The return of Madelyne Pryor, from X-Men #11 (February 2014).
Art by Terry Dodson.
|First appearance||Uncanny X-Men #168 (April 1983)|
|Created by||Chris Claremont
|Alter ego||Madelyne "Maddie" Jennifer Pryor-Summers (née Pryor)|
|Species||Human mutant (latent), clone|
Sisterhood of Mutants
|Notable aliases||Anodyne, Goblin Queen,
Black Rook, Red Queen
Psionic energy channeling
Madelyne Jennifer Pryor-Summers is a fictional character in books published by Marvel Comics, in particular those featuring the X-Men. As the love interest and first wife of X-Men leader Cyclops (Scott Summers), she became a long-standing member of the X-Men supporting cast, until a series of traumas—being abandoned by her husband, losing her infant son, and discovering that she was a clone of Jean Grey—eventually led to her being manipulated into becoming a supervillain. She and Cyclops are the parents of Nathan Summers.
Her biography has been rendered particularly complicated because of the many retcons involved in the publication history of both her character and that of Jean Grey.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Other versions
- 5 In other media
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Madelyne Pryor was introduced during the acclaimed 1983 Uncanny X-Men run that saw long-time writer Chris Claremont pair with artist Paul Smith for a series of issues that would see the Jean Grey look-alike marry the retired X-Men leader Scott Summers (Cyclops).
Madelyne's hairstyle was modeled after the book's editor, Louise Jones (later Louise Simonson)—a look the character would retain until 1988. Claremont named the character after Steeleye Span singer Maddy Prior. Claremont had already created a character named "Maddy Pryor", a little girl that appeared very briefly in Avengers Annual #10 (1981), and has no in-story connections to the X-Men character. Claremont, nonetheless, years later used the opportunity to indulge in an in-joke: in Uncanny X-Men #238 (1988), a similar child would appear as Madelyne's mental image of herself, wearing the same clothes as the little girl from Avengers Annual #10, repeating the girl's same line of dialogue, but also singing "Gone to America," one of Steeleye Span's biggest hits.
According to Claremont, the original link between Madelyne Pryor and Jean Grey was entirely the product of Mastermind. Seeking revenge against the X-Men after Jean (as Phoenix) had driven him insane, Mastermind uses his powers of illusion to convince Scott and the others that Madelyne is Phoenix incarnate—a cosmic threat—in an attempt to have the team kill her. Mastermind's plan fails, and Madelyne and Cyclops are married shortly after. Claremont had conceived Madelyne as a device to write Scott Summers out of the X-Men and have him retire "happily ever after" with Madelyne and their child.
The story became more complicated in 1986 when moves by the editors and other writers to reunite the original X-Men, for the new title X-Factor, resulted in Jean Grey's resurrection and Scott leaving his wife and son. This deeply compromised the character of Cyclops and left little room for Madelyne, and Cyclops' uncharacteristic (at the time) behavior has been controversial ever since. Asked whether or not Cyclops was really in love with Madelyne, X-Factor writer (from issue #6 onward) Louise Simonson answered, "I think she was a substitute for Jean. And I think it's torture for Scott, because it's not just Madelyne now: he has a son. And I think, in leaving Madelyne to go to Jean, he did something that was morally reprehensible to him." It was attempted to address these problems through a retcon, in the 1989 Inferno crossover, where Madelyne is not only revealed to be a clone of Jean Grey, created by Mr. Sinister to produce a child with Scott Summers, but corrupted by her anger and demonic influence into the Goblin Queen.
Asked about his intended plans for Madelyne's character, Claremont said:
The original Madelyne storyline was that, at its simplest level, she was that one in a million shot that just happened to look like Jean Grey, [a.k.a. the first Phoenix]! And the relationship was summed up by the moment when Scott says: "Are you Jean?" And she punches him! That was in Uncanny X-Men #174. Because her whole desire was to be deeply loved for herself not to be loved as the evocation of her boyfriend's dead romantic lover and sweetheart.
