X-Men Phoenix Endsong
Distributed By: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
If you read my review of X-Men 3: The Last Stand, you know all about how much I loved the entire Phoenix plotline from the comics. I didn’t mind the changes they made in the movie, because the story from the comics had the capacity to be so long, detailed and confusing, that I could conceivably see it being an entire trilogy of its own. Phoenix: Endsong is the tale of a possible ending to The Phoenix—at least until the next time it rises.
For those of you who aren’t too big on the comics, here is the recap. The X-Men are a group of mutants who do their best to keep the world safe. Jean Grey, a very powerful psychic mutant, was one of them. She died and her body was taken over by a supernatural creature of destiny, The Phoenix, a creature that protects the world by burning away what doesn’t work. Sometimes, that means burning away evil—sometimes that means burning away the innocent. Unfortunately, The Phoenix does not discriminate.
The X-Men and Jean Grey, from within, have stopped The Phoenix many times when she and her powers have gotten out of control. This is particularly difficult for the two men who love Jean Grey—Scott Summers (AKA Cyclops), her husband, and Logan (AKA Wolverine). This story, a mini-series from within the X-Men series, takes place years after Jean and The Phoenix’s previous death. Since that point, the X-Men have changed greatly and Scott has moved on—he is now in love with a new woman, another psychic and the once evil, Emma Frost.
The Phoenix force has historically been tracked by the Shi'Ar empire, an alien regime. In this story, they have brought The Phoenix back before it was ready in an attempt to destroy it but, in doing so, have brought her back incomplete, insane. She had a vague idea of what she needs—she is starving and she needs Cyclops’ power, his optic blasts, to feed her powers. While the whole group struggles to find the perfect plan and the strength to kill their friend once again, and while Jean struggles for dominance within her own body, another mutant, just as strong as Jean and a tad mental, arises—and he wants The Phoenix for his own purposes.
This series, which I discovered in the form of a graphic novel released by Marvel, has all of the right components. The Phoenix has returned often enough to have put this story in danger of being monotonous, but the introduction of the powerful mutant Quentin Quire and the backdrop of Scott’s new relationship with Emma Frost made this a spell-binding read from the intriguing start to the heart-jerking, shocking end. Writer Greg Pak writes every character just right, never forgetting a bit of the lore or a bit of the emotional connection between each of these characters. Illustrator Greg Land does a remarkable job with the art in this book. Every colorful section leaps off of the page as a masterpiece. The whole thing looks like the cover of this book (see above) and if that doesn’t give you an idea of just how gorgeous it is, I don’t know what else to say.
This graphic novel kept me fully riveted from start to finish. There has always been something amazing about injecting the character of Jean Grey/The Phoenix into an X-Men plotline that gives you an electric feeling of emotional and physical upheaval and that is certainly worth the price of admission. This story raises the stakes of the X-Men series. It is worth a view from anyone who has ever been remotely interested in it.