Born of the void between states of being, the Phoenix Force is a child of the universe. In the dying moments of the previous universe, the Force saved all existence from eternal damnation, enabling Eternity to preserve the humanoid Galan, ensuring his re-creation as Galactus. The Force was subsequently reborn from the cosmic fires of the “Big Bang.” Later, it encountered the malevolent Le Bete Noir and trapped it in the center of a still-cooling planet Earth. The Force was drawn back to Earth when it was awakened to reality by Feron, a sorcerer from an alternate Earth who had traveled with his master Necrom to a tower on Earth-616 to witness an alignment of dimensional interfaces. The Force joined with Feron, allowing itself to be shaped by his dreams into the form of a giant fiery bird and experiencing a spectrum of new sensations. At the moment of the alignment, Feron bade the Force to project the essence of the tower throughout the multiverse, so that it existed on every plane of reality simultaneously, creating an energy matrix. Necrom sought to access the matrix to allow him to compress all alternate Earths into a singularity, the energy released from which would endow him with godlike power, and to that end he tore out the portion of the Force that had bonded to Feron. In agonized confusion over the violation of its essence, the Force fled. Necrom bound the stolen Force with a portion of his own essence, and left it to incubate in a corpse he dubbed the Anti-Phoenix.
In time, the Force’s pain subsided and it discovered that it was unable to return to its natural state. Hundreds of years later, the Force learned that the universe would come under threat from manipulation of the M‘kraan Crystal - a hypercubical nexus of realities - by the mad Shi’ar Emperor D’Ken. To prevent this, the Force sought an avatar through which it could act and so returned to Earth, seeking out Feron. Instead, the Force encountered Jean Grey, a member of the heroic mutant X-Men team, whose mind the Force had touched earlier. Grey was dying from the effects of solar radiation while piloting a damaged space shuttle in order to save her fellow X-Men. The Force appeared to Grey and offered to save her. She accepted, and so the Force created an exact duplicate of her body for itself, into which it transferred a portion of her consciousness. The Force then sealed her comatose body inside a healing cocoon, and after the shuttle crashed into Jamaica Bay, near New York City, the Force emerged from the waters, calling itself Phoenix. The X-Men believed it to be the real Jean Grey, having died and returned to life with vast new powers. Phoenix and the X-Men opposed D’Ken, who exposed the universe to the tremendous gravitational forces contained within the Crystal’s core. Phoenix entered the Crystal and repaired the stasis field, thus saving the cosmos. Phoenix continued to serve as a member of the X-Men, but ultimately its human form was unable to cope with the Force’s immense power. At first, Grey’s strong moral sense kept the Force in check, but Phoenix succumbed to the psionic manipulation of Mastermind. Unable to fully free itself of the sinister side of its personality that Wyngarde exposed it to, and with its human consciousness ill-equipped to repress it, the Force’s primal urges overwhelmed Phoenix, causing it to become the malevolent Dark Phoenix. Due to the limitations of its physical form, Dark Phoenix hungered for more energy and transported itself to the star D’Bari, absorbing all the energy from it. As a result, the star turned supernova, annihilating one of its planets. Dark Phoenix destroyed a Shi’ar starship which had attacked it in retaliation for the D’Bari’s deaths, then returned to Earth where it was opposed by the X-Men and Professor Xavier. He reinforced Grey’s personality, allowing Phoenix to reject its cosmic power.
The Shi’ar still judged it necessary to obliterate Phoenix’s powers entirely, lest it become Dark Phoenix again. The X-Men fought the ruling in a trial by combat against members of the Shi’ar’s Imperial Guard in the Blue Area of Earth’s moon, but during the battle Phoenix reverted to Dark Phoenix. Realizing that it could never fully retain control, Phoenix acted as the real Grey would have. Before the eyes of a horrified Cyclops, it committed suicide by telekinetically triggering an energy cannon, disintegrating its mortal shell. Later reflecting on its folly, the Force sought to undo the damage it had done by returning the life-force it had taken from Grey. On its return to Earth, it sensed the astral form of the time-traveling Rachel Summers, the daughter of Earth-811's Jean Grey. After returning Grey’s missing life-force, which was instead received by Grey’s clone Madelyne Pryor, the Force followed Rachel back to the future of Earth-811. There, it revealed itself to Kate Pryde, who asked the Force to give Rachel a new lease on life. The Force agreed and took Rachel as its host, supercharging her ability to time travel and causing her to physically travel back in time to Earth-616. Rachel was unaware that she hosted the Force’s essence until she took on the codename Phoenix. The Force then bonded to her fully and ensured that Rachel could only access as much power as she could safely wield, having learned from its past mistake. Adventuring with Rachel and the British super-team Excalibur for a time, the Force ultimately encountered Necrom’s Anti-Phoenix. After a cataclysmic battle, Rachel allowed Necrom to possess the Force, gambling that its infinite power would be too much for him. Necrom’s physical form exploded, and Rachel was destroyed in the blast. The Force gathered her shattered psyche and restored her body, promising Excalibur to protect and nurture her until she fully healed. Through Rachel’s eyes, the Force was able to experience the simple beauty of existence. In space, it encountered the world-devourer Galactus, who revealed to the Force the nature of its existence. Tormented with the knowledge that its desire to explore humanity had prevented generations of life from being born, the Force fled. Rachel reentered the timestream and emerged some 2,000 years into the future of Earth-4935. There, she encountered Diamanda Nero, daughter of that era’s mutant despot Apocalypse, and, in order to defeat her, was forced to purge herself of the Force.
Free again, the Force traveled back into the past, drawn once again to Earth-616. En route, it was transported to the Ultraverse (Earth-93060) by a sentient alien starship that had crash-landed there eons ago. Buried deep within the Earth, the ship sought to reunite itself with its twin trapped within Earth’s sun, and intended to use the Force’s energy to power the recombination. Impaled on a lance of energy that linked the two ships, the Force fought back and managed to free itself, though not before the ship was able to bond them empathetically. Wounded, the Force sought out a host to protect it as it healed. Inhabiting the body of the super-strong hero Prime, the Force was opposed by the X-Men and Prime’s teammates in UltraForce. Exhausting Prime’s physical form, the Force found another host in Amber Hunt, who had previously been possessed by the ship’s essence. The heroes were able to free Hunt from the Force, after which they took the fight to the ship, severing its link to the Force. Seeking revenge, the Force attacked the ship, threatening the stability of the planet. The heroes were able to drive the Force into another portal, and it emerged four billion years in the past. Unleashing vast energies while transmigrating itself through time and space, the Force inadvertently (and ironically) caused the damage to the ship that forced it to crash-land to begin with.
The Force returned to Earth-616 once more and manifested itself within Jean Grey before she was seemingly killed by an electromagnetic pulse. This shattered the Force into billions of pieces. Incubating in the core of creation known as the White Hot Room, the Force was ripped back to reality by a Shi’ar device that forcibly reconstituted it. Injured, the Force fell to Earth and sought out Cyclops to use his mutant optic power to heal itself. To that end, it searched for Cyclops’ love Jean and, finding her dead, resurrected her to house its power once more. Opposed by the X-Men again, the Force was lured into possessing the body of Cyclops’ new love Emma Frost before Jean was able to reassert control. The Force realized that Jean was one of its missing pieces, its prime host, and so it merged with her fully. Returning to the White Hot Room, the Force set out to find its other pieces.