Warning: This article contains major spoilers to current issues of Marvel comic books.
There is nothing quite as dramatic as killing off a beloved character, especially when it comes to comic books. While superpowered mutants, physically enhanced super soldiers and the children of Gods duke it out month to month in the pages of Marvel comic books, rarely do the masses take widespread notice. The mythologies are dense, the issue-to-issue stories filled with names and faces so off-the-wall, they might melt the brains of the unacquainted. But when a writer dares to pen the demise of a central character, one in the pop culture conscious thanks to cartoons and movies, everyone notices.
In this month's Avengers vs X-Men #11, X-Men mastermind Professor X follows in the footsteps of many big name comic cast members to lose his life in a blaze of destructive glory. To try and describe the lead up in a few sentences is pointless, but for those with a bit of superhero knowledge: Scott Summers aka Cyclops becomes inhabited by the Phoenix Force (which turned Jean Grey into the ultimate psychic villain in the '80s) and is pushed to slay his mentor. As author Brian Bendis tells the New York Daily News, "[Professor X] was this thing that was just floating around the X-books, with not the same amount of gravitas that he once had… I did point out that he would matter more in death.”
So that's that. Professor X is dead. But the cynical comic book reader in me wonders how long Marvel will wait before resurrecting the time-honored sage. Cyclops will certainly have some grieving to do, but a world forever without Professor X seems unimaginable. There is plenty of reason to think that a savvy writer will find a way to bring back Charles Xavier from the grave. Or will this be the first time we really see a character disappear for good? Take a look at these past deaths that helped shape the events of Marvel Comics continuity and start speculating — will Professor X return?
Captain America vol. 5, #25 (April 2007)
In a major Marvel Comics event, Steve Rogers aka Captain America was shot in the head by a brainwashed ex-agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Two years later, an investigation leads to the discovery that the gun used to assassinate the Captain only froze him in time. A whole mess of time travel logic later, Rogers was reborn into the Marvel Universe.
X-Force vol. 3, #28 (July 2010)
Consumed by a techno-virus that turned him into a machine that caused him to explode. Or was he?! Turns out Cable was transported to an alternate dimension before his body blew to bits and was recently able to return on a spaceship to kick every Marvel character's butt.
Fear Itself #7 (October 2011) (December 2003)
Thor died during one epic battle with Serpent, but thanks to the magic loopholes of Asgard and the other realms, the God of Thunder bounced back into action. Thor escaped God Limbo to once again face off against Loki.
Daredevil: Reborn #3 (March 2011)
After leaving New York City for Mexico, Daredevil was shot in the head by a member of a violent drug cartel. His death didn't last long — in the next issue, it's revealed that his armored hands protected him.
The Avengers vol. 1, #502 (September 2004)
Hawkeye went out with a bang (literally) when he took one for the team against a Kree alien invasion. One year later, the sharpshooter was resurrected when the reckless Scarlet Witch alters reality.
The Avengers vol. 1, #4 (March 1964)
41 years after dying in a plane explosion, Bucky was revealed to be alive. Rescued from the crash by Russian soldiers, Captain America's sidekick was thrown in temporary cryogenic freeze and eventually brainwashed to be one of the greatest assassins in the world: The Winter Soldier.
Fantastic Four #587 (January 2011)
Johnny Storm saved his Fantastic Four teammate Ben Grimm (aka The Thing) by taking on an army of Negative Zone monsters. It was an emotional goodbye for the long-running book, but in true comic fashion, Johnny was revived by technology implanted in him by the followers of Negative Zone evil-doer Annihilus.
Mary Jane Watson
The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2, #13 (January 2000)
Spider-Man witnessed the death of his love interest Mary Jane as she was killed in an airplane explosion, but it turned out to be all an illusion. A few issues later, Spider-Man rescued MJ from incarceration by a mutant stalker.
Ultimatum #5(July 2009)
Proving mini-series are the comic book industry's best friend, Cyclops was killed off after he was shot in the head by the lightning fast Quicksilver (what's with all the cranial injury in the Marvel universe?!). Scott Summers quickly returned in other timelines. Good thing, too: Someone had to kill Professor X.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Marvel Comics]