When Marvel announces, or just surprises us, with the death of a character it is always met with a bit of an eye roll, a small smile, and hope for a good story while we get a break from said character for a little while. With the exception of Jean Grey, who has died more times than I can count, all of the major characters killed off in the Marvel Universe have come back one way or another. Despite seeing Jean from the past, and Jean from the future (who is only from the future because Jean from the past was brought into the present…call Doc Brown to explain the paradox) she’s the only major character, or at least major X-Man, that seems to be truly dead. To add to the mind pretzel that is time travel in the Marvel Universe, we have seen Old Man Logan, Days of Future Past Logan, and many other incarnations of future Logan, so even if they do kill him we know that some form of Wolverine will be alive in the future.
Wolverine’s story has been leading up to this over the last few months. His healing factor is gone, and he’s been getting tied up in the plans of Mystique and Sabertooth, both of which hold no love for the runt. The loss of his healing factor, and the realization that he can die, has set him to questioning his ability to lead the X-Men and filled him fear that he is a liability that will get his friends killed. This self-destructive path has him running from his team and friends, has turned Kitty away from him, and is clearly been building up to something I expect will be fairly epic.
While I’m fairly sure that this ‘death’ will be just as temporary as the recent loss of Nightcrawler, I do hope it will cut down on all the Wolverine titles that I have felt compelled to keep buying over the years. I love the character, and generally love the art and stories in the books, but there have been a couple that I just couldn’t stand. I even cancelled my subscription to one of the titles, which is quite out of the ordinary for me, because I couldn’t stand to look at the art any longer or justify paying for it. It would also be nice to have one more X-Men title cut for now, as it’s become difficult to keep them all straight. I can’t imagine Marvel will keep printing Wolverine and the X-Men without Wolverine. Of course there’s been speculation that this is a plan to give a logical endpoint for the movie Wolverine, as Hugh Jackman won’t be able to play the part forever but I can’t imagine they will leave the comic Wolverine dead for that long. We still have at least one more X-Men movie and most likely another Wolverine movie as well.
Of course there are also the cynics out there that are saying this is just another gimmick to sell comics. Well of course it’s being done to sell comics, but to call it a gimmick, or say that’s the only reason belittles the work of the writers and artists that will do it. As a writer, of course we tell stories that we want to tell, but always with the notion we are telling them for other people to read. The greatest compliment a writer or artist can be paid is when a fan spends their hard-earned cash on it. So, yes Marvel is pushing this story to make money, that’s what they are in the business of doing. I also believe this story is exciting to the writers and artists, and a story they want to tell us. I think it will be a great ride, and I can’t wait.