There's a lot to love in the 15-or-so years that Chris Claremont spent as the primary writer of the X-Men franchise (with the Dark Phoenix Saga being perhaps the most obvious choice). There are also a lot of outstanding questions from that time period. Some of them are continuity deep-cuts that have since been retconned or ignored. Others are deeper, more primal questions that have haunted fans of the franchise for decades.
For instance: why the fuck did Cyclops send Professor X a post-coital photograph from his honeymoon to Madelyn Pryor in Uncanny X-Men #178, and who the fuck took the picture in the first place?!
Let's zoom in closer, in case you missed it:
This is weird, right? Claremont's run on X-Men certainly never shied away from queer or BDSM undertones — but this is Scott Summers, former leader of the X-Men, sending photographic evidence to the only father figure he's ever really known to prove that he did indeed have sex on his honeymoon. That's weird!
Over at AIPT News, comics journalist Chris Hassan recently had the opportunity to interview Claremont about his upcoming Wolverine miniseries, Wolverine: Madripoor Knights, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the hirsute Canadian by re-exploring an iconic early collaboration between Claremont and Jim Lee. But Hassan also took the opportunity to address the elephant, err, sexy photograph in the room:
AIPT: Alright, well finally, a fun question (I hope) and something I've seen X-Fans talk and wonder about for a long time. In Uncanny X-Men #178, Professor X opens a letter from Scott Summers that includes a picture of Scott and Madelyne Pryor in bed on their honeymoon. The question I'm hoping you can finally answer is… who took that picture?
Claremont equivocates for a moment, reminiscing how he did, indeed, intend for Cyclops to find a happy ending with Madelyn Pryor — before editorial demands led to the revelation that she was in fact a clone of Jean Grey created by Mr. Sinister specifically to breed with Cyclops' DNA.
In other words, he dodges the answer. But Hassan, like any good journalist, persists:
AIPT: But Chris, who took the picture?
But still, Claremont only sort of complies with this push:
Have you never seen the first iteration of Star Trek, where you have little communicators where the top flips up and you can call anywhere? I mean, Scott could have had his super secret X-phone plugged into the wall. It could have been the White Queen. They might have had a slight relationship. Maybe it was Mister Sinister just hanging around.
He then goes on about why Professor X's telepathy failed to detect the fact that Maddy was a clone, and returns to his passionate desire to give poor Cyclops a happy ending.
And thus, the greatest mystery in X-Men history remains obscured once again. Alas!
X-Men Monday #228 – Chris Claremont Talks 'Wolverine: Madripoor Knights' [Chris Hassan / AIPT Comics]