Fans may not be ready, but there's no denying the evidence that Marvel's X-Men relaunch will end with the death of Charles Xavier. There was a time when the X-Men were Marvel's biggest franchise, before behind-the-scenes drama led to the X-Men falling from grace. But that's already changed, thanks to Jonathan Hickman's line wide X-Men comics relaunch.
The Hickman era began with the surprising decision to shut down the entire X-Men line, replacing it with two miniseries--House of X and Powers of X. These have established a new status quo for the mutant race, revealing that Xavier's Dream is officially dead, replaced by a more isolationist vision of a new, mutants-only nation on the island of Krakoa. But Hickman has been quite clear that both House of X and Powers of X are really a setup of their own. Their purpose is to explain a new status quo, before the REAL story begins with a wave of books marking the Dawn of X. They look set to begin with a tragedy... and we think we know who's not going to make it.
Dawn of X Begins With A Mutant Death
"Dawn of X" includes the launch of the latest iteration of X-Force, typically envisioned as a mutant black ops team, but now reinvented as the X-Men's equivalent of the CIA. Led by Beast, this new X-Force is split into two teams; one dedicated to analytics, and another to fieldwork. Writer Benjamin Percy has teased that the new X-Force run will be important for the entire X-Men franchise. "Something is going to happen at the end of X-Force #1 that will ripple across all the X-titles and leave you in pain and wonder," he cautioned in an interview with Marvel. "So just wait for that final page."
Marvel's December solicitations suggest that X-Force wind up investigating the death of a mutant. They tease that X-Force "strikes back against the humans who took one of their own," a comment that dovetails perfectly with Percy's description of the book as a procedural. Percy has referred to a mysterious group of humans who operate inside of agencies and even governments, who are opposed to Krakoa and are working behind the scenes to undermine the newly-established mutant race. Presumably a major, high-profile killing is the trigger for X-Force's investigation, leading to their exposing this dark conspiracy.
Could Charles Xavier Be The Murder Victim?
There's just one problem: the X-Men have conquered death, meaning they can resurrect anyone who's been killed. House of X #5 revealed that, once a week, Charles Xavier copies the latest version of every mutant mind into cradles hidden across the world. In the event of a mutant death, a group of five resurrect the dead mutant, creating a clone at optimum age, and Xavier then places the mental recording inside the new body. In theory, this should mean that no death should ever send shockwaves throughout the mutant race again.
Unless the murder victim is Charles Xavier. The architect of the Krakoan dream, Xavier is clearly the most high-profile mutant in the world. The entire planet only learned of Krakoa's existence when Xavier sent out a psychic message to every mind on the globe, explaining that Krakoa would be a home to all mutants, and offering mutant drugs in order to placate the human race. If human supremacists wanted to strike a hammer-blow against mutants, their best approach would be to target Xavier. Already, House of X #1 revealed that a human "ambassador" attempted to carry a weapon into Xavier's presence, but he was greeted by Magneto instead. The next assassination attempt could be successful.
There's actually strong circumstantial evidence suggesting Xavier doesn't have long to live. He's been notably absent from all the post-House of X/Powers of X covers and solicitations. Meanwhile, back in June Marvel released a teaser image of a statue dedicated to Xavier. Behind the statue was an inscription; "In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved mutantkind, the memory of Charles Xavier is enshrined forever."
Can The X-Men Resurrect Charles Xavier?
The death of Charles Xavier would indeed send shocking ripples across all the X-titles, not least because it would mean the entire resurrection effort would be put on hold. Fortunately, though, Xavier isn't the only telepath on Krakoa. The cover of X-Force #4 shows Marvel Girl Jean Grey continuing Xavier's work, wearing Cerebro and using it to either conduct one of the deep scans or (more likely) attempt to resurrect someone. But it's reasonable to assume there'll be some sort of complication, because otherwise Xavier's death would only be a temporary setback rather than a defining moment in mutant history, as Percy teases and the monument strongly implies.
But what could the complication be? Krakoa is known to have Xavier's genes on file, because the mutants produce Xavier bodies to host the consciousness of the reality-manipulating mutant Proteus. The one possible issue, then, is with the mind; it's possible that Xavier's most recent copy isn't on file. Both House of X and Powers of X have suggested that Xavier has some dark secrets; there's even been speculation that the current Xavier body is possessed by the mind of Moira MacTaggert. Supporting this, Powers of X #5 revealed that Xavier has twice restored his psyche to a previous version, essentially erasing some knowledge. Whatever Xavier's secrets may be, he may well have feared another telepath probing into them by donning Cerebro. As a result, Jean could find herself unable to restore Xavier's mind... making him the one mutant who cannot be resurrected.
It's quite chilling to imagine a Krakoa without Xavier. He is the guiding light of the mutant nation, its founder and its shepherd. What's more, there's been some speculation that Xavier's psychic influence is what is keeping the mutants together; even Apocalypse seems to have abandoned his old "survival of the fittest" mantra in favor of the Krakoan dream.
If that's the case, then without Xavier, Krakoa will fracture and the mutants will ultimately turn against one another. Old rivalries will be reignited, bitter feuds will be reborn, and mutant killers like Emplate and Selene - unwisely welcomed to Krakoa - will begin to feast on their prey. Meanwhile, the relationship between humanity and mutantkind would deteriorate still further, as the mutants grieved for Charles Xavier. Jonathan Hickman's X-Men relaunch could well lead to the heroes' darkest days.