Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #174

Issue Date: 
November 1983
Story Title: 

Chris Claremont (writer), Paul Smith (Penciler), Bob Wiacek (Inker),Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Glynis Wein (colorist), Louise Jones (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in chief)

Brief Description: 

Cyclops shows Madelyne the view from the Starjammer and, despite his doubts about her proposes. Later, though, a snapshot of Jean Grey – played into his hands by Mastermind – reawakenes his doubts, causing him to ask Madelyne whether she is Phoenix reborn. Angrily, she hits him hard enough to know his glasses off. To his shock, ater he finds his glasses again Cyclops is faced by Dark Phoenix, who blasts him. In the meantime, the Starjammers have decided to leave soon to fight for Lilandra against Deathbird, accompanied by their newest member, Binary. Kitty shows Colossus a new trick with her powers and both of them share a kiss. In Japan, Wolverine demands an explanation from Mariko for aborting their wedding. After she once more insults him, he hands her back the clan’s honor sword, which she once gave him.

Full Summary: 

Aboard one of the Starjammer’s observation platforms, Cyclops and Madelyn Pryor are watching an Earthrise – Madelyne is so overwhelmed by the beauty that she cries. Scott tells her she is as beautiful and they kiss. The tender moment is interrupted by Scott’s father Corsair and his lover, Hepzibah, who teases the couple and tells them it would be a shame to quit on their account. Madelyne gushes about the ship, telling the others that she’s been around planes all her life, fantasizing about soaring to the stars. This ship is a dream comes true. Corsair gallantly offers her both his arm and the nickel tour.

A little behind the others, Scott tells Hepzibah that Madelyne is his dream comes true. Why does she hear doubt in his voice then, Hepzibah wants to know. Talking about love is easy. It’s harder to share blood, to be willing to die for one’s love as Corsair long ago did for her. What does she mean? Scott asks. His father isn’t dead. But he and she both came close, Hepzibah replies. They forged bonds that will never break. She hopes he will do the same with Madelyne.

Corsair introduces the rest of the crew to Madelyne, including their newest member, Binary, AKA Carol Danvers. Scott cautiously tells Carol that he heard about her scrap with the X-Men. Carol is a lot more relaxed about that now. Xavier did what he though was right. It’s history. Like Madelyne, she’s always wanted to roam the galaxies. Now, she has the chance. Plus, there’s no place left for her on Earth, no one she truly cares for. Deep space is where Binary was born. There she’ll make her home.

When are they going to leave, Scott asks. Fairly soon. Corsair regrets and he can’t say when or even if they’ll be back. Sometime ago, Scott mentioned coming with them. Is he still interested? Madelyne looks shocked and glances inquisitively at Scott. It’s the first time she’s heard about this. Scott replies that he doesn’t know.

At that moment, in the Starship’s infirmary, Lilandra is running Xavier through another series of tests trying to find out why the legs of his newly-cloned body do not work. It is ironic that the strongest mind on Earth should be laid low by a psychosomatic pain whenever he walks, Xavier muses. And the pain is so severe it disrupts his PSI-powers; it makes him feel helpless. If it’s any consolation, Lilandra announces after checking the test results, the final scan is comfirming her suspicions – Charles’ problem is physical in origin and she believes it can be corrected. She wishes she could stand beside him on that happy day. Xavier asks what’s wrong. They have received further word from Shi’ar, Lil replies. Since her sister, Deathbird, seized the throne, civil war now seems inevitable. Her sister is mad and Lil cannot leave the empire in her hands or abandon those who have taken up arms against Deathbird for her. She has to return soon. What are her chances of victory, Charles asks. If he can walk, then her rebellion can surely succeed, she replies and asks him to accompany her. He, in turn, asks her to stay. Both of them realize they cannot stay with the other, due to their duties. Both of them find it heartbreaking.

