Was the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN Death a Mercy Killing?
This article contains spoilers for Avengers vs. X-Men #11, released earlier this month.
Originally introduced back in 1963's X-Men #1, Charles Xavier is the founder of the X-Men, and has been portrayed in virtually every adaptation of the Marvel series. Yet he hadn't played much of a role in the comics as of late — having even lost his trademark wheelchair and regained the ability to walk — and was mostly relegated to cameos, while both Cyclops and Wolverine have been at the head of their own at-odds X-Men squads on opposite coasts. Even the New York Daily News article that broke the news of the character's death called him "anachronistic."
Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso told Newsarama that the shift dates back at least to "Messiah Complex," a 2007 story from his time as X-Men group editor. The 13-chapter crossover was a precursor to the team's relocation to the island nation of Utopia, and the rise of Cyclops — Professor X's under-the-Phoenix-influence killer — as leader of the mutant race.
Not knowing quite what to do with Professor X isn't anything new, according to Avengers vs. X-Men editor and Marvel senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort. He points out that there have been multiple times in the character's past where he's been written out of the books, including time spent at the Shi'ar homeworld.
"He was really, and it's ironic to say this, the first major Marvel character to be killed and then resurrected," Brevoort said, referencing the 1968 story "The Death of Professor X," in X-Men #42. "He's the authority figure. He is 'the man.' 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, and be their own guys."
"Throughout the entirety that we were planning Avengers vs. X-Men, no one seemed that interested in Xavier except for me," Bendis said. "I was a little baffled by it, and I realized that the X-office had moved past Xavier in general. Not just the editors, the writers, everybody was not interested in Xavier. I was like, 'If you guys aren't going to do anything with Xavier, then Xavier has to die, because that's when it gets interesting.'"
Of Marvel's recent crop of writers, Mike Carey wrote Xavier most extensively, in the pages of X-Men Legacy, though he acknowledges that killing off the character opens creative doors.
Kieron Gillen, who wraps up his Uncanny X-Men run in October, is a recent X-Men writer who didn't use Xavier much, though he did bring him briefly into Generation Hope.
"I loved writing the Professor in Generation Hope," Gillen said. "Actually getting a chance to do a classic Magneto/Professor conversation on matters of ethics and politics was a joy. It's on my big list of things I'm pleased to have had a shot at in the X-books."
That said, Gillen is also on board with the decision to give Xavier an extended rest.
"Xavier's death will be extremely important in the post-AvX world," Alonso said. "Who he is, what he represented and the fact that he's gone will have a ripple effect across the Marvel Universe."More from Newsarama:
- Fatal Events: 10 Comic Book Crossover Character Deaths
- Bendis, More Talk AvX's 'Death of Biblical Proportions'
- Exclusive: Brian Bendis on the Marvel NOW! ALL-NEW X-MEN