Just in time for Halloween, we’re back to feature all those creepy, kooky, and scary characters of comic book lore! This time, we’re going to take a look at monsters from the vaunted House of Ideas. So, enter, if you dare, for Comic Book Monsters 2012: The Mighty Merry Marvel Edition!
Comic Book Monsters – October 25th: The Phoenix
You know how you can cut off a limb or the tail of a lizard and it’s able to regrow that appendage? Well, that’s basically what the Phoenix Force can do. However, it’s not a part of its body. Instead, the Phoenix does that to entire sections of the universe itself. This manifestation of the prime universal force of life of passion is literally a child of the universe that was born from the void between states of being. It’s the nexus of all psionic energy which does, has, and ever will exist in all realities of the omniverse. It’s been known as the Guardian of Creation, and it’s also the protector of the incredibly powerful M’Kraan Crystal, a gateway to all universes.
For eons, the Phoenix Force traveled the stars like all cosmic entities. It’s purpose was pretty specific… When something has become obsolete, the Phoenix would burn that dead thing in favor of the birth of something new. It’s pretty much described as the spark that gave life to the universe, but the flame that would ultimately consume it.
Eventually, the Phoenix would travel to Earth when it felt the mind of Jean Grey was able to transcend her physical form. When a very young Jean telepathically linked her mind to a dying friend of hers to prevent her friend from entering the afterlife, it caused a negative reaction as well – dragging part of Jean into the afterlife with Annie. The Phoenix would break that connection and kept an eye on Jean. As Jean grew into an adult, she was on the verge of dying in space when she telepathically reached out for help. The Phoenix Force came to her rescue and possessed her body, ultimately turning her into a new hero aptly named the Phoenix.
Unfortunately, the power of the Phoenix Force is too much for any physical being to contain. Jean’s personality began to break down. During this process, whenever Jean would use her new powers to dish out capital punishment, she began to actually enjoy the rush of power she felt. It was the signs of the Phoenix Force’s near holy mission coming through. It was during Jean’s fall into the being known as the Dark Phoenix that she destroyed an entire planet forcing the alien Shi’ar to come and judge her and sentence her to death before she was able to do it again and again as the Phoenix Force asserted more and more control over the heroine.
Deciding that it would be too painful to let one of their most beloved friends simply face the judgment of the Shi’ar, the X-Men convince the Shi’ar to let them fight for her. If they win this tournament melee, Jean returns to Earth with them. If the Shi’ar win, she will face swift execution. However, the Shi’ar cheats knowing that they must kill the Phoenix no matter the cost. The X-Men face inevitable defeat, but before the final X-Man, Cyclops, falls, Jean feels her soul slipping away and permenantly becoming Dark Phoenix. Not wanting to have more blood on her hands, Jean uses the last bit of her strength before the transformation to beg for death, which Cyclops provides.
This would not be the end of either Jean or the Phoenix Force, or the connection both feel to each other. A short while later, the Avengers find a strange cocoon in the ocean. When they retrieve it, they discover Jean Grey, without the powers of the Phoenix, inside. We later learn that the Jean, who became the Phoenix and died on the Moon before succombing to the will of the darker Phoenix traits, was simply a clone. The real Jean Grey was saved by the Phoenix when she was about to die on a spaceship, and it duplicated her body and memories. The Phoenix Force later took Jean’s original body and cocooned it to keep her safe. Before Jean died “yet again”, she started to feel the connection to the Phoenix Force yet again, but never really possessed all those powers her doppelganger had.
There would be another character who did possess the full powers of the Phoenix. That would be Rachel Summers, the alternate reality daughter of Jean and Scott Summers. Rachel had full control over the Phonix Force, and never descended into the Dark Phoenix personality. She’s so talented with dealing with the power, she’s been referred to as the one true Phoenix. All good things must pass as Rachel no longer has any of the powers of the Phoenix.
After the population of mutants was severely diminished by the Scarlet Witch at the end of the House of M story, the Phoenix Force returned to Earth. Cyclops views it as the inevitable rebirth of the mutant race, and that it’s here for Hope Summers, the only mutant to be born following the House of M. On the other side, Captain America and the Avengers believe that there is no possible way the Phoenix is coming to Earth to do anything positive. In the course of trying to stop the entity from burning Earth, Iron Man accidentally splits the Phoenix into five equal parts that all attach themselves to different X-Men (Cyclops, Colossus, Emma Frost, Magik, and Namor).
Cyclops and the other members of the “Phoenix Five”, decide that they will use their massive powers to make the world a better place. Cracks in each of their personalities begin to show and the darker side of the power. One by one, the members of the Phoenix Five are defeated. When that happens, the sliver of power that defeated person had gets split into equal parts for who was remaining. As each one fell, Cyclops was gaining more and more power until his own personality finally cracked and he descended into a new Dark Phoenix. Now willing to scorch the Earth, the Dark Phoenix ignites everything on fire until he is met by Hope and Scarlet Witch. Together, the two heroines stop Cyclops and use the Phoenix Force to restore the mutant race.
Tomorrow, as we continue our countdown to Halloween, we pay a visit to one of Walt Simonson’s most enduring creations when he took over the writing and art of the Thor series. Come on back and sit a while with Beta Ray Bill!