5 Comics to Read After You’ve Seen Dark Phoenix
Poor Jean Grey. What should have been her moment to enjoy the cinematic spotlight in this week's Dark Phoenix ends up being stolen away by Charles Xavier and his eternal pity party, as with every single other X-Men movie since the first one. (He even fought for the lead role in Logan, of all things!) While Sophie Turner suffers through her second underwhelming finale of the year, X-Men fans can seek solace in the comic book catalog of the franchise, which contains the following five pieces of classic Jean action.
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Uncanny X-Men #101-137
If the cinematic Dark Phoenix left you wanting more, there's one place to find it: in the original comic book storyline, which unfolded across four years and offered exactly the character development (and costume changes, BDSM-themed secret societies, and mind control, oh God, the mind control …) that fans are complaining the new movie lacks. All this, plus Dazzler makes her debut, in a period-appropriate discotheque. The 1970s were a hell of a time.
Bizarre Adventures #27
There's no way to avoid it; the Jean Grey strip published in this anthology title is an oddity, and a fairly obscure one to boot. Nonetheless, it builds out the backstory of Jean Grey, beyond what had appeared inside the core X-Men series, and it offers insight into an inner life that the character was otherwise denied. It also features a fight with an undersea despot, for good measure. If only all obscure oddities were this much fun (or this revelatory).
New X-Men #114-154
If the first Jean Grey Phoenix story line got retconned away a few years after it saw print, then Grant Morrison's early-21st-century makeover for the X-Men would turn out to be the first time Jean Grey got to turn into the Phoenix for real. It went … in a very unfortunate direction for her. (Spoilers: Jean doesn't make it out alive, except she kind of does. It's a whole thing.) For those who never quite bought the idea that a powerful woman is inherently not to be trusted, this might be the run you're looking for.
Phoenix Resurrection #1-5
Perhaps the ultimate Jean Grey Phoenix story came in the miniseries that sought not only to bring Jean back into circulation after more than a decade—the adult Jean, at least; there'd been a time-traveling teenage version running around for a few years by this point—but also permanently resolve the nature of her relationship with the Phoenix Force. It draws on all kinds of X-Men comic book history and gets more than a little fantastic, but actually works as a great counterweight to what happens in the Dark Phoenix movie.
X-Men Red #1-11, Annual #1
It lasted an unfortunately short amount of time, but X-Men Red was almost the Platonic ideal of what an X-Men comic could be. It also hits all the notes that the Dark Phoenix movie attempts, and in a more successful manner. A restatement of the mutant metaphor that pledges the franchise towards acceptance and diversity, it's a comic that feels as timely right now as it did when it was first released, unfortunately—which means that it's a comic that needs to be read right now, if you've not already done so.