As a young boy, Scott Summers is orphaned after watching his parents die in a plane crash. Scott and his brother, Alex, are the only survivors. Their parents placed the two boys in the only available parachute and forced them to jump from the plane just prior to crashing. The boys become wards of the state and are separated. When Scott's powers manifest uncontrollably he runs away from the orphanage and wanders before being taken in as ward by Charles Xavier.
YouthWhen Scott was a boy growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, his father, USAF Major Christopher Summers, took the family for a flight in their de Havilland Mosquito. It came under attack by an alien Shi'ar spaceship. As the plane went down in flames, Scott's parents fastened him and his younger brother Alex into a parachute and pushed them off the plane, hoping that they would survive.
In Cyclops' first appearance in X-Men #1, he is already leading the X-Men under tutelage of Professor X. Later, Scott's origin is first presented in Uncanny X-Men #38-42 and later refined in Uncanny X-Men #144 and Uncanny X-Men #156. In 2010, Marvel released X-Men Origins: Cyclops #1 that describes the character's childhood through his joining the X-Men.
The early accounts in the X-Men comics use flashbacks to tell the origin story of Scott parachuting from his parents' plane. The flashbacks are often told from various narrative perspectives and place different emphasis on the events of this period. Scott's poor control over his power have been attributed to events in his childhood. In Uncanny X-Men #156, Scott's parachute caught fire and Scott struck his head upon landing. This caused brain damage to Scott which is responsible for his poor control over his optic blasts. Several origin stories do not feature the head injury account with X-Men Origins: Cyclops #1 being the most recent. The head injury account has also been retconned in Astonishing X-Men Vol. 2 as being due to a self-imposed mental block he made as a child to deal with the traumatic events of his life. With the help of Emma Frost, Scott is able to briefly bypass his own mental block and control his powers, though he reveals that his control is waning and temporary.
For a time Scott had prolonged amnesia about his childhood. Parts of his memory returned when he was unexpectedly attacked by the demon D'Spayre while on a leave of absence after Jean Grey's perceived first death. Scott spent most of his childhood in an orphanage in Omaha, Nebraska and was subjected to batteries of tests and experiments by the orphanage's owner, Mr. Milbury, an alias for the geneticist Mister Sinister, who also placed mental blocks on Scott.
Upon Cyclops' return to the X-Men following his possession, his personality has been altered as a result of being bonded with Apocalypse. This change causes a rift between him and Jean; he claims that Apocalypse made him question not only their relationship, but his life as a whole. He is instrumental in preventing the mutant Xorn's suicide and in recruiting the powerful mutant to the X-Men. The two establish a close friendship; similarly, repeated missions with Wolverine result in the growth of a tentative friendship between the two veteran X-Men.
When Jean begins to show signs of the Phoenix Force again, the distance between the two grows larger and Scott begins abstaining from sex with Jean for the five months. Jean attempts several times to confront Cyclops, but he continues to push her away, claiming that Apocalypse had changed him too much on the inside. Jean, confused by the change in their relationship, confides in Logan and the two kiss in the woods outside the school, but Logan walks away telling her that she should remain with Scott. Xavier leaves Earth while under the control of Cassandra Nova and Jean is left as Headmistress of the school. Her new responsibilities along with her growing powers, force Jean to put her attention elsewhere leaving Scott feeling ignored and his trauma from being possessed trivialized. Instead of attempting to reconcile with her, Scott turns to Emma Frost for consolation, feeling that he can talk to Emma about his problems. Their relationship ostensibly begins as a series of psychic therapy sessions, but Emma takes advantage of this situation to get closer to Scott. Under the guise of counseling him, she instigates a telepathic affair.
When Phoenix discovers the affair, Cyclops claims he and Emma shared only thoughts and thus had done nothing wrong. Meanwhile, Emma's snide and mocking jeers provoke a hurt and angry Jean to psychically confront her, using the full-power of the Phoenix Force to 'burn through lies'. She forces Emma to admit her true feelings for Scott, and to face her many failures, sins, and personal demons. Furious at both himself and Jean, Scott confronts Jean and demands that she read his mind; Jean finally complies, only to discover that Scott and Emma never engaged in any physical contact, though Emma had offered it. After confronting Jean with the truth, Scott leaves the Xavier Institute, and a short time later Emma is found shattered in her diamond form and believed killed.
Scott soon finds himself at the Hellfire Club which had been turned into a sleazy strip club and tries to get drunk, attempting to escape the responsibilities, expectations, and demands which he feels are unjustly placed on him by the X-Men. He then accompanies Wolverine and Fantomex to the government-created time-pocket called The World and then Asteroid M. During his time with Wolverine, Scott reveals that he feels his relationship with Jean is stagnant and that the two of them had not progressed romantically since their initial teenage romance. He also confesses that he feels that Jean is so concerned with the school and her new powers that the two no longer communicate like before and that he feels left behind due to Jean once again being connected to the Phoenix Force. When Scott finally returns to the X-Men, their new teammate Xorn (who was revealed to be Magneto, but was subsequently retconned as an imposter) attacks the X-Men. Having at last reached full Phoenix power, Jean confronts Xorn-Magneto and is killed in the process. As she is dying, Scott apologizes for hurting her, but Jean instead tells him that she understands and has never seen him more alive and urges him to live on.