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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked (Death is Not the End) – Even X-Men Can’t Survive Being Cremated, Right?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

This is the second of a series of special Abadoned an’ Forsaked editions specifically spotlighting notable overturned comic book deaths. I call it “Death is Not the End.” This week we see how Colossus died, was cremated and then got better.

In 2001, Scott Lobdell was brought back to the X-Books to bridge the gap between the end of Chris Claremont’s run on the two main X-Men titles and Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men. Part of Lobdell’s mandate was to resolve the Legacy Virus storyline, where mutants were dying from a mysterious disease. In Uncanny X-Men #390, Beast discovers a cure for the virus (which had taken the life of Colossus’ younger sister), but also learns that for the cure to work, some mutant would have to use their mutant power and activate the cure. The downside is that in doing so, the mutant in question would die. Naturally, Beast puts the cure aside for the time being. Colossus, though, has other plans…

When Dr. Reyes recovers, she tries to save him…

So Colossus is about as dead as you can get.

However, the next issue, X-Men #110, we follow Kitty Pryde as she takes the cremated ashes of her former boyfriend back to Russia to spread….

(click on the double page spread to enlarge)

Clearly, the above intent was to say, “See, he’s dead dead dead dead DEAD. Dude was even cremated!”

However, as it turned out, he was NOT dead and was NOT cremated.

We discover at the end of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men #4 that Colossus is very much still alive…

At the end of the issue, Colossus asks if death has finally arrived for him…

The following issue, we discover how the original death has been forsaken…

So yeah, that’s how an X-Man managed to get past cremation.


And also how the x-men escaped my interest. Pointless deaths made more pointless by implausible retcons.

Can’t say no to Superstar Writer Joss Whedon. Superstar Writer Joss Whedon gets what he wants.

I actually found this rather plausible, because at the time, there was a big scandal in Atlanta (where I lived) about a mortuary/crematorium that basically didn’t give a fuck and was giving people random ashes. So I could totally believe that Ord or Dr. Rao switched out a body or bribed whoever handled Peter’s cremation.

Future “death” stories need to add a panel in which a scientist says, “We checked the dead body’s DNA. We’re 100% certain it’s him. Not a clone, a changeling, a duplicate from an alternate reality, a Skrull, an LMD, or whatever.”

Writers still will be able to resurrect their favorite heroes, but this will make it harder.

The scientist has to personally cremate the body himself, of course, or there’s still room for a switch.

I liked this issue a lot. I was expecting Jean to come back, and then it turns out to be Colossus. I love how they didn’t hint at it, and kept the surprise.

Elpie – Colossus’ return was actually mandated by Marvel editorial, rather than demanded by Whedon. Just as I suspect his original death was (seems a bit unlikely that Lobdell would have requested to kill off a major character in his first fill-in issue). And as much as it was a “bridge” between Claremont’s and Morrison’s runs, Morrison actually wanted to use Colossus – and wound up using Emma Frost instead (which worked out for the best on every level).

“Can’t say no to Superstar Writer Joss Whedon. Superstar Writer Joss Whedon gets what he wants.”

Actually, if I remember the accounts correctly it was a request from editorial that Whedon was simply happen to include in his plot.

But then that scientist will end up secretly being…Mr. Sinister! I mean…The Jackel!! No, wait, I mean…Indian doctor lady (who’s really a good guy) and an alien race with no noses!!!

Rob — What if the scientist lied? What if the scientist turned out to be a skrull? ;-)

This is bad, but not as bad as what happened with Betty Ross. In Incredible Hulk #467, we’re very clearly told that Betty was cremated after her death, and we see her urn in Rick Jones’ home. (Impliedly setting up HULK: FUTURE IMPERFECT, where Betty’s urn plays a minor but memorable role in the future.) Peter David’s run closed with that issue…EXCEPT that they tacked on a two-page epilogue by Joe Casey (setting up his brief run for the next issue) revealing that Betty was in stasis and her father put someone else in the urn.

