Death and the X-Man: Another Mess to Clean Up

WARNING to people who don’t have to enjoy things on a deadline: The following article contains X-Men spoilers from last week, X-Factor spoilers from a few years ago, Walking Dead spoilers from years before that, and joy-of-parenthood spoilers from a moment two and a half years after whenever you end up having children. Pause and experience your entire life before reading. Or just consider yourself warned.

Nightcrawler of the X-Men is dead! And so were all these X-Men once! Colossus was dead!!Dadhood is a delight, but it does come with its aggravations. The one that works my nerves the most enthusiastically, threatening my well-deserved reputation for patience and serenity, has to be the Lego Dump. After an hour of playing “Build Something Vaguely Like a Tower, Then Kick It Over and Laugh” with the kiddo, the time will come to clean up and undo the FEMA-level damage we’ve inflicted on the living room. Untold minutes will fade away forever as we gather Legos scattered across the first floor, Legos from the fireplace, and Legos from under the sofa. A good ten minutes alone will go towards retrieving the little one-pegger she lodged in the cat’s nostril during an unguarded moment. Then, just when I am scooping up the last three blocks still not in the box, this child who allegedly loves me will laugh, go, “Uh-oh, Dadda!” and dump the whole effing thing back onto the floor.

On a primal level, I had a feeling very much like the one I have at that moment while reading X-Force this week. Not sad; not angry; just aggravated, and very, very tired.

For those of you who were spared, this week the makers of the latest X-Men crossover decided Nightcrawler needed to die like a freshman so they had something to put in the solicits for this issue. After years of BAMFing around and pummeling people, usually while explicitly saying or thinking, “Mein gott! I haff to be careful and look vhere I BAMF! If I BAMF zomeplace unfamiliar, I could BAMF right into zomethink und die!” Nightcrawler BAMFed himself right into the arm of a cyborg he knew was standing right over there and bought the farm.

Maybe poor ol’ Fuzzyelf was punchy; maybe the law of averages finally caught up with him. Lots of people die stupid, and even those deaths make us think. After years of following the character through at least three books, a pretty nifty cinematic depiction, and countless adventures, though, I didn’t react to seeing his passing by crying out, “Oh no! My beloved character has senselessly and poignantly lost his life!” I thought, “Oh, goddammit. We just got Colossus and Kitty back in the box, and now we have this mess to clean up.”

How distraught could I get at this point in my life as a reader? Is there any thinking person whose eyes now rest upon these words who believes Nightcrawler is dead? Do you sincerely think the character has been penciled into his last page? If I put a poll in this article, would “he’ll be back within two years” get less than 80% of the votes? What, then, is to be the point of all this?

It’s not the shock of it. It was just weeks ago that the ads warned us about all this:

AD: “Which One of The X-Men Will D—“

EVERY MESSAGE BOARD: [in unison] “Nightcrawler. It’s Nightcrawler, isn’t it? I assume it’s Nightcrawler.”

It’s not to deal the team a dramatic emotional blow. I can’t remember the last time Nightcrawler was a focal point of the book, unless of course you count the first issue of this crossover, in which he took center stage long enough to rant, “Life has value, don’t you see that? We can’t just go around killing people pointlessly! I know I used to famously be the most fun swashbuckler on this entire team, someone who actually had a nickname like ‘Fuzzyelf,’ but unglaublich I haven’t smiled in eleven years and it’s time to be sacrificed on the altar of laziness for the sins of my writers! Ja!” There are 183 X-Men now; there’s no time for Nightcrawler. Will he be mourned for so much as five pages?

It’s not even to demonstrate what a bad-ass the villain is. The bozo literally didn’t even kill him on purpose. He was standing there holding his arm out like a crossing guard. I would have respected the scene more if the dialogue had been, BAMF! “Aaagh! Oh my God! What just–! My arm! Aaagh! Aagh! I’m so sorry!” but it’s too late to get Bendis to script it now.

Never mind the indignity of having to die in an issue of X-Force. I’d rather have my body found in a JCPenney’s fitting room halfway into a sundress.

More and more, the only thing that ultimately comes out of doing this is undoing it. How much do I not want to sit through the Nightcrawler resurrection story that comes out of this specific cause of death? I saw that armBAMF page, and all I could think was, “Ughgod, now we have to go through the whole thing where Wolverine drinks on a hillside and Cyclops punches a wall, and then they’ll probably have to dip into that Chuck Austen ‘he’s actually a demonoid hellbaby’ continuity to get him back in the toybox. All for the Bastion arm thing. Another workout on the continuity treadmill.”

Maybe Hope will just wiggle her nose and magic him up at the end of this crossover. That’s the kind of cheap I’d pay good money for.

These are the things that breed indie snobs. Say what you want about Walking Dead; when Rick loses a hand, by cracky, you will not be seeing that hand again unless it’s crawling down the road on its fingers looking for some brains to claw. (Image Comics have not yet responded to the pitch for my hand-zombie book, but in the meantime Mr. Kirkman may feel free to use the idea.) That doesn’t make the case for robo-hands and resurrections; it makes the case for thinking really hard before you take an axe to those hands.

