Warning: SPOILERS for Extermination #4
The latest X-Men event, Extermination, has finally lived up to its name - with the death of one of the original X-Men. The time-traveling mutant Ahab has traveled back to the past in order to rewrite history by killing one or more of the All-New X-Men, and the cliffhanger ending of Extermination #4 sees him finally succeed in his mission.
For those who might not know, we really do mean the original X-Men - Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Angel, and Marvel Girl - brought into the present Marvel Universe back in 2012. Although the Original Five chose to stick around, it's become increasingly clear that this was a dangerous decision. If one of them dies before they go back, then all of time will be changed - for the worse. Whoops.
Extermination sees the X-Men caught up in the crossfire between two visitors from the future: a younger version of Cable and the ruthless mutant-hunter Ahab. Ahab's goal is simply to kill one of the X-Men, and it doesn't really matter who, since the death of any of them would rewrite history and cause an apocalypse. Unfortunately, in a dramatic confrontation, Ahab gets a shot at the young Cyclops. He tosses his spear directly at Scott Summers, striking him right between the eyes. The strength behind the throw is tremendous, with the spear cutting straight through Cyclops's skull and pinning his body to the wall.
It's fascinating to imagine what this could mean for the X-Men's timeline. Cyclops is, after all, the man who led the Second Genesis team against Krakoa the Living Island; he's the man whose faith in his beloved Jean Grey caused her to commit suicide rather than unleash the power of Dark Phoenix. When the Scarlet Witch decimated the mutant race, Cyclops was the hero who led mutantkind through the storm and gave the beleaguered survivors hope. Without Cyclops, entire worlds will die, and the mutant race will likely be rendered extinct.
Of course, the story isn't over yet. There's one final issue left of Extermination, and death is something of a revolving door in the X-Men comics. Solicits for next January's Uncanny X-Men annual bear a single word: "Cyclops!" So only a fool would count the X-Men's greatest leader among the dead right now, even if the death scene does seem to be decisive. It will be interesting to see how things turn out in Extermination #5.
Extermination #5 is available now from Marvel Comics.