[SPOILER WARNING] Avengers Vs. X-Men Takes a Casualty – Interview with Marvel EIC Axel Alonso

Today as Avengers Vs. X-Men #11 hits comic stands, the New York Daily News has already posted their coverage of the events of the issue, which will trigger *SPOILER* alerts all across the media and amongst comics fans.  We were able to catch up with Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso to discuss the tragic turn of events that happens as the Avengers continue their fight against the Phoenix Force Five, who are now down to two in the form of Emma Frost and Cyclops.

In order to properly cover this and share with you what we talked with Alonso about, we’re going to respect folks who prefer to avoid spoilers.  And so here’s a big ol’












As the Daily News reported and as many of you will read in the pages of Avengers Vs. X-Men #11, a major character important to the X-Men franchise suffers his demise.  After the remaining X-Men, disillusioned by Cyclops and Emma Frost, join forces with the Avengers. The majority of the issue features a major battle  wherein Cyclops, pushed to the brink by the Phoenix force and the Avengers, lashes out as he turns into Dark Phoenix, an action that kills his former mentor, father figure and founder of the X-Men, Professor Charles Xavier.

Some may this move as just another play in the Marvel playbook, as we come to the end of a major event book and we see a death of a major character. A character who’s death could have a large ripple effect in the pages of one of Marvel’s biggest franchises, The X-Men.  So it was with lots of questions and curiosity that we spoke with Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso:

iFanboy: What is the motivation behind a character death such as this? Is a major death as a turning pointed needed to serve the larger story of the event?

Axel Alonso:  Whenever you do something like this, it has to be real within the course of the story and you want to know it sets up interesting points in the future.  For example, during X-Men: Second Coming, we killed Nightcrawler because it would not only provide an interesting beat in the story, but we also knew it would create an interesting dynamic with Cyclops and Wolverine as we told stories with Hope later on.

We knew when we were sculpting the Avengers Vs. X-Men story that a major X-Men would die.  And by major someone like Magneto, Xavier or maybe Wanda [Scarlet Witch] or even Hope. As we developed the story, it made the most sense for it to be Charles Xavier, who was not only Cyclops teacher but also has that Father/Son pathos relationship.

iF: Most recently, Professor Xavier has been on the shelf. We only saw him briefly at the beginning of Wolverine & The X-Men, and then returned recently in Avengers Vs. X-Men. Putting his relationship with Cyclops aside, did you feel that given Xavier’s current position in the Marvel Universe he was expendable?

AA: The fact that Xavier was sidelined didn’t make him irrelevant.  As long as Xavier is around, he always casts a shadow on the X-Men.  At the end of the story, and it’s hardly a spoiler now, he won’t be fit to lead the X-Men.  It’s clear that they won’t fall under his influence again.  So the question becomes who’s influence will they fall under? Who will lead them and what will the road be as we move forward?

iF: We’ve seen the major character death in an event book play out before, most recently in Fear Itself where we saw Thor and Winter Soldier die, only to be resurrected immediately after.  And as an X-Men fan myself, I know this isn’t the first time Xavier has “died.”  So what makes this time different and will this death be lasting?

AA: We will not undo this quickly. We have no plans to do that.  That was part of our discussion when deciding to to do this.  I’m very comfortable with Xavier off the board.  We did not plot this with a get out of jail free card so that we could bring him back.  He’s more valuable off the board, than on the board now.

iF: Given that you’re working with characters that are 20, 30, some 50 years old now, is this the inevitable end for a character? Do they get to a point where you’ve done all you can and you have to move on?

AA: Not necessarily.  You do find ways to have the characters evolve and change.  Cyclops is a great example of that. He was around with the original X-Men.  He was the closest student to Professor Xavier, and he eventually stepped out of his shadow.  He embraced and rejected various ideas by both Xavier and his counterpart Magneto.  The power of these characters is that they evolve.  You can stick to the core of a character, but change them over time.

Avengers Vs. X-Men #11 hits comics shops today, and if you’re not reading it but are morbidly curious, you can see the pages of the death below as written by Brian Michael Bendis (who will be taking over the X-Men once Marvel NOW! kicks off) with art by the always amazing Olivier Coipel:


  1. Hasn’t Prof X been killed before, brought back, inhabited by different mind, etc, etc, ???

    • If you’re a mutant in the Marvel universe, this is old hat. As soon as the next X-movie comes out, ol’ Prof. will be back, and maybe this time the writers and editors of the X-books won’t let him disappear again. In the meantime, we can read plenty of stories about Scott feeling guilty over the whole mess (yes, I know, a Marvel hero feeling guilty about something is an idea we’ve never been offered before, but let’s see where it goes…).

