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Month of Avengers/X-Men Top Fives – Top Five Most Pointless Deaths in the Pages of X-Men

All month-long we’ll be featuring top five lists about either the Avengers or the X-Men. Here is an archive of all the past top five lists!

Today we’ll look at the top five most pointless deaths in the pages of the X-Men (counting crossovers with X-Men).

Enjoy!

Let’s face it. If you kill off a character, there will always be people who are unhappy about it. However, this list is not just for deaths that people didn’t like, but rather for deaths that really didn’t have much of a point, ordered from those that had the most of a point to those that were the most pointless. To wit, Colossus died to stop the Legacy Virus. That’s a point. Nightcrawler sacrificed himself to save Hope. That’s a point. The people on this list? Not so much…

5. Banshee

In X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2 by Ed Brubaker, Trevor Hairsine and Scott Hanna, the recently resurrected Vulcan sends the X-Men’s airplane, the Blackbird, to destroy a passenger jet that has Banshee on it.

Banshee gets out of the plane to try to save the hundreds of people on the jet.

He fails…

They all die.

So while that is a pretty pointless death, I have it not AS high because I suppose the point of this particular death WAS the pointlessness of it. You know, the idea that not all deaths ARE heroic. So since the pointlessness of the death here is sort of being highlighted rather than just avoided, I think it doesn’t make it AS bad as the other deaths on this list.

4. Moira MacTaggert

Moira MacTaggert was a great character, so boy did she have a weak way of dying.

Mystique put together a new team of Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to go to Muir Isle to steal MacTaggert’s Legacy Virus research to adapt the virus to only kill humans…

We never actually SEE Moira suffer her fatal injuries.

Just two parts in this four-part crossover, in the pages of BISHOP, of all places, we learn that yep, off-panel there was an explosion and she was fatally wounded…

The only reason she isn’t higher on this list is the fact that in the final part of the crossover she had a big noble sacrifice where she clung to life for just long enough to give Professor Xavier her cure to the Legacy Virus through telepathy…

That makes her death a bit more noble.

What really sort of irks me about this storyline is that it tries to draw a line in the sand where Mystique is now flat-out a villain. Said line was washed away soon afterwards by the time she got her own ongoing series.

3. Skin and Bedlam

Uncanny X-Men #423, by Chuck Austen, Ron Garney and Mark Morales, opens with the X-Men just coming across a bunch of crucified mutants…

I love how they’re like, “Should we just leave our friends’ dead bodies up here?”

Jubilee is the most famous of the crucified mutants…

And sure enough, she gets healed (Magma, too, but I don’t know if they show that here)…

So Skin and Jesse Bedlam just die for the heck of it. If you were planning on having Jubilee survive it, just have the other mutants be nameless ones, which they were for the most part, instead of just killing off Skin for seemingly no reason. He was way too good of a character to go out with such little regard like that. Especially since he didn’t even get to have a death scene! At least a couple of issues later they had an issue devoted to Jubilee dealing with Skin’s death. Otherwise, this would likely be a bit further down the list.

2. Bevatron, Catseye and Roulette

Now I don’t mean to suggest that I’m some huge fan of the Hellions, Emma Frost’s students at the Massachusetts Academy. Far from it. However, they were decent enough characters. Decent enough that three of them were effectively killed off off panel.

In Uncanny X-Men #281 (by Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee, John Byrne and Art Thibert), we meet Trevor Fitzroy when he bursts into a Hellfire Club party. He kills one of the Hellions, Jetstream…

He then seemingly kills another Hellion, Beef…

(By the way, if a dude is supposed to be super-strong like Beef, would you automatically presume he died there?)

Next, he drains the life force from Tarot…

Fair enough. But then he just drains the life force from a bunch of other people, including, apparently (although not shown) Bevatron, Catseye and Roulette!

How pointless is it to kill off an established character when you don’t even SEE it happen?

1. Sharon Friedlander

In Uncanny X-Men #298, by Scott Lobdell, Brandon Peterson and Al Milgrom, Sharon Friedlander, longtime New Mutants supporting character, is killed by a blow to the head…

That’s it.

They drag her body around for the rest of the issue (which makes it seem like she isn’t dead).

She gets off a telepathic message to Professor Xavier…

And they NEVER actually say she’s dead in the issue. In fact, they never even ADDRESS her in the rest of the issue.

But no, later on they confirmed that yep, she died from that punch.

That’s about as pointless as it comes.

90 Comments

Concur with all. Great work, Brian.

I remember one of my friends (bachelor’s in english, a law degree at this point) giving me perspective on writing–if an author makes you angry, at least he has given you enough regard of his characters to inspire your feelings and ultimately has done a good job.

