In the Marvel Universe, the Phoenix Force reigns supreme, a power that dwarfs the combined might of the X-Men, the Avengers and most of Marvel’s heroes, the Phoenix stands among the most powerful entities in the Marvel Universe. ComicWatch takes a look at some of the most popular hosts to this cosmic Phoenix force, and give you a brief synopsis on each!
ComicWatch will explore our ten most popular incarnations of the Phoenix force, and in the next article, we will release poll results and more, plus a special interview with someone close to Phoenix Resurrection so stay tuned and enjoy the ride!
With The origin of the Phoenix Force is rather ambiguous, but it has often been referred to as a primal force of the universe and something that is integral to the destruction and rebirth of planets and entire species. The force has been shown to have a form of sentience on more than one occasion and its influence over its many hosts can range from total possession to simply lending small degrees of Phoenix Force power. Let us explore ten of the most popular hosts to this cosmic force!
Amber Hunt was a ” typical valley girl” until she was exposed to the Theta Virus and gained pyrokinetic powers. She discovered that she could psionically create flames by inducing spontaneous combustion and even fly by superheating the air under herself. She joined the Exiles, as “En Flame”, until the damaged computer of an ancient alien spaceship, which had crashed on the moon, turned her into the “Moonchild”. Amber had dormant psi-powers that allowed her to control electromagnetic wavelengths, and the alien computer, also known as the Entity unlocked those powers and used Amber to send an EMP signal over the Earth, calling all Ultras to her. Unfortunately, the EMP signal was dangerous to ordinary humans, slowly driving them insane. After an intense battle, Amber was freed from the Entity’s control, and Earth was saved.
Later the Phoenix Force was pulled into the Ultraverse and was critically damaged. Needing a human host to help heal the damage, the Phoenix Force bonded with Amber. The injury to the Phoenix Force made it insane, and Amber was unable to control it. She attacked her friends and would have destroyed the planet, if not for the arrival of the X-Men and new Ultra hero Foxfire, who after a long battle were able to separate the Phoenix from Amber and send it back to the Marvel universe.
The Phoenix Five
After the Phoenix Force was split by Iron Man, it possessed Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus, and Magik. These X-Men, now known as the Phoenix Five, returned to Earth to bring forth a better tomorrow.
The Phoenix Five built a grand new Utopia, a floating fortress, for mutant kind. They began working to provide power, food, and water for all the Earth. Not content with just that, they outlawed war altogether. The Avengers, however, mistrusted the Five. Wishing to prepare for the day when the Five would lose control and become destructive, they tried to retrieve Hope from Utopia. Cyclops and Emma alone defeated the Avengers, but they were saved by the timely intervention of the Scarlet Witch, who teleported the Avengers, and Hope, to safety.
Scott realized they needed to hunt down the Avengers, imprisoning some of their members, while the rest were outlaws. After Namor tries to finish them against Cyclops’ will, he’s defeated by the combined forces of all the Avengers present in Wakanda, their hideout. After Namor fell, his portion of the Phoenix Force was bequeathed to the rest of the Phoenix Five. The Avengers escaped to an unknown location for the X-Men, and Charles Xavier telepathically alerts Scott to stop his actions or he will be stopped.
With the number of Avengers being reduced as the days go past, the rest of the mutants start to see how the remaining Phoenix Four become more corrupt and tyrannical, making some of the other mutants join the Avengers’ side in the battle. Professor X aids the Avengers in rescuing their captive teammates from Magik’s Limbo Prison, but not before being detected by Magik and Colossus. The Avengers fight the Rasputins until they manage to escape thanks to Spider-Man‘s distraction who managed to hold them long enough to buy time and even after a brutal beating, he managed to convince the siblings to fight each other for their share of the Phoenix power, making them both fall down and lose their portions of the Phoenix Force, only to discover that both Scott and Emma were powered by their teammates fall.
Emma starts to cave into her dark side, killing a man who once committed a “hit-and-run” against a mutant and later acting more tyrannical to the point of threatening anyone who’s not worshiping her. Scott confronts the Avengers in K’un-Lun searching for Hope only to be surprisingly beaten by her after she absorbed the powers of Scarlet Witch, the Shou-Lao dragon and much of Cyclops’ Phoenix power. With a single punch, Hope sent Scott to the moon, making him realize that in order to defeat her, he needs Emma’s power.
