death

The Best New Character This Decade

Spoilers…I guess. Damian Wayne, the Robin of the last few years, is dead.

It takes a lot to get an emotional reaction from me with a super hero death these days. With everything from the once thought taboo resurrections of Bucky and Jason Todd (the first Robin to die) to the multiple deaths of most members of the X-Men, death doesn’t really have a meaning in comics anymore. It’s almost always a sales ploy with lots of lead-in hype, maybe a polybagged issue, and usually found in the pages of the year’s big mega-crossovers. Yet, none of that happened in Batman Inc. #8. This felt like an organic death of a hero by the writer who created him. Like the death of “Xorn”, Jean Grey, and Aztek (all by Grant Morrison).

new-52-dc-comicsLike Captain America’s “death” in Captain America #25, this death came about in an issue that came right after a crossover in a related title that promised a big death (with a title like Death of the Family…you’d expect a death, right?). When all the Robins made it out alive in Scott Synder’s story, I let my guard down. That’s one of the reasons why this death made such an impact on me; I wasn’t prepared. A death this big without hype from solicits and speculation for months reminded me what it had felt like to read Superman #75 and Uncanny X-Men #390.

wayne new 52 dc comicsI caught wind of what was to take place the day before I read the comic from the New York Times Article that broke the story but I had to see it for myself for it to really hit. There it was, a heroic sacrifice as powerful as any because it was in the service of just one innocent life. Here was a character I had once hated, then was annoyed by, then grew to be my favorite supporting character in the entire Batman mythos. My feelings towards him were a calculated journey Grant Morrison cooked up in order for the character to have the biggest impact. How often does a super hero in a mainstream comic get a third act? Not many. There has not been a super hero created since 2000 who has become more important to me than Damian.  Here’s why:

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Before the New 52 was the Post-Crisis DC Universe. The DC Universe that I grew up on that, to this day, feels like the real one. This was a DC Universe that was complicated and multi-generational. One of the most complicated relationships in that universe was that of Batman and Talia. While Joker might be Batman’s arch-foe, non have more power or resources than Ra’s Al Ghul. His daughter Talia both loves and hates Bruce in a way only a woman scorned can. Grant Morrison’s landmark run on Batman (after his character defining All-Star Superman story) began with taking a once thought Elseworlds story, Batman: Son of the Demon and bringing it into canon. The result was Damian Wayne, heir to both Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul.

murder ghost dc comicsTrained at birth from a position of privilege to be a killer and heir to a criminal empire, his strange upbringing was revealed in bits over the course of years worth of stories. Suffice to say, this was a 10 year old boy with training far and above any that the previous Robin’s had received. His time with the League of Assassins taught him that death was his to dish out and he did just that while in Bruce’s care in an attempt to help his father in his mission. He would fight his programming constantly in his time as Robin under both Bruce and Dick Grayson (who replaced Bruce as Batman while he was thought to be dead…see what I mean about death in comics?).

batman child batDamian was a Robin like no other because he had no interest in being a normal kid nor did he know how. He pushed himself constantly both physically and mentally. He lived to seek approval because that’s how Talia physically and emotionally engineered him. Morrison played with the plot device of showing Damian’s future as Batman in a increasingly more dystopian Gotham in a number of issues that showed the full evolution of the character. I look back at the Dick Grayson and Damian Batman and Robin stories with longing. I wish they could have stretched that teaming for longer because it was such a different dynamic between Batman and Robin then what has been written for the past 75 years. An optimistic conversational Batman paired with a grim and brutal 10 year old Robin…it was so fresh! Like most things in comics, however, the status quo had to be returned (as was always the plan) and Bruce returned to take the cowl back while working with and taking a stricter stance with Damian.

batman pearl comics dc 52The last year of the DC Universe we find ourselves in now, The New 52, contains all the stories from Batman and Damian’s past but in a more condensed timeline (don’t think about it too much, your head will hurt). The evolution of this partnership over the last 17 months really bloomed from one of resentment to a real father and son dynamic that was often sentimental. Just when everything seemed to be working the rug was pulled out. In fact, Damian was becoming the new glue that could have held the Bat-family together after Death of the Family. Alas, it was not meant to be because, in a plot by his own mother, Damian has suffered the same fate Jason Todd did…a heroic sacrifice his partner was too late to help atop.

damian wayne 666 alternateGrant Morrison did a lot of work to get me to fall for this character so completely over the past few years. At the same time DC made a mess of my once favorite Robins, Tim Drake while simultaneously bringing back Jason Todd (let’s not even get into Stephanie Brown). This has all left a big hole in my heart for the titles of Robin. Will I be able to open it again to the inevitable next Robin? Will Scott Snyder set up Harper Row as the new Robin? Will Tim Drake come back (I doubt it)? We’ll see. In the mean time, check out Damian’s appearance in this clip from Batman Brave and the Bold and remember that it’s not your DNA that makes you a hero but your strength of will. Damian Wayne, you will be missed.

It’s going to be sad when they break his death to all the Bat-Pets.

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professor x charles xavier short box podcast

Seriously….Spoilers!

short box podcast comic booksSo….I saw this coming. I know, I know…everyone says that. You are also thinking, this wasn’t THAT surprising. Well…yeah.

