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.
Wolverine actually winds up in the Watcher's house for a bit, in a scene homaging the Red Ghost's similar visit from Fantastic Four #13.
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 Insert? P - (Classic X-Men reprints add new material)
My Reprint: Classic X-Men #42, Classic X-Men #43
Inbound References (31): 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.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 10, 2011 8:02 PM
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.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 2, 2012 7:16 PM
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.
Posted by: Paul | August 9, 2013 2:51 AM
Claremont may even have been giving a clue about Sinister's nature by having him refer to himself as "jejune."
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 9, 2013 8:32 PM
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!
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 12, 2013 1:48 AM
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.
Posted by: Paul | August 12, 2013 5:20 PM
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.
Posted by: Paul | August 12, 2013 5:22 PM
Louise Simonson also received her share of criticism over killing Cipher and having Warlock animate his corpse in New Mutants.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 12, 2013 5:35 PM
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.
Posted by: Paul | August 12, 2013 5:45 PM
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.
Posted by: Todd | August 12, 2013 6:33 PM
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.)
Posted by: Chris Kafka | August 12, 2013 6:41 PM
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.
Posted by: Paul | August 12, 2013 6:51 PM
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.
Posted by: Chris Kafka | August 12, 2013 7:29 PM
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.
Posted by: Paul | August 12, 2013 9:47 PM
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.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 12, 2013 11:59 PM
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.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 19, 2013 4:22 AM
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.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 19, 2013 5:15 AM
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.
Posted by: Paul | August 19, 2013 5:30 AM
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.
Posted by: Paul | August 19, 2013 5:37 AM
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.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 19, 2013 8:39 AM
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.
Posted by: Paul | August 19, 2013 10:56 AM
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.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 19, 2013 11:19 AM
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.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 19, 2013 2:16 PM
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. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | August 19, 2013 2:35 PM
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.
Posted by: Todd | August 19, 2013 5:31 PM
A few subjective thoughts on The Dark Phoenix Saga (X-Men #s 129-37):
It's deservedly a classic, of course, but I think -- and it seems, based on his grades, that our Friendly Neighborhood Reviewer agrees -- it's somewhat overrated, generally.
First, the main theme of the story -- in order to avoid becoming evil and cosmically powerful, a hero has to commit suicide -- is a repeat of Jim Starlin's great Warlock series from the mid-70s. Only that had a much tighter focus on the protagonist, along with an incredible psychedelic imaginative sweep (and remains my all-time fave Marvel cosmic epic).
The plotting of these X-M issues is a bit "cluttered," and there are a lot of forgettable fight scenes with faceless, uninteresting minions of the Hellfire Club. It's hard (for me, anyway) to get too excited about even the Club itself (despite the amusing parallels with famous actors, such as Orson Welles). The Club, or more particularly Mastermind, is really just a catalyst for the Main Event.
Furthermore, I strongly object to the sequence in which Dark Phoenix randomly gates to a "galaxy far, far away" and devours an entire sun. Why would she do this randomly and waste so much time/energy in the process? Obviously, our redoubtable storytellers didn't want her eating Earth's Sun (end o' story, so just kill billions of random creatures elsewhere!), and they also wanted to bring the Shi'ar into the arc. But their presence is not organic or integral to this tale, really, so this all feels very strained and grafted on to a story that's essentially about corruption, a descent into madness, and love. A tighter focus on those powerful essentials would have served the saga well, I feel.
As for eating a sun? Come on. Her resulting power levels would have been such that she could have vaporized the Earth in an instant with her pinkie. In fact, how could she possibly have kept that much mass/energy in check without becoming a black hole? So why go there, esp. when she never exhibits power on that absurd level? It's one of various grandiose instances of "out-Galactusing Galactus" that Marvel fans have been subjected to from this point forward (e.g., Beyonder!, Infinity Gauntlet!, and other overblown "oh-no-the-Universe-is-going-to-be-destroyed-yet-again!!" epics). In my view, this is a completely unnecessary and distracting digression for this story, which has such a strong personal dimension, rooted in Jean's psyche and the bond between her and Scott. The same end could have been accomplished if she had used her Phoenix power to kill a few innocent people on Earth, instead of gratuitously wiping out billions of nameless aliens. No reason to go over the top like this -- it just detracts and is way out of keeping with the whole Hellfire Club prologue.
