SPOILER: Obituary for the AvX Fallen

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By Steve Morris

Read no further until you pick up today’s issue of Avengers Vs X-Men, unless you want to be spoiled! Alternatively, pick up a newspaper today, because Marvel have plastered the death across America.

RIP Charles Xavier. Founder of the modern-day X-Men, based on an idea he stole from Wolverine while at University. Xavier was today revealed to be the fatality in Avengers Vs X-Men, after getting blasted face first by a fatal dose of melodrama in today’s issue #11, written by Brian Michael Bendis.

avx1 SPOILER: Obituary for the AvX Fallen

 

Charles Xavier has had a rocky life since the last time he was killed, all the way back in 2008 at the end of the Messiah Complex event. After initially appearing in Mike Carey’s run on X-Men Legacy, he was then thrown into prison by Norman Osborn, before hanging around with the New Mutants and reuniting with his half-crazy son, Legion. Aside from that, however, the character has been isolated from the rest of the X-Men, barely appearing whatsoever in any X-Men stories for the past two years.

This was mainly because ever since the mid-2000s, writers decided to turn the character from a determined, kindly leader for mutantkind into a slave-owning child murderer who used the X-Men to boost his own ego. Starting in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men and running through books like Deadly Genesis, Uncanny X-Men and X-Men Legacy, Marvel chose to systematically destroy the image of the X-Men’s founder in to make the X-Men edgier. They did!

First it was revealed that the Danger Room, the training area for the X-Men, was actually a sentient piece of machinery which Xavier forced into servitude (Mike Carey later eased this, but Whedon’s initial story does paint Xavier as a slaver). Then came the reveal that Xavier sent Cyclops’ brother Vulcan to his death, along with several other young mutants. His hands grew dirtier each time he appeared, until he was summarily dismissed by the rest of the X-Men, who could no longer stand his hypocrisy. He was thrown out of the school.

Surveying the wreckage of modern-day Xavier, Carey decided it was time to put him down and give him a fresh start, which led to the character being shot and brought back to health — with amnesia. He was forced to look back on his mistakes, try to make amends, and then move on. Move on into limbo for a while, sure, but at least the character didn’t carry so much murderous baggage anymore. He had a cleaner slate. From then on Xavier appeared sporadically, such as when he tried to patronise Hope Summers in Kieron Gillen’s Generation Hope series, and was patronised right back:

theprofgetslectured SPOILER: Obituary for the AvX Fallen

Which, yes, does make it very strange that she is the one crying out “noooooo!” upon seeing him get killed. And in fact, it’s a surprise that Hope Summers still remains alive and well at all, really, given Marvel’s typical policy of disposing a female character in every one of their events for the last decade or so. Good work Hope.

Xavier’s prior appearances in AvX had been fleeting but ominous. His decision to side with the Avengers over the X-Men was somewhat strange, but then again the character has always had a blind spot when it comes to Jean Grey-related happenings. Probably because he was in love with her. From the start, it was fairly clear to readers that he was to be the sacrifice of the event.

In today’s report in the New York Daily News, Bendis explains that Xavier “would matter more in death”, which seems to tie in to the premise of the All-New X-Men series he’ll be writing later this year. In this book, the original students of Xavier are coming to the present, to be dismayed by all they see, and wonder where ol’ Baldy has gone. With Xavier dead, Bendis’ series has far more to play with then if he were still around.

Marvel are of course saying that this death will stick, which is likely going to be seen as an empty promise by fans. Interestingly enough though, the death does act as a mirror to a curious set of events over a decade ago, when writer Grant Morrison also believed a character would have more resonance in death than in life. That character was Magneto, who was killed off in the (divisive!) Planet X storyline. At the time, this was a defiant move to try and break the circular nature of comics, and showcase how important Magneto could become as a martyr.

Magneto was brought back to life later that year. Morrison left Marvel as a result of quarrels with editorial.

Avengers Vs X-Men still has one more issue left, in which everybody gets together to fight the giant monster. However, Xavier fans would be better off pointed towards the upcoming ‘Consequences’ miniseries written by Kieron Gillen, as well as Si Spurrier’s revamp of ‘X-Men Legacy’, if they want more exploration of the death.

avx2 SPOILER: Obituary for the AvX Fallen

Sweet Charles Xavier. Fans will always remember your tendency to race into trouble spine-first, your defiantly Claremontian homoerotic relationship with Magneto, and the fact you appear in the X-Men First Class movies so will probably come back to life when the sequel comes out. RIP for now, old friend.

See you in a year or so.

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    Wow. I bailed on the whole X-thing back in the late 1980s when it was becoming clear that I could only afford to either buy all the X-books or the rest of the Marvel Universe, so my memories are pretty much of the mutant titles at close to their peak. I’ve observed from afar the decline from then and mostly thought it was just a product of oversaturating the market. Now I understand a bit better why what was once the third or fourth best brand in the history of comics has now become nearly worthless in the Direct Market.

