The Many Deaths of Charles Xavier
Prep for tomorrow's 'X-Force' #4 with a look at Professor X's long and deadly past...
Warning! This article contains spoilers for X-FORCE (2019), so read on at your own risk, oh frantic ones!
In X-FORCE #1, the Dawn of X nearly came to an abrupt end when Professor Charles Xavier was assassinated on Krakoa. Considering that Xavier brought the various mutant factions together and played a key role in the resurrection process, that could have been a crippling blow for the newly formed mutant nation.
Fortunately, as of X-FORCE #3, Xavier is back among the living. Jean Grey may have a reputation for dying and coming back to life, but her mentor has done it a few more times than she has! Xavier has cheated death on several occasions, and he’s a key figure in the modern Marvel Universe. This was proven during the "Age of Apocalypse," a dark timeline that was only formed when Xavier died twenty years in the past.
Now, to prepare for December 18's X-FORCE #4...
...we're looking back at all the times Professor X died.
Chronologically, Xavier’s first death took place in X-MEN (1991) #41, in the finale of Legionquest. Xaiver’s estranged son, David Haller (AKA Legion), went back in time and tried to fulfill his father’s dream of mutant and human harmony. However, David intended to do so by murdering Xavier’s best friend, Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, years before he could become Magneto.
Xavier sacrificed himself to save Eric, which ripped the timeline apart and changed history. It took the entirety of the "Age of Apocalypse" to rectify that mistake and ensure Xavier’s survival.
“Not a Hoax! Not a Dream!”
The cover caption of UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #42 boldly declared that the issue would depict “the death of Professor X.” Sure enough, Charles Xavier perished while trying to save the world from the vengeful being known as Grotesk. In his final moments, Xavier told the X-Men that he was already dying before he was mortally wounded.
However, UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #65 revealed that the man who died was not actually Xavier. Instead, it was Changeling, a reformed villain who previously faced the team. Changeling really was dying, but his stint as Xavier was a necessary deception to prevent an alien invasion of the Earth. At least, that’s what Xavier said!
Alien on the Inside
Xavier’s original body perished in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #167. That’s when the team and the New Mutants discovered that a Brood Queen had been implanted within him. Xavier’s body was irrevocably transformed as the Queen assumed control of his brain. Fortunately, the Shi’ar technology was able to save Xavier’s life by transferring his mind into a healthy clone body. That also allowed Xavier to regain the use of his legs.
Number one With a Bullet
Years later, Xavier was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. During "Messiah CompleX," Bishop repeatedly tried to kill Hope Summers, the mutant messiah. Sadly, Xavier was hit in the head by Bishop’s bullet in X-MEN (1991) #207. To his students, it appeared that Xavier had died and disappeared.
Xavier’s true fate was unveiled in the retitled X-MEN LEGACY (2008) #208, as Exodus, the Acolytes, and even a de-powered Magneto managed to revive the Professor. The downside was that Xavier lost most of his memories in the incident, and he spent months rebuilding his identity and repairing his relationships with his students.
A Second Dose of Patricide
While David Haller is Xavier’s biological son, Scott Summers (AKA Cyclops) is Xavier’s favorite son among the mutants. For years, Cyclops was Xavier’s most loyal student and he cherished Xavier’s dream as much as Xavier himself. But in AVENGERS VS. X-MEN (2012) #11, Cyclops was possessed by the Phoenix Force, just as Jean Grey was years before. As Xavier attempted to convince Cyclops to relinquish his powers, Scott killed him and became Dark Phoenix.
Shortly thereafter in UNCANNY AVENGERS (2012) #1-2, Xavier’s brain was harvested by the Red Skull, who used it to gain telepathic powers. At the same time, Xavier’s soul was drawn to the Astral Plane by the Shadow King. That was depicted in the pages of ASTONISHING X-MEN (2017) #1-6. Within those same issues, Xavier cheated death once again by striking a bargain with Fantomex; in return for giving Fantomex peace of mind in the Astral Plane, Xavier assumed control of his much younger body. Xavier renamed himself “X” and fought alongside his X-Men before hiding his resurrection from most of the assembled team.
The Missing Iteration
One of the major unanswered questions in the Dawn of X is how X once again came to inhabit the body of Charles Xavier. Fantomex is also noticeably absent from the mutants on Krakoa. Knowing Jonathan Hickman’s previous work, this probably isn’t a coincidence. Either there was a previously unseen story in which X reclaimed his original identity, or the man called X is still out there. If so, which one is the real Xavier? The man who never takes Cerebro off his head anymore? Or the reckless X, who barely had a trace of Xavier’s compassion?
This is a mystery that deserves some answers in the Dawn of X.
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