In addition to his duties to the X-Men and New Mutants, Xavier is worried about Scott and Madelyne. Her resemblance to Jean Grey is uncanny. Hasn’t Xavier scanned her mind to learn the truth, Lil asks. Madelyne is one of the rare brains whose thoughts are closed to him, he admits. A natural phenomenon, though unusual in a normal human. Scott’s thoughts, however, are an open book. He is deeply troubled and, even more, deeply in love. Lil gives voice to their fears: could Madelyne be Phoenix reborn? Who knows, Charles wonders. Could a love like theirs die? What is death to a being like Phoenix? But their physical likeness could also very well be a coincidence, compounded by their fears and fantasies. They both hope so. Scott deserves his happiness. As they deserve theirs, Lilandra adds and kisses Charles.

Back on the observation deck Scott Summer does what he does best – he broods. He loves Madelyne, she loves him, so why does he keep questioning her and their relationship? She’s the sole survivor of a plane-crash that occurred the precise instant Phoenix died on the Moon. From the moment they met, she seemed to know Scot better then he did himself. And, as near as he can discover, she has no traceable existence prior to that crash, but when he presses her about it, she changes the subject. Madelyne joins him, asking what he is thinking of. He looks so sad, as if he’d been talking to ghosts. She does that from time to time, trying to apologize to the people from her flight. Even though it wasn’t her fault, she blames herself. She can’t forget, but she also knows that she can’t let the dead control her life. The same goes for him…

And his ghosts, he asks? One in particular, she agrees. Not the usual sort of romantic rival… No real rival at all, he calms her. Regarding Corsair’s offer, she urges him not to hold back on her account. And if he asked her to come with him? he asks.

Northern Japan, the ancestral seat of Clan Yashida. Sword in hand, Wolverine makes a violent entrance. Mariko’s guards urge him to leave; he is not welcome. Mariko herself interrupts, ordering everybody to lay down their weapons. She will have no blood spilled in this place. They’ll see about that, Wolverine threatens. Mariko swore she loved him, why did she call off their wedding? Because he is not worthy, she says, repeating her insult from that day. That’s not good enough, he shouts. It’s the only answer the murderer of her father deserves, she replies calmly.

Wolverine raises the sword: Does she remember? She gave him the honor sword of clan Yashida: it is to be worn not by the lord of the clan, but by the samurai who best exemplified the spiritual and physical perfection they all strive for. If he is not worthy of her, he is not worthy of it. With those words, he impales the sword into the ground. Mariko calmly asks her half-brother – the Silver Samurai, who recently tried to kill her – to take the blade and return it to its proper place. As Harada takes the blade, he tells Wolverine that he has won. His past transgressions are forgiven and Mariko has named him her heir. Wolverine has nothing – is nothing. Mariko once more addresses Wolverine, telling him her love is for a man, not a beast clad in human form. With that, she orders him to leave her sight and her lands forever.

Back at Xavier’s, Kitty Pryde is sneaking a break from her afternoon studies and is engrossed in the latest Star Wars comic. She decides the book is so great she has to show it to Peter, much to Lockheed’s jealousy. Kitty comes into Peter’s room, despite his protests that he wants to be left alone. He’s frustrated over his latest painting. No matter how hard he tries, he doesn’t manage to convey his feelings onto canvas. Kitty decides he needs a change of scenery over his protests and drags him out of his room, telling him they’ll go upstairs to Ororo’s attic. She has something important to show him.

Teasing her, he finally accedes and closes his eyes as she orders him to. Kitty jumps up into his arms and plants a big wet one on him, then claiming, to the shocked Colossus, that it was a spur of the moment impulse. She couldn’t help herself. Anyway, that wasn’t the real surprise. With him still holding her in his arms, she puts her hand over his eyes and orders him to walk forwards. As he does that, she concentrates phasing the both of them upward though the floor into Ororo’s attic – the first time she has phased another person with her. Colossus wonders why they aren’t at the end of the hall yet and sneaks a look. Finding that he is standing on air he shouts out in surprise, breaking Kitty’s concentration – they both land on the ground – hard.