Then I handed him Austen’s “Holy War.”

“Oh f!*% what I was saying earlier, the X-Men arguing over forensic evidence is ridiculously stupid.”

Now this was a really good list! I can only agree with you.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

September 4, 2013 at 10:49 am

Kinda funny how none of these deaths took place before the ’90s. Agreed on all counts of their pointlessness, though. Moira, at the very least, should have gotten her injuries on-screen. Though I remember the death itself being very well-handled.

And Uncanny X-Men #298 was my first comic book! I adored it at the time, but I dunno how I’d feel about it now. I can’t remember the last time I read it. Ah, nostalgia.

Thanks for posting this! Can’t believe someone actually got around to crucifying Jubilee and I had missed it till now. =)

I would have preferred Nightcrawler on this list instead of Banshee. Banshee DID try to save everyone on his plane and did all he could – it turned out to be pointless, but it’s not like he could have known.
(Additionally, it served a proper function in the story a s a proper means of making the threat more menacing, deadly and serious.)

While Nightcrawler indeed sacrificed himself to save Hope, he did so by teleporting on the worst spot he could possibly teleport to. After his many years of experience, he surely could have come up with a better plan than to provide a one-time block against Bastion’s attack.
Story-wise, everything about Kurt’s death came across to me as: ‘it’s a major crossover story-arc, we need to kill off one important character, and none of our writers really knows what to do with Nightcrawler anyway’. (Don’t get me wrong – I liked the Second Coming storyline a lot. This was the only part I didn’t really like about it.)

you could’ve filled this list with characters killed in Ultimatum…

Wait, why would fanatical Christians crucify someone? That’s….it….I…

Forget it, Omar. It’s Austen.

First name that popped in my head: Banshee.

First subject in the article: Banshee.

Well done.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

September 4, 2013 at 12:37 pm

And is it just me, or did Fitzroy have one of the all-time worst “costumes?” Seriously, that big diamond-esque thing? What were they thinking?

That should be one of these top 5 lists! Top 5 worst costume designs. I’d be all over that, and by “be all over,” I mean “eye vomiting.”

I thought Psylocke’s death during the first arc of X-Treme X-men was pretty pointless. She did it to save Beast’s life, but didn’t really do much to Vargas from what I recall. Vargas killed her and probably could have still killed Beast if he felt like it.

And then there was Rusty Collins who was killed by Holocaust just after the Age of Apocolypse. Not an especially major character but probably Hellion level.

In all my years of reading the X-Men, Fitzroy rates among the absolute worst characters.

Ah yes, the Whilice Portacio issues. Jim Lee and Whilice Portacio got to plot out their own issues with John Byrne scripting, who immediately quit because the artists didn’t follow their own plots.

I’m surprised Thunderbird isn’t on this list, always thought that was the king of senseless comic/X-Men deaths. He dies trying to prove he’s just as useful to the team as Wolverine. Banshee could have saved him at any time but Thunderbird simply refused.

The only thing Fitzroy did well was show how bad-ass Forge is in UXM 301. Can you do a post next on most misused X-Men characters? Because I think Forge should be on top of that list, which sucks considering how much of a favorite of mine he is.

Great list. You should do a followup on most pointless characters in the pages of X-Men also. Fitzroy would definitely top that list.

I think the death of Synch and his inability to hold on to “M”‘s power during the final episode of Generation X was utter pointless as well. If they wanted to give Hope the ability and knock Synch out of contention, they could have just downgraded the ability or had him lock in with a specific power

That last panel of Xavier for #4… DULL SURPRISE!

It’s not a big deal, Brian, but the credits for that issue are missing.

have to agree both banshees death and skins and bedlams death were kind of stupid for banshee being killed by some new character who later is related to cyclops. plus the only thing skins death proved is that the church of humanity is really nuts but also a waste of a character. not to mention Moria got wasted and it was off pannel.when if some x-men writer was going to kill a character like moria they should of let fans see the death . knowing truley the character got sacrified for the right part of the story

Bedlam didn’t die but Skin did R.I.P Angelo.

Wait, I thought that death in comic books was treated very seriously. Every death was supposed to be important but necessary to advance the story. Are you telling me this isn’t true? It’s just a cheap device? Since when?

I don’t know what part of the Austen sequence bothered me so much. All the decent characters with potential who died, or the fact that Jubilee didn’t.

Okay, great article and I totally get there was a theme of character deaths that impacted nothing in the storyline.

