Phoenix com­mits sui­cide

Comic Heroes - - Feature -

Un­canny X-Men #137, Septem­ber 1980

What hap­pened? Ev­ery­one knows this one, of course: in one of the most cel­e­brated, in­flu­en­tial and con­stantly ref­er­enced sto­ry­lines in comics, orig­i­nal X-Men Jean Grey’s strug­gle with the awe­some and un­pre­dictable Phoenix power even­tu­ally turns this girl-next-door into a uni­verse-threat­en­ing monster. The “Dark Phoenix Saga” ended in space trial-by-com­bat, cli­max­ing when what re­mains of Jean en­gi­neer­ing her own death by hid­den sen­try gun.

Why was it shock­ing? Be­cause ev­ery­one bought into the sto­ry­line. Be­cause we all adored Jean. Be­cause the build-up was so en­thralling. And be­cause her death was all any­one could talk about at the 1980 con­ven­tion sea­son that im­me­di­ately fol­lowed the re­lease of this is­sue – sales went through the roof, and fan­dom was aflame with an­guish and anger. Back then you sim­ply didn’t kill off a ma­jor, suc­cess­ful su­per­hero – but they’d done it. The re­volv­ing door of comic book death be­gins here…

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