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 (11): 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.
I forgot where on here I was having a conversation with Nathan Adler about Sinister's origins/nature, and whether Claremont in his original run ever deviated from his original intended origin for the character - after looking it up, I find that these appearances - which go with the original origin - are the latest Sinister appearances Claremont wrote during his original run. And they're the last appearances by Sinister, in any X-book, during Claremont's original run. He appears next in a PAD X-Factor the month following Claremont's final X-Men issue.
The point of all that, anyway, is that for those of us for whom Claremont's original run and original intentions, if never contradicted either by him or by another writer while Claremont was still writing (and whose changes Claremont later acknowledged and incorporated into his own books, thereby validating) - for those of us to whom that's the "most canon" version of the X-mythos - Sinister's nature and origin can safely stand as Claremont originally intended them. He never changed them during the first run or had to suffer the indignity of Louise Simonson or Rob Liefeld changing them and forcing him to acknowledge the change.
Good news if you're mostly a fan of the Lee-through-Claremont X-universe.
I think Nathan said that since taking up the books again at various times, Claremont's had to acknowledge (obviously) the different origin story. But as stated elsewhere, Claremont's second go-round isn't quite canon either, imo. He'd changed greatly for the worse, and even if he hadn't, his world and his characters had gotten so ruined in the intervening decade that the material was spoiled.
Claremont may even have been giving a clue about Sinister's nature by having him refer to himself as "jejune."
Indignity of Louise Simonson changing Sinister? What now? I think the only time she wrote Mr. Sinister was during Inferno when she had to work closely with Claremont because there books crossed over with each other. She left Marvel shortly before he stopped writing X-Men in the early '90s.
Or did you mean other characters Claremont had worked with? I don't think Louise Simonson made any dramatic changes to Claremont pet characters' back stories. She tended to stay respectful of characters histories in her writing and would sometimes show how past events would colour the present for them. I suppose the only time he hated what she had done was turning Angel into Archangel. And frankly, I thought that was only because he was jealous that he hadn't thought of it himself. lol!
It was merely an example of someone who wrote for a long-time on a parallel X-book, and so had the opportunity to mess up his stories.
But of course, though it wasn't her fault, Louise Simonson DID end up doing incredible damage to Claremont's stories and characters - her book's very existence entailed undoing the Phoenix Sagas, ruining the Madelyne Pryor/Cyclops storylines ongoing at the time, and making Rachel Summers an extremely problematic character. Her book also set back/worked against Claremont and the entire x-universe in its premise - in the midst of supposed anti-mutant hysteria, Xavier's original five think it prudent to pose at MUTANT HUNTERS? Like, what do they think that'll do if not exacerbate the situation? I have no idea who came up with that premise and I doubt it was Simonson (or at least Simonson alone), but it was idiotic. So one way or another she WAS in fact there undoing a lot of his stuff. Once into the flow of her book, yes she was more respectful.
Also, where did you hear his opinion on the Archangel plot? Never heard that before. I thought he wrote him interestingly in X-Tinction Agenda but I can't remember him writing him elsewhere or commenting on it.
My instinct based on Claremont's feelings towards Angel (as shown through how he'd written him) would be that the transformation and the tragedy/suffering would make him like Warren more, or at least dislike him less. But he may have said otherwise.
Louise Simonson also received her share of criticism over killing Cipher and having Warlock animate his corpse in New Mutants.
I just remembered what she did to Caliban. Bad enough and then the 90s people took the hint and ran with it.
But yea her worst sins (where she made the choices herself) were after she took on New Mutants and immediately started wrecking it. Plus the storytelling - I think as of this writing the New Mutants are STILL in Asgard.
I cannot cite a publication (COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE? AMAZING HEROES?) or more than a date range of 1987-89, but Claremont praised Louise Simonson's writing for X-FACTOR, at least publicly. He commented that when the book originally began, he had hated it, but that she had turned it around. Much of what Paul mentions, including the premise of Xavier's original students posing as mutant hunters, was established in the early issues written by Bob Layton. Louise Simonson, taking over six issues in, had to play the hand she was dealt, and she did follow through on the ugly implications of the setup.
I have to agree with Todd here. While the whole "mutant hunters" thing was just utterly stupid, if you ignore that, I enjoyed Simsonson's writing on X-Factor.
