X-Men #136 (1980, August)
Let’s keep it moving along. Today’s story is titled “Child of Light and Darkness!”
We start with Lilandra and her ministers reviewing Dark Phoenix destroying a star and a battle cruiser. Lilandra says Phoenix must be destroyed. Back on Earth, President Carter calls the Avengers, and is eventually answered by Jarvis. Jarvis isn’t sure where the Beast is. But we know he’s back with the X-Men, finishing up a mnemonic scrambler. Storm tries to comfort Scott, but he feels he has to stay in control until Jean’s dealt with, or else break. Colossus, Nightcrawler and Wolverine are trying to vent their frustrations in the Danger Room, but it doesn’t really work. It’s all really sad, and very effective.
Dark Phoenix finally returns to Earth, landing in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York, and to her childhood home. She sees her family, but can’t block out their thoughts, and their instinctive fear angers her. A fog outside gets Phoenix’s attention, and she flies out to deal with the X-Men. As soon as she’s outside, Nightcrawler slaps the scrambler on her. It does its job, mostly, and keeps her from bringing her full power. But she still fights back, and is burning out the scrambler. Wolverine attacks her with killer intent, but when Jean begs him to do it, he hesitates. Too bad. She burns out the scrambler, and holds them all telekinetically. As she contemplates what to do, Scott appears.
He talks to her. he’s even getting through to her. Which, of course, is when Xavier has to show up and almost screw the whole thing up with another attack. He telepathically assaults her. They have a psi-duel, as Xavier tries to contain Dark Phoenix within a series of psychic circuit breakers. He ultimately succeeds, with the help of Jean herself fighting back against her dark side. Scott rushes over to the now-naked Jean, and thinks about loving her forever. Jean picks up the thoughts, and says they sound like a proposal. She says yes.
And then they all disappear.
This issue marked Claremont’s fifth anniversary on the book. Almost a shame, then, that it’s the next issue that finishes the Dark Phoenix Saga. I suppose it just would’ve been too perfect for the finale to come the same month as the anniversary. Regardless, he and Byrne continued to kill on this book. Everyone’s conflicted feelings came through. The scene between Scott and Dark Phoenix was excellent. His appeal to her sense of love was very sweet, and the fact that he was getting through to her makes Xavier’s subsequent attack more shocking, and questionable. And even though Jean seems to be back to normal, we know she was to deal with the consequences of wiping out a star system, and killing billions in the process. And at this point, there’s a sense that there’s only one way this story can truly end. Even if we don’t really want to believe it.