For the X-Men, death is just a right of passage.
No one dies better than an X-Man! That’s because they’ve done it so much, they are certified experts on the feat. There was even a time when the entire team died on national television. It’s a trope that’s well played throughout all of comics, but due to the soap opera-like air of the X-Men, combined with their generally overall darker tone, the subject of death just comes up more often. Not to mention the sheer number of active and inactive X-Men has made them an easy target for a culling every now and then. Here are the Top 10 X-Men that have died but found their way back!
Yes, my friends. The Ragin’ Cajun legit died once… for like two panels. I’m not talking about what happened at the end of Uncanny X-Men #350 where the X-Men left him to die a slow, agonizing, death in Antarctica. No. Not that. If you didn’t read the 2012 17-issue James Asmus “Gambit” solo (If you haven’t yet, what are you doing with your life? Go read it!), you probably had no idea this happened. In the series finale, Gambit masterfully orchestrated a prison riot and brought together his target, mob boss Borya Cich, the British intelligence agency MI-13, and the Uncanny Avengers.
While his allies cleaned up the mess he created, the heroes lost track of Cich. He got his hands on a gun and shot Gambit in the forehead at point-blank range. As Gambit lay dead in the arms of his of then ex-girlfriend, Rogue, MI-13 member, Faza, intervened. Using the magic of the sword Excalibur, she very literally reconstructed Gambit’s head and brought him back to life. Don’t worry, Cich didn’t get away with it. Gambit ‘accidentally’ incinerated him.
Similar to his longtime teammate, Gambit, Archangel didn’t stay dead for too long. Technically. Rick Remender had struck gold with his now classic run of Uncanny X-Force. In the story, the Archangel personality had fully taken over Warren Worthington and ascended to take on the role of Apocalypse himself. Obviously, this doesn’t sit well with the rest of X-Force and they move to take on the new threat posed by their former teammate.
In the end, Psylocke stabbed Warren with the Life seed, essentially killing Archangel. As they retreat, the team spots Warren, now restored to his original form. Unfortunately, it’s not the Warren they knew but a completely different and new person. A blank slate. The Life Seed had essentially erased everything Warren was up to that point. Eventually, this pure version of Warren is merged with an Archangel clone created from samples of his techno-organic metal wings, in a way, resurrecting the original Warren. In a way.
The chili fry eating, mall-baby, Jubilation Lee, has died more than most X-Men but was never actually gone longer than the amount of time it took her to be revived. The first time we saw her meet her end is probably the most memorable and impactful. Sometime after the House of M, Jubilee, alongside several other de-powered X-Men are captured by the Purifiers. They were beaten, tortured, and subsequently crucified upon the front lawn of the X-mansion. By the time a group of traumatized and frantic X-Men could get her, and others such as Skin, free from their constraints, they were basically dead.
Jubilee and the others were taken down to the X-mansion’s subbasement and all given a blood transfusion from Angel. Possessing restorative properties, the plasma revived Jubilee, but most of the others succumbed to their wounds. Jubilee’s second brush with death comes by way of being a victim of a Vampire-bomb that turned her and everyone around her into fiends of the night. Being a bonafide vampire for years, her body was essentially dead. She recently has been cured and even regained her mutant powers.
Betsy died as she lived. A hero. In Chris Claremont’s X-Treme X-Men, the team had to contend with a number of threats, but none so individually threatening as Vargas. After beating both Rogue and Beast near to death, Vargas set his sights on Psylocke. With no backup, Psylocke was the only line of defense between the villain and her friends. She engaged him in battle but ultimately died at his hands.
Luckily, Ms. Braddock has a crazy uber powerful brother that can twist reality as easy as others breathe. To help contend with a world-ending threat, Jamie Braddock folded time and stopped his sister’s soul from crossing over and placed it back in her body. She woke up in the same place she had died with no recollection of the time that had passed. From that point on, however, Psylocke’s personality was a bit different. Quicker to violence, and overall colder in comparison to before.
Following the events of Avengers vs. X-Men, Rogue, alongside Wolverine, Havok and Sunfire joined the Uncanny Avengers. Written by Rick Remender, the book was something of a continuation of the story he began in Uncanny X-Force. Under the impression that the Scarlet Witch was about to cast another spell, Rogue decided to take matters into her own hands. Utilizing Wolverine’s powers, she ran the Avenger through with a set of bone claws, killing her. In turn, she was stabbed in the back and incinerated by the then undead, super villain, the Grim Reaper.
Rogue’s death lasted several months but was ultimately reversed when the Avengers traveled back in time to stop her initial attack on Scarlet Witch. This wasn’t her first flirtation with the great beyond. In X-Treme X-Men, she and her then on-again-off-again boyfriend Gambit were skewered together by mysterious and savage villain only known as Vargas. Rogue and Gambit crossed over but turned back just short of the gates of the heaven.
