Left Unresolved - Did Jean Grey Nearly Become the Phoenix in 1998?

In this feature, I spotlight storylines that have been, well, left unresolved. Click here for an archive of all storylines featured so far.

Today, I take a look at a storyline I addressed years ago in Comic Book Legends Revealed but also applies to this column, the story of how Steve Seagle (co-creator of Big Hero 6. Just thought someone should mention that if the Oscars weren't going to mention it. ;)) planned to have Jean Grey become the Phoenix during his run on Uncanny X-Men but the story was left unresolved.

1998's Wolverine #125 and 126 (written by Chris Claremont) involved the women closet to Wolverine being abducted and brainwashed by the Viper.

Jean Grey in the story, though, seemed a bit...different. She seemed to be more like the Phoenix than Jean Grey...

Steve Seagle, at the time (1998), had been doing some work with Jean Grey seemingly embracing her past as the Phoenix.

Specifically, Jean and Scott had left the X-Men after Scott was injured with a confrontation with Bastion. While recuperating, the other original members of the X-Men came to visit them. In Uncanny X-Men #353, we get this ominous ending...

In the next issue, she begins wearing the Phoenix costume...

Uncanny X-Men #354 had an interesting variant cover...

In the next two issues, Scott, Jean and Beast discuss Jean's behavior further. First, Jean and Scott...

and then Scott with Beast...

However, Seagle's Phoenix plot was never resolved, as he and Joe Kelly had to more or less drop whatever they were working on to work together on a story where the X-Men became a single streamlined squad again (after having two different casts for awhile) and Jean Grey was not on this new squad. Soon after this story (which also marked the return of Kitty Pryde, Colossus and Nightcrawler to the X-Men), both Seagle and Kelly left the book.

So this led to a few readers asking if perhaps the Claremont Wolverine issues were tied to a plot that Seagle never got a chance to actually do where Jean Grey once again became the Phoenix.

I asked Steve about it back in 2012, and he was quite helpful...

Joe Kelly and I engineered a lot of cool stories that were approved but then got the boot based on the various regime chages and edicts that were happening almost daily at Marvel back then. It was a frustrating time.

One of my main never-to-be-completed story arcs (started in Uncanny 353) was that Jean Grey - who - after all the convoluted ret-cons inflicted on her over the years following the Dark Phoenix story - had techincally never been Dark Phoenix - would get the Phoenix powers. I wanted to look at whether the actual Jean Grey would have succumbed to the dark side the way the "coocoon-not-Jean-Grey-thing" did. Scott, having lived through this scenario once, was in a very different starting position and would have gone against Jean's wishes to embrace this power as Jean became more and more influenced by the Phoenix. With a wedge between them and an X-Men team looking at a history they didn't want to repeat, Jean and love would have prevailed - barely - because I like a (somewhat) happy ending - and because I see Jean Grey as strong enough to overcome the temptation.

Eventually, Grant Morrison took over the X-Men (after Chris Claremont took over the titles for a while and gave Jean other powers for a while (Claremont had some unresolved plots of his own in that series - feel free to e-mail me about them! But don't make other suggestions in the comments. Keep 'em to e-mail!) and came up with his OWN version of Jean Grey as the Phoenix.

But Seagle's story was never to be. It's too bad, as it seemed like an interesting story.

Thanks to Steve Seagle for filling me in on the behind-the-scenes story!

Again, if YOU have a suggestion for an interesting comic book story that was left unresolved, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com (not in the comments section)!

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