Cyclops cannot find himself to take the Phoenix from Emma, despite the fact that she taunts him. She tries to tempt him to burn the entire world and start again from nothing, but Cyclops refuses her. Their conversation is interrupted when they are attacked by the combined might of the Avengers and the X-Men. Professor X uses his telepathy to try and shut them down long enough for the Avengers and X-Men to take them down. Cyclops finally gives in and takes Emma’s portion of the Phoenix, becoming the sole wielder of the Phoenix Force. After Xavier tries to shut him down again, Scott kills him and completely loses control of himself, becoming Dark Phoenix.
The Stepford Cuckoos
The Stepford Cuckoos were a group of teenage girls that were introduced in Grant Morrison’s run on “New X-Men.” Originally, there were five Cuckoos, but over the course of the series, two of the members — Sophie and Esme — were killed, leaving Celeste, Phoebe, and Mindee. These three surviving girls would go on to become major supporting characters in other X-Men comic book series and are frequently used in storylines to this day.
The Stepford Cuckoos were powerful telepaths in their own right and were eventually revealed to be clones of Emma Frost in “Phoenix Warsong.” In the same miniseries, the three surviving Cuckoos were possessed by the returning Phoenix Force, which they subsequently used to resurrect Sophie and Esme. The Phoenix Force had come to Earth to destroy the thousands of other clones of Emma, however, and once the dust was settled, only the three original Cuckoos were left alive.
Emma Frost actually had a rather long history with the Phoenix Force before becoming a host herself. She was instrumental in the corruption of Jean Grey, as the Hellfire Club’s White Queen, which led to the appearance of Dark Phoenix. She also eventually dated Jean Grey’s husband, Scott Summers, and was with him during Jean’s second Phoenix awakening and untimely death in Grant Morrison’s run on “New X-Men.”
Emma was briefly possessed by the Phoenix in “Phoenix Endsong” and would also play an important role in the Phoenix’s next appearance in the “Phoenix Warsong” miniseries, which featured the cosmic force possessing several of her students, the Stepford Cuckoos, and ultimately destroying thousands of clones which had been made from her own DNA. Years later, in “Avengers vs X-Men,” Emma Frost became a Phoenix host once more; however, this was more of a result of the Phoenix raptor being blasted with a device designed by Beast and wasn’t a conscious choice made by the force itself. Emma Frost was eventually freed of the Phoenix Force after Cyclops, who was also a host at the time and had been driven mad by the power, forcibly removed it from her.
Cyclops Dark Phoenix
After suffering through numerous Phoenix encounters over the years, Cyclops finally became a host of the powerful cosmic force himself in the Avengers vs X-Men miniseries. His time as a host wasn’t a decision made by the Phoenix Force, however, and appeared to be more of an unintended side-effect caused by a weapon designed by Beast. Magik, Namor, Colossus and Emma Frost also became hosts when Cyclops did, but he was the last one standing. The Phoenix corruption eventually causes him to transform into Dark Phoenix and, after murdering Charles Xavier, is eventually helped by the spirit of Jean Grey, who inspires him to let go of the power.
Cyclops became a Phoenix host a second time after obtaining a Phoenix Egg. Before the incursions of the main 616 and Ultimate 1610 universes in the lead-up to Secret Wars, Cyclops used the egg to release the Phoenix Force and managed to retain all of the powers after the apparent end of the multiverse. Despite this, Cyclops, along with the Phoenix Force, was killed by Doctor Doom, who had obtained the powers of the Beyonders.
Giraud is a little-known character from the classic Guardians of the Galaxy comic books series and first appeared in the series’ ninth issue, by Jim Valentino. Giraud existed in a possible 31st Century future where mutants were almost extinct with only nine remaining in existence. Thought to be purely human when he was first introduced, it was later revealed that Giraud had latent psi-abilities. It was these abilities that eventually attracted the Phoenix Force to him.
