X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga

x-men dark phoenix saga trade paperback cover
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10

Everything that makes the X-Men great

Nothing

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Uncanny X-Men (Volume 1)

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Writer:  Chris Claremont

Artist:  John Byrne

# of Issues:  9

Release Date:  1984

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Uncanny X-Men (1) #133

Reprinting Uncanny X-Men (1) #129-137 (January 1980-September 1980).  The X-Men have a problem in Jean Grey.  Inhabited by the powerful Phoenix Force, she poses a threat to the universe if she ever recognizes her true power.  When the X-Men are faced with an elite group of mutants and socialites known as the Hellfire Club, Jean’s power is awakened.  Now, the Phoenix is out of control and wanted dead by civilizations across the universe.  The X-Men must face the Phoenix…but can they save Jean Grey in the process?

Written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by John Byrne, X-Men:  Dark Phoenix Saga (also going by the name Uncanny X-Men:  The Dark Phoenix Saga and X-Men:  The Dark Phoenix Saga among other titles) was one of the first big trade paperback collections for Marvel Comics.  The story was one of the X-Men’s earliest “big stories” and heralded by critics and fans.  Multiple versions of the trade paperbacks have been released and the story was also collected in Essential X-Men—Volume 2.

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Uncanny X-Men (1) #136

The Dark Phoenix Saga really shows another turning point for the X-Men. While Giant-Size X-Men made the X-Men popular, X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga made them really mortal. It made the X-Men say goodbye to their past with the death of Jean Grey, it introduced the threat of the Hellfire Club, and brought new mutants Kitty Pryde and Dazzler into the fold.

I love The Dark Phoenix Saga. It was one of the first collections I ever had (I got a used copy) and it has some of my favorite issues of the X-Men. Uncanny X-Men (1) #129 (January 1980) introduces both Kitty Pryde, a fan favorite and personal favorite, and the White Queen (Emma Frost) who in recent years has become one of the more important characters in X-Men mythology. Uncanny X-Men (1) #130 (February 1980) brought in the disco-loving Dazzler who spun off into her own series for years and then joined the X-Men…she was already dated when she appeared, but I love her disco look (completely with flashy skates).

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Uncanny X-Men (1) #137

Uncanny X-Men (1) #133 (May 1980) also was a turning point for Wolverine. Though Wolverine was already becoming a favorite of the new X-Men, Uncanny X-Men # showed what Wolverine could do as a solo act. Washed into the sewers, Wolverine battled his way through the Hellfire Club and really highlighted his abilities…it also showed how he had a lot of initial basis on Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry in talk and style.

The culmination of the series of course is the double-sized Uncanny X-Men (1) #137 (September 1980) which spelled the end for Jean Grey. This was of course reconned when the “real” Jean Grey showed up in Avengers (1) #263 (January 1986) and Fantastic Four (1) #286 (January 1986) and helped form X-Factor, but for most readers, Jean Grey was dead and gone following this issue. Jean’s sacrifice was one of the great moments in comic, and I always felt the X-Factor return, though exciting and adding dimension to the story, was a bit of a slander to this issue.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga is a must for X-Men fans. It shows the best of the characters and why the X-Men became a runaway success. The issues can also be found in Essential X-Men Volume and were the basis of most of the third season of the X-Men animated series and the films X2: X-Men United (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), and X-Men:  Dark Phoenix (2019).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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