Resurrecting dead characters doesn't bother me. It's that they know they're going to, and I know they're going to, and they know I know, and they keep burping out deaths like these anyway. "One of these heroes will die!! Wink!"

X-Men: Nightcrawler is dead! See you next year, Nightcrawler!When he first came on as Marvel’s editor in chief, Joe Quesada famously decreed that “dead means dead.” Years from now, I think our nerdier, less credible historians will record that “dead means dead” was Quesada’s “read my lips: no new taxes.” He has been modifying and backpedaling since before Grant Morrison lopped Magneto’s head off. Personally, I never thought he meant nobody would get resurrected, but I always hoped he meant that deaths like Nightcrawler’s would not have to be endured anymore. If the party line is that we don’t like Spider-Man’s marriage because it severely limits the Spider-Man stories you can tell, what does killing X-Men entirely do to the X-Men stories you can tell?

I guess you could argue it opens the door to that awesome resurrection story, and the hugging I’m-so-glad-you’re-back story, and the I’m-still-getting-used-to-living story. The mutants should be pretty good at it by now; I think Storm and Cyclops are the only members of the seventies team who haven’t died. (Banshee and Jean Grey are still under a couch cushion somewhere.) And what will the impact of the next death story be, once every member of the team has poked his head out of a fresh grave? To paraphrase an old joke, it’s a great trick but you can only do it once.

X-Factor had it right. When Banshee died, and his daughter was informed in that book, she didn’t even grieve. “He’s fine. He’ll show up again in a couple of years.” And he will, and so will Nightcrawler. The only thing working against them is that there are so many X-Men they could fall through the cracks.

Jim Mroczkowski will have one of those deaths where he makes a sarcastic remark about the tornado sirens and then a street sign whips through the picture window and perforates his sternum. You can find him on Twitter until he arises next week to do it all over again.


  1. Why does Nightcrawler warrant this rant, but not any of the numerous non-X-Men deaths?

  2. Nightcrawler happened this week.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Yeah, this probably wasn’t the time for another death. But I’m willing to give it some time and see how it reverberates. 

  4. Banshee has been dead for five years. Is it sad that I find it impressive that it’s been that long before he’s been brought back?

  5. @ActualButt   If "depriving writers and readers of stories about this character for no particular reason" fits your definition of "impressive."

    My analogy to the X-Men ‘someone’s gonna bite it’ solicits is that they’re basically marketing via ransom note.  Though at least kidnappers might have the decency to spare your loved one if you forked over all your money.

    As for this X-Force issue it’s basically what I call, in honor of Arrested Development, a "Dead Dove, Do Not Eat" situation.  The punchline is always, "I don’t know what I expected."

  6. I am offended, sir! The plural of Lego is, in face, still just Lego. No s is necessary!

     Seriously, though, death in comics in general is a joke, but in X-Men is has become particularly hilarious. I think it’s some combination of non-unique origins and the sheer number of characters both dead and alive. Do they even notice anymore? How do they keep track?

  7. DC Does it too. Thats just comics. Nobody ever believed that Bruce Wayne or Superman were going to stay dead. Seems like a prime rule of comics, in addition to tough guys with muscles wearing leotards, a character death means an event (revolving around a resurrection) or at least a mini-series is-a-comin!

    You get the feeling that character deaths are decided not by writers or editors, but by the marketing and sales departments who analyze sales stats and decide that if a character or book is trending downward, a death-resurrect story arc is the fix-all.  

  8. It’s ‘just comics’ because readers put up with it and actually reward it with sales.  I don’t think that means it’s unreasonable to call attention when they pull this nonsense. 

  9. I’m surprised they haven’t brought back "Who do you want to die" idea. For Nightcrawler text "elf" to 555-5555.

    @jimski: I couldn’t tell if Nightcrawler just BAMFed into Bastions arm or if Bastion pinpointed where Kurt was going to reappear and stuck his arm out on purpose. Either way, still pretty senseless.

  10. Couldn’t he just "bamf" from heaven/hell back to Earth?  Does Marvel have a heaven/hell?  If a soul in heaven (assuming there is one) were to "bamf" back to Earth would it solidify or would it experience a "Ghost Dad" type existence?  

    I must know the answers or I will never be able to enjoy another X-men book.

    P.S. I’d love to see Nightcrawler featured in a Marvel U retelling of "Ghost Dad" (and/or "Leonard Part 6").  Does Nightcrawler have any kids (so he can play the "Dad" role)?  If so, are they dead?  I don’t suppose Banshee is his son?  That would be awesome.

    I demand answers! 

  11. After seeing the the actual pages of his death…That was a pretty good death.  Pretty touching actually.  I don’t read X-Men regularly, but i’ve always liked Nightcrawler, a standard power in a unique package.  Being German is just the icing on the cake.

