For months, the house ads for "X-Men: Second Coming" have been promising us that "one will die," and I'm pretty sure they mean someone a little more notable than Meld.

As for figuring out just who's on the fast-track to the pine box express, that's a little trickier, but now that the cast has been assembled in "Second Coming" #1, we can at least make an educated guess, and that's why today, we're breaking down the odds on who's going to which of the X-Men is going to meet their permanent end. Well, semi-permanent until the next crossover, anyway.


Let's get this one out of the way up front: Nightcrawler's totally going to die. He's the most obvious choice on every conceivable level. Unless you dropped him in favor of Jean Grey in "Marvel Ultimate Alliance," he's one of the few major X-Men to not have died yet. And in "Second Coming" he's the only one who seems totally freaked out by the fact that the X-Men are straight-up killing dudes left and right. Aside from providing a martyrdom that could lead to the current roster of Team Stabbity X-Force disbanding, his death would be yet another reason for Cyclops to sulk, brood, and take out his repressed anger on innocent drywall. There's just no reason for it not to be him.

Which brings us to the only reason I don't just end the article here and call it a day: Nightcrawler's such an obvious choice that he's crossed over into that nebulous gray area where he could also be the obvious fake-out. But then again, considering this is a comic where a sexy teen girl stabs a dude in the face on-panel in a blood-soaked close-up, I'm probably pretty safe without second-guessing its subtlety.

ODDS: 1 to 1


For the past few years, Cable's been shepherding Hope through time like a heavily armed Doc Brown who swapped his DeLorean for a truly gigantic assault rifle and a metal arm, and now that he's done with that, it seems like he just doesn't have much purpose, or an ongoing series of his own, both of which make him a pretty good candidate for death.

It would work symbolically, too: Cable embodies the gritty, gun-toting aspects of Marvel that they're trying to get away from with the upcoming Heroic Age, and if there's really going to be a storytelling shift away from fatalism, having Cable sacrifice himself to ensure that the dystopian future he was raised in never happens would be the best possible way he could go out.

ODDS: 3 to 1


The fact that I forget Angel isn't already dead for long stretches of time isn't a very good sign for his chances of making it through a major crossover with a heartbeat, and even less so when what reminds me isn't an X-Men story, but his role in "World War Hulk," which was actually based on him being a part of the Champions back in the '70s. Sure, he's shown up in "Uncanny" a few times over the course of Fraction's run, but his major role has been in "X-Force," which is undergoing a creative team shuffle (at least) when "Second Coming" ends, and again: Not a good sign.

But still, those factors might work in his favor, too: He's one of the original X-Men, but since he's been flying so far below the radar lately (so to speak), Marvel might pass him over in favor of a death with a little more emotional impact. Not that deaths of comic book characters in general and X-Men in particular can have all that much emotional impact at this point anyway, but they'll probably be angling for someone a little more heavy.

ODDS: 5 to 1


Most of my theories on which X-Man is going to die tend to be based on which ones would give Cyclops the best excuse to mope -- a role that both his fuzzy German pal and his son-from-the-future would fill pretty handily -- but it occurs to me that the ultimate bummer would be Cyclops himself biting it.

I don't think it's very likely: Scott Summers already has one (fairly recent) death on his record and it would be a shame to see all this time guys like Matt Fraction have spent developing him into a leader who's at odds with even his own teacher go to waste. Even so, the fact that the ads have promised that "One Will Die" and "One Will Lead" puts a pretty uncomfortable spotlight on the guy that's actually leading already. If the Phoenix really is returning as Hope -- and we have no reason whatsoever to think it's not -- it could set up an interesting game of cosmic phone-tag, where Scott and Jean's deaths and resurrections just keep missing each other, and seeing a mourning Emma Frost in charge of a younger version of the Phoenix could make for some good stories.

ODDS: 10 to 1


What, seriously? No way. Marvel might have a knack for holding the Goose hostage with a gun to its head to speed up Golden Egg production (see also: Deadpool), but they're not going to throw it on the fire to cook it up for dinner.

X-23 is, as I'm sure you're aware, Wolverine, except that she's a sexy former teen prostitute in a halter top, which means that it's slightly more okay for the fanboy to transfer his affection onto her. In other words, she is basically a license to print money. She'll be just fine.

ODDS: 50 to 1


I will cold drop a guarantee on this one: Pixie's not dying in "Second Coming." It's just not happening.

For one, she's currently in the middle of her own solo mini-series, "Pixie Strikes Back," which is generally a get-out-of-dying-in-a-crossover-free card. For another, if Marvel really wanted Pixie dead, they would've killed her off a couple of years back when they were pretty much slaughtering the rest of the cast of "New X-Men: Academy X" left and right. And thirdly, having a cute, pink-haired girl with fairy wings get violently murdered during the year when Marvel's celebrating their female characters and putting out "Girl Comics" in an effort to reach out to women is the most monumentally bad idea since the invention of the bee sandwich.

ODDS: 100 to 1