Warning: This article contains spoilers for X-Force #1!
Marvel Comics' X-Men relaunch has just killed Professor Charles Xavier. Jonathan Hickman's X-Men relaunch is continuing apace, and over the last few weeks eager readers have been treated to the first issues of the new ongoing X-Titles. They've rewritten mutant history, hinted that Kitty Pryde may not be a mutant at all, and transformed Betsy Braddock into Captain Britain.
This is the so-called "Dawn of X," and Marvel's been teasing that this week's X-Force #1 will be one of the most important books. "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," writer Benjamin Percy cautioned in one interview. "So just wait for that final page."
Percy wasn't kidding, because X-Force #1 ends with the high-profile assassination of Charles Xavier himself. Xavier has positioned himself as the mutant race's champion; he kicked off the whole Krakoan Dream when he sent a telepathic message across the globe inviting mutants to settle on the new nation of Krakoa, and essentially presenting it to humanity as a fait accompli. But in doing so, he's unwittingly made himself a target, as the X-Men realize when a group of anti-mutant extremists attack Krakoa. They're happy to gun down any mutants who get in their way, but in truth they only have one target; Xavier.
The X-Men have been pretty naive, assuming that they knew enough about their enemies to go on the offensive and prevent any counter-strikes. And now it's cost them dearly, because Charles Xavier is the one mutant they can't afford to lose. The X-Men may have conquered death via cloning, but the process depends on Xavier and his Cerebro unit. Once a week, Xavier uses Cerebro to scan the world for the mental patterns of every mutant on the globe, and records these patterns in secret cradles scattered across the planet. When a mutant is cloned, he accesses the recording and implants the memories within the empty husk. No other telepath has used that system yet; and, making matters even worse, the head-shot that kills Xavier also destroys his Cerebro unit.
Ironically, the anti-mutant assassins probably don't realize just how much damage they've done to the mutant cause. It's safe to assume the resurrection protocol is one of the mutant race's most closely-guarded secrets, which means they just thought they were committing a political, prejudice-driven assassination. In reality, they've brought an abrupt end to the X-Men's effort to restore the mutant race by resurrecting every mutant who ever died, including the 17.5 million of Genoshans. None of the mutants killed during the rampage on Krakoa can be brought back straight away. And Xavier himself seems to be gone.
Of course, death has always been a revolving door in the X-Men comics. Future covers have shown Jean using another Cerebro unit, and Xavier appears on covers of books including the upcoming X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover, so it looks like the X-Men figure out how to get Cerebro working again and resurrect him. But the really interesting question is what will happen on Krakoa in the meantime. He's the guiding light of the mutant nation, and there's even been speculation he's using his telepathic powers to ensure everybody gets along. Worse still, there's already evidence that Krakoa is growing dangerously insular - Polaris openly pondered on whether there's anything good in humanity at all - and that's likely to get worse now human assassins have cut a bloody swathe through the mutant community. The repercussions of X-Force #1 could be massive.
X-Force #1 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.