Classic X-Men #8

Issue Date: 
April 1987
Story Title: 
<BR>Greater Love Hath No X-Man ... (1st story)<BR>Phoenix (2nd story)

Additional pages of First Story :
Chris Claremont (writer), James Sherman (penciler), Sam Grainger (inker), Paul Becton (colorist), Rick Parker (letterer), Ann Nocenti (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)
Second Story :
Chris Claremont (writer), John Bolton (artist), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Ann Nocenti (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

First Story :
The main story is a reprint of X-Men (1st series) #100.
Second Story :
During the fateful shuttle flight back to earth, radiation passes through Jean’s telekinetic shield and is killing her. On the brink of death, a presence appears before her. The energy form introduces itself as a universal force, the sum and substance of all that lives. It offers Jean to help and save the X-Men but not without a price – they have to merge. Jean fears that she would not be able to handle the force's vast power, but to save the X-Men she’d make a deal with the devil. They touch hands, and the energy form takes on Jean’s features, and her soul, essence and life-force. However some part remains in Jean‘s dying body, refusing the presence‘s offer and still fighting on ist own terms. The merged being encases her in a protective cocoon to heal from the massive radiation injuries and then takes on the name and costume of Phoenix.

Full Summary: 

First Story :
This main story reprints X-Men (1st series) #100, however there are two additional pages :
One page is set immediatly after the X-Men find out they are actually fighting robot doubles of the original team. Steven Lang is alerted by one of his technicians that the battle endangers the station’s safety. There are already multiple hull breaches and environmental support is about to fail. Lang doesn’t care, he can think of nothing but the death of the hated X-Men, so he says that if the staff don’t believe in him and his cause they should abandon the station, and he will finish the mutants himself. Behind Lang, Cyclops is held in a nega-tube, but with the station’s power grid fluctuating, he can use his optic beam to break out.
The next additional scene takes place right after Jean scrambles the controls of Land’s craft making hgim crash into the large screen. Lang is surprised to be alive and unharmned amond the debris, but he was protected by Jean Grey’s telekinetic shield. She says that he can’t wait; there will be no jury on earth that will convict him for his heroic deeds. Suddenly parts of the station start to explode and bury Lang, Scott and Jean. The other X-Men dig them out, but Lang is nowhere to be found.
Second Story :
Open space, millions of stars and planets. A presence announces that “All that is ... I am“. The presence wasborn with the first fire and shall remain until the last spark of life is extinguished. The attention shifts to earth’s orbit where a shuttle escapes from a damaged space station. This is the reason for the presence to be here.
In the life-cell in the shuttle’s back area, Scott has awakened. He wants to join Jean in the cockpit, but the other X-Men hold him back. Jean knew that there were next to no chances to survive this, but opening the doors now would mean that her sacrifice was in vain as they all would be dead. Peter Corbeau says that they still have about twenty minutes before they reach earth, but considering the radiation levels, it’s a miracle that Jean survived this long.
Jean pilots the craft while trying to shield out the solar radiation. She also telepathically checks on the passengers‘ condition and fins that all are well, only Scott is very upset. The strain is too great and suddenly the radiation passes through. In pain, Jean shouts Scott’s name. She is bleeding inside and out, cellular bonds dissolve, and her hair starts to fall out. Jean is on the brink of dying and thinks that it isn’t fair. A blinding light appears in the cabin, Jean wonders if she is hallucinating. She no longer feels any pain, and refuses to give up and die, as her friends depend on her.
The light forms into a figure. It tells Jean not to be afraid, and introduces itself as “the sum and substance of life and hopes and dreams“. It says that it heard Jean Grey crying out for aid and it answered. Jean thinks she is going crazy, but the enrgy form goes on, asking how the fragile human can endure and Jean’s simplye answer is “I must !“. The presence finds the answer itself, Jean is pushing herself to save the X-Men, especially her lover Scott. Jean asks how it can know her innermost secrets, and the the energy form, now in a female body of light, answers that it’s consciousneess and it’s abilty to communicate on this plane of existence are derived from Jean. She asks if that means it is part of her imagination, but the energy woman explains that imagination is nothing else than the ability to conceive that which is beyond reality. Jean recognizes the energy woman looking more and more like herself and she asks why. It answeres that Jean’s mind is protecting itself and doesn’t acknowledge the full extent of her injuries, but Jean is a lot closer to transition than she knows. Jean understands, she is not dying, but already dead, only barely hanging on by force of will alone.
The presence makes Jean an offer. It grants her her wish, but not without a price. Jean wants to know what the price is and theenergy form says that they will have to become one, Jean’s humanity coupled with it’s power, and bonded by passion and love. However she also warns that the fire camn be hard to control. Jean thinks that she might not be able to hande so much power and is afraid. If the choice were only for her alone, she would turn the offer down, but to save the X-Men she is willing to dance with the devil himself. Jean and the energy woman link hands, and the presence, now fully looking like Jean, states “I’m alive, more so than ever before – this is fantastic“.
She marvels about the many sensations she feels as she suddenly becomes aware of the decaiyng body at her feet. Surprised she say : “Is this me ? I didn’t think there’d be a body“ Examining it, she finds that s bright spark of life still resides in Jean’s body, some stubborn piece of the soul that is still fighting on ist own terms, refusing the gift that was offered. She doesn’t known what to make of it, but encases the body in a protective cocoon to heal, as a possible second chance in case things go wrong. She then states : “Forgive me X-Men, I am no longer the woman you knew ! I am fire, the spirit and soul of life incarnate ! Now and forever – I am Phoenix“, and transforms into costume.

Characters Involved: 

First Story
no additional characters that weren’t already seen in X-Men #100
Second Story :
Banshee, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine, Professor Charles Xavier (all X-Men)
Marvel Girl ( former X-Man)
Dr. Peter Corbeau
The Force
Phoenix II

Story Notes: 

The issue contains a pin-up by Dave Cockrum, showing the X-Men’s portraits.
First Story :
The first additional page contains an art error. While Lang is talking with the technician, the battle is seen on the viewscreen. Among the combatants is the robot Marvel Girl, despite the fact that she was destroyed before.
The original story in #100 made it look like Jean murdering Steven Lang as she crashes his craft into the big screen. The additional page deals with this as Lang is alive and well after the crash, but then lost in an explosion.
Second Story :
In Uncanny X-Men #101 Phoenix will rise from the shuttle and take Jean’s place among the X-Men, while off-panel the cocoon sinks down to the bottom of Jamaica Bay, where it will be found in Avengers #263.
Excalibur #52 explains that Phoenix was so impressed and overwhelmed by the variety and deepness of human emotions that she instantly forced herself into totally believing to be the real Jean.
Parts of the events in the shuttle were already shown in flashbacks of Fantastic Four #286, they even use (nearly) identical dialogue.
Of course, originally Jean was meant to have simply become Phoenix, but in 1986, Marvel wanted Jean to be alive to complete the original X-Men line-up fort the new title X-Factor. They could simply bring back Phoenix as this would have meant to have a 5-billion mass murderer on the team, so they retconned it that the real Jean Grey had never become Phoenix. Still Phoenix had Jean’s soul, essence and life-force, and it was Jean‘s humanity that made the sacrifice on the moon (Uncanny X-Men #137). Jean even said that in Phoenix‘ place she probably would have made the same choices and mistakes.

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