Marvel’s recent X-Men event, Death of X, just wrapped up this past Wednesday. It focuses on Cyclops and the rest of the X-Men reacting to a mist that was killing mutants. The event took place before the events of the All New, All Different relaunch, and was set to answer some questions, as well as build up to the next superhero vs. superhero brawl Inhumans VS. X-Men. Because Marvel clearly needs more events where superheroes fight each other and not supervillains.
The main goals of this particular miniseries were to kill Cyclops, explain why Mutants and Inhumans hate each other, and give a reason why there are more Inhumans now. So obviously there’s a lot riding on this four issue series as the other comics in the universe were building up to this. Cyclops’ actions raised a lot of controversy and debate among other heroes. Specifically something that he did labels him as a terrorist.
The “too long; didn’t read” version goes like this: the superhero group The Inhumans discover that their sacred gems, The Terrigen crystals, can turn normal humans into Inhumans. The Terrigen crystals are ground up into two mist clouds and released around the world turning humans into Inhumans. However, the mist kills mutants, and The Inhumans don’t really seem to care. So Cyclops and a few other mutants band together to try and stop the mist clouds.
There’s more to the story, but the focus of this editorial is about Cyclops’ actions that lead him to terrorist level notoriety (and something else that comes up). Cyclops was never much of a liked character, both in the fictional Marvel universe and among fans. But keep in mind that this was built up as the supposed final straw. Cyclops would never be redeemed after this. So, what did he do?
He and another mutant named Alchemy manage to make one of the Terrigen mists useless.
How does that make Cyclops a villain? He saved a good chunk of his own kind, and chose not to attack the Inhumans. He did something heroic, and yet he’s being punished for it. His legacy is as a no good mutie douchenozzle terrorist who cheats at scrabble and smells bad. He is not in the wrong here, and there’s no reason for anyone to hate him. Because when we look at this conflict, there’s no justification for the other side. If anything, The Inhumans should be the ones vilified.
The X-Men and mutants are dying, and The Inhumans aren’t interested in stopping that. They want to expand their race; to hell with the consequences of others. But even if we took out the whole “your perfume is killing an entire species of people,” The Inhumans didn’t consider that maybe people don’t want to be Inhumans. Not everyone wants their DNA changed to become a superhero; The Inhumans are forcing this on the general populace. The point of this event (I’m guessing) was to create a scenario that would leave the readers divided in their feelings. This way they could lead effortlessly into Inhumans vs. X-Men. But I don’t identify with The Inhumans; I don’t see Cyclops’ fault here. I’m having a hard time believing that anyone does.
If the Terrigen Mist was the only way Inhumans could survive on Earth, or if Cyclops snapped and started killing Inhumans that would lead to a better ethical dilemma. But for some reason this perfectly reasonable response from Cyclops is what’s supposed to make the audience pick a side for the Inhumans/X-Men conflict. It doesn’t though, because this is something that both groups should have thought of from the get go. And as I was reading this the whole time I kept thinking, “why do people like The Inhumans again?”
But then there’s a twist thrown in at the very end. It’s a bizarre shake up that just raises more questions. It turns out Cyclops died in the first issue, and everything after that has been a psychic projection created by Emma Frost. While this is an interesting concept, it doesn’t really add anything unique. Again, maybe if she did something more drastic to the Inhumans that would be one thing; in fact it would be in line with her character if she did act aggressively against the Inhumans. That would make sense why people hate mutants again, and specifically Cyclops.
Overall it feels like Death of X is the symptom of one of Marvel’s much larger problems. Because they focus so heavily on event stories and yearly relaunches, there isn’t enough editorial oversight on planning the stories properly or giving them time to develop. It feels like the editorial staff just throws everything at the wall, sees what sticks, and then connects the dots later. This doesn’t allow the comics to stand on their own two feet or develop naturally. They have to connect to event, or acknowledge an event coming up. This creates great build up for said future story, but if Marvel can’t deliver a satisfying pay off, then it was all for nothing.
Let’s hope the upcoming Resurrexion will bring back what fans loved about the X-men.