The Phoenix Saga!
(The Uncanny)X-Men #105 Phoenix Unleashed!
Classic X-Men #13 Lifesigns
So this is it ‘The Phoenix Saga,’ possibly one of the top five most well known X-Men stories ever done. We get a little cameo by Dave Cockrum and Chris Claremont, Firelord shows up for the first time here and we learn that Eric the Red’s real name is Davan Shakari, and some Shi’ar cruiser crew member named Mr. S’lar (obviously this is a nod to Star Trek because this was done 20+ years before Sylar of Heroes fame came around.) The additional pages don’t really add much to the plot this time. Logan is mad at Scott for ‘running away’ from Magneto. Lilandra is off being chased by her brother’s men in space. Charles is still having flashes of Lilandra, this time in front of Jean and she then telekinetically lifts him up the stairs to her apartment. First the X-Men fight Firelord and don’t fare too well against him, then he moves on to attack Charles, Jean, Misty and Jean’s parents. Phoenix takes over and blasts Firelord over twelve miles away from her apartment but can’t stop Eric the Red from building a stargate and taking Lilandra back into space. Jean uses the Phoenix Force to force the gate to reopen and the X-Men follow through, not knowing that Firelord has returned and is out for blood. The backup story I could have done without. Honestly it bored me, I know it was supposed to be about Jean’s first night out of the hospital, but I didn’t need to see her and Misty at the beach and rescuing a baby dolphin and Misty being attacked by a shark. I guess this story is supposed to take place before the events of the actual issue because by now Jean is off world with the other X-Men.
(The Uncanny)X-Men #106 Dark Shroud of the Past!
I’m going to be honest here (like I’d actually lie to you guys) I am not a fan of this issue at all and I think that is because of the placement of it. Sure the first page sort of continues the whole Firelord plot – as much as it can be wrapped up I guess; but the rest of the issue ends up being nothing more than Charles’ dreamscape. It almost feel like the entire issue (not counting the first few pages) belong back before the X-Men go to space to fight Steven Lang, not where it’s placed now. I like the idea of Charles’ mind being so stressed that it creates a war within itself, and that’s something that comes up in later plots for various reasons so it is a time tested thing, but it just doesn’t fit herer. And I don’t think I’m entirely wrong because in all the trade collections of this part of The Phoenix Saga this issue is almost always cut out entirely so it must not have been well liked or received back then.
(The Uncanny)X-Men #107 Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!
Classic X-Men #14 What Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of
Well with this issue we get the first appearances of Raza and Mam’selle Hepzibah (not sure where the whole ‘Mam’selle thing came from but to avoid all of the issues with spell check I almost feel like calling her ‘the cat lady’) it’s a little odd considering the rest of the Starjammers all showed up a few issues ago. There’s not that many of them so it’s weird to me to introduce them all at different times – oh we get another member of the Starjammers ‘Waldo’ in the additional pages. We see the Imperial Guard for the first time, while not all are named and not all of them are as prominent as the others we officially meet: Astra, Fang, Gladiator, Hobgoblin, Impulse, Mentor, Smasher, Starbolt and Tempest and we see that D’Ken has a creature that he uses called the Soul Drinker that he plans on sacrificing his sister Lilandra to. Phoenix discovers that Corsair is really Scott’s father – it’s understandable that she doesn’t tell Scott since the world is literally ending but it feels odd that she waits as long as she does (it ends up being like 40 issues later) that Scott finds out. We see a lot of flashbacks by way of Lilandra telling her tale which go over some recent things like Eric using Havok, Polaris, Juggernaut, Black Tom, Magneto and Firelord against the X-Men but we find out that the first time Lilandra and Charles mind-locked was back when the X-Men were fighting the Z’nox- so it seems like she’s been traveling trying to make her way to Earth for quite some time. This is supported by the back up feature that shows D’Ken declaring Lilandra an enemy of the Shi’ar Empire – in a moment of mercy he offers her banishment like their sister Deathbird but she doesn’t show up for a long time still so her name was almost included just to make it look like she didn’t randomly pop out of nowhere. I like the journey of Lilandra but it kind of ruins it by having her try to get to Earth for so long yet it only takes a few seconds for them to go from Earth to the Shi-ar Homeworld.
(The Uncanny)X-Men #108 Armageddon Now!
Classic X-Men #15 Starjammers Aloft
The M’Kraan Crystal is self destructing due to D’Ken’s actions and the X-Men, D’Ken and the Starjammers are all pulled within the crystal (I’m pretty sure the Imperial Guard is too, but there’s a whole lot going on at the moment and there’s a massive amount of characters floating around so it’s hard to keep track of everybody. Jean realizes that she has the power to seal off the crystal and she attempts to do so but it turns out she isn’t strong enough and needs Corsair and Ororo’s help to anchor her which kind of implies that Ororo is also now aware of the fact that Corsair is Scott’s father. The additional pages show Jean’s struggle to seal off the crystal and that the Phoenix Force will give her the ability to do so but it will open her up to a great evil. Granted this turns out to be Dark Phoenix and Jean rejects her, but still manages to obtain enough power to seal off the crystal. The X-Men return to Earth and the fact that Firelord, Misty and Charles are all still on the roof of Jean’s apartment it could be argued that they’ve only been gone a few seconds, even though it feels like it’s been a lot longer. Lilandra has now been exiled to Earth while she waits to be cleared of her ‘traitor to the Empire’ status so she can rule in D’Ken’s place now that his evil and insanity has been exposed. The back up feature shows us what happened with Christopher and his wife Katherine when they were taken by D’Ken. This ends up being retconned down the line so it’s like oh well- but at least we got Katherine in the real story. We see how Corsair meets the Starjammers and his joining of them. It was alright, but I don’t really know what to say about it.
Marvel Team-Up Annual #1 The Lords of Light and Darkness!
This is an odd one because it takes place while Jean is still Phoenix, but Charles is still having his nightmares of the alien in the armor so it feels like this issue is supposed to take place before Jean becomes Phoenix, yet the costume she wears and her power level imply that it happens after they return from the Shi’ar Homeworld. The odd thing is Peter Parker knows the identity of the old X-Men – which to me makes no sense. This story doesn’t really fall within any main plot considering all the stuff going on in their respective books, and we see a bunch of characters that pretty much never show up ever again. I really don’t know what to make of it, it’s a good story I guess, but it really doesn’t fit where they say it does. I get the idea of these powerful forces trying to use the Phoenix Force in order to achieve their goals, I mean it’s happened many times so it’s an easy go to thing but this issue overall just felt really weird to me. I can’t even say that I had a good time reading it, but I do know that it’s one of those issues that I’ll never read again- I’ve done it so lets move on.
(The Uncanny)X-Men #105 Phoenix Unleashed!: B
Classic X-Men #13 Lifesigns: D
(The Uncanny)X-Men #106 Dark Shroud of the Past!: D
(The Uncanny)X-Men #107 Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!: B
Classic X-Men #14 What Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of: C
(The Uncanny)X-Men #108 Armageddon Now!: B
Classic X-Men #15 Starjammers Aloft: C
Marvel Team-Up Annual #1 The Lords of Light and Darkness!: C