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Claremont and Byrne bring their celebrated Dark Phoenix saga to a dramatic and emotional finish in this volume. The vast majority of this Masterworks is dedicated to Dark Phoenix and the death of Jean Grey. Not only is the entire first half of the book her seduction by the Hellfire Club and subsequent transformation into her evil self, but the latter half of the book includes supplementary material just for fans of the classic story. The first extra is a reprinting of the original alternate ending of the Dark Phoenix saga. Claremont and Byrne had decided to end their classic tale not with Jean's death (she was a fan favorite after all) but with her defeat at the hands of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard (as in the final version) and subsequent psychic lobotomy by the Shi'ar. Jean would be stripped of all of her mutant powers but would survive and nearly get her happy ending with Scott. Jim Shooter, editor at the time, demanded a harsher ending considering Jean had wiped out an entire star system as Phoenix. Claremont rewrote the ending into the one we all know and that is contained herein. The second extra is actually an interview between Byrne, Claremont, Shooter, and others about the decisions that went into the ending of the Phoenix saga and a look into the original plans Claremont had for Jean's story had the "happy" ending been published. There is also a trio of black and white X-Men stories from the Marvel magazine that are all rather forgettable but do include a fun flashback story centered on Jean and her sister (the other two are about Iceman and Nightcrawler). The rest of the book aside from the Phoenix material is solid enough with the major story arcs being an adventure with the X-Men and Dr. Strange into Dante's iconic rendition of Hell (which does include the ridiculous and classically infamous reveal that Nightcrawler's girlfriend has secretly been his step sister all along and he is thrilled about it) and a battle between Wolverine and the Wendigo that features the Alpha Flight heroes and the debut of Wolverine's brown and yellow costume. The only real downside to the collection is the "montage" issue that follows Jean's death; Cyclops spends an entire issue at Jean's funeral essentially replaying all the major events of the first run of X-Men in his head so the issue becomes a comic book version of a clip show. Still, Dark Phoenix remains one of the all time best X-Men stories and it is lovingly preserved here.
The classic and controversial saga that changed the X-Men forever! Read about the death of the Jean Grey and how it changed the team forever! I read this in high school and it's impact never diminished! Writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne bring a sensitive story to a heart breaking conclusion. This was the best X-Men story in the title's history. Byrne was best remembered as the artist on this book for a short time. However, his best work would be on his run as writer/artist on the Fantastic Four. All I can say is, if you can only read one X-Men book, this is it!