I mean, it's a classical theme. You can go back to a whole host of 1930s films, 1940s, Hitchcock films—but it all got invalidated by the resurrection of Jean Grey in X-Factor #1. The original plotline was that Scott marries Madelyne, they have their child, they go off to Alaska, he goes to work for his grandparents, he retires from the X-Men. He's a reserve member. He's available for emergencies. He comes back on special occasions, for special fights, but he has a life. He has grown up. He has grown out of the monastery; he is in the real world now. He has a child. He has maybe more than one child. It's a metaphor for us all. We all grow up. We all move on.
Scott was going to move on. Jean was dead get on with your life. And it was close to a happy ending. They lived happily ever after, and it was to create the impression that maybe if you came back in ten years, other X-Men would have grown up and out, too. Would Kitty stay with the team forever? Would Nightcrawler? Would any of them? Because that way we could evolve them into new directions, we could bring in new characters. There would be an ongoing sense of renewal, and growth and change in a positive sense.
Then, unfortunately, Jean was resurrected, Scott dumps his wife and kid and goes back to the old girlfriend. So it not only destroys Scott's character as a hero and as a decent human being it creates an untenable structural situation: what do we do with Madelyne and the kid? ... So ultimately the resolution was: turn her into the Goblin Queen and kill her off.
Madelyne Pryor was brought back in 1995 as a supporting character in X-Man, a marginal X-men related title. Though by around 2001 (along with the cancellation of the X-Man title), this became a false start at reviving the character, as Pryor would again cease being featured in any Marvel titles, except when Chris Claremont included the character in his non-canon limited-series, X-Men: The End (2004-2006).
However, almost two decades since Marvel brought Jean Grey back, editors decided to again drop Jean Grey as a regular character. Immediately before that, Marvel also decided to terminate the relationship of Cyclops and Jean Grey.
In 2008, exactly 25 years since the character's debut in Uncanny X-Men, Madelyne Pryor was brought back in the flagship X-Men title for the first time since 1989. By 2009, after less than 12 issues, Pryor would be declared "apparently destroyed", and would not be featured in another story again until 2014 (exactly 25 years since the Inferno storyline) in the secondary title, X-Men (Vol. 4).
Fictional character biography
Madelyne Pryor was a cargo pilot in Anchorage, Alaska working for Scott Summers' grandparents when she and Scott meet during a Summers family reunion. A romantic relationship quickly begins between them; however, Scott is disturbed at her striking resemblance to his dead lover, Jean Grey/Phoenix. Also, she was the sole survivor of an airplane crash that occurred the same day Phoenix died on the moon. In addition, Professor X is unable to scan her mind (which, he notes, is occasionally the case with normal humans). Scott, still recovering from Jean's death, becomes obsessed with the idea that Madelyne is her reincarnation, eventually confronting her with his suspicions. Madelyne, furious and hurt, punches Scott and runs from him. As soon as she is alone, she is abducted by Mastermind, who had been manipulating the X-Men for months — as revenge for being driven temporarily insane by Phoenix due to his involvement in her corruption. To defeat him, Storm summons a violent storm which nearly kills Madelyne, but Scott resuscitates her. After the conflict, Scott comes to terms with the fact that Jean Grey is dead and that Madelyne is not her, and that he loves her all the same. The two are married, and Scott retires from active duty with the X-Men.
Giving up the life of an adventurer proves harder for Scott than imagined. Early in Madelyne and Scott's marriage, they (along with Alpha Flight and the rest of the X-Men) are taken to an abandoned city by the Asgardian trickster-god Loki. Entirely for his own purposes, Loki endows mystical powers on a small group of normal humans, transforming Madelyne into a healer of virtually any injury, illness, psychological issue, or physical defect. She adopts the name "Anodyne" and cures Scott's childhood head injury, enabling him to control his optic blasts without the use of ruby-quartz lenses. She also removes Aurora's DID and Wolverine's berzerker rage. When it is discovered that Loki's gifts are extremely flawed, and fatal to some, everyone assembled reject the gift. Madelyne and the other beneficiaries are reverted to their original states, as are all those who had been healed by Madelyne. During this adventure Madelyne reveals that she is pregnant.
Going into premature labor, Madelyne gives birth to a baby boy (Nathan Christopher Charles Summers) alone in the X-Mansion. Sensing a reluctance on Scott's part to retire to family life, a powerless Storm challenges him to a duel for leadership of the team, which Storm wins. This in effect forces Scott to accept his new role as a husband and father. (Much later, it would be declared that Madelyne unknowingly influenced Cyclops to enable Storm to win.)