But how on a list of pointless deaths is Jean Grey NOT at the top?! I know there is usually a reason…saving the universe or redeeming Scott’s dull and petulant story of infidelity . But at this point, when Jean Grey dies, it’s like the character has gone vacationing. We wave her off and say “See you when you back!” There is no point or deep emotional resonance anymore.

Jean Grey dieing is cheaper than a senior citizen’s breakfast.

Why do people keep spreading this myth that Jean Grey dies and gets resurrected all the time? She actually doesn’t. I only recall her dying and resurrecting twice, maybe 3 times, which actually puts her pretty low on the list. Off the top of my head I can think of three times Wolverine died and was resurrected.

And Jean Grey’s deaths stick for years and years at a time.

It would be interesting to do a top 5 list of characters who have died and resurrected more than Jean Grey.

I’m not a fan of any of these deaths. I especially got upset when they killed off Skin and Jesse Bedlam like that.

But… as a writer, none of these deaths come off as “pointless” to me. All of them were used to raise the stakes in the story, to show that the villain was a serious threat not to be taken lightly. And as much as I would’ve preferred some no-name mutants up on that cross in place of Skin and Jesse Bedlam — killing off characters we’ve never seen and have no emotional connection to wouldn’t have the same impact, on us or on the leads in the story. And that’s another factor — these deaths made the stakes on the story personal to the other characters in it.

So, these deaths were “pointless,” in that these characters didn’t die accomplishing some goal. But there was a point for each of them… just a plot point.

Roquefort Raider

September 4, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I wish writers made it a point of honor not to kill, maim or otherwise irreparably damage characters that they did not create. If the dramatic death of an established character is required to make a story point, then fine: go create a new character and develop them for a while before sacrificing them.

Oh, and my vote for the most pointless death that actually turned out to be a good idea is Guardian’s. His senseless demise was the basis for half a year of excellent stories. Too bad he was brought bad in an increasingly incomprehensible series of retcons!

forbiddentriumph

September 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm

What about the death of Xavier at the end of Messiah Complex? It lasted all of one issue. He got shot in the head, everyone gathers around mourning his death and then he disappears in the final panel. We later find out the Acolytes kidnapped him and somehow bring him back to life. That was the most pointless death I’ve seen in X-Men comics and despite setting up some alright stories in X-Men: Legacy that look back on the X-Men history it had virtually no impact.

…and not a one done by Claremont. They really went nuts with the pointless deaths and resurrections in the post Claremont 90s.

And I agree with the others, Fitzroy was a monumentally stupid character.

“If they wanted to give Hope the ability and knock Synch out of contention” Hope has nothing to do with Synch. Where the hell would you get the idea that Synch’s death had anything to do at all with Hope? He died before Morrison’s New X-Men run that led to Quesada feeling there might be too many mutants. Before Bendis even worked for Marvel, let alone had come up with the idea for House of M or Decimation. When he died, it would’ve been impossible to predict that Hope ever would’ve been created. The two characters are entirely, completely, wholly unconnected, in every way, beyond the fact that they can both copy the powers of other mutants nearby.

But it’s not like Banshee did anything particularly memorable in the past….well, barring perhaps Generation X, ever. I’m just surprised he stuck around the All-New All-Different X-Men as long as he did, since he was markedly older than the late-teens/early-twenties team (this was before the reveals about Wolverine’s healing factor and true age), didn’t have any particularly unique character traits beyond his relationship with Moira, and only served to add a bit of green and flying power to the team’s overall look (traits later replaced by the more interesting Phoenix-Jean, and then Rogue). I had no problems with his death in Deadly Genesis, and thought it was actually kind of refreshing to see an (apparently) significant superhero die as just a messy casualty and not a cliche heroic sacrifice.

The whole Jim Lee and clones era of the early 90s were responsible for killing off alot of the human characters that diversified the pages of x-men and new mutants in the 80s: Sharon Friedlander, Tom Corsi, Moira McTaggart, Trish Tilby and Candy Southern off the top of my head. It probably did not fit the gun totting mutant soldier vision they had for the xbooks.

How can you have a list of stories with pointless X-Men deaths that doesn’t have Chris Yost’s blood stained hands all over it?

Thunderbird. The original from way back when. Killed by lazy writing. “He was too much like Wolverine so we got rid of him.” Even Spiderman and His Amazing Friends used him more creatively, and that’s saying something.

Who drew the Bishop issue? The one dealing with Moria’s death.

I believe Trish Tilby is still alive, at least she was in Morrison’s X-Men run.

Lest we forget that Skin had the added indecency of being referred to as “Angelo Torres” instead of his name “Angelo Espinosa.” Pointless AND sloppy!