Ah, but let me do the best parts of the story justice. What really sticks with you in this series are the great moments -- panels and pages - and some are among the best I've ever encountered in the comics. Byrne is really exceptional when it comes to rendering emotion on faces with just a few deft, minimalist strokes. And his Jean is gorgeous. So, a quick highlight reel (by no means complete): the dark look (anticipating Dark Phoenix) on Jean's face as she confronts the White Queen in 131; that famous last panel of 132, a perfect snapshot of what made Wolverine, well, Wolverine (before he became totally overexposed!); Jean, still as the inviting but terrifying Black Queen, destroying Mastermind's mind in 134; the terrific battle between Dark Phoenix and the X-Men (with the help of Beast's mind scrambler) in 136, culminating in the awesome psychic duel between DP and Prof. X; and then the climactic heartbreaking two pages in 137, in which Jean, momentarily lucid again, but having seamlessly transitioned from Phoenix to Dark Phoenix (watch her costume), commits suicide.
Throughout, Byrne does such a great job of conveying the emotions on Jean's face -- anguish, innocence, lust for power, sheer evil, conflict, confusion, heartbreak as she appeals more than once for her teammates to kill her. This, more than anything, is what sticks with me.
And let me not forget the iconic cover of 136, which seems, perhaps, to be an homage to the famous Neal Adams cover of "The Brave and the Bold" # 84 (Batman carrying Sgt. Rock). But Byrne's cover is even more powerful, with all those distraught or downcast faces and Jean's limp but alluring form in her lover's arms. Perfect choice as the cover of the collected edition.
So, some aspects of this saga strike me as mediocre, forgettable filler, and over-the-top silly. But the great moments and cruxes are truly great, with an emotional impact rarely achieved in this medium, and for that, one will forgive quite a bit.
Posted by: Instantiation | August 14, 2014 6:53 PM
Claremont confirmed in Comics Interview #56 that issues #134-137 took place over a two day period.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 8, 2014 4:39 PM
My favorite comic storyline of all-time. So heartbreaking that I ranked Jean as my #1 death that meant something to me even though before I read this storyline, all I really knew about her was from reading Uncanny #1. There's great characterization in how all of the X-Men are forced to react to what, in the end, they feel they must do, and yet still can't bring themselves to do it, leaving it to Jean in the end, to do what she must.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 20, 2015 12:46 PM
Despite the entire iconic story centered around what may be the most important part of her life, Jean Gray does NOT appear in your "characters appearing" tags at the end. Irony in spades.
Posted by: Max_Spider | May 24, 2015 9:27 PM
Ohwait... That's the Phoenix Force duplicate isn't it? Jean only appears in the Classic backup. Sorry, my mistake.
Posted by: Max_Spider | May 24, 2015 9:28 PM
The back-up story for "Classic X-Men" is probably the peak of Claremont's X-Universe. The newly-dead Jean [but not really her] meets Death, who's a blue-collar construction worker building his own temple (if that's the right word), beam by beam, nail by nail, rivet by rivet. And he tells Jean the secrets of the universe, that there are no coincidences, ranging from the recent X-titles to the newly-added back-ups in "Classic X-Men" back to the early days.
Phoenix picked Jean. Jean turned evil and killed herself, and so Phoenix picked Madelyne who married Scott and turned out to be Dark Phoenix anyway. Jean showed an early affinity for Scott even back in the orphanage, which even Xavier could barely follow. Scott was orphaned by the very Shi'ar emperor whose mad scheme Phoenix existed to stop.
It's a very good summation of the 'wheels within wheels' approach Claremont and other writers take. There are no accidents. As Leo Tolstoy said, 'without God's will, not one hair falls from a man's head.'
When were these "Classic X-Men" issues published? I know they were relevant to the then-current "X-Men" issues, and I assume Claremont was trying to solidify his work as well as retcon anything that needed retconning.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 4, 2015 8:05 PM
The issues were published about a year after Inferno.
