(Dee’s note – We continue with the Memorable Moments of Marvel Women series! Welcome Kara, today’s guest blogger. If you want to write up a moment, email us at email@example.com. We’d love the help, there are six still available! We’ll be showcasing a moment a day, and we’ll have the polls to pick the final five up the first week of March.)
. . . and in 1961 the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created “The Fantastic Four” and saw that it was good. In seeing that it was good, on the third year they created something that had never been seen before: “The X-Men”. The X-Men were a group of five teenagers, who unlike the comic-book characters before them, were unique because they were born with their powers. They were mutants. And one of their number, Jean Grey, or Marvel Girl, was a powerful telepath/telekinetic. Jean’s predecessors included Sue Storm/”The Invisible Girl” and Janet van Dyne/”The Wasp”, who grew into great female characters to be certain, but at their creation they did not stand as their own women. Both were little more than girlfriends for more dominant male characters (Mr. Fantastic and Ant-Man, respectively). But Jean, Jean was her own woman. Yes she ended up as Cyclops’ girlfriend, but Jean did not need that to give her status. This was never more evident than when Jean used her powers to save her team-mates lives, returning them to Earth from space in an unshielded spacecraft. She fully expected to be killed, but emerged as something new……she had become the Phoenix! A goddess-like creature of almost pure thought (ignore what this creature was retroactively turned into). The Phoenix was a hero, but a hero suffering from being almost all powerful. This was exploited by Mastermind of the Hellfire Club who managed to twist the Phoenix into the Dark Phoenix, a creature that destroyed an entire solar system, killing all it’s inhabitants. The whole of the X-Men were unable to defeat the Dark Phoenix, even Wolverine could not bring himself to kill her when given a momentary chance. Professor X was finally able to restore Jean Grey’s personality, but not before the alien Shi’ar race arrived to execute her for the murder of a solar system. The X-men fought for their team-mate, but, during the battle, her concern for Cyclops’ safety reverted Jean momentarily back to the Dark Phoenix. She fought her way back from her dark impulses, but knowing she could not maintain her composure she chose to kill herself by firing a Shi’ar canon at herself.
And thus, Jean Grey died as a hero in the arms of her true love Cyclops’. Much can be made of the fact that “The Dark Phoenix Saga” is perhaps the most celebrated Marvel tale ever told. Or that editorial changed the ending because they could not allow a mass murderer to remain on the X-Men. Or that at it’s time, the death of a hero was no where near as prevalent as it remains today. For me, the important fact is that Professor X, Wolverine, Cyclops, Colossus, Magneto, not even the whole of the advanced alien Shi’ar………none could defeat the Dark Phoenix. Only Jean Grey could.