I would have to add Pyro to this list. To make the Legacy Virus seem like it was important, Marvel decided to use him. Miss his character and they should bring him back. #watchesthescenefromx2wherepyroattacksthecops

This could have been just Xavier’s deaths and been fine…

Oddly enough, spots 5 – 3 were new to me, but we actually owned the isues in which 2 and 1 happened. I read them many times. Then again, I was a kid, and had absolutely no clue who any of those dead people were.

Also, I too would like to know who drew that “Bishop” issue. At first glance, it looked like either Alan Davis with a weird inker or someone trying to combine a Davis-esque style with a more ’90s style.

Is there more of a “fuck you” issue than Uncanny #281? So terrible.

Agree with all, but nothing on this list is as bad as whats currently going on in Avengers Arena.

Didn’t Fitzroy kill Tarot twice in consecutive issues?

Gateway and the Morlock Healer were both pointless deaths

Sharon Friedlander’ and Moira’s killers were shamefully later allowed to join the X-Men

This has nothing to do with the X-Men, but the comment about the 1990s being rife with this sort of thing got me thinking. When I was writing up the first part of the mod era of Wonder Woman (http://theidiolect.com/comics/mod-fluff-explosion/), I was shocked at how cavalierly and anticlimactically Steve Trevor was killed off, and how quickly Diana forgot all about him after that. I guess O’Neil and Sekowsky really, really wanted him out of the way. And that was way back in the late 1960s.

“Pointless” deaths? This is kind of a stupid list when you think about it. Sometimes death happens and there is no point, no rhyme, no reason. So long as it makes us feel something, even if it’s disgust at the senselessness of it all- in life and fiction- then I say more power to ‘em.

The slaughter of the Hellions was one of the dark points in the ’90s, a senseless waste of interesting secondary characters for the shock value of introducing a new villain. Not only were the Hellions wiped out, but they were done so in a way that didn’t do their earlier portrayals justice…and we also saw a good dozen unnamed, never-before-seen, faceless Hellions killed as well. So they invented a host of characters for the sole purpose of killing them off. Ugh. The mid-90s were a horrible time for so many comics.

I can’t say I’m much of a fan about how Banshee was killed, or Skin, or poor Sharon Friedlander. There are times when it just disgusts me how writers will kill off a lesser-known, long-forgotten, obscure,or just not-as-glamorous character for little return in story value.

Forge is my favorite X-Man so I was major league pissed when Warren Ellis turned him into a raving lunatic and promptly bumped him off. But his demise was not that convincing and sure enough, he’s returned to his old self.

Banshee’s death was downright grisly and harder to undo since the X-Men saw the body. You know, I freaking hate Vulcan. This whole “third Summers brother” nonsense smacked of bad writing since day one. Vulcan was also responsible for the death of Corsair, another of my favorite characters.

Moira and Sharon’s demises were downright lame. The Hellions dying because of a lame ass One Hit Wonder like Fitzroy is even sadder. Tarot and Roulette were also ripe with untapped potential.

We knew Colossus and Nightcrawler would return in due time. They’re too mainstream to be killed off for good. Heck, Xavier should be back (again) in a couple of years once the “X-Avengers” angle loses its appeal. But for the second tier folks on this list, it’s not looking very promising…

Didn’t Fitzroy kill Tarot twice in consecutive issues?

I don’t remember that.

I will add, though, that it’s a moot point since she got better. She, later, showed up in X-FORCE during the John Francis Moore/Jim Cheung run on the book. I don’t recall what the explanation was for her survival.

The other Hellions are still worm food.

Pyro had a decent death sacrificing himself to save Senator Kelly, a man he tried to kill in his first appearance, which was soon rendered pointless when Kelly bought it a couple of issues later. Like Moria he was killed off quickly before the Legacy Virus was cured.

I absolutely hate Banshee’s death.

Very entertaining stuff

Most pointless of all time was Rusty Collins. At the time, he was one of the first new characters from X-factor, had been in the 4 part X-terminators limited series and had joined the New Mutants a few years before.

Him and Skids get kidnapped and brainwashed into joining the MLF after they had been arrested by Freedom Force. It definitely seemed as if the writers simply forgot about him. He showed up in some Cable comic as a henchman of the MLF with Cable saying he regretted not helping Rusty. Then he gets killed straight after the Age of Apocalypse.

I miss Rusty and want him back.

Good list. How many of these characters are alive today?

You just can’t take comic book deaths seriously anymore. It’s just a cheap way to attract attention. Maybe these companies should consider hiring better talent?

