On June 11th Wolverine #8 kicked off 3 Months To Die, documenting Logan’s last days leading to The Death Of Wolverine in September. Character deaths are no doubt met with
emotion and excitement, but also a common understanding that with demand for popular
characters that superheroes don’t stay gone for long. Whenever a popular character dies or returns, the question is asked – does the possibility of characters returning to life devalue the story of their death?
The timing couldn’t be more appropriate than as just when Wolverine is to be laid to rest, one of his closest friends, Nightcrawler, has returned to this mortal coil after five years. In the 2010 story X-Men: Second Coming, Nightcrawler sacrificed his life to save someone the X-Men believe is the most important person to mutant-kind, Hope Summers. His death was a hard hit to Wolverine, which has haunted him and has been frequently mentioned over the years.
A number of Nightcrawlers from the multiverse have attempted to fill the three-toed shoes of the original. While these fascinating versions of Nightcrawler could easily have taken his place, it seemed important for Marvel to bring back the original. The effect of Nightcrawler’s death on Wolverine’s conscience gives his return an emotionally charged relevance. Perhaps it is to bring some degree of closure between them, however fans may have gotten a more emotional reunion had they met in the afterlife.
Bringing about some validity and levity to Nightcrawler’s rebirth is Chris Claremont, legendary writer of X-Men and Excalibur. Chris Claremont returns to write new adventures of the fuzzy blue elf and all of the swashbuckling charm and whimsy of Kurt Wagner The Nightcrawler is felt in full force in the newly released Nightcrawler solo title.
Chris Claremont, while at the forefront of Nightcrawler’s return, had once sent Magneto to the grave in the legendary story arc told in X-Men #1-3 that also brought Magneto to his defining moment as the X-Men’s greatest adversary. Claremont faced opposition in the new X-Men creative team, artist Jim Lee and editor Bob Harras, on the direction of the series, including Magneto’s death. The story ushered the mutant team to the height of its popularity in the 90’s, but also brought the end to Claremont’s career with Marvel at the time. In Tom DeFalco’s book, Comic Creators on X-Men, Claremont on the matter stated:
“[Jim Lee] wanted to bring back Magneto and do the Sentinels and all that sort of stuff. My problem was I’d already done those things at least twice. I wanted to try and find some new stuff to do. New stuff for the new millennium, you know! We couldn’t find any sort of common ground that would allow us to compromise.”
Claremont did eventually return to Marvel and penned X-Men Forever, picking up where he left off in a continuity separate from the main comics, with Magneto to remain dead. While Claremont set the stage, later writers continued to write intriguing and challenging stories for the morally ambiguous mutant mastermind. Magneto continues to ride the line between vigilante and madman in the latest title, Magneto, as he doles out vicious justice to the enemies of all mutants.
The Wolverine is a character who sees large exposure in a number of Marvel teams and ongoing titles, not to mention several movies focused on him. Regardless on whether or not this is our last time seeing the gruff adamantium-laced mutant, his last moments are being handled by a team that wants to tell this story. Marts, writer of 3 Months To Die, remarked:
“Should this story be told, should this story not be told? Why shouldn’t it be told? Readers deserve to know. Readers deserve to get the best stories possible from the characters that they love. I think the same type of approach is being taken by this storyline.”
Ultimately the superhero genre, as it appears from a creator standpoint, is about the importance of each individual story. While these events have far-reaching consequences on the Marvel Universe, the potentially inevitable return of a character doesn’t negate the loss felt and the history created. ULTIMATE MARVEL, a separate Marvel comic imprint with a darker tone, has had permanent deaths which have drastically changed its world in unexpected and creative ways. For the main Marvel comics, following the classic heroes, the priority is placed on preserving these characters for new generations of comic readers. As Wolverine is to rest, it may very well be breathing new life into his legacy.