In our SUMMER LOVING (the love interests of the Summers clan) article, we covered the many love interests of all those of the Summers clan. This article, however, will be more focused on the relationship between Scott Summers and Jean Grey, the first X-couple. It is a story of many ups and downs, love triangles, mental possessions, dopplegangers and even both death and resurrection. In short, the romance between Scott and Jean has not been a smooth journey.
Years before they actually met in person, Jean was briefly in telepathic contact with Scott. Though Scott would eventually become the first X-Man, Professor Xavier had already begun to train young Jean Grey in her telepathic powers. When she joined him in his trip to Scott's orphanage to investigate whether the young man was indeed a mutant, Jean made psyhic contact with Scott and felt the thoughts of the scared boy. Xavier found this amazing, as he himself could not sense the youth, so he deduced that their mentalities must be operating on similar frequencies. Since Scott assumed the girl speaking in his head was a dream and Jean never learned his name, it's possible that even years later the pair never realised their earliest contact. [Classic X-Men #42]
Scott would indeed later be recruited by Xavier and became the first of the professor's X-Men. Though she had been one of his earliest students, Jean was not officially inducted to the team until much later. When Jean Grey was introduced to the X-Men, the other teens were extremely eager to get to know the beautiful redhead. The shy Scott, however, remained quiet, instead politely offering her a chair. [X-Men (1st series) #1]
It was not long after their initial meeting that the pair developed feelings for each other, though both kept them secret from the other. Ever since the manifestation of his powers, Scott had felt a constant responsibility to keep his uncontrollable powers in check, resulting in a very restrained and insular personality. Having been named the X-Men's leader, Scott dutifully felt that the job required his full attention and he didn't want private decisions for a member of his team to influence his choices. Additionally, the very unstable nature of his abilities caused Scott to worry that he could accidentally injure somebody with his uncontrollable optic beams. [X-Men (1st series) #7-8]
Scott's insular personality also led to self-doubt. When Warren, aka the Angel, showed a romantic interest in Jean, Scott believed that he could not compete with the handsome, winged millionaire. He was simply unable to conceive the idea that Jean might have prefered him over Warren. [X-Men (1st series) #14]
Not much later, Jean Grey started to attend college in New York and only visited the X-Men from time to time. Scott and Warren saw her off but, seeing how quickly she found friends among the students, Scott believed that any chance he might have had was now gone. [X-Men (1st series) #24]
However, a few weeks later, after Warren had already given up on Jean to date Candy Southern, Scott opened up to Jean about his difficulties with expressing emotions. Jean understood that he was trying to say that he loved her and Scott realized that she reciprocated, without either of them actually having to talk about it. [X-Men (1st series) #32]
From then on, Jean and Scott were almost inseparable and went on several missions together. Even when the X-Men were disbanded by FBI Agent Fred Duncan after Professor Xavier’s apparent death, Jean and Scott stayed together. Scott found a job as a radio deejay while Jean worked as a photo model. To give her role more credibility, Scott even acted as her overjealous boyfriend. [X-Men (1st series) #48]
Though their relationship continued to develop, readers did not see much of it, as with #66 the X-Men were canceled and later went into reprint. Years later, when the title was revamped, readers saw Jean and Scott kiss for the first time. Ironically it was a kiss goodbye, as Jean Grey left the X-Men to explore a life in the "normal" world, while Cyclops remained behind to lead the new team. [X-Men (1st series) #94] X-Men: the Hidden Years writer John Byrne said that he would have shown the relationship developing along the series, had he been allowed to continue to write it.
Jean and Scott's relationship would soon hit the first of its many incredible twists. While on an outing with their friends, Jean and several other X-Men were kidnapped by Sentinels. The rest of the team followed them to the Sentinels' station in Earth orbit and eventually freed them. However, on the way back to Earth, their shuttle had to pass through dangerous solar radiation. With the craft’s shields already severely damaged, Jean thought she was the only one who at least stood a chance by telepathically absorbing the knowledge to pilot the shuttle and telekinetically screening out the radiation. The rest of the team were protected in a shielded section of the craft and were thus unable to see that Jean's telekinesis hadn't been enough and she was dying of radiation poisoning.
Near the brink of death, Jean was approached by the Phoenix Force, which had heard Jean's cry for aid and now offered its help for a price. The Phoenix Force would literally take Jean's place, creating a duplicate filled with some of Jean's essence and life-force, before merging with it. Having no choice, Jean accepted and the Phoenix Force took her place and so the X-Men survived the shuttle's crash into Jamaica Bay in New York. Following the crash, the Jean that had been the Phoenix Force was overwhelmed by experiencing human emotion, resulting in her totally believing herself to be the real Jean. None of the X-Men suspected the exchange and, when Phoenix rose out of the wreckage, Scott was happy to see his love alive and well. All were unaware that the real Jean was still alive, placed in a protective, healing cocoon in the bottom of the bay by the Phoenix Force. [X-Men (1st series) #100-101]
A few weeks later, when battling Magneto is his underground base in Antarctica, the X-Men were separated from each other, with each group believing the other one dead. Jean and the Beast were found by a helicopter and returned to New York, while Scott's team first made their way to the Savage Land and then back to the mansion via a detour through Japan and Canada. When they arrived home, they discovered the mansion was abandoned, as with the X-Men apparently dead Jean had departeded to Muir Island. [X-Men (1st series) #114]
Finally the lovers learned of each other being alive when the dangerous mutant Proteus ran loose in Scotland. When Scott and the X-Men arrived, they found Phoenix unconscious. Cyclops immediately tended to his lover but, in her dazed state, she addressed him as Jason, the man she had been seeing in inexplicable visions that seemed to take place in the 18th century. [X-Men (1st series) #126]
Having defeated Proteus, Scott and Jean made up with each other. He explained that after her apparent death he did not allow himself to feel anything at all, fearing that he would go insane over his loss. He confessed to having having dated Colleen Wing a few times, but Phoenix answered that she would want him to be with someone else if she ever died.[X-Men (1st series) #129]
However, Jean was not as open with Scott, as she kept her timeshift visions secret until it was too late. Manipulated over the course of weeks by Mastermind, the source of her visions, Phoenix became the Hellfire Club’s new Black Queen. Still, his control was not complete and, when the illusionist killed Cyclops on the astral plane, Jean snapped out of it. Unfortunately, the damage was done and Phoenix no longer was able to resist her inner darkness. She transformed into Dark Phoenix and threatened to kill anyone and everyone. Nevertheless, Cyclops tried this best to reach the woman he loved.
Mentally battling with Professor Xavier, aspects of Jean's mind were able to keep Phoenix under control and she literally willed herself back to being just Jean. Scott, who had been watching the entire scenario, realized how much he loved the woman and proposed to her. Jean happily accepted. [X-Men (1st series) #136]
Unfortunately, their happiness was not to last. The Shi’ar had witnessed Dark Phoenix consuming a star, resulting in the deaths of 5 billion aliens on one of its planets in the process. When the Shi'ar came seeking justice, the X-Men were forced to battle with the Imperial Guard over Jean’s fate. Unfortunately, they were severely outmatched and, one by one, they were taken out of the fight. In the end, only Jean remained and this triggered her transformation into Dark Phoenix once more. In doing so, Jean understood that she would never be able to fully control the dark hunger inside. So, for the sake of the universe, she sacrificed herself on the lunar surface. [X-Men (1st series) #137]
The X-Men held a funeral in remembrance of their loved teammate, unsuspecting that the real Jean still lived and was lying in a cocoon at the bottom of Jamaica Bay. [X-Men (1st series) #138, Avengers (1st series) #263]