Entry 070 – Hope Summers

Art by Jim Cheung and Laura Martin

  • Name: Hope Summers
  • Code Names: Hope
  • First Appearance: X-Men #205 (Jan 08)
  • Powers: Power mimicry
  • Teams Affiliation: X-Men, Lights, X-Force

About

Douglas Adams once wrote, “It’s one thing to think that you’re the center of the universe — it’s another thing entirely to have this confirmed by an ancient prophecy.” That’s the cornerstone of a thousand stories, a trope that defies cultural boundaries or the limits of time. The hero is more important than anyone else, and only they can save the world. The X-Men have had chosen one’s a plenty but in their darkest hour, in the wake of M-Day, there was only one girl who could save them all.

Hope Summers didn’t remember the war fought over her when she was days old. How the small Alaskan town she was born in burnt to the ground, how Nathan came to her rescue, or how a distraught Cyclops ordered his only son to keep her safe in the future. Two things she did remember, the mad man Bishop who razed the world to find her, and her father Nathan who went to every length to protect her.

Art by Mike Choi and Sonia Oback

New Liberty was her first home. Nathan took her there when she was very young and raised her with his new wife, a woman named Hope. He didn’t give the child a name, he didn’t think it was his right, so for seven years she was just his little girl. Years of peace were ruined when the new United States Army, composed of the insectoid inheritors of the Earth, attacked New Liberty. The little girl knew that Nathan, always the soldier, had planted semtex around the house, and she proved to be her father’s daughter. She pulled the trigger and decimated the army, allowing her family to escape. It was her first act of war.

Art by Ariel Olivetti

They ran from New Liberty, across the devastated wasteland that was once the world. She understood that it was a fight for survival and forewent her food rations to ensure they went where they were needed most. Nathan, his wife Hope, and the little girl became nomads like his parents before him. They were careful but the world was dangerous and on a routine stop, Hope was shot. They buried her, but in her memory, Nathan had decided. He had a name for his daughter, the one thing the mutant race needed more than anything else, Hope.

Art by Ariel Olivetti

The years passed and Hope Summers grew into a teenage soldier her father would be proud of. She had experience love, loss, peace, and war. Running from Bishop and learning from Cable made her a better fighter than anyone ever imagined. Hope knew she was ready to be the savior every mutant needed her to be. They returned to the present day and it did not go unnoticed. A race was on to get to Hope first. Bastion, the Purifiers, and The Right on one side. The X-Men, X-Force, and New Mutants on the other. The X-Men were able to bring the pair to their home base of Utopia, but there were losses on both sides. Worse yet, Bastion trapped the mutants on Utopia sending wave after wave of Sentinels to exterminate them.

Art by David Finch, Matt Banning, and Peter Steigerwald

To stop the Sentinels, Nathan led X-Force on a suicide mission. Many escaped, but Hope had to watch as her father sacrificed himself to save her, and the entire mutant race. Bastion was not yet finished and approached the distraught young girl. She had lost the only constant in her ever-changing life thanks to him. He needed to pay. Hope’s X-Gene ignited and she began to mimic the powers of every mutant around her. She was truly ready to be the savior of the mutant race and obliterated Bastion as a fiery raptor appeared. And like that, five lights appeared on Cerebro, the first new mutants since Hope was born.

Art by Mike Choi and Sonia Oback

Hope, alongside the X-Men whose stories her father had told her at bedtime, visited each of the five lights. Their new powers were out of control, but Hope calmed them with a touch. They formed a new mutant strike force, working towards the survival of their race. But not all were satisfied with her leadership. Zero was terrified that Hope’s touch had changed them and Transonic didn’t like Hope turning children into warriors. It came to a head when Oya had to kill dozens of Hellfire Club grunts. Transonic wasn’t willing to let the innocent girl become a soldier in Hope’s war and forced Hope to send Oya to the Jean Grey School. Zero soon led a revolt against Hope and died in the process. The lights were scattered and broken, and Hope’s first attempt at leadership with a failure.