    Deaths aren’t good anymore because of solicits.  If you were just picking up X-Force because you wanted to follow the event, i could see Kurt’s death being much more weighty. 

  12. It’s just like Geoff Johns making the proclamation ‘Dead is Dead’ in Blackest Night. Sure he might be able to stick by those type of rules, but what about the dozens of other writers for DC? You honestly think Mr. Johns that EVERYONE will not resurrect heroes/villains? Really?

    Funny how Cyclops and Storm has never died in the forty year span. (Or at least in regular continuity) How awesome would it be if they kill off Cyclops? Take away my hatred for the character in general, they should just try and get rid of him for a bit. Either make Professor X the leader again or try someone else. Who died and decided he needed to be the leader?

  13. Cyclops was *kind of* killed off in the ‘Twelve’ crossover — all the rest of the X-Men thought he was dead and he wandered around with Apocalypse in his brain for a while.  But I guess it was always revealed to readers that he wasn’t really dead, so that doesn’t ‘count’?  I’m not sure I want to see the spreadsheet they use to determine whose ‘turn’ it is to die.

  14. If readers "reward this stuff with sales", doesn’t that mean that we actually like it?

    @TheNextChampion – Cyclops did take a couple hiatuses over the years. Quite a few actually.

  15. @ActualButt  My impression of the function of criticism is that it includes talking about whether the stuff a lot of people are buying is actually good.  Do you disagree with that?  Do you think criticism is pointless because "comics are like that"?   Isn’t discussing what comics are like (and why, and whether that’s a good thing) sort of the point of criticism?

  16. @tnc: I like Cyclops as the overall leader and think he is badass.  However, I’d be open for someone else… say Magneto becoming leader. Based on current solicits I’d say the X-leadership is going to have a shake up soon.

  17. Frankly, I’m a little tired of the X-Men being… typified into being "the team with the horrible comic book deaths". There’s no discernible difference between the X-Men and any other superheroes in Marvel or DC in this regard.

    Nightcrawler’s death was no different from the random slaughters in Blackest Night. I don’t see anybody complaining about those. What about what happened to the Wasp? The average Bendis-death is a joke. Do I even need to mention Lian Harper? What’s different here? Is it just a case of the cup running over? For some reason, I don’t think so.

  18. @TheNextChampion

    Johns is the chief creative at DC. He is the supreme overlord of the DCU that determines all. He’ll tell writers what they can and can’t do.

    and when he says "dead is dead" i don’t believe him for a second…his entire bread and butter is resurrecting dead characters or characters so long forgotten (deadman) that they might as well be dead. 

    it was the ultimate finger crossing. They’ll always be cloning, time travel, dimensional stuff as long as comics exist that characters will always be able to come back. 

  19. @ActualButt/OhCaroline: Well I guess they kinda count. I’m just thinking of just trying something new. Kinda morbid to think ‘new’ is killing someone….But the idea of killing the X-Men’s (arguably) most influential member is something a writer should try out. How can the team work without an efficient leader? Who could take over? Does it go back to the old days with Professor X? I’d read an X-Men title more if it someone tried this out.

    @JesTr: Maybe my dream will come true if those solicits and teasers come true. 

  20. You know who I feel bad for? John Proudstar. The original Thunderbird of the 70’s X-men. Who… (as far as I know) never got a second chance.

    I get Jimski’s aggravation on this one. It’s two-fold for two different reasons, and I understand both.

    For starters, I feel like the X-books have been trying to use ALL the characters they can, and thus it feels as though people flit in and out of the books without much meaning. I’ve been reading Uncanny X-men, and I honestly have no real FEELINGS about Kurt in this current run. Compare this to Jean Grey’s death back in the day, and she was a HUGE part of the book and we were with her and Scott all the way through to the end. It wasn’t a big deal because someone died; it was a big deal because we were invested in them.

    This was a "no one is safe!" death. And it wasn’t earned. More recently, when Kitty was sent off in the space bullet — that was an earned "death" (yes, obviously she wasn’t dead, but it was a sacrifice that sent her away, so same thing, dramatically).  And Kurt was one of the easiest to kill because he didn’t really MEAN anything (at this point in the X-books). If you killed Scott right now, it would tilt the whole X-world on its axis. Maybe even if you killed Emma. Because they’re driving the book forward. But really, would *anyone* else really matter right now? We used to follow Kitty and Logan and Colossus and Storm through their ups and downs. Who do we really follow now? Who do we care about in the X books right now? That’s a pretty huge difference between the X-universe of now and then, and Kurt’s death just kinda displays the worst aspect of it now. 

    The second is the whole resurrection thing. I liked the way Bucky’s resurrection was handled. I even liked the way Colossus’ death was handled. But just because they tell good stories in the bringing-back-of-x, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t lessen the initial impact of death. There’s a cumulative effect, y’know? It’s plot-driven death, using a character that’s arguably been a flatline in the comics in at least the past few years (if not since Excalibur), and the shock of death itself is only an impermanent sting to readers who are already predicting ways he could return. Is it any wonder that we don’t care?