Although Scott tries to live a normal family life in Alaska, he often thinks of Jean Grey, and of his life with the X-Men. Maddie tries her best to make Scott happy, but her efforts seem wasted. Finally Scott receives a call from his former teammate Angel that Jean Grey has been found alive. Without explaining himself, Scott abandons Madelyne and their son to reunite with his lost love, and forms X-Factor with his old friends from the original X-Men. Madelyne and Nathan are then attacked by the Marauders; Nathan is kidnapped and Madelyne left for dead, but survives and is hospitalized as a "Jane Doe". A guilt-wracked and increasingly unstable Scott returned home to find his house empty, and all records of his family's existence erased.
Alone and threatened, Madelyne calls the X-Men for help; they arrive and fight off another attack by the Marauders. Despairing from Scott's absence and of her son's fate, she contemplates suicide. Madelyne's brother-in-law, Alex Summers (Havok), talks her out of it, and the two of them grow closer. With the Marauders still after her, she stays with the X-Men, and they sacrifice their lives to stop the Adversary from remaking the world in Fall of the Mutants. A reporter video-interviews them prior to their death, and Maddie uses this to deliver a message to Scott, pleading that he find their child. With the world thinking them dead, Madelyne and the X-Men are resurrected by the Omniversal Guardian Roma and begin working secretly out of an abandoned Reavers base in Australia. Madelyne serves as the team's technical support.
Demonic corruption and origins revealed
Monitoring news transmissions, Madelyne learns that Jean Grey is alive and with Scott. She punches the computer monitor's screen, breaking it and causing electrical feedback that renders her unconscious. The Limbo demon S'ym invades Madelyne's mind during her unconscious state, and tempts her to take on the power that would make her the Goblin Queen.
Madelyne keeps the existence of the original X-Men as X-Factor secret from the others, filtering in only information and news showing X-Factor as an anti-mutant group. Later abducted by the Genoshans and taken to their island-nation, Madelyne is subjected to psychic torture intended to transform her into a docile slave of the state. Madelyne instinctively lashes out with her developing abilities, which cause the deaths of her torturers. In the recorded images of the psychic probe performed on Madelyne, her appearance reflects her change into the Goblin Queen. Shortly after being rescued by the X-Men, Madelyne strikes a bargain with another demon, N'astirh, to find the Marauders and return her son to her. During this time, she and Alex become lovers.
As revenge on Jean, Madelyne transforms John and Elaine Grey into her demonic servants. To keep his end of their bargain, N'astirh takes Madelyne to the orphanage in Nebraska where Scott grew up, actually a front for Mr. Sinister's genetic laboratory. Sinister appears and tells Madelyne about her origins.
Wanting to experiment on Jean Grey, but lacking access to her, Sinister created a clone of Jean. However, the clone failed to develop any mutant powers. When Phoenix took her own life, a part of the Phoenix Force entered and awakened the clone, giving her sentience. Sinister then conceived a plan to use the clone to facilitate selective breeding between her and Scott. Sinister named her "Madelyne Pryor", and created a false background, implanted memories, and a personality designed to attract Summers. He then planted her with Scott's grandparents' company, thus ensuring the two would eventually meet. As Jean Grey's return might cause the truth about Madelyne to be uncovered if the two were to meet, Sinister tasked his Marauders with killing Madelyne and bringing him Nathan, the fruits of his scheme.
Broken in spirit to insanity by the revelations, although Madelyne then regains her son, she now willingly aids N'astirh in his demonic invasion of Earth. Returning to New York City, where the demonic invasion is already in full swing, she confronts X-Factor with the revelation that she is alive. When the X-Men arrive, Madelyne steers the teams against each other at first, and convinces Alex to join her. X-Factor and the other X-Men work together to defeat N'astirh. Madelyne refuses to stop, forcing the heroes to overwhelm her. Cyclops rescues his son, but Madelyne commits suicide in an attempt to telepathically take Jean with her. The Phoenix Force appears to Jean and offers to save her, but in order to survive Jean has to integrate the essence of both the Phoenix and Madelyne, gaining their memories and personalities. Mr. Sinister attempts to entrap all of the X-Men and X-Factor in Madelyne's dying mind, but forced to choose between having revenge either on the X-Men or Mr. Sinister, Madelyne ejects Mr. Sinister from her mind. With her personality influencing Jean's, she then prompts the X-Men and X-Factor to attempt lethal retribution against him.
