Reborn from the ashes! The next film in the X-Men franchise will be revisiting one of the most popular arcs in the mythology while reigniting the series. Here is X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX…
The good news this week came when Disney Studios finally announced it had won its long-running bid to absorb 20th Century Fox which would reunite the Marvel Comics properties that have long been a box office boon for the studio. This will bring the various X-Men film franchises including Deadpool (starring Ryan Reynolds) and Fantastic Four back into the fold and into the realm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which after the reacquisition of Spider-Man from Sony helped to bring the web-slinger into the Avengers: Infinity War.
When director Bryan Singer introduced the mighty mutants onto the big screen X-Men released in 2000 was practically unchallenged in the blockbuster arena and quickly helped to ramp up the interest in the superhero genre as a viable effort. The film also made overnight stars of its cast including Hugh Jackman who would immediately spin-off his portrayal of Wolverine into a separate franchise that recently concluded with the critically acclaimed Logan. Since 2000 there have been 2 additional sequel films and three “prequel” films expanding on the mythology.
The X-Men franchise has proven a money-maker for FOX and expanded the franchise narrative beyond the theatrical realm to television with the hit FX series Legion and the family drama The Gifted which are also suggested to take place within the “X-Men” cinematic experience. Although the last big-screen venture 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse did not draw in audiences as eagerly as its predecessors (though the films returned Singer to the director’s seat), FOX immediately recommended that a follow-up be green-lit.
The next installment in the film series will be X-Men: Dark Phoenixand is promising to realize one of the comic book’s more enduring and popular storylines that is centered on Jean Grey (played by Game Of Thrones star Sophie Turner) and her ascent to near-omnipotence! The film will reunite the “reboot” cast which includes Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender and will also co-star Jessica Chastain. “The Dark Phoenix Saga” written for the comics by Chris Claremont and John Byrne and published in 1980 was a best-seller for Marvel.
In the last feature, Turner’s Jean Grey exhibited an astonishing new level of power when the heroes faced the long-lived tyrannical Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) and his four horsemen. The “Dark Phoenix” story was also touched upon as a supplemental narrative of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Directed by Brett Ratner it proved the most unpopular of the first series of films, and an unlikely conclusion to the trilogy. Most of the events from that film appeared to have been retcon at the conclusion of 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.
As part of imprint’s “Legacy” exploration Marvel (literally) resurrects one of its most enduring and endearing characters. The time has come to welcome back the X-Men’s Jean Grey!
In issue #135 of The Uncanny X-Men originally published by Marvel Comics in 1980 all hell literally broke lose and for longtime fans of the book the fate of one its most beloved characters was about to written! Series writer Chris Claremont and his co-conspirator John Byrne had spun a tale so powerful and emotionally wrought that when “The Dark Phoenix Saga” finally ran its course, it would forever alter the way audiences read comics! The stakes had suddenly been raised and many realized that nothing lasts forever!
Certainly in a world where men walk among gods, individuals blessed with superpowers the consequences of which could be lost on most mere mortals. In the world of the X-Men it all became painfully real, as original X-Men Jean Grey evolved from the telekinetically gifted Marvel Girl and into the world-devouring Phoenix — a creature of such great potential that its power had become feared throughout the cosmos. That power, as power often does, eventually consumed Jean and turned her into the Dark Phoenix the ultimate personification of pure force!
Her teammates are forced to engage the Dark Phoenix in combat until inevitably, Jean is considered to great a threat to the universe and is served a death sentence — a trial by combat — between the X-Men and the galactic member nations of the known galaxy itself. In the end, before she once again could succumb to the fury of her dark side, Jean in a final act of mercy, sacrifices herself so that her friends to do not have to pay the ultimate price for her mistakes. The Dark Phoenix may no longer have been a threat, but the X-Men lost Jean Grey…or so it seemed.
The X-Factor of it All!
The Uncanny X-Men had become a phenomenon much to the credit of its writer Claremont, who continued to write the series and even introduced its first spin-off The New Mutants which featured the next generation of mutant heroes. The demand for mutant-based books was high! In 1986 the original X-Men would be once again reunited and among their ranks we’d find Jean Grey, much like her namesake, had risen from the ashes for the inaugural run of the new mutant team book X-Factor. Jean’s return would be considered quite controversial.
