. Their married bliss was short-lived, though, when the real Jean Grey showed back up and Cyclops abandoned his family to rejoin the original X-Men to found X-Factor. It was a rough time for him. Maddie and baby Nathan were eventually targetted by Mr. Sinister and his Marauders and Maddie found her way to the X-Men who cared for her until she went crazy, allied herself with demons to launch Inferno, then killed herself trying to take Jean Grey with her. It was a rough time for her too. As for the baby? Cyclops was forced to send him into the future where he eventually returned as the overly gruff Cable.
But why did Mr. Sinister target Madelyne to begin with? Ever the mad geneticst, Sinister decided that the ultimate potential for mutantkind laid with Cyclops and Jean Grey. With him you had unlimited amounts of power and with her you had unlimited amounts of potential. He saw their potential offspring as possibly the greatest figure in mutantkind’s potential. Unfortunately, the death of Jean Grey put a snag in his plans, so he managed to clone her as Madelyne Pryor and set up the meeting between her and Cyclops, knowing that his sense of loss from Jean’s death and seeing her once again would bring them together. The plan went without a snag.
Unfortunately for Maddie, the return of the actual Jean was far more appealing to Sinister. He could go with his original plan rather than being forced to use a clone as a substitute. With Cyclops heading back for the real deal, Maddie could be wiped off the board and attributed to Cyclops going mad, quickly rebonding him and Jean in the healing effort. But the clone became more valuable than Sinister had anticipated when he learned of what she had become. When the Dark Phoenix entity died on the moon, the Phoenix Force sought to return the part of Jean Grey it had taken when it had copied and taken her place amongst the X-Men. Horrified at the things it had done in her name, Jean subconciously denied the entity, so it found its way to her clone and entered her. Eventually, upon Madelyne’s suicide, the Phoenix Force portion was finally accepted by Jean and the three personas – Jean, Phoenix and Madelyne – were united within Jean.
So what does that mean for Hope? We’ve learned from the X-Cutioner’s Song (and more recent stories that I am not thinking of off the top of my head) that Mr. Sinister still longed for the unlimited potential of a union between Cyclops and Jean Grey. Unfortunately for him, his attempts to gain them or their genetic potential failed (and unleashed the Legacy Virus in the process). Then Jean herself was unexpectedly offed by the Xorneto debacle putting a wrench in the works. So Sinister thinks – why not? It worked before and brought forward Cable – the most potentially powerful mutant produced in the 616 reality – who was only hampered by his techno-organic infestation. He again makes a clone of Jean and again puts her in Alaska, thinking that perhaps Cyclops will again seek solace with his grandparents. Wanting to avoid the obvious pitfalls of the exact same situation, Sinister gives the new clone a history and family and perhaps even differs her appearance slightly, while keeping the important features around – red hair and green eyes. What he doesn’t count on is that Cyclops would immediately hook up with the infinitely less-powerful Emma Frost (due to some beyond-the-grave pushing by Jean herself) and get his solace in the sack.
The plan has hit a snag, but before Sinister can scheme further, M-Day hits and most of the mutants of Earth lose their powers. In his own mad scientist way, Sinister cared as much about the mutant race as Charles Xavier ever did. But rather than seeking peace and harmony, Sinister sought power and genetic supremacy. M-Day was a problem that had to be fixed. Not one to let a good clone go to waste, Sinister sets the clone up with another genetically powerful father – perhaps even Sinister himself – and gets her knocked up. The fact that Hope’s grandmother was unaware of the pregnancy makes me think that Sinister was pulling strings with those he had set up around the clone to throw the X-Men off of his trail. The baby is born with the potential to jumpstart the mutant race and Sinister immediately sets the Marauders out to go get his creation. He couldn’t before that point as he was busy robbing the X-Men of all their possible glimpses into the future (destroying Destiny’s diaries, killing precogs) and was not willing to flag them to his activities. That explains why the Marauders were sent to claim the baby upon its birth. Once the baby was out, the mother was expendable. The appearance of Cable and the Purifiers messed up that plan.
Sinister’s ultimate plan went unfulfilled upon his death at the hands of Mystique who cared little about the mutant race but more about curing her daughter Rogue. And the X-Men’s search for the parents? All they found were records, and if they saw images of Hope’s mother, Sinister’s attempts to change her appearance from that of Jean Grey would protect her from suspicion. After all, the X-Men have finally come to grips that Jean is dead…again.
So long story short – Hope is the daughter of a Jean Grey clone and a Sinister-manipulated father (possibly Sinister himself) sent to reboot the mutant race for their genetic potential. And that’s the story I’m sticking with until I’m proven wrong.