X-Factor did end up messing with some of Claremont's plots, but most of that was based on decisions that were given to Simsonson by editorial. (Jean was brought back first in the pages of Fantastic Four, after all.)
Todd you're right, I'd forgotten that she didn't "found" the title. Mea culpa.
Still, the destruction of The New Mutants was 100% hers. But I wasn't accusing her of ruining his stuff to begin with, I was saying she was one of the few writers who would have even had the opportunity to have changed Sinister's origin while Claremont was still writing.
I'm not sure why you consider Simonson's work on New Mutants to be "destruction" though. That's such a strong word. It was a big step down after Claremont, but I still found New Mutants worth reading until Liefield came aboard the title.
Destruction is a strong word but it was intended to be in this case. She was a very poor steward for that book and the mismanagement was immediate and dramatic. To justify the changes she made she would have had to have done something really worthwhile creatively, but she didn't end up doing that, imo - quite the opposite. I've liked her on various books (Power Pack, some Superman titles) but the New Mutants run was a low point.
It's been awhile since I've read them (I'm not re-reading runs I don't like very often, life is short), but my recollection is that Simonson's run murdered Cypher then had the Warlock business with the corpse, introduced the wonderfully successful character Bird Brain, brought in a bunch of randoms/her own characters (Boom Boom, Rictor, Rusty, Skids), wrote out Moonstar (and took her character in a weird direction that, like all such things, was built upon stupidly by the 90s hacks), she didn't just write out Magik, but de-aged her (unforgivable - destroying a beloved and fantastic character for all time, and once again giving the 90s hacks ideas they could not pass up), and I believe she also wrote Magma out by having her join the Hellions or something. I think she may have also written out Sunspot and Wolfsbane, but that might have been Liefeld.
And of course she stranded the team in Asgard for a long time - couldn't be as long as it felt, but it was a long time. They probably gained resident status at some point.
If that isn't destruction, I don't know what ever would be considered destruction in this context.
That interminable Asgard storyline was probably editorially mandated to postpone the mutant teams all fusing back together. X-Factor was sent into space at the same time, and Excalibur's Cross-Time Caper also overlapped. Basically, after Inferno each team should have been in a position to discover the others, but editorial wasn't ready for a reshuffle and perhaps Chris's plans for X-Men would have been derailed. So they were all kept apart by being sent on boring, nearly year-long adventures into backwaters.
Actually, Claremont set up Magma's leaving before Louise took over the book. She got a letter from her father and returned to Nova Roma with Empath. She was an insanely overpowered character which probably made her difficult to write for.
Yea, Cypher's death and Warlock's reaction were pretty intense. But that was based on Claremont's set-up with Cypher having nightmares about becoming techno-organic. It's possible Louise couldn't figure out what to do with his character and thought it would be an intense story to write how they dealt with his death. And it was a powerful story.
Magik wasn't actually "de-aged", she was saved moments after she had first entered Limbo as a child before Belasco got ahold of her. An interesting choice but I don't think Claremont objected because it happened during the Inferno crossover. It was a powerful resolution of Magik's story arc. And due to the nature of Limbo, you just KNEW there were plenty of alternate timeline versions of her in there.
Mirage/Moonstar had already become a Valkyrie before Louise took over which had over-complicated her character. Having her powers boosted to create solid illusions of things people wished for made her over-powered too and that WAS Louise's fault. That happened during the Evolutionary War crossover which, by the nature of the crossover storyline, was partially to blame. Leaving her in Asgard to finally deal with her Valkyrie status made sense.
Louise did have the 4 older X-Factor trainees join the New Mutants which I actually thought was pretty cool. But then I was a fan of X-Factor and only got into the New Mutants during Inferno.
It was Liefeld who wrote out Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Skids, Rusty and Rictor and had Cable become the team leader and add all those (crappy) new characters, so Louise isn't to blame for that.
As for Angel, I seem to remember reading an interview with Claremont sometime in the '90s where he mentioned that he wanted to give Angel back his old wings. Sometime before that actually happened in the storyline that began in UX 329.
Oh, and Caliban... Louise had Apocalypse boost his strength and fear inducing powers, which he'd already demonstrated in UX 148, as written by Claremont.