Over the course of the character’s development, it would be greatly debated as to wether Jean had been replaced by the Phoenix “entity” and placed in hibernation for an undefinable period of time, but in all eventualities she would eventually find herself inevitably connected to the powers granted to her by the Phoenix. Jean Grey would “die” several more times, and come back from the dead just as many, but in recent history Jean had finally merged with the power of the Phoenix and moved on from this plane of existence — “dying” again — though not forgotten!
Like a mercurial specter, the Phoenix has remained a constant in the world of the X-Men, invariably connected to Jean Grey as its primary host and the only individual worthy of wielding its cosmic might. It was only a matter of time before she would be reintegrated into the modern mythology, and as Marvel explores many of its most favored heroes and villains with the recent publishing-wide “Legacy” arc, it seemed fitting and appropriate to bring the X-Men’s most formidable presence back into the fold in Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey limited series.
The timing of which hasn’t escaped anyone that the next blockbuster feature film in the franchise X-Men: Dark Phoenix will bring Jean’s story to the big screen! The limited series written by Matthew Rosenberg begins with the appearance of what might be a large flaming bird, as psychics begin to disappear around the planet, and somewhere in an unassuming small town, a young woman is finding her world is unraveling before her eyes — a woman named Jean Grey! The X-Men are scattered across the planet following a trail…but to what?
Without a doubt the Marvel Universe without Jean Grey, one of the imprint’s original heroines, is just not the same — and the X-Men haven’t enjoyed the popularity that they once relished, not since their counterparts in the Avengers became Hollywood sensations (though arguably the X-Men film franchise did launch before the introduction of the extended cinematic Marvel Universe). As the tale continues to take shape, exactly what the fate of the Phoenix will be is still unknown. Who is this new Jean Grey and is she in fact the latest resurrected form of the Phoenix?
And if that’s the case, is the Phoenix back to save us from ourselves, or burn the house down? The story continues to evolve in Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey issues #1 through #3 are on sale now!
The X-Men’s Universe is about to get very dark! 20th Century Fox has released its first trailer for the upcoming next installment of their highly successor X-Men films franchise. The highly provocative “first look” at The New Mutants sets up some very sinister implications of a world that not only fears and hunts the extraordinarily gifted among them, but exists to frighten them most into submission!
Here is a look at the trailer:
The film directed by Josh Boone is an adaptation of the premiere spin-off of the Marvel Comics comic book The Uncanny X-Men which expanded the world of the imprints most popular characters at the time by including a “new generation” of untrained young people who were also gathered together by Professor Charles Xavier, the X-Men’s mentor and founder. The series was written by Chris Claremont who is responsible for the X-Men’s best-selling run.
Among the familiar faces appearing in the film which will be released in 2018, Game of Thrones fans will recognize Maisie Williams who will embody (most appropriately) the role of Rahne Sinclair, the ferrel beauty known as Wolfsbane. In the book, Rahne is the most obvious link between the two team, being the niece of Dr. Moira MacTaggert, a colleague of Professor X’s who is played by actress Rose Byrne in the films.
Other familiar “New Mutants” that will be appearing in the film include Cannonball, Mirage, Sunspot and Magik, the younger sister of the X-Men known as Colossus. The New Mutants is released through 20th Century Fox and will be released in theaters in 2018.
The Uncanny X-Men are back in the spotlight with a pair of coinciding series that bring with them a new revitalization of a franchise that was once the pearl of Marvel Comics! Setting the Blue and Gold standard!
Once upon a time there were these misfits teenagers brought together under the sage guidance of a headmaster of a “school for the gifted”, but just how gifted these unlucky teens were wasn’t entirely clear even for their creator. After a string of successes that included the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Avengers and even the Hulk, Marvel Comics the House of Ideas wanted more from Stan Lee and demanded another hit from the man!
Stan had already given the world the mightiest, the most amazing, and the fantastic — the only thing left to do was go astonishing and uncanny! The answer came in the form of The Uncanny X-Men. Published in 1963 the group would be a very close reflection and raise social commentary on the social upheavals being experienced in American culture. The X-Men were “mutants” — humans born with the genetic propensity to super powers!
Where most of Stan’s creation had derived their abilities from unfortunate accidents, given to supernatural or super scientific circumstance, mutants were born with their gifts, and ultimately became the focus of fears and prejudice by a “normal” society that felt threatened by mutants evolutionary advantage, or in some cases their ascent to superiority. It led to some of the series most outstanding storylines.
