The X-Men’s plane is blown apart a thousand feet over Central Park, as one of the team’s own, Jean Grey, has undergone a startling transformation. Now she is Dark Phoenix and, apparently, intends to kill her friends.
Colossus and Nightcrawler both avoid getting killed by the impact in their own inimitable ways. Storm, the only X-Man left who can fly, grabs Wolverine, leaving only Cyclops unaccounted for. She sees him falling with Phoenix going after him. Not wanting to take any chances after Jean’s actions, Storm uses her wind to shove Phoenix away, while she grabs Cyclops and flies to join their teammates on the ground. They are well, though Nightcrawler complains about getting away from the Hellfire Club intact, only to get trashed by one of their own.
It gets worse, as Phoenix attacks them. Cyclops asks why she is doing this, for pity’s sake, only to be told that Dark Phoenix knows no pity. As Cyclops evades her energy blast, he notices that using her power seems to be the ultimate stimulant for Phoenix. It is turning her on. How can they stop her?
His teammate, Colossus, doesn’t wish to harm Jean, but feels that they have to, in order to stop her. He is about to uproot a tree, intending to tangle her in the branches. Unfortunately, Dark Phoenix reads his mind and, using her telekinesis, transforms Colossus into his human shape. No longer strong enough to carry the tree’s weight, Colossus buckles. Wolverine runs to his aid, but Jean simply transforms the tree into solid gold, burying both men under its weight.
Storm joins Phoenix in the air, appealing to her and reminding her of their friendship. Too late for help, Dark Phoenix proclaims, for her, for Storm, for the universe! Dark Phoenix has no friends. She was like this when she saved the universe, Storm remembers. But then her power was tempered by love and joy. Now, she only senses pain, sadness and lust in Phoenix. She strikes her friend with a bolt of lightning to no avail, as Phoenix deflects it back at her, momentarily stunning her. Cyclops runs to Storm’s side, while at the same time catching glimpses of Jean’s state of mind through the rapport they share. He senses black fire consuming her soul, mystical allusions, the sensation of being lost and drowning…
Nightcrawler interrupts his train of thought. The two of them are the only ones left. What can they do? “Not a thing,” Phoenix replies as she hits them a hundred different ways at once and the last two X-Men drop in their tracks.
Landing amidst her beaten friends, Phoenix states that she didn’t want to do this, but had to. By striking them down, she cut herself free of the last ties binding her to the person she was and her former life. For a moment, Jean’s face shatters with grief, but the moment and its humanity fade and only Dark Phoenix is left. She laughs as she tells the X-Men that their paths will cross no more. Her destiny lies in the stars. She reaches for the sky, summoning lightning and laughs as the awesome bolts of energy caress her body.
Five minutes earlier outside the Hellfire Club from where the X-Men had fled into the gale-swept night, a grimfaced Sebastian Shaw oversees a group of paramedics loading the critically injured Harry Leland into the ambulance. He is joined by a middle-aged bespectacled man, Senator Robert Kelly, a popular politician, presidential candidate even and an old friend of Shaw’s, who expresses his sympathy. Shaw politely thanks his guest while silently still seething about his defeat at the X-Men’s hands.
They are joined by a police captain, who tells them that his men have searched the club and have found no trace of the X-Men. Impatiently, Kelly snaps that, obviously, that’s because the X-Men are no longer inside the building. Shaw saw them running towards Central Park. So why don’t they show some initiative and follow them? The captain points out that they are out of their league here. Tackling super-powered mutants would be suicide. They need the Avengers or the Fantastic Four. Shaw agrees, while smoothly suggesting another alternative for combating mutant crimes: Sentinels…
Another policeman joins them, anxiously shouting for them to look at the park. They see lightning bolts striking down en masse at the park. Even while Shaw wonders whether this is Storm’s doing, the huge Phoenix raptor emerges over the park. The phenomenon is sensed or registered all over New York, by Spider-Man, Reed Richard’s devices, Dr. Strange and even the Silver Surfer.