During the Second Coming storyline, Nightcrawler and his adopted-sister Rogue found themselves alone against the super-sentinel, Bastion. Both trying to protect Hope Summers from the villain, they put everything on the line. With Rogue down, all Nightcrawler could do was attempt to get the “mutant messiah” to safety. Sadly, before he was able to teleport away with her, Bastion managed to place his hand in the possession where the X-Man’s body would be before he could reappear. With an arm in his chest, Kurt reappeared on Utopia with Hope and died from his injury.
Nightcrawler’s soul ascended to heaven, but while there, he continued to help in ways he could, including aiding in driving out an evil presence from Wolverine. Kurt’s father, Azazel would use the connection they have to attack heaven. In the end, Kurt used the same connection to his father to rematerialize his body in the land of the living but forfeited his soul in the process. He now may never be able to return to a state of grace.
Wolverine’s death was something everyone saw coming due to having an entire mini-series dedicated to it aptly titled: Death of Wolverine. Wolverine contracted a virus that effectively removed his healing factor. Word spread quickly and we watched as our Canadian brawler ran a gauntlet while he investigated the origin of the virus and how a target got painted on his back. His search eventually led him to the originator of the Weapon-X program, Dr. Cornelius.
After dispatching one of Cornelius’s test subjects, Wolverine is covered in molten adamantium. Though he exacts his revenge upon the doctor, once the metal hardens, he ultimately suffocates and dies. Due to the most ridiculous cash grab I’ve seen since Avengers vs. X-Men, Wolverine’s death was one of the most unnecessary of all time. Wolverine may have been gone but there were so many Logan derivatives (9 or more), it was as if he never left. His resurrection was equally, if not more drawn out than his death. To be honest… I’m still not sure how he’s back. Something to do with a piece of his soul, the Space Gem, empty grave sites, and the Phoenix Force. You tell me. No, seriously, I don’t get it.
Peter Rasputin’s death is the result of a mixture of sadness over losing his brother Mikhail, and a deep sense of duty. A cure for the legacy virus had been discovered by Moira MacTaggert, who by this time had been murdered. Unfortunately, the only way to make it airborne, thus as effective of a cure as the disease itself, it had to be administered to a living subject whom it would also kill. Understanding what needed to be done, Colossus injected himself with the syringe holding the cure and then transformed into his steel form activating it. He died on the spot. Or did he?
Years later in Joss Whedon’s run of Astonishing X-Men, a mutant cure is developed using an unknown test subject. When the X-Men investigate, they discover Colossus alive and well being held in an underground bunker. It was revealed that Ord, a denizen of a place called the “Breakworld”, abducted his body shortly after his death and left a decoy in its place. He then delivered Colossus to the company which used him to develop a cure which Ord wanted to use as a weapon against mutant kind.
Cyclops has had the pleasure of not dying once, but twice. Though I’d argue the first time was less of death and more an end of life as Cyclops knew it. At the climax of “The Twelve” storyline, Cyclops found himself being a host for Apocalypse. Cyclops was thought dead from the experience, but Jean and Cable were later able to remove the tyrant from his body and return him to normal. As normal as a person can be following a traumatic event like that.
The next time we saw Cyclops die, it was during a time jump following Secret Wars II. For months Cyclops was characterized as a warmongering monster that made a bad situation worse. He and a group of X-Men destroyed one of two Terrigen Mist clouds that were killing and sterilizing mutants across the globe. For his crime, the Inhuman king Blackbolt killed him at the request of his queen, Medusa. That turned out to be an elaborate telepathic ruse created by Emma Frost. Cyclops had actually died days earlier from exposure to that very cloud.
None of this was explained until close to a year after the fact. Yeah… it was one of the most ridiculous X-Men stories ever told. Cyclops would be briefly restored to life by the Phoenix in hopes of seducing Jean, but she didn’t bite. Recently, using a combination of time-travel, and residual power from the Phoenix Force, a younger version of his son, Cable, forced fate to about-face. He resurrected his father and brought him back to life.
1. Jean Grey
Of course, ‘the queen of crossing over’, Jean ‘dead-girl’ Grey is the #1 X-Man to die and return. While she’s technically only died once, readers have been threatened with her passing a total of 4 times! The first time came when she was forced to pilot a space shuttle back to earth. This was more of a scare, but the radiation she was exposed to should have killed her. Thanks to her telekinesis and the Phoenix Force, she survived and is placed in a cocoon, but we didn’t know that, then. The Phoenix Force would go on masquerading as Jean and ‘die’ a total of two times before her true identity is revealed upon Jean’s return.
Jean ‘dies’ during the Magneto’s War storyline, but that’s just a trick she masterminded herself. Her first true death comes at the hands of the former X-Man, Xorn, who turned out to be a clone of Magneto. After ‘poisoning’ her with a lethal dose of electromagnetism, Jean dies. Having totally merged with the Phoenix Force, Jean re-manifests herself several times, most notably during Avengers vs. X-Men where she pushes a power-maddened Cyclops out of the white-hot room. She finally returns as she’s revived by the Phoenix Force, though she rejects the cosmic being and decides to live on without it.
We’re finally at the end! So, which not-so-dead- X-Man is your favorite? Let us know below!