Giraud was introduced to the Phoenix by Starhawk, who had located the powerful force within a volcano. The Phoenix accepted him as a host and quickly used its power to feed on Haven’s planet core. While this destroyed the planet, Giraud also used the Phoenix’s many powers to teleport all of the inhabitants to safety. After this incident, Giraud implemented psychic inhibitors to help control the Phoenix, but these were later removed and he regained access to the Phoenix’s powers once again.
Jean Grey Dark Phoenix
The Phoenix Force’s fall from grace – a state wherein it became corrupted by power. The Phoenix entity became too strong to control, for the merely human aspects it had acquired from Jean, but the other X-Men had no way to know what was happening and little chance of preventing a tragedy. Professor X helped Jean establish “psychic circuit breakers” in her mind, but they became less and less effective.
She was thus an easy target for the illusionist Mastermind, who needed a trophy to join the Inner Circle of the prestigious (and infamous) Hellfire Club. With the help of a psionic device created by the club’s White Queen, Emma Frost, Mastermind made Jean believe that she was his 18th-century lover Lady Grey. Jean joined the club as their Black Queen, which would allow her to relish the extremes of human emotion and sensuality. When the X-Men came to her rescue, Jean’s true love, Cyclops, faced Mastermind in a psychic duel and was defeated. His “death” broke Mastermind’s hold over Jean’s psyche–as well as any control that Jean had had over the Phoenix. It brushed aside the X-Men and departed for the heavens.
To sate its hunger, the (now Dark) Phoenix flew to a distant galaxy and devoured the star of the D’Bari system. The resulting nova killed billions of innocent people. A Shi’ar vessel attacked it and managed to alert the Shi’ar Empress Lilandra before they were destroyed. The empress called a council of her intergalactic counterparts, including the Kree and Skrull empires. They concluded that, for the rest of the universe to live, Dark Phoenix must die.
Meanwhile, the Beast had found a way to neutralize Phoenix’s power temporarily. When it returned to Earth, the X-Men held it at bay while Professor X rebuilt the circuit breakers in Jean’s mind. At that moment the Shi’ar arrived and teleported everyone aboard their flagship. Lilandra announced that Phoenix, and thus Jean Grey-Summers, would have to die. Jean received a Kree weapon so that she could “do the right thing.” Professor X, unwilling to give up on one of his pupils, but romantically involved with Lilandra, challenged her to Arin’n Haelar, a Shi’ar duel of honor that cannot be refused. Professor X named the X-Men as his champions in the duel, Lilandra, her Imperial Gaurd.
The duel took place the next day in the Blue Area of the Moon. The Imperial Guard made short work of the X-Men, leaving Cyclops and Phoenix to make a final stand. A stray bolt hit Cyclops. Jean’s control broke, and she became the Dark Phoenix again. Lilandra ordered Plan Omega, which would destroy the whole solar system in hopes of eliminating Dark Phoenix as well. Professor X ordered the X-Men to subdue Jean so that Plan Omega would not be necessary, and they managed to subdue the Phoenix for a brief time. In this moment of lucidity, Jean took Cyclops to a back alley, where she bade him an emotional farewell and turned the Kree weapon on herself. The story ends with Uatu the Watcher’s comment: “Jean Grey could have lived to become a god, but it was more important to her that she died as a human.”
Quentin Quire was a student at the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning and was first introduced to readers in New X-Men #134 by Grant Morrison, and Frank Quitely. The character was quickly established as being one of the most-powerful telepaths at the school and has been revealed to be a future host for the Phoenix Force in at least two instances. The first glimpse at Quentin Quire as a Phoenix Host can be seen in New X-Men #154 when he briefly appeared in the future in the White Hot Room, a mystical location where the souls of previous Phoenix Force hosts exist. The second was during the Battle of the Atom story-line, which featured a Phoenix Force-wielding version of Quentin traveling to the present. This version of the character was not only more confident than the present version but was also significantly more cheerful about life in general. Present-day Quentin has yet to possess the Phoenix Force; however, it did show an interest in him during Phoenix Endsong.