    Mike

  2. This quote gets my goat. “He was this thing that was just floating around the X-books, with not the same amount of gravitas that he once had,” says Brian Bendis, who wrote the issue. “I did point out that he would matter more in death.”

    A thing? Bendis has fetish for killing characters I think.

  3. If any Marvel series could use a “New 52″ style relaunch, it has to be X-MEN. Over the past couple of decades, X-Continuity has devolved into an overly-convoluted and inbred mass of characters and resurrections that appeals only to the most diehard fans.

    I had the tiniest bit of hope that AVENGERS VS. X-MEN would somehow wipe the slate clean, but the upcoming ALL-NEW X-MEN series appears to be more timey-wimey convolution where you spend more pages explaining what’s going on than actually developing characters and telling interesting stories.

  4. Charles Knight says:

    This reminds me of a series that 2000ad used to have – in it, far in the future, humanity has conquered death and they were having conversations like:

    “How Julian?”

    “Oh he’s dead but they said he will be better by next Tuesday”.

  5. Think that Xavier hasn’t been used well in forever is because he’s a well rounded (was)character, a pacifist, etc, and frankly he has no room in the kill crazed, superheroes can never be fun era of comics. I actually blame Identity Crisis for all of this nonsense.

  6. Synsidar says:

    Connecting Xavier’s death to ALL NEW X-MEN was a nice bit of analysis, and the piece overall was a good recap of Xavier’s past.

    There are a bunch of characters in the Marvel Universe who probably should be killed off permanently, since they’ve outlived their usefulness. Aunt May, Xavier, Magneto, Kang, the Wrecking Crew, and other villains who now only show up in crowd scenes. Killing off Aunt May, for example, would force writers to have Parker find a new parental figure, or to grow up.

    SRS

  7. Apollo9000 says:

    The over reliance on death in Big 2 comics is a bit tired. The outrage and bewilderment about their over reliance is just as tired too.

  8. Charles Xavier is a character who, at his best, functions as a symbol of hope. He is the idealist whose dream gave the X-Men themselves their meaning.

    While I’ve always liked seeing him depicted as flawed and human, as you say he’s been deliberately torn down way too far. Does that make him unusable as a character and more valuable dead? I would say no–his legacy is tainted either way, and I’d much rather have seen him make a comeback to reaffirm his ideals. He would have been so interesting a simply a teacher of children while leaving the superheroing to others.

    And slight quibble: Morrison “killed” Magneto in “E Is for Extinction,” then played with his meaning as a martyr, then brought him back himself (as a villain so crazy he undermined all that meaning, but that’s another debate), so I can’t blame Marvel for not following through with that second death.

    Well, second death… Second death of that character in that particular run on that particular book.

  9. Shawn Kane says:

    Wait a second…the death of a long standing character in a comic written by Brian Michael Bendis to make an event seem more important? I have an overwhelming sense of deja vu! I’ll be suprised when it’s Jessica Jones until then…whatever.

    Honestly, I wish Charles would have just stayed out in space with the Starjammers for all that Marvel has done to him in the last 10 years.

  10. Two things became very clear to me when I read this article.

    First…I didn’t care in the slightest that it spoiled a key development in the books because they’ve been mostly spoiled for some time now.

    Second…reading this convoluted history and quotes from the perpetrators of same pretty much encapsulates why I don’t much care about current Marvel and DC super-hero comics.

  11. jonboy says:

    From the above panels it looks like Nightwing killed Brian Michael Bendis.

    (I’d say the over/under on Xavier’s return is 3.5 years.)

  12. Suzene says:

    Yeah, spending nearly a decade reducing Xavier to near-irrelevance in the X-Books doesn’t really give this death a lot of weight, even on top of the usual reader cynicism wrt character death. But what might have made Xavier’s death actually resonate with the audience despite all of that would have been making it part of a well-written, tightly-plotted arc that respected the stories that came before and the characters involved. As it is, it’s almost a punchline to the trainwreck that has been AvX. But hey, at least he didn’t die off-panel?

    Looking at the Marvel NOW! announcements, it appears I’m going to be down to one book once the relaunches start (and depending on how the December solits fall out, that may not even last).

  13. *yawn*. A beloved character died in our comics. We are getting a sizable amount of press from it bue to some great communications planning. Hopefully it converts to increased sales in single issues. A great story for new and old. Retailers win. Marvel wins. The End.

  14. Synsidar says:

    A beloved character died in our comics. We are getting a sizable amount of press from it bue to some great communications planning. Hopefully it converts to increased sales in single issues.

    Why not have every title character die in his or her series on the same month, and then ask readers to vote on whether the deaths should be permanent? Sales for that month would skyrocket, wouldn’t they?

    SRS

  15. Scratchie says:

    Wow, this changes everything!

  16. It’s sad that the Phoenix Force didn’t cure Cyclops’s need to wear those goggles. Scott Summers . . . the quest for proper vision coverage is tragic and eternal.

  17. The Beat says:

    Yay, Ruwan is back!

