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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 192

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we feature the sad conclusion of the Dark Phoenix Saga.

Enjoy!

Okay, to set the scene for Uncanny X-Men #137 (by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin), do note that Jean Grey had become a powerful hero known as Phoenix, but she was then corrupted and turned into Dark Phoenix and went off into outer space and actually destroyed a whole planet’s population!

So the X-Men’s old alien allies, the Shi’ar, have shown up to take her into custody and lobotomize her so that she can no longer use her dangerously powerful mental powers.

Xavier, as a last second gambit, challenges the Shi’iar Imperial Guard to a sort of duel over Jean Grey.

The Imperial Guard proceeds to basically kick the X-Men’s collective behind, which leads to the following…

“The” moment, naturally, is the sacrifice.

Still, overall, good stuff (although boy, that’s a lot of fairly unnecessary dialogue)!

Great artwork by Byrne and Austin, in particular.

33 Comments

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 12, 2009 at 10:57 am

Probably one of the best stories ever from Claremont and Byrne.

Too bad, Marvel keeps diminishing Jean Grey’s sacrifice by bringing back Phoenix again and again.

And they never went into space again. … Really? Damn.

“You shielded your intentions from our rapport” is the exact verbiage I would use if my cosmic girlfriend just killed herself, too.

And did something terrible happen to Wolverine or is he just that hairy?

I just can’t believe Cyclops just sat there next to his love’s charred ashes and gave a long speech to no one in particular explaining what just happened in minute detail.

Comics were better when they took 45 minutes to read.

Actually, Jean destroyed a whole star, not a planet. The death of the star did actually cause all of the population from a planet died, but the planet was still standing.

Good point, Matt.

Great moment, even if it did have the worst possible influence on the generation of creators who followed it.

I liked the reverse fastball special.

Man, Tom Orzechowski is awesome. How about some love for the letterers, Cronin? You elitist!

to me that moment is one of the coolest and saddest for jean knowing she was losing control and that dark phonix was too much a threat decided to protect the ones she loved and end the threat her way for the look of loss on cyclops face showed clarmont and bryne were magic doing x-men

Yes, thank goodness for Tom Orz’s compact lettering style, or otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see any of the art!

I love Jean’s second (??) death where she is in the space station with Logan and he kills her so she doesn’t have to suffer a slow death. It was so sweet.

Her Magneto (third death?) wasn’t all that great but loved what she said to scott as she was dying.

I wonder when she’ll be back

Don’t blame the Orz, Mr. Reed! Blame the Claremontian verbosity! Seriously, only Bob Lappan could have jammed all of Claremont’s words into a decent space.

“They were young. They were in love. They were heroes.”
That line f’n KILLS me.
And yes, I’m aware it’s pure cheese.

The reason Cyclops has that giant wad of exposition at the end is because the ending was changed at the last minute. Originally, Jean was going to live, and the Shi’ar would’ve removed her psychic powers in order to neutralize the Phoenix. But Jim Shooter thought that was insufficient punishment for someone who’d destroyed a planet. Claremont & Byrne had to quickly re-do the last few pages of the story and bump Jean off. Under the circumstances, the fact that it reads as well as it does is a minor miracle.

One of the first, great, and unexpected superhero deaths in comics.

The “moment” for me is when Colossus pulls his punch and the look on Jean’s face afterwards. I’ve never liked Cyclops, so there is no way I can emphasize with the guy. And every time Jean returns only to die again, it becomes even more difficult to care about his feelings.

Still, a superb job by the dream team of Claremont/Byrne/Austin/Orzechowski.

The Byrne – Austin art in this arc continue to this day to be the standard I measure all comic art against. I consider it the perfect blend of 60′s dynamic art, 70′s realism, and just on the cusp of 90′s splash.

johnny the boy

July 13, 2009 at 6:46 am

hey bill, IMHO wolvie is SUPPOSED to be that hairy, and almost midget short, which is something that subsequent creators have a distinct tendency to forget.

More love for Orz here, you bet :)

Claremont’s verbosity has always been a trademark of his, for good or ill. It’s no longer fashionable (if it ever was) to have such emphasis on the narration, but I will say the man carries it off better than anyone else I’ve ever seen trying it. I remember once reading a quote about Neal Adams, that “he draws people that look exactly the way people would look if they looked like that”; well, Claremont writes people who talk exactly the way people would talk if they talked like that.

And the more I reread this story the less I buy the whole “wasn’t REALLY Jean” retcon, not that I was ever willing to buy it in the first place. The “Phoenix” here is just really some deus ex machina that’s thinks it’s Jean? This scene makes that absurd enough, but skip back 2-3 issues to the one where Jean as Dark Phoenix confronts her parents, and you realize how abysmally stupid the entire retcon was. NOT THAT I’M BITTER OR ANYTHING.

I like the wall of dust.

This issue had the best artwork of the Byrne run on X-MEN.

Don’t blame the Orz, Mr. Reed! Blame the Claremontian verbosity! Seriously, only Bob Lappan could have jammed all of Claremont’s words into a decent space.

No, I’m saying Orz’s style is as compact as Lappan’s; he’s one of the few guys who can fit this many words on a page and not obscure all the art.

Imagine if John Workman lettered it! Haha. (I love John Workman.)

“They were young. They were in love. They were heroes.”
That line f’n KILLS me.
And yes, I’m aware it’s pure cheese.

Yeah, me too. Every time.

