Classic Comic Book Canon: The Dark Phoenix Saga (Part 3 of 3)

Welcome back. If you haven’t read parts one and two, go ahead and do that.

Classic Comic Book Canon: The Dark Phoenix Saga (Part 1 of 3)

Classic Comic Book Canon: The Dark Phoenix Saga (Part 2 of 3)

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Uncanny X-Men #135: “Dark Phoenix”


Synopsis: Having escaped from the Hellfire Club, Jean Grey finally gives into the dark side of her soul awakened by Mastermind, becoming the Dark Phoenix and destroying the X-Men’s escape craft over Central Park. Miraculously, the X-Men survive the explosion and with quick thinking manage to make it safely to ground with only minor injuries. Their attempts to talk Jean out of attacking them fails and she easily trounces the team with her cosmic level abilities.

While not far away at the Hellfire Club, the authorities are investigating what patrons there believe was an attack by the X-Men. After seeing his colleague Henry Leland wheeled into an ambulance, Sebastian Shaw confronts US Sentator Robert Kelly, 1 a guest at the party that night. Before the two men can discuss things further, Shaw is shocked to see a giant Phoenix effect fill the sky.


Shaw is not the only one, as Dark Phoenix uses her powers to fly away from Earth her abilities are picked up by Mr. Fantastic’s scientific equipment, Spider-Man’s spider-sense, Dr. Strange’s mystical senses, and the Silver Surfer’s cosmic senses.


As Jean departs, an Avengers Quinjet lands in Central Park containing the Beast 2 who has come to the aid of his former comrades in the X-Men. He finds them beaten but alive and agrees to fly them back to the X-Mansion in Salem Center.

While in New Mexico, Professor X has a video call with Moira MacTaggert on Muir Island where they both compare notes and realize that their greatest fear, that Jean has lost control of her new powers, has finally become a nightmarish reality.


While in space, Dark Phoenix loops around the sun and uses it’s gravity to sling shot her out to a warp gate not far outside of Earth’s solar system. This sends her to the D’bari system, which is part of the Shi’ar empire. 3 She then feasts on the solar system’s star, causing it to go nova and obliterate all the living creautres on the planet D’bari. This is witnessed by a Shi’ar flagship that goes in to investigate. While on the Shi’ar throneworld, Empress Lilandra is awoken to the news of the destruction and witnesses the destruction of the flagship at Phoenix’s hands.


On Earth, the X-Men have returned to their headquarters and wonder what they will do next. Scott, who still has his telepathic rapport with Jean witnesses the entire genocide through his minds eye and warns his fellow X-Men that Jean is returning to Earth, and she’s hungry.

Analysis: So up until she destroys the D’bari system, Jean really hasn’t done anything that can’t be forgiven, and even if she destroys a star without a populated world, she could still come back from that. But once she destroys the D’bari world, then that’s something that can’t be forgiven. Yet, if the planets were uninhabited, then the stakes are not as great.

Uncanny X-Men #136: ” Child of Light and Darkness!”


Synopsis: Following the Dark Phoenix destroying the D’Bari system, Empress Lilandra of the Shi’ar meets with a galactic council on the threat that the Phoenix poses to the universe. The decision is unanimous in light of the evidence: the Phoenix must be destroyed.

The Beast is with his old comrades the X-Men, preparing for the Dark Phoenix’s return by building a synaptic scrambler device to prevent Jean from using her powers. As Cyclops struggles to come to terms with what’s become of Jean, Storm tries to console him.


While down below in the Danger Room, Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Colossus attempt to blow off some steam in the Danger Room. They all come to agree that they must destroy Jean if they must, however their foremost duty will be to try and save her.

The Dark Phoenix meanwhile returns to her parents home at Annadale-On-Hudson and wakes up her parents and younger sister Sarah. Finding their thoughts impossible to keep out of her head, Jean attempts to keep her anger in check. However, she cannot and shows her family her powers by changing a houseplant into crystal.


Noticing a fog outside Dark Phoenix realizes that the X-Men have found her and rushes out to meet them. Nightcrawler teleports behind her and places the synaptic scrambler on her head. 4 Although this causes her great pain and limits her abilities, she is still able to hold her own against the X-Men’s combined assault on her. When Wolverine gets close enough to her, she begs him to kill her with is claws, but Wolverine falters long enough for Phoenix’s dark side to reassert control and blast him away.


Having overheated the scrambler, Dark Phoenix removes it and locks the X-Men in stasis. She begins to torture them mentally until she is confronted by Cyclops who tries to convince her to stop fighting and almost has her won over when Professor X arrives and attacks her mentally. This causes her to flip back to her evil persona and attack Charles directly.

The two lock in mental combat and after a match of wits, Charles Xavier manages to use his mental powers to force the Dark Phoenix persona deep into Jean’s mind restoring their sanity. Although the X-Men have a heartfelt moment now that Jean is back they all wonder how long her sanity will last. When John Grey and his family approaches Xavier to demand answers, they are shocked when the X-Men are all suddenly teleported away.

Analysis: Something that bugs me about Jean going dark, is that they portray it like a split personality rather than Jean’s personality becoming corrupted by the immense power of the Phoenix Force.


Uncanny X-Men #137: “The Fate of the Phoenix”


Synopsis: The Watcher 5 has come to witness an event of cosmic significance: The fate of the Phoenix.


