The Resurrection Protocols – Conquering the Crisis of Death in Marvel Comics’ X-Men’s Krakoan Age

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The spectre of death has forever shadowed the superhero comic. In Umberto Eco’s 1972 essay, ‘The Myth of Superman’, he argued that the episodic ‘oneiric climate’ (p.17) of Superman’s adventures meant that the hero never narratively move closer to completion/death. As serialisation became a feature of the genre from the 1960s onwards, the death/resurrection of superheroes turned into a creative crisis that comics creators needed to grapple with. Nowhere is this more apparent than The X-Men, Marvel Comics’ team of mutants. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963 and revitalised by Chris Claremont in the 1970s, X-Men is the most soap-operatic of any of the superhero franchises. Like the soap-opera genre, the X-Men are known for having a revolving-door approach to the barrier between life and death. In 2018, Jonathan Hickman wrote the mini-series House of X/Powers of X, which relaunched the franchise. Hickman then served as the lead writer for the X-Men line until 2021, spearheading a new model of interconnected collaborative storytelling for corporate superhero comics. This relaunch focused around two elements, the establishment of a mutant nation on the living island of Krakoa and conquering death. Rather than undercutting drama, by removing the danger of death, this Resurrection Protocol has enhanced it. This has opened new science fictional questions for X-Men to explore such as the meaning of spirituality for an Eternal people, questions of identity and the geo-political implications of an oppressed minority suddenly becoming the most powerful nation on the planet. For the X-Men’s Krakoan Age, curing death may have secured mutankind’s future but it has also created a whole new set of crises to challenge the superhero genre.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 14 Sept 2023
EventGraphic Horizons: The Future of Comics in an Intermedial World - University of Adelaide, North Terrace Campus, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 14 Sept 202315 Sept 2023


ConferenceGraphic Horizons
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