Reviewer: Jesse Baker
Story Title: Phoenix Invictus: Planet X Conclusion
Written by: Grant Morrison
Penciled by: Phil Jimenez
Inked by: Andy Lanning w/ Simon Coleby
Colored by: Chris Chuckry
Lettered by: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: Marvel Comics
â€œPlanet Xâ€ comes to a shocking conclusion as the X-Men make their final stand against Magneto in a fight that ends with three dead.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Magneto’s plans fall apart as Cyclops, Fantomex, and the surviving students lead an assault against Magneto’s stronghold. Meanwhile Jean Grey has once again become Cosmic Level version of Phoenix again (complete with a new fire-based Phoenix catsuit) and saves Logan from burning to death in the sun and to transform the remaining portions of Asteroid M into a spaceship. After rescuing a stranded White Queen and Beast, they arrive to the fight just in time to see Angel and Esme betray Magneto, who brutally kills Esme in gruesome fashion with her ear-rings.
Esme’s death leads to a tender moment between her and Emma. Esme rejects Emma in her dying moments, declaring yet again that she’s nothing like Emma. Emma cradles Esme’s dead body and reveals that out of all of her students, Esme is the one that she is most proud of. Despite the fact that Esme was the mastermind behind Emma’s â€œdeathâ€ a couple of issues back.
Cyclops soon joins her as we get teased with Cyclops’s decision as to which woman he wants. Scott tells Emma he’s made up his mind, but that he won’t declare his choice until after Magneto is defeated.
Fighting resumes and after taking a nasty optic blast to the face from Cyclops (who is pissed off and no longer going to repress his rage), Magneto is forced to don the Xorn mask in order to shield his thoughts from Xavier and Phoenix. After fighting off Beast (who has injected chemicals into Magneto’s body to negate the Kick drug) and Wolverine, Phoenix is left to face off against the villainous Magneto. And rather than laying the proverbial cosmic smack down on him, Jean shocks everybody by telling Magneto that he can make his ideology pitch to the mob of mutants watching the fight up close and personal.
Magneto makes his pitch and is soundly rejected as Xavier (now in a makeshift wheelchair crafted out of Fantomex’s ship EVA) gives the first of our two meta-text comments of the day. Xavier acknowledges that after the brutal attack on Genosha that resulted in Magneto being declared dead, Magneto essentially won the ideology war. But by coming back as a drug-crazed maniac, Magneto lost all credibility and now is nothing but an old man whose face is splashed onto t-shirts for rebellious mutants to wear.
Magneto’s response to his humiliation is a literal killer, as he uses his power to induce a massive coronary stroke in Jean Grey. As Jean falls to the ground, a now feral Wolverine decapitates Magneto as he screams for the X-Men to kill him and make him immortal once again.
As Jean lay dying on the ground, Cyclops approaches his estranged wife in order to comfort her. With her last words, she forgives Cyclops for his adultery and in her last words asks Scott to live his life and not worry about her, since â€œall I ever did was die on you.â€ The page goes white as Cyclops cries out Jean’s name. End of issue, or is it?
The following page teleports us 150 years into the future as a group of astronauts discover what they call â€œThe Phoenix Eggâ€ in the abandoned area of the moon where Jean committed suicide back in 1980.
Jean’s dead, Magneto’s dead, and Esme’s dead. That my friend is a hat trick and I think that now we X-Men fans can steal that term away from the Legion of Super-Hero fans to describe this issue. While I know a lot of people are pissed off that Jean’s dead, I don’t consider myself one of them. Jean’s death was well done and made more sense, IMHO, than her death in Uncanny X-Men #137 (which I should remind you all, was a last minute change).
The same feeling applies to Magneto’s death; since Morrison made Magneto’s death mean something and give us a fitting final take on Magneto and why Magneto can never win the ideology war between him and Xavier. Both men are ego-driven and Magneto’s refusal to acknowledge the fact that not everyone wants to overturn the apple cart is his Achilles heel. Morrison does a good job at pointing out the way that Magneto has become the very thing he hated (the Nazis) with this arc. Especially in New X-Men #149 where he had Magneto, literally, operating his own crematoriums and ranting and raving about his students becoming his personal Stormtroopers.
My only problem though was Grant recycling the ending to â€œEve of Extinctionâ€ by way of having Wolverine strike the deathblow. If anything, Cyclops should have done it in order to symbolize the end of his journey into self-discovery and personal growth. It would have made Wolverine’s feral mode reversion make much more sense, as he would feel totally helpless in terms of protecting and avenging Jean’s death.
Esme’s death was unexpected, but worked to bring Emma full-circle from her confrontation with her father at the end of the â€œHigher Learningâ€ arc in her own book. In many ways, Emma has become just like her demon-spawn father. But, unlike her father, Emma seems less interested in control for control’s sake, but instead control as a means to gain the love she never received from her father. And, connecting this towards the running theme of the older X-Men characters becoming pop-culture figures in the eyes of the next generation of mutants.
Emma totally misinterpreted the hero-worship going on between the Stepford Cuckoos. They saw her as a hero to worship and to imitate, in the same way pop acts like Brittany Spears and Christina Aguilera worship and imitate Madonna. Emma never seemed to realize that the Stepford Cuckoos idolization was just a game and when things got tough and something bad happened to them, they would blame her and stop idolizing her. Especially when it turned out Emma’s way of doing things (which includes her students having to go out in the field and accomplish something, rather than stand around and crack jokes) was harder than they thought it would be.
And finally, here’s two words to explain my personal theory as towards how Grant will bring Jean Grey back; Time Paradox. In the final Morrison-penned arc, the Phoenix Egg will hatch and reveal Jean Grey inside alive and well. Jean will see the future and how shitty things ended up after her death and be given a chance to go back in time and change things. HOWEVER rather than being sent back in time so that she can stop her own death and the death of Magneto, Jean will return seconds after her death and Morrison’s run will end with Jean standing in front of the X-Men and Jean’s dead body. Jean’s alive and her death is still valid through the magic of time travel.