  18. The Beat says:

    And on a more serious note, although us old timers can’t help but be jaded by the eternal cycle of death and resurrection (cue Mahler’s Second Symphony) we should also be mindful that:

    IT IS ALWAYS SOME READER’S FIRST DEATH

    and they are entitled to experience it as we did our first shocking event.

  19. “IT IS ALWAYS SOME READER’S FIRST DEATH
    and they are entitled to experience it as we did our first shocking event.”

    And they are! I mean, is there anyone here old enough to have experienced comic book death before there were more jaded readers around complaining about it? ;-)

  20. Wow, didn’t know they transformed old charlie into such a bad guy. It wasn’t a slight light touch of evil, but a full heavy wagon of it! Where is an editor when you need one?

  21. Charles Knight says:

    “IT IS ALWAYS SOME READER’S FIRST DEATH”

    BUT DON’T WORRY THAT NEW READER WILL BE BACK TO LIFE NEXT WEEK – BOOM BOOM!

  22. Rikk Odinson says:

    Hopefully, this is the only death in the storyline. I don’t read these things to see the characters I like reading about being killed all the time.

  23. andrew brown says:

    After the way Marvel has been ruining him for at least the past decade, I’m glad Chucks finally dead. now they can’t keep denigrating one of my favorite characters anymore. Of course, this being marvel, I’m sure they’ll piss on his memory too

  24. Synsidar says:

    When I went to my local comics shop this afternoon, I asked the owner if anyone had asked for the “death” issue. He had no idea what I was talking about.

    SRS

  25. “Why not have every title character die in his or her series on the same month, and then ask readers to vote on whether the deaths should be permanent? Sales for that month would skyrocket, wouldn’t they?”

    As Jason Todd would tell us, voting & death never work nor mix. HA!

  26. Cattanooga says:

    O MA GAWD!1! YEW KILLED…YEW BASTARDS

  27. Richard H says:

    Sad to see Xavier killed by Scott. Seems wrong.

    I don’t get how Marvel NOW hopes to attract new readers. People know Xavier and Scott as being in the X-Men ‘cos of the movies. Now, if there are new readers picking up the X-books for the first time and Scott’s called Phoenix?? Too confusing.

    Thanks, Marvel, for completely wrecking the X-Men concept with this. And for letting Bendis dare write an X-book. This man who can only write crime books

    AND of course, no Avenger is killed in this mini series, right? Not now that Avengers is a $billion movie franchise. Yes, let the boring costumed heroes win – and the original concept of the whole X-Men/mutant thing lose.

  28. Jesse Post says:

    It may not be my first comic book death but it’s definitely my first vision care-related consciousness-raising. VSP for everyone! Intergalactic demon-possessed mutants need to see, too!

  29. alistair says:

    Can I get a *YAWN* ?

  30. Bomster says:

    I think Heidi hit the nail on the head with

    “IT IS ALWAYS SOME READER’S FIRST DEATH”.

    I’ve more or less come to the conclusion that the ideal live cycle of a reader on any mainstram “big 2″ book should be about four years. Which was about the duration for which I actively read superhero books when I was a kid (age 7-12 or so).
    After that (sometimes earlier) repetition sets in anyway and it’s probably best for all involved (writer/artist/reader) to move on to another book to keep the experience fresh.
    Returning to comics when I was at university, I read X-Men during the 90’s (starting with Age of Apocalypse) but had no interest whatsoever to go back to reading them on a regular base once I had quit them(disclaimer: I picked up Morrison’s NXM when they were published as 3 hardcover volumes).
    The same goes for equal periods of Bat-Books, Avengers and Fantastic Four.

    I still pretty much love comics to death as a medium, but I can’t muster ANY brand loyalty for more than a couple of years. Most of the time it’s not worth it.

  31. MBunge says:

    “I’ve more or less come to the conclusion that the ideal live cycle of a reader on any mainstram “big 2″ book should be about four years.”

    And when that was the case, we really didn’t see major characters getting killed all that often. The “You know this is important because Character X dies” nonsense is almost entirely the product of trying to appeal to folks who should have stopped reading super-hero comics long ago.

    Mike

  32. Not for nothing but when Thor and Bucky died in Fear Itself, they were onto gainful employment before the news hit the breeze. Now Thor is running around like nothing happened and Bucky is the star of a well-liked solo series.

    I guess what I’m saying is: does Charlie’s death mean less appearances from the character? Or more?

  33. Torsten Adair says:

    My first comic death was the imaginary story of Luthor killing Superman, which I read back in 1979, in the Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest.

    My second death was one I missed by four months, but discovered via the letters column in Amazing Spider-Man in 1984.

    Then Crisis happened. After that, deaths didn’t really mean much to me.

    I stopped reading X-Men when they all jumped into the Siege Perilous, and Marvel created a new team of second stringers. This seemed like a good time to leave (as this was one of the few times when Claremont’s plot threads had been nicely hemmed).

    Is anyone making book on X’s return, and method thereof?

  34. Are you kidding me? I’m still distraught over Gwen Stacy’s death.

    ~

    Coat

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