Posted by: Michael | September 4, 2015 10:57 PM
What was Claremont's original intentions/origin for Sinister?
Posted by: JC | December 27, 2015 6:09 AM
The idea was that the boy in the scans above where the nurse tells Scott that the family hasn't been in contact to pursue the adoption was Sinister as he truly is- a child with a genius intellect trapped in a body that ages at the fraction of the rate a normal person does.
Posted by: Michael | December 27, 2015 8:59 AM
That's one of the things that bothers me, Claremont was working that detail out with Dave Cockrum, during Cockrum's first run on the series. And it took until the Silvestri/Lee runs to even starting to put this stuff on the page?
Could the metaphor be any more blatant? Especially with the creation turning on its creator? For all the times you wanted to grab Claremont and scream in his face "WTF were you thinking?" this is where we, and he, and the X-characters, finally found out what he was thinking. You could almost make an interesting comic out of how Nathan saw the first ten years of Claremont's "X-Men."
Posted by: ChrisW | December 28, 2015 2:26 AM
As a long time fan of the X-Men, The Dark Phoenix Saga fascinated me from the moment I read it for the first time. But thanks to a spanish publication called PLOT 2.0 we've just discovered the original writing for the Saga, and specifically issue 136... the "traumatic" issue in Claremont/Byrne words. Did you know that Jean Grey would have died after the psi-duel with Xavier??? That's the reason for the dramatic cover in that issue! That was before they decided to extend the original story and Shooter's order: "Jean Grey Must Die" in # 137 long discussed in the infamous "Dark Phoenix Tapes". You can order the magazine and read all the original story (in spanish) here:
Posted by: E-Julian | February 3, 2016 4:03 PM
According to Byrne, originally, the plan was to lobotomize Jean, as everyone pretty much knows. His plan was that something traumatic was going to restore her as Dark Phoenix. "The plan was to have Jean's parents take her to a movie ("The Cat from Outer Space" was the title we tossed around, which tells the vintage of all this plotting and planning!) where she would be set upon by muggers. This attack triggered Dark Phoenix, who was still within her. Our overall plan was to turn Dark Phoenix into a recurring villain."
So, not quite like Byrne's plans Claremont had for #150 involving Magneto.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 16, 2016 10:40 AM
A little more: "Everything in comics is "temporary". But the Phoenix/Jean "balance" was intended to be as "permanent" as anything can be. Phoenix was meant to recur, but at the end of each arc Jean would be left powerless and "retarded" as that was now her "natural state". Certainly there was no plan to restore her for 150."
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 16, 2016 10:41 AM
So basically it would be a rehash of the Norman Osborn/Green Goblin situation before he got stabbed by his own Goblin Glider?
Posted by: D09 | June 16, 2016 12:48 PM
Apparently, Terry Austen also suggested that Magneto kill Jean by UNCANNY X-MEN #150, which would in turn bump up Magneto as a villain after killing her 150 issues after she first appeared.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 16, 2016 3:19 PM
"Get out... all of you! Get out! Get out!!"
I feel the same way about page after page of unnecessary Claremontian expository dialog occluding all that Byrne/Austin art.
Posted by: Oliver_C | June 16, 2016 4:53 PM
I've learned many new-to-me details about the Phoenix retcons from reading this entry plus comments, and from following the links herein. My thanks to everyone involved in it.
I personally stopped reading all the X-titles right around the time that X-Factor #1 came out, due in no small part to my perhaps overly-emotional reaction at the retcon of what had previously been known for about 6 years as the death of Jean Grey, a dramatic event which is now mainly understood through retcons as the death of a non-human entity who had been impersonating Jean Grey since issue #101.
I had liked Jean since the '60s in about the same way I liked Sue Storm. Even though they were often written as stereotypically "female" weak characters, they were nostalgically significant for me as parts of my misspent youth. Jean's treatment under Claremont, Cockrum, and Byrne was much better, adding greatly to my affection towards her. I only reluctantly accepted the death of Jean in issue #137 because of its emotional and dramatic resonance. Undoing that during the explosion of X-titles seemed like a sales-related cop-out and still strikes me that way.
