The 5 most tear-jerking X-Men deaths

Out of all the superteams in comics, the X-Men always seem to rack up the highest body counts. It's like dying is their mutant power! In any case, here are the weepiest passings in X-history.

The X-Men have the luxury of ballooning death tolls as there's so darn many of them. If Johnny Storm died, Marvel would have to rename his book The Fantastic 3. If Spider-Man breathed his last, editorial would re-title his comic 32 Pages of Aunt May Baking Pecan Sandies and Wondering Why Peter Won't Return Her Phone Calls. Sure, mutants are an endangered species, but Asteroid M could sink tomorrow and you could still cobble together a team of Toad, Boom Boom, and Wolverine's disembodied epiglottis. And you know what? The book (I'd call it X-Dregs) would sell like gangbusters.

The X-Men's big summer event — Second Coming — wraps up Wednesday with X-Men Second Coming 2. This massive, multi-title crossover has yielded several deaths, including one ridiculously high-profile fatality. In honor of all those ex-X-Men (and ex-X-malefactors) who've evolved past their mortal coil, here are our merry mutants' most lachrymose moments.

The 5 most tear-jerking X-Men deaths


5.) Doug "Cypher" Ramsey in New Mutants 60 (1988)
Poor Doug Ramsey. His mutant power was practical, not full of pizazz. While the other New Mutants like Cannonball and Sunspot could emit Moonshine Tachyons or become living fondue, Doug could just speak any language. It's useful trait, but being the world's best polyglot doesn't score you a Toy Biz action figure.

In the last moments of his life, Doug demonstrated that he had a secondary mutation — he had balls of brass. See, soft'n'squishy Doug took a bullet* for his girlfriend Wolfsbane in the midst of battle, most of which he had previously spent hiding behind a rock. New Mutants 60 read like an issue of X-Degrassi, and I say that as high praise.

*Of course, Doug was resurrected during the 2009 mega-event Necrosha. For the X-Men, the afterlife has a revolving door policy.

The 5 most tear-jerking X-Men deaths


4.) Mastemind in Uncanny X-Men Annual 17 (1993)
Jason Wyngarde had incredible psychic abilities but was also cursed with the looks of a homeless Inspector Clouseau. It's no wonder he spent most of his supervillaining career hypnotizing Jean Grey into believing he was some antebellum popinjay. Jason never seduced Jean (who was actually the Phoenix Force at the time*) and contracted the Legacy Virus. On his deathbed, he apologized for making her (Phoenix Force clone's) life hell. Jean forgave him, despite the fact that he tried to kill her first. Hey, old habits die hard.

*This is why I dread writing X-Men articles. Ever other sentence needs its own damn appendix.

3 and 2.) Illyana and Piotr Rasputin in Uncanny X-Men 303 (1993) and Uncanny X-Men 390 (2001)
The 1990s (and heck, the early 2000s) were a profoundly strange time for the X-Men. Marquee villains like Magneto took the backseat to half-baked chuckleheads like Sienna Blaze and the Neo and Bastion...oh wait, he's the villain in Second Coming. Whoops. But hey, I kind of dug X-Cutioner. He was like the Punisher-meets-Boba Fett for evil mutants.

The 5 most tear-jerking X-Men deaths

Anyway, in between battles with the X-Törshûnizitz or whoever, rare moments of sentiment would slip throught the cracks. And the deaths of the Rasputin siblings were such moments.

Illyana Rasputin (a.k.a. Magik a.k.a. Colossus' younger sister) was one of the first mutants to die of the Legacy Virus. Her death was deftly handled by Scott Lobdell in Uncanny 303 — Illyana's passing is viewed through the eyes of an emotionally overwhelmed Jubilee, whose previous characterization heretofore amounted to "not Kitty Pryde" and "raincoat."

The 5 most tear-jerking X-Men deaths

Almost a decade later, Colossus died curing the world of the Legacy Virus. Lobdell also tackled this story too — Petey's passing really shined despite the wholesale insanity of the plot. See, Colossus died when he injected himself with a worldwide cure for the Legacy Virus that could only be activated once a single mutant gave up his life. I realize that the X-Men aren't a hard science comic, but even this plot twist would force Dr. Strange to invoke the Hoary Hosts of Likewuttehfug.

Since dying, both Colossus and Illyana have come back to life (synthetic corpse and supernatural resurrection, respectively). This is why the X-Men don't offer health insurance.

1.) Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix in Uncanny X-Men 137 (1980)

The 5 most tear-jerking X-Men deaths


You saw this one coming. You had to have seen this one coming. This story arc has been the bread and butter of the X-franchise for the last 30 years — in sum, Jean Grey (who is actually the Phoenix Force) sacrifices herself once she realizes she cannot control the galaxy-consuming Dark Phoenix within her. I realize that this is the keystone moment in X-mythology, but there's no possible way I can explain the whole shebang without resorting to several Venn diagrams and a puppet show. Here's the Wikipedia page.

In sum, Chris Claremont is responsible for two of the greatest things ever to happen to superhero comics. One of them is the above death.

The 5 most tear-jerking X-Men deaths

The other, of course, is Storm's mohawk.

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