  2. Folks, let’s try our best and keep the spoilers off the main page by avoiding names in the opening lines of comments.


  3. It couldn’t have happened to a currently less relevant yet recognizable character.

  4. Meh doesn’t even begin to capture my lack of feeling on this one. I mean, given the character and the history, it really doesn’t strike me as having that big an impact.

    “We will not undo this quickly.”
    Perhaps. Not that there’s a need to. But I can’t help but recall this:

    “Joe Quesada was asked if the Ultimate Universe and the Main Marvel Universe would ever cross over and he replied no. Quesada said he’d rather close down one universe than have them cross over because it meant they were officially out of ideas.”

    We all know that changed too. So we’ll see. But again, given the character and the “been there done that” feeling…I don’t know that comic-dom will be in an uproar either way.

  5. I honestly didn’t even know this character existed anymore.

    I stopped reading AvX about 4 issues ago. Glad for the heads up on developments before I jump back on board with Marvel NOW.

  6. People joke about Jean Grey all the time, but hasn’t the death of ***SPOILER*** Xavier been done like three or four times already?

  7. I’m not reading AvX so therefore I’m qualified to chime in here 🙂
    In the context of the X-Universe, this should have been done years ago.

    I gotta say though…considering the power Cyclops has right now, why he hasn’t just snuffed Wolverine is beyond me.

    • I dream of seeing this but for some reason Marvel thinks putting Wolverine on every single book boosts sales. It doesn’t. That effect works more with Spider-Man in the Marvel U. It’s just getting ridiculous now. Avengers, New Avengers, Wolverine and the X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, X-Treme X-Men, Uncanny X-Force, Wolverine, WolverineMax. I’m pretty sure there’s more but now add on Marvel Now! we have the Uncanny Avengers but what really bugs me is that the new X-Men book by Bendis is supposed to be about the original 5 but once again Wolverines on the goddamn cover. Whyyyyyyyyyyyy!

    • I would love if Wolverine was killed ESP by Cyclops.

  8. “We will not undo this quickly. We have no plans to do that. ”

    I read that as “We have no plans to undo this quickly”.

    To their credit, they’ve left Jean Grey dead for quite some time, but like Jean Grey, I expect it’s only inevitable that this character will be brought back “Because the fans demanded it!” *rolls eyes*

    • I hear “We have no plans at this moment” to mean “well, we’re working on a plan or plans, but haven’t finalized it yet.” You can apply the same thing to layoffs, taxes, etc.

  9. This character deserved to go on a better way, not in this AVX nonsense.

    At least, he will be back in, at most, 2 years…

  10. You know, while the series hasn’t kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time, I thought this packed quite a punch given the relationship and history between killer and killee. Unfortunately, it would have been a lot more powerful outside the context of the last few years of Events, which have desensitized and inoculated me against getting emotional about deaths in comics.

    What’s sad is that, given how ill-used the professor has been these last few years, there’s a good chance this one will “stick” and he’ll never get the character rehab I wanted to see him get.

    I’m much more interested now about how Cyclops will deal with what he’s done once (if?) he comes to his senses.

    • Totally agree. While the event itself isn’t necessarily that riveting, the fallout from it should make for some interesting stories. I’m just nervous that they’ll kill Cyclops too or turn him into a full villain, and that would make for a pretty boring fallout.

    • Jim, for maybe the first time ever, you and I are are in total agreement. Well said.

  11. Maybe he just passed out from the heat? I’ve been trade waiting and still looked at this without regret.It’s not like he won’t be brought back, and honestly I just don’t care anymore. SUPERHERO comics are becoming more and more uninteresting me the older I get (24 in ten days). I still love the medium though because of books like Parker, The Walking Dead, Saga, and others.

  12. When the Previews for AvX consequences came out my buddy @MrMiah on Twitter told me who he thought was the white chalk line and I was skeptical. He nailed the prediction! I guess, in a way, I had this spoiled weeks ago!