Jean, having inherited Madelyne's maternal feelings for Nathan Christopher, becomes his proxy mother. They would raise Nathan Christopher until Apocalypse, seeing the potential threat in the child, infected him with a techno-organic virus. Dying, the child was taken 2,000 years into the future by Askani to be saved.
Madelyne mysteriously reappears years later as an amnesiac to Nate Grey (X-Man) — the "genetic son" of Scott Summers and Jean Grey from the alternate reality known as the Age of Apocalypse — when he comes to Earth-616. Under the tutelage of Selene, Madelyne eventually serves as the Hellfire Club's Black Rook, has her memories of her previous life restored by Tessa, and meets her aged son Cable in an uneasy truce.
Soon, Nate Grey is again accompanied by "Maddie" alive and well, but she turns out to be an evil Jean Grey from another alternate reality. This woman seems to have taken advantage of Madelyne’s weakened state and replaced her, to then worm her way into Nate’s head.
Some years later, the X-Men investigate an anti-mutant group calling itself the "Hellfire Cult", being led by Empath. Empath is actually being secretly controlled and taking orders from a mysterious woman calling herself the "Red Queen", who is particularly interested in learning about Cyclops’ new lover Emma Frost. (Scott and Jean's marriage, ironically, had fallen apart, and Jean then killed on a mission soon afterward.) The X-Men take down the Cult and capture Empath, while the Red Queen slips away unseen. She then psionically impersonates Frost and has virtual sex with Scott, without him realizing the deception at first. Afterward, Scott is surprised at the sight of Madelyne observing him from a distance before losing her amongst a crowd. 
Almost simultaneously, the Red Queen is in Madripoor, recruiting Chimera into a new group called the "Sisterhood of Mutants". With Martinique Jason (recruited before the Cult's exposure) and Chimera accompanying her, the Red Queen recruits Spiral and Lady Deathstrike into the Sisterhood as well.
Madelyne then recruits Martinique's half-sister, Lady Mastermind, who accepts membership on Madelyne's peculiar (and ironic) promise to bring back the half-sisters' late father, the original Mastermind, from the dead. However, Madelyne’s first priority was to orchestrate her own return as a person of flesh-and-blood. In the interim since the astral plane encounter, Madelyne had managed to manifest back in the physical world as an intangible "ghost" form, and needed to find a body to inhabit that could contain her psyche and powerful psi-talent. Before she would undergo the risky treatment herself, Madelyne decided to test the magical ritual on a guinea pig. Carrying out Madelyne’s orders, the Sisterhood retrieved the body of Revanche from a private cemetery in Japan. After Spiral repaired Revanche’s decaying body as much as possible, Madelyne successfully performed the magical spell that infused the corpse with the life-force of Psylocke, whom the Sisterhood had captured earlier.
The Sisterhood commences a surprise raid on the X-Men's base, quickly neutralizing several of the main X-members. Recovering from the initial attacks, the X-Men force the Sisterhood (now including a brainwashed Psylocke) to retreat, but the entire battle was only a distraction, as the real purpose was for Madelyne to steal a lock of Jean Grey's hair. Madelyne uses the hair sample to locate Grey's gravesite, and then attempts to repeat the ritual with her corpse. However, Cyclops, having correctly guessed Madelyne’s goal, had arranged for Grey's body to be replaced with someone else's, which Madelyne only learned after it was too late. With the decayed body unsuitable for containing her vast psionic energies, Madelyne disappered to an unknown fate.
Avengers Vs. X-Men
During the 2012 Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, Mister Sinister had created a group of six Madelyne Pryor clones in order to take away the Phoenix Force energies from the Phoenix Five (consisting of the Phoenix Force-empowered Cyclops, Colossus, Emma Frost, Magik, and Namor). Unlike the original Madelyne, none of the six showed indications of having individual personalities or free will, but instead appeared to follow Sinister completely. The Madelyne Pryor clones joined Mister Sinister's other clone creations in fighting the Phoenix Five and managed to defeat each one. They also were able to siphon some of the energy from the Phoenix Force, but they all were immediately killed by the entity itself.
