It’s been a bad week in the Marvel Universe. Across four of this week’s biggest books, heroes are dropping like flies – with big name heroes apparently dying left and right.
But just how permanent is death in the Marvel Universe? For some of this week’s marquee casualties, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. However, for some, the dirt nap just might be permanent (or at least as permanent as anyone’s death in the MU).
Here are this week’s obituaries.
Spoilers for this week’s Marvel Comics ahead.
First up, in Guardians of the Galaxy #4 by writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw, an encounter with the newly formed Dark Guardians leads to Star-Lord’s apparent death at the hands of Nebula, who blasts him while trying to kill Gamora. Quill apparently meets his end in Gamora’s arms, as she’s trying to reconcile with her former allies in the Guardians.
Then, over in War of the Realms #4 from writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman, Malekith claims an apparent kill of his own, stabbing and then potentially beheading Valkyrie as she leads a cavalry charge against his forces. As with Star-Lord, her death is left unconfirmed, and the apparent beheading is implied but not seen – a classic comic book storytelling misdirection trick.
In this week’s Uncanny X-Men #16 from writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Salvador Larocca, several mutants perish, with Kwannon killing Magneto-doppelganger Joseph, and the X-Men’s Wolfsbane apparently dying off camera (there it is again). In this case, we don’t even see how or why Wolfsbane might have died – Dani Moonstar simply collapses in psychic pain, exclaiming “Wolfsbane is dead!”
And finally, the week’s most high profile apparent death comes in a final-page cliffhanger (like almost all this week’s big deaths) in Tony Stark: Iron Man #10. Here, Tony finally defeats Motherboard, only to find himself stranded in his virtual space with no A.I. support, and no way to locate or return to his physical body. As Tony struggles to hold on in the virtual environment, he suddenly goes silent – and Jocasta proclaims “I think Tony Stark might be dead!”
So how bad is the prognosis on all of these? Well, like we said, some have better survival odds than others.
For one thing, we know for sure Valkyrie will somehow make it through War of the Realms – she’s got a solo series launching later this year. In Valkyrie’s specific case, however, it could be a case of technicality. When it comes to Norse Gods – especially in the Marvel Universe – death and rebirth is part-and-parcel with the myth. And Valkyrie is more of a supernatural being bound to a once human host – so there’s an inherent back door for her return.
There's also the possibility that the upcoming Valkyrie series will focus on the alt-universe version of the character from the recent Exiles series.
Likewise, with Tony Stark, the solution may not be as cut-and-dried but the future sort of is. Tony’s not going anywhere - he’s seen starring in his own title and multiple other stories (including playing a significant role in War of the Realms) throughout this year’s solicitations. Someone else in the title might not be so lucky, however, with the solicitation for Iron Man #11 foretelling the death of a cast member.
Star-Lord’s outcome is slightly iffy – he looks to be part of the team for future issues of Guardians of the Galaxy (at least if we want to judge books by their covers), but he’s not explicitly named in any of the text. What is revealed in the solicits is that the Guardians will venture to Hel, the Asgardian realm of death, at least in part to prevent Thanos’ resurrection. Could a stop to bring back a technically-right-now-dead-but-soon-to-return Peter Quill be out of the question? He’d be in Hel, right?
Sadly (or maybe not so sadly in the case of Joseph), the two X-Men deaths are the most likely to stick. Though Wolfsbane’s death is hardly confirmed, the cover for Uncanny X-Men #17 shows Wolverine and Cyclops standing over an open grave – and the solicitation says the X-Men have “lost one of their own.” Sorry Rahne, looks like you might actually be dead - whatever that’s worth in the world of the X-Men.
Uncanny X-Men #17 is due out May 1, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy #5 on May 15. Tony Stark: Iron Man #11 and War of the Realms #3 are both due out May 22.