Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas.
X-MEN: SECOND COMING #1, on sale now, kicks off a climactic in the history of Marvel's mutants, and if history has proven any indicator, at least one or two Children of the Atom may not make it out of this battle for the future alive.
To prepare for Second Coming, the Secret Cabal got together and earmarked the X-Men demises they feel have had the most impact. Yes, many of these mutants have found their way back to life, but the scars certainly remain.
For each death you get the quick rundown as well as a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!
When It Happened: X-MEN: DEADLY GENESIS #2
What Went Down: Sean Cassidy attempts to stop a Blackbird piloted by Vulcan from colliding with a plane full of civilians, but when his sonic scream proves insufficient, Banshee is gutted by the craft.
Why It Makes the List: Sean Cassidy never appeared quite suited for the life of an X-Man, always instead seeming to desire nothing more than a quiet life of domesticity, preferably alongside his love, Moira MacTaggert. But duty continually called on Banshee and his sonic scream, even forcing him to be elsewhere when Moira lost her own life. Sean's final selfless act was unquestionably that of a champion, but we certainly mourn the respite he long sought and never quite received.
Spotlight Comic: X-FACTOR #7 (2006)-Banshee's daughter, Siryn, is informed of her father's fate.
When It Happened: X-MEN #97 (2000)
What Went Down: To save his alternate universe son Nate Grey from becoming the new vessel for the essence of Apocalypse, Scott Summers leaps into his place and giving up his own body and individual existence. Phoenix and Cable are eventually able to track down the new gestalt being and purge Cyclops of Apocalypse's influence.
Why It Makes the List: While many X-Men came and went, it seemed the presence of Scott Summers at the team's fore would always be a constant, as even when he left the group temporarily, he never wandered far. Cyclops' actions to save the innocent Nate Grey were totally in character with his heroic persona, but it left the X-Men without their rudder and resultantly directionless for a time.
Spotlight Comic: X-MEN: SEARCH FOR CYCLOPS #1-Phoenix and Cable hunt for the X-Men's former leader!
When It Happened: X-TREME X-MEN #2
What Went Down: Attempting to protect Beast and Rogue, Betsy Braddock was slain by the X-Men's new foe, Vargas. Later, Psylocke's older brother Jamie would use his reality-altering powers to resurrect her, attempting to use his sister as a weapon against the First Fallen.
Why It Makes the List: Few foes made quite the immediate impact on the X-Men as the enigmatic Vargas, who managed to cut their numbers by one in their very first encounter by snuffing out Psylocke. The vibrant and deadly Betsy Braddock seemed an unlikely warrior to fall with her combination of psychic power, fighting skills, and survival instinct, but despite a noble effort, fall she did, with her loss proving a far-reaching and devastating one for her friends and family.
Spotlight Comic: X-TREME X-MEN #1-The debut of Psylocke's killer, Vargas!
When It Happened: X-FACTOR #15 (1987)
What Went Down: After losing his wings during the Mutant Massacre, Warren Worthington III became despondent and sought to escape scrutiny on his private plane, but the jet was detonated by his traitorous "friend" Cameron Hodge. Warren was saved at the last minute by mutant demigod Apocalypse, who transformed him into Archangel.
Why It Makes the List: Some X-Men have emerged from their "deaths" relatively unscathed, but not so for Warren Worthington III. The high-flying Angel truly hit rock bottom, facing betrayal by his supposed best friend and the loss of his wings, only to find himself twisted by Apocalypse in order to survive. While Warren has resumed some semblance of his old life in recent years, his periodic transformations back into Archangel serve to remind him of his brush with the abyss.
Spotlight Comic: X-FORCE #4 (2008)-Warren Worthington is reintroduced to Archangel!
6. JEAN GREY
When It Happened: NEW X-MEN #150
What Went Down: Her link to the Phoenix Force triggered by a near-death experience at the hands of Wolverine, Jean Grey rallies to her fellow X-Men's side in their battle against an imposter Magneto, tipping the scales in their favor, but is felled by the villain using electromagnetic energy to trigger a massive stroke within her brain.
Why It Makes the List: From the moment she returned after the Phoenix borrowed and discarded her form, death seemed to linger over Jean Grey like a specter, yet time and again, she eluded the grim reaper and defied the odds. Inevitably though, one of the most beloved X-Men saw her number come up, and chose to go out defending those she loved from a horrific threat only she could face down-not a bad way to do it.
Spotlight Comic: NEW X-MEN #151-The death of Jean Grey leads to a nightmarish future!