Lady Deathstrike's Sisterhood
Lady Deathstrike, whose consciousness had taken possession of a Colombian girl named Ana Cortes, formed an all new Sisterhood, initially comprising herself, Typhoid Mary, and the Asgardian Enchantress (Amora). The sentient bacteria Arkea possessed Lady Deathstrike's assistant Reiko and joined. As Arkea feared being opposed by the X-Men, she wanted powerhouses with the Sisterhood, so she had Enchantress use her magicks to restore Selene. Ana Cortes managed to turn against Deathstrike, contact the X-Men and alert them of the Sisterhood's location, and then committed suicide. Arkea then placed Deathstrike's consciousness into Reiko also, and seeing an opportunity, Arkea utilized advanced sciences combined with Enchantress' magick to revive Madelyne Pryor, using Ana's body as a host, making Madelyne flesh-and-blood again for the first time since her own suicide. When the X-Men arrived and attacked, Madelyne fought and telepathically defeated the more-experienced telepath Rachel Grey. Storm offered Madelyne and Selene a deal, essentially letting them go free as the X-Men were only after Arkea at the moment. As Madelyne and the other members of the Sisterhood didn't particularly care for Arkea, they deserted her, allowing all of the Arkea bacteria to be destroyed. Accompanied by Selene, Madelyne declared that she would create an all new Sisterhood.
Powers and abilities
As a clone of Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor also possesses mutant abilities of telepathy and telekinesis. These powers remained latent while she was believed to be a baseline human, but later manifested in ways that Jean's never had. As the Goblin Queen, her mutant powers were exponentially enhanced by demonic eldritch magic to the point where she could warp reality (equivalent to the abilities of Proteus) within a localized area.
As Anodyne, Madelyne possessed the ability to wield Asgardian magic that manifested as eldritch flames with the power to heal and cure. Among her beneficial actions were fixing the childhood brain injury that prevented Cyclops from controlling his optic blasts, curing Puck of his mystically induced dwarfism, unifying Aurora's multiple personalities, and giving Rogue the ability to control her mutant power.
After her apparent resurrection by Nate Grey, Madelyne regained her natural mutant abilities. Without the demonic enhancements, her powers are still considerable. Her telepathy enables her to read minds, broadcast her thoughts, create illusions, change or erase memories, and defend herself against other telepaths. With her telekinesis, Madelyne can lift and manipulate large objects, levitate, fire powerful mental force-blasts, form protective shields, and even rearrange small objects on a molecular level. Madelyne also developed powers that Jean never possessed. She was able to teleport over long distances by psychokinetically shifting in and out of the astral plane (and was shown to be able to carry along at least one other person with her when teleporting), and also able to channel psionic energies from other psionic-powered mutants to boost her own abilities or those of another (usually Nate Grey, and on occasion Cable). Madelyne has also utilized her powers to augment her physical strength and agility, making her deadly in hand-to-hand combat.
As the Red Queen, along with her usual powers, Madelyne had demonstrated other abilities of a mysterious nature, which she referred to as "magic". It was revealed that Madelyne was a non-corporeal entity (similar to the Shadow King), and she mentioned that there were only two physical bodies in existence that could house her disembodied form. Jean Grey's was one, and the other was Madelyne's own now-destroyed body. Arkea used her advanced technological knowledge and a sample of Grey's DNA to alter the corpse of Ana Cortes into a body capable of hosting the Red Queen. Amora used her sorcery to complete the resurrection.
In one alternate reality (Earth-89112), Madelyne Pryor and S'ym were successful in opening a portal between Limbo and Earth (having killed baby Nathan Christopher) and demons overran the planet. The X-Men and X-Factor were dead (with the exception of a possessed Wolverine), and the only resistance left was led by Doctor Strange, who attempted to summon the Phoenix Force through Rachel Summers, the reality-hopping daughter of Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Madelyne however was successful in quelling the resistance and wresting control of the Phoenix Force from Rachel, but was ultimately betrayed and killed by S'ym, using Wolverine's reanimated adamantium skeleton. Rachel, reassuming the mantle of the Phoenix, used the Force to cleanse the planet of the demon plague.