“Also, I too would like to know who drew that “Bishop” issue. At first glance, it looked like either Alan Davis with a weird inker or someone trying to combine a Davis-esque style with a more ’90s style.” I’m pretty sure it’s Tom Derenick, he used to fill in a bunch that time at Marvel, he did like a created owned thing with Robert Weinberg called Nightside in the early 2000s too…not sure how I remember that haha

You should have included all the ones killed in New X-Men immediately after House of M.

Here’s Tarot’s first death from UXM 281-282

http://www.comicvine.com/images/1300-1245396

Point to Mary and I second that. “You all lost your powers so we’ll ship you back to homes in big, bright yellow school buses. Since you are all human now, our enemies won’t try to harm you.”

Yeaaaahhh the beginning of my hate for Cyclops was right here….

Again, Chris Yost! The guy’s the Geoff Johns of the X-Verse!

Not only did Uncanny # 281 kill off the Hellions, it also killed off the Reavers, who had spent the last two years being the most hardcore mutant killers in the book’s history. So sad that Lee and Portacio could only introduce their lame new villain by executing two groups of interesting characters.

There ought to be a law against 1990s art. Those Portacio/Lee panels featuring Fitzroy are atrocious.

The death of the Hellions did kind of end up having a point, since that was what started Emma on her road to redemption and leading Generation X.

Why is Banshee on a plane? He can get to where he wants much faster by flying there under his own power.

The death of Skin was just one of the reasons why the Chuck Austen era was so shitty. That’s when Angel’s “deus ex machina ” healing blood popped up, and of course it healed Jubilee, but not Skin. What a waste of a good character.

Same goes for Sharon Freidlander. Even worse, they never resolved her storyline about being changed from Caucasian to Native American by the Demon Bear in New Mutants.

As for Moira, I thought she had succumbed to the Legacy Virus, since she was the first non-mutant to become infected with it? I guess I remembered wrong. I also thought it was Beast who discovered the key to the cure?

Why is Banshee on a plane? He can get to where he wants much faster by flying there under his own power.

He can’t, because few years earlier Mystique slit his throat and Banshee’s power is very weak. This also adds to his death, that he decided to try and stop the Blackbird even though he was likely to fail.

The whole Jim Lee and clones era of the early 90s were responsible for killing off alot of the human characters that diversified the pages of x-men and new mutants in the 80s: Sharon Friedlander, Tom Corsi, Moira McTaggart, Trish Tilby and Candy Southern off the top of my head.

A lot is five, and four of them you’re wrong about?

“Pointless” deaths? This is kind of a stupid list when you think about it.

This is a frequent argument, but one worth responding to. In real life, death doesn’t necessarily have a point. But in a fictional narrative, where everything is part of some design and characters exist, not as people immersed in genuinely random events, “death” is a thing a writer, editor, or someone constructs in order to achieve some sort of narrative effect. By definition, it always has some sort of “point,” though sometimes a meta one. Made up stuff doesn’t just happen” like real life events do, because by definition someone is consciously making it all up.

Just to save time in case sum1 cant finish the article, all you need to know is that Scott Lobdell is a hack. Always has been. Always will be.

I remember reading an interview with him once and the man just does not get it. Your writing blows Scott, if I wanted to read poorly made fan fic that reads as if it was being written by sum1 who just the first random thought in his head to paper, Id go over the Harry Potter forums full of 13 year old cosplayers. At least they learn and grow eventually.

Point to Mary and I second that. “You all lost your powers so we’ll ship you back to homes in big, bright yellow school buses. Since you are all human now, our enemies won’t try to harm you.”

Yeaaaahhh the beginning of my hate for Cyclops was right here….

Between Riot at Xavier’s and that, along with probably a lot more examples that aren’t coming to me, how exactly does Xavier get parents to trust him with their kids?

I wouldn’t place the Hellions on this list, since their deaths propelled Emma Frost into her current role. So, it was far from meaningless.

As far as Tarot: “it’s a moot point since she got better. She, later, showed up in X-FORCE during the John Francis Moore/Jim Cheung run on the book. I don’t recall what the explanation was for her survival.”

There was no explanation. They played her as a mystery character, possibly a ghost even. She was sorta like how Raven was in those early issues of NEW TEEN TITANS, where she’d show up with a mysterious warning and then disappear. I thought it was a great way to bring back the character and I’m surprised no one has really used it since.

[...] Artigo no Comic Book Resources com as mortes mais sem sentido nos comics de mutantes na Marvel, e sem dúvida tinham muito por [...]

One major nitpick is that Bedlam is not dead…or rather, not anymore. He was confirmed to have died (I believe his death was actually confirmed in the All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe), but he reappeared during the “Utopia” storyline attacking Iron Patriot during the riots in San Francisco. He hasn’t appeared since, though.

