Why Wolverine Needs to Stay Dead (and How It Would Help X-Men Comics)

Phillip Morgan ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
As much of the comic-reading world is aware by now, Wolverine has been marked for death, allegedly “for real this time” in the four issue mini-series Death of Wolverine along with various tie-ins. This means many big shifts in the Marvel Universe, including: Wolverine’s healing factor shutting down, a bunch of nasty villains gunning after him due to his newfound vulnerability, and a series of unnecessary crossovers featuring other characters crying about it. The biggest of them all, however, will more than likely be Wolverine’s cop-out resurrection or “fake death,” because comic books don’t deal really well with the finality of death unless it revolves around a seriously ridiculous character they need to get rid of fast.
Undoubtedly Wolverine’s demise will constitute for an epic mini-series, but more than that, it now leaves readers with the previously unthinkable: the X-Men without Wolverine. Such a loss, if given enough time to seep in, could reshape the entire dynamic of the X-Men Universe as everyone struggles to find their place in a world without Logan’s dark contrast. Wolverine, having been a lead X-Man and an integral part of the Marvel Universe for so long, has had a lot of time to forge strong connections with a slew of characters, most of whom are fully-developed and interesting enough to carry stories on their own. Obviously the tie-ins will deal with how they react to his death initially, but what about long-term? And will they cover everyone? It’s doubtful, so the longer Wolverine is absent the more time the writers have to explore how all these characters connected to Logan’s life are coping with his sudden passing, which means a-near complete revamp of the X-Men status quo (Yes, I know. Again. *sighs*).
(Let’s just gonna go ahead and yell, “SPOILERS AHEAD” here. Just in case.)
Let’s use Cyclops as an example. When they were last together, they were literally about to ignore a small band of sentinels shooting lasers at them and start killing each other. That is how much they currently hate each other. Ironically, the bulk of this rage isn’t coming from the bone-clawed rage monster. Ever since they met, Cyclops has been able to justify a lot of his actions because “Logan would’ve already torn your head off,” and even though he killed Professor Xavier in a blind rage during the “Avengers vs X-Men” event, he still subscribes to that ideal. Even as he’s hunted by everyone who used to call him an ally, even though he tore the X-Men apart, Cyclops firmly believes himself to be more human and a better leader than Wolverine. But now Logan is gone, and so now Cyclops has no moral shield to hide behind. He now has to confront head-on the full responsibility of his actions since AvX, and that sudden loss of self-affirmation could come as a huge blow to Scott Summers, and it certainly would be an intriguing read. It could also mean Scott has been given an opportunity to reunite all the X-Men under one banner again, though the rest of the JGS isn’t going to be particularly receptive to that idea. Still, it’d be a great story of a misguided attempt at redemption from a guy who’s been rapidly descending in audience favor as of late.
Sounds at least intriguing right? And that was only his main rival. They could go in literally 101 different directions at once, and the stories of how these characters go through life without Logan are near infinite.
More importantly, the fallout of Wolverine’s death has to address how this will affect the X-Men overall in the future, and his absence opens up even more questions here that need answering. Who takes over the Jean Grey School now, and how does the new dynamic work (supposedly Spider-Man will be joining the school later this year as a guidance counselor, so clearly we’re on the right track)? How do the students, particularly those who were close to Wolverine like Quentin Quire and Armor, feel about his teachings now that they’ve seen where they led him? Will some splinter off into their own team that make their own rules now? How does Logan’s death affect the X-Men’s relationships with the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Shield, etc.? Will the JGS be targeted even more now than ever now that one of their most powerful and feared defenders has fallen? And what about Wolverine’s killer(s)? What is their focus now that Wolverine is dead?
There’s a recurring theme here with all of this: most of what has put forth has happened before in some capacity, but Wolverine was always there to help lead the X-Men through the situation and/or destroy everything in his path. But now, for the first time in a number of years, the X-Men don’t have their Claws Ex Machina to help them. Considering how much they rely on Wolverine to tear through waves of enemies with his tried and true recipe of “adamantium bone claws + instant healing = death to my enemies,” watching the team come up with a way to win without him would be pretty rewarding. It also helps remedy his oversaturation in popular culture. He’s the focus of nearly every X-Men movie, and he’s so far the only one with a consistent, long-running solo title (though Nightcrawler, Young Cyclops and Magneto might be on the brink of changing that). Not to mention that for awhile now it’s felt like every X-Men storyline feels compelled to keep him front and center, hardly, if ever, allowing some the less-known but just as well-written X-Men claim the spotlight for too long.
Now, it’s easy to get why he’s so prominent. He’s a time-tested brand, and one that the writers know readers both new and old will recognize and get excited about reading, but the problem with that logic is that Wolverine only got to this point because someone took a risk and started writing about him in the first place even though he wasn’t one of the “original” X-Men. To be fair, Jason Aaron’s run of the Wolverine & the X-Men title did allow the focus to drift around on some of the other core members (he even cared about Husk) and even brought some of the newer students to the limelight, but the overall perspective still fell back on Wolverine a disproportionate amount of time, and the number one flaw in that series (that is still awesome and one of the best X-Men titles in years) is that it left so many of the characters in the background when there could’ve been so much more happening. X-Men thrives when it’s treated as an ensemble cast narrative, and with the X-Men’s plethora of interesting, endearing, and unique characters, there’s no reason they can’t finally receive the attention they deserve now that Logan is gone.
So, while Wolverine is undeniably one of the best and most honored X-Men of all time, it’s time to let him go. He’s had his run, and it’s been a magnificent ride, but it’s time to see what the writers of X-Men are capable of creating without him to fall back on.

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  1. Because he is one of the best is why he shouldn’t. I know it’s popular to hate him, and personally I prefer Gambit, but you just can’t keep him dead. More so because he does have the movies. Movies will help bring in new readers and Wolverine being dead won’t be good for that.
    All agree, I think, that he is over saturated (other heroes have that flaw), and maybe him being dead awhile will give the other solo X-Men titles a writer that can get people invested in the others.

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