Yesterday Tom kicked off our Valentine’s week special series with a post on Angel and Psylocke’s tragic romance. Now we’re going to focus on one of my favorite, and ultimately doomed couples — Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor. I often find myself in the minority in this opinion, but having met Scott and Maddie in the midst of their best time together, I saw them as what they could be instead of what they became later. In their time together, the two faced gods, sea monsters, and Mastermind along with the normal challenges of couples, and came through it all more deeply in love. Ultimately though, they encountered an adversary too great for any character to withstand: Editorial Decree. Here then is a look back at those happier times.
Scott and Madelyne’s Story
Scott and Madelyne meet while Scott is on a trip to meet his grandparents. Chris Claremont and Paul Smith had decided to throw both Scott and the readers for a loop by introducing a woman that was dead ringer for the then-deceased Jean Grey. The two hit it off immediately, though Scott has misgivings due to Madelyne’s appearance. When pressed he decides to be honest with Maddie. He tells her about Jean and about being a mutant.
Madelyne decides that she’s willing to give it a go and the two quickly become a very close couple.
Scott introduces Madelyne to the X-men during Wolverine’s (ultimately aborted) wedding. The X-men are understandably surprised at Maddie’s appearance but they take to her quickly.
Scott and Maddie’s romance progressed quickly and the two fall more and more deeply in love. Scott proposes, and in the meantime Corsair invites Scott to come along with Starjammers when they leave for Shi’ar territory.
Mastermind had been quietly planning his revenge against the X-men for some time. When he discovers Madelyne and her resemblance to Jean, Mastermind begins to manipulate Scott into thinking that she is in fact Jean resurrected. The two are very nearly derailed by his plans, but they come through it and marry soon after.
On their honeymoon, after facing horrific storms, aircraft disasters, and vicious sea monsters, Scott makes the decision to stay on Earth. The plan, according to Claremont, was to move Scott into retirement and a happy ending, bringing him out only for special events and emergencies. Not long after that the happy couple find out they’re expecting and that seems to be that. Scott and Maddie live happily ever after.
Or…..not. Not much longer after this the decision to bring back Jean Grey came down, and at the same time it was decided that her return would also mean the end of Scott and Maddie. The aftermath left Scott’s reputation as a father and a husband tarnished, Madelyne dead, and Jean painted as “the other woman.” But while it lasted, Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor were one of the happiest couples the X-men had ever seen.
What Made Scott and Madelyne Special
Maddie and Scott were one of my favorite couples for a number of reasons. One was Madelyne’s reactions to the X-men. Scott obviously told her quite a bit about them, but we’re reminded from time to time that she’s used to a normal life and a normal world. Her perspective on things brings us a different view of the X-men.
It helped Scott move past Jean and get on with his life. In many ways they had Mastermind to thank for forcing him to truly accept Jean’s death. Claremont beautifully and pointedly puts Jean to rest seemingly for good with Uncanny #174-175 and sets Maddie and Scott off on a path of their own.
They were honest with each other, even when it could be painful. This one might get me into a little bit of trouble given how things ended up. But when they started out, Scott opened up to Madelyne more than he had with anyone else, and she was straightforward with him. Scott wasn’t used to expressing how he felt, and it took some doing for him. But Madelyne’s openness helped him learn to connect to her and to others.
They worked together, but they were strong individuals on their own. Madelyne had her own career, she had an established identity. As Scott moved into retirement, Maddie was understanding when he was occasionally needed, but was straightforward in reminding him that his place was with his family now. With her, Scott learned not just how to be an X-man, but how to be a man. She pushed him to open up to people and to actually live in the world and not behind a mask. He was able to leave the X-men behind and the tragedy of Jean’s death and become a whole person. It was the ending they both deserved, even though it didn’t last.
They had troubles, and they fought, but they loved each other and worked through problems to become even closer together. They felt like a real couple, and their love felt real. And their story added to the feeling of the X-men as a family for the short time that they were together. And for that they will always hold a special place in my heart.