Rachel Summers is the daughter of Scott Summers and Jean Grey-Summers from an alternate future timeline referred to as Earth-811. She first appeared way back in 1981 in the famous Days of Future Past storyline in Uncanny X-Men #141 and # 142, (Chris Claremont, John Byrne) and has been a fairly constant presence in the X-Men comic books ever since.
In addition to inheriting both telepathy and telekinesis from her mother, Rachel was also born with a natural connection to the Phoenix Force. For most of her appearances in the comics, Rachel exhibited control of the cosmic force, which she used to enhance her own telepathy, manipulate matter and connect to the cosmos at large. She recently lost the majority of this power, however, during the X-Men: Kingbreaker miniseries, written by Christopher Yost and Dustin Weaver, when it appeared as if the spirit of Jean Grey was reclaiming the energy as part of some sort of cosmic balance.
Hope was the first mutant born on Earth after Scarlet Witch uttered the infamous words “No more mutants.” As such, she drew the attention of many individuals and was subsequently taken with Cable into the future for her own protection. While not having a direct genetic link to Jean Grey or Scott Summers (she was named after Cable’s wife), she still bears a remarkable resemblance to Jean with her red hair and possesses an innate connection to the Phoenix Force itself.
It’s eventually revealed that Hope was born to be the new host for the Phoenix; and yet, as soon as the fiery bird is detected traveling to Earth, members of both the Avengers and X-Men attempt to prevent her from making contact with it. Instead, events take a turn for the worse and Magik, Colossus, Namor, Emma Frost and Cyclops are possessed by the Phoenix. The Phoenix Force is gradually removed from each of these characters and Hope finally became the host she was destined to be. She uses the Phoenix to restore the mutant race and then seemingly discards the power completely.
While the Phoenix Force has played a big role in fairly recent stories like 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men, the Phoenix’s most famous host, the original Jean Grey, has been largely absent since her death in 2004. Now, Jean’s made her long-awaited full resurrection in the aptly-titled, Phoenix Resurrection!
At first, the Phoenix Force wasn’t a cosmic force at all; it was simply an evolution of Jean Grey’s powers that was activated when she saved the X-Men from re-entering Earth’s orbit following an outer-space mission. Following the crash, she emerged from Jamaica Bay with advanced new powers, taking the name Phoenix and referring to herself as “fire and life incarnate.” Though this remains canon to this day, the original intention in those stories was that it was actually Jean Grey who leveled-up, so to speak, rather than what was later revealed to have actually happened, according to most.
However, the villain Mastermind manipulated Jean in an effort to gain access to The Hellfire Club, and in doing so he awoke The Dark Phoenix aspect of her powers. The Dark Phoenix fled to space and destroyed a sun, which resulted in an entire race of aliens dying out. She was put on trial for her actions by The Shi’Ar and although The X-Men fought for their teammate, Jean decided the only way to stop the Dark Phoenix was to kill herself.
Not too long after the death of Jean Grey, her alternate-future daughter with Cyclops, Rachel Summers, arrived in the present to discover that her mother had died before ever giving birth to her. In the Grey family home, Rachel found an aspect of Jean’s Phoenix powers housed in an ornament, and took them for herself, becoming the next Phoenix in the process.
Years later, Marvel hatched plans to reunite the original X-Men, but it was also decided that the Phoenix deserved some sort of punishment for her genocidal actions. This led to the creation of the Phoenix Force as a separate entity. The real Jean Grey’s body was discovered in a cocoon of sorts, at the bottom of Jamaica Bay, and it was revealed that the Jean who died was actually a physical manifestation of the cosmic Phoenix Force which took her place and aspects of her personality. This allowed Jean to return as Marvel Girl as part of the newly formed team X-Factor, and bolstered stories about Rachel Summers in the years to come.
I’d like to say this could not have been done without the help of Chris KebbleWhite, a hard working contributing member of the ComicWatch Press Corp, Team Writers, and a dear friend. We also compiled information from many different sources both online and off, and would like to offer credit to all those as most of this is compiled from database and articles written elsewhere but we wanted to present it all in one place in this format.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Phoenix Chronicles where we will explore the poll results from the ComicWatch Poll.
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