Jean Grey is one of my all-time-favorite comic book characters. She was Marvel Girl in the original X-Men and had powers of telekinesis that allowed her to move things with her mind, create invisible barriers with that mental force and similar fairly simple demonstrations of a super power.
Much later in the comic series, we learned that Professor X had put a psychic block on her powers and that she was really far more powerful with the ability to read minds, push thoughts into minds, fly with her telekinesis and so many other cool things. This made her a useful host for the cosmic entity of life and death known as the Phoenix.
These are the issues that cover key parts of the first story of the rise and fall of the Phoenix. Great material if you want to go back in a time machine and learn all about one of the most enduring characters and themes in the Marvel Universe.
We’re going to stroll along memory lane in this first section, introducing Jean Grey and covering the last three issues before she became Phoenix.
- The X-Men #1 - before the title was renamed “Uncanny X-Men,” this title started it all. First published September 10, 1963, it was co-created by artist Jack Kirby and writer Stan Lee, incidentally the creators of many of Marvel’s most famous icons. In issue #1, we meet the original team, Professor X and archenemy Magneto. Note for this issue and other comic books, my favorite online comic book shop is based in Ft Worth, Texas and they do a great job of packing and shipping quickly along with pricing fairly. At the time of this writing there is an auction item of X-Men #1 with flaws as low as $101. Click here for the a search of X-Men comic books - issue 1. By the way - Jean’s story starts on page 8 of this classic issue. Never mind the primitive (by today’s standards) art work. Remember, this was before society found it acceptable to draw every comic book female like a super vixen. If you want to see how Jean developed, here’s a great piece of Jean with Emma Frost (big thanks to the fanpop.com clubs “Femme Fatales Fan Art” group where I first spotted it and of course, the amazing artist JamieFayX at deviantART).
- The All-New, All-Different X-Men #98 - this is the beginning of transformation of Jean Grey into the Marvel Universe’s most-pivotal character. Just a few issues after the formation of the All-New, All-Different X-Men featuring Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, Thunderbird, Banshee, Sunfire and of course future break-out character Wolverine, this story brings us a return of the Sentinels. These mutant hunting robots are ready for action and all about ruining Christmas for the X-Men.
- The All-New, All-Different X-Men #99 - the anti-mutant hysteria moves to space as the Sentinels go hard after the team.
- X-Men #100 - the issue before Marvel Girl’s big change!
- The All-New, All-Different X-Men #101 - this is it. Enter: The Phoenix! Jean Grey saves everybody in this exciting issue where she debuts as The Phoenix in that sexy green costume.
- The All-New, All-Different X-Men #108 - there are plenty of great stories in between 101 and 108, but 108 brings back the Shi'ar Empire introduced in issue #97 and we discover the limitless powers of The Phoenix.
A word about the titles used for the comic books in the links: Marvel calls the titles by the last name they had before the numbering restarted or ended. I’m using the titles found on the cover of the books, although it could be said that these All-New… issues are simply titled “X-Men.” Check out the collected editions of books at Amazon.
There’s so much more in the Phoenix Saga. Many trade paperbacks, many issues to come, but this gets you to where Marvel Girl first becomes the Phoenix and should leave you a real taste for what’s to come.
Until next time,