Even though X-Men #101 came out a couple months after the USA celebrated its 200 year anniversary it was a good ten years before I laid eyes on the cover. It was another couple decades before I finally purchased my own. However I was first introduced to the Phoenix in the Dark Phoenix trade paperback in the eighties. Marvel tried to imitate this creature, this being, this force of the cosmos. Sometimes they succeeded; most times they failed.
To me issues #129 through #137 became the pivotal comic book story. The world of the X-men became slightly larger and more magical after reading this. The Uncanny X-Men became my favorite series along with the New Mutants. During these issues the Phoenix became the second cosmic entity I was introduced to (the first was the Beyonder) and she was defeated only because she defeated herself.
At the time it was hard to separate Jean Grey and the Phoenix. Weren’t they the same? It was years before Marvel added to the mythos. As far as characters that die, Jean Grey had been dead for five years between X-men #137 and Fantastic Four #286, which is the longest for any Marvel character (not a fact). The Human Torch came back after a year, Cable was back even quicker. In fact the only time a character should be worried about death is in the ultimate universe where dead seems to mean dead, (SPOILER: This was written before Ultimate X-Men #6 hit the stands) unless you are Uncle Ben Parker.
It was originally thought that Jean Grey would never rise again. Jim Shooter felt unless you could show that Jean Grey was not guilty of killing the entire star system of D’Bari (over 5 billion beings) he did not want her to return from the ashes. And if it wasn’t for Kurt Busiek, she would have ever returned. Avengers #263; Fantastic Four #286 brought back Jean Grey. These two issues explained what happened, and it was done very well. At the end of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards made a call reuniting the original X-men together bringing about X-Factor #1, which also ended the New Defenders with issue #152.
On the covers of the aforementioned comic books (Avengers #263 and FF #286) in the upper left hand corner was the teaser of X-Factor #1 (kind of like the teaser in Action Comics #12 telling about the Batman, or so I have heard). I think this was the first “new mutant’s” team book since the New Mutants in 1982. Jean Grey was once again reunited with Scott “the still in love with Jean but married to Madeline” Summers. With the help of Cameron Hodge (a future villain) the original team formed their own group delighting fans.
In issue #1 X-Factor went throughout the world rescuing mutants while disguised as a team of mutant hunters. Their first “victim” was Rusty Collins. They would continue posing as mutant hunters and as a team of mutants themselves. Over the following months they found and fought Apocalypse and Warren Worthington III had his wings clipped. X-Factor changed over the years and Jean along with the original members became X-Men again. Eventually Jean died…again. So, I wonder, what is following Richard Rider through the universe. Is it Jean Grey once more, or is it something worse?
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