Tag Archives: jean grey

82 – DARK PHOENIX

3 Aug

Subject: Dark Phoenix
Real Name: Unrevealed
Height: 5’6″ Weight: 110 lbs.
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #101, October 1976

Power Ratings:

  • Energy Projection: 7/7
  • Mental Powers: 7/7
  • Strength: 7/7
  • Fighting Ability: 4/7
  • Intelligence: 3/7

This whole Ex-X-Men tag is so far proving to be a huge disappointment; first we get a character that wasn’t technically ever a member of the X-Men, and today we get a character that was technically a super villain! I’m pretty sure as soon as Phoenix turned into Dark Phoenix (as a result of the Hellfire Club and Mastermind‘s prodding), Jean/Dark Phoenix no longer regarded herself a team member (ehhh, I guess if you want to look at it that way, she stopped being an X-Man, and therefore was an ex-X-Man.)

The Phoenix/Dark Phoenix saga continues to be regarded as one of the greatest X-Men stories ever told, and certainly the most famous one. It’s always struck me as ironic because X-Men always drew critical acclaim for its humanistic message and social criticism, and yet the Phoenix saga was pretty straight up space opera popcorn. Very well written and drawn popcorn to be sure, and certainly notable for portraying a powerful female character, but I can’t say I don’t respect the pressure the X-Men movie creators were under to fit the Phoenix saga within the more grounded movie universe.

I am in fact one of the few defenders of X-Men 3, specifically its handling of the Phoenix Saga. I have friends who will absolutely not forgive the exclusion of the Phoenix that ate an entire sun, but seriously, in the movie she disintegrates dozens of people without (literally) blinking an eye; that’s plenty fucking powerful, and plausible enough without needing to bring up the idea of a cosmic entity that possessed her.

Listen, I’d’ve still loved a Bryan Singer version of X-Men 3 (I hope he accepts he and the franchise’s eternal bond now), but for the guy who conceived an X-Men: First Class where the Professor X and Mystique were childhood loves, the X-Men were government agents, and Alex Summers was older than Scott, I doubt Singer would’ve been as faithful to the Phoenix Saga himself.

Anyway, I digress again. The art is fantastic here, with that crackling Jim Lee energy and strong details and shadows. I don’t find it as powerful as his original card for Jean Grey, but it comes across between that and his competent card for Rachel Summers, the (at the time) new Phoenix.

Dark Phoenix’s Power Ratings are kind of weird, in that many of us would assume that she of all people would wield all 7/7 ratings, but instead the card cares to distinguish her merely competent Fighting Ability (I don’t think you need to know how to fight when you can easily disintegrate your enemies), and Intelligence. Instead, our one and only all-7/7 character is still coming up.

71 – X-MEN (Gold Strike Force)

8 Jul

Subject: X-Men (Gold Strike Force)
Roster: Storm (Team Leader), Jean Grey, Colossus, Iceman, Bishop, Archangel
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #1, September 1963

And now we move on from the Heroes and Villains to the Team cards, starting with X-Men’s Gold Strike Force. After the various X-Members were shuffled around in the 90’s relaunches, wherein the original founding members of X-Men, having since formed X-Factor, returned to their original team, there was a need to instead split the family up into two X-Men: gold and blue strike forces (it wasn’t until I did these blogs did I realized the gold and blue designations were representative of the original team colors).

The term strike force reflected the era’s more proactively aggressive mutants, though I can’t remember the teams actually jumping into action any more than they had been before (at the very least trouble had no difficulty finding them). The Gold Team depicted here was the team featured in Uncanny X-Men, at the time illustrated by Whilce Portacio.

I think it was a combination of less impressive art, the lack of Wolverine, and, ashamedly, the girl team leader (splitting into two teams made it easier to reconcile Storm and Cyclops‘ jostling for leadership), but I just wasn’t as into the Golds as much as the Blues (even Gold made it seem more feminine). Luckily a lack of editorial assertiveness meant the two teams appeared in their counterparts’ books frequently, which was good because I always liked Lee’s renditions of Jean, Ororo, and Piotr.

68 – MASTERMIND

1 Jul

Subject: Mastermind
Real Name: Jason Wyngarde
Height: 5’10” Weight: 140 lbs.
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #4, March 1964

Power Ratings:

  • Energy Projection: 1/7
  • Mental Powers: 6/7
  • Strength: 1/7
  • Fighting Ability: 1/7
  • Intelligence: 2/7

Mastermind’s one of those villains introduced in the early 60’s that never got a visual upgrade from the stereotypical “sniveling ratface” that all 60’s villains were, but then again I guess as a notorious date-rapist maybe the look suits him. Actually no, I guess then he should look like a douchey bro, right? And then he died of the Legacy Virus…

I really like Lee’s art for Mastermind’s card. It’s moody and intriguing, and the reflection in the mirror was a nice touch, though it unintentionally would imply that Mastermind’s power was simply of disguising himself, when he could really create elaborate mental illusions, capable of entrapping the entire X-team in intricate fantasy scenarios (like a circus or carnival).

Given how he arguably brought the Dark Phoenix saga to a head (by hypnotizing Jean Grey/Phoenix into thinking she was in love with Mastermind), and how he apparently managed to fool everyone, including the Hellfire Club, almost continuously throughout the Phoenix saga, Mastermind really should command more respect than he got (though his 6/7 Mental Powers rating gets you partway there).