(Dark) Phoenix emerges *facepalm*

Ryhmä-X 7/1985 Cover
Ryhmä-X 7/1985 Cover

In last Ryhmä-X Jean/Phoenix turned into Dark Phoenix when she witnessed Scott/Cyclops dying in front of her in a vision created by Jason Wynegarde/Mastermind. In Ryhmä-X 7/1985 all hell breaks loose.

The plot: Dark Phoenix is born

The story begins with the explosion of the Blackbird plane used by the X-Men. They all survive the explosion (rather miracuously, if you think what’s left of the plane) and the following fall. Jean has turned into Dark Phoenix and revealed herself to the X-Men, who in turn try to speak some sense into her but to no avail. The X-Men are helpless as Jean shoots into space with her nearly unlimited powers. Getting a little peckish, she destroys a star, thus killing a planet full of peaceful aliens in order to fill her appetite. When a Shi’ar battleship tries to stop her, she destroys it, too without any difficulty, raising the whole Shi’ar Empire on its rearlegs. Still not sated, she decides to return back to Earth for some dessert.

Ryhmä-X 7/1985 Jean as Dark Phoenix meets her family
Ryhmä-X 7/1985 Jean as Dark Phoenix meets her family. (Click thumbnail to see full image.)

Back on Earth, the Dark Phoenix walks into the home of Jean’s parents. The reason for this behaviour is not clear. After all, she returned to Earth to eat up the planet. She meets not only her parents but also her sister Sarah [sic]. They all are worried of her and also of what she has become – especially Sarah, who worries her two children might be mutants like Jean. Jean can feel their thoughts with her Phoenix powers, gets rather upset and makes the situation worse by threatening her family with her powers, causing her father to denounce her.

Ryhmä-X 7/1985 Jean as Dark Phoenix threatens her family
Here Jean shows how to calm down your family when they are scared of you. Just threaten them.

As Jean leaves the house in anger, the X-Men finally arrive to the scene and attack her. Finally Xavier arrives, too, and with the help of Jean they manage to lock the Dark Phoenix behind mental locks and she’s returned into her normal state. Yay! …Except that’s when they all disappear. Where? That we’ll find out from the next issue.

Ryhmä-X 7/1985 Xavier wants tea
Xavier must be English. They are the only people, who after saving the universe from destruction, after having had a psychic battle, and having an outraged father of your pupil yelling at you, propose they all talk it over with a cup of tea.

Phoenix is born, the X-Men go apeshit

Remember a few issues back there where those two boys from the small town of Lielahti who’d gathered signatures in their petition hoping to get the birth story of Phoenix published. Well, it was well worth it, because in this issue it’s the second story published.

Ryhmä-X 7/1985 Jean LOVED Scott
Once you get past Ororo's face, take a look at what Jean says here. "Ororo, can you... tell Scott... I loved him." PAST TENSE!

Basically, the X-Men had gone to a S.H.I.E.L.D. space station orbiting Earth, crashed their ship into the station’s hull, and now the place is in flames and the X-Men have to escape the place on a spaceship. Jean (at this time “only” as Marvel Girl) is sure her powers can keep her safe from the solar wind (I’d think radiation, coldness, or the vacuum would be worse threats), despite Scott’s protest. In the end she uses her mental powers to knock him down and orders the rest of the X-Men go to the cargo hold, which is the only safe place on the ship. Jean uses her powers and takes the ship towards Earth. Only after ten minutes (out of 30) the solar wind penetrates her shields and she dies. Luckily the X-Men’s spaceship manages to crash “safely” on Earth despite 20 minutes of drifting through space without navigation. Eveybody emerges from the wreckage unharmed and just when Scott is about to freak out over Jean’s demise, she re-emerges as Phoenix.

Ryhmä-X 7/1985 Jean as Marvel Girl shows Wolverine his place
Jean as Marvel Girl shows Wolverine his place. Starting from the first panel, last bubble: 1) "What are you trying to prove? That you are as good as Xavier? It's suicide, Jeannie." 2) "The name is Jean and I have had enough of you. I have tried to like you as the jerk you are, but I'm not sure if it's worth the trouble." "So keep your mouth shut and go to the cargo hold before I get upset!" I love the last image where Wolverine escapes, his tail between his legs!
In Finland we have this thing called "aina saa kärsiä ja hävetä" which translates as "always the shame and suffering". The X-Men still don't know how to behave in public. Xavier is ashamed. *facepalm*

Exhausted by her ordeal, Jean/Phoenix faints and is taken to a hospital. The X-Men wait patiently outside to hear news of her. Scott sits alone and thinks how he has finally realised how much she loves Jean.  (You have a funny way of showing it, Scott. Just saying…) The doctor comes out and tells the X-Men Jean’s going to make it. The group of supermutants can’t contain themselves. Moira and Sean Cassidy leap on eachother’s arms. Colossus grabs Storm and lifts her in the air. Wolverine looks genuinely happy. Kurt/Nightcrawler, using a device which makes him look “normal”, finds a new superpower and obviously turns into a superball and bounces to the ceiling and forward. But what does Xavier do? He does the facepalm. Facepalm? Yes, he buries his face in his hands.  Either because he’s embarrassed by the rest of the X-Men making a scene at the hospital, or maybe somebody got so excited s/he passed a silent killer, or maybe it was him and he’s not sure if somebody heard him let one rip.

Reading these old comics is like taking a trip with a timemachine. I did expect the clothes, the hair styles, and other details to convey the past. But I hadn’t prepared for how much our body language has changed in so few years. Of course Xavier buries his head in his hands because he’s relieved to hear Jean will survive, but nowadays no respected artist would ever draw their character like this. Today facepalm means *facepalm* and it’s a hilarious gesture as such. You see it and you know there’s a joke near by. Still, this episode was first published in 1980 in US. I have no idea when the meaning began to change (I suppose it’s always had the meaning of *facepalm*, but I mean as the only meaning), but in Star Trek Next Generation (1987-1994) it’s used many times in it’s modern meaning and has since been made famous by Captain Picard. According to Know Your Meme it became a meme at around 2005. In 25 years the meaning has changed altogether and now a facepalm is just a facepalm.

And did you notice Xavier in the issue’s cover? Notice that cool facepalm. Yes, Scott, you fail, because she didn’t even die in this issue and there you go howling on the cover. Fail, Scott, FAIL!

Ryhmä-X 7/1985 Detail from cover
Ryhmä-X 7/1985 Detail from cover.

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