Tag Archives: phoenix

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.

75 – EXCALIBUR

18 Jul

Subject: Excalibur
Roster: Captain Britain [Team Leader], Meggan, Nightcrawler, Phoenix, Shadowcat, Widget, Lockheed
First Appearance: Excalibur Special Edition #1, 1988

I’ve said plenty over the course of this blog about Excalibur, mainly that I haven’t much to say about them at all. So let’s not rehash that, and this time, let’s just focus on the art of the card.

First of all, it’s the best team card we’ve seen since the first team card, X-Men: Gold Strike Force. This Excalibur card doesn’t reach the same compositional strengths of the Gold team card, but it benefits from not being too overcrowded, and thus helping to give the members some stronger silhouettes. That is, except for Phoenix (Rachel Summers), who gets delegated to peeking over the shoulders of Kitty and Captain Britain, when there could’ve clearly been room between Kitty and Nightcrawler had Meggan moved over a little.

Oh, and the tippy top of Lockheed is on the bottom left, obscured behind the Excalibur title. Oopsies!

Speaking of which, the team roster refers to two other members missing from this card (I guess that’s how they kept the card from being overstuffed): Widget, and Kylun, whose individual card lists him as an Excalibur member but is not included in this roster. Not surprising.

Captain Britain’s portrait in the Team Leader profile makes him look far too brooding, and he’s got Magneto’s squint and cheekbones, aka it’s Jim Lee’s stock brooding face.

Excalibur is also the first team card to get a Headquarters picture, of their mushroom-shaped lighthouse. The card refers to it as haunted, but makes no mention of it being a dimensional nexus for the Captain Britain Corps.

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).