  21. As was said earlier cyclops did apparently die duringnthe twelve. Or was replaced or something. Storm also died and was taken through the seige perioulus and became that kid in the 80s. So they both have kinda died.

  22. @daccampo  I agree with most of your points, especially about the way the X-books are structured right now.

    One thing I’m not convinced is that a good resurrection story, like Bucky’s, somehow damages the overall narrative.  I’m not going, "Oh, no, they might bring Nightcrawler back in a thoughtful, well-characterized story that is planned out over many issues and takes into account the resonance of these events for many characters involved."  Isn’t that basically the ‘blaming Lucas and Spielberg for ruining the movies by inspiring a lot of lesser artists to rip them off’ rationale?  

  23. @ohcaroline: I don’t really think people are "rewarding" this storyline with sales because they were promised an X-Man would die. I know I’m not anyway. I picked it up because it was a big crossover and I was hoping for a good story. (I haven’t really been getting one, so I might drop it now.) I have a hard time believing anyone’s picking up "the issue where Nightcrawler died" because of its perceived "collector’s item" status.

    And I have no problem with death in comics (or even resurrection for that matter) as long as it serves a purpose, is necessary for the storyline, or makes it better in some way. Nightcrawler’s death did none of those things, and you could have plugged any random mutant into that "sacrificial doomed character" role and the story would have been the same. It’s not even the prospect of "he’ll be back sooner or later" that bothers me. It’s the nonchalant, pointless, "death for death’s sake" way in which they offed him that bothers me.

  24. Cylops has died at least once, and missing presumed dead on more than 3 occasions. Storm was killed by the Siege Perilous back in the 80s and put into the body of a child and then magically aged herself up again when she used her powers for the first time.

  25. @lmiller  I get that.  Good points.

    And to expand a little on the last thing I said, I admit that I cut even a perfunctory resurrection story more slack than a death story.  Because the end result of a resurrection story is the opportunity to do new things with a character.  The end result of a death story is no one being able to use the character for an arbitrary length of time.  Though, also, as daccampo mentions, the X-books haven’t been using much of anybody lately, so it hardly matters who they kill if it isn’t Scott or Emma.

  26. I thought the death was handled perfectly.  I had a very emotional experience reading the issue.  I don’t think it matters that he died in X-FORCE, especially considering the current landscape of the x-books and who’s steering the ship. 

  27. @ohcaroline – Hmmm. Maybe. Your analogy is a good one. I have to think on that. I mean,  I look at Jimski’s reaction, and it’s a lot like my own. Then again, we’ve known for YEARS that people can come back from the dead in the MU. I mean, Jean Grey came back in the 80’s. So even if all the other resurrections never happened, there still could have been the feeling that a writer *could* come up with a story to bring anyone back. But is there a a sense of fatigue when the deaths and resurrections keep happening at an accelerated rate?

    I guess you’re right. While I do feel a bit like there’s a sense that this is becoming too much of a sales ploy — death and resurrection, each one a collector’s item! — I have to admit, your point still holds. I can’t blame Bucky for everyone else deciding to kill/resurrect characters in cheap, gimmicky ways.

  28. @daccampo  As long as you remember that any discussion of the X-Men ultimately comes back to my personal unresolved Jean Grey issues, we’ll get along fine.  (Note to everybody else: this is a joke.  Mostly)

    @cutty and everybody else who likes the issue — maybe this goes without saying, but it’s probably worth saying. If you loved the issue, if it affected you emotionally, if the storytelling here fit with what you want to see out of a story, I am absolutely not trying to argue with that.  I personally see it as pretty cynical, but that could just be a sign that I’m an extremely cynical person.  On the other hand, I cried in the movie ‘Save the Last Dance’ even though I knew every single thing that was going to happen in that movie before it did.  I cry in ‘Toy Story 2’ whenever they play that flipping Sarah Maclachlan song over the ‘toy graveyard’.  


  29. Lest we not forget, Magik is in the underworld.

    I do not think it would be that much of a stretch for her to encounter Kurt’s soul in Limbo and bring him back upon the end of her mini-series, crossover tie-in. (That’s my hope, at least.) And, knowing my luck, she’ll come back with him before anyone, the devil included, even knows that Cable’s dead and leave him there for a good long while.

    I agree w/ this article entirely. It does strike me as a retread, and less paving new ground.


  30. @Ohcaroline – I definately understand your cynicism, especially with the probability that this death was done partly for sales (or at the very least, they were going to do it anyway and figured why not capitilize on it).  I just thought it was so well done, and I think this death will be a big part of Hope’s character moving forward, at least it better be.  Characters should die in a universe like the X-Men’s and Kurt’s will be a milestone moment.

    @Jamesseals – its a nice idea, but Limbo isn’t an afterlife in the MU, at least not the version that Claremont set up.  It doesn’t really have a "devil", it’s just a realm filled with demons. 

