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X-Men #135 (1980, July)

March 19, 2013

We’re hitting the big time here, so let’s get into it, with “Dark Phoenix.”

Dark Phoenix

An homage to the cover of X-Men #56, except Dark Phoenix is even more terrifying than the Living Monolith.

Dark Phoenix destroys their plane, making the X-Men fall. They all manage to get down safely, but Phoenix goes after them again. Colossus grabs a tree to hit her, but she changes him back to human, so he can’t hold up the tree. Wolverine rushes over to help, but she turns the tree to solid gold, so both end up pinned. Storm hits her with lightning, but gets hit with a psychic blast in turn. Phoenix then turns to Cyclops and Nightcrawler, and deals with them.

Back at the Hellfire Club, Leland is being loaded onto an ambulance while Shaw and Senator Robert Kelly, a presidential candidate, watch. Shaw suggests to Kelly bringing back the Sentinel program, when they see the flash of Dark Phoenix leaving Central Park. Reed Richards, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer all sense her power and danger.

She passes an Avengers Quinjet, being flown by Beast. He lands and helps out the X-Men. Out in New Mexico, Xavier is talking to Moira by vid-screen, about Jean’s outburst of power. Xavier explains to Angel that Jean’s absolute power has corrupted her absolutely, and they need to return to New York.

Out in space, Dark Phoenix opens a star-gate, taking her to a whole other system (the narration says galaxy). The journey takes a lot out of her, though, so she needs to feed. She dives into a star, and consumes it in a matter of minutes. In the process, she wipes out the star system, including the people living on the fourth planet, the D’Bari. The system’s destruction is seen by a Shi’ar Imperial Battle Cruiser. The captain of the ship orders an attack on Dark Phoenix. It goes about as well as you’d expect an attack on a being that just devoured a star to go. The captain calls Lilandra to warn her of what’s happened, but plans to go down fighting. Lilandra prepares to deal with the threat.

Back on Earth, the X-Men are a little mopey. Scott’s brooding, Wolverine’s saying they realistically have no chance in a rematch, Beast is trying to say he has some ideas for gadgets that might help. Then Scott says Jean’s returning to Earth.

I’m getting a little tired of just repeating the same praise all the time. But how can I not? It’s all just so fantastic. Fantastic Four had “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” captioned on the cover, but that was completely wrong. X-Men was, without question, the best comic at the time. Even today, it stands up. Almost certainly without intending to, Claremont and Byrne managed to avoid making the story feel rooted in any specific era. It could just as easily be today as 1980. The characters have a wonderful humanity to them, even the aliens, such as the Shi’ar soldiers dying with courage. Byrne’s art, of course, is excellent. The D’Bari are a bit odd-looking. Though this actually isn’t the first they’ve shown up. A D’Bari attacked the Avengers in Avengers #4, back in March 1964. So it was Jack Kirby who came up with the broccoli aliens, and I guess Byrne must have just decided to toss them in for fun, since no one had used them since then. Regardless, their death is chilling. Claremont describes it in his usual flowery way, which just makes it that much more horrifying.

So, yeah. Great issue. Obviously.

  1. Actually, there was an issue of Sensational She Hulk that referenced the broccoli people. Of course, it probably wouldn’t surprise you that it was one of the issues that Byrne wrote. But yeah, The Dark Phoenix Saga is amazing.

    • The She-Hulk reference came much later, though. It had been 16 years since their debut that they got wiped out here.

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