Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and thirty-fifth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the weekly three legends.
Len Wein and Dave Cockrum were planning on turning Jean Grey into the Phoenix themselves.
After being one of the X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum)...
Jean Grey left the X-Men along with the other original X-Men (save for Cyclops) in the continuation of the story in X-Men #94 (by Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Bob McLeod)...
Then Wein left the title and Chris Claremont became the sole writer and Claremont and Cockrum brought Jean back in X-Men #98...
She was promptly kidnapped into outer space along with Wolverine and Banshee. The rest of the team came to save them and they escaped from their space station prison, but then Jean had to sacrifice herself to get the team back home safely...
In the next issue, she transformed into the Phoenix...
So it seems like it is pretty clearly a case where Claremont and Cockrum were fully responsible for turning Jean into the Phoenix.
However, reader Mark G. wrote in to ask about this early Jean Grey costume design by Dave Cockrum in the early stages of the All-New, All-Different X-Men...
Mark wanted to know if Wein and Cockrum had always planned to turn her into the Phoenix and those plans just continued when Claremont took over.
Not quite, but it's surprisingly close to that!
In the seminal X-Men interview book (and that's saying a lot, since Tom DeFalco's Comic Creators on X-Men is also brilliant!), X-Men Companion Volume 1, Peter Sanderson interviewed Len Wein and they discussed Wein's original plans for Jean Grey and they were surprisingly similar to Claremont and Cockrum's plans!
Peter Sanderson: Having written out the four old X-Men, do you feel there would have been any loss in the book in terms of romantic interest, since you had broken off the relationship between Scott and Jean?
Len Wein: Well, I had no intention of it being any more permanent than Chris made it. Chris was following a little bit of my scenario in the early issues. She was meant to be come back in just a few months. The two of them couldn't stay apart and she was going to show up again.
Sanderson: As a member of the team?
Wein: Yes. With re-designed powers. We were going to revamp her not quite into what Phoenix became, but make her a different character, because we all thought she was a wimp, that she wasn't worth it. We had to pretty much reconstruct Jean Grey as a character.
Sanderson: What did you have in mind?
Wein: I don't remember. It's been five years. I don't really remember the details.
Sanderson: Okay. But she would have had a different costume and stronger powers, but of the same kind she had already.
Wein: Yeah, it would all have been telekinetic.
So no, they weren't going to do the Phoenix storyline. That was all Claremont and Cockrum (here are some Cockrum designs that were rejected for Phoenix's costume)...
But things were not far off!
Thanks to Mark G. for the suggestion and thanks to Peter Sanderson and the late, great Len Wein for the information!
Check out some other comic book movie legends from Legends Revealed:
Check back later for part 2 of this week's legends!
And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!