  31. The most beautiful X-man dies, he sacrifices himself. It makes sense though and I thought it was done right. He never belonged in this ugly(cameron hodge was sick) war, he did not want to see his friends so desperate, and he left them with something to think about, an untarnished memory of a friend, and Hope in Utopia.

    @jimski I don’t think he made a mistake and landed his heart in an arm, the machine knew he was going to use his powers and did something about it.

  32. Complaining about the tediousness of comic book death is like complaining about the villains always losing in the end of a story arc. (I wish Dark Reign had been about the Skrulls restructuring and controlling Earth).

    It is one of the conventions of superhero comics.

    And it is kind of pointless to complain unless you stop supporting with your cash, cuz it is definitely a sales ploy a great deal of the time.

    I would expect thoughts like this in the book strand and not as an article.

    Nightcrawler is one of my favorite characters (top five), but I don’t read any X books except for X-Factor in trade.

    I’m not happy he is dead.

  33. ScorpionMasada: But you liked the story about the Legos, right?

  34. Yes, and I like almost every article you write.

    And I liked all the BAMFS

  35. Reading the early solicits where we were told that an X-Man would die made me cancel all of my X-books. The three titles I’ve bought, read, and collected since I was a child were Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Uncanny X-Men. It was a painful decision, but I just can’t take it anymore.

    The notion of the "Death of Nightcrawler" is simply boring. Pulling off a crossover event without a lame death would be exciting. 

  36. Yeah i think Jimski’s visceral reaction on how he died was a little jaded, i read it as Kurt realizing the situation was bad moving to teleport Hope away and Bastion recognizing this interrupting his porting with his hand and killing Kurt, not Kurt teleporting into the way of Bastion’s hand. At least thats the way i saw it and who knows maybe it was poor writing though i doubt it because Kyle and Yost despite some minor hickups have been some of the stronger writers on the X-Books for a while

    We all predicted Kurt’s death and the writers kept attemptingt to divert it. I honestly think that Xmen promo with all the characters saying one will die was them trying to divert attention from Kurt biting it. In my opinion Kurt’s death is really about other writers not having any stories to tell with him and more as Fraction has sort of picked up all the pieces of the Xbooks for his own control only allowing other characters out in other books when it fit. Fraction as essentially the sole Nightcrawler writher pretty much made Kurt completely useless as a character due to his new direction for the X-Books With this giant cast all in the same book character powers duplicate and alot of charactes become interchangable and his decision to transform Pixie from a cool background character to an annoying show stealer made Kurt redundant, plus his only appearences of characterizations had somethign to do with religion and completely ignored the cool swashbuckler Kurt of the past. The best Kurt i’ve read for a while was Mike Carey’s brief Necrosha arc where he stepped up as a leader, but becasue of the direction of the X-Books that couldn’t last long

  37. @Bibble – how many x-crossovers actually included the death of a major character?  Off the top of my head, all I can come up with are X-Tinction Agenda and Fall of the Mutants, and those both included deaths of New Mutants, not actual X-Men.

    With a story this big, I like lasting ramifications.  Nightcrawler was one of my favorites too, but the world keeps turning – it was a hell of an issue

  38. It sure was, i’m hoping Fraction issue doesn’t ruin my enjoyment

  39. For me it’s about how is this going to read in a trade some time down the line. If it works as a standalone item, then I’m fine, they could have killed the whole team if the emotion is there. My mind set with comics has moved over from "month to month what does this mean for the great world" to "How will this read in one awesome trade." I’ve gone back (especially with the X-men) and found that stories I didn’t quite enjoy reading month to month, sitting down and reading it was a trade in one sitting was quite enjoyable (The majority of Brubaker’s run was like that for me). Will the death of Nightcrawler matter ten issues from now, or five years from now? Probably not, in fact I’d say if they bring him back then no. But will this story work as its own 12 issue trade on a shelf I can give to someone? If it does, if that death hits them, then it worked. 

  40. Ugh.  This is why I don’t read X-Men comics.  He is a pretty awesome character though, so hopefully, when they bring him back, they’ll find a nice place for him to be used well.

  41. Jurassicalien has got me thinking.

    I’ve noticed a definite trend in how I rank comics on this site. I’m much harder on single issues than I am on collected editions.

    Comics, for me, work best in large chunks of story. When you are ranking single issues, you do not see the complete vision on a month-by-month basis. That narrow view taints my evaluation of issues that work in a larger story arc.

    I dig on the monthly fix, but episodic storytelling is really only necessary in television.

  42. Jim, you’re like the Roger Ebert of comic books.    In a good way.   And more entertaining.

    I say he didn’t die; he teleported a clone of himself into that arm.   It’s about time he found some heretofore unknown abilities.   I mean, he never got the ‘power corrupts; absolute blah blah blah’ treatment, did he?




