X-Men Just Pulled Off Comics' Fastest Character Resurrection – Screen Rant

The X-Men have mastered death on Krakoa, and Karma’s breakneck speed death and rebirth signifies a new approach to comic book deaths.
Warning: spoilers for New Mutants #18 by Vita Ayala, Rod Reis, VC’s Travis Lanham, and Tom Muller are ahead. 
Resurrections in superhero comics are an integral facet of the genre, and nowhere does this ring more true than on the X-Men’s island of Krakoa. With the island being powered by the Five, a group of mutants responsible for resurrecting their fallen compatriots, the X-Men have created a “post-mortal” society on Krakoa. As their own nation-state, Krakoa has evolved into a complex society in Marvel Comics where death is no longer an endpoint, but an intermediary.
Even so, there is a wait time for resurrections on Krakoa, but a new comic, New Mutants #18, may have bypassed this completely (written by Vita Ayala, art by Rod Reis, letters by VC’s Travis Lanham, design by Tom Muller). Xi’an Coy Manh, also known as Karma, was killed in ritual combat in an event called the Crucible. She dies in one panel, only to be shown waking up in her new body in the very next panel. While longtime fans of the genre may be used to the cycle of death and rebirth for many characters across comics, Karma’s death and subsequent resurrection may be the fastest example yet.
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This superhero resurrection differs from those in the past due to not only its speed, but also its intention and reflection of how this X-Men run has rewritten many of the rules that guided superhero comics for decades. Karma’s death and resurrection is an evolution from how resurrections took place in the past, most notably with the return of Jean Grey after the Dark Phoenix Saga. Instead, the terms of Karma’s death make both sides of her resurrection meaningful as an attempt to escape from her past. In this way, the X-Men have reconfigured the concept of superhero resurrections as an act of intention and agency, as opposed to an event signifying a character’s uncertain future.
At this point in comics history, almost all major superheroes have died at some point, only to eventually return. And while events like The Death of Superman loom large in comics lore, partially due to the fact that it was once an unfathomable idea for many fans. For this reason, the saying, “the only people who stay dead in comics are Uncle Ben, Jason Todd, and Bucky Barnes” has remained popular. Since then, the only character who has truly remained dead out of those three is Uncle Ben.
With the medium developing in this way, the manner in which heroes died in the past is no longer relevant to contemporary audiences. The X-Men are cognizant of this, and the ritualization of death on Krakoa marks a new phase in how death can be understood and represented in superhero comics. Instead of significance being placed on whether or not a character will return after dying, Karma’s death emphasizes her decision to die, knowing that she will be brought back. In this sense, comics characters are more aware of the impermanence of comic book deaths than ever before.
The terms of Karma’s death reveal how dying has become a meaningful step in a character’s journey, without being the terminal point in their trajectory. Pretending that a character is truly dead is no longer a framework that works in today’s landscape, and the X-Men have made a compelling case for embracing the impermanence of character deaths. For Karma, dying meant she could be reborn without her brother, Tran’s, soul entwined with her own. As she demonstrates, the X-Men have mastered the ability to use comic book deaths as an escape from their own tragic pasts.
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Jules Chin Greene is a writer, filmmaker, and animator based in Los Angeles. She has a B.A. in English and Cinema Studies from Oberlin College. There, she was an Oberlin College Research Fellow and won the Award for Excellence in Critical Writing for her thesis on Indigeneity and Anti-Imperialism in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In her free time, she enjoys horror movies, roller-skating, and playing the otamatone.


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