Jim Shooter's involvement in the whole affair is what finally turned me against him. I had admired him somewhat for writing Legion of Super-Heroes at DC when he was still in his teens. Writers' and artists' opinions which I read in the fan press during his time as editor-in-chief at Marvel had tainted my opinion of him, yet still not completely turned me against him. Although I was highly critical about it, his purportedly high moral stance about Phoenix paying for her murders didn't totally turn me against him either. Putting the lie to the death of Jean just for the sake of selling a new X-title did.
It didn't turn me against Claremont or Byrne because they didn't seem quite so hypocritical about it. Shooter's statement, "My heroes don't kill people," cited by Mark Drummond in the second comment here, is what ultimately prompted me to write this. If his heroes don't kill people, then what is Wolverine doing? What happens when he pops his claws and disables his opponents in a berserker frenzy? I know they didn't show him bathed in his victims' blood in all those CCA-approved panels and covers, but it sure seems totally obvious what he's doing in almost every issue. In the scans shown above, he comes within a split second of killing "Jean."
To satisfy Shooter's high-minded moral standards, shouldn't Wolverine have to commit suicide too?
Thanks for indulging me in this rant.
Posted by: James Holt | July 17, 2016 8:48 PM
@James Holt Shooter's edict about "My heroes don't kill people" is what brought the Hellfire guards Wolverine took out in #133 back as cyborgs in #152. And thereafter in #142, Storm laid the law down about Wolvie using his claws. It's not totally hypocritical, but Shooter was only as consistent as his notice and as X-Men became more popular, he got more heavy handed and noticed more. You're not wrong to be angry at Shooter, but Claremont and Byrne were pushing the boundaries so this is what happened.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | July 17, 2016 9:16 PM
@Brian C. Saunders, Thanks. I checked out #152 on the 1981 page of this site (what a great resource) and I'm sure I never read it, having followed John Byrne (I was such a fan of his during that time) over to the Fantastic Four. Plus I imagine I was still emoting over the still-fresh and as-yet-unredacted death of Jean, and had already started to lose interest in the X-Men.
I enjoyed fnord12's lead-in paragraph to the scan there (about halfway down the page, which said, "It's revealed in issue #152 that the Hellfire troops that Wolverine clearly killed in his rampage in issue #133 were not actually killed, and they've now been turned into cyborgs." lol It seems his interpretation of issue #133 was similar to mine.
Most of the casual readers to whom I've spoken over the years interpreted both the Punisher and Wolverine as killers without giving it a whole lot of careful analysis. I forget which issue it was, but when the Punisher was first introduced in Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man was as morally opposed to the Punisher as I was. Times have changed. I can honestly say I never thought much of either Wolverine or Punisher as fitting heroes for children who might read comic books, but I also realize that comic books stopped being for children a long time ago.
Having had my rant, I don't want to waste too much of anybody's time with further railings against Shooter, especially since that ground has already been trampled over so many times before, but I might add that Shooter's higher and more overriding morality seems to be more about sales, and, at that time, protecting Marvel from the loss thereof.
As for Byrne and so many artists, I would only say that it's a good thing that I don't really have to like a person to enjoy his or her artistic output, as I still do enjoy his very much. I'm much more ambivalent about Shooter.
Posted by: James Holt | July 17, 2016 10:42 PM
It should also be noted that (a) what Jean did to the D'Bari was murder not self-defense and (b) it's hard to have a hero that killed children even today, which is why everyone's tried to forget about Dr. Strange exploding African Child.
Posted by: Michael | July 17, 2016 11:08 PM
I agree that Phoenix committed not only murder of children as well as adults, but also, as Shooter recoiled at, genocide.
Punisher was motivated by revenge so I find it hard to call his vigilante actions self-defense. In his early days as a Spider-Man villain he was at best considered an "anti-hero" but not as a hero so that might be considered differently by Shooter who found villainous murders acceptable. His intentions were pretty clear but again I haven't analyzed him carefully enough to know his actual body count.
