Madelyne Pryor. A woman scorned. A history forgotten.
The origin and history of Madelyne Pryor is one of the saddest and most tragic tales in the lexicon of Marvel Comics. But you won’t find anyone shedding a tear for her. Madelyne was a wife, mother, lover and caretaking of one of the original X-Men and her only crime in the comic book world was to be in the way when Marvel wanted to re-unite Scott Summers and Jean Grey. To do this, Marvel turned a wife, mother and woman in love into a demon possessed evil villian called the Goblin Queen.
In 1983, under the creative powers of Chris Claremont and Paul Smith, the Uncanny X-Men had one of their most powerful and ambitious runs of comic book storytelling. This was the time of Days of Future Past and the Dark Phoenix Saga. When we were treated to some of the best comics in X-Men history. It was at the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga that we saw the death and sacrifice of Jean Grey in an effort to put the power of the Phoenix to an end. But for many in the X-Men world, another X-Man died that day as well. That was Cyclops, Scott Summers.
Scott Summers was devastated by the loss of Jean Grey and decided to retire from the X-Men and build some semblance of a life of normality. As much as any mutant can. In his grief and solitude, he meets a woman named Madelyne “Maddie” Pryor. A woman who looks exactly like Jean Grey. At first, believing this to be some kind of trap, Scott confronts Maddie Pryor and accuses her of being Jean. Claremont’s original tale was that Madelyne Pryor was a one in a million coincidence. A woman who Scott could fall in love with and live out the rest of his days in peace. Claremont would give Scott back his Jean.
But Marvel being Marvel, it wasn’t going to be. The story that came about is that the likeness between Maddie Prior and Jean Grey was a plot by Mastermind who was driven mad when he battled Jean as the Phoenix. Mastermind thought to use Maddie, to make Scott and the X-Men believe she was the Dark Phoenix reborn. He failed and in the end Scott did fall in love with Maddie and they married.
Yes, Scott Summers was married once before he married Jean Grey.
Claremont still wanted to retire Scott, but instead of a grieving and morose character, he wanted the once leader of the X-Men to live his days in happiness with his new love and family. Scott and Maddie marry, have a child and move away to Alaska. The X-Men, have a new group of members and Scott retires. Maddie, with her love and devotion, save Scott. The child they have together is Nathan Summers. The original band of X-Men separate and a new team is created led by the mutant Storm. Claremont’s vision, it seems comes to fruition.
Until 1986, when Marvel decides that they need another X-Men title and the only way to do so would be to create a clandestine team of mutants and bring back the original team. The create X-Factor. Including Jean Grey. Marvel writer Kurt Busiek came up with an ingenious plan to resurrect Jean Grey, by basically, never having to resurrect her. You see, in this new telling of the Phoenix Saga, Jean was never the Phoenix. Instead the Phoenix simply copied Jean’s identity and form and buried the true Jean in a cocoon at the bottom of Jamaica Bay. Now came the part that was the harder sell. Jean was back. But Scott Summers was in Alaska with his wife and child. So how do you get Scott back?
Easy thought Marvel.
Scott Summers just walks out on his wife and child and returns to Jean Grey. He abandons not only Maddie Prior, but his young son Nathan as well.
What Marvel didn’t expect was the firestorm from fans all over. Yes it was great having Jean back. But as a woman who destroys a young family? And what of the upstanding Scott Summers? The one who holds the team standard of morality for the X-men? He would abandon the wife who loved and nurtured him through his pain and grief? He would abandon his own son?
It became apparent to win over the comic world, Marvel needed a patsy. A fall guy. Someone who would make the reunion of Scott and Jean palatable for the fans of the X-Men title. They needed to change the history of Madelyne Pryor. They needed her to become evil. They would turn her into someone the comic book world would come to hate. The character Claremont created to sooth and nurture the grieving and pain stricken Scott Summers would become something much different.
Scott leaves Madelyne and their child and rushes to Jean’s side and as this happens the Marauders sense this is the perfect time to attack and kidnap the baby Nathan, leaving a badly beaten Madelyne for dead. She is hospitalized and registered as a Jane Doe. Scott returns from his tryst with Jean to find his wife and son missing and his home destroyed. Fearing another attack Maddie calls upon the X-Men for help and they fend off the Marauders. Having lost her husband and her child, Madelyne contemplates suicide but is talked out of it by her brother-in-law Alex Summers, Havok.
Madelyne, without powers, works alongside the X-Men as a computer technician and in doing so hacks into the mainframe of the group known as X-Factor. There she sees her husband, Scott Summers, back together with Jean Grey. The hurt and anger she felt once before has grown and now with her emotional and mental instability she is vulnerable to be…get ready for this one…to be possessed by demons who give her the power…of the Goblin Queen. It is also at this time that the history of Madelyne Pryor is revealed to the world, in the 1989 crossover event Inferno, to have been a clone of Jean Grey all along. A plot, by Mr. Sinister, to create a child by Scott Summers. Madelyne Pryor was never a real person per se. She was created by Mister Sinister to be a clone of Jean Grey and trap Scot Summers. As the Goblin Queen she wages war on X-Factor and X-Men alike. She even seduces and sleeps with Alex Summers; Havok. The brother of her husband. The fact that her husband Scott is out screwing around with his ex-girlfriend Jean at the time is irrelevant. Marvel had turned her into someone the comic book world could hate. Someone evil. Someone bad. Someone who got in the way of true love and needed to be destroyed. So they did.
Madelyne Pryor was abandoned by her husband. Her child kidnapped. Discovers she was never a real person but only a clone. A replica of the one person she could never fully be for anyone. She lost her husband, her child, and finally herself. Then she becomes possessed by demons and turned into the Goblin Queen. Then killed. All so Marvel could reunite Scott Summers and Jean Grey.
But Marvel’s campaign to utterly destroy Madelyne did not stop there. Scott and Madelyne’s son, Nathan, contracts a disease and is sent 2000 years into the future so he can live. After the long awaited marriage of Scott and Jean, they are whisked away to the future where they find a young child in danger and save him and help to raise him. He is Nathan. He is the mutant to be known as Cable. Jean, raises and becomes mother to Madelyne’s son and takes the only thing left Maddie had left to call her own. Her child.
Madelyne Pryor. Mother, wife, lover and Goblin Queen.