  43. I agree with the fact that the Uncanny X-Men doesn’t really follow anyone now, leading to the reader not having as much of a connection with the characters.  There’s too many characters in that book.  It needs to be a team again.  I don’t want Astonishing to be the only team book with X-Men in the title.  Get Uncanny back on track.  Add to that, I think some of the characters Fraction focuses on, like Pixie, have failed.  He’s trying too hard to make lame characters cool.  I’m all for using some newbies here and there, but you need to even it out with a few knowns.  Here’s hoping after Second Coming things get back on track.  I tried reading Uncanny when Fraction first came on and couldn’t do it because there was no focus, but I’m enjoying Second COming so I may try out a few issues after to see what happens.

  44. @ScorpionMasada — I’m not sure I follow.  Why does television have an obligation to make an individual episode entertaining but comics don’t?

  45. @CGPO – I definately agree with you on that, Fraction’s run especially has been a ship without a rudder.  The books were perfect before the post-Messiah Complex re-shuffle

  46. It is not about entertainment value.

    It’s about the time it takes to consume the product.

    Let’s say you have a 12 issue story. It is reasonable for someone to sit down for an hour or so and read that story.

    12 episodes of televsion would take far longer to consume and therefore warrants an episodic format.

    Movies that go over three hours have a tendency to really tire the majority of an audience.

    Therefore, I think the only place where episodic storytelling is necessary is TV.

  47. I could just as easily say that comics have more obligation to provide episodic entertainment, because I’m paying for each additional episode, which is rarely true in TV.

  48. I guess you could say that, but like I said, I don’t think it is about entertainment level.

    I think most of the comic creators I read try to make the best product they can.

    Story just gets lost in the month between issues.

    What other form of storytelling will make you wait 8 months (Northlanders) to get a complete picture of something you could read in less than an hour?

    TV. But it makes sense with TV for the reasons I stated above.

    Most people probably read a few hundred page novel in less than a month.

    I think I’m just realizing that the month to month issue thing hurts storytelling.

    I don’t like the idea of the medium hurting what I enjoy most about comics . . .

  49. I’ve never really had that problem, at least not with books that are on time.  And I certainly don’t think it’s all that relevant to a book like 2nd coming, which is essentially weekly.  

    I know it’s a thing for some people, though.  Fortunately, you can usually wait and read it trade if you want to.

  50. You are right about the weekly comic thing. That should help the process a bit.

    My thoughts came out of a users comments about the collected edition of this story and was not meant to shit on this event, which I’m not reading.

    I’m definitely moving more and more of my books back to trades. If it wasn’t for iFanboy, I wouldn’t be reading any comics in issue format.

    I do love my 52 trades and can’t wait to get Brightest Day in collected editions. So maybe the weekly thing doesn’t work for me either–ahahhaha

  51. @cutty and CGPO – I don’t think Fraction’s run has been without a rudder. It’s just a different kind of book. It’s become very clearly Scott’s book (with Emma as a second to him). Xavier, Magneto, Dr. Nemesis, Namor, Beast… all of these characters have had moments, but almost always in service of Scott’s story. I think Pixie could have been likable in the way Armor became likeable (to me, at least), but her story was dropped. Colossus had an arc, but the it was resolved. Ultimately, I think this is a mistake. I think you can have a big cast, but you need to focus on a smaller group within the cast and give each of them a real arc, and a subplot with occasional focus (like a soap opera) for each. I’m hoping it settles into something like that after Second Coming.

  52. @daccampo – yes you’re right, I think lack of focus is probably a better way to put it.  I think he’s more concerned about "his guys", pushing the X-Club, Namor, Magneto, even Fantomex.  Fraction likes the outside the box, Morrison-like ideas but I don’t think he’s necessarily good at executing them.  I think his run started out extremely strong, but it kind of fell apart for me after the Sisterhood arc.

    I was really hoping that Kyle and Yost would take over Uncanny, but their future in comics seems kind of up in the air

  53. So who’s going to get killed off first at iFanboy? I think Conor would get the most hits.

  54. I’ll admit my feeling about Nightcrawler’s death is much the same as my feeling toward Conan O’Brien losing the Tonight Show.  I felt bad for Conan, and I liked him so much more than Leno; but at the end of the day I really hadn’t seen an episode of the show besides the first one.

    Strangely in fact I was telling my kid just the other day that my favorite X-Men was Nightcrawler, yet I really haven’t read an X-Book with him in it for decades.  I feel bad he’s gone, but I really wasn’t paying attention anyway.  On a similar note: I learned of Colossus’ death 2+ years after it happened, when a friend of mine mention there were rumors he was coming back. That’s how out of it I am with the X-Men.

    So my favorite X-Men…from my childhood…is dead.

    One of the few comic book deaths which surprised me, and end up having a great story impact was James Hudson – Guardian of Alpha Flight (the first series).  Marvel ran a one page ad in the previous month’s issue stating one of the Alpha Flight team would die.  I spend the next month speculating on who would get killed based almost solely on who would affect the status quo the least.  My money at the time had been on Marrina or North Star or even Puck, since I figured nothing much would change with them gone.  I was shocked when issue 12 came out to discover Guardian was killed – the character who’s death would MOST effect the status quo.  

