Robot 6

Chris Claremont on the ‘red-headed red herring,’ Madelyne Pryor

Ann Nocenti, left, Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson

Madelyne Pryor, the Jean Grey lookalike introduced in Uncanny X-Men #168, was put through the ringer by writers over the years, as she went from being Scott Summers’ wife and Cable’s mother to a clone of Jean Grey and eventually a supervillain. You’ve gotta love any Wikipedia entry that comes with the caveat, “Madelyne’s 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.”

But that wasn’t always the plan for the character, as legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont notes in the video below. The footage is from an interview conducted for the upcoming documentary Comics in Focus: Chris Claremont’s X-Men. Filmmakers were able to reunite Claremont, writer Louise Simonson and editor Ann Nocenti for a discussion of their time working on the X-franchise.



I always hated what happened to that character. She gets put through the ringer and out pops a super villain. I always hated her returns because it seemed like people would be actively trying to rehabilitate this woman, if she was ever an X-Man, but since it was a clone who was just abandoned by Scott she wasn’t worth it.

What’s always stuck with me is how innocent Madeline was in becoming the Goblin Queen. She thought it was a dream when she made her choice, She’d probably never have been consumed by evil had she known there were real world consequences…

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

June 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I love Claremont, and I always love listening to comic creators speak about these kinds of things. They seem a lot more candid and able to speak about all the behind-the-scenes goings on that influenced their runs.

Definitely looking forward to that documentary, and I may go try and find the Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis ones this director’s done as well.

The way the writers after Claremont handled the whole Jean Grey/Madelyn Prior situation turned by off Cylcops for years and his eventual marriage to Emma Frost, forever !

Scott Summers just walked out on his wife and hooked up with his old girl friend and buddies and never even gave a though or had a regret about it (I left the whole X-Mess shortly afterwards so I don’t know if he weeped and mourned over her afterwards)

Wow–so that’s who Ann Nocenti and Louise Simonson look like. There are so many creators’ faces I have yet to see.

A perfect example of how editorial took over Marvel in the mid to late 80’s. Death of Phoenix was a historic storyline and creating X-Factor forced creators to bring Jean Grey back. It made Cyclops look like a chump, it ruined any chance of Madelyne Pryor ever getting a chance to grow as a character and it made them have to do something whack-o with their son. Everything spiraled out of control with the X-Men comic after that point as far as continuity goes.

Perhaps its time a ‘balance of power’ in the comic book industry was fully established….

Late to this party, but after learning how Madelyne Pryor’s character was so severely maligned, I can see now why so many people despise Cyclops’ character. In a way, the ruination of the X-men in the 90s began with her own mistreatment by writers. And the poor performance of the X-men titles of that era were a big factor in the comics bust in the mid 90s. (Though foil covers and Spawn-fiication are just as culpable.)

How wonderful would it have been if there were just one X-Men title with only one writer throughout the 80s. I know some nice stories came out of the spinoffs (X-Factor, New Mutants, Wolverine) but the X-Universe would have been written much better during the 90s if that happened.

Togu Oppusunggu

June 27, 2016 at 8:01 am

Wow, after all these years, it’s gratifying to see others sharing the same sentiments I had. My love for the X-men was lost when they killed off Madeline Pryor as the Goblin Queen. I had gotten to really like her, she had become heroic in many ways, and it was totally unfair how they made her a deranged and unredeemable person. Cyclops had been my favorite comic book hero since childhood ( a more tortured Spiderman, so to speak), but after he left Maddy, he just became a nobody to me (much like the cold Batman that many people seemed to like).

The reincarnation of Jean Grey never made sense. She never was the Jean Grey of the Dark Phoenix saga and before. And Scott and Maddy had worked so hard to get where they became a real couple.

I miss the Claremont days, but it’s sad to see in this interview that the writing and editing team still don’t get how terribly wrong they were in how they handled Madeline Pryor.

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