I mean, I get that the way to undo solution is to say that the body was never in there, but to do it in the SAME ISSUE was pretty crappy.

I kept hearing about how Joss had come up with this great way to undo Collosus’s death. When I finally got around to reading it, it seemed pretty typical to me. The moment itself was awesome, the way they hinted at Jean and Kitty’s reaction and everything, but the actual logic behind it was typical comic nonsense.

When I first read Colossus’ death, all I could wonder was why they didn’t just call Mr. Immortal from the West Coast Avengers to activate the cure. He could inject himself, kill himself, thereby activating his mutant power and the cure, and return to life. Problem solved, and nobody else dies.

Well, he was in the comic West Coast Avengers, but actually he was a Great Lakes Avenger. Oops.

So I’m guessing Colossus had lost the will to live because he’d been forced to wear that outfit and that ponytail, right? So ending it all plus saving mutantkind would have been a win/win proposition.

I think the Scott Lobdell story is way better than what Wheadon did. Not only was it better written, filled with emotion it was truly beautiful. The death of Colossus was also something that made the X-men books interesting, it felt like if they could kill of Colossus anything could happen. it made it seem like these stories meant something. The Wheadon story just came off as lazy to me, Colossus was alive just because they wanted him to be, it became one of the main reasons i dropped all the X-men comics i was reading.

The fishy explanation behind Peter’s resurrection can easily be justified by the dramatic impact of the scene. The same can’t be said for the way he was killed, culled to close a plot device with a lot of heavy-handed whining about his dead little sister. The latter of which, unfortunately, was all Colossus became known for.

I think everything feels more forced when it’s covered here because we’re getting it rapid-fire–look, he’s dead! no, he’s alive! It was a trick! Separated by time, it didn’t bug me as much but yeah, here it comes off rather hand-wavey (they just revived me! It was easy!). And as I recall, that’s despite not caring much for his death.

Who cares. It’s a comic book.

Fraser, separated by time, it was still bad.

In some ways, it was worse, as it was part of the end point of “Dead means dead”. Colossus was part of the revolving door going back into regular service.

Seriously, why do people love Whedon’s X-Men run so much? It’s really just above average at best, and this is a good example of why. You have a lame villain doing the “mutant cure” shtick for the hundreth time, and he brings back Colossus by basically just saying “He really wasn’t dead,” and he gets away with it because Kitty’s discovery is “dramatic,” and admittedly, his dialogue is good. Really, he’s just another Scott Lobdell, only Scott worked with greats like Mad!, Bachalo, Pacheco, and the Kuberts, plus he could actually plot in addition to dialogue. Look at AoA, Phalanx Covenant, Generation X – the guy had his moments, plus he wasn’t beholden to his artists and made his books late. What I’m saying is, Lobdell really did have a better X-Men run that Whedon, but because Whedon did Buffy, he gets a pass. Whatever, at least those Cassaday pages are gorgeous (although sometimes you waited a long ass time to see them).

I bought at least 10 extra copies of x men 390.It was a very powerful story.Still is.

found it shocking when kitty learned that peter had his body switched with some one else when they all knew he died to cure the legacy virus . not to mention they never did bother to explain how ord could get to peters body to make the switch without either setting off the mansion security or getting caught by some one .

Killing Colossus was dumb, made no sense at the time. I’m glad ti was reversed no matter how silly. I am for resurrections in comics, and primarily against deaths.

It was all worth it for the panel you didn’t show right after he’s hit with the bullet. The one where colossus runs through Kitty and she just stands there and the touches her heart. Cassaday nails the expressions then, it’s so good.

While IMO Colossus should have never been killed off in the first place, I think its hard to argue that his resurrection scene is better written than his death.