The obscure popularity of the X-Men especially in those early adventures certainly solidified an audience for the group of teenagers who took it upon themselves to travel the world in defense of those feared and disenfranchised who couldn’t help themselves, but suddenly the title’s demand starting to wain. In 1969 the original stories ended with the release of Issue #66 and the series continued with reprints into it’s Issue #93.
In 1975 the “All-New, All-Different” line-up was introduced by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum and with Giant-Size X-Men #1 a new era was born. The team was a mix of diversity featuring characters from all corners of the globe. At first the new members had a difficult challenge of proving themselves, especially to one another, but soon they would develop into a family. These X-Men would be properly introduced with Issue #94 of The Uncanny X-Men written by Chris Claremont.
Claremont would begin an unprecedented 16-year run on the title that would propel The Uncanny X-Men to the top at Marvel Comics marking the mighty mutants (alongside Spider-Man) the lead sellers for the publishing giant. The X-Men’s message of inclusivity among diversity resonated with readers from all walks of life, and secured their transition into mainstream with a blockbuster film franchise, Saturday morning cartoons and several action figure toy lines.
In recent times, the mutants have taken a backseat to the other members of the Marvel pantheon including The Mighty Avengers who have themselves overtaken the cinematic spectrum of the Marvel Films universe and become bigger stars on the big screen then they might have ever been in the publishing mecca. Over the course of the characters’ rise among theater audiences, the Avengers became the center narrative of the publishing arm of Marvel as well.
This didn’t leave much room for the X-Men who never fell out of favor with their fandom, but were relegated to the side as a clear uniformity was built to strategically align with the cinematic world, to which the X-Men were not (at least at the moment) subscribed to. While many of the publishing events centered on the Avengers, the X-Men were often written into B-stories, or segregated into inclusion with representation coming only from the bigger stars in the line like Wolverine or Storm.
It has also quickly become evident that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has also substituted the mutants within its narrative with the Inhumans — a nearly godlike off-shoot of the human race that has lived in seclusion and often in hiding from the rest of mankind, but who have been taking their place at the table in contemporary plot lines. The Inhumans became centrifugal in two recent publishing events, and took over an arc on television’s Agents of SHIELD.
The Inhumans will also headline their own primetime series this fall on ABC.
Astonishing in Blue and Gold
One would assess that with the continuing profitability of the X-Men movie franchises still drawing audiences nearly two decades later, especially after a recent cinematic reboot, the mutants had a fanbase that would not be ignored. It appeared that the time to reinvest in the X-Men had arrived. Springing out of the recent Inhumans vs. X-Men limited series which pit the two enigmatic forces against one another, Marvel retconned the X-Men titles with a series of brand new #1s.
Reintroduced in the one-shot X-Men Prime #1 the future of the X-Men is precarious at best, so looking to the future Storm insists that Kitty Pryde return to the fold and assume a role she has been groomed for her entire career. Ororo wants Kitty to lead the X-Men and serve as a role-model, as headmistress to the next generation of young mutants. In order to achieve that goal, Kitty demands that the X-Men must give up their exile and rejoin the rest of planet.
At the conclusion of the aforementioned Inhumans vs. X-Men limited series, the X-Men moved their base of operations to Limbo in order to escape the effect of the Inhuman’s Terrigen mist; released into the Earth’s atmosphere and proven dangerous to mutants. With little other choice left to them, the X-Man Magik moves their headquarters to her demonic Limbo. Not exactly an ideal location by which to thrive and or raise a family. Kitty demands that the group return to Earth.
Using her skills of teleportation Magik lands the X-Men and their mansion into the heart of New York City, literally placing the home in Central Park. Kitty is able to keep most of the team together, but does not convince the “original” five X-Men including Jean Grey, Cyclops, Angel, Beast and Iceman to stay with the group. The time-displaced teenagers decide that the future they’ve inherited is not all that it’s cracked up to be and carve out their own path.
X-Men: Goldis written by Marc Guggenheim and follows the more traditional course of action as Kitty attempts to secure her X-Men’s place in the world. Fighting on her side are classic X-Men including Storm, who has given up the reigns of leadership to Kitty, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Prestige (Rachel Grey) and Old Man Logan. Their mission statement remains the same, and already they’ve come face-to-face with a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Sentinels.
The title in the line X-Men: Blue is written by Cullen Bunn who is propelling the younger “originals” led by Jean Grey on a completely different tangent. This group has decided on Jean’s insistence to ally themselves with the X-Men’s greatest foe Magneto and it’s evident that the Master of Magnetism has his own agenda in the works. If some of these larger, over-reaching arcs sound familiar, you’re not alone. You’ve been reading X-Men comics for more than three decades.