Kitty proudly tells him that she’s been practicing with the Pprofessor, trying to gouge the extent of her phasing power. That was a surprise, he admits. He’s glad nothing went wrong. And he’s very proud of her. Yeah, she’s pretty darn impressive isn’t she, she replies. Both of them look at each other, hesitatingly. Shouldn’t they be watering Storm’s plants, he asks. That’s why they came up. They can wait, Kitty replies and nervously moves closer to him.

Outside, the flying Storm sees through her open roof window that she has visitors. She flies in to find the two youngsters kissing. They instantly break apart as they hear her amused “oh my,” followed by Kitty asking what she is doing here. Storm answers in good humor that she lives here. She’d ask the same of them, but the answer seems obvious. Kitty’s embarrassed: they didn’t expect her back so soon. They wanted to water her plants... Kitty trails off as she takes in her surroundings for the first time: Storm’s veritable jungle is gone. Instead, the entire attic is sparsely and fashionably decorated. As she has changed, Storm tells her, she has changed her home to match.

Elsewhere, Rogue’s room to be more exact, Nightcrawler is tending to the bed-ridden Rogue, who is still recovering from her fight against Viper. Another fortnight and she should be up and about, the German mutant assures her. Rogue whines, wondering what the point is. They all distrust her anyway. It would have solved a lot of hassles if Wolverine had let her die instead of saving her. That was his choice, Nightcrawler replies seriously. He could have let her die, but he evidently thought she was worthy of being saved. Why doesn’t she give herself a chance to prove him right? Changing the subject, Rogue asks that this used t be Jean Grey ‘s room, right? Who was she and why are they all so skittish about Madelyne Pryor resembling her?

Kurt tells her a short version of Jean’s sad tale: how, as Marvel Girl, she was a founding member of the X-Men. How she later became Phoenix - a being of unimaginable power, who virtually single-handedly saved the universe from extinction. She had the power of a god, but she was not God and that dichotomy drove her mad, transforming her into Dark Phoenix. On her rampage, she destroyed an inhabited star system, killing five billion sentient beings. After that, in a burst of sanity, she realized the only way to stop herself for good was to commit suicide and so she died.

But was that the story’s end, Kurt wonders, as he leaves Rogue and enters his own room. After all, Phoenix was born when Jean died and then resurrected herself. She did it once. Why not again? Storm saw the Phoenix effect in Tokyo and shortly after they met Madelyne Pryor. Coincidence or portent? And if Madelyne is Phoenix reborn - what then? Let her and Scott have a second chance? Fight her? Could they win against her?

Looking outside, he muses how alone he feels and how he wishes his girlfriend, Amanda, was there to cheer him up. At that moment, he notices a gift wrapped package and opens it: inside is a cute little doll of Amanda as a witch on a broomstick – a nice counterpart to his “Bamf-doll” - and a note, which reads: “I know you’d prefer the real thing, darling, but… xxooxx, A.”

Later, aboard a Northstar Airways flight bound for Anchorage, Madelyne Pryor and Scott Summers are back at work. Not quite the view from his dad’s Starjammer, Madelyne jokes, but the view suits her just fine. Has he made his decision on whether to accompany Corsair, yet? He’s still thinking, he answers. Showing him the engagement ring on her finger, she tells him the ring complicates matters, doesn’t it? Whatever happened, he wanted to let her know how he felt. And it’s mutual, she assures him.

Scott goes to check on the passengers, thinking to himself that he was sure he’d chicken out, but he actually proposed. And Madelyne accepted. He may not know the truth about her, but it doesn’t matter. He loves her just the same. He tells the passengers to buckle up, as they’ll be landing soon, when one of them, a kindly looking, overweight, elderly priest calls him back, telling him that he dropped a picture. The priest passes it to him, telling him this is a lovely woman: their captain, no?

