Hey, look! I promised you a sequel to last night's post and I'm actually doing it on the following night (pause for hoopla and jubilation, horns, swanee whistles and kazoos). So, as I was saying, Professor X is dead! (Good.)
Panel from [Uncanny] X-Men #138 (October 1980), co-plot and script by Chris Claremont, co-plot and pencils by John Byrne, inks by Terry Austin, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Tom Orzechowski
As you know, the X-Men were all torn up about this. Literally!
Cover of [Uncanny] X-Men #46 (July 1968), pencils by Don Heck, inks by John Verpoorten (?) or John Tartaglione (?)
But how did the hordes of the M.M.M.S. (Mighty Mutant Maiming Society) out there in Marvel Fandom respond? Well, just the way they always did: by sending cordial, supportive letters!
Letter printed in [Uncanny] X-Men Annual #5 (1980)
Whoops, that was from much later. Here's a real letter reacting to the death of Professor Xavier, Ph.J. (Doctorate of Jerkdom):
Letter printed in [Uncanny] X-Men #46 (July 1968)
Oh, for Pete's sake. Please spare us. Anyway, he is not only merely dead, he is most sincerely dead. (And a jerk.) Say, Roy Thomas, why did you kill off Professor X? Not that we're blaming you.
from The X-Men Companion I (March 1983, Fantagraphics*); Roy Thomas interviewed by Peter Sanderson
Ah, well, that's a good enough reason. The X-Men wasn't selling. Well, since X-Men never doesn't sell well these days, then there is obviously no reason that Marvel would ever need to kill off Professor X today! You're safe, Xavier! (Ya jerk.)
So, about fifty issues and ten years later, by the time that the X-Men franchise had become, as Kurt Wagner would say, über-popular (and yet still only consisted of a single monthly book), we've got this scene:
Panels from [Uncanny] X-Men #129 (January 1980), co-plot and script by Chris Claremont, co-plot and pencils by John Byrne, inks by Terry Austin, colors by Bob Sharen, letters by Tom Orzechowski
Reacting to that scene, here's a letter printed in a few months later in X-Men:
Letter printed in [Uncanny] X-Men #135 (July 1980)
What th--?!? They brought that jerk back? (frantically riffling through my late-sixties X-Mens)
Panel from [Uncanny] X-Men #65 (February 1970), script by Denny O'Neil, pencils by Neal Adams, inks by Tom Palmer, letters by Jean Simek
Wow, he came back from the dead so hard he's glowing. And, judging from the speed lines around his skull, he's been spending some time in Japan! But how...how...how can we explain the death and resurrection of Professor Charles Francis Susan Xavier? With a little bit of Marvel magic, that's how!
Now get this: it wasn't Xavier who died! Instead, he went into hiding while another mutant impersonated him at his instruction and then later died! (Jerk.) That mutant was...the Changeling! Well, tho' a jerky move, who can blame Xavier? Who wouldn't wish for Changeling's prolonged and painful death, huh?
Panels from The New Teen Titans v.1 #40 (March 1984); co-plot and script by Marv Wolfman; co-plot and pencils by George Pérez; inks by Romeo Tanghal and George Pérez; colors by Adrienne Roy; letters by Bob Lappan
So, just how much of a (looking in my thesaurus for a synonym to the word jerk so I don't use it too much)...blockhead, dolt, donkey, dope, dunce, fool, idiot, imbecile, jackass, nitwit, numbskull, simpleton, twit...is Chuck Xavier? He made Marvel Girl keep the fact that he was substituting the Changeling and faking his death a secret! Wow, that's a lot of responsibility for the unstable mind of Miss Jean Grey. And of course every panel between the death and the return of Xavier supports that plot device, right?
So, remember when they told us this on the cover of #42, the ish where Xavier died?
Yeah, it pretty much was a hoax. Thanks...jerk.
And then, he pretended to die again in the same issue, just to get sympathy.
Luckily, at least one of the X-Men started to speak up about what a jerk Professor Xavier is. And that X-Man is...
Panel from X-Men: The Hidden Years #1 (December 1999); script, pencils, and letters by John Byrne; inks by Tom Palmer; colors by Greg Wright
Anyway, after all that, Professor X probably will start acting nicer again now, right? Dying seems to do that to you. Pleasant and kind, that's our Chuck now!
Or maybe not.
So, once again we have a jerk at the helm of the Xavier's School for Gifted and Gullible Youngsters. Things would not change until many years later, when the X-Men got a pleasant change by installing terrorist and mass-murderer Magneto as the headmaster. Everybody liked him a lot and boy, was he good at helping you drop a new engine block into your car!
In conclusion: Professor Xavier was a jerk who died, then he was a jerk who came back. And I think we can all agree that story was so definitive and classic that Marvel will never try to duplicate its startling
Depressing, ain't it? But there's a lesson to be learned. Let is never forget...that Professor X is a jerk.
Panel from Uncanny X-Men #443 (Late June 2004), script by Chuck Austen, pencils by Salvador Larroca, inks by Danny Miki, colors by Udon, letters by Rus Wooton
*Yes, Fantagraphics....I know! The mind boggles, don't it?