While he usually doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a mutant powerhouse, Cyclops finally got his time to shine when he was transformed into a Hulk and the X-Men leader’s optic blasts became more powerful than ever before.
In the ‘World War Hulks’ event, several Marvel heroes such as the Human Torch, Storm, and Thor took on new Hulk forms after being bombarded with gamma radiation. While Marvel’s usual rules state that gamma forms unlock a person’s hidden desires, on this occasion the Hulk forms mostly just dialed each hero’s abilities up to eleven, increasing their muscle mass to match the Green Goliath while warping their bodies to unlock the ultimate expression of their powers. Such was the case for ‘Hulklops,’ whose optic blasts were increased in power by new eyes sprouting all over his head.
In Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness’ Hulk #21, the Red Hulk’s plans with the super-intelligent villain cabal known as the Intelligencia fall apart, and some of Marvel’s most iconic heroes are bathed in radiation. Each transforms into a staggering new form, standing in the Red Hulk’s way as he attempts to address his mistake, with dramatic new powers that are so extreme, their bodies will burn out after twenty-four hours. While Storm becomes living lightning and Wolverine a feral monstrosity, Cyclops transforms into a many-eyed form, with the dozen new outlets for his power allowing him to unleash kinetic blasts comparable to Hulk’s own strength.
In World War Hulks: Spider-Man vs Thor‘s ‘Personal Wreckage’ – from Chris Eliopoulos and Patrick Scherberger – Cyclops and Iceman face off as their new Hulk rage brings out old animosities. Interspersed with flashbacks to their teen years, Cyclops lectures Iceman on his responsibilities as a hero, while Iceman provokes his uptight team leader. As part of the fight, Cyclops channels the optic blasts from his many eyes into a single stream of energy. The true force of this attack is seen in Loeb and McGuinness’ Hulk #22, when Red Hulk is able to grab ‘Hulklops’ and direct his powers at Captain America, the Human Torch, Ms. Marvel, Iceman, and Storm, downing the Hulked-out heroes all at once.
One of the most interesting things about Cyclops’ transformation is the control he demonstrates over his powers. Usually, Scott Summers is unable to stop his eyes discharging kinetic energy, blocking them with his ruby quartz visor to avoid hurting those around him. Initially believed to be due to a head injury in childhood, it was later revealed that Cyclops created a mental block due to his fear of his own power. In his Hulk form, Scott demonstrates the ability to hold the beams of multiple eyes in check, as well as channel them together. It seems that the lower reasoning skills of the Hulk allowed Cyclops to discard his usual fears and embrace his true potential, even as he remained a no-nonsense team leader trying to whip Iceman into shape.
‘Personal Wreckage’ confirmed that stripped to the core of his personality, Cyclops still obsesses over meeting impossibly high standards of heroism – a quality that makes him a true hero, but also bars the way to happiness. While Cyclops’ Hulk form may have made a mockery of his name, it also took his powers to Hulk level and granted a level of control that seems as far out of reach now as it did in Scott’s teenage years. Hopefully, one day Cyclops‘ training, sense of responsibility, and self-acceptance will allow him to unlock the same level of control he possessed as a Hulk, though for a blast capable of downing five other gamma-powered heroes at once, the X-Men‘s leader will likely need another dose of gamma energy.
Next: Hulk’s Forgotten Ally Was the Galaxy’s Strongest Hero BEFORE Bruce Banner