The Weird Ending of X-Men's Dark Phoenix Saga Insulted Jean Grey's Memory

One of the greatest storylines in X-Men history, the Dark Phoenix Saga is highly regarded as a high point in comic book storytelling - but it's not without its flaws, some of which are quite glaring. The saga is the end result of a desire to make the character of Jean Grey interesting and the centerpiece of a story, and in that respect, it certainly succeeded. But in the concluding issue, Uncanny X-Men #137, the coda of the story insults the star player in a way Stan Lee would have loathed...if it caught the mistake in time.

In the Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean Grey assumes the name Phoenix and acquires phenomenal power after passing through a solar flare. Her power makes her a prime target for the Hellfire Club, and she eventually becomes the Black Queen - but when Mastermind's hold on her is broken, Jean is enraged and becomes Dark Phoenix. She craves power after a long journey through the cosmos, and drains the energies of a star, causing a supernova and wiping out billions on a planet orbiting the once-sun. This caught the attention of the Shi'ar Empire, who demand that Dark Phoenix must be executed.

Related: Why the X-Men's Jean Grey Uses Her Real Name Instead of a Codename

The X-Men eventually come to Jean's aid and a trial by combat is negotiated. On the moon, the X-Men and the Shi'ar Imperial Guard do battle, but Jean's original personality reasserts itself in the midst of battle. Horrified at his own crimes and afraid she might lose control again, Jean sacrifices herself before a stunned Cyclops. As the X-Men mourn, Uatu the Watcher, who has seen the entire event, communes with his Recorder android. When Recorder asks the Watcher why Jean was attacked despise her many good deeds on Earth, the Watcher simply answers "Because she was human."

A long monologue from the Watcher ensues, ending with "Jean Grey could have lived to become a God. But it was more important to her that she die...a human." Unfortunately, Jean Grey was not a human at all - she was a mutant, and has fought for peace between her species and homo sapiens ever since joining Professor Xavier's legendary team. While the Watcher's sentiment is understandable, it's no less insulting toward Jean, the X-Men, and the cause for which they fight.

It's an odd slip-up from an otherwise brilliant and poignant story from the house that Stan Lee built. Perhaps the Watcher was merely using "human" as a catch-all term for "people from earth." Regardless, the Watcher's intentions were pure in referring to Jean Grey as a hero - even if he didn't refer to her as a mutant.

Next: Iron Man Just Repeated One of X-Men's Darkest Moments



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