With the release of Dark Phoenix in theaters on Friday, June 7, 2019th, I thought I’d check out the Marvel comic where it all started: The Uncanny X-Men 135. In the title of this issue “Defeated By Dark Phoenix,” Jean Grey becomes the Dark Phoenix. Next, she gets into a big fight with her colleagues, the Uncanny X-Men. Also, she kills a whole alien civilization. As a result, the Shinar Empire declares war on her and the Uncanny X-Men. These are just some of the story lines of “Defeated By Dark Phoenix,” which formed the basic story line for the movie Dark Phoenix.
To begin, “Defeated By Dark Phoenix” starts off with Phoenix attacking the Uncanny X-Men. Nightcrawler explains the attack this way, saying, “We’re alive, anyways. Figures. We get away from the Hellfire CLub with our skins intact, only to get trashed by one of our own! Oi-flipping -vey!” Phoenix attacked the X-Men after the HellFire Club.
In the middle of the fight with the X-Men, Dark Phoenix has some words of Storm, leader of the X-Men. Dark Phoenix grins and says: “Yours was an admirable ploy, Storm. But escaping me won’t be that easy. Ask not for pity from Dark Phoenix, My love. There is none in her.”
Bewildered, Storm can’t understand why Phoenix is fighting her. “Why are you attacking us? ” screams Storm.
Meanwhile, Scott, Jean’s boyfriend, wonders how they can stop her. He says, “Jean’s enjoying this! Using her power is turning her on–acting like the ultimate physical/emotional stimulant! We have to stop her– But how?!” Jean is spinning out of control.
Furthermore, Colossus comes up with one way to stop Dark Phoenix. He says: “I must remember — Despite her actions, Phoenix is no villian, but our dear friend. We wish to help her. If I can tangle her in the branches of this tree.” Clearly, Dark Phoenix considers Colossus’ plan to stopping her an unreality.
In spite of the X-Men’s efforts to stop Phoenix, Jean still wants to fight. Storm pleads with Jean, saying, “Jean — No more. I beg you. We are your friends! Let us help you–Please!” Jeans responds, “It is too late for ‘help’, Ororo. For me, for you–for the universe. And Dark Phoenix has no friends.”
During the fight with Dark Phoenix, Storms makes some observations about Dark Phoenix. Storms explains to the other X-Men, “She was like this when she saved the universe. But then, her power was tempered by joy, and love. There is no joy–no love–in Dark Phoenix. I sense pain, great sadness–and an awful, all cunsuming lust.” Storm noticed the changes in Jean’s personality.
That being said, Dark Phoenix isn’t interested in peace. She tells Storm: “I’d rather end this quickly. For all your skill–and power–Ororo, you haven’t a prayer against me. I can pick your mind clean in the blink of an eye–know your plans the moment you think of them,” grins Dark Phoenix.
In spite of all that has happened with Jean and the X-Men, Cyclops still has empathy for Phoenix. “Storm! Images–hitting me through the psychic rapport I share with Jean–Mystical allusions–I don’t understand–lost-drowning..alone.” Cyclops continues to love Jean even though she’s the Dark Phoenix.
Nevertheless, Dark Phoenix only wants to be free of the X-Men. Dark Pheonix says, “I didn’t what this, my dear ones–And yet, It was something I had to do. By striking you down, I cut myself free of the last ties binding me to the person I was, the life I led.”
At this point in “Defeated By Dark Phoenix,” the narrator introduce the infamous leader of the HellFire Club, Sabastian Shaw, a hidden evil mutant. The narrator says to the readers, “If anything, they are victims–of a plot hatched by Sabastian Shaw, head of the Club’s secret inner circle, a group out, simply, to rule the world.” As the leader of the Hellfire Club, Sabastian Shaw has be orchestrating events behind the scenes to rule the world.
Moreover, the narrator introduces US Senator Robert Kelly. The narrator tells us, “The man with Shaw is U.S. Senator Robert Kelly–presidential candidate–intelligent, articulate, decent, popular, given a good chance of winning in November. He and Shaw are old friends.” It seems personal relationships and politics go together.
However, there is an issue with the local police in dealing with X-Men. An officers says, “Mr. Shaw, Senator Kelly…My men have searched the Club. There’s no sign of the muties.”
Consequently, Senator Kelly doesn’t like incompetent police. Senator Kelly says, “Obviously, captain–because the X-Men are no longer inside the building! Mr. Shaw saw them running towards Central Park. I suggest you show some iniative and get your people in there after them–before they get away!”