Phoenix quickly lifts off, leaving Earth and only just missing an Avengers Quinjet heading towards the Park. Its sole passenger, former X-Man Hank McCoy, recognizes the Phoenix effect. Worried, he lands his ship in the park, wondering why the gale has suddenly dispersed. He finds his beaten former teammates and helps lift the gold tree off of Colossus and Wolverine. Minutes later, Beast flies them towards the X-Men’s Headquarters, while filling them in how he erased he Avengers alert and came to their aid instead.
In the meantime in Angel’s New Mexico mountain home, his house guest, Professor Xavier, is in a heated discussion via video screen with his confidante, Moira MacTaggert on Muir Isle. The news is grim. Xavier informs Moira that he felt a tremendous burst of psionic energy akin to a psychic H-bomb. The effect passed quickly. Moira confirms his suspicions: the source was Jean. She believes Phoenix is out of control. Over the last few hours, her remote scans show Phoenix’s powers increasing along a geometric cure with no end in sight. She already dwarfs any mutant they know. As a buzzword “cosmic” would fit nicely.
Angel asks what has happened and Xavier concisely informs him that as the proverb says power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Phoenix is the ultimate expression of Jean’s potential as a PSI. She is too young and lacks the awareness to control her now limitless abilities. He tells Warren that they have to return to New York. He is partly to blame for the tragedy and must somehow resolve this.
Months ago, Phoenix used her powers to save the universe. She had a vision of herself as Tiphereth, heart and soul of the mystic tree of life. Now she has become the opposite and does not care. She flies towards the sun, passing the watchstation, Starcore One, and loops the sun creating a slingshot effect to boost her speed a thousand-fold. Seconds after that, she is well into the vast emptiness of interstellar space. With ridiculous ease, Phoenix creates a star-gate, which transports her out of the Milky Wax into a galaxy far away.
However, the transition took more out of her than she anticipated. Her power may still be growing, but for the time being it is finite. Ravenous and without any thought for the consequences, she dives into the heart of an G-type star, much like Earth’s sun. She causes the star to go supernova, soaking up the energy, and not caring that one of the world circling the star is inhabited. The world is destroyed and five billion sentient beings die while Dark Phoenix is in ecstasy. She knows, though, that this is only the beginning, nothing compared to what she experienced within the M’Kraan crystal…
On the fringes of the doomed starsystem, a Shi’Ar battle cruiser has witnessed the destruction of the star D’Bari and its captain wonders what the reasons might have been. An average G-normal star doesn’t suddenly explode. This should not have occurred, unless something caused it. Examining what’s left of the star, their sensors come across an anomaly, something both energy and lifeform. Finally, they register Dark Phoenix. Captain Lord Juber decides to attack. D’Bari was an ally of the Empire and this… thing has exterminated them. More importantly, the entity seems to absorb stellar energy, Juber reasons. If it isn’t stopped now it may destroy other star systems.
The main batteries fire at Phoenix, unfortunately managing only to annoy her. She flies past the ship, destroying one propulsion nacelle. Mindscanning the vessel, she learns they are members of Lilandra’s grand fleet. She couldn’t care less. Contemptuously, she realizes that they still mean to fight her and she is more than happy to oblige them.
Realizing that they don’t have much time left, Juber orders his people to establish an instant link with the empress. Lilandra has to learn of this. Minutes later on Chandilar, hamberlain Araki rouses Lilandra from her sleep and hurries her to the War Room. Horrified, Lilandra, via the transmission, sees how Juber’s ship is destroyed by the Phoenix raptor. She and Araki realize that their secret fears have come to pass. Lilandra orders Araki to summon the ministers. This threat must be dealt with, no matter the cost.
Back at the X-Men’s Westchester headquarters, the X-Men are recovering in the kitchen. Cyclops sits, his head buried in his hands, while the others worry about him. Colossus wishes there was some way they could help. Wolverine cynically tells them not to get their hopes up. Jeanie trashed them without raising a threat. A rematch wouldn’t end differently. Beast begs to differ. Teamwork would help. And maybe he could whip op some gadgets to even the odds a bit. Cyclops snaps out of his funk with a horrified “Oh, no!” He can sense Phoenix via their rapport. She’s returning to Earth… and she is hungry!