On Earth-9250, most mutants in the city of Manhattan are vampires ruled by Wolverine. Madelyne was not infected, but became the Goblyn Queen and planned on releasing a demon army to wipe out the vampire mutants and dominate the world. Madelyne made contact with the lord of the Dark Dimension, Dormammu, who became her ally. However, the vampiric Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) bonded with the Phoenix Force, became Dark Phoenix, and killed Madelyne and Dormammu.
Another reality saw Madelyne Pryor as a member of an "X-Men" team formed by Mr. Sinister alongside Cyclops (Scott Summers), Havok (Alex Summers), and Sabretooth. However this version of Madelyne had never been awakened by the Phoenix Force, so she was simply a mindless shell inhabited by the psychic entity Malice. Scott noticed his physical attraction to Madelyne, but could not respond to her advances; when he encountered Professor Xavier's X-Men and their leader Jean Grey, however, much deeper emotions were stirred. Sinister called for their deaths, and under his orders Cyclops and Havok infiltrated Xavier’s X-Men as double agents.
In the alternate reality known as the Mutant X universe, young Scott Summers was abducted into space along with his father Christopher and mother Kate, leaving his brother Alex to become one of the founders of the X-Men as Havok. This reality's Madelyne Pryor marries Alex and has a son, named Scotty, with him. Just like in Earth-616, Madelyne also makes a deal with Limbo's demons, unlocking her latent psionic abilities, and initiates the "Inferno Crisis". In this instance however, Madelyne survives the crisis; and, using the alias "Marvel Woman", leaves the X-Men team with her husband when he forms the splinter group called "The Six". Her evil side resurfaces a number of times, first as the "Goblyn Queen" and later as the "Goblyn Force". When it returns a second time, it merges with the Beyonder to form a nigh-omnipotent being. Havok supposedly saves Madelyne by placing the "Nexus of Realities" in her body, purging her of the malevolent Goblyn Force and reuniting her with her son Scotty, before Havok returns once more to the void.
In the Marvel Mangaverse title Legacy of Fire, Madelyne Pryor was reinvented as Madelyne Pyre, a powerful sorceress and possessor of the Phoenix Sword, who was training her sister Jena to be her successor.
X-Men: The End
Madelyne Pryor plays an important role in X-Men: The End, Chris Claremont's limited series about an alternate future. In the story, Madelyne — through circumstances left unexplained — makes a surprise return. Mysteriously joined with the X-Men's alien enemies (the Skrulls and the Shi'ar), Madelyne affected a disguise to infiltrate the X-Men, planting herself near Cyclops for the rest of the series. Still seeking revenge against her former husband, Madelyne wavered however and protected him instead, after eavesdropping on Scott expressing remorse for everything that happened to her, and even implied that he genuinely loved her after all. Cyclops later admitted to having recognized her at some point, and an understanding and peace was finally reached between them, for the sake of aiding their son Cable in battle. When Cable's effort leaves him dying, a grief-stricken Madelyne is accepted back with the X-Men again. After Cyclops and Jean Grey are also killed, Madelyne cryptically reveals that, since the very beginning, she was always both Madelyne Pryor and a crucial portion of Jean Grey herself (and even hinted to being the Dark Phoenix), explaining that she was the part of Jean that truly and completely loved Scott, and that was why Jean and Scott's marriage failed. Madelyne then sacrifices herself by turning into energy and fusing with Jean Grey, who is once again resurrected. Jean is able to use her power to its fullest again, which allows her and all the dead X-Men to merge with the Phoenix and transcend to a new level of existence. In the story's final panel, Madelyne's image is present next to Cyclops' among the X-Men who died heroically.
In other media
- Madelyne Pryor's character was alluded to in the X-Men animated television series. In the second-season episode "Time Fugitives", Jean Grey reads Cable's mind, showing visions that include a union between Cyclops and a red-haired woman, possibly Madelyne.
- In the PC version of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Madelyne's Goblin Queen persona is available as one of Jean's many custom costumes.
- Madelyne (in her Hellfire Club Black Rook costume) appears as the final villain in the Rachel Grey mission set in the X-Men: Battle of the Atom mobile game.
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