This is our inaugural book club post! We’re going to be discussing Uncanny X-men #129-138 a.k.a. The Dark Phoenix Saga. This is being posted on several pages, boards and also here, so feel free to jump into the conversation at any or all of those places!
We’re going to give a very brief synopsis and then Loz, Tom and I will give our thoughts to start out with. The story is action packed so the synopsis will only hit the bare bones; forgive me if I seem to skip anything important (and bring it up in the discussions!) So without further ado……
The Dark Phoenix Saga — Synopsis
We catch up with the X-Men just after they fight Proteus. The team is finally back together after being separated and each group thinking the others dead. Professor X has also returned from Shi’ar space.
Xavier has returned because of concerns about Jean’s new power levels. He and Cyclops quickly butt heads over who is in charge of the team. Meanwhile, Mastermind, with the help of The White Queen, has slowly been eroding Jean’s inhibitions regarding the use of her powers, corrupting her to bring her under the sway of the Hellfire Club.
Everything is diverted when two new mutants are detected by Cerebro. Storm, Colossus, Wolverine, and Xavier go to Deerfield, IL to meet Kitty Pryde. While there they are ambushed and captured by the White Queen. Kitty manages to escape by pushing herself through a wall! Meanwhile in New York, Cyclops, Phoenix, and Nightcrawler are also ambushed but are able to escape thanks to some help from their new friend — Dazzler!
Kitty manages to call Cyclops’s team for help and together they manage to defeat the White Queen and rescue their friends. During the battle both Cyclops and Storm notice Jean’s changing demeanor, and when Jean uses her power to modify the memories of Kitty’s parents, they confide in each other their growing fears.
Realizing the mansion isn’t safe, Cyclops diverts the X-Men to the home of Warren Worthington III (Angel!). The team gets a brief respite, and Cyclops and Phoenix get some much needed alone time. Jean and Scott at this time form a permanent psychic bond.
The X-Men use Angel’s influence to infiltrate the Hellfire Club, but Mastermind springs his trap, gaining control of Phoenix who becomes the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club and the X-Men are captured. Cyclops manages to free Mastermind’s hold on Jean, but the damage is done. With her senses reeling and her power out of control, Jean turns on the X-men even as they escape from the Hellfire Club. Declaring herself Dark Phoenix, she defeats the X-men and takes to the stars.
Now using her powers with abandon, Jean finds herself in Shi’ar territory where she consumes a nearby star, in the process destroying the people of the D’Bari system. A passing Shi’ar battlecruiser manages to alert the Empress Lilandra before it too is destroyed.
Returning home, Jean has a tragic encounter with her family and the X-Men once again battle, this time for Jean’s soul. As the others are defeated, Cyclops tries to reach Jean with reason. Xavier uses the opening to attack Jean psychically and the two battle, with Jean finally regaining control of herself. At this moment the Shi’ar appear and condemn Jean to death for her crimes.
The X-Men now find themselves locked in a trial by combat for Jean’s life. The fight turns against the X-Men quickly, and soon only Scott and Jean are left. When Cyclops is cut down, Jean’s progression to Dark Phoenix is triggered again and realizing it is an inevitable process, Jean begs the other X-men to kill her. When they find they cannot, she uses the battle to drain herself until, after bidding Cyclops farewell, she is able to end her own life.
We are taken to the grave of Jean Grey. Cyclops narrates his memories from the beginning of the X-Men until now during the funeral. At the end of the services, Cyclops leaves the X-Men, determined to live his life as Jean would have wanted instead of closing himself off again. Meanwhile a young girl from Chicago appears on the steps of the X-mansion…