    Almost a year later of reading the comic I started to realize that in fact his death was possibly the only logical one to begin with.  Because from a story telling standpoint we gained the most conflict/chaos from it.  Hudson’s character provided that stabilizing control of the team, and with him gone the stories could really get rolling. (IMHO) Or to put it another way, he had more value to the story telling process dead than alive, if you will.

    It sounds like Kurt’s death has hit people on the same emotional level as losing a cherished toy which hasn’t been played with for years; but his death holds little to no meaning to the X-Books.  He wasn’t playing an important role apparently, and thus the status quo isn’t changed very meaningfully.  So in the end, it sounds like this death will have no real impact, which I find truly unfortunate.  Sounds like he’s not even a Star Trek Red Shirt (a character who dies as an example of the threat to the rest of the characters).   

    Okay, I’ll see if I can borrow an issue from someone (hey, maybe even buy it) so I can form a more meaningful opinion here.

    Thanks for the article, Jim!

    If I’m reading this situation wrong here, let me know.

  55. @daccampo  It’s been weird, because the focus has been on Scott’s arc, to the exclusion of just about everything else, and yet i would argue that he’s hardly had any characterization at all.  We’ve seen what he’s doing, mostly, from outside, with very little access to his character in a way that lets us sympathize with him.  So he’s the only character doing anything, but he never talks to anybody about what he’s doing.  The story doesn’t really let us get on his side, but it doesn’t consistently give us another character to be on board with, either (the way Joss’s Astonishing had Kitty — and still had better Scott, because he had a good relationship with Beast and even talked to Emma and Wolverine once in a while).  It’s been a weird and, to me, largely unsuccessful run, and taken together with X-Force, has succeeded in making me hate a character I always used to like.  I give Fraction credit for trying some ambitious things, but for me, they’ve mostly fallen flat.   

  56. I was of the opinion reading the book that Nightcrawler Bamfed in the way of Bastion on purpose. He saw that bastion was gonna kill Hope and sacrificed himself to save her.

    It wasn’t a stupid mistake on his part or Bastion aniticpating his powers, it was Nightcrawler Bamfing in the way of Bastion’s fist. Like someone diving in front of a bullet.

    Then he uses the last of his strength to Bamf Hope back to Utopia and incapacitate Bastion. Pretty damned heroic death if you ask me.

    Nightcrawler is one of my favourites and I’m gonna miss him but this wasn’t a cheap death. This was a noble sacrifice from a true hero.

  57. @reg5000  You are confirming my opinion that I am  simply too cynical to read this book.

  58. @reg5000 – absolutely that’s what happened.  It was a very heroic death and makes sense considering Kurt is a man of faith. 

    I’m glad you touched on him porting back to Utopia, he saved the greatest use of his power for his last and most important

  59. Just have to say, I love iFanboy and enjoyed reading the article and comments. 

    Nightcrawler is one of my favorite characters and I hate to see him die but I didn’t mind how it happened and agree with @reg5000 in that he died a hero.  It remains to be seen but I hope this drives the story forward and not just a death for sales.

  60. “Welcome back to the X-Men Kurt Wagner, hope you survive the experience!” …oh crap… seriously, couldn’t he have just as easily teleported behind Hope then immediately teleported her out of there (thus avoiding the bad guy all together)? What the heck happened to all of his years of training? I’m not sure which was lazier, that choice or the the writer’s and editors’ choice to kill Nightcrawler for a cheap emotional thrill.

  61. Or maybe he could’ve teleported the bad guy somewhere else and left him there. Or he could have just used own powers to take the same amount of time and effort to just kill himself, thus ensuring a dramatic moment of “unavoidable” sacrifice. The hero always finds a way to win, right up until the author decides that his number’s up, then he inexplicably loses his good judgement and makes that one mistake that he could’ve made a hundred times before, but didn’t.

  62. @NawidA: …………..

  63. @cutty  To be honest, the "faith" motif is another thing about this story that gets under my skin.  I don’t define "faith" to mean "believing any completely effing random thing that some person in authority tells you to believe."  Well, I’m sure, for some people it does, but that’s not really a message I’m thrilled to have driving a story.  The so-called faith they have in the Messiah baby isn’t based on anything.  Faith in the McGuffin the writers invented to move the story along, I guess.  But comparing that to Nightcrawler’s actual religious faith, as the story explicitly does, seems a little trite and insulting to me.

  64. @ohcaroline – fair enough.  Personally, I thought it really worked in this case.  Although I think Kurt would be willing to sacrifice for any of his teammates

    I do agree that the writers have not done enough to justify what Hope really means, but I think she’s going to become more than just a plot device.  I would think that witnessing Kurt die for her will be a defining moment for Hope, and we’ll be seeing what she’s all about very soon.  If she’s Jean though, I am going to start cutting myself

  65. Of course she’s Jean Grey.

    Why else would she be so obsessed with hair care products?