” While IMO Colossus should have never been killed off in the first place, I think its hard to argue that his resurrection scene is better written than his death. ”

The resurrection scene isn’t blanketed with sappy narrative captions, for one. Whedon’s experience in television and film helps his comics scripts, because he’s learned well that a visual medium relies on its images to successfully carry its message. He trusts Cassaday to sell the emotional beats, and uses only dialogue naturalistic to the scene (Kitty’s stream-of-consciousness expression of disbelief at Peter’s survival, Peter’s clipped dialogue upon his first human/mutant interaction in many months).

I was always bugged that the cure that Beast manufactures he knew with great certainty what the side effects (death after using mutant power) was going to be. How does that even get programmed into a computer?

Guess it is just more Shiar technology that was a crutch for every writer at this time.

I always wondered why didn’t they give it to Wolverine or better yet Sabretooth, healing factors should revive them, also, it seemed like Beast could of or should have been able to work on it more, Colossus jumped the gun. I really disliked his character at this point but still thought no, this is just stupid. I have been reading classic X-Men lately, he was a better character back then. I hope he is better now than what he was when he died. I will say his character as portrayed in the resurrection seen seems a whole lot better than the one that killed himself.

So a character died and was resurrected. Who cares. If the story was good (either end of the cycle) I don’t really care, so long as there’s been enough time between the two for it to not feel rushed. Superboy and Impulse, for example, were still warm in the ground when they got resurrected. Colossus’ return wasn’t quite long enough, but they both had ramifications and were at least “above average” for their respective times.

The worst part of the death/rebirth cycle in comics is the annoyed fans never being happy. If no one EVER dies, then comics look like a carebear funland of bubblegum and rainbows where you’re never really in danger, and people complain. If a character DOES die then people complain that it was just a cheap trick for publicity or a stab at whatever racial/social group the character was from or it was just their favourite and the creator should have known that so they’re a hack. If a character comes BACK then people complain because the death “meant nothing” even though they were clamouring for the return for years. And if they NEVER come back then, again, it’s a racial/social/gender based slurr at that particular character.

AND THEN people less “in” the comics world say that if people come back then no death has any meaning. But these are SUPERHEROES we’re talking about, people. If they can fly, if they can travel through time, if they can read your mind or destroy a sun with one hand, then why is DEATH a sudden, unapproachable line in the sand? Surely, then, if life and death are mere obstacles to be overcome, this makes the stakes even HIGHER. If death is not the end for a hero, then death will certainly be no end for a villain. And perhaps finding a way back from the dead, or coping without the loved ones who have passed away, is as good a story as any superhero slugfest.

“The fishy explanation behind Peter’s resurrection can easily be justified by the dramatic impact of the scene. The same can’t be said for the way he was killed, culled to close a plot device with a lot of heavy-handed whining about his dead little sister. The latter of which, unfortunately, was all Colossus became known for.”

Agreed. Colossus was the X-Men’s butt monkey under Lobdell’s tenure on the book. I just think that he had no idea what to do with him.

Hey, Phoenix survives cremation all the time, right?

I like that art for X-Men 110, so I looked it up because I couldn’t figure out who drew it.

It’s Leinil Yu. Inked by Mark Morales, which may explain why it’s not so damn scratchy (and I like scratchy inkers, mind you). But that is beautiful looking stuff.

In case anyone’s wondering, the top stuff is Salvador Larroca.

I love that “PLUNGE” sound effect in the one part. HA!

That “Thank you.” That one gets me. Stuff like that is why people dug Whedon/Cassaday on Astonishing — it’s a great blend of writing and art that uses the comics medium to its best. Great “beats”, the emotion is in the faces as much as the words.

“I was always bugged that the cure that Beast manufactures he knew with great certainty what the side effects (death after using mutant power) was going to be. How does that even get programmed into a computer?

Guess it is just more Shiar technology that was a crutch for every writer at this time.”

