PHOENIX IV: Page 3 of 11

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12th April 2007

Before long, though, the X-Men reunited and they wouldn’t let themselves be bothered by Duncan’s order anymore. It soon became a moot point anyway, as when the fleet of the alien Z’Nox reached Earth, Professor Xavier came out of hiding and revealed himself to be alive. Jean was rather relieved that she could stop pretending now. [X-Men (1st series) #65] Together with their mentor, the X-Men succeeded in driving the aliens away from Earth and later they teamed up with the Fantastic Four to end the Z’Nox threat once and for all. For the X-Men, it was the first time they were in space and, during this flight in the Fantastic Four’s ship, Jean couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched. Indeed, she was scanned by a universal Force. [X-Men Hidden Years #8-9]

This Force, which later came to be known as the Phoenix Force, is as old as the universe itself and represents the sum and substance of all that lives. Psi-talents of the highest order are capable to tap into this Force and draw from its power and, every once in a while, the Force chooses an avatar through which to act. Apparently, it first became aware of Jean when she risked her own life while holding on to the dying Annie’s mind, and it sensed a kindred spirit in her as they both shared a devoted passion for life and creation. [Classic X-Men #43] Still, Jean was far from having reached her full potential yet, and so the Force let her be.

After their safe return to Earth, Marvel Girl continued to have many adventures with the X-Men and, along the way, she and Scott deepened their relationship. Several months later, though, the X-Men were captured by the mutant island Krakoa, and Xavier quickly recruited a new team, who managed to rescue them. In the aftermath of that crisis, with their now being new members to carry on the dream, Marvel Girl and most of the other senior X-Men decided to leave and pursue some other interests of theirs. One of Jean‘s reasons was that she involuntarily found herself attracted to new member, Wolverine, and she feared that she would yield if she stayed near him much longer. Even though she hoped that Scott would leave together with her, he opted to stay and train the new group. [Giant Size X-Men #1, Classic X-Men #1, X-Men (1st series) #94]

She moved to New York, where she ended up sharing an apartment with Misty Knight, a private investigator. Still, she kept in touch with the X-Men and she became a very good friend of Storm, while helping her to adjust to civilized life in New York. For example, Storm had no idea why there was any need for clothing if one didn’t feel cold, as she

had lived for her entire adult life in the wild savannah of Kenya, far from populated areas. It was during one of their shopping tours that Jean learned of Storm’s severe claustrophobia when the two women were chasing a thief into a subway station. Naturally, Jean offered her support. [Classic X-Men #2]

While out on a date with Scott, Jean was captured by a new version of Sentinels and taken to their orbital station. The X-Men had no means to get there on their own, but Dr. Corbeau, a friend of Professor Xavier, was in charge of the United Nation’s Starcore project. He quickly organized a space shuttle and piloted the mutants to the Sentinel inhabited base in Earth’s orbit. While they managed to free Jean and several other X-Men that had been abducted, the flight back turned out to be problematic. The shuttle’s shielding was damaged; yet they had to pass cosmic radiation and solar flare activity. Jean reasoned that she alone stood a chance to survive by trying to filter out the radiation with a telekinetic shield; therefore she telepathically absorbed Corbeau’s knowledge to fly the ship and ordered everyone else into the life-cell, a specially shielded chamber in the rear area of the craft. However, the strain of piloting the shuttle and keeping her telekinetic powers up at full force was too strenuous, and ten minutes into the flight radiation began to pass through. [X-Men (1st series) #98-100]

As her body was already beginning to decompose, she was approached by the Phoenix Force. At first, Jean thought she was hallucinating but, after the Force assumed the shape of a humanoid entity to make it easier for Jean to communicate with her, it explained that it heard Jean cry out for aid. The Force made Jean understand that she was barely hanging onto by force of will alone, her mind apparently refusing to acknowledge the full extent of her injuries for its own protection. It also tried to explain its nature to Jean, before offering to help her. That help came with a price, though, as the Force wanted to become one with her in order to explore humanity. Left with no other choice to ensure the save return of the other X-Men, Jean accepted. As they touched, the Force duplicated Jean’s body, infused it with some of her essence and life-force and merged with it. Instantly, the Force was overwhelmed and intoxicated with the rich experiences of life, friendship and love.

Unprepared to properly deal with the human emotions it had wanted to study, the Force denied its own consciousness and forced itself into believing to be the real Jean Grey. As such, she assumed to have undergone a literal rebirth, and she chose “Phoenix” as her new name. Looking at the original Jean‘s near-dead body in front of her, she became confused, however.

Apparently, Jean’s doubts about the Force’s offer had caused another part of her soul and essence to refuse the Force’s gift and continued to fight on her own terms. Not quite sure what to make of that, Phoenix decided to place the body in a healing cocoon, so that the physical damages could be repaired. [Classic X-Men #8, Excalibur (1st series) #52]

The shuttle crashed down in Jamaica Bay, and all of the passengers in the back made it safely out. However, the X-Men were in for a surprise when Phoenix dramatically rose out of the wreckage before passing out. Even though she was wearing a different costume and, by all rights, shouldn’t have been able to survive, the X-Men had no reason to believe that she wasn’t the real (and only) Jean Grey. While the cocoon containing Jean’s body sank to the bottom of the bay, the X-Men rushed Phoenix to a hospital, only to be given a clean bill of health. [X-Men (1st series) #101]

After being released from hospital, Phoenix continued living Jean’s life, so she returned to the apartment she shared with Misty Knight. Shortly afterwards, she invited her parents and Professor Xavier for lunch, but the happy meeting ended up being interrupted by Firelord, a former herald of Galactus. To protect those she loved, Jean had no choice but to reveal herself as a mutant in front of her parents. During the battle with Firelord, Jean was as surprised as he that she managed to stand her ground against a cosmically powered herald. Obviously, she displayed a much higher power level compared to her days as “plain“ Marvel Girl. For all her power, though, she realized too late that Firelord merely provided a distraction for another villain kidnapping Lilandra, an alien Shi’ar princess, whom Xavier had just befriended. Fortunately, Phoenix was able to re-activate the stargate that the Shi’ar agent had used, so that the X-Men could follow him.

In the far outskirts of the Shi’ar galaxy, the X-Men rescued Lilandra, only to learn of a much bigger threat. In a mad quest for power, Lilandra’s brother, Shi’ar emperor D’Ken, had tampered with and eventually damaged the structure of the M’Kraan crystal, a nexus to all realities. Entering that crystal, the X-Men found themselves in a beautiful but also unsettling alien city, with a glowing energy sphere in its center. That energy sphere contained neutron galaxy that, if the lattice remained damaged, would draw in all of the universes mass into a big bang, to create a new universe. Phoenix realized that she could

use her vast energies to heal the sphere, but feared that she would be fully absorbed by it. To anchor herself to humanity she linked with the lifeforces of Storm and Corsair of the Starjammers right before she flying into the sphere and engulfing it by a bird shaped-energy signature. This Phoenix effect kept growing and growing, even dwarfing the whole solar system, until finally the impossible task was accomplished. During the process, Phoenix touched the life-forces of the whole universe. [X-Men (1st series) #105, 107-108]