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10 Things Only Marvel Comics Fans Know About Rachel Summers

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  • Posted on 05th Aug, 2022 14:28 PM
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Marvel Comics fans know Rachel Summers ranks among the most powerful mutants and connects to classic stories sure to unfold in the MCU.

Knights of X #4 features the first kiss between Rachel Summers and Captain Britain, Betsy Braddock. The moment stands out for both women, but especially for Rachel, whose status as an LGBTQ+ icon among fans existed primarily in headcanon until just now. The kiss validates years of subtextual storytelling, as noted by The Claremont Run, an outstanding academic analysis of Chris Claremont's X-Men tenure.

Comic book fans know Rachel's significance extends far beyond this moment. She emerged from a dark, alternate future to become a key X-Men character and powerful cosmic figure who likely plays some role in the MCU eventually. That may come sooner than later, as no variants of Rachel exist in the Marvel multiverse, making her truly unique.

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Days Of Future Past

Rachel Summers debuts in Uncanny X-Men #141, a landmark issue that begins Days of Future Past, among the best X-Men comic book storylines ever. Rachel, the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey in this dark dystopian future, plays a critical role in the story by using her powers to send Kate Pryde's consciousness back in time to her younger self.

Though Kitty Pryde served this function in X-Men: Days of Future Past to send Wolverine back in time, Rachel's significance to this moment likely means she will factor if the MCU ever revisits it on screen.

Unique In The Multiverse

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The Uncanny X-Men #462 reveals Rachel Summers is singular in the multiverse. No other variants of her exist in infinite realities and timelines, which is one reason the Phoenix Force selected her as its host in earlier comics. This echoes America Chavez's MCU status at the moment, though comic book fans know America Chavez has many variants in the Marvel Universe.

This issue, drawn by Alan Davis, who contributed so much to Rachel's story in Excalibur, also features an early and critical moment between Rachel and Betsy, who accompanies Rachel to The White Hot Room.

Traveling To The Present

Rachel eventually travels to the present day after realizing that Kate Pryde's otherwise successful time travel gambit didn't change the future as expected. Rachel arrives in Earth-616 to discover a past different from the one she experienced. Most notably, her birth mother Jean Grey, died during The Dark Phoenix Saga, meaning Rachel can never be in this timeline.

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This leaves Rachel despondent and unsure of her place among the X-Men or in the multiverse. Her suffering and isolation only magnify as time goes by, leading to violent consequences.

The Hound

Rachel's trauma goes far beyond feeling out of time. Later stories reveal that Ahab, a cybernetic supervillain, captured Rachel as a young woman. He tortured and brainwashed her into becoming a Hound who hunted other mutants. Worse yet, her psionic powers forced her to experience the pain her victims did.

Rachel rebelled against Ahab but her ordeal scarred her for life. She retains disfiguring tattoos Ahab and others branded on her as a Hound, though she hides them with her considerable telepathic ability.

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Unlimited Power

Rachel Summers ranks among the most powerful telepaths in the Marvel Universe and that is just the beginning of her powers. Her telekinetic power rivals her mother's, and she also possesses the ability to chronoskim, the time traveling mechanism she used to send Kate Pryde back in time in Days of Future Past.

These powers alone make Rachel unbelievably powerful, but when she became host to the Phoenix Force, Rachel instantly counted among the most powerful cosmic beings in the Marvel Universe, with power over the fundamental building blocks of existence.

Fighting Galactus

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Rachel's power in the Phoenix Force received its greatest spotlight in Excalibur #61 when she fought Galactus. Alan Davis, easily among the best X-Men artists ever, renders Rachel's cosmic might in several iconic splash pages where she overwhelms Galactus and prevents him from devouring a planet in deep space.

This battle occurs while Rachel undergoes a major evolution in her connection to the Phoenix Force, a key staple in her story arc during her time with Excalibur in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Joining Excalibur

Rachel joins Excalibur, the British X-Men offshoot, after a so-far unexplored period on Mojoworld. She returns to Earth after the X-Men apparently die in The Fall of the Mutants and joins fellow survivors Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler as they connect with Captain Britain and Meggan. Phoenix travels through the multiverse in an early Marvel Comics depiction of it during The Cross Time Caper.

Rachel experiences several highs and lows during her tenure with the team and develops deeper ties to Kitty and Nightcrawler, which would become her core friendships in the comics over the years.

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Relationship With Kitty Pryde

Rachel shares connections with Betsy in the comics, but for many fans, her primary relationship is with Kitty Pryde. That only makes sense as writer Chris Claremont himself intended the two to eventually get together, but Comics Code restrictions in the past forced virtually all LGBTQ+ representation in the Marvel Universe into subtext.

Fans picked up on it, and Kitty herself became an LGBTQ+ icon, with her romantically coded relationship with Rachel and Magik the subject of much fan and academic interest.

Complicated Family Dynamics

Rachel's relationship with her family in the present takes years to untangle. She initially avoids revealing her true identity to Cyclops, leading to many complications down the road. When Jean Grey returns, Rachel's affection for her goes nowhere as Jean rebuffs the idea she's the mother of someone from another timeline. These complex dynamics offer the MCU a lot to potentially delve into.

Things eventually get better and together with her half-brother Cable, the Summers family is far closer now in the Krakoan era than ever before.

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Romance With Betsy

Though Rachel's romantic connection to Betsy pays off years of fan speculation about Rachel, it culminates a relatively recent pairing in the comics. Rachel and Betsy share X-Men ties going back to the 1980s, but the comics only recently began hinting at something beyond friendship with the two.

Their romance first began overtly blossoming in the latter issues of the most recent Excalibur volume, which ended this year and morphed into Knights of X. Knights of X unfortunately ends with issue #5, but writer Tini Howard intends to carry Betsy and presumably Rachel's story forward in a new title.

NEXT: 9 Things Only Marvel Comics Fans Know About Ms. Marvel's Connection To The X-Men

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