Published December 7, 2017

History of The Phoenix: Part 2

We continue to chronicle the history of Jean Grey.

Image for History of The Phoenix: Shades of Grey, Part 2

Having covered Jean’s introduction and backstory in Part One of this two-part retrospective, we now burst into flame as she finally comes face to face with…

The Phoenix Force

One of the oldest cosmic entities in existence, The Phoenix Force represents life not yet born. Acting as the nexus of all psionic energy that does, has, and could exist in all realities of the Omniverse, the Force is known as the Guardian of Creation and a guardian of the M’Kraan Crystal—which houses a gateway to another plane of existence known as the White Hot Room.

The Phoenix Force destroys all that does not work or has become stagnant in the universe—and regrows a better, healthier version as a replacement. To intervene in worlds that voluntarily become stagnant and ease them to the way of progress, The Phoenix Force can utilize host bodies…with its most famous—and powerful—connection being to Jean Grey.

When the Force felt her mind transcend the physical realm when her powers first awoke, the cosmic entity felt a kindred bond with Jean, and used its power to save her from the brink of death. Years later, as the young mutant sacrificed herself to save her X-Men teammates by piloting a radioactive space shuttle back to Earth, the Phoenix appeared to her in a form and consciousness that resembled Jean herself. The Phoenix Force absorbed a piece of her consciousness and cast the mutant into a healing cocoon. The cocoon, with the real hero inside, sat at the bottom of Jamaica Bay for years while the Phoenix manifestation of Grey took her place on the X-Men. This version possessed all of her original memories and beliefs…though in the back of her mind rested the power and fury of the Force.

When Mastermind and the Hellfire Club attacked this Jean in an attempt to alter her psionic personality, the dormant Phoenix’s sanity broke. In UNCANNY X-MEN #134, driven mad by Mastermind’s psionic tampering, the Dark Phoenix was born. This new being devoured a star in issue #135, killing five billion people on one of its planets in the process. In a moment of lucidity, during which Grey’s consciousness realizes the destruction she’s caused, she chooses to kill herself—and the Dark Phoenix—to save her loved ones from what unspeakable horrors she might do in such a state. Scott Summers, having believed this to be the real Jean Grey, was devastated.

The Phoenix Force, now untethered from its Earthly host, recalled its nature as an ancient power, but still retained Jean’s personality and memories. Utilizing its shared consciousness with Grey, the Force used this connection in a bid to try and rouse her from her cocoon. Jean refused to awaken, however, repelled by the memories of the Dark Phoenix. Though she resisted the Phoenix’s urges, FANTASTIC FOUR #286 saw the Avengers and the FF discover her healing pod in the storyline “Like a Phoenix!”

Pulling Herselves Together

After Jean finally rose from her quasi-hibernation, her friends react with shock and confusion at the reemergence of a teammate they thought to be dead. The mutant hero chose to then keep the name “Phoenix,” even though she no longer had the powers of the fiery being.

Later, when Wolverine chose to kill Grey in a story arc crossing NEW X-MEN #146#150, The Phoenix Force sensed her death and revived her again. After this encounter, Jean experimented with the Phoenix, trusting its powers despite her better judgment. She finally allowed the Force to possess her fully, assuming control of its cosmic might. Though, in retribution, she was soon killed by a Xorn-induced aneurism.

The next resurrection of Jean Grey took place in X-MEN: PHOENIX – ENDSONG, when The Phoenix Force made its way back to reanimate the hero from her grave, despite her protests. As the Phoenix began to take on its dark energy, Jean—now an unwilling host—asked that Wolverine kill her as a measure to stop the cosmic entity. The Force, however, made her temporarily immortal, halting the potential death. At her wit’s end, Grey dove into the icy depths of the Arctic Ocean to prevent Force from getting to her, killing herself again in the process.

Enraged by the rejection, the despondent Phoenix Force turned itself into another manifestation of Jean Grey in a vengeful attempt to win Cyclops’ love. When Scott rebuffed the Phoenix Jean, the Force merged with Emma Frost instead. The real Grey, having been raised from the dead once more, drove the flaming essence out of Emma and made peace with her permanent Phoenix union—now able to harness the power of the Phoenix even as it inhabited another host. The act of the two uniting once again nearly pushed the hero’s mind into insanity, but Frost returned to psychically link Jean (and the Force inside her) to all the people who love them, lending the strength necessary to regain her sanity. This storyline proved to be the final time that readers saw the adult Jean Grey, aside from her recent time-displaced appearance in GENERATIONS: PHOENIX AND JEAN GREY #1.