Appearing in "Dark Phoenix"
- Beast (Hank McCoy)
- Angel (Warren Worthington III)
- Empress Lilandra Neramani
- Dr. Moira MacTaggert
- Sean Cassidy
- Dr. Peter Corbeau
- Senator Kelly
- Avengers (Mentioned)
- S.H.I.E.L.D. (Mentioned)
- Fantastic Four
- Galactus (Mentioned)
- Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
- Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange)
- Silver Surfer (Norrin Radd) (Cameo)
- Shi'ar Empire
- Unnamed D'bari (Death)
- Unnamed New York EMTs
- Starcore personnel
- Vladimir Lenin (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Milky Way
- Sol System
- United States of America
- United Kingdom
- Starcore One
- Sol System
- Shi'ar Galaxy
Synopsis for "Dark Phoenix"
Continued from last issue.
While escaping from the Hellfire Club, Jean Grey gives into the dark side of her soul awakened by Mastermind, becoming the Dark Phoenix and destroying the X-Men's escape craft over Central Park. Miraculously, the X-Men survive the explosion and with quick thinking manage to make it safely to ground with only minor injuries. Their attempts to talk Jean out of attacking them fails and she easily trounces the team with her cosmic-level abilities.
While not far away at the Hellfire Club, the authorities are investigating what patrons there believe was an attack by the X-Men. After seeing his colleague Leland wheeled into an ambulance, Sebastian Shaw is consoled by U.S. Senator Robert Kelly, a guest at the party that night. Shaw recommends to Kelly using his government connections to restart the Sentinel program so that they can hunt down dangerous mutants as part of his secret scheme to vilify and destroy the X-Men. Before the two men can discuss things further, they are shocked to see a giant Phoenix effect fill the sky.
Shaw is not the only one, as Dark Phoenix uses her powers to fly away from Earth, her energy signature is picked up by Mr. Fantastic's sensors, Spider-Man's spider-sense, Dr. Strange's mystical senses and the Silver Surfer's cosmic awareness.
As Jean departs, an Avengers Quinjet lands in Central Park. It's piloted by the Beast who has come to the aid of his former allies, the X-Men. He finds them beaten but alive and agrees to fly them back to the X-Mansion in Salem Center.
In New Mexico, Professor X has a video conference with Moira MacTaggert on Muir Isle. They compare notes and realize that their greatest fear has come to be: Jean has lost control of her new powers and is now a great menace.
In space, Dark Phoenix loops around the sun and uses its gravity to slingshot her out of the solar system and towards a warp gate not far beyond it. This sends her to the D'bari system, which is part of the Shi'ar empire. Her goal is to return to and once again enter the M'Kraan Crystal.
The journey thus far has expended quite a bit of energy and she needs to recharge. She then feasts on the D'Bari system's star, causing it to go nova and obliterate all the living creautres on the planet orbiting it. A nearby Shi'ar flagship witnesses this act of genocide and retaliates. But Dark Phoenix proves to be too powerful for even a Shi'ar warship to contend with.
While on the Shi'ar throneworld, Empress Lilandra is awakened to the news of the destruction and witnesses the destruction of the flagship at Phoenix's hands. Lilandra grimly considers that they must deal with this threat no matter the cost.
Back on Earth, at Xavier's school, the X-Men wonder what they will do next. Scott, who still has his telepathic rapport with Jean tells his fellow X-Men that Jean is returning to Earth, and she's hungry.
This story is continued next issue.
- The cover is an homage to a previous X-Men cover, X-Men #56. However, this cover will itself become an iconic image and be referenced numerous times in the future.
- This issue contains the first appearance of Senator Robert Kelley, who will play a prominent part in several future X-Men and related series stories.
- For several issues in a row, the narrative text has repeatedly stated that the Hellfire Club (where the X-Men have just left) is just a few blocks down Fifth Avenue from Avengers Mansion. As depicted last issue, the Beast just came from Avengers Mansion. In the scene between Shaw and Kelly, it's clear the X-Men are battling Dark Phoenix quite nearby the Hellfire Club still. If all of these locations are in such close proximity to each other, why does the Beast go to the trouble of flying a quinjet there?
- Angel's Aerie is noted as being in New Mexico. This is later changed to Colorado, however.
- Peter Corbeau was present when Jean Grey "became" Phoenix, in X-Men #101; now he sees how cosmically powerful Phoenix has become.
- A single D'Barian visited Earth and acted as an antagonist to the Avengers in Avengers #4, which featured the return of Captain America.
- The panic the Phoenix causes in the Shi'ar Empire—one of the Marvel Universe's most powerful entities—further emphasizes the danger Phoenix poses to all existence.
- Why Dark Phoenix goes all the way to the Shi'ar galaxy—draining enough energy to need to consume the D'Bari star—then returns to Earth is never explained. The story states that she is compulsively driven to re-enter the M'Kraan Crystal, but the motivation is not mentioned again.
- In the roundtable discussion text printed in Phoenix: The Untold Story #1, editor-in-chief Jim Shooter discussed this issue at length. By his recounting, Shooter attended an editorial meeting to outline the initial direction of the Dark Phoenix storyline: that Jean Grey would be slowly corrupted by Mastermind, but at the end of the story would actually turn - and remain - evil, not simply be returned to normal. Shooter said he admired the audacity of such a plot twist (turning a long-time fan favorite hero into an ongoing villain) and OK-ed the story but was not involved in developing it. However, he said that when he read the sequence in which Dark Phoenix exterminated an entire planet (four billion people), he was appalled at the extreme nature of the act and thus decided to get more involved in creating the story going forward. As originally written, Jean Grey was going to survive but be de-powered in the story's conclusion. Shooter, however, felt that the extent of Dark Phoenix's actions in this issue merited a stronger conclusion and said that she had to die.
- In the same roundtable discussion, artist Byrne relates his suggestion that once "Jean" became Dark Phoenix, she no longer be depicted with any thought balloons to relate what she was thinking, as an indication of how much more evolved her thought processes were. The story doesn't entirely embrace this concept (indeed, she has thought balloons during her skirmish with the Shi'ar), but a large part of this issue does use narrative captions to relate information that would normally have been provided through thought balloons.
- The Silver Surfer's cameo in this issue was going to be expanded into a full story by John Byrne and Terry Austin for the 25th issue of X-Men: The Hidden Years; however, the series was cancelled with issue #22.