So we’re back after a week off so I could continue to make the hideous climb from early to mid-thirties. Maybe taking a break during a two parter wasn’t my best decision, but I have the second annual “wacky” What If next week, so trust me. I will be punished. Last time, as you’ll recall, Jean Grey of the X-Men was lobotomized by the Shi’ar to remove her Phoenix powers. This is the cosmic equivalent to slapping a band-aid on a gaping head wound, and it worked just as well. Unfortunately, Jean’s powers arrived just in time for her baby to be kidnapped by Mastermind who was possessed by the Shadow King so we can have an “X-Men Villains Matt Doesn’t Particularly Care For” twofer. Then Jean realized she was actually the Phoenix Force in the form of Jean and went to visit the real Jean’s sleeping cocoon. And accidentally vaporized her. Well, not even immortal fire goddess are perfect, I suppose.
Anyway, Jean mounts an attack on the Shadow King. Unfortunately for her, Shadow King has found and used former X-villain Erik the Red’s Aging/Deaging Device* to turn Baby Rachel into Excalibur Rachel. Complete with weird spiky bodysuit. That she wouldn’t get until the dark Days of Future Past Future. But whatever. Jean tries the whole “Listen to me, Rachel! Remember who you are!” but Rachel still has the brain of a nine month old, so the only thing she remembers is that time she shat herself this morning. This is not at all useful in a superhero battle.
With no other options, Jean takes the battle to the Shadow King’s home on the Astral Plane and then burns him to fucking death. Hey, she killed a whole planet. One bodiless douche canoe is not a big fucking deal. With that done, she’s left with a sixteen year old Rachel Summers with the brain of a nine month old. Luckily, the power of the Phoenix can be used to completely rewrite the Rachel’s DNA, returning her to infanthood. And while we’re messing around with her on a molecular level, let’s just tweak that hair colour a little, make her good at piano and maybe not cry so fucking much when Mommy’s had a long day. What mother could do less for her kid?
Jean returns to the X-Mansion with the kid in tow and decides… no, I don’t think my teammates, family and husband really need to know about my returned powers, my baby’s brief adolescence or my latest murder. Instead, Jean decides to fake it and just be a mother. Which is a wonderful plan that works just plain great for eight years until an anti-mutant president enters the White House, starts stirring up anti-mutant hate and the rest of the Marvel Universe fall in line. Thanks a lot, guys.
Worried about her family, Jean decides to finally bring the Phoenix out of retirement for one last job. She sneaks into the White House and lobotomizes the President into a more mutant friendly type of guy.
“Mr. President, what are your thoughts on the ongoing tensions in Russia?”
“Mutants are good.”
“That doesn’t really answer my question, sir.”
“MUTANTS ARE GOOD!”
So THAT plans goes absolutely perfectly for about eight seconds before the President is assassinated by anti-mutant terrorists. And because the President had… you know, a Vice President with pretty much the exact same opinions, we’re back at square one. And square one is a Presidential Order to kill all mutants with Sentinels. Shit.
So because Sentinels are the absolute most stable giant robot monsters in the Marvel U, they quickly decide that the thing to do is wipe out everyone with powers. The Avengers and the Fantastic Four both bite the dust, leaving the X-Men on the run. It’s around this time that Wolverine gets his shit together enough to realize that Jean still has her powers. And then he punches her a bunch of times until her powers manifest. Because violence is the only way Wolverine knows how to solve his problems. The Phoenix Force does indeed emerge and Jean unloads her eight years of lies to Logan before she wipes his brain. Like a friend would. Unfortunately, Cyclops and Professor X were listening at the door like so much Mr Furley and they kick Jean off the team.
While Jean goes to mope on her giant rock in New Mexico, the X-Men and Magento mount an attack on the Sentinals’ home base in the Baxter Building. It… doesn’t go great. The Sentinels are tipped off by Magneto’s magnetic powers (“Lousy powers! You sold me out!”) and then they paralyze him. Then Jean stops moping and comes back to help out, murdering hundreds of Sentinels with an effective AOE attack. While that’s going on, Colossus chucks Shadowcat into the Master Mold, where she re solidifies, choking the robot making robot with her intestines. I guess that’s one way to do it.
With Master Mold and the Sentinels destroyed, the X-Men return home to count their dead. And then a suspiciously Mole Man looking Destiny tells her that if she stays on Earth, she will eventually destroy it. And so the Phoenix leaves behind her husband, her daughter and all that make her human to explore the galaxy. And probably blow up some planets that we personally do not live on.
*Totally a real thing. They used it to turn Magneto into a baby. Which also totally happened.