True but wrapping up a long running storyline about curing a disease in one issue and making it actualy dramatic would be tough for any writer

1) ‘Plunge’ sound effect took me right out the story.
2) Quoting Giant sized x-men #1 came off as corny- anyone else find this?
3) “He did it for Penance” (he actually did it for Magik)

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

January 20, 2013 at 4:21 am

Ah yes. Endless whining about how “great” Scott Lobdell (seriously?!) was and how Joss Whedon is terrible and… Are some of you people so in love with ridiculous melodrama and pointless cliches? Whedon’s story is hardly the best thing ever, but Lobdell (with some help from Nicieza) was the one writer who made me quit reading Marvel comics in the first place. Admittedly, X-Men is a difficult beast to control: not even Grant Morrison could make it great, but at least he (and later Whedon) made it readable again.

I just put it down to Hank being a genius. I assume comic book scientists make that kind of leap all the time.
Actually the quote from Giant-Sized Xmen was one of the few good things about Colossus buying it.

Without necessarily defending Scott Lobdell, I must point out that Whedon didn’t really think of much to do with Colossus beyond this scene either. And the Breakworld stuff ended up being an undercooked, underconceptualized mess by the time the Whedon run was over. This is the strongest moment by far in a surprisingly mediocre run by a hotshot creative team.

Breakworld was indeed a mess. Though for me, tthe scene with Wolverine after Kitty and Colossus spent the night made up for a lot of flaws.

Actually, I felt that Whedon used Colossus the way in a similar fashion to one of his own classic characters– Oz. Whedon used Colossus’ silent nature to great advantage, because when he did have Peter speak, he always said something noteworthy. Either comedically (“I am riding a monster’s nostrils. I really should concentrate”) or dramatically (“Rage. I. Am Made. Of RAGE!”). Definitely played to the character’s all-too-overlooked strengths.

But just like Oz, he ended up a static, reactive character whose contributions to driving the plot had more to do with stuff happening *to* him and nothing to do with stuff *he chose to do*. More a plot point than a character, in the end, and not much more than comic relief as a character.

I get that you’re trying to defend Whedon’s Newness against the Nostalgia-Only crowd, but sometimes two interpretations of a concept in two different styles can be mediocre in two different ways. Sometimes the comparison between old and new doesn’t produce a clear winner. I agree that scene-to-scene, Whedon blows Lobdell away. Run-for-run, though, I don’t have a strong preference either way. By the end of Whedon’s run, I feel we were getting just as much half-baked, convoluted plotting and unearned “moments” as in Lobdell’s “bridge” run (which had a few worthwhile bits, like the Cyclops-focus issue).

It’ quite possible to write a caption-heavy comic that works as well as a cinematic style comic; several of the famous “Class of ’86” writers did so, and brilliantly. I also think there are limits to the “comics as film” analogy, and that those aspects of Cassaday’s work need to be looked at, too. It’s not just each panel that works in the scene above, it’s the overall page design, from the shape and size of the panels as the scene progresses to the willingness to use the static nature of the panel itself to do what film has some trouble doing.

When we stress the filmic quality of contemporary superhero styles in order to borrow some of Hollywood’s style and mainstream status for comics, we inadvertently encourage readers to do little more than “animate” the page in some crude fashion. That makes comics less a medium of its own and more a really good storyboard for an imagined superior version in some other medium. (Companies make this mistake too; witness Marvel’s “motion comic” experiments.) Even worse, we imply that Hollywood blockbusters are the best of film, and that may actually discredit the comics critic’s taste and claims for anyone who cares deeply about film.

He did it for “penance”, not the character Penance.

He blamed himself for Magik’s death, so he sacrificed himself to stop the Legacy Virus.

but Magik is alive too! glad for this resurrection, she is a great character that should never have been killed off.

Must point out, there was a whole storyline in Wolverine (prior to the Marvel Knights relaunch) where he was in the afterlife and met up with Colossuss.

I think most Afterlife storylines should be taken with a serious grain of salt. Too often do writers just ignore it. And honestly it’s probably for the best because it’s writers imposing some religious belief(either their own or they just picked it out of a hat). It’s very hard to say all these beings exist and yet no one is definitive. Where do human beings go when they die?

