Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Favorite Comic Storylines: Dark Phoenix Saga

 Jean Grey: redemption through ultimate sacrifice

The story is simple enough: Jean Grey, a young telepathic/telekenetic mutant, literally rises from the ashes and finds her psionic abilities magnified beyond belief. Though her powers are held back by a series of psychic circuit-breakers, the dam is slowly being chipped away at. She is manipulated and pushed over the edge by the Hellfire Club, until she finally bursts in raptor-shaped flames to become a dark god-like being, voracious in thirst for raw energy.

In order to satiate her quench, she consumes a far-flung star system populated with inhabited worlds. Consequently, the Shi-Ar empire seeks retribution and hounds her futilely through the vast expanse of space. She returns to Earth, and in a battle of the highest psychic order, Professor Xavier manages to re-bind the mental circuit breakers. She is eventually put on trial by the Shi-Ar, to which Xavier counters with a rebuttal via a battle-challenge.

On the moon, Jean Grey and the X-men make their last stand. When she sees Cyclops struck down, the rebound psychic barriers crumble apart, and she slowly transforms into the dark godling once again. But she realizes that the duality of her persona would haunt her for all eternity, and riddled with the guilt of having taken billions of lives, she chooses to annihilate herself while still in a vulnerable phase of transition.

The theme of redemption through self-sacrifice and the idea that absolute power corrupts were huge concepts for me as a kid. It held, and still holds, a fascinating sway over me. I can remember buying the trade paperback when I was around 11 or 12 yrs old, and patiently reading it through in one sitting. Revisiting it as an adult, the dialogue seems to be a tad bit stilted and dated in style and flow. However, the basic narrative remains intact, and ultimately, powerfully moving. Whatever his writing faults are, Chris Claremont remains the definitive writer of the X-men for me. John Byrne, inked over by Terry Austin, is at his classic best. I will always associate his artwork with his early impressive runs on the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Alpha Flight.


  1. believe it or not, di ko pa nababasa Dark Phoenix Saga. Ever.

  2. Engel: I'll answer you immediately with 5 words.


  3. @ engel: Let me try and give you the Cliff's Notes version:

    It starts when a red-haired psychic mutant dies saving friends from a space shuttle crashing back into Earth. But she rises from the waves screaming the immortal words "Hear me, X-Men! No longer am I the woman you once knew! I am fire - and life incarnate! Now and forever - I AM PHOENIX!!!"

    Only - the REAL red-haired mutant psychic is lying at the bottom of the ocean in a cocoon, waiting to be found by the Fantastic Four much later on. The Phoenix rising from the waves is a doppelganger - one of many who would plague the red-haired mutant's existence for many story arcs to come. She will die, be reborn, go batty, get cured, die again, ad infinitum.

    In other news, Scott Summers remains a crashing bore throughout all this.

    Any questions?

  4. Rude: shhhh! I live on Earth-69, and in my universe, the Phoenix-force doppelgänger thing didn't happen.

    They shouldn't have brought back Jean, though. It cheapens the value of "her" sacrifice in the Dark Phoenix Saga.

    Damn that pesky, inquisitive Reed Richards!

  5. @ E.W. : If there's someone who's even a worse bore and party-pooper than Scott Summers, it's Reed Richards.

  6. Rude: what was crossing Jean, Emma, and Sue's minds when they hooked up with them?

    On the other hand, Ultimate Northstar made a wise choice with Colossus.

    At least M. Beaubier gets an organic steel rod for a lay!


  7. @ E.W.: I can understand Reed Richard may have some, er, elongated qualities, but a surly, one-eyed wet blanket like Cyclops? More arguments to the madness of Jean Grey and Emma Frost.

    As for NorthStar - Canadians don't surprise me much.

  8. Rude: who knows, the one-eyed cyclops of Scott might shoot out something more than red beams hihihihi

  9. I still have my original Phoenix Saga comicbook at home. It was one of the few issues I left behind when I purged my gradeschool collection. Primarily because of similar reasons - that the storyline was far more complex and mature than the other X-Men episodes, that the artwork I believed was far more superior as well, and that it was set on a grander scale.

    For some reason, I got nostalgic with this entry. Nilabas ko tuloy sa baul ang aking comicbooks box ngayong gabi. And then, I felt sad, kasi I remembered the scene when you were cleaning up after the recent deluge. I wish you still had yours to cradle its pages.

    Kaso kung i-donate ko naman ang comicbooks ko sa Sagip Kapamilya, will the current generation appreciate this form of graphic literature? This generation, who have been born into a youth of network gaming, online exploits, and Playstation's?

