Warning: contains spoilers for X-Men #20!As the X-Men continue to battle against a rogue invasion of Brood aliens across the galaxy in X-Men #20, team leader Cyclops has called out the Avengers‘ specific brand of heroism, which often relies on reactive action as opposed to proactive support.

While the relationship between the X-Men and the Avengers has grown less strained since the founding of the mutant nation of Krakoan, particularly after the incredible tension between the two heroic teams following the Avengers vs. X-Men event, there is still a long history of fighting between the two groups – evident by the drama surrounding former Avengers member Firestar joining the X-Men. Up against the Brood, Cyclops casually throws shade at Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, saying, “The X-Men aren’t the Avengers. We don’t wait for the bodies to drop to suit up.”

cyclops slams the avengers

This is an incredibly pointed, brutal critique of the Avengers’ philosophy and heroism, and echoes Cyclops’ prior criticisms of the team, who he has insulted in the past for not doing enough to protect mutant lives.

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The X-Men Act, the Avengers React

Marvel's first Avengers vs X-Men explained.

Due to the nature of mutant oppression, the X-Men know that they will always have enemies with consistent beliefs and common resources, such as the mutant-killing Sentinel robots. This allows them to be effective in seeking out potential threats ahead of time, as well as to stop them from developing in a range of ways, from behind-the-scenes spycraft to direct intervention. In contrast, the Avengers are there as a final resort for threats no other hero can handle. Their name says it all – they’re there to avenge, not prevent.

The entirety of the Civil War II event happened because Carol Danvers – then not a member of the Avengers but instead leading Alpha Flight and working with the proactive Ultimates – decided to use a precognitive Inhuman to be proactive about threats. Tony Stark’s entire philosophy vehemently opposed this, illustrating how often the Avengers have been reactive and how its core members are wary of acting proactively (which makes some sense, as it would be easy for a cabal of gods and superhumans to slip into totalitarian control). Their biggest events – such as Secret Invasion, Original Sin, and Siege – were all very reactive, as well as both Avengers Disassembled and House of M, which both were reactions to Wanda Maximoff’s mental instability and her manipulation by others, instead of proactively giving her the support she clearly needed.

Cyclops Believes the Avengers Have Failed Mutants

cyclops calls out captain america

The current assault by the Brood, and the X-Men’s fight against them, is the perfect reminder of the X-Men’s proactive stance. The X-Men did attempt to be proactive about the Brood, tasking their teammate Broo with leading them as their King, and when they found out that a group of Brood aliens had somehow rebelled, they acted immediately, and are now taking action beyond simply solving the immediate problem. However, the X-Men’s iconic Cerebro is the ultimate symbol of their proactivity – a machine which they use to search out and help mutants before they come under threat.

X-Men like Cyclops and Emma Frost have long called out Steve Rogers and the Avengers lack of response to the horrific Genoshan genocide of 16 million people by the evil Cassandra Nova, using existing human tech designed to kill mutants. Time and time again, the X-Men have tried to create some kind of stronghold to gather and protect mutants against unexpected threats, with the latest effort being Krakoa. Cyclops may be an ally of the Avengers, but his X-Men are such a success because he sees where Earth’s Mightiest Heroes fall short and learns from their example.

More: The New X-Men/Avengers War Makes Mutants Earth’s Real Mightiest Heroes

X-Men #20 from Marvel Comics is available now.

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