The Cold War was on. That meant the prevalence of an "us against them" mentality where communism was the epitome of close-mindedness. At any time, either side could launch nukes and begin a war that would mean Armageddon for the entire planet. With all this hanging over our heads, it's no wonder that Chris Claremont, the X-Men's erstwhile writer, penned a tale of an entity that threatened the cosmos as we knew it: The Dark Phoenix.|
Longtime Marvel fans know that Jean Grey, a.k.a. Marvel Girl, once saved the X-Men, and the world, by absorbing the power of a godlike force known as The Phoenix, thereby becoming one of the universe's most powerful beings. In this volume, however, Jean loses control of this awesome might. Her very humanity is threatened when she finds herself destroying an alien planet inhabited by billions of souls, and enjoying it. As a result, she is put on trial by another alien empire, and the X-Men, her teammates, are drawn into an all-out duel to save her life. The finale can only be described as unmitigated Marvel mayhem.
Artist John Byrne fleshes out Jean and the X-Men with appropriate anatomy, expressive facial features and moody settings. He, like Claremont, was at the top of his form when the two collaborated here.
Since 1980, the Cold War has ended and the human race can be said to have become more tolerant when it comes to cultural differences. But we're not out of the woods yet. It never hurts to be reminded of what it means to be a hero. As Claremont and Byrne illustrate, a hero looks to how we make the right decisions as human beings. It takes faith and persistence.
As Colossus says, "So long as we stand, we fight. And so long as we fight--no matter what the odds--we will prevail!"
|On a side note, the final movie in the X-Men movie series, X-Men: The Last Stand which starred Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey/Phoenix, Halle Berry as Storm, and James Marsden as Cyclops, had a bit of the "Dark Phoenix" story - with Jean Grey going berserk and Wolverine doing what he had to do... it's too bad they didn't actually make the movie The Dark Phoenix instead of just borrowing bits and pieces of it for this story! [ed.]