Following the destruction of the D’bari system, the Shi’ar have teleported Phoenix, the X-Men, Angel and Beast aboard an imperial cruiser where Empress Lilandra has the unfortunate duty to tell her lover Charles Xavier that he galactic council has agreed the Phoenix must be destroyed. However, Xavier does not wish to put one of his students to death and calls for a duel of honor between the X-Men and the Imperial Guard for the fate of the Phoenix.

After consulting this with the Kree and Skrull 6 leaders, it is agreed that his will be allowable, and Lilandra agrees to the duel as well electing that the battle happen on the Moon’s blue area. 7 The Supreme Intelligence and R’Kill demand that their emissaries watch over the battle.


The X-Men leave to rest up for the fight with most of them wondering what the Professor has gotten them into. That night, Jean has an alien tailor create a replica of her old Marvel Girl costume for her to wear, Nightcrawler and Angel practice in a training room, Wolverine — after considering that this time he will kill Jean if he has to — meditates, Beast takes a bath and takes up some of the local hospitality, while Storm and Colossus rest up for the fight. Scott is on one of the decks looking out into space brooding over his lot that the love of his life might be killed just when they were truly falling in love. His thoughts are interrupted when Jean arrives and shows off her costume, the two then decide to spend what could possibly be their last night together.


The following morning, the X-Men all agree to fight for Jean and are teleported to the surface of the moon where they find their fliers cannot fly too high without breaching the protective atmosphere of the blue area. The group is attacked by Starbolt, Manta and Oracle, causing the X-Men to split up to divide the Imperial forces.

One group consisting of Beast, Colossus, Storm and Wolverine travel into the underground tunnels and clash with B’nee and his partner C’cll. When Wolverine and Storm are knocked down a shaft, they are attacked by Hossar and Earthquake. Wolverine is knocked into the Watcher’s citadel while Storm is defeated by the two Imperials. While above as the battle rages on, Smasher tosses Angel down another shaft, prompting Nightcrawler to jump after him leaving Cyclops and Phoenix alone and out numbered.


Inside the Watcher’s citadel, Wolverine awakens to have the Watcher reveal that he’s been watching the Earth for centuries before kicking Logan out of his home. 8 When Wolverine is approached by what appears to be Storm, his enhanced senses detect that it’s really the Skrull Raksor. Before he can deal with the shapeshifter, he is blasted by the Kree known as Bel-Dann. Disgusted at being saved by one of his mortal enemies, Raskor shape shifts into a bestial creature and attacks the Kree.


Meanwhile, down below, Nightcrawler finds no trace of Angel and attempts to get the drop on Manta, only to be blasted by her. Not far away, B’Nee incapacitates the Beast, while Gladiator goes toe-to-toe with Colossus and easily beats the X-Man into submission. Watching the battle from the Shi’ar flag ship, Xavier is upset witnessing his X-Men being beaten, and Lilandra mourns for her love.


With the only X-Men left being Cyclops and Phoenix, the two agree to go out together and after a brief rest attack the remaining Imperials head on. However as the battle rages, Jean loses control of her dark side once more and begins to unleash the full power extent of her Phoenix powers once more. With no other choice, the X-Men begin to pick themselves up and change their focus to attacking Jean, despite the pain that it brings them to do so. When Colossus strikes a powerful blow to Jean strong enough to temporarily restore her sanity, she begs her fellow X-Men to end her life, however nobody can bring themselves to do it.


Jean then runs into a tunnel with Scott hot on her tails. She traps him in a telekinetic shield and tells him that there is no other choice but for the Phoenix to die. Powerless to stop anything, Cyclops watches in horror as Jean triggers one of the long forgotten Kree traps on the Blue Area of the moon and has it blast her, incinerating her body. As the Phoenix dies, her final words are to scream out Scott’s name. With Jean dead, Scott realizes how much he has lost that day breaks down in tears.


Analysis: The fact that Jean commits suicide raises the level of the story to a tragedy in the Shakespearean sense. The tragic hero succumbing to their flaw and performing a final heroic sacrifice, but it almost didn’t happen…

Alternate Ending Originally, Jean was not going to die. Instead, the Shi’ar planned to take away Jean’s power. The character would be human, until such time that her powers would return.


Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter felt that depowering Jean was not a sufficient punishment for a character who killed an entire planet. He had Claremont and Byrne rewrite then ending. Quite frankly, the very fact that she dies elevates the story.


Uncanny X-Men #138: “Elegy”


Synopsis: At the funeral of Jean Grey, Scott Summers listens over the eulogy and thinks back over the years of his relationship with Jean Grey. He offers his sympathies for Jean’s parents. Lilandra offers them as well and gives the Grey’s a gift, a holomatrix globe that would fill them with Jean’s essence whenever they touched it. Meeting up with the Professor, Scott would tell him that he is quitting the X-Men. The Professor understands and wishes Scott the best of luck. A cab pulls up in front of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and out comes Kitty Pride who sits on the steps waiting for the X-Men to come home from the funeral.

Analysis: So clearly the change in the ending of the previous issue, forced them to rewrite the issue. It’s the comic equivalent of a clip show. I love that the story ends with a hopeful note: Kitty Pryde.