Following Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars event, a series of incidents drastically redefined the X-Men and Inhumans’ status quos in the Marvel Universe. However, readers never knew what exactly happened until writers Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule, and artists Aaron Kuder and Javier Garron revealed all in their Death of X mini-series, which Marvel has collected in a new trade paperback collection.
Death of X (Marvel Comics)
As you can tell from that cover, this is the story of how Cyclops died. Well, the older Scott Summers – the younger one’s still around. And if you’re a regular reader of my AiPT! work, you know that I reviewed issues 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this mini-series and loved it! In fact, I loved it so much, a blurb from my review of Death of X #1 is featured on the collection’s cover (thanks, Marvel, genuinely means a lot!).
As I’d already read and reviewed each issue of this mini-series, I sought a way to approach my review of the collection with fresh eyes. Fortunately, the very nature of this story – and its famous twist – make that quite an easy task to accomplish.
Death of X’s major spoiler has been out in the wild since its final issue was released last November. But if anyone plans to pick up this trade paperback and wishes not to be spoiled, stop reading now.Of course, the great twist in Death of X is that Cyclops dies in the first issue. In fact, his true death was spoiled in the series’ preview images (like the one above) and we didn’t even know it! The Cyclops we [barely] see in issues 2, 3 and 4 is actually a mental projection created by Emma Frost.
The twist itself was a brutal optic blast to the gut for a die-hard Cyclops fan like myself, but also a brilliant way of ensuring this wasn’t a by-the-numbers death story. It also gave me an opportunity to reread the entire story knowing the Scott Summers I was following was nothing more than a mental ghost.
And to Lemire and Soule’s credit, I was able to spot hints of what Emma was truly up to throughout the series. Even the Stepford Cuckoos knew as early as Death of X #2! If anything, it makes you appreciate the hidden complexities within single comic book issues. It’s easy to finish one in a matter of minutes, but maybe it helps to slow down a bit to properly read between the panels.
With that said, and despite its heavy subject matter, Death of X is a breezy read. From Cyclops’ discovery of Jamie Madrox’s death on Muir Island and the true nature of the Terrigen Clouds to the Inhumans’ desire to maintain peace between two species. In the actual story, events move very quickly as Emma pushes through her grief and puts a plan in motion that sees the recruitment of the obscure mutant Alchemy and leads to the epic final confrontation between Black Bolt and Fauxclops.
Kuder illustrates the entirety of issues 1 and 2, before Garron pitches in on the final two parts of the mini-series. While both artists’ styles have slightly quirky feels (perfect for the odd cast of characters), I feel Kuder’s style is a better fit for the story. His pencils showcase incredibly detailed line work that reminds me of Frank Quitely’s X-Men contributions. Garron’s images are slightly more cartoony, but mesh well with Kuder’s. And even if it wasn’t actually Cyclops battling Black Bolt, it’s hard to deny Garron draws an awesomely defiant Cyke making his last stand under red rain. Badass.
In terms of trade paperback extras, Marvel did fans a huge favor by including its Death of X variant covers in the book’s final pages. And boy were there a lot of them! While it’s a bit morbid to celebrate the possible deaths of beloved characters like Storm and Nightcrawler, the variants that inserted skeleton versions of the X-Men on classic covers are pretty neat.
Overall, Death of X is a must-read for fans of either mutants or Inhumans (or both) who missed it the first time around – and plan to read Inhumans Vs. X-Men when it’s eventually collected. After all, it’s by three-quarters of the same creative team! It’s also just a great story that highlights the theme of devotion. At his core, Cyclops was always a leader who did what he had to for the sake of his species’ well-being. The same can be said of the Inhuman royal family. And though misguided, Emma actions – to transform Cyclops into an idea that can inspire – can be viewed as devotion to the man she loved.