Growing up, the New Mutants, the X-Terminators and the Hellions were among my favorite characters. So for me, the deaths of both the Hellions and Rusty Collins will always be viewed as pointless. I understand why Rusty was killed off (they had to have Holocaust kill an Acolyte the X-Men cared about, and it couldn’t be Colossus), but I feel his death caused other characters to suffer, namely Skids. Without Rusty, Skids has been relegated to character limbo and when she does appear, is often written completely out-of-character (namely the “Blood of Apocalypse” storyline). The only good thing to happen to her in years was her being recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D., but that was quickly forgotten. Why couldn’t Bendis have used her instead of Dazzler in “Uncanny X-Men?”

The Hellions’ deaths were completely pointless, in my opinion. People can argue that it led Emma Frost on her path to redemption, but a good writer could have set her on that path some other way without killing her students. And what’s worse, when they were temporarily resurrected during “Necrosha,” the Hellions were written more like villains instead of the New Mutants’ friends and rivals. I know that was probably because they were under the control of Selene, but it still killed any thrill I felt seeing them back.

@Cerebro, Tarot was inexplicably resurrected by Bedlam’s villainous brother, King Bedlam. Presumably, Bedlam resurrected Tarot using his powers, despite them being psionic in nature, because her life force was linked to him. That explanation is more or less supported by the fact that Tarot died again after Bedlam lost his powers on M-Day. But then again, she was listed among the depowered as well, yet she was resurrected by Selene with her powers intact. So was Feral, actually. Ah, Feral…there’s another character who died a pointless death.

@Ricardo Mota Actually, only three of the five characters you mentioned are dead: Sharon Friedlander, Moira MacTaggart and Candy Southern. Tom Corsi and Trish Tilby are both still alive, as are Stevie Hunter, Vera Cantor and Opal Tanaka.

Great list. Especially agree about Banshee. The simple fact that he’s already been brought back from the dead three separate times (Chaos War, Necrosha and now Uncanny Avengers) is testament to the fact he never should have been killed in the first place. It demonstrates the weakness of so many of today’s writers that they can’t make the antagonist effective without these cheap shot deaths. What important FF character has Dr. Doom killed? Ditto for Galactus? I am going to have a huge problem with Marvel if Banshee doesn’t stay alive this time.

“Scott Lobdell is a hack” No he’s not. Scott Lobdell’s a good writer. He just had the bad luck of writing UXM at a time when the editors were basically doing the writing. He was forced from one crossover to another with no chance to develop his own stories, which led to him doing some phenomenal done-in-one stories. Read UXM #303 and then try to say again, with a straight face, that Lobdell is a hack. That issue is one of the most powerful comics I’ve ever read.

It almost always annoys the hell out of me when a writer, to introduce a brand new villain, has him casually slaughter a bunch of previously-established second-tier characters in order to show just how awesome his own creation is supposed to be. That was definitely a glaring aspect of a number of issues that came out around the time of Uncanny X-Men #281, where you had not just the Hellions, but Magneto, Sebastian Shaw, Donald Pierce, the Reavers and a few others I might be forgetting all get eliminated, just to prove to the readers that Trevor Fritzroy, Fabian Cortez and the rest of the Upstarts were totally badass.

Oh, lord, the Upstarts… that was a storyline that ended up going absolutely nowhere fast, didn’t it? Two decades later, I think pretty much every single one of them has vanished into obscurity, while nearly all of the characters they killed in those issues have come back from the dead. I think the only reason why most of the Hellions have remained deceased is that the guilt Emma Frost felt over their deaths was the major impetus in her decision to work alongside Xavier and the X-Men.

I’ve formulated a theory that if the character who dies could be subbed in with any other character without materially affecting the story, then the death is pointless. This includes those above, as well as darn near every crossover death of the last ten years or so.

THE Jean Grey has officially only died in comics 2 times and both happened in the same issue of New X-Men when Logan first stabbed her, which killed her, activating the Phoenix in her, which resurrected her and allowed her and Logan to escape being burned alive in the sun, and then shortly after being given a heart attack by Xorneto. You could almost count Phoenix Endsong as #3 except she was never fully resurrected by the Phoenix as she fought that from happening and thus never fully became ‘alive’ again.

Another #4 could be considered the Here Comes Tomorrow story, but that’s not in any actual continuity to X-Men especially since Beast no longer has his cat form, so that story is as good as a What IF fill in issue.

So yeah. Jean Grey, 2 deaths.

T.: They don’t, but like with Kitty’s parents, Proffessor Jerk just uses his powers to make them think everything is hunky dory.