Art by Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson

She was taken under the wing of her grandfather, Cyclops. He had Hope join his Extinction team and pushed her to become the messiah they were promised. He saw the red haired, green eyed girl with fire around her and wondered if she was ready to be the savior they needed. Training on Utopia, he went too hard and something erupted inside her. It was the telltale flare of the Phoenix, the symbol of death yes, but also rebirth. Always rebirth. At the same time the Phoenix Force charged towards Earth, and the Avengers weren’t ready for it to inhabit a moody sixteen-year-old. They marched to the beaches of Utopia and demanded the mutant messiah. The X-Men did not oblige. As war broke out, Hope felt the Phoenix rising inside her. She ran. It was Wolverine she trusted, she knew that if she couldn’t control the Phoenix, he would have the constitution to do what needed done. They stole an AIM spaceship and sent off to the Blue Area of the Moon, ready to face fate.

Art by John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna, and Laura Martin

Hope felt the Phoenix as it drew near, she was ready to embrace it, but something happened. Iron Man tried to destroy the cosmic force but only diverted it. Instead of Hope, it resided in five other mutants led by Cyclops. The Phoenix Five were reshaping the world in their own image but Hope wasn’t alright with it and ran to the Avengers. In their K’unn-Lunn hideout, Hope trained with Spider-Man and Iron First to learn how to control the Phoenix Force. She confronted Cyclops and took the power from him. Alongside Scarlet Witch, she released the Phoenix Force and restored the X-Gene across the globe. She had fulfilled her destiny and restored the mutant race.

Art by Adam Kubert, John Dell, and Laura Martin

What does the chosen one do once the prophecy has been fulfilled? In this case, Hope tried being normal, but it didn’t stick. A child raised in war had no tolerance for the pettiness of high school. She yearned to join her father’s (who was resurrected, but it’s not important how) X-Force squad and Nathan relented, proud of the daughter he raised. When Hope discovered that Bishop was alive, in the present, and working with the X-Men, she felt deeply betrayed and hunted him down, only for the both to be captured by her father’s clone Stryfe. Stryfe placed her in a locked room with a bound Bishop and a sharp Psimitar. She wanted to run the blade through Bishop but knew that if Stryfe wanted that, she would be wise to do the opposite. She granted him mercy and X-Force came to their rescue.

Art by Angel Unzueta and Rachelle Rosenberg

Cable decided to bond with his daughter the one way he knew how, by taking her to an international arms convention. A mutant terrorist attack there killed three thousand and left Hope in a coma. Her powers allowed her to mimic a technopath and join the team in secret. She interacted with the nanomachines in Fantomex’s brain and the two formed a relationship before his quest for perfect drove him mad. Cable couldn’t rally X-Force against him, but Hope could. The team worked together to stop Fantomex and Hope decided that her dad needed a break. She fired him from her X-Force and solidified her role as the protector of the race she worked so hard to restore.

Art by Rock-He Kim and Jose Villarrubia

 

Must Read

Hope had a lot of focus for a good five years. With how thoroughly decimated the X-Books were from M-Day they needed something to keep them moving. In Second Coming Hope provided that in spades. She was their conflicted messiah and it shone through, even with a rotating creative team. It is an exciting story about risking everything at your darkest hour and becoming who the world needs you to be.

Art by David Finch

Ranking

Hope is such a hard character to rank. She had a strong arc with a definite ending, but the nature of superhero comics is that nothing ever ends. Since AvX she has been floundering with books that just don’t know what to do with a character who’s defining motivation has been obliterated. But those five years? Those were good. Hope isn’t as good as her dad but I think she is better than her aunt Rachel. I think she is more engaging than Legion but X-23 has played similar roles to Hope better. That slots Hope Summers in as the new 26 in the Xavier Files.

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