Warning: This article discusses potentially troubling subject matter and contains spoilers for Uncanny X-Men #11, by Matthew Rosenberg, Salvador Larroca, Rachelle Rosenberg, John McCrea, Mike Spicer, Juanan Ramirez and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
At their core, the X-Men have always been about raising the next generation of mutants to survive and thrive in a world that hates and fears them. In one form or another, Marvel's premier mutant team has nearly always been based out of some incarnation of Xavier's Institute for the Gifted Youngsters, and most of the team's core members were students or teachers there at one point or another.
Right now, most of the X-Men, and many of their students, are trapped in the Age of X-Man, an apparent alternate timeline, where they're living idyllic lives in an apparent mutant utopia.
Back in the main Marvel Universe, the recently-revived Cyclops has started quietly putting together a new team in what he calls "the last X-Men story." And in Uncanny X-Men #11, Cyclops and Wolverine team-up to take on some mutant-hating bad guys for the first time in years. While that reunion is a triumphant moment of classic X-Men action, it highlights the dueling priorities that have been lurking in the background of the X-Men's world for years.
When the X-Men are off being superheroes, they're not always looking after the mutant children who are in their care, teaching them to how to control their potentially dangerous powers or helping them learn how to survive in a world that hates and fears them. In this issue, the X-Men's failure to fully achieve those goals takes a heavy, in some cases irreversible toll, on a few major young mutants.
Blindfold, the precognitive Ruth Aldine, served on the Young X-Men in the late 2000s. After being created by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday in Astonishing X-Men #7, she was a prominent figure for several years and grew especially close to Professor X's son, Legion.
After the rest of the X-Men disappeared, Blindfold and a few other young X-Men struck out on their own as they tried to escape anti-mutant violence. After briefly speaking with three adult X-Men leaders, Cyclops, Wolverine and Jamie Madrox, she apparently kills herself in this issue after being haunted by several dark memories and visions of the past, present and future.
While the Marvel Universe is fundamentally a very silly place full of people with impossible powers, this is a very serious moment that touches on a number of sensitive real-world topics. Despite the fantastic trappings of the X-Men's world, Matthew Rosenberg wrote about his admiration for the X-Men's ability to address difficult real-world issues in a fictional context on his Facebook.
It's hard to determine how the unique, somewhat elliptical nature of Blindfold's powers affected her overall mental state, but this story, like DC's Heroes in Crisis, takes a relatively realistic approach to investigating how superheroes process the traumatic experiences that they go through on a regular basis.
In a world without X-Men and rising anti-mutant hysteria, Blindfold didn't have the resources or the support system to help her address the trauma she experienced before it was too late, even though some of her former mentors showed concern for her well-being.