“Riot? What riot? There was no riot! Also, your son is not dead from being ripped in half, and you wish to pay me double the tuition money. Plus your hot wife wants to show me her amazing rack,”

William Faulkner famously said to ‘Kill your darlings’ with regard fiction writing. In terms of serialized comics, I would like to propose the reverse is a pretty good guideline as well: DON’T BREAK OTHER PEOPLE’S TOYS.

It is so much more difficult to introduce and develop decent supporting character in an ongoing title than it is to kill them off that it is faintly absurd. There is almost a faint Mary Sue odor that clings to them, because someone like Chris Claremont has to basically fall in love with a throw-away character, like Sharon Friedlander, and pull the audience away from exciting to build them into anything remotely memorable. Conversely, killing them off rarely involves any imagination at all.

I mean, look at how repetitive these examples are: explosion, explosion, ritual sacrifice, ritual sacrifice and … explosion. Diverse characters meeting nearly identical ends.

Between Riot at Xavier’s and that, along with probably a lot more examples that aren’t coming to me, how exactly does Xavier get parents to trust him with their kids?

Mind control. That’s not even a joke; he’s definitely been shown to do that in the past.

Dude straight up mind controlled Kitty Pryde’s father into letting her attend.

@T.

Why do people keep spreading this myth that Jean Grey dies and gets resurrected all the time? She actually doesn’t. I only recall her dying and resurrecting twice, maybe 3 times, which actually puts her pretty low on the list. Off the top of my head I can think of three times Wolverine died and was resurrected.

Jean Grey gets the bad rap, because her story was one of the rare cases when this gimmick actually worked.

Neither Claremont, nor Byrne, really wanted to kill her off from what I can tell. It was Ye Olde Editorial interference. The difference between the ending of the Dark Phoenix Saga and what DC Comics apparently does, is that Jim Shooter is pretty damn good story-teller in his own right and he was interfering for story reasons. The character really wasn’t redeemable after committing genocide, but Claremont let his genuine grief over losing one of his favorites come out on the page. That is why it effects people. The story logic was sound and the emotions were real.

I’d bet decent money that no one actually cared about any of the characters above. The writers needed someone to kill off in a story beat and these were the characters that the Editor didn’t mind losing at the time.

@Ben Herman

“It almost always annoys the hell out of me when a writer, to introduce a brand new villain, has him casually slaughter a bunch of previously-established second-tier characters in order to show just how awesome his own creation is supposed to be. That was definitely a glaring aspect of a number of issues that came out around the time of Uncanny X-Men #281, where you had not just the Hellions, but Magneto, Sebastian Shaw, Donald Pierce, the Reavers and a few others I might be forgetting all get eliminated, just to prove to the readers that Trevor Fritzroy, Fabian Cortez and the rest of the Upstarts were totally badass.”

Agreed. Uncanny X-men #281 was such a bad comic, I pretty much dropped the whole franchise.

But let’s not forget, Grant Morrison did the exact same thing with Cassandra Nova and it made just about as much sense.

I’m not sure any established characters actually died in Genosha, though. Just faceless millions. Might as well say the population of Slorenia were established characters.

90s X-Villains were so bad. I hated all the Fitzroy type villains. They just basically looked like regular 90s douchebags you’d find in a trashy nightclub or guest starring on Baywatch. Especially with the ponytails, pompadours and Shadoe Stevens/Richard Marx type haircuts. The sad thing is that later generations won’t realize that these looks were even played out and corny back when these comics came out.

Fitzroy, Gideon, Omega Red, Shinobi Shaw, etc. Ugh. The only good thing about Fitzroy was that the Reavers were killed. We got one douchey new villain in exchange for losing like 6, so that was good at least.

Actually, Gideon and company also got the Pointless Death – a band of immortal mutants that have been a virtual Illuminati for centuries, are all killed off by Selene in a couple issues of X-Force. It was a weak way to end a storyline that the then-current author apparently didn’t like.

The funny thing is about the Hellions is that there is almost no rhyme or reason to the deaths – in UXM 282, there’s apparently a couple dozen Hellions! Empath survives because… uh, well, he did. We didn’t really get confirmation absolutely about who actually died until Emma Frost woke up and they had a computer list the deceased Hellions.

Empath survived because he was with Magma in the Amazon, infiltrating Nova Roma for the Hellfire Club.

Oh man, the Upstarts sucked. I always thought the Gamesmaster was the worst. He was such a powerful telepath he couldn’t shut out any thoughts. Only the (pointless) competition between the Upstarts gave him any relief because… just because. Is he still around?

Fitzroy sucked, but he was well-used in X-Factor. He was more plot point than character, but Peter David found a way to make his presence memorable.

