Every comic book collector and reader worth his or her salt knows that Marvel Comics' X-Men is the biggest selling title in comic book publishing.
But that was not
always the case.
When Jack Kirby and
Stan Lee introduced Marvel Comics' X-Men
in their own title in the 1960s sales were good-but not great.
After about 60
issues the sales were plummeting and in a last ditch effort to save the title Marvel
Comics put superstars penciller Neal Adams and writer Roy Thomas on the title.
Granted their run
was phenomenal but it did not translate to higher sales numbers so the title
was cancelled. At least as far as new
stories were concerned. It struggled on
for about 20 more issues consisting of reprints and finally bit the dust.
In the mid-1970s
the All-New, All Different X-Men were introduced in the revived title and while
sales weren't stellar they were good enough to eventually push the title from a
bi-monthly to a monthly print schedule-in no small part due to the scripts and
art of Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum.
After completing an
assignment in space the X-Men are aboard a damaged and plummeting space
shuttle. It crashes into a body of
water and everyone survives-except Jean Grey.
Or so it was supposed.
introduced a character whose influence can still be felt today throughout the
Marvel Comics Universe.
Having assumed Jean
died in the crash the X-Men are startled and astonished when the water about
them begins bubbling and suddenly a green and yellow clad Jean Grey emerges in
a lightshow of energy proclaiming she is the Phoenix.
It was thought that
Jean's mutant abilities came to full fruition when the crash triggered some
sort of hidden power surge.
In later issues it
was revealed that Jean possessed the cosmic power of the Phoenix. Unfortunately the power soon corrupted her
and she became the Dark Phoenix, devourer of worlds.
The first appearance
of the Phoenix would set in motion a decades long string of stories that
forever changed the Marvel Universe. The
Phoenix (Jean) would go on to become the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club and eventually
die sacrificing herself rather than turning into the ravenous and insatiable Dark
Later still it
would be revealed that the Phoenix wasn't Jean Grey but a being of immense power
who took on her appearance. Jean was
still alive in a protective cocoon at the bottom of body of water the space shuttle
crashed into and would be revived.
Jean's fate and
that of the Phoenix would be intermingled over the following years and the
power of the Phoenix would rival that of Galactus himself.
We've not seen the
last of the Phoenix or its dark manifestation and I dare say not the last of Jean