Bendis, More Talk AvX's 'Death of Biblical Proportions'
***This article contains spoilers for Avengers vs. X-Men #11.***
This week's Avengers vs. X-Men #11 revealed that "somebody" to be X-Men founder Charles Xavier, struck down by his Phoenix-powered former student Cyclops.
"This is a death of biblical proportions for the X-Men universe," Brian Michael Bendis, writer of the issue, told Newsarama. "Not only because of who dies, but how they die."
The fateful scene comes as Professor X makes a last-ditch attempt to talk sense into Cyclops, embroiled in a standoff against the combined forces of the Avengers and the X-Men. Cyclops, freshly in sole possession of the Phoenix force at the center of the story, instead uses his nearly unlimited powers to snuff out the man who mentored him beginning in 1963's X-Men #1, with Marvel's heroes helpless to do anything but watch."Phoenix Five" — Cyclops, his partner Emma Frost, and their fellow X-Men Namor, Colossus and Magik — initially used their nigh-omnipotence for good, it seemed only a matter of time before the destructive cosmic entity would start corrupting its hosts. It's happened before, as seen in past stories like "The Dark Phoenix Saga." Still, Bendis said exactly how responsible Scott Summers is for Xavier's death remains an open question.
"There will be an argument that says, 'Well, he was under the influence of a terrible, terrible force that he could not control,'" Bendis said. "But he did put himself under the influence."
The last page of Avengers vs. X-Men #11 sees Beast declare Cyclops "Dark Phoenix" — clearly echoing the prior fate of Scott's deceased long-term love interest Jean Grey — and though that situation looks to be resolved in the 12th and final issue of the event series out Oct. 3, the ramifications will be felt in a number of places, including the forthcoming series All-New X-Men, written by Bendis.
Despite the events of Avengers vs. X-Men #11, Cyclops still has at least one fan — Marvel's editor-in-chief, Axel Alonso.
"I'll say, unequivocally, that Cyclops is and remains my favorite X-Men character," Alonso said. "I can't give away details about how the story ends at this point, but to look at him as an outright villain misses the point of the story."
"My interpretation of how the Phoenix operates is essentially that if a bit of the Phoenix is in you, it kind of burns away artifice," Brevoort said. "Scott's a guy that's wound very tightly. He's had to be, given that his optic blasts have been uncontrollable since he was a teenager. It's not easy to live Cyclops' life, and that's made him very controlled and very focused and very determined.
"Now, clearly a line has been crossed and what that will mean for the rest of the X-Men and the world at large, that's all next week and next month's story to tell."
"Professor X has had this problem going back to the '60s, really," Brevoort said. "The set-up of X-Men originally was, there are these young teenage kids who are learning to use their powers and grow into maturity, and at a certain point, that process requires them to step out from under the shadow of their father figure and stand on their own feet."
Of course, with any major comic book death, fans immediately start the countdown to the seemingly inevitable resurrection. Professor X himself has been presumed dead on more than one occasion in the past, only to return before too long. Yet Alonso says not only is Xavier's death currently viewed by Marvel as a permanent one, him being dead is a crucial thematic component of the Marvel NOW! revamp starting in October, the month after AvX wraps.
Marvel NOW! series including Uncanny Avengers, depicting Captain America forming a new Avengers squad to help better deal with threats to the mutant population, and All-New X-Men both deal directly with the fallout of Xavier's death. The latter features the original five X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast and Angel) transported from the past to the present, only to deem the modern-day Marvel Universe unacceptable — and now it's obvious as to why.
Despite the story potential in a dead Xavier, Bendis said that it was still a "hotly debated" decision at Marvel. It was also never a situation where someone "had" to die in order to give weight to AvX, Alonso stressed.
"We could have done this event without killing Professor X, easily," Alonso said. "We could have done it without killing anyone. But it made sense. This is more than just a set piece we use in AvX; it enriches the story when you see son kill father. We wouldn't have done it if we didn't think it created an interesting dynamic for the future, and where we're headed."
"I decimated the mutants, gave Wolverine his memories back, and killed Charles Xavier, and I haven't even started the X-Men yet," Bendis said, with a laugh. "That's just nuts."
With All-New X-Men #1 not out until November and the blood of Charles Xavier already on his hands, Bendis has some advice for X-Men fans who might not be pleased with him over the latest developments:
"Let us follow in the teachings of Xavier and be tolerant and accepting of other people's ideas, and not yell at me."More from Newsarama:
- Fatal Events: 10 Comic Book Crossover Character Deaths
- With the End Near, Brevoort Talks AVENGERS VS X-MEN Thus Far
- Exclusive: Brian Bendis on the Marvel NOW! ALL-NEW X-MEN