But I KNEW it was coming. The reason I knew for an absolute certainty that this was going to happen was the solicitation for X-Men Legacy for the Marvel Now initiative.

There is almost always a book that is launched as a result of something big that happens near the end of large events. It’s a safe call because people get wrapped up in these big stories and they want a natural place to go from there. X-Men Legacy seemed the most obvious choice for a move like that but something had to happen to kick it off first.

I’m going to get this out of the way right now. Professor X is dead…again.

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The Death of Professor X

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The reason I saw this coming with a certainty is because they gave his son his own book called LEGACY! The upcoming writer of X-Men Legacy staring Professor X’s Legion, Simon Spurrier, said the he will be “embracing his father’s legacy”. Hmm… Simon Spurrier then went to tell Newsarama this in another article about the upcoming book:

Newsarama: So will we see Legion exploring the world at large, and not just the X-Men’s corner of it?

Spurrier: Very much so. In fact — by way of example — the very first episode sees David interacting with a whole host of amazing non-mutant characters, and really stamping his name on the bedrock of the Marvel U as a result.

Well, that certainly reads like a funeral doesn’t it? Ha.

Personally, I really enjoy Legion and have felt for years that he hasn’t been able to see his potential because no writer has put him in the spotlight. I’m looking forward to this.

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“I’m prepared to END this, you know. I’m prepared to STOP Scott, no matter WHAT the cost.”

Avengers #29 was one of the most telling of hints to Xavier’s upcoming doom as well. Xavier was a member of the Illuminati and this represented his membership in the larger Marvel Universe. During what would be his goodbye tour, he met up with this group one last time to discuss the Avengers’ war with the Phoenix.

There were other hints in different books but these few interactions were OBVIOUS. It’s like he knew he was going to die.

 

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So, that’s how I KNEW this was going to happen. After that, every encounter Xavier had took a new meaning and it became apparent that all the writers that had a chance to write him during AvX couldn’t help but drop hints. One of the most important issues in AvX concerning Xavier’s upcoming death was Wolverine and the X-Men #15.

If you have seen Star Trek II, you know that Spock is going to die when he goes to McCoy to implant his memories (and soul as it turns out) in his head. Well, it looks like THIS McCoy had the same thing happen to him suddenly in this issue of Wolverine and The X-Men.

Look at the energy mark of Xavier touching Beast. Look at the glow afterward in Beast’s eyes. Look at what he was looking at. Ok…what does all that mean? Well, we know that (again thanks to advance Marvel Now solicits) that the original X-Men are going to travel in time to exist side-by-side with characters of the current Marvel Universe. How are they going to get here? Why are they coming? I think Xavier implanted something in Beast’s head here that will relate to that event.

So those are just two ways that Xavier’s death will impact Marvel Now and the Marvel Universe post AvX. I think the impact will be bigger than other casualties of Marvel events because of how central Xavier at least WAS to the X-Men universe.

I wonder if the original X-Men will be plucked from a point in time after Xavier died the first time. The first time you say? Yes! He was seemingly killed by the villain Grotesk in X-Men #42 (February-March 1968), only to turn up alive and well in X-Men #65 (February 1970). You find out in issue #65 that Xavier had been replaced by another mutant named Changeling prior to being killed. He would then spend years in space with Shi‘ar Empress, Lilandra before rejoining his X-Men and back and forth from that point on. He would die again when his son, Legion, accidentally killed him in the past which led to the creation of the Age of Apocalypse (we’ll skip past the implications of that for now).

The reason, I believe, that Xavier was killed was because the impact he can have on the Marvel Universe is greater in death than in life. As a martyr, Xavier’s recent misdeeds will get swept under the rug of sacrifice. It’s similar to what was attempted with Hal Jordan in the 90′s. What misdeeds you ask? Well, here’s the reason Professor X has been relegated to the sidelines by his own students in the past few years:

  • It was revealed he tried to kill his twin sister in the womb which lead to her committing the largest act of genocide in Mutant history.
  • His part (as a member of the Illuminati) in shooting the Hulk into space which lead to World War Hulk.
  • Onslaught.
  • Turning the Danger Room into his personal slave after he knew it had evolved and became sentient.
  • The creation of the Xavier Protocol was his version of what Batman did in JLA: Tower of Babel. He developed a way to take out his own students, which like Batman, were stolen and used against them.
  • Putting together a team of untrained mutants to rescue the X-Men, getting them almost all killed, and wiping the memory of their very existence from his students…including Vulcan, who was Cyclops own BROTHER!

The worst offense is that he uses children to fight his battles while constantly quiting and taking space vacations. Xavier never believed in his own dream as much as his students did. He became redundant and his every appearance just reminded you of his failures. I believe the character became hard to identify with, sad, and just plain embarrassing to the X-Men. His death was just the final straw of his spiral over the course of the last 13 years. I’m hoping Xavier’s death spurs his son to get his act together and step up as one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe in time for his father to see him like that with his eventual return to life.

Click on the images below to see more on the death of Professor Charles Xavier from AvX #11.

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