- Former villain Death officially joins the X-Men, swayed by Storm’s honor and heroism, providing an intriguing character and bridging current X-Men canon to what’s coming next.
- Death, the son of Apocalypse and Genesis, is a mutant warrior with deep connections to X-Men lore, possessing immense powers and a masterful combatant. He has chosen to fight for a better world and has a complex history that can be explored.
- Keeping Death on the X-Men is essential for giving the Krakoan era a sense of legacy and acknowledging the great work done by Marvel’s X-Office. He is a charming former villain and a perfect point-of-view character for the X-Men’s next adventures.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
As the X Men‘s current Krakoan Era draws to a close – slated to end in early 2024 – Marvel is proving there are still plenty of twists and turns to come, as former villain Death officially joins the Merry Mutants. The son of longtime villain Apocalypse, Death has been a thorn in the X-Men’s side for years, but has finally been swayed to join them thanks to the honor and heroism of Storm. Not only is Death an intriguing character that Marvel needs to keep around, but he’s the perfect way to bridge current X Men canon to what’s coming next.
in X-Men Red #17 (from Al Ewing, Yıldıray Çınar, Federico Blee, and Ariana Maher), Death officially joins up with Storm’s freedom fighters, having rebelled against his mother Genesis and killed his sister Pestilence. Despite being relatively new to the franchise, Death has deep connections to X Men lore, and is one of the coolest figures to join the hero team during the entire Krakoan Era (which began in 2019.)
Death Officially Joins the X-Men
X-Men Red’s Traitor Needs to Outlive the Krakoan Era
A mutant warrior, Death is the son of Apocalypse and Genesis, and recently arrived on Mars after years fighting to save the mutant nation of Arakko. Death has spent thousands of years trapped in the demonic realm of Amenth, honing him into a master warrior with a deep, unshakable faith in Arakki ideas of honor and self-sufficiency. He has an immense respect for Storm, who he fought during the X of Swords event, and it was this that caused him to switch sides in the unfolding Genesis War. When his sister Pestilence abandoned Arakki honor to kill Storm-insisting “On Arakko, we destroy our enemies – no matter who they are” – Death realized he was on the wrong side, and used his powers to kill his sister instead.
On Arakko, we destroy our enemies – no matter who they are…
Death’s powers have not been fully explored, but his mutant ability appears to allow him to kill anyone who gazes upon his true face – something he usually counters with a black jackal mask that evokes (and likely inspired) the ancient Egyptian god Anubis. Death is also a master combatant who fights with a scythe, and is officially an Omega-level mutantmeaning that there is no potential use for his powers that he hasn’t mastered.
Interestingly, while Death has been an opposing force to the X-Men for years, he was initially intended to be a hero by his parents. Indeed, Apocalypse named his children Death, War, Pestilence and Famine not to be intimidating, but as a pledge that those concepts would be wiped from the world, remembered only as the names of the heroes who helped make it happen. However, the war with the demons of Ameth changed those plans, and Death is only now getting the chance to live up to the heroic ideals his father envisioned, X-Men Red #17 Sees Apocalypse congratulate Death for siding against his mother.
Death. You’ve chosen this side, then. You impress me.
Death Is New, But He’s Connected to X-Men History
Apocalypse’s Son Goes Back to 1987
Ever since 1987’s X-Factor #15 (Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson, Bob Wiacek, Petra Scotese, and Joe Rosen), Marvel has established that in order to pursue its dictum of ‘survival of the fittest,’ Apocalypse has created multiple iterations of the Horsemen. This usually involves Apocalypse using Celestial technology to upgrade a quartet of mutants, increasing their power while also unleashing their darkest instincts. The four mutants chosen as Horsemen take on the names of Death, War, Famine and Pestilence – names which the Krakoan Era revealed were taken from the children Apocalypse was forced to leave trapped in Amenth.
My children are my monuments – built from love, not pain. My denial, in the face of what I am told must be. Each named for a concept lost to the past.
This history means that while Death first appeared in 2019’s Marvel Comics #1000 (in ‘The First Horsemen’ from Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver), he’s connected to many major events from Marvel’s past. Wolverine, Gambit, Angel, the Sentry, Banshee and many other major figures have been remade in his image at different points of X Men history, each taking the name ‘Death.’ Interestingly, Death is also Apocalypse’s appointed successor, and may one day grow beyond even the iconic villain’s power level.
Apocalypse was chosen by the cosmic Celestials as a guardian of evolution, and must be replaced by his currently anointed ‘Death’ if he ever dies. This has happened before in Marvel canon, with Archangel taking over the role in Rick Remender’s acclaimed X-Force run.
X-Men History Is Defined by Recruiting Villains
Death’s History with the X-Men Is a Goldmine
Death was introduced as a villain, but at a point where his mother Genesis had been possessed by the demonic Annihilation, forcing him to ally with the demons of Ameth. Outside that role, he’s so far been a likable character, with even Storm finding him charming despite their deadly sword fight in X of Swords. Death’s sense of honor is matched by his desire to fight for a better world—he protected Earth from a Brood invasion in the distant past, and helped Wolverine combat Dracula’s vampire nation. In short, while Death has been a powerful and relentless foe to the X-Men, he’s ripe for redemption, with an unseen history from which to draw new stories.
I have been dancing with you my entire life…
Redeeming their villains is a common pastime for the X-Men – Rogue, Emma Frost, Juggernaut, Magneto and Apocalypse himself were all introduced as bad guys, but they were won over to the X-Men’s dream. As Death turns on Genesis to join Storm’s ragtag army, he becomes yet another evil-doer to find a home with Marvel’s mutants. However, while Death is a charming antihero with a cool costume and awe-inspiring powers, there’s another reason to hope he remains with the X-Men after the end of the Krakoan era.
X-Men Shouldn’t Pretend Krakoa Never Happened
Krakoa Changed the Game, Especially for Apocalypse’s Family
The X-Men’s Krakoan era will officially end in 2024, bringing close to the years-long story in which mutant heroes and villains united to found their own nation. Marvel’s VP of Publishing Tom Brevoort will take over the X-Office, with fans speculating what could come next, and divided over whether Marvel’s Merry Mutants should return to their classic status quo at the Xavier School. Whatever they do, they need to take Death with them.
X Men is moving on from the Krakoan era, but an absolute break would be a mistake – Marvel needs to keep enough Krakoan ‘ideas’ around to please fans who loved and became invested in the last few years of mutant stories. Keeping Death on the X-Men is one of the best ways to give the Krakoan era an immediate sense of legacy. A charming, powerful former villain who knows nothing about the human world, Death is the perfect point-of-view character for whatever the X-Men do next, and comes with the added bonus of acknowledging all the great work Marvel’s X-Office has done over the last few years. Ace Death joins Storm’s X Menthe heroic mutants just got a major new ally – hopefully one that Marvel plans to keep around for years to come.