When I was in Tenth Grade, I started reading comic books. It wasn’t the Death of Superman or Bane breaking Batman’s back that did it, it was the X-Men. The Fox cartoon (which I gladly own) showed me more of the characters than I’d ever seen before. While I did have an issue of X-Men Classic from the Phoenix Saga, I didn’t have a lot more than that.
Most fans of the X-Men would tell you that their favorite character is Wolverine or Nightcrawler, maybe Rogue or Storm. Not me. I’m a fan of the main two characters of X-Men, Cyclops and Phoenix.
The first X-Man and Charles Xavier’s first student, they were always meant to be together (despite the objections of the White Queen and the Church of Wolverine). Scott and Jean have an interesting dynamic. In most relationships, it’s the woman who’s the loyal one, but with Scott, he’s more devoted than Jean. Jean is the aggressor, not only having to break through Scott’s cold exterior, but she’s the one who proposed to Scott.
That doesn’t mean Scott has been the model man. NO. A few years back, he had another wife named Madelyn, the two of them even had a son together (the most awesome comic book character ever, Cable). But the moment that Scott heard Jean was alive, he ditched the wife and kid to go hook up with his old girlfriend.
There’s a classic poetry to the two of them. Just say their code names together: “Cyclops and Phoenix.” Sounds nice, doesn’t it? How about saying “Scott and Jean?” That’s nice too, isn’t it? Now, try, “Cyclops and White Queen.” Doesn’t flow at all. “Scott and Emma” only works a little better.
So, why am I writing about these two? They have more than a passing influence on Commander and Kathryn from The Golden Hollow. Since I started regularly reading X-Men comics, Cyclops has had more than a passing influence on Commander. From his decisive stance on how to attack an enemy to directing the traffic of a multitude of powers, physical or political, Commander takes a lot from Cyclops. The similarities shared by Jean Grey-Summers and Kathryn Angel are just as extensive. They are both dangerous and powerful telekinetic telepaths, with telekinesis being their stronger ability. They both have long red hair and are more than a little brainy.
I mention this because so much in the X-Men revolves around the Scott/Jean dynamic, just as The Golden Hollow takes so much from the Commander/Kathryn dynamic. Even with Jean (currently) dead, she influences Scott greatly, having taught him how to block sections of his mind from any telepathic breach, a tactic used to permanently confine the Void. In Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men #1, Emma Frost sees Cyclops and Wolverine fighting over Jean and remarks, “I am still second rate to a corpse.” Most importantly, the resolution of Messiah CompleX (the best damn X-Men story in decades) requires a newborn to remind Cyclops of the love he’ll always have for sweet red-haired Jean.
Without these dynamics, the storytelling–no, the setting–falls apart. Relationships are driving factors and one can’t count on explosions alone to deal with keeping an audience interested. That is, unless those explosions are being delivered by Mr. and Mrs. Summers.