  13. Haha. Finally something enjoyable came out of this series. Wolverine like the arrogant fool he is asks Hulk to toss him and SPOILER… burns in Cyclops wake. Thank you. I will relive that scene until Wolverine goes back to his self contained title and I don’t need to hear from him again. Man Marvel ruined Cyclops reputation. I’m Out

  14. Isn’t this exactly how Messiah Complex ended?

  15. This is at least the fifth time “insert name here” has died or seemingly died

  16. all this killing of father figures is just a sly response to the boob on the cover of saga #1.

  17. I find this sentence particularly troubling:

    “We knew when we were sculpting the Avengers Vs. X-Men story that a major X-Men would die.”

    Maybe I’m misinterpreting this quote, but it sounds like they’re killing a character to kill them, not because it’s the story they want to tell. This is not the “organic” conclusion to the character’s own story. While I’m glad they chose a character based on what fit the story, they still went in with a body count in mind. Combine that with a very relaxed stance on possibly/probably bringing the character back, it feels more and more like a gimmick to sell comics. I know Marvel is in the business of selling comics, I don’t fault them for marketing. And I’ve been enjoying AvX a lot so far. This should not effect my enjoyment or view of the comic. But something about marketing-driven editorial decisions just feels… dirty.

    • Marvel’s been pretty open about the fact that they try to drive sales by having one major “death” a quarter. It’s a coldly corporate way to drive creative work, but that’s where we are.

    • I must be a particularly cold cynical audience member because I haven’t even noticed anyone dying – and we’re already up against Q4.

    • @Grandturk: They obviously haven’t kept to that strict schedule that they gave to their shareholders a few years ago but you can certainly point to a string of high profile “deaths” over the last few years like Human Torch, Winter Soldier, Thor, and now Professor X.

    • @Ali: I don’t think you’re misinterpreting it, but I don’t see as a wholly marketing-driven move.

      I kind of see the quote like this: In the story we were structuring, the death of a major X-character contributed to creating an overall satisfying structure.

      That can seem kind of crass because it’s speaking about the story on a purely structural level. But I imagine the “organic” part of the process came next when the discussion turned to “Which character’s death would make the most sense, have impact, and flow naturally out of the ongoing narrative.”

      In other words, I don’t think that knowing you’re going to kill a character before conceiving the whole story is necessarily a marketing-driven move. If a writer sits down to write a tragedy, killing characters is kind of a given — it’s just part of the form. And these event comics are basically melodramatic action-tragedies that end with pyrrhic victories.

      So while they may go to the “death of a major character” well too often, I think it’s partly because there aren’t that many wells to go to at this level of conflict with characters that are this powerful. In fact, I think the more difficult task is explaining why MORE characters aren’t dead from the world’s most powerful beings fighting a war.

    • Wasp “died” in a crossover as well.

    • Human Torch, Winter Soldier, Thor all three came back so how was this shocking?

    • While I understand the concern, and do believe it’s a marketing ploy, it does make sense. The crossover is titled Avengers VS X-Men. If a title is implying a large scale fight between two superpowered teams I would be more disappointed if there was NO death.

    • @Conor – touche – But they were dead so briefly and I never actually read those specific issues to see them die. I actually went from Bucky Cap in Captain America to Captain America & Bucky right inter Winter Solder without even hitting that “death” speed-bump. I think Black Widow said something like “you’re supposed to be dead so keep a low profile” but now its out anyway. I think put all together no one who has “died” since Cap has collectively stayed dead as long as Cap did.

    • Daken died recently.

  18. i was fairly interested in Bendis’ new x-book, but after this news, i think there might be a lot of interesting things going on in that title. which, i’m sure, was bendis’ point. also, it will be really nice to see a Scott Summers who isn’t a complete douchebag. to be honest, when i heard someone was kickin’ the bucket, i joyfully gasped “Cyclops!”, but to no avail.

  19. I’m interested to hear the discussion about this issue on the show. Personally, I haven’ read any of this, even dropping books that tie-tin remotely. Sadly, I’ve learned to live without some Marvel titles, which means I’m really down to just a few titles. This will become just one or two with Marvel NOW as none of the announced books have me all that interested. I think my wallet will appreciate the lack of all those double ships.

    • Double ship death had me dropping Marvel books like heavy furniture this past year. Especially at $4 a pop! It’s like a cable bill to read X-Men!

  20. can any one tell if magneto is still alive he got hit two. if he is i think he will ether lead the x-men or become a anti hero.

    • Yeah any word on Magneto? I don’t care that X died but I’d be kind of pissed if Magneto bit it too

    • @capdan: I think him leading the team is a likely scenario. But he’s been with the X-Men since everyone moved to San Francisco 4-5 years ago, so I think he’s kind of already become an anti-hero (like he was through the bulk of the 1980s).

