Uncanny X-Men #336, September 1996
File this one under crossover issues that stand out more for what they represent than for the stories themselves (See also Spider-Man Unlimited #1, Civil War #1).
Uncanny 336 was a chapter of “Onslaught,” a Marvel mega-event that included the X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four and plenty of side books. The hype for Onslaught began building in spring 1995, almost immediately after the end of the previous X-event, the “Age of Apocalypse.”
In fact, according to Brian Cronin’s Comic Book Legends Revealed, what started as a half-formed idea by Scott Lobdell to have someone or something beat up the Juggernaut turned into an edict across the books to allude to Onslaught before anyone knew what it was.
But I don’t remember Onslaught for being a confusing mess that featured a teenage Tony Stark, a younger, long-haired version of Magneto or Hawkeye wearing A Very ’90s Headsock.
What I remember is one panel, about a ninth of the page, showing the left half of Cyclops’ face, fangs bared, saying two words: “Take him.” Behind him, in shadow, Thor and Storm are airborne, ready to attack the being holding Charles Xavier prisoner and threatening to torture him slowly. Quite frankly, it’s my favorite thing Joe Madureira ever drew.
Here, Cyclops isn’t just leading the X-Men. The Avengers and the FF are following him into battle as well. The X-Man who had spent 30 years suffering from crippling insecurity was now barking orders at almost every major hero in the Marvel Universe. And that’s why I was a teenage Cyclops fan.