5. THE X-MEN
When It Happened: UNCANNY X-MEN #227
What Went Down: Nine members of the X-Men-Storm, Havok, Wolverine, Colossus, Rogue, Psylocke, Dazzler, Longshot and Cyclops' wife, Madelyne Pryor-allow Forge to sacrifice their life energy in order to cast a spell sealing the mystic Adversary off from Earth. The goddess Roma honors the heroes' deeds by resurrecting them, though they choose to keep this hidden from the world at large.
Why It Makes the List: To lose an X-Man is almost expected; for a couple to fall is sad but not impossible; but the whole team dying in one fell swoop? A true tragedy! But that's what happened at the conclusion of "Fall of the Mutants" when the Children of the Atom elected to nobly give up their lives in order to block the nigh omnipotent Adversary entrance to their world. That they would only gain the world's gratitude in death-and lose it upon their return-was a bitter touch of irony for the X-Men's hard work.
Spotlight Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #224-Storm and the X-Men await the Fall of the Mutants!
When It Happened: UNCANNY X-MEN #95
What Went Down: Attempting to prove himself to his new teammates, neophyte X-Man John Proudstar leaps onto a plane carrying the team's foe, Count Nefaria, to his escape, but damages the craft causing it to explode and burn him alive.
Why It Makes the List: The "All-New, All-Different" X-Men surged onto the scene in the wake of their predecessors' retirement with incredible energy and vigor, but losing one of their own on their very first mission certainly took some wind out of their sails and proved nobody was safe. The brash John Proudstar had a chip on his shoulder from long before Charles Xavier recruited him for his team, and perhaps it was only a matter of time before he went down in a blaze of glory. The aspect of Thunderbird's end that weighed most heavily on his teammates was that they had never experienced anything quite like it and cursed their own inability to prevent the tragedy.
Spotlight Comic: NEW MUTANTS #16 (1983)-Thunderbird's younger brother James, the future Warpath, debuts looking for vengeance!
3. PROFESSOR X
When It Happened: X-MEN #41 (1995)
What Went Down: Trying to strike down his father's greatest foe, Magneto, in the past before he could become a threat, Professor X's son, Legion, ends up psionically murdering Charles Xavier instead, shifting the timeline into the "Age of Apocalypse." Through the efforts of the alternate universe X-Men, Xavier's life is ultimately saved.
Why It Makes the List: Many X-Men have fallen in the line of duty over the years, but the idea of the team's founder, mentor and guiding light being snuffed out was unthinkable-until it happened. That Xavier's demise came at the hands of his own son made it all the more tragic, that it resulted from him saving the life of his future archenemy made it appropriate. Indeed the Professor's death proved so traumatic it rewrote reality itself into a world where Apocalypse ruled and required no small effort across multiple eras to undo.
Spotlight Comic: X-MEN: ALPHA #1-A world without Xavier yields the Age of Apocalypse!
When It Happened: UNCANNY X-MEN #390
What Went Down: Peter Rasputin injects himself with an experimental cure for the Legacy Virus, knowing that in order to activate it he must trigger his own mutant powers, which will cost him his life. Colossus' body is subsequently stolen by the alien Ord and he is revived.
Why It Makes the List: For years the erstwhile muscle of the X-Men, Colossus' greatest asset has never been his organic steel skin, but his immense heart. Peter Rasputin was never quite the same following the death of his young sister Illyana at the hands of the Legacy Virus, so when the chance came to spare others from similar heartbreak, he leapt to seize it, regardless of the cost. The quiet calm of the mighty Colossus as he clutches his hand close to his heart and asks his sister to receive him with open arms in
Spotlight Comic: ASTONISHING X-MEN #5 (2004)-Colossus returns!
When It Happened: UNCANNY X-MEN #137
What Went Down: Following several transformations into the malevolent Dark Phoenix resulting in an entire race's destruction, the cosmic entity using Jean Grey's likeness chooses to end its own existence to safeguard the universe it has come to care for.
Why It Makes the List: 30 years later, "The Dark Phoenix Saga" remains the X-Men epic by which all others are judged, and few emotional moments in comics can stand up to the heartbreaking instance in which the characters readers then believed Jean Grey elects to terminate the threat she poses to all she loves of her own volition. The X-Men battling in vain against the overpowering Imperial Guard and Cyclops' tearful final moments with the woman he loves give way to the unforgettably wrenching tableau of Phoenix turning the Shi'Ar's weapons on herself and dissipating in a flash of white-hot light.
Spotlight Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #135-Dark Phoenix is unleashed!
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