SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Death of X” #4, which is on sale now.
Just under two months after kicking off with a deadly first issue, the X-Men event series “Death of X” has concluded with an equally surprising and shocking final issue. “Death of X” #4 from writers Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire and artists Aaron Kuder and Javier Garron wraps up this prequel story and finishes filling in the gap between the end of “Secret Wars” last year and the launch of the current line of X-Men books. Perhaps most importantly, the issue finally clarifies the manner in which Cyclops died.
The issue picks up in Madrid as Cyclops and Emma Frost’s team of X-Men stand ready to confront the approaching Terrigen mist cloud — a cloud that has proven to be instantly deadly to some mutants while it gives life to new Inhumans. The X-Men stand ready with their new recruit Alchemy by their side; the inexperienced new X-Man possesses the power of molecular manipulation, a gift he plans on using on the deadly cloud.
But the Inhumans, also in Madrid, are determined to protect the mist as it is what unlocks their powers. They try to foil the X-Men’s attempts, succeeding at first. But Sunfire and Alchemy prove to be resilient, and Sunfire succeeds in dropping Alchemy through the cloud, allowing him to fundamentally alter it into something safe for everyone to breathe. Unfortunately for Alchemy, the traces of Terrigen he came into contact with before altering it made him instantly sick.
Alchemy’s death was quick, his last words to Cyclops telling him that he’s not a soldier. Cyclops then steps into the transformed cloud and calls out the Inhumans, wishing to vent his frustrations with them for unleashing the mist in the first place and showing — from his point of view — no concern for the mutants it killed. The Inhuman king and queen Medusa and Black Bolt confront Cyclops.
Medusa tells Cyclops that he has made enemies of the Inhumans forever, but Cyclops counters with “we already were, ever since you poisoned our planet.” Cyclops cuts off their attempts to converse, becoming more aggressive as the conversation goes on. He refuses to be taken captive and vows to destroy the second cloud, even without the help of Alchemy. His X-Men watch on from far away, asking Emma — who looks worried and is experiencing a nose bleed — what he’s doing.
Before Black Bolt or Medusa can make a move, though, Cyclops prepares to unload an optic blast on them. Black Bolt, whose voice is so powerful he can never even whisper, makes his move first.
With Cyclops pulverized by Black Bolt’s blast, the X-Men reconvene a week later at Muir Island for Cyclops’ funeral. In the rain and apart from everyone else, Cyclops brother Havok — who himself has been absent from the X-Books for over a year — confronts Emma about what happened. He knows his brother, and he knows “suicide by Black Bolt” isn’t his style. He asks Emma what’s going on — and Emma shows him.
Emma takes him into the Muir Island research facility where Cyclops’ real body lays on a table, dead and scarred with the M-Pox. It turns out that Cyclops actually died back in “Death of X” #1, not long after coming into contact with the M-Pox. That issue showed Cyclops’ nose bleeding immediately after touching down on the mist-covered Muir Island. He even collapsed at one point, but came back a scene later seemingly fine.
Now we know that that Cyclops was actually a mental project of Emma Frost’s. In fact, everything Cyclops has done since then — including all of his aggressive actions taken against the Inhumans — were actually all concocted by Emma Frost.
Emma tells Havok that she had to do this. Without it, Cyclops would have just dropped dead on Muir Island — his life as a great leader of mutants would have lead to that quiet ending. Emma wanted his death to mean something, for Cyclops to become an idea. That’s when she set out to turn the man she loved into a martyr for mutants. And that’s when we get to see Cyclops’ actual death, as it happened behind the scenes of “Death of X” #1.
Here’s the page from “Death of X” #1 where Cyclops fell…
…and here’s what really followed that.
Cyclops’ last words, his final wish to Emma, was to not let it end. Emma fulfilled that wish, for sure. The series ends with Emma Frost standing over Cyclops’ corpse, saying that she succeeded in making Scott Summers immortal in the form of an idea.
Emma Frost’s current whereabouts, as well as Havok’s, are unknown. Neither have been seen in continuity in the last year, and “Death of X” at least reveals the scope of Emma’s role in what went down. Cyclops’ actions, the ones that characters have been alluding to and disparaging in the X-Men books for the past year, were actually Emma’s actions. The rest of the X-Men don’t know this yet, but there are a handful of characters that do know. In addition to Havok and Emma herself, the Stepford Cuckoos also glimpsed something while joining with her to contact every mind on Earth.
It’s likely that they also know Emma’s secret, so it’s a good thing for her that they haven’t been seen in a year either. With “Death of X” concluded, the next major event for the X-Men comes in the form of “Inhumans vs. X-Men” — a storyline set in the present day and dealing with the next step in the mutants war with the Inhumans.
“Inhumans vs. X-Men” #0 arrives in stores on November 30, 2016.
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