The Dark Phoenix Saga has been the standing guideline for what a great story should be. It is written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Dave Cockrum and John Byrne. The main idea of the story follows that of Jean Grey and her transformation into the Phoenix and then Dark Phoenix.
The story of the Phoenix starts off with the X-Men being held captive in space. In order to escape, they needed to commandeer a shuttle and fly it back to Earth. And they do. As they began their descent, their ship is bombarded with the radiation from a solar flare. The only way for the team to survive the radiation was for Jean Grey to read the mind of the pilot, encase the cockpit with a sort of “protection field” and fly the shuttle safely back to Earth. Sadly, while the other members of the team escaped unscathed, Jean was poisoned by the radiation.
Luckily, Jean did not die as a result of the poisoning. Instead, she was saved by a cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force. The Phoenix Force had heard her cries for help and provided her its power so that she and her teammates would survive.
The Phoenix Force then bonded with her, giving her immeasurable power, all-the-while absorbing a part of her consciousness and memories. While the X-Men believed this creature to be Jean Grey, it wasn’t. The real Jean Grey had been placed in a sort of a cocoon and sent to the depths of Jamaica Bay.
Dark Phoenix Saga
The Dark Phoenix Saga begins when the power of the Phoenix catches the eye of Jason Wyngarde or Mastermind, the leader of the Hellfire Club. Mastermind manipulates her with his ability to cast illusions and is quickly able to subdue her. Basically, he convinces her that she is one of his ancestors, and has her join the Hellfire Club as its new Black Queen.
The X-Men rush to her aid only to be easily beaten by the Phoenix’s raw and unrivaled power. Eventually, as is always the case, they broke free of the imprisonment and took down the Hellfire Club. With the X-Men free, Phoenix turned her attention over to Mastermind. She used her power to see into and open up his mind. Unable to handle what was happening to him, Mastermind was left in a coma.
Once again switching loyalties, Jean left with the X-Men. Everything seemed normal (as normal as the X-Men are) until Jean embraced the evil that was residing within her. This, of course, leads her to destroy the X-Men and all around them. No matter how much each of the team tried to talk to her, she did not listen.
Now finished with the X-Men, Dark Phoenix left for the depths of space. Her travels took her to the Shi’ar solar system where she began to systematically devour the planet and its inhabitants. Still “hungry” she then traveled back to Earth so that it may suffer the same fate.
She arrived back on Earth to be greeted by the ready-to-do battle once again, X-Men. This time, they managed to get the upper hand due to a Synaptic Scrambler designed by Beast. With Dark Phoenix temporarily detained, Wolverine was able to get close enough to kill her but couldn’t. Even after Jean begged him to do so, he still couldn’t. Once again, the Dark Phoenix came out and began to take liberties with the X-Men.
Professor X arrived at the scene to engage in a telepathic battle when suddenly, without warning, the team and the Dark Phoenix were teleported onto the Shi’ar Imperial Cruiser. Immediately, the group found themselves face-to-face with Empress Lilandra, the leader of the Shi’ar. She quickly ordered the destruction of Dark Phoenix.
Xavier, not wanting this to happen, challenged the Shi’ar empire to a duel that would decide the fate of Jean Grey. It goes without saying that the X-Men had great trouble competing against the superior Shi’ar warriors. Somewhat luckily, the Dark Phoenix emerges once again forcing the X-Men to shift their focus to it.
With nothing else working, Colossus literally punches Jean in the face, knocking some sense into her. With her sanity regained for the moment, Jean ran into a tunnel where she told Cyclops that they only way for this to end was for her to commit suicide. And she does.
The Dark Phoenix Saga concludes with Cyclops leaving the X-Men.