  21. “We will not undo this quickly”
    At least they’re honest, I would have been much more pissed if they said “dead is dead, he ain’t never coming back” and then brought him back a year later. That said, I think this character will be back by the time X-men: first class 2 comes out, no surprise there.

    I wonder when the media is gonna get wise to comic publishers and stop putting out major news stories about [insert beloved character here] dying…wishful thinking

  22. Alonso is pretty honest in this, realizing that death in comics are temporary. And that’s ok.
    I was pretty sure Cyclops was gonna die in the end of A vs X. Well, there’s still time…

  23. Wow, I’m really glad I stay away from reading comments on this site most of time. The amount of vitriol I see here from people who dropped the book ages ago is just…. disheartening. You can decide what you enjoy, but don’t crap all over something you don’t even read just so everyone can know how little you care.

  24. Color me unimpressed. With a character whose in-story death count rivals that of Ol’ Revolving Door Jeanie, there’s little impact. While the relationship of the two could be mined for years, this just feels hollow. Like they were amping up for it to be someone else, chickened out and then picked this person because it would still be a satisfying conclusion. Oh well… sure they’ll be back soon.

  25. To be honest, if it wasn’t for Wolverine and the X-men’s first issue, I would have thought he was already dead. He is that irrelevant right now.

  26. I love seeing all the other X-characters having to stand up, lead, and most importantly, be the only ones permanently responsible for charting their own courses and ideologies. Which is just a tad hard to do when Daddy Xavier is, whether directly involved or simply continuing to exist, always somewhere in the background. Definitely adding to my interest in returning to the X-books.

  27. I was just re-watching Iron Man and I remembered what a douche he was during Civil War. Does anyone else think Captain America has just turned into what Iron Man was before. I didn’t read Marvel that much before but I remember scenes like when he let X-23 go (after she’d murdered innocent people) and being friends with Namor as the Captain America I remember. I think Marvel’s problem has been having way too many cooks in the kitchen. The writers did not write Cap or Cyclops well at all. And the artists. Oh my how the great Coipel rushed this issue and bi-weekly became monthly towards the end

  28. It’s the same principal as when they killed Nightcrawler.

    Take a character that people like but that no one has written a good story about in years and tell everyone the death “means something”.

  29. See you in six months Professor!

  30. Well that’s disappointing.

    Let’s kill off someone who has been irrelevant in X-Men lore for almost a decade. It would have been so much better if Cyclops died instead. Seriously! Not just saying that cause I hate him….well maybe a little.

    Seriously. It feels like Scott was going to have to martyr himself considering how he’s been ‘the boss’ of all mutants since Fraction took over Uncanny all those years ago. Killing off Xavier does absolutely nothing in the long run and it just reeks of a marketing ploy.

  31. I love how the little ‘AR’ in the bottom right corner adds to the enormity of the moment…

  32. I think its big. Not entirely novel, but big. And the “who” did it is big too. I think he actually is more relevant in his passing, and its a good time for it. I’m really looking forward to “Legacy” and what comes out of this in that book. I’ve really liked AvX too so maybe I’m biased. Wow, lots of simple sentences…

  33. Didn’t they just copy this from X-Men: The Last Stand?

  34. This issue made me sick. The Avengers have been in the wrong this entire time, and just because Marvel wholly owns that property and not the X-Men they decided to drop massive Shield Helicarrier sized turds all over them. The part where the X-Men join with the Avengers was beyond forced. Why? The Avengers have been nothing but bro asshats this entire crossover and yet the Architects forcefeed their point of view.

    The storytelling was also very muddled and shoddy during all the fight sequences.

    • You really think that The Avengers opposing the Phoenix force and the mass re-empowerment of all former mutants is a bad thing? Gotta tell you that, although the whole thing was rushed at the start, with rapid escalation, the Avengers did the only thing they could have realistically done. Story telling and characterisation aside, the plotted direction of the two teams is the only reasonable direction, in my view.

