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Quote1 I am Galactus' former herald, he whose power is like unto that of a raging sun! I am Firelord! And I say you will harm Eric the Red no more -- on peril of your lives! Quote2
-- Firelord

Appearing in "Phoenix Unleashed!"

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Synopsis for "Phoenix Unleashed!"

The X-Men return to Xavier’s school and discover Erik the Red lurking in their headquarters. They attack him with their full fury only to be struck from behind by Firelord, the former herald of Galactus. Despite the X-Men's best efforts to defend themselves, they are no match for one who wields the power cosmic; he easily knocks them all out.

Erik the Red has duped Firelord into helping him by having had Havok and Polaris pretend to attack him earlier (in an “offscreen” incident) in order to convince the former herald that the X-Men were evil. Erik claims to be a benign alien explorer who stumbled upon a plot by the X-Men to take over the world. Having successfully tricked Firelord, he urges him to seek out and destroy their leader, Charles Xavier.

At that same moment in outer space, a Shi'Ar imperial cruiser piloted by Captain K'rk is attempting to stop another starship from carrying the dethroned empress (and current rebel) Lilandra to Earth. Before K’rk can destroy the ship, Lilandra locates Charles Xavier and teleports to his location on the planet’s surface. The Professor is just then visiting Jean (the Phoenix) and Misty Knight at their shared apartment. Jean’s parents are visiting as well and Lilandra materializes before all of them.

The Professor uses telepathy to instantaneously teach Lilandra English. She exclaims the fate of the universe is in jeopardy, but before she can explain further Firelord bursts through the wall to confront them. Jean transforms her clothing into her Phoenix costume and is able to hold her own against Firelord in combat, surprising everyone witnessing it, even Firelord himself.

Erik the Red arrives and attempts to abduct Lilandra, but the X-Men have followed him and try to fend him off. Phoenix is able to blast Firelord away, hurling him as far as the New Jersey Meadowlands. The X-Men, however, fail to stop Erik the Red from taking Lilandra.

On the roof of the apartment building, Erik constructs a warp gate and uses it to depart Earth with Lilandra as his captive. The portal closes behind him, preventing the X-Men from following. Phoenix then uses her immense powers to activate the warp gate long enough for all the X-Men to travel through it, Phoenix jumping in last.

As the portal closes, Professor X, Misty, and Jean’s parents are left behind to wonder if they will make it back alive. Firelord returns and demands to know where the Phoenix has gone. Charles tells him that she is at the other end of the universe trying to save all of creation from destruction.

Notes

  • This story is continued in #107. The next issue contains an unrelated filler story with only minimal connection to the ongoing plot.
  • The recurring subplot in which former X-Men Havok and Polaris have become Erik the Red's mentally enslaved minions, and hence villians, is abruptly dropped "offscreen" and only related in a cursory throwaway line by Erik the Red. The next time the characters appear, they have already been restored to normal and there is no mention of their time as villains again. (Polaris, however, would be mentally enslaved again by evil mutant Malice and spend a significantly longer time as a reluctant villain in a future storyline.)
  • While #101 is the historic debut of the character, this is the first time the Phoenix is depicted using her powers in a fight, and it's impressive.
  • Lilandra's name is finally revealed in this issue.
  • In this issue, Jean's parents learn that she is a superhero. (Technically, they discover that the Phoenix doppelganger of their daughter is a superhero, but following these events, it's safe to say they would become privy to their actual daughter's past as Marvel Girl.)

Trivia

  • As recounted in Brian Cronin's "Comic Book Legends Revealed" blog, Claremont and Cockrum originally wanted Phoenix to face off against either Thor or the Silver Surfer. The editorial powers that be, however, refused to allow it, thinking that showing either of those popular male characters being defeated by a female would emasculate them (oh, the 1970s!!) Firelord was swapped in because he 1) was a former herald of Galactus like the Surfer, 2) had fought Thor, establishing he was of the same power grade, and 3) was not as popular a character (and Marvel's editors would have less of a problem showing him being taken down by "a girl.") As written, though, it really doesn't make sense for Firelord to get involved here. While Thor and Silver Surfer were both Earth-based superheroes, Firelord was an intergalactic wanderer. And while not truly evil, he wasn't really a superhero with a vested interest in protecting Earth from would-be world conquerors. For that matter though, Thor had already met the X-Men numerous times and likely wouldn't be taken in by Erik's lies. Perhaps the best character to use here would have been Silver Surfer, who was unfamiliar with the X-Men and typically characterized as naive to the ways of humanity, allowing him to be duped by bad guys.
  • The name "Captain K'rk" is an obvious homage to a certain character from a sci-fi television series with a large cult following at the time this comic was published.
  • Likewise, Lilandra's pursuit by Imperial Forces, her cryptic holographic (telepathic) distress messages to Xavier, and other story elements just may have been influenced by a certain sci-fi film that was released and became popular in 1977.
  • Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum appear in cameos. In the story, they are creating a comic in Washington Square Park.

See Also

Recommended Reading

  • The distraction created by Eric the Red releasing Magneto last issue was to create this opportunity to go after Professor X.

Links and References

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