His becoming Apocalypse's "hound" was a direct result of him feeling powerless to save the Morlocks during the Mutant Massacre and seeing how Apocalypse altered Angel into Death, made him want to become more powerful too. The last Louise had written for Caliban was him cleverly escaping Apocalypse to hunt down Sabretooth kill him (Sabretooth recovered of course. Pesky healing factor).
After that, Caliban only showed up rarely and when he eventually joined X-Force, they wrote him really poorly.
Somehow you managed to go point by point, replying to a post in which there had been numerous points, and disagree completely with me on every single one of them. Really impressive effort. Especially appreciated it in light of your having just replied to me in the X-Men 148 post, where you were kind enough to correct me on a mistake I hadn't actually made.
Keep up the good work. My regards to Louise.
Also, if anyone ever needs a handy reference to what being a fanboy looks like, those two posts by Demetrick are it. I mean I'm sure many here think I'm over the top for Claremont, but I'll take shots at him and admit faults and mistakes of his, where I see them. And I won't defend him except where I think the person is legitimately wrong in slighting him. In other words, I always try to argue in good faith. If my posts ever sound like Demetrick's there, please tell me and I'll try to improve.
Paul, i don't know if you sound like Jay, but you do sound like an asshole.
I think it's amazing that you think you should be allowed to come here and post your opinions but if someone else disagrees they are a fanboy or they are stalking you or they aren't arguing in good faith. If you can't handle people replying to your comments, you need to leave.
Fuck you. You're as dishonest as he is if that's how you read his bullshit post there. He went point by point on 90 different things and had a ridiculous excuse or explanation for each one of them, that always happened to completely absolve "Louise" of having made any mistake or done anything wrong. It was not a good faith post or a mere disagreement.
I have debated countless people on here and disagreed with them and been disagreed with, without it degenerating into name-calling or conflict. To pretend otherwise is, again, dishonest. The proof is in your own records here.
Obviously you've taken this opportunity to make a move to oust me, which is fine, and I'll comply, since I don't want any part of a place where the gutless crap he pulled last night is defended and tacitly encouraged, while my reacting to it in the way it deserves is used as an excuse to play politics and get rid of me (as I suspect you've wanted to do previously).
His comment is as I said - not in good faith. And to top it off, it was part of a series of posts where he followed me around the board - I hadn't been in the midst of any discussions with him, yet he replied to multiple posts of mine in this fashion all in a row, on the last one obviously going out of his way to antagonize me, and even making a joke of it. I guess he knew he was operating with impunity.
So long, and good luck to you as you go forward in life with no spine.
Paul's been banned. Despite what he wrote, he's actually picked fights with multiple commenters here and he's been warned repeatedly to keep things civil. A lot of his comments have been constructive but i don't want an environment where someone tries to bully others into not replying to their comments.
Oh geez, I'm sorry Paul felt like I was picking on him. I just thought I'd point out that Louise didn't do all the things she'd been accused of doing and discovered the roots of a lot of the choices she'd made came from what Claremont had written. Todd and Chris Kafka had already pointed out that Louise hadn't been responsible for bringing back Jean and making them mutant hunters. It just seemed like Louise was being blamed for destroying Claremont's creations. I happen to like Louise and it was her run on X-Factor that got me hooked on Marvel. I just thought I'd research what he was talking about and posted what I'd discovered. I'm really sorry for upsetting him, that wasn't my intent.
No problem at all, Jay. There was plainly nothing wrong with your comments, and they are appreciated.
Except for the fact that this whole thread is off topic for UX #136-137 but that's a separate issue. ;-)
Well, geez, fnord -- we keep waiting for you to turn the page on 1986. We've got a lot we're dying to say about X-FACTOR! (I'm kidding. I know it's a big undertaking, and as I've said, I love your summaries/reviews/scans and, for the most part, the reader comments.)
Just a couple sentences for Jay: Your comments were appreciated by me too. They've always been above board and respectful; I've never seen you antagonize or condescend. Just be you. These things have a way of playing themselves out.
On 136-137: We could argue the pros and cons of the retconning all night, but those issues really do hold up well in spite of it. Knowing that now, in canon, this is "Phoenix" and not really "Jean," surprisingly, does not weaken the scene with the Grey family, which is exquisitely written and drawn, as is the part where she's begging Wolverine to kill her and he can't, and so much else. Byrne and Claremont were a great team with a built-in time limit (similar to the dynamic in so many great bands that broke up), but it was quite a ride.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|