  35. Please indulge and forgive the following Nerd Rant:
    Ok, enough is enough! I really just can’t take it anymore, I gotta come out of the comics closet here and admit something (risking great nerd wrath), I F@%#ing hate Wolverine!! There, I said it, I hate the character and have for a while now. When I was growing up, the sort of guys who liked Wolvey , liked books with names like “Blood Strike”, “Blood Death” and “Death Blood Death”, you get the picture basically morons. Though there have been brief periods where I have had some respect for the character, Marvel just seems to be determined to kill that good will to make a buck. I see the X-men movies and I say, “Eh, I get it, they gotta play up the most popular character for a wider audience”, but then as the Hugh Jackman train kept rolling, here comes the “Wolverine and the X-men” cartoon. The show had pretty good action and OK plots, but Wolverine as the leader, F@%#ing ridiculous! Cyclops following Wolvey and Professor X picking him as leader over all the other possible X-men, F@%#ing ridiculous! But I said, you know what, that’s just a mass media version that’s meant to appeal to people outside of actual comic book readers, surely they’d never misrepresent the characters that way in the books. But now look where we are. This kinda reminds me of pro wrestling and soap operas, where they intro a character as a bad guy to shake things up, then they see how idiot fans excitingly respond to their loud mouths and ruthlessness and the writers go into overtime to try to give the character more depth and add more weight to their back story. You know what, Marvel should just go ahead and really go for the big bucks and make Deadpool the new leader of the Avengers, X-men and the Fantastic Four. I felt like Cyke was just starting to get his due in the books, reaching Batman level tactical planning and finally having a hot sexpot girlfriend that was more into him than he was her. Now your gonna turn Cyclops into the James Earl Ray of the mutant community, “Great”. You know Cyclops greatest sin? Being on the opposite side of a popular character. I just hope they at least try to stay somewhat consistent with their narrative of power corrupts and the weight of leadership, because it wasn’t so long ago that everyone was mad at Professor X for being so shady in his moves for the greater good. If they’re true to the story, Wolverine will now see that it’s not so easy being responsible for everyone and he can’t be the same loud mouth, hypocritical, rash acting idiot that he’s always been.
    I think Wolverine is an old uncle tom sellout for his role in AVX.

    • I think Wolverine has been more complicated, than you depict him here, for a long time. Going back to his failed marriage to Yukio in Japan (not sure on the name, can’t remember clearly), Wolverine has always had a noble savage vibe, which is played up or down depending on the writer or situation; to say he only appeals to “Blood Death” fans is simply untrue.

      Wolverine has always been capable of leading, and certainly has a level of wisdom (if not intelligence) beyond Scott, that made their relationship so interesting; and has simply come to the fore since schism. At first it might appear like Scott and Logan are on the wrong sides, with level headed Scott going militaristic, but it is clear the pressure of “saving his race” has warped his mind to some extent. Logan on the other hand is vastly experienced, in war and life in general. He sees the darkness of Scott’s path and is the only one with the balls to stand up to him. In addition Wolverine is not, nor has he positioned himself as, the leader of the Mutant world. He appears to be trying to do the opposite at the school, which is to live in the world as normally as possible.

      Marvel might have positioned Wolverine as a big star using his rather one dimensional “savage” persona, but he would not be able to occupy that position across media, if he did not have a longstanding and deeply developed character.

    • Well said har13quin.

      Wolverine’s biggest enemy is lazy writers who stick to the easy tropes.

    • I have long approved. Many thanks

  36. @Shelf Aware Fanboy – I’m with you! Deadpool Corp for life, yo!

  37. The way this was set up it could of been any of the following 4 characters
    Professor X
    White Queen

    I thought it would be Cyclops as he has become a bit of a tyrant over the last few years and I thought Emma would kill him for the Phoenix’s power as she has become mad because of the power. I am now hoping that Jean returns at the end of AvX to stop Scott because no one else except maybe Wolverine can stop the phoenix.

    • I thought it was pretty clear who was gonna get it from the preview pages they released last week (and it was who I suspected), but there were a couple panels that made me second guess myself, which was fun.

      Based on the preview image for 12, I’m thinking Hope is going to step in again. She’s kind of the whole reason this is happening, so it seems like she has to be involved in the resolution.

    • No one but Wolverine can stop the Phoenix. Methinks you overestimate Wolverine a tad bit too much

  38. Not having followed this, I just read wikipedia’s page on Avengers VS X-Men, and to quote John Tuturro in “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” – “That don’t make no sense!”


    Can anyone explain it really succinctly?


  40. Dark Phoenix Wolverine Phoenix Gun from Spider-Man/Wolverine was better.

  41. When your major crossover takes plot points from X-Men: The Last Stand, you know it’s a bad sign.