  66. Hm… “Death and the X-Man”… I still don’t understand what this article has to do with Nate Grey…

  67. I guess I lucked out and never read the solicits and I thought the issue was great.  I don’t think Kurt died by accident either as there are panels showing that Bastion detected the mutant teleportation and was formulating a counter to it.  I guess the counter was to assume where he was teleporting and put his arm there.  I found his death very moving and I had to go back over those last few pages to let them sink in.

  68. @Conor

    I mean that as a compliment. I mean let’s put it logically:

    Ron is like the Cyclops of the group. Underappreciated by most but you need him. 

    Josh is like Beast, with his secondary mutations and all. Interesting to kill but response wise he’s no Wolverine.

    Leading to you, Conor as Wolverine. Distinct look, womanizing, the muscle of the group. Always likeable despite all odds. So your death would be the biggest bang. Of course, iFanboy would resurrect you in a while, but no big deal really for you to die other than to show that "shit got real’ at iFanboy. 

    Jimski and Paul are candidates but I don’t know where to place them. Jimski as Kitty Pride and Paul as Professor X? I think people would expect Paul to go out first. Jimski would have too much of a backlash. 

    We could even make into a iFanboy crossover (since Stack Week is the only current iFanboy crossover, it should work). Or we could go all Jason Todd and have the iFanboy visitors vote to see who gets killed off (new columnists should be exempt because David Brothers is just too cool a name).

    Whaddya say? 

  69. "Jimski as Kitty Pryde." Honestly.

    This reminds me of the time someone e-mailed in which color Lantern he thought we’d all be and I got, like, Burnt Umber.

  70. @Jimski   I was reading Kitty Pryde as "beloved second generation character the readers eagerly identify with and would be devastated to lose."  That’s not so  bad, right?

  71. That’s a grabber of a piece, nicely done Jim. Perhaps the revolving door of death at Xaviers is something to do with their taX status? A certain number has to be dead at any one time.

  72. @NawidA: LMAO!!! Wait if Conor is Wolverine and Jim is Kitty does that mean conor has taken Jim under his wing? If Jim is Kitty then who is Colossus?

  73. @cutty: ‘Characters should die in a universe like the X-Men’s and Kurt’s will be a milestone moment.’ And that’s the problem a lot of us have – why should it be a huge deal for the X-Men when the mutant gene seems to bring with it a phoenix effect? They die, they, as the old joke goes, get better. Mortality should be as hard for the characters to take seriously as it is for the readers – surely the Science Club would be permanently tasked with planning ways to bring folk back? Death became a joke as far back as X-Men #142, with its knowing ‘This issue EVERYBODY dies’ cover line.

     @ BornIn1142 If you really never noticed people bemoaning the death of the Wasp, or, more recently, Lian Harper, o, say, Tempest in Blackest Night, I suspect your devotion to the X-books meant the criticisms washed over you.


  74. "I’d rather have my body found in a JCPenney’s fitting room halfway into a sundress.’

     I’m using that one.  Today.

    I’m rather non-plussed by comicbook collateral damage deaths like this one seems to be.  I may be more interested if Nightcrawler died in an actual Nightcrawler story.  Much like I didn’t get worked up over Martian Manhunter in Final Crisis because it wasn’t his story.

    ..and Lost isn’t Eko’s story, it was just a plot-mover that may or may not have anything to do with anything in the end.

  75. My thoughts exactly, eloquently, and to the letter.

    Especially the swashbuckling part, and the dying in X-Force while wearing a sundress (wait…)

  76. Jimski always knocks it out of the park.  Well done.

  77. Having finally read the issue I felt safe to read the article today. I think comic book deaths annoy because they are just such unimaginative devices. Death is bad and sad. We get it. There are so many other horrible things you can do to a character that are so much better because the story goes on. It is a failure of imagination.

    That being said, this is superhero comics. 95% of everything we see is cliche and expected. Half the time they are enjoyable because they are what we expected/wanted to happen. We are in the comic book rhythm, so-to-speak. Killing Nightcrawler may or may not serve a strong purpose in this story (He died for his Faith when so many, including most readers I think, are losing faith that Hope means anything), but will clearly lead to some writer having a chance to properly reboot him and fix the morose Kurt that got so out of control and give us back our loveable elf. That is a good thing. Also, it would clearly be absurd to ban all deaths. When Cobra shoots your plane, you can not always parachute out of the cockpit. Every once in a while a Joe has to be tangled in the fiery wreckage of his plunging vehicle, or eventually you are not going to believe that there are any stakes at all. And knowing is half the battle. 

    I think my #1 complaint is not that he died, but that his death was trumpeted on high for all to hear. It was macabre, perverse, and spoiled the story a bit. The relatively subtle foreshadowing became a thunderous roar in our ears, because we had been told in no uncertain terms a big X-man would die. I work very hard to avoid much in the way of solicitations on books I know I am going to read, but the Marvel marketing could not be ignored on this one. However, if when all is said and done this is a good story, then I am fine with the death.