The number of people who were slashed up, at least, if not murdered, by Wolverine, seems like it must number in the hundreds or even thousands. I've never seen him repent any of it. Maybe he did, I don't know. Never was a fan of either him or of Punisher.
Hadn't heard of Dr. Strange's exploding African child so now I'm disillusioned. Rats.
In the days prior to the Phoenix Force retcon, I thought of Jean as not being responsible for the murders or genocide which were arguably committed indirectly by Mastermind, and not Jean, in my first reading of it. On rereading it... it was more ambiguous to me, but I still found it hard to blame Jean for what she did when she was to a large extent under the hypnotic control of Mastermind/Jason Wyngarde.
Seems like the jury is still out on all of these characters, except Jean, who has now been retroactively acquitted of the murders committed by the amoral Phoenix Force. Any of them could be made to commit suicide at any time by editorial mandate, so as Stan might say, keep reading, True Believers! (-:
Posted by: James Holt | July 17, 2016 11:54 PM
@Michael: In what issue did Dr. Strange do that stunt?
Posted by: D09 | July 18, 2016 12:17 AM
The only death I can find attributed to Dr. Strange is that of the Ancient One in Marvel Premiere #9, 1973, by Steve Englehart. This death led to the Ancient One's ascendance to become "one with the universe" making Dr. Strange the "Sorcerer Supreme" so it's not technically a murder in the comic book sense I suppose.
Hard to imagine the good doctor killing any child under any circumstances, given that he is bound by his medical oath if nothing else, but on the other hand I don't think anything Marvel or DC does nowadays can really shock me anymore.
Posted by: James Holt | July 18, 2016 1:19 AM
Perhaps Strange wrote a particularly cutting published review of L’enfant noir? Yet one would think that he'd find it enlightening. It's no doubt in his library.
Posted by: James Holt | July 18, 2016 1:25 AM
@D09: Pretty sure Michael's referring to Strange Tales #9 by Peter B Gillis.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 18, 2016 1:27 AM
@DO9 @Michael @Nathan Adler
Just scanned through the 1987 Strange Tales #9 reference on this site. Sorry if I'm posting out of turn but yes this evidences that Strange is definitely prosecutable too. It is horrifying and completely out of character per original model. Hard to figure why he considers this as white magic. Thanks for the references.
Posted by: James Holt | July 18, 2016 2:06 AM
@James: That was the whole conceit of PBG's Strange Tales run, that Doc had exhausted all his bargains, so had to return to the black arts to have any effect.
Recall Stephen started out under Ditko as Master of the Black Arts so Gillis was returning to his earliest framework. Makes you wonder though what the Ancient One was doing first instructing his student in the Black Arts. Was the Ancient One's order in fact named after Lovecraft's "Ancient Ones"? Puts a whole new twist on it, doesn't it!?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 18, 2016 5:59 AM
@Nathan, All I can recall is that the first story's logo said something like "Dr. Strange, Master of Black Magic" on the splash page, but subsequent issues said "Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts." Later I read Stan Lee saying that he changed it because he was afraid "black magic" might suggest that Dr. Strange was a witch and he didn't want that. I still know more about Dr. Strange than I know about witches ha and 'most all I know about Lovecraft comes from reading Alan Moore rather than Lovecraft so I guess that gives it all away about my reading habits.
Posted by: James Holt | July 18, 2016 5:46 PM
You probably already know this anyways, but I'd like to add that according to the MCP there's a 2010 continuity insert called "Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way) which should be placed between 137 and 138.
Synopsis by uncannyxmen.net:
Posted by: Bibs | June 6, 2017 5:49 AM
The only thing missing from the end of the Dark Phoenix story is that guy from Arrested Development showing up and saying "and that's why you don't nuke the Asparagus People!"
Conversely, D'bari is reminiscent of "Devarim" or "Debarim," the Hebrew name for the book of Deuteronomy. Taken from the opening line, it means simply "words." Maybe just coincidence, or a conscious lift with no intended implications, like all the things Ditko added to Spider-Man based on his studio-mate (the names Ben and May for instance).
Posted by: squirrel_defeater | January 19, 2018 1:29 AM
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