I just can’t believe Cyclops just sat there next to his love’s charred ashes and gave a long speech to no one in particular explaining what just happened in minute detail.

I suppose you could say that Cyclops is so devastated that his mind is running on automatic, and “automatic”, for Cyclops, is tactically analyzing everything going on around him.

Or, you know, Claremont needed to cram in some more exposition. :)

one of the definiing moments in comic history, and it is only partially diminished by them bringing her back, with a name like Phoenix it should be assumed she would come back, but what should have been a major one time return (X-Force number 1) has now become a joke akin to Spidey clone, Cap Wolf, etc

As a Cap fan, I always love the hero giving a speech, regardless if there is an audience or if they are capable of hearing or understanding, it’s those speeches that give you something written to emotionally attach to the story.

I just can’t believe Cyclops just sat there next to his love’s charred ashes and gave a long speech to no one in particular explaining what just happened in minute detail.

I love that Claremont managed to explain so many things that is clear enough in the art not once just once but twice. It is amazing how effective the scene is given that it seems designed for a 12-year-old reader suffering from a mild concussion.

I love the X-men, but god DAMN I can’t for the life of me read any of these Claremont stories. This is a visual medium Claremont, you don’t have to explain every single god damn thing. I guess they were still writing for kids back then :/

Probably one of the best stories ever from Claremont and Byrne.

That’s damning with faint praise.

Add me to the list of people who find Claremont’s unbearably over-scripted. I know the often quoted reasoning is that every issue of a comic will be someone’s first, and if Claremont only gave the information that was relevant at that moment and not immediately visible in the art I could understand, but the guy feels the need to fill every panel with text describing everything that’s going on in the entire story even if it has nothing to do with anything that happens in this issue or is blatantly visible.

I find it unreadable.

Lobstah Johnson

July 15, 2009 at 9:47 am

I grew up on this sort of heavy text in comics, so for me it seems ‘natural’. Comics are a story-telling medium and back then they allowed a greater amount of text to tell that story. It was a part of the style. Comics today lean very heavily on the images to tell the story which is fine, but there is no need for comics to be imitations of a series of movie stills. For instance, while thought ballons went out of fashion, I always thought they were a pretty unique device that allowed you inside the head of the characters. When used witj skill they were very affective (i.e. Peter Parker’s interior monologues in the Lee/ Ditko era. Of course they can be used poorly but thats also the case with any technique.

Anyway as you can see I am a bit wordy myself. Damned if I don’t love words as much as pictures. Next time maybe I’ll do my comments as a comic strip.

one of the ‘moments’ from this story is the moment that Wolverine announces that he has loved Jean. i really like it as it feels that he has to verbalize this deep thing due to seriousness of the situation. Wolvie at this point was still somewhat an unlikeable charecter [within the X story, not to fans] and he wasn’t likely to open up to anyone. So, to have him have to reveal this intimate, most personal piece of information was a great moment for me.

Also, being raised on Claremont, it doensn’t feel overly wordy. i also love when the hero makes a stirring speech, but i realize that [just the same as if i were to wear an Xmen costume in real life], there is no way that this is realistic dialogue for the real world.
DFTBA

Ho-kay, I have given the wordiness question some thought and here is why it bothers me:
1. It breaks up the flow of the action. That is the obvious point.
2. It encourages comic book writers to do things that are a bad fit for the medium.

#2 is the bigger problem. Despite sharing some common traits, comics are not novels or movies. They are their own thing. They have unique strengths and weaknesses.

One way in which comics are different is that a well-designed character has an outward appearance that matches their inner life. It is the big trick of superhero comics. In their daily life a character looks one way, but when the take off their clothes they reveal a magical body that shows their true self (or put on magical clothes that do something similar). You look at Wolverine’s squat, hairy form and you know the guy is not someone you want to mess with.

Conversely, novels often describe an outward look for a character and then tell you they someone totally different inside. Well, you are really only focusing on the inner part in a novel, so it is an easy trick to pull off.

Claremont tries to do the same thing by cramming so many words into the text boxes that the reader does not believe their eyes. Wolverine may look like a savage, but on the inside is a person with deep emotions. It is a nice trick, but it would not work if Wolverine was not a total bad-ass too. He is both.

Now, we too often get writers that totally ignore the visual design of the character and/or artists who change it to suit the story that is being told. You look at Ralph and Sue Dibny expecting to laugh, not read about rape and murder.

“So the X-Men’s old alien allies, the Shi’ar, have shown up to take her into custody and lobotomize her so that she can no longer use her dangerously powerful mental powers.”

Actually, weren’t the Shi’ar threatening to kill her? Originally, Chis & John wanted Jean lobotomized, but Jim Shooter wanted Jean to really suffer for what she did, so he wanted her sent to a prison planet, where she’d spend the rest of her life being tortured or something. Chris & John hated that idea, and they decided they’d rather kill her than have her suffer Shooter’s decision.

[quote]wwk5d
August 25, 2009 at 6:23 am
Actually, weren’t the Shi’ar threatening to kill her? Originally, Chis & John wanted Jean lobotomized, but Jim Shooter wanted Jean to really suffer for what she did, so he wanted her sent to a prison planet, where she’d spend the rest of her life being tortured or something. Chris & John hated that idea, and they decided they’d rather kill her than have her suffer Shooter’s decision.[/quote]

That speaks volumes to what Jim Shooter was/is like.

One of the best stories of Xmen. It was sooo touching. Comics these days have lost it.

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