  10. how you're able to turn a comic book post comments into something naughty is un-frickin-believable... =D

    thanks for the cliffnotes version rudeboy!! i am familiar with the story because of the animated series.

    and the reason why i haven't read the darned thing yet is because i never got too interested in the story.

    unless of course you'd be kind enough to hand me a copy of the TPB!!!

  11. "Kaso kung i-donate ko naman ang comicbooks ko sa Sagip Kapamilya, will the current generation appreciate this form of graphic literature? This generation, who have been born into a youth of network gaming, online exploits, and Playstation's?"

    I know what you mean. I grew up reading these back in my Elem and HS days. These days, PSP at network gaming ang alam ng mga pamangkin ko.

    Reading the post and comments here bring back memories. Wonderful, innocent memories.

  12. i only saw the animated series. in fact, the first time i saw it, i fell in love.

  13. I love this book! one of the best talaga. grabe sa kaadikan ako sa comics

  14. haha ngayon ko lang nabasa ang exchange ng thoughts ni EW at RTM... adik kayo... me too, I wish hindi na binuhay si jean grey :(

    I hate skrulls too waah

  15. Red: most prolly not. kids nowadays might find the dialogue of Claremont too long and wordy :P

    but you have the orig comics?!!! waaaah inggit ako huhuhuhu

    Engel: ta-ta, i;m disappointed. did you expect anything less from rude and me? lolz

    Lurico: ay oo, there's nothing like childhood innocence. sana ganun ka-simple and buhay pag adult na ano?

    John: you have to read the original source!!!

    Xtian: naman! i thought you, rude, and engel would appreciate this post kasi alam kong mga fellow comic adiks ko kayo. now at least i know red is one, too hehehe

    masaya kaya makaipag kulitan with rude and engel! :D

  16. Xtian: uu, nabwisit ako nung binalik si jean grey sa pages ng FF para lang maisama sa launching ng X-Force grrrr

    wala akong hilig sa skrulls, kaya di ko binasa SI, pwera lang nung nag-overlap sya into Incredible Hercules at Uncanny X-Men

  17. ang alam kong dark phoenix saga lang eh yung sa animated series. hindi pala sila parehas ng plot.


  18. Prinsipe ng ulap kooooo!!!

    gulat ako't nag-comment ka dito a hahahaha

    uu, mejo nag-iba ang mga detalye kasi obviously iba ang set of charcters, bero yung basic flow e pareho rin yata.

    di ko sure though, kasi di ko napanood yung animation itself ehehehe

  19. ternie: sa X-Factor si Jean tsaka yung original na X-Men nilagay, di po sa X-Force.


  20. Engel: am i forever consigned to bear the nickname of ternie?



    ay yes, i stand corrected. x-factor pala. yung new mutants pala ang naging x-force. thanks for the point out!

  21. Awwwhhh... the kid continues to shine through! Though I admit to glaze over with the details ("Shi-Ar" kept ringing in my head like some Chinese word... 'shee-uhrr'), it still amazes me how these comic books hold so much commentary and wisdom on the human condition. And I do enjoy having conversations about such nosebleed matters with you. Gimme tissue! Haha!

  22. Bon: ditto.

    emmmmaaaaaaa, ang tissue for bon and me. daliiiiiii!!!! lolz

  23. i just saw this one via the animated series. and this storyline is what i remember the most when i think of the Xmen animated series that i used to watch and wait eagerly every friday when i was a kid. especially when jean said, " i... am the dark... pheonix!!!". hehehe.

    patingin naman ng komiks! *wink wink*

  24. I find it more interesting how everything in her life seems to go on the rewind button.


    Jean Grey is sane, then depressed, then sad, then fights some evil bad guys (powerpuff reference) or have herself killed, then get revived as Phoenix, then turns into Dark Phoenix, then kills people for no apparent reason, then kills herself, then becomes Jean Grey again!

    yeay for crazy depressed blood-thirsty gingers! <3

  25. Herbs: nah, jeannie ain't half-bad :D

    i'd still chose her over emma frost bitch hahahaha

  26. I choose Storm! Nobody can ever beat that pyscho bitch!

  27. heeeeey Storm is lurve!

    she has this sistah vibe goin' on ;)

  28. I love jean and emma equally haha
    shet naimagine ko na if ever

    narember ko 'yung nahuli ni jean si scott at emma haha

  29. Xtian: ewan ko kung nabasa mo yun noon, pero nagkaroon ng psychic affair dati si psylocke at si cyclops.

    tapos nag-duel si Jean at si Betsy sa astral plane over Scott.

    sa violet, sa pula! panalo! hahaha

  30. parang nabasa ko nga yan, lahat yata ng muties na may brain powers attracted kay Scott

    may brain powers ka ba ternie? matanong ko lang

  31. Xtian: uu meron. kaya kong gumawa ng mga psionic constructs ng mga lalaking pinagpapantasyahan ko hahahah