On Episode 5 – The Retcon that Walks Like a Man, we met Gabriel Summers, and did a very quick drive-by introduction to the Summers family and their really depressing space adventures. Because this shit is complicated, Rachel,* the resident Summers Family Continuity expert, has put together a brief visual guide to Gabriel’s backstory. Click through for the origin of the third and worst Summers Brother:
Meet Scott and Alex Summers! They’re brothers. Their parents have just pushed them out of a burning airplane. Scott and Alex are going to crash in a minute and then have awful childhoods, but all you really need to know for now is that they’re going to become X-Men when they grow up.
Meet Mister Sinister! He’s a creepy, creepy man who knows even more about the Summers family than Rachel does (and that’s a lot). In 1993, Mister Sinister let slip that Scott and Alex might have a third brother, and for over a decade, pretty much every orphan in the Marvel Universe had “probably a Summers brother” stuck on to the end of their official bio.
But in 2005, X-Men: Deadly Genesis came around. Deadly Genesis was a straight-up retcon of 1975’s Giant-Size X-Men #1. It also—finally—resolved the question of the third Summers brother.
Meet Christopher and Katherine Summers! They’re Scott and Alex’s parents. They’ve just thrown Scott and Alex out of a burning airplane, then gotten abducted by aliens. This part of the story has been X-canon since the ’70s—but what Deadly Genesis reveals is that Katherine is pregnant. Christopher gets sent off to the slave pens, and Katherine ends up a Comics Code-compliant-analogue-to-concubine of the evil space emperor. Christopher breaks out and tries to free her, but he’s caught, and Katherine—and apparently her now-nearly-to-term fetus—are killed. (Christopher later becomes a space pirate named Corsair, which is awesome but irrelevant to this particular story.)
Meet Fetus Summers, who turns out to be viable after all! He gets rapid-aged by means of Fancy Space Science, named Gabriel, and sent to be a slave of the Shi’ar’s representative on Earth. Later, his powers manifest and he kills the only person who was ever nice to him, then escapes into the sewers with nothing but his favorite book of Roman myths and a case of dramatically expedient amnesia.
Gabriel gets picked up by Dr. Moira MacTaggert—Professor X’s ex—and becomes one of her group of teen mutants in training, under the code name Kid Vulcan. X consults—and, in the process, pieces together Gabriel’s history but doesn’t tell anyone, in keeping with a long tradition of lying to Scott about the existence of his living relatives. Professor X is a dick.
To confirm his theory, X brings Scott out to train with Gabriel for a day—but still doesn’t tell either of them that they might be brothers. (Gabriel’s powers, incidentally, have to do with energy manipulation and redirection, which his how he can do that with Scott’s eye beams.)
When the X-Men are all captured on Krakoa (the Island That Walks Like a Man!), X convinces Moira’s kids to go rescue them. Immediately before they leave, he tells Gabriel that Scott and Alex are his brothers. The new kids rescue Scott, and Gabriel tells him that they’re brothers. Scott’s super beat up and his powers are broken, so the new kids leave him and go to rescue the rest of the captive X-Men—but instead, they all get killed.
Scott returns to the X-mansion, understandably distraught. X decides the most expedient course of action is to totally wipe Gabriel out of Scott’s memory. Did I mention that Professor X is a dick? Professor X is a dick. When the new X-Men return to Krakoa to rescue the original team, he continues to mess with their perceptions to support this version of events.
What X doesn’t know is that Gabriel and his teammate Darwin are actually still alive, so when the X-Men launch Krakoa into orbit, Gabriel and Darwin go with it. They get stuck in stasis for years, in space. OOPS.
Later, Gabriel wakes up pissed, comes back to earth, kills Banshee, kidnaps Scott and Scott’s alternate-timeline-future-daughter (I know, I know. Just run with it.), and forces Professor X to show them what actually happened. Darwin—still in stasis inside Gabriel—is extracted and revived, Gabriel flies off to fight an evil space empire, and absolutely no one lives happily ever after. X-Men!
*Edidin, not Summers or Grey.