Whedon does come from television and film, but it’s problematic to assert that background means he knows that visuals are most important to telling a story. One of the qualities that Whedon is known for is his dialog — his use of slang, the pacing of lines, etc. I liked his X-Men stories for the most part (making the Danger Room sentient and malevolent in particular), but feel that they also are among the worst examples of decompression. Rather than opening the story to let themes or subplots expand, the story was dilated to fit six issues; hence, each issue was full of panels of people staring silently, or wide panels of undramatic activity.

Generally speaking I dislike comparisons between comic books and cinema, and think the attempts to treat panels like shots in a film is misplaced. Films are of varying lengths, whereas most comic books are 22 pages. Hickman in particular seems to want to pace his books like sequences from movies, resulting in dramatically inert stories that undersell his usually rather interesting ideas. (See, for example, Reed Richards’ monologue about respecting death in the first two issues of New Avengers. It appears in both issues, and has five or six page-wide panels of Reed’s virtually unchanged face. He has maybe six sentences of dialog. By the time I finished, I was so annoyed at how drawn-out it was I didn’t much care about the rest of the scene.)

I’ll be honest, they lost me originally with Whedon’s run because of this. I actually remembered reading something in a letters page (which I admit I took a little too literally as a 13 year old) and thought in 2001 that Piotr was never coming back.

X-Mail quote at link below

Well that didn’t surprise me I have one issue of NEW X-MEN where Wolverine and Jean grey are falling into the sun and wolverine is burnt to ash, and jean grey holds him together as his healing factor restores him.

Some of Omar and Deron’s comments remind me of something that was in, I believe, the Wizard “director’s commentary” of this Astonishing arc.

Whedon tells of how Quesada told him originally that the first issue would be 32 pages. Whedon assumed that that meant he had 32 pages of story to work with, only to be told later that it was 32 pages including the ads. Whedon said something to the effect (rightly so, too) of “what do I care how many pages WITH ads it is?”

So yeah, even taking into consideration that Whedon was pretty new to comics (can’t remember if Fray happened before this, I think it probably did), external factors on top of that (miscommunication from the boss) might have played heck with his pacing.

Also, I don’t know if you’ve covered it in Legends before, Brian, but from what some commenters are saying here, Whedon … didn’t want to bring Colossus back himself? Is that what some people are saying? Was that the case that editorial wanted him back, or what? I haven’t read the entire Whedon run, but I thought from what I’ve read of it, Colossus was pretty important to the overall plot.

Plus, he introduced SWORD and Agent Brand, so WIN.

You know, both this (it seems) and the Goblin resurrection involved someone else’s dead body as a stand-in for the character who “died”. The Marvel Universe seems to have issues with keeping proper records of the dead. Or a plethora of shady undertakers.

Storyteller, I’ve seen a couple of afterlife journeys arguing that the afterlife you find is the one at some level you imagine/expect. Which would explain why it’s so different from book to book.

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Even with some experience under his belt, Whedon’s comics work has simply never been the equal of his TV work. Buffy season 8 has his usual strengths with dialogue, but like his work on Astonishing and Runaways, it had severe pacing problems and often sloppy or insipid plotting. The style and themes excuse a lot, but taken as longform work or even as pseudo-“seasons” nearly all of his comics work is somewhat underwhelming.

We’re in a strange era of superhero comics scripting, one in which the writers employing complex, interesting themes at the Big Two seem to be bizarrely lousy at (or really, apathetic towards) good pacing and basic plot mechanics, while the writers who plot their stories tightly and pace them well seem to be incompetent at or uninterested in complex themes. (By “good pacing” i don’t mean either decompression or hypercompression; i mean the ability to use either or both modes appropriately rather than being “stuck” in one or the other. Both are tools and nothing more.)

