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October 01, 2012

Avengers vs. X-Men: Jason Aaron talks the tragic fate of Professor X

Posted in: Comics

Avengers vs X-Men #12

Avengers vs X-Men #12. (Marvel)

“Avengers vs. X-Men” is Marvel Comics’ big crossover event of the year — and by the time it reaches its conclusion, one major figure will be no more.

Professor Charles Xavier formed the X-Men after the mutant population exploded around the world, with an eye toward teaching his followers to use their abilities for the common good. The book itself dates back to 1963, and with its 50-year anniversary approaching, the fact that the character is reaching the end of his narrative journey speaks to the new environment in which superhero comics reside — his departure allows Marvel to creatively shake up the storyline as the X-Men are forced to grapple with the weight of his death. Hero Complex contributor Jevon Phillips caught up with Jason Aaron, the writer tasked with scripting the final issue of the AvX series, and got some insight into how this big event might ultimately affect the Marvel universe.

HC: You’re writing the final installment of the Avengers vs. X-Men series … coming into it, what did you expect, and has that changed much since those initial planning meetings?

JA: I’m not sure I was prepared just for how big a project it was going to be. It’s like when a guy goes from playing college ball to being in the NFL. Suddenly all the other guys are way bigger and faster. That’s what it’s like going from regular monthly comics to a big summer event. Except Marvel has better refs.

Avengers vs. X-Men #12 - teaser

Avengers vs. X-Men #12 teaser. (Marvel)

HC: What’s been the most impassioned argument that you’ve heard for, or against, either of the teams?

JA: Oh man, there have been too many. I love peeking online and seeing the arguments for Cyclops being either a hero or a villain. And the same for Captain America. I don’t get caught up in the individual arguments. For me, the point is just that there are arguments. And that the character motivations behind AvX are complicated enough that readers can really dig into them and figure out for themselves who they side with, who they think the real heroes are. And I think arguments will only go up a notch once people have read the last issue.

HC: So … Professor Xavier. You get to be the one to end an important chapter in not only Marvel history, but in all of comics, with his death.

JA: Just like fans argue online, there was lots of discussion behind the scenes about whether or not we should kill Professor X. Ultimately, I voted yes. Because we weren’t doing it just for the shock value. This is a death that will have a lot of meaning for our characters for a long time to come, especially for Cyclops.

HC: Have you had a chance to ponder Xavier’s importance, and do you think that the evolution of Marvel characters somehow passed him by?

JA: I think the X-universe passed him by a bit. The dynamic has changed so much in that world that he didn’t really have a place in it anymore. And instead of just having him continue to bounce around as a secondary character with no real place to go, I think his death opens up a lot of story possibilities, as we see characters forced to step up  in his wake, characters struggling to honor his memory, and of course we’ll see Cyclops continue to deal with the burden of being Xavier’s murderer.

Avengers vs. X-Men #11 Death of Xavier

Avengers vs. X-Men #11 – A panel showing the death of Xavier. (Marvel)

HC: There’s life after AvX, but how will it — for both the characters and the readers — be affected by this battle and its outcome?

JA: With the end of AvX, I wanted to make sure I did two things. One, of course, is to give this story a definitive ending. AvX doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. The last issue works as a nice bookend with the first issue, and some of the character arcs that have been at the heart of this story reach a real conclusion. So I think if you read AvX from start to finish, you will definitely get one big story with a beginning, middle and end. But also, with the ending, I wanted to show how AvX has reshaped the Marvel Universe, setting up some of the new series we’ll be seeing as part of Marvel Now.

– Jevon Phillips

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