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Quote1 I don't make a habit of disagreeing with you, darling, but I'm calling you on this one. Quote2
Sue Richards

Appearing in "Like a Phoenix!"

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Synopsis for "Like a Phoenix!"

Story continued from last issue, Fantastic Four Annual #19, and Avengers #263

The Fantastic Four are returning from a mission in space. When they request permission to land at JFK airport, they are denied due to an operation involving the Avengers and are requested to land at LaGuardia instead. When they arrive at their temporary headquarters, Avengers Mansion,[1] Captain America and Hercules are waiting for them.

Cap tells Reed Richards about the strange object they recovered from the bottom of Jamaica Bay earlier that day[2] and how it has a living creature inside. When Reed touches it, some force attacks him and throws him back. Susan Richards uses her powers to make the capsule turn invisible, revealing the unconscious body of Jean Grey inside. No one recognizes her; after discussing who the woman could be, the Human Torch and She-Hulk leave while Reed and Captain America try to solve the mystery.

That night objects begin levitating around the mansion, waking Sue and startling Reed and the Avengers while studying the capsule. Jean breaks free; thinking that she is a prisoner of Steven Lang,[3] Jean briefly attacks the others. Cap and Reed realize that she is X-Men member Marvel Girl, who has been missing for years.

Jean recounts how she and other X-Men were captured by Sentinels built by Steven Lang and his anti-mutant operation Project Armageddon[4] and forced to fight X-Sentinels, robotic version of the original X-Men.[3] While she remembers that they defeated Lang and his creations, she does not recall what happened afterward. When Jean suggests they contact the X-Men, they startle her by explaining that the X-Men are considered outlaws and working with infamous supervillain Magneto, one of the X-Men's greatest enemies.[5] A traumatized Jean asks to be taken to her parents; when Reed does not think that is a good idea, she begins to have a mental breakdown. Sue, relating with Jean's grief,[6] convinces her husband and the others to let her go. While Reed, Sue, and Hercules take Jean there, Cap researches the Avengers's databanks to find out what happened to Jean.

Jean's parents are not at the family home but Hercules finds a holomatrix globe with her image.[7] As Jean reaches for the globe, at Avengers Mansion Captain America watches a report filed by former Avenger and former X-Man the Beast to learn what happened to Jean. Beast explains that after the mission in space, Jean was reincarnated as the Phoenix,[8] was corrupted into becoming the Dark Phoenix—who endangered Earth and possibly the universe[9]—and committed suicide on the moon.[10] Captain America and the Avengers's butler Jarvis wonder who is the woman the Avengers pulled out of Jamaica Bay.

At the Grey home Jean grabs the globe, and her mind is flooded with memories—which the others can see—of the escape from Lang's space station. The group watches how Jean sent her fellow X-Men into the radiation-shielded area of the space shuttle while she piloted it during a solar flare with deadly cosmic rays. As she flew the spacecraft to Earth, the radiation killing her, Jean was confronted by the Phoenix Force which heard her plea for help. To save her life and those of her friends—her "heart's desire"—Jean agreed to allow the Phoenix Force to take her shape and form. Reed deduces that when the Phoenix took Jean's place it placed her in stasis until her body healed. Captain America arrives and corroborates the theory with the Beast's story. Reed and Cap explain to Jean that, by precisely replicating her body and soul, it was Jean's humanity that helped stop the Dark Phoenix.

Jean wonders what to do with her life. As she recounts her story to Jarvis, Reed and Sue discuss how they can help Jean. While they think the current team of X-Men would not be suitable, Reed realizes that there is someone else he could call on Jean's behalf. The story continues in X-Factor #1.


Continuity Notes[]

