The world of X-Men is about to be reborn in Marvel Comics, but it appears Professor X may not live to see it. At least, not judging by the newest teaser image... suggesting the approaching death of Charles Xavier.
While it remains to be seen how Marvel will reboot the X-Men in movies, the comic books have turned to one of the best names in the business to handle the task. Writer Jonathan Hickman is personally overseeing the creation of Marvel's new age of X-Men, beginning with the parallel release of two different series: House of X, and Powers of X. Individually they will be looking back into the history of Marvel's mutants, and forward to the future. Together, they will prepare fans for the next X-Men era. And apparently, Marvel is already softening the blow of the role Professor X may play in its beginning.
The reveal comes in the form of a teaser image for the event, although it's unclear whether the artwork by Dale Keown is a cover, a full-page spread, or a piece of marketing material (the official source at Marvel isn't offering clarification yet, either). But the image itself leaves little to confuse, depicting a Lincoln-esque stone monument of Charles Xavier, seated, with Cerebro still atop his head. With an epitaph inscribed in the wall behind him to remember his place in mutant history. Take a look:
The inscription isn't easy to make out in full, but it reads as follows:
In this temple/ As in the hearts of the people/ for whom he saved mutantkind/ The memory of Charles Xavier/ Is enshrined forever
The sight itself is both logical and shocking: while Charles Xavier was always bound to be remembered as one of the most important figures to Mutant Rights in Marvel history--provided they aren't wiped out in some dystopic future hellscape--fans didn't expect to see him killed off before the current events had similarly passed into the history books. After all, the rise of a new, relaunched X-Men catalogue of comics has a place for Professor X implicitly. It's was no surprise, for instance, when Hickman teased the most important scene in Marvel history taking place solely between Charles Xavier and an unknown girl, psychically communicating... well, we don't yet know. Now it seems that scene may be part of a larger story leading to not only Charles Xavier's most important scene, but his last.
As startling and explicit as this teaser image may be, it goes without saying that there must be more to the story. Revealing such a bombshell event so far ahead of the actual comic wouldn't make much sense, before readers even know what to make of the strange, red, glowing plant life surrounding Xavier's monument. But if the goal is to show fans the stakes at play, and what rebooting the world of the X-Men may require, then the mission has been accomplished. For now fans will have to resist the urge to take this image at face value, and instead ask themselves a much more difficult question.
If a new age of X-Men is about to begin in Marvel's Universe... what role is more destined to be Charles Xavier's, if not the one who sacrifices everything to make it a reality? The reboot begins with House of X #1 on July 24th, with Powers of X #1 arriving on July 31st.