Character Corner: Chris Claremont’s X-Men Part 1 – The Phoenix Saga

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We didn't plan this but its May and our 75th Character Corner just happens to be the start of our Chris Claremont X-Men series and Claremont started his 17 year X-Men run in May 1975. It's like we were meant to do this. This is probably going to be the closest you get to us doing an X-Men comics podcast. We start at the beginning with Claremont's Phoenix saga which really covers 44 issues to truly understand Jean's evolution as the Phoenix. It fleshes out Jean, her relationship/friendship/sisterhood with Ororo (Storm) and her roommate Misty Knight (yeah...Jean was rooming with Misty Knight). We see that Charles Xavier is kinda an asshole, the first appearance of the Shi'ar, how the new X-Men come together as a family and so much more. Having reread this it makes what Fox has done with two attempts at the Dark Phoenix storyline infuriating. The Phoenix saga isn't about how Jean becomes so powerful she loses control. It's about how Jean Grey sacrifices herself to save her family. Twice. She dies and is reborn as the Phoenix out of love to save the X-Men. The path to her becoming the Dark Phoenix is a slow burn of betrayal. But even then, it ends with her gaining control thanks to her family's willingness to sacrifice everything for her and in the end she sacrifices her life again to save the X-Men. It's a masterful story that's been neutered in the movies.

Issues:

  • X-Men Giant Size #1 - Not Claremont but this introduces the new team/characters and sets the stage for Claremont's magic

There are a couple of ways to read this run and Kriss & Dpalm used two different methods.

Dpalm's Reading List (X-Men/Uncanny X-Men #94 - 138)

  • Pre-Phoenix Saga
    • Uncanny X-Men #94 - 100 - Claremont takes over as the writer of the X-Men and starts building towards Jean becoming the Phoenix
    • Uncanny X-Men #94  - First appearance of the Shi'ar
    • Uncanny X-Men #97 - First (official) appearance of Lilandra
  • Phoenix Saga
    • Uncanny X-Men 101 - 108
  • Proteus Saga
    • Uncanny X-Men #125 - First Appearance of Proteus
    • Uncanny X-Men #127 & #128
  • Dark Phoenix Saga
    • Uncanny X-Men #129 - 138
      • 129 - First appearances of Hellfire Club (Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost), Kitty Pryde
      • 132 - First appearance of Harry Leland & Donald Pierce

Kriss's Reading List (Classic X-Men 1 - 44)

  • Classic X-Men 1 - 44 tell the same story but also have additional short stories after the main story in each book that are written by Claremont years later that flesh out the characters & story. Examples:
    • Classic X-Men #2 - Jean & Storm's forming their friendship
    • Classic X-Men #3 has the X-Men dealing with/mourning the loss
    • of Thunderbird
    • Classic X-Men #8 - This expands on what actually happened to Jean when she merges with the Phoenix force. It's a deeper explanation of her sacrifice and why the Phoenix bonded with her
    • Classic X-Men #12 - Magneto's Holocaust origins, losing his daughter in a fire and moving the character into a more sympathetic light
  • All of the stories are great and really dig into the characters and are must read

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Charles (Kriss)

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