Huh. So Marvel really wasn't joking about that "We'll kill a character every quarter" thing, it appears. If you haven't seen the unlettered preview art from July's Captain America #1, the final page shows Steve Rogers, Nick Fury, Dum-Dum Dugan, Sharon Carter, a military vet and a couple of unidentified characters attending a funeral. But whose funeral?
Well, for the answer to that, let's look at Marvel's solicitations for June, specifically Fear Itself #3:
The blockbuster Marvel event of the year continues!
Sin leads the most audacious attack on American soil the world has ever seen as global panic sets in and we fall sway to the power of fear itself. On Asgard, Loki hatches the scheme to end all schemes. And everywhere, the Serpent's presence is felt...never moreso than when a major Marvel hero falls at his hands. The shock ending to end all shock endings...as the cycle of evil stretching millennia is at last completed.
A major Marvel hero falls at his hands? Wait, who's that on the front cover? Is that Bucky Cap? Well, if he dies in #3, that would make the cover of Fear Itself #4 makes more sense, considering it has a pair of hands holding an empty Cap mask, with the solicitation promising "Steve Rogers makes the decision of a lifetime." It also makes sense of the attendees of the Captain America #1 funeral, considering it would be people who knew Bucky. So, is Bucky's headed for the Great Cancellation Bin In The Sky in June, then? That, weirdly enough, fits with the quarterly pronouncement of doom; Bucky (maybe) dies in June, Ultimate Spider-Man got shot three months earlier in March - if only Johnny Storm had had the timeliness to fake-die (Seriously, people, his "death" occurred off-panel) in December instead of January, everything would be directly on schedule.
This, of course, raises the question "Who's next?" I think we can assume that we'll be due another death around September/October time, which, interestingly enough, would be around the time that X-Men: Schism would be wrapping up. Schism being, of course, the series that redefines the X-Men status quo, pits Wolverine and Cyclops against each other and will have, according to writer Jason Aaron, "major ramifications for the main titles in the X-Men line, and for the Marvel Universe in general." Considering the deaths we know (and think we know) about have so far been spread between the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Avengers books, it's probably time we had a high-profile X-Death again (as there were two, Nightcrawler and Cable during last year's X-over), wouldn't you say?
We've already seen Wolverine die in the last year, kind of - His spirit went to Hell! Even though he came back within six months, that's still got to count for something, right? - so my guess is that we'll either see Cyclops bite the big one (Which might be a fitting end for the character arc he's been on since the Messiah Complex thing way back when), or some other much-beloved character will die in a tragic manner and bring the other characters to their senses at the last moment. If I was a betting man, I'd put the money on Cyke, but fully expect a "Hank Hall is Monarch"-style rewrite at the last moment...