Strip Talk #02: Phoenix Saga Woes

Lyn­d­sey Mosley, editor-in-chief

Oh where to start about why I despise the Phoenix saga of the X-Men?

OK, I know that started out a lit­tle harsh, but we are talk­ing about the Phoenix saga after all, and it’s one of the few story arcs that I absolutely can­not stand in comic book lore. I can’t tell if it’s the self-righteousness of Cyclops, the ridicu­lous self-sacrifice of Jean Grey or the fact that every­one in the X-Men or oth­er­wise couldn’t see the plot holes for­est for the trees.

I’m not a fan of Cyclops or Jean Grey. I have never warmed to either char­ac­ter and I think they’re per­fect for each other in a not-so-flattering way. Nei­ther seem to real­ize that the X-Men isn’t about them. And of course, with the Phoenix saga, both are at the fore­front of the drama and tragedy.

It’s the sanc­ti­mo­nious atti­tude of Cyclops that really both­ers me here. Let us not for­get that this is the story in which he aban­dons his wife and child at the mere men­tion of his not-so-dead wife’s reap­pear­ance. To make mat­ters worse, he’s writ­ten to later cheat on her with Emma Frost because the Phoenix Force was “becom­ing a strain.” I know he’s writ­ten to be human, show flaws and be the embod­i­ment of “every­one makes mis­takes.” But using the Phoenix Force three or four story arcs down the road as a crutch? Thanks but no thanks. And yes, please make a barely tol­er­a­ble char­ac­ter all the more like­able for me by mak­ing him cheat on his wife who really can’t con­trol her man­i­fes­ta­tion prob­lems. Char­ac­ter assas­si­na­tion 1.0 for Cyclops receives a grade A.

Jean is for­ever the vic­tim. If I had to hear her utter “Oh Scott!” one more time in “X-Men the Ani­mated Series” I thought I’d stop watch­ing alto­gether.  It was annoy­ing to see Jean be clas­si­fied as one of the most pow­er­ful mutants in the col­lec­tive uni­verse yet she is always dying, reborn, man­i­fest­ing the Phoenix Force, teas­ing Wolver­ine, etc. in a never-ending cycle. It gets old after awhile. And can some­one please tell me how she’s sup­posed to be an omega-level mutant (look it up kids and get back to me if you don’t know what it means) as the Phoenix yet is always “exhausted”? She can’t seem to use her pow­ers more than five min­utes with­out faint­ing or going to sleep. It’s mind-numbing stuff like this about Jean that makes me ques­tion the coddling.

The writ­ers did no favors to the X-Men by hav­ing the Phoenix Force anni­hi­late an entire uni­verse. I get it, she’s all-powerful, can cause destruc­tion in the blink of an eye, is a force to be reck­oned with, blah, blah, blah. I get it, really I do. But I don’t care. Hav­ing her wipe out an entire uni­verse is a bit much. Too much. The writ­ers almost painted them­selves into a cor­ner just show­ing her power. Was it too much to ask that it be implied and not seen? I can accept that about the Phoenix.

Really, after hav­ing the Phoenix saga shoved down my throat in the ani­mated series in a five-part arc and hav­ing to be con­stantly reminded by its reap­pear­ance, I’m quite sick of the Phoenix. Take obnox­ious char­ac­ters, make them the cen­ter­piece of a huge arc and voila! You have the equally obnox­ious Phoenix saga. To para­phrase the Scar­let Witch in the House of M saga: No more Phoenix Force.

Lyn­d­sey Mosley is the edi­tor of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. Con­tact her via email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

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