Title: X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
Author: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Byrne
Genre: Superheroes / Action / Adventure
Year Published: 1980
Year Read: 2011
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Content Rating: Ages 12+ (Violence, Fighting Scenes and Death)
To be honest, I actually first heard of the famous “The Dark Phoenix Saga” through an episode of the 90s “X-Men” cartoon series and that was probably my favorite episode of the entire series! Now, I had the opportunity to read this story in its original comic form and I was totally blown away! Chris Claremont had a huge reputation of being the best “X-Men” writer in history and after reading this saga, I am starting to believe that and John Byrne's illustrations clearly define the true art of this exciting saga that defined “X-Men” history!
What is the story?
After the X-Men defeated Proteus, they head back to New York to their secret headquarters and they are surprised to see Professor Xavier back at the headquarters. However, the X-Men will soon realize that a secret and powerful organization known as the Hellfire Club is watching their every move and they have plans for Jean Grey and her phoenix powers! Can the X-Men defeat this powerful organization of mutants? Read this comic to find out!
What I liked about this book:
Chris Claremont's writing: Oh my goodness! After I heard that Chris Claremont was known as the author who started the popularity of the X-Men, I just had to check out the “Dark Phoenix Saga” for myself and I was astonished at what I read! I loved the way that Chris Claremont provided a detailed plot about how Jean Grey has to cope with a terrible power inside of her and how the X-Men have to come to terms of possibly destroying her to save the universe. I also loved how much emotion Chris Claremont put into this volume as the other X-Men obviously did not want to kill her and it was great seeing the close relationship that Cyclops and Jean Grey share with each other. I also loved how Chris Claremont gives the audience enough information regarding the last few issues to help us understand the story much better and I will admit that the first time I have read this comic; I was a bit frustrated with all the words on one page. But then I realized that the deep and detailed plot of the story on each page actually became more interesting as the comic goes on and it really helped me understand the characters even better. I also loved the new roster of the X-Men which included Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Beast and it was even more exciting seeing the introduction of a young Kitty Pryde and Dazzler!
John Byrne's illustrations: I just loved John Byrne’s illustrations in this comic book! John Byrne gives us an old school styled look to the original X-Men (Wolverine’s signature yellow and blue outfit, Nightcrawler’s black and white outfit and Colossus’ red and yellow outfit) and it just reverts me back to the good old days when most comic books were illustrated in that old school way! There were so many memorable images in this comic such as Jean Grey reverting to the Dark Phoenix and you can see that she is truly beauty, but always has a frightening expression on her face as she destroys everything in her path. The image that truly stood out the most for me was the image of Wolverine being stuck in the sewers and he states:
“Okay, suckers---you’ve taken yer best shot! NOW IT’S MY TURN!!”
This image was so memorable and brilliantly done to me because it truly showed Wolverine looking so menacing when the Hellfire Club tried to kill him and this image was a inspiration for Joss Whedon’s run of “Astonishing X-Men” when the same thing was done to Kitty Pryde. John Byrne does an excellent job at making the characters extremely detailed from making the rivers have ripples to presenting shocked looks on the characters’ faces especially the X-Men’s shock at discovering the Dark Phoenix.
What made me feel uncomfortable about this comic:
Probably the only problem with this comic is that since it was written around the late 70s to early 80s, there tends to be too much dialogue and explanations of the previous issues filling up the page and many readers who are new to the X-Men franchise might be frustrated with reading all this extra information about the situation, just like I was the first time. Sometimes it slows the story down than necessary, but at the same time, it gives the audience enough information about the situation at hand.
Overall, “The Dark Phoenix Saga” is the saga that truly defined the true storytelling of the “X-Men” franchise and is currently on my top favorite “X-Men” storylines list along with Joss Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men” run and hopefully, the current “X-Men” would have the same drama and wonderful storytelling that “The Dark Phoenix Saga” had.