  • The Fantastic Four are returning to Earth following the events of Fantastic Four Annual #19 where they and the Avengers failed to stop a Hyper-Wave Bomb from going off and robbing the Skrulls of their ability to shapeshift. The Avengers are already back on Earth because Reed stayed in space to explore for a while.
    • Although John Byrne apparently intended Fantastic Four Annual #19 to lead into this story, there is a chronology conflict. The events in Secret Wars II #5-6 must take place before this issue, which would mean that Mister Fantastic would have to be on Earth for those issues despite his and the rest of the FF being in space until the beginning of this issue.
  • The Fantastic Four are unable to land at JFK Airport following Captain America, Hercules, and other Avengers discovering Jean's body in Jamaica Bay in Avengers #263.
    • New York air traffic control giving landing directions to a starship is apparently not unusual. The Avengers and Fantastic Four, both based in the city, routinely travel to space; She-Hulk stated in Fantastic Four Annual #18 that she had visited the Moon twice but not Europe.
  • The Avengers recover Jean Grey:
    • Jean is a longtime member of the X-Men as Marvel Girl, joining the team in X-Men #1.
    • Jean first met the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #28 and the Avengers in X-Men #9. They do not recognize Jean because this is the first time they have all seen her out of costume. The Fantastic Four and the X-Men last worked together against the Z'nox in X-Men: The Hidden Years #89. Captain America last encountered her in Captain America #172174 when he and the X-Men battled the Secret Empire.
    • Jean is still wearing the remains of the evening dress that she wore for a night out with Cyclops in New York before being kidnapped in X-Men #98. Wolverine tore the dress so she could fight more easily, annoying Jean as she did not want it so short. The X-Men in space were always captured or fighting for their lives, so Jean never had the chance to change clothes before flying the space shuttle back to earth. Her trauma after awakening from hibernation is apparently so great that the Avengers and Fantastic Four do not have time to provide new clothing and shoes before accompanying Jean to her family home.
    • In X-Men #136 her family and home were the last things Jean saw on Earth before her death; perhaps that is another reason why she pleads to return to it.
  • Jean doesn't believe that she is meeting the Fantastic Four:
    • She thinks the Fantastic Four wear blue and black costumes. A trip back to Earth from the Negative Zone in Fantastic Four #256 inverted their costumes. The group has been wearing these alternate costumes since.
    • Her telepathy did not warn her that the Invisible Woman was approaching, so Sue must be a robot.
    • She believes that Sue Richards is the Invisible Girl instead of the Invisible Woman. Sue recently changed her codename in Fantastic Four #284 following a traumatic battle with the Psycho-Man.
  • Jean's recollections of her immediate past:
    • Jean retired from the X-Men in X-Men #94 but still maintained an association with them.
    • Jean's last memories are the events of X-Men #98100 when the X-Men and Jean were kidnapped by Steven Lang and his anti-mutant Project Armageddon organization. It was there that she battled the X-Sentinels, robotic duplicates of the X-Men.
  • Reed states that the only side effect of Jean's ordeal is that her telepathy has been damaged.
    • Jean was originally born telepathic and telekinetic, but had no control over her telepathy. Professor X shut down her telepathy until she was mature enough to control it properly, Jean only retained her telekinesis powers.[11] She only mentioned telekinesis when introducing herself to the other X-Men in X-Men #1.
    • X-Men #65 revealed that Xavier unlocked Jean's telepathic abilities when he went into hiding in X-Men #40 to thwart the Z'nox invasion.
    • The Shi'ar holomatrix globe temporarily restores Jean's telepathy to broadcast her memories to others.
    • As with her telekinetic powers, the Phoenix Force as "Jean Grey's" telepathy was much stronger than the original's. As Phoenix's strength grew, by Classic X-Men #21 "Jean's" telepathy was so strong that she could not control it, involuntarily reading numerous peoples' thoughts.
    • As later revealed in Uncanny X-Men #240241, when Mister Sinister created Madelyne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey), when the Phoenix died in X-Men #137 it woke the clone. Somehow Jean's telepathy was transferred over to Madelyne but was dormant for years.
    • X-Factor #1 reveals that although her telepathy is damaged, Jean's telekinetic powers are much stronger. Iceman, who has known her for years, is impressed when she lifts an electrified fence without damaging it.[12]
    • Jean retains her training on blocking telepathic attacks,[13] and some ability to sense others' thoughts.[14]
    • Jean regains stronger telepathic powers following her fight to the death against Madelyne in X-Factor #38, although they are still weaker than before Phoenix Force.[15]
  • The Avengers and Fantastic Four shock Jean with the revelation that the X-Men are now associated with Magneto, one of the world's most notorious terrorists and the X-Men's archenemy.
    • The heroes mention the Secret Wars, during which the Beyonder brought groups of heroes and villains together to fight on Battleworld. The X-Men and Magneto were paired with the heroes. This caused tension between the mutant and non-mutant heroes due to Magneto's history, but he had earlier begun to reconsider his mutant-supremacist ideology,[16] a process which continued while on Battleworld.[17]