There are writers who can do both — Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis spring to mind, and Grant Morrison *was* good at this until sometime into his JLA run — but not many anymore. Hence all the arguments between people who complain about legitimately poor plotting and people who complain about insipid or absent thematic work. it’s a shame that most readers now have to pick one or the other.

I had the same reaction to J. Michael Strazynski–I enjoyed Babylon 5 but his comics work doesn’t impress me at all.
I did enjoy Whedon’s Fray.

This was actually a plot point in the wonderful X-Statix: Deadgirl mini-series from ’06 — Dr. Strange is explaining how some characters come back from the dead (a little meta, but apparently the explanation is that if someone is wanted “back” by enough people, they’re “promoted” back to life, laws of physics be damned) and uses Colossus as an example: He died, we all saw his dead body, and he was cremated… and now he’s alive.

Have a good day.
G Morrow



You’ve basically put into words not only all my criticisms with Whedon, but my criticism of the “modern” styles of plotting comics. Thank you.

Someone pointed out death/return cycles – I’m a DBZ fan; death and returns don’t bother me, in fact, I think there should be more, so long as the return is planned at the same time as the death like with Death of Superman (a highly underrated gem of a story that is all kinds of meta).

And speaking of manga, why don’t modern writers try this approach: instead of decompressing American superhero comics stories using “cinematic techniques,” compress the Shonen manga plot formula that series like DBZ and Bleach use, and apply it to American comics. Actually, don’t, I want to be the first person to do that so I can say I revolutionized the industry lol

Other than the “X-Statix: Dead Girl” miniseries, there was also the “Incredible Hercules #129″ storyline about how casinos in the Marvel Universe are really just havens for the lords of the dead, like Pluto in Atlantic City or Hela in Las Vegas (during JMS’ Thor run, and in Uncanny X-Men during “Utopia”).

The dead can gamble in an attempt to win a resurrection. It’s usually hopeless, but sometimes…

The quasi science explanation I remember was that Beast figured that death would be required to spread this version of a cure, because the virus itself was spread when the infected mutant died. That was how the virus was spread and thus how the cure would spread (not saying whether that makes sense or not, just….) So using Wolverine or Sabretooth wouldn’t work, because they’re healing factors would actually keep them from dying and thus wouldn’t spread the cure. Kind of like if there was a cure that had to be administered by a bullet, choosing to use it on Superman because he’s bulletproof would be counter to the actual solution. However that Great Lakes Avenger would work because he did actually die before his power activated and brought him back.

I never understood why the X-men had a problem with Colossus killing himself to stop the Legacy virus anyway. Sure, the Beast might eventually have found another way to enact the cure, but how many hundreds or thousands of innocent mutants might die while they were standing around waiting?

Colossus sacrificed himself to stop even one more innocent life from being lost in the meantime. That’s what heroes do, even if it costs their own life. I’m surprised the X-men weren’t all fighting each other to be the one to do it, rather than fighting him to stop it from happening. Or at least half vs half, with the pragmatic ones backing Colossus’ play. It just made no sense to me.

the tragedy of Colossus killing himself (or I guess ‘killing’ himself) isn’t lessened by the fact that Whedon brought him back. I felt like I was in the room when I read the sound effect of the bullet pinging off Peter’s metallic chest; Kitty grabbing her heart! What can I say? I liked it. And I was taken by surprise, too.

I have to say this storyline made my day. Colossus is my favorite X-man and seeing him return could never upset me. He was important for a while then eventually went back to being the guy that just lifted heavy things and protected the team from destructive blasts.

A quick very obviously late question here… in story was there a reason why Colossus was brought back? The postings above and what other little I know of the story it seems like he was just brought back, vague explanation on the basics how, and thats it. Was it part of someones plan to bring him back to screw with them? Basically what the people who brought him back were planning or was it just as random as it sounds? Kitty runs into him, he says they replaced his body and brought him back, and thats it…I take it and hope there was more but it doesn’t sound it. And I don’t think anyone will see this but worth the shot. Lol

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