The Dark Phoenix Saga (Part 4): The Fate of the Phoenix
Written by Brooks Wachtel
Summary: Xavier evokes a duel of honor in order to prevent the Shi’ar from executing Jean. The Shi’ar teleport the X-Men to the Blue Area of the Moon, where they agree to fight the Imperial Guard for Jean’s life. During the battle, Cyclops is wounded, which causes the mental barriers in Jean’s mind to collapse. Dark Phoenix reemerges. Jean struggles for control, using her powers to direct a Shi’ar craft to attack her body. Jean’s sacrifice forces the Phoenix to break free of its dark nature. It takes a piece of each X-Man’s life to revive Jean’s body. When Jean awakes, the Phoenix flies away into the stars.
The Supreme Intelligence of the Kree and the Skrull Empress make cameos, reciting almost verbatim their lines from Uncanny X-Men #137. They agree to the duel, provided Phoenix isn’t allowed to live.
Jean wears her late ‘60s Marvel Girl outfit during the X-Men’s duel with the Imperial Guard. She cites the same reason given in the comics for switching costumes, even though the audience for the cartoon probably had no idea Jean ever wore this outfit in the past.
“Um, Actually…”: The original “Dark Phoenix Saga” ends with her dying, of course.
Review: And, with the exception of Jean not dying, that’s pretty much the conclusion of the “Dark Phoenix Saga” that we all remember. You can quibble with some of the voice acting, and the animation is as stiff as usual, but the episode is such a direct adaptation it’s hard to find any real flaws. The performances could've potentially killed the material, but thankfully the histrionics are kept to a minimum for the most part. The X-Men’s moral dilemma is still effectively dramatized, and the script does an excellent job of conveying the team’s loyalty to one another. The viewer really does empathize with the team in a way they haven’t before; the stakes have never seemed this high, which is exactly the mood a writer needs to strike when adapting this storyline.
In retrospect, this could’ve been a bold new beginning for the series. Jean Grey wasn’t originally supposed to die in the comics; as we all know now, she was supposed to receive a “psychic lobotomy” and lose her powers at the end of the story arc. Why couldn’t the animated series follow this direction? Admittedly, Jean has been a non-entity for much of the show’s run, so the idea of her living life without powers wouldn’t have the same impact that Claremont originally intended, but it could still provide material for new episodes. Cyclops and Jean could finally have a real wedding, move away, and give Storm a chance to lead the team. (Wait, that means more of Storm’s affected voice acting. Never mind.) Actual consequences should’ve been felt from this storyline, but instead, everyone carries on as if nothing happened. The show descends into a series of one-off stories and eventually it reaches the point that you forget the last episode as soon as the next episode airs. That flies in the face of what made the show so unique in the first place, and I’m still surprised that the producers didn’t realize the major mistake they were making.
Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/
xmen/ for the screencaps.