I hated the way Austen & Co. killed off Skin. Absolutely stupid.

“William Faulkner famously said to ‘Kill your darlings’” And people have misinterpreted the phrase ever since. He wasn’t talking about characters at all. He was talking about lines. He was saying to remove the lines that you like the most.

I got one arc into X-Men and Uncanny after Chris Claremont left and dropped both after years upon years of collecting. Those X-Men issues were horrendous.

Those last panels reminded me of another bad costume trend of the 90s: not thigh pouches, but incredibly bulky armor on the shoulders only, while wearing what’s basically a leotard everywhere else. Don’t you want a little nether protection, too?

Of course many comic deaths seem pointless because the characters don’t remain dead..

I missed most of these when they were published (and wish I’d missed the other…)

Banshee feels like an arbitrary “shock” scene (let’s kill a character no-one is using)

The Moira one seems like different creators on a crossover all avoiding doing the injuries scene either through bad plotting/coordination or all the creators trying to avoid the inevitable hate mail.

The top 3 all feel like creators callously dismissing/eliminating characters they didn’t care about.
worst is Sharon due to the apparent indecision on whether she’s dead or not

The thing that bugged me more than anything else about that Austen mass-murder sequence was the way he set up (apparently unintentionally) an insane amount of religious symbolism around Jubilee, then didn’t notice it with his half-baked stories dealing with organized religion.

We have a girl who (although it wasn’t the original intention back when Claremont created her) shares her name with an Old Testament ritual (for lack of a better term) that deals with rebirth and the life cycle. She is crucified, and, for all intents and purposes, dead. Then she returns from the dead after receiving a healing blood transfusion, from a character named Archangel (I think he had the “Arch” that week; tough to keep up with that), no less.

I still can’t fathom how you’re trying to write a story with Christianity as its main theme (much less a series of them back-to-back), put all that in the book, and somehow miss it yourself.

bad johnny got out

September 10, 2013 at 12:49 am

Yeah well you missed how Richard is spelled.

Nobody misunderstands that Faulkner quote, nobody thinks he was talking about characters. That’s not true that’s ridiculous.

Oh god that’s horrible.

I agree with Michael P. above when he says that if a character in a death scene can be swapped out for anyone else (including someone we haven’t seen before), then that death is pointless.

A lot of the characters on this list were killed off because the writers didn’t really feel like writing them, didn’t know what to do with them, and it was either killing them off or having them fall prey to Chuck Cunningham Syndrome (in which they just disappear without any explanation and are never mentioned again). Sadly, a lot of writers choose the former because they want to make the new villain they’re introducing look really terrible.

So of course we get stuff like the deaths of Skin, the Hellions, Sharon Friedlander, many New X-Men: Academy X characters (who could have just as easily been written out in a non-lethal manner leaving it open for the original writers or new writers to use them again if they wanted to), and others I could mention. The worse part is, many of these characters aren’t even given their due before they die. Some, like Skin, just turn up dead and a later story that actually DEALS with their deaths and their consequences on the people who knew them seems more of an afterthought than anything else.

Of course X-Men has by no means cornered the market on pointless deaths, and neither has Marvel. DC has been killing characters pointlessly for years. Katma Tui died when Green Lantern was moved to Action Comics Weekly and taken over by a writer who only thought of her as someone whose name rhymes with ‘chop suey’. So he had her sliced to pieces within eight pages, and while some Green Lanterns have returned from the dead in later years (Arisia and Kilowog, to name two), Katma Tui has stayed dead. All for a story that went nowhere and had almost no impact on later events.

And of course, we can’t forget Geoff Johns’ having Superboy Prime punch off Pantha’s head and kill Wildebeast in Infinite Crisis #4, when those characters were in there only just long enough to die and not enough for anyone unfamiliar with them to even know their names. Now THAT is what Michael P. was talking about — it’s a perfect example of deaths where it doesn’t really matter which character is being killed. They could have easily been replaced in that scene by nameless soldiers, policemen, or DC’s equivalent of SHIELD Agents and the scene would have lost NOTHING.

So the bottom line is, if you’re going to kill off a character, develop the character first. Make them a part of the story in which they die. Let the readers get to know them if they’ve never read the previous stories first. And if the story can be told without their deaths — if a ‘Redshirt’ could be put in their place without losing anything — then don’t kill the character.

Thunderbird. His death took me really by surprise as I kid, even if he was written as a pretty unlikable character.

And sure, sometimes death is pointless. Most of the time actually. But as this is fiction, it all comes down to the ability, respect and imagination of the artists involved. A pointless death doesn’t mean that it has zero impact or can’t be moving.

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