However, the local officer reminds U.S Senator about his limitations as a local police officer. He says, “With all due respect, Senator, we’re out of our league here. My officers aren’t equipped to fight super-powered mutants. Tackling the X-Men would be suicide. You want results–call the Avengers, or the Fantastic Four, or Shield.” However, Senator Kelly doesn’t care about slippery slopes or drawing lines.
Sabastian Shaw, infamous leader of the Hellfire Club, suggest a way to deal with accountability and oversight in the case of the X-Men. He tells Senator Robert Kelly, “By all means, do so, captain. There is, however, another alternative —albeit a long term one–that would deal most effectively with this mutant menace, and at the same time, be completely, unquestionably under federal governmental control. Sentinels.” Shaw wants to use robots as a legal loophole to deal with the X-Men.
Meantime, back at the School For Gifted Children, Professor Charles Xavier, leader and mentor of the Uncanny X-Men picks up a disturbance in psychic energy. He tells his research colleague over the phone, “I felt a tremendous burst of psionic energy, Moira–As if some had triggered a giant-sized psychic H-Bomb. The effect passed quickly.”
In response, Moira MacTaggert, research associate of Charles, makes her own observations about the recent psychic phenomena. She tells Charles, “I can confirm what you already suspect, Charles. The source was Jean. I think Phoenix is out of control. Over the past few hours, my remote scans show Phoenix’s power increasing along a geometric curve, with no end in sight. She already dwarfs any mutant we’ve already charted. If you want a convenient buzz-word description for her, ‘cosmic’ fit the bill nicely.”
Afterward, Charles has a talk with Warren Kenneth Worthington III, originally known as Angel, an Uncanny X-Men. “The simple explanation, Warren, is that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Phoenix is the ultimate expression of Jean’s potential as a PSI. Too much power, I fear, too soon. Jean is too young–she lacks the awareness necessary to control her now limitless abilities.” The talk is about Phoenix’s power.
Additionally, the narrator tells us about Phoenix’s current whereabouts. He says, “Phoenix loops the sun, skimming it’s surface and using the ‘Slingshot-Effect’ to boost her speed a thousand fold… Seconds after that, she is well into the vast emptiness of interstellar space. With ridiculous, terrifying speed, she creats a star-gate–and this personal space/time hurls her instantly out of the Milky Way and into a galaxy far, far, away.”
Apparently, Dark Phoenix has destoryed a sun, which in turn destroyed an alien civilization.
“Orbiting the star is a system of eleven planets. The fourth is inhabited –By an ancient, peace-loving civilization. On the planetary dayside, they see the light first–The awful light of armageddon–filling the sky from horizon to horizon ten minutes after leaving the murdered star. Many who see this light–The last thing they will ever see– are confused, frightened. A very few–who realize at once what has happened–have time to curse cruel fate or make their peace with their god. Then, they all die.”
As one unintended consequence of destroying an alien civilization, Dark Phoenix has just created a war with the Shinar Empire. “I recognize it, old friend–The Phoenix. What we’ve feared from the beginning–And prayed we’d never have to face–has come to pass. Summon my ministers, Chamberlain. The threat must be dealt with. Once and for all–no matter what the cost.” There seems to be little hope for peace, now.
With that, Dark Phoenix returns to earth. As she approaches Earth, Cyclops picks up a psychic message: “It’s Phoenix–I can sense her in my mind, through the psionic rapport we share. She’s returning to earth–and she’s hungry.”
Aside, here’s a point of interest: “Defeated By Dark Phoenix” was released in the 1980s, which contained many themes about women of that time. This was a time when President Jimmy Carter had just left office and Ronald Reagan started his presidency. Also, at this time, women were paid unequal wages in the work place and unions were just getting off the ground. As a result, women were often portrayed as evil or villains in the media if they achieved any kind of power. Hence, this issue played on fears that women with power could be dangerous and destructive in a patriarchal society. Perhaps, with the release of the movie Dark Phoenix, these themes about women are returning in 2019-2020.
In addition the women themes, this comic portrayed women as sexual objects. For example, Cyclops, second in command of the X-Men, aired his views, saying, “Jean’s enjoying this! Using her power is turning her on.” Also, a caption of the narrator reads, “She reaches for the sky–summoning the lightening–laughing as the awesome bolts of energy caress her body like a lover.” Of course, this was a comic geared toward teenagers; as well, it was the 1980s.
In conclusion, I liked this issue. Mainly, I liked it cause Jean Grey becomes the Dark Phoenix, a character which has always been cool in the Uncanny X-Men comics. Plus, there’s a motion picture made after this comic, too. Also, I like this issue cause we get to see the alien Shinar Empire again. I always liked the Dark Phoenix story line and the art work of John Byrne in this issue.