    • Following the Secret Wars, Professor Xavier and the X-Men came to the defense of Magneto during his war crimes trial in Uncanny X-Men #200. When Xavier had to leave Earth for medical treatment or risk death, he left Magneto in charge of the X-Men and New Mutants.
    • Captain America saw the X-Men and Magneto working together in Secret Wars II #1.
  • The crystal sphere with the essence of Jean Grey that is found in Jean's parents home was given to the Grey family by Lilandra Neramani during the funeral for the Phoenix in X-Men #138.
  • Captain America watches a recording the Beast made on Marvel Girl:
    • Beast was a founding member of the X-Men, with the team in X-Men #1 when Jean Grey joined.
    • He later joined the Avengers between Avengers #137211 and later joined the Defenders and was a member between Defenders #104125.
    • He mentions how "Jean" became the Phoenix during the events in X-Men #101 and her apparent transformation in Dark Phoenix and subsequent suicide chronicled in X-Men #129137.
    • Beast was on monitor duty at Avengers Mansion in X-Men #134 when an alert came in regarding the X-Men, and was with the X-Men during X-Men #135-137. As the only Avenger who witnessed the suicide of a universe-threatening force, he recorded the experience for the Avengers' files.
  • The truth about what happened on Jean's doomed space flight with the X-Men that led to the birth of Phoenix in X-Men #100 following their battle with the X-Sentinels is revealed. The encounter with Jean and the Phoenix Force—perhaps the most important moment of her life—depicted here is shown in greater detail in the back-up story published in Classic X-Men #8.
  • This story and Classic X-Men #8 explain that, instead of the solar flare's radiation giving Jean new powers as her friends and family had believed, the Phoenix Force replaced a dying Jean and Jean has spent the intervening years in suspended animation healing at the bottom of Jamaica Bay. Based on the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, Jean has spent about four years in suspended animation between X-Men #101 and this story.
    • Although a retcon, the revelation that Phoenix and Jean are separate entities is consistent with Phoenix's characterization and others' statements in X-Men #136-137.
  • Mister Fantastic, his wife, and Hercules experience Jean's memories of meeting the Phoenix Force. Although the Fantastic Four did not fight Dark Phoenix, in X-Men #136 instruments at the Baxter Building detected her energy, which Mister Fantastic described as rivaling that of Galactus.
  • Mister Fantastic identifies the solar flare as the same kind of cosmic radiation that transformed the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #1. The repeating "TAC" sound effect is used in both stories and in X-Men #100-101.
  • The Phoenix Force first appears vaguely humanoid, but during the conversation with Jean its body duplicates her in detail, culminating in "Jean" in her Phoenix costume. The entity is aware of the risk of such an exact duplication; it immediately thinks of itself as Jean Grey. As the others tell Jean, the faithfulness is what causes her duplicate to commit suicide and save the universe. Cyclops agreed about the strength of Jean's humanity over Phoenix in X-Men #136, and again in X-Factor Annual #2.
    • The duplication was so exact that, Captain America observes, "even a trained mind reader" could not distinguish between the two. Xavier—the world's most powerful telepath, who has shared a bond with Jean since she first met him as a child, so close to her that Jean would later state that they "really are of the same mind"[18]—did not recognize that "Jean" was not actually his student, only aware that Phoenix's powers had greatly increased before her death.[11]
    • Jean's resentment of Cyclops not noticing the duplication is nonetheless a recurring argument between them, such as in X-Factor Annual #2.
  • Following this story, the following characters are seen in other publications:
    • Mister Fantastic and the Torch are seen in New Defenders #152 trying to get ahold of the Beast to tell him that Jean Grey is alive. The Beast is also next seen in this story battling the Dragon of the Moon-possessed Moondragon, in what proves to be the final battle of his team of Defenders. They don't succeed until X-Factor #1 which is Jean's next appearance.
    • Jarvis, Hercules, the Invisible Woman and Captain America make their next appearance in Captain America #314 when Cap encounters renegades from Earth-712 seeking help against the Squadron Supreme's Utopia Program. He gets the advice of Sue and Reed in that story among other members of the Avengers.

Chronology Notes[]

Flashbacks in this story affect the chronology of the following characters:

Jean Grey:


Publication Notes[]

  • Cover art by John Byrne and Austin, per signatures on original art.[19]
  • In Byrne’s original version of the story, Phoenix was intended to be a selfish, evil being that trapped Jean to use her humanity as a pattern to gain a body. Jean fought back with the only weapon left to her, by telepathically dumping her entire personality onto Phoenix, making the creature believe it was truly Jean and act accordingly.
  • Kurt Busiek (whose name was misspelled in the credits as "Busek") was still a fan during the Dark Phoenix Saga. However, he came up with the idea of how to bring Jean back from the dead, circumventing Shooter’s edict that Phoenix, being a mass murderer, had to stay dead.
  • The flashback portion of this book was severely altered and, as a result, John Byrne (who had written and drawn most of the story) refused to have his name appear on it. Instead, the writer/penciller credit is attributed to "You Know Who". According to Byrne, the changes were written and drawn by Chris Claremont and Jackson Guice. Hence, the story reads somewhat disjointed in part, regarding the nature of the Phoenix Force.

See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References