Warning: This article contains spoilers for Uncanny X-Men #18, by Matthew Rosenberg, Carlos Villa, Juan Vlasco, Craig Yeung, Guru-eFx and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
For most of Marvel's heroes, death is just another part of living. But while almost every superhero team suffers the loss of a member at one point or another, the X-Men have been losing members at an alarming rate recently.
After the ultra-powerful mutant Nate Grey transported the vast majority of X-Men to the Age of X-Man, only a handful of mutants were left in the Marvel Universe. In Uncanny X-Men, the recently-revived Cyclops and Wolverine have brought many of those mutants together to form a ragtag team of X-Men for one last mission... but they keep losing members.
Despite the X-Men's best efforts, the past few months have been especially harsh on the mutants' already-depleted ranks. Current and former X-Men like Strong Guy, Blindfold, Loa, Joseph and Wolfsbane have all been killed while trying to survive in a world that hates and fears mutants more than ever before.
In Uncanny X-Men #18, Chamber, the fiery Generation X veteran, dies after killing the Marauders, some of the X-Men's deadliest villains.
Before he joined Cyclops' latest X-Men team, Chamber, Jonothon Starsmore, was leading the Morlocks, mutants who hid their strange physical mutants by living underground. After dozens of Morlocks were murdered, Chamber left the group and joined the X-Men to find their killer.
As part of a larger effort to permanently deal with all of their remaining villains, the X-Men track down the Marauders, a group of assassins originally assembled by Mister Sinister. While they haven't always had the most prominent role in the X-Men's world, the Marauders have a lethal reputation thanks to their role in "Mutant Massacre," the seminal 1986 X-Men saga where they killed dozens of Morlcoks and maimed several X-Men.
Given the events of "Mutant Massacre," the X-Men confronted the Marauders about the new Morlock murders. After a brief but brutal fight, the Marauders surrender while proclaiming their innocence.
Unwilling to take the villains at their word, Chamber unleashes the full power of his psionic flame, seemingly burning Arclight, Blockbuster, Scalphunter, Malice and Vertigo to death.
In his final moments of life, the Marauders' Harpoon stabs Chamber with one of his energized harpoons. Although the X-Men's Hope Summers executes Harpoon, Chamber succumbs to his wounds by the end of the issue.
Since Chamber was created by Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo in 1994's Generation X #1, he's had an endless well of psychic fire burning in place of his torso and lower face. In his first appearance, Jono was described as one of the most potentially powerful mutants in the world, and he honed those abilities alongside Jubilee in the '90s junior X-Men team Generation X.
In between his minor stints on a few X-Men teams, Chamber briefly lost his powers after the House of M crossover. He only survived thanks to a blood transfusion from his distant relative, Apocalypse, that restored his powers. Despite that, Chamber dies in this issue after the bio-energy from Harpoon's weapon seemingly cancels out his psionic flame.
While he's rarely appeared apart from the other Marauders, Harpoon has left an out-sized mark on the X-Men over the years.
Like most of the other Marauders, Harpoon was created by Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr. in Uncanny X-Men #210. In "Mutant Massacre," he damaged Angel's wings to the point that they had to be amputated, and another one of his attacks trapped Kitty Pryde in her intangible "phased" state for several months.
Even though Harpoon and the other Marauders die quite explicitly in this issue, they are almost certainly not gone for good. Mister Sinister, who attacks the X-Men for killing his protégés, has cloned their entire team on numerous occasions, and he'll likely do so once again.
While the deaths in this issue might not be permanent, they firmly cement this as one of the most lethal eras in X-Men history for heroes and villains alike. With House of X and Powers of X set to kick off a new era of X-Men stories this summer, this volume of Uncanny X-Men will end in a few months. At the rate mutants are dying, it's not clear how many of the X-Men will live long enough to see the relaunch.