No, Scott stutters, as he sees the picture, just someone who looks like her. The snapshot shows a bikini-clad Jean Grey on a beach, from her visit in Greece, shortly before she transformed into Dark Phoenix. Scott knows it’s not his picture. So how did it get here and why now? Worried, the priest inquires if Scott is feeling well. He has gone so pale all of a sudden. Scott excuses himself and leaves for the flight deck wondering if the world - or he – has gone crazy. The priest smirks satisfied thinking to himself that there’s more to come. Madelyne too notices that something is wrong and asks Scott if he is all right. Something he ate, he answers evasively. Of course they are still getting together that evening. This celebration he wouldn’t miss for the world.

Later that evening, in Anchorage, Madelyne drives back from the market wondering about Scott’s inexplicable mood-shift. She realizes that he’s shutting her out, but then again, who is she to complain about others being secretive? It’s probably nerves on both their parts. Once again, she admires her engagement ring, marveling aloud that she s engaged and soon to be married. Will wonders never cease? Walking inside, she thinks aloud that she hopes Scott is ready and as good a cook as he claims to be. She’s starving.

Unseen in the corner stands Mastermind in his Jason Wyngarde identity, lighting a cigarette, and thinking that Scott is quite ready, though not in the way Madelyne may think. Laughter follows Madelyne upstairs, but she doesn’t hear it.

Madelyne greets Scott, who’s gazing outside the window, clearly engaged in another brood-fest. Unpacking the champagne she half-jokingly suggests they get blitzed and fool around. As Scott doesn’t react, she gets worried and asks what’s the matter. Has anything happened to his father or the X-Men? Nothing like that, he finally replies. He’s been thinking. He needs the answer to a very important question. Hugging him, Madelyne laughingly reminds him that they played that scene this morning, remember? She said yes. Scott tells her he’s serious. He’s been wrestling with this question all day trying to explain away his fears, but it’s no good. Madelyne’s arms slowly slide down his shoulders as she steps away. Is she the reincarnation of Jean Grey, Scott asks her. Is she Phoenix?

Furiously, Madelyne punches him as hard as she can. Scott falls backwards, stumbles over the living room table and loses his glasses. Keeping his eyes shut, Scott fumbles around on the ground looking for the glasses. How could he have been such a jerk, he wonders. What possessed him? He as good as told Madelyne that their love was a lie and that he only cared for the ghost she resembles. Not finding the glasses, he reaches for his emergency spare set in his pocket and takes care to properly put them in place before he opens his eyes, lest he wreck Madelyne’s house. As easily as he just wrecked her life, he thinks bleakly.

Looking around, he finds Madelyne nowhere in the room. How can he explain, he wonders, when he doesn’t even know himself why he asked her? The doubts seemed so real moments ago, but now? He calls up the stairs, asking whether they could talk, please. Suddenly, Scott is hit by a fiery energy blast, that fells him. As he lies on the ground, hurt and burning, a figure emerges from the dark, its eyes ablaze. “The time for talk, lover, is over,” Dark Phoenix tells him, a cruel smile playing on her lips.

Characters Involved: 

Ariel, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Binary, Corsair, Mam’selle Hepzibah, Raza, Sikorsky (all Starjammers)

Mariko Yashida (Wolverine’s former fiancée)


Madelyne Pryor (Cyclops’ girlfriend)

Lockheed, the Dragon

Keniuchio Harada / Silver Samurai (Mariko’ half-brother)



Phoenix II / Dark Phoenix

On Mastermind’s snapshot

Jean Grey

Story Notes: 

Hepzibah may be referring to the way she met Corsair and the other Starjammers. Of course, this is not chronicled until years later in Classic X-Men #15.

Carol came to blows with the X-Men, when she saw Rogue among them in Uncanny X-Men #171.

The tale of Phoenix – at least the part that the X-Men are aware of at that point – is chronicled in Uncanny X-Men #100-137.

Mastermind already used the priest-persona as one of several identities to ingratiate himself with Phoenix on her holiday in Greece (the vacation he got the snapshot from) as seen in Uncanny X-Men #125 & Classic X-Men #24.

At the time of this issue’s publication, there was a Star Wars comics, which was published by Marvel Comics. In fact, the issue that Kitty is reading is Star Wars #73.

Issue Information: 
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