No one may want to admit that what the X-Men require is a significant reboot that simplifies the mythology. It had gotten particularly out of hand in the late 90s into the start of the new millennium, and has just not been able to get back to the richer, humanistic story arcs that Claremont infused into the title. The writer even attempted to return to the comic for a short period of time, and it appeared that the magic truly had gone off into limbo.
X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blueare on sale now and are published by Marvel Comics.
It hasn’t been easy for the mutants of the Marvel Universe and after a battle with their Inhuman counterparts, the X-MEN are returning and reclaiming “Prime” time with some help from DC TV’s Marc Guggenheim.
In the recent evolution of the Marvel Universe the story arcs that have commandeered the center spotlight have included those of the heroes and characters that have emerged as major players of the Marvel Films Cinematic Universe or their comparatively running television paramours. Although the X-Men who arguably lead the charge (alongside Spider-Man) to the big screen have gotten sidelined by the rising popularity of the Avengers.
Earth’s (so-called) Mightiest Heroes have found themselves again and again at the center of a civil war that has torn alegeneance and pit brother against brother. The X-Men have largely found themselves on the outside of these internal squabbles, but it looks like the mighty mutants are getting themselves a much-needed re-alignment!
The latest relaunch set to reboot the all-new, all-different mutant line-up begins with X-Men Prime #1. The first issue follows up on the heals of the Marvel Universe wide challenges that included the recent Civil War II and the just ended X-Men vs. Inhumans storyline. Given the recent acceleration to the forefront that has been allotted to the Inhumans (especially with their recent inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic continuity via a season-long arc on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) that these two evolutionary branches of man have again risen.
With the irrational fear of mutants having continued to escalate, and the infighting among the various factions of the species escalated those tensions, the X-Men have had little resort except to move their entire operation off the grid — literally! The school that had become home to so many generations of mutants has had little other resort but to seek shelter in Limbo, the inter-dimensional hell that is controlled by the “Darkchilde” X-Man Magik.
After a sojourn guarding the galaxy Kitty Pryde has returned to fertile ground and has been doing her best to reestablishing a “normal” existence, that is until her former teammate, and one-time leader of the X-Men Storm seeks the young woman out. Storm has a request for Kitty: she wants her to return and lead the X-Men, especially since the time has come for her to move on. Not entirely convinced that this is the move for her, Kitty agrees to accompany Storm.
Unprepared for the journey into Limbo, Kitty is heavily discouraged to find little of the intention her mentor Professor Charles Xavier always had and especially the dream of peaceful co-existence between regular humans and mutants. With the X-men in hiding in Limbo, they are basically no working towards that goal. The worst of it all, Kitty learns that the time-displaced “original” five X-Men have gone off on their own!
Determined to set things on a course that is more aligned with all they’ve learned, Kitty agrees to lead the X-Men, on several conditions, the first of which is that Storm must remain a part of the team, and the second that they rejoin the rest of the world. Kitty has Magik transport the mansion, the X-Men and their students back to Earth and places them squarely in the middle of Central Park. Just how New York City is going to respond to that bit of prime real estate being taken over…
It is for all intents a new dawn for the X-Men, but with so much against them, how will they reacclimatize to life on Earth, or even the Marvel Universe for that manner? Are the X-Men even relevant anymore? Even with Marc Guggenheim the executive producer of DC TV’s Arrow at the helm of this reboot, the X-Men just don’t feel fresh, and at least on the outset don’t have the cohesion — that sense of family — that has been at the fundamental core of the group’s storytelling especially at the height of its popularity.
With so much competition coming at them from all directions, Marvel’s decision to return to the X-Men as a viable aspect of their overall brand is a formidable task. The X-Men hasn’t lived up to the box-office figures of its Avengers counterparts on the big screen, although the recent solo film featuring the lead star of the mutant franchise, Wolverine in Logan did very well with critics and on first week sales.
But in today’s market, a good reception with theater audiences translates to decent sales on books, at least that’s the lesson that Marvel seems to have adhered to over the several last cycles of the publishing imprints company-wide initiatives. With Guggenheim a talent that is easily recognizable to a television audience, perhaps they are looking to cross-pollinate their worlds and see if the X-Men can be rescued from obscurity.
X-Men Prime #1 written by Marc Guggenheim and James Tynion IV with art by Steve Epting is on sale now from Marvel Comics.