In March this year, Marvel Comics relaunched their X-Men line with the "ResurrXion," an attempt to breathe new life into a flagging comic book brand. So far, it's been a tremendous success; sales performance has been relatively strong, and most of the books have garnered positive reactions from the fans. Now though, evidence is building that the "ResurrXion" will be literal; death is always something of a revolving door in comics, and it looks as though the legendary founder of the X-Men is about to return!
Yes, you read that right, X-Men fans. Professor Xavier himself, killed in 2012's "Avengers Vs. X-Men" event, is coming back!
Charles Soule's Astonishing X-Men
In July, as part of the "ResurrXion," #Marvel relaunched Astonishing X-Men — a powerful brand among Marvel fans after the first series. Helmed by Joss Whedon, it launched some of the strongest X-Men stories of the last decade. This time around, the House of Ideas put together a creative team including writer Charles Soule and artist Jim Cheung, and committed to a narrative that was guaranteed to leave fans intrigued. They revealed the return of the Shadow King, an astral being whose profile recently was promoted, becoming the main villain of Fox's TV series Legion. But the first issue closed with a strange revelation: the Shadow King is playing chess against another astral being, a very familiar one:
Nobody knew what to make of this twist. Xavier's been dead since 2012's "Avengers Vs. X-Men" event, but Marvel has long been enjoying teasing his potential return; Jeff Lemire's Extraordinary X-Men dropped hints that went nowhere. Wary X-Men fans viewed this as more of the same, but their curiosity was piqued.
The second issue saw the X-Men step on to the Astral Plane, and find themselves caught up in a strange psychic game of chess between the Shadow King and his mysterious opponent. Soule's script offered a subtle hint, with dialogue pointing out that many dead things end up trapped on the Astral Plane. It seems that's the case with Charles Xavier's mind; the Shadow King discussed his having been a prisoner here for quite some time.
Of course, so far this shouldn't be taken as evidence Charles Xavier is coming back. After all, it's entirely possible the series will see the X-Men free Xavier's mind, giving him peace at last. Or so we thought — at least we did until seeing the November solicitations.
The November Solicitations Tease Xavier's Return
This is the cover for X-Men Gold #16, an issue that sees one X-Men team don team outfits once again as they step into the Negative Zone on a mission to save one of their own. The actual arc may be a mystery to us — we have no idea why a mutant would be headed to the Negative Zone, after all — but the team roster on the cover is pretty intriguing. You'll notice a certain bald-headed mutant standing among the X-Men.
At this stage, we can be pretty confident that the "ResurrXion" brand is literal. The first arc of Astonishing X-Men looks set to be the story of Charles Xavier's return to the land of the living, with the good Professor having been trapped on the Astral Plane — presumably since his death back in 2012. It's unclear how he'll get a body, but it's worth noting that Xavier has previously shown the ability to pull things out of the Astral Plane into the real world. So a literal resurrection wouldn't be too difficult, especially since Soule also has the Omega-Level telepath Psylocke on hand in his comic too.
What Role Will Charles Xavier Play?
Back in 2012, when Marvel killed off Charles Xavier, they admitted it was partly because they'd run out of ideas for the character. The X-Men had largely grown beyond him, with Wolverine now headmaster of the latest mutant school (seriously), and literally half the books focused on the X-Men teaching the next generation. Xavier's death prepared the ground for some major arcs; he died at Cyclops's hands, a plot twist that Brian Bendis used to divide the X-Men during his run on the X-Men books. Meanwhile, Rick Remender had the Red Skull cut Xavier's brain out of his body and somehow gained his psychic powers, a plot that was only resolved in the run-up to this year's "Secret Empire" event.
This year, Marvel has effectively relaunched the X-Men range by blending a new direction — with Marc Guggenheim taking on the flagship X-Men Gold — with a hefty dose of nostalgia. They've realized that the X-Men books had drifted from their core identity, the battle against prejudice, and as a result there's clearly a place once again for the dreamer who is Charles Xavier. What's more, his literal resurrection makes the whole 'ResurrXion' brand take on a whole new dimension.
So there you have it, X-Men fans; it looks as though Charles Xavier is about to return. If I'm reading the signs correctly, his mind has been trapped on the Astral Plane ever since the events of "Avengers Vs. X-Men." Now, the X-Men have become caught up in the psychic game of chess between Xavier and his oldest nemesis, the Shadow King, and are soon to bring their mentor back to the land of the living. Frankly, I couldn't be more delighted.