So here we are again at the most obvious What If story ever: What if Jean Grey AKA Marvel Girl, Phoenix, Dark Phoenix and according to her 1994 Marvel trading card just Jean Grey hadn’t been replaced by the Phoenix force, stuck in a cocoon and impersonated for like eight years? So we start with Jean’s heroic sacrifice on the moon completely fucking up and instead the alien Shi’ar cut out a sizable portion of Jean’s brain so she can’t access her mutant powers anymore. Then they kick the X-Men out which is probably a good choice for the entire Shi’ar empire in the long run.
Back on Earth, Scott and Jean have the saddest wedding ever, the Angel buys them a house on a cliff and Jean gets into some serious full time moping.
“You can’t understand what it’s like to lose your powers, Scott!” she cries.
“Jean’s right.” Scott thinks. “But doesn’t she know I’d give anything to lose my accursed optic blasts. With a glance, I could level a building…”*
And then Magneto shows up and kidnaps Jean to his Asteroid Base where she can at least complain in a vacuum. Once there, Magneto offers Jean some new clothes and such but she’d much rather spend half the issue in her underwear so whatever. Then Mags offers Jean her heart’s desire. He can restore the Phoenix Force to her and all it will cost… is her very SOUL. MOO HOO HA HA. No, but seriously, it’s not going to cost anything. Mostly Magento is just hoping once she’s repowered, he can get her on board with his whole pro-mutants agenda.
Meanwhile, Scott’s grabbed the X-Men and they’re all heading to Asteroid M to beat up Magento because this is how the X-Men solve their disagreements. Real mature, guys. While they distract Magneto by punching his face, Jean has a crisis of conscious, remembers the billions of people she killed when she was Phoenix, realizes she probably got off pretty lucky and then smashes up Magento’s power restoring chamber with a big stick. Fuck you, Magento and fuck your gifts too! Annoyed by her vandalism, but respectful of her in that weird way Magneto always is, he lets Jean and the X-Men go. Jean eventually puts on some pants.
Things slowly return to normal back at the X-Mansion. Jean graduates from a college that isn’t secretly a paramilitary cult and starts teaching the New Mutants at Xavier’s. She and Scott have a baby who they name Rachel, drawing a direct line from here to the Days of Future Past universe so no matter what, we know this is all going to end well.
One fine afternoon, while the rest of the X-Men are teaching the Beyonder to poop over in Secret Wars II, Jean and Rachel are attacked by gross pervert Mastermind again, who uses his Castle of Illusion, I mean powers of illusion to torture her for a while. Jean gets pissed and fights back and then it turns out it isn’t Mastermind, it’s Mastermind possessed by the Shadow King because stacking villains is definitely the way to go here. And because the Shadow King isn’t super into the idea of long protracted revenge plots, he shoots Jean like eight times in the chest and she dies. Huh. Guess we should have called this one what if the Phoenix died slightly later in the year.
So Shadow King steals baby Rachel to be his new host (Why do demonic forces always want to live in babies? Being a baby sucks almost as much as having to spend time with a baby.). Meanwhile, Jean who is actually the Phoenix Force discovers that while her host body’s dead, she’s the Phoenix and therefore can’t really die. She also realizes that she’s replaced the real Jean Grey and flies off to Jamaica Bay where Real Jean is cocooned. And then Phoenix accidentally kills her. Whoops. Well, this is going to be a fun story to tell Cyclops next week.
*Man, writing like Chris Claremont is fun!