In Episode 104, we challenged you to submit your versions of the Noodle Incident: whatever Big, Terrible Thing Cyclops did to earn the enmity of most of the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe.
We got a lot of awesome entries, but in the end, the standouts were clear. It is therefore out great pleasure to announce the official winner of the 2016 Noodle Incident Contest:
We also decided to go ahead and expand the winners’ circle to include a runner-up, because any shaggy-dog joke that makes us laugh as hard as Zachary SP’s deserves a prize of its own:
Following SECRET WARS, Cyclops ended up more-or-less where he was before, leading the outlaw X-Men. But incubating in his head was a surviving ember of the Phoenix Force from when he merged with it during the incursion from Earth-1616. As a primal force of rebirth, the power of the Phoenix didn’t stay dormant for long. When it flared back to life, it brought with it memories of Battleworld up until Cyclops’ death at the hands of Doom.
Realizing the artificial nature of this new reality, Cyclops became resentful. Someone rebuilt the entire world and didn’t bother to try and make things any better for mutants? And – even worse – they rebuilt Cyclops-the-terrorist without necessarily replicating the decisions he made that got him to that point. Someone else was responsible for him being where he was.
Cyclops being Cyclops, he could not accept this as easy absolution for his mistakes. He wouldn’t even undo those mistakes, given the opportunity. He wanted to take full responsibility for his actions. He wanted to be sure that he was in control of – if nothing else – himself. To that end, he started building a device.
The press was calling him “terrorist” and “supervillain” anyway. Why not live up to it?
Time travel wasn’t the answer. Hank tried to give Scott the kind of perspective he needed when he brought forward the original five X-Men, but, for once, Hank didn’t go far enough. Cyclops felt the need to extend his perception to all points on his personal timeline at once. If he succeeded at his goal, maybe he could make different decisions along that timeline. Maybe not. It didn’t matter. Scott had seen enough time travel to know that “going back and fixing things” never makes anything better. He just had to know that all the Cyclopses that make up the Cyclops of today were Cyclops. He had to relive all those moments, all at the same time, to be sure.
He had the means to do this at his disposal all along. After all, what he was searching for was unimpeded vision. He needed to take off the visor for the last time.
One set of scavenged Hank McCoy marginalia, one jury-rigged Cerebro, one hijacked particle accelerator, and four truckloads of ruby quartz later, the Psioptic Gene-Force Accumulator was ready. Having learned supervillainy from the best, he took the time to broadcast his manifesto to the world before he activated his machine. After finishing his speech, he took off his visor and stared down eternity.
The tidal effects of Cyclops’ amplified, contained, and compounded optic blasts registered on seismographs worldwide. No one noticed, though, because the psychic effects hit first. Cyclops’ machine didn’t only affect him; its ripples spread to everyone on Earth. In an instant, everyone’s perceptions stretched forward and backward to encompass every conscious moment of their lives. The effect of suddenly being aware of every decision one has ever made was too much to bear for the vast majority of the world’s population. The world’s population was paralyzed with existential fear and guilt. And yet, Cyclops poured more and more power into the machine.
The superheroes stopped him, of course. It turns out the superhero community has a disproportionate number of people who are accustomed to agonizing over past tragedies 24/7. Spider-Man rallied the troops. Kitty Pryde got them inside. Magneto put Cyclops down. Squirrel Girl was also there, and also she was totally fine because Squirrel Girl has no regrets.
Once the world’s perceptions de-stretched back to their usual 4-D capabilities, they associated Cyclops with the near-lethal dose of guilt they all just suffered. Everyone had unpleasant memories they’d rather have forgotten dredged up by Cyclops’s machine. Mentioning the event tended to dredge those memories back up, so no one discussed any specifics about the incident ever again.
How did Cyclops know his machine would work? There is a principle in physics where objects falling into massive gravity wells stretch out, becoming longer and thinner as they are pulled in. He simply replicated this principle with the combination of force and vision inherent to his optic blasts instead of mass.
This principle is called Spaghettification.
Well done, Evan and Zachary. Please drop us a line and let us know where to send your Official Noodle Incident Medals:
Absolutely loved the runner-up. Zachary SP, please start writing actual comics! (Unless you are already Matt Fraction in disguise or something, in which case please carry on with your career.)
Got to love a contest like this. You put a lot of thought into your response, you’re pretty happy with how clever you are, you submit it and wait for the results…
Then the winners are announced and their ideas are SO MUCH BETTER. Great job guys!
Great to have both a humorous winner and a more serious, deeper thought out winner. Really well done, guys.