A conspiracy theory has been brewing in the minds of some X-Men fans for a long time. It posits that Marvel is pushing the mutant team out of the way due to franchise rights (i.e., 20th Century Fox owns the movie rights). While the company has admitted to emphasizing teams and characters they own the film rights to more heavily, even the most skeptical comic reader had to admit recent X-history has been bad for the mutated variety of superheroes.
Of course, major challenges to superhero teams are all part of the game, especially when it comes to reboots and major events like Civil War II. Similarly, the recent Death of X tease this spring will finally explain why Scott Summers is (maybe) deceased and why an X-feud with the Inhumans might be on the horizon.
Although several titles launched after the Secret Wars slate wipe, many fans feared the X-Men wouldn’t fare well. Death of X #1 – written by Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule with art by Aaron Kuder – digs into the events between Secret Wars and the (Marvel) present. As mutants suffer the effects of the Terrigen Mist – which sterilizes or kills mutants while creating new Inhumans (whom Marvel does own proprietary film rights to) – they’ve become an endangered species. The X-Men, like their fellow mutants, are forced to band together and fight for their very lives. Writer Lemire (Extraordinary X-Men) explains in an interview with EW:
“Right now things are not good for mutantkind. On the flipside, Inhumans have been growing and becoming more prominent in the Marvel Universe. There is a lot of tension between these characters about that.”
Elder Cyclops may or may not be dead but is considered a martyr by fringe youth. Other mutants, humans, and Inhumans, however, such as young Cyclops (an earlier version of himself brought to the future to confront his more-extremist present self), regard Cyclops as a vigilante. The elder Summers, it would seem, attacked the Inhumans due to Black Bolt’s use of the Terrigen Bomb against Thanos, creating the deadly mist. In their search for Cyclops, Storm and the Extraordinary X-Men also uncover a twisted plot by psycho genetic engineer Mr. Sinister to combine Inhuman and mutant DNA. The true fate of the Cyclops remains vague, though. Lemire discusses the absences and what we’ll see in four-issue arc:
“We’ll definitely see some characters who have been missing in action since the series launch. We’ll answer the question of where certain mutants have been, and what’s happened to them. Cyclops is the big one, he’s the one we’ve said was dead and that’s all we’ve really said. His death was very controversial, so obviously that’ll be a big part of the story we’re telling here.”
Clearly, the Terrigen Mist has dire consequences for the X-Men, but the Inhumans – in particular leaders such as Medusa and Black Bolt – will also play a major role in the conflict. Soule further explains:
“For both sides of this, it doesn’t affect just a small group of them. There are heroic Inhumans, but it also affects the bad guys and the psychotic ones just as much as it affects the nice love-and-happiness ones. It’s not just their livelihood and way of life but their very lives at stake, so they’re gonna react the way you think they would. Some people move to some kind of shared solution, but there’s a lot of superhero punching and blasting and stuff like that.”
The Death of X series will be interesting from many different angles. With a great deal of attention focused on the Inhumans via Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., clearly Marvel has plans for the once-obscure and fascinating characters – despite the shifting release dates on an Inhumans feature. At the same time, those fearing the X-Men’s demise will finally get some (good or bad) answers during the brief story arc. Specifically, the series should reveal whether the ‘death’ referred to in the title is one X-person or an entire comic book legacy.
If Marvel does plan on downplaying or discontinuing the X-Men, in lieu of a universe-sharing deal with Fox, crippling and killing the bulk of mutant life on Earth would handily decimate the popular team. Despite not owning the lucrative film rights, the idea of Marvel cutting one of its most popular series entirely seems ludicrous – were it not for the House of Ideas axing the Fantastic Four. Those waiting to find out the fate of Scott Summers and all of mutant-kind, though, will have a nail-biting wait until this fall find out.
Death of X #1 lands in quality retailers and on digital media in October 2016.
Source: Marvel, EW