Uncanny X-Men #136-137
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #136, Uncanny X-Men #137
The X-Men arrive with a psi-scrambler but it proves ineffective.
The fight culminates in a psychic duel between Phoenix and Professor X, which actually interrupts an attempt by Scott to reach Jean emotionally.
Xavier wins, in part because a part of Jean fights against the Phoenix.
Jean reasserts control of herself and seems 'cured'.
Then the whole team is teleported away.
They've been taken by the Shi'ar and related aliens in their Empire...
...who put Phoenix on trial for her destruction of the D'Bari solar system. Representatives of the Kree and Skrull galaxies are present as well.
Symbolizing her attempted return to innocence, Jean ask the Shi'ar to provide her with a duplicate of her Marvel Girl costume.
There isn't much of a trial to speak of, and it devolves into a cliched trial by combat anyway. The Supreme Intelligence, watching from afar, makes the point that the X-Men will fight if Jean is found guilty anyway, so they might as well formalize it.
It's the X-Men against the Imperial Guard, and the X-Men are no match for a team with a Superman analogue like Gladiator.
The strain of fighting is too much for Jean and she reverts to Dark Phoenix.
After she regains control, she activates some ancient Kree technology (the battle takes place in the Blue Area of the moon) and kills herself.
This is of course a legendary arc, and it holds up fairly well.
Jim Shooter demanded Jean's death, over Claremont & Byrne's objections,supposedly due to her destruction of an entire race (more on that below), and the arguments between Lilandra and the X-Men have a passion that was probably informed by the creator's real feelings. The fight scene with the Imperial Guard is a bit gratuitous, but having Jean kill herself instead of getting executed by the Shi'ar preserves the bird aliens as allies of the X-Men, and lets Jean retain control of her destiny.
It's been about three years since John Byrne took over art for Uncanny, during the first Shi'ar arc. His run is nearly over, and this arc and its epilogue in issue #138 are a fitting goodbye (with the upcoming Days of Future Past serving as a nice encore).
Baloney. Do I think of killing billions of sapient beings as immoral? Of course. But, hey, these are comics, and honestly, that's nothing new. Galactus, anyone? My own creation, the Sun Eater? My objections to Chris Claremont's original ending to the Dark Phoenix Saga had a lot more to do with the fact that it was a cop out. "Oh, she's okay now. Let's all go home to Long Island." What a limp letdown.
Obviously very different than what we've heard from Claremont & Byrne.
The Kree and Skrull representatives spend more time fighting with each other than observing the momentous events occurring here.
Also observing are the Watcher, and the Rigellian Recorder.
This is kind of a passing of the torch for these two characters. In the past, the Recorder was the guy who used to show up to indicate to the reader that something important was about to happen. Starting with this issue, that's now the Watcher's job.
Classic X-Men #42's back-up continues the story of Scott's time at the orphanage as a young boy. He nearly gets adopted by a nice family, but they're killed off by Mr. Sinister, who also takes mental control of the only nice person at the orphanage.
We also see that Jean and Xavier psychically visited Scott at the orphanage, and Jean and Scott forged a bond (which i guess was surpressed by Uncanny X-Men #1).
Issue #43 has a confusing discussion between Phoenix and Death, who is apparently a construction worker on the moon, or something.
It's said that Jean's psychic connection with a young Scott Summers in the orphanage, shown in a previous back-up, was the beginning of a series of events determined by fate that eventually lead to the X-Men preventing D'Ken from destroying the universe. It also makes vague connections between the Phoenix, Jean Grey, and Madelyne Pryor. It seems that the idea was that after her conversation with Death she attempted to leave to become reborn, but Sinister interfered, bringing her essence to Madelyne instead.
Both of the back-ups are by Claremont, and they are certainly better than the non-Claremont back-ups, but reading them today you definitely have the sense that they're hung up on inserting continuity that may have seemed intriguing based on the current issues of X-Men that were coming out while these reprints were being published, but a lot of the Mr. Sinister stuff seems less relevant today, and maybe it would have made more sense to expand on the Dark Phoenix story instead. Still, interesting.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place soon, but not directly, after Uncanny X-Men #135. It's been moved back a bit to account for that and to fit in with the Beast's Avengers appearances.
Continuity Implant? P - (Classic X-Men reprints add new material)
Reprinted In: Classic X-Men #42, Classic X-Men #43
Inbound References (8): show
I think this was the first appearance of Jean's sister since her first(and last) mention way back in the Lee/Kirby period.
The original non-altered version of #137(plus some extras) was published in 1984 as "Phoenix: The Untold Story"; I don't think it ever got reprinted.
The changes in #137 were actually reported in fanzines at about the same time the book was published, and Shooter was quoted as saying "My heroes don't kill people" at a September convention.
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