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Phoenix - X-Men
The Madelyne Pryor case
Other file :
A new redhead - new, really?
Just to make it more complicated, before John Byrne decided to resurrect a pale copy of Jean Grey (he claims she's the real one, but we all know that the really interesting character is still dead, right?), Chris Claremont also played with our nerves by introducing Madelyne Pryor. Not a mutant, but a human, airplane pilot, working for Scott Summer's grandparents company, she could have be the average hero girlfriend. Only, she was Jean Grey's exact copy. Same face, same hair, same voice. And with that, the only survivor of a plane crash from which she came out of flames, the very day of Phoenix's death on the dark side of the moon. Freaky.
A complicated honeymoon
Of course, Scott immediately falls in love with her, though tortured by the question whether he loves her or he loves Jean through her. Learning the truth about him and about her dead rival, she nevertheless accepts to stay with Scott.
Jason Wyngarde, a mutant with illusion powers who had partly caused Phoenix to turn to the dark side, reappears to attack the X-Men through Madelyne, letting them believe that she's the Dark Phoenix back from the grave so that they'd kill her. But hopefully, it was just a trick of his. So nothing can hinder Scott and Madelyne to get married. Violons, etc... Now a devoted husband, Scott leaves his role of X-Men leader to Storm (a bit pushed by Madelyne...), and leaves the team to live happily in Alaska with his wife.
Naaah, not Phoenix, just a good imitation...
In an Alpha Flight / X-Men crossover, the two teams fly to the rescue of Scott and Madelyne, whose plane has been crashed by a fountain of light. The whole thing will turn out to be a scheme of Loki, Thor's evil brother. Rachel, by then a new member of the X-Men, meets her father for the first time in this timeline. But finding out that Madelyne is pregnant with a boy, she decides to keep the secret on her identity to let Scott and Madelyne living without a ghost between them. Others won't be as nice. Some months later, Scott and the other X-Men will have to go to Asgard to save the New Mutants from Loki's revenge. In the meantime, Madelyne gives birth on her own to her son, Nathan Christopher Charles, but will hold a grudge against Scott for not having even called her when back on Earth (... you can't blame her).
Lesson 1 : never marry a super-hero
When the "real" Jean Grey is freed from her cocoon (see the main Phoenix page), her saviors try to contact the first team to help her tuning into the world. Scott, discovering that the woman of his life is not dead after all, leaves all at once to see her, without a word of explanation to Madelyne (how rude!). All of the five initial members (Cyclops, Strange Girl, Angel, the Beast and Iceberg) gather to form a new team, X-Factor, pretending to be mutants hunters, to actually protect the victims of a growing anti-mutant racism. Scott will never have a chance to explain Madelyne the situation : soon after his leaving, she's attacked by evil mutants working for Mr Sinister. They leave her for dead, erasing all records of her life, and bring back the baby to Sinister.
Madelyne, abandoned by Scott, forged anew by the desert, signs a pact with a demon... A nightmare?
Madelyne is rescued by the X-Men (the real ones of the time, led by Storm), and stays with the team to be protected from evil mutants, who seem to be trying to kill all the X-Men's relatives. Soon after, filmed by a TV crew, the team sacrificed itself to close a dimensional gate opening a passage to Earth to demons. Roma, a kind of goddess that they had helped, brings them back to life with a choice : as the world has seen them dying, they decide to let people think they are still dead, to protect their relatives. Thanks to Roma, they will now be invisible to cameras and sensors.
Lesson 2 : truth doesn't last (especially in comics)
The X-Men begin a half-clandestine life, and Madelyne remains with them as their pilot and computing system engineer, as she seems to be pretty gifted with the system of their new HQ. But she becomes darker and more mysterious as time passes. She eventually finds out about X-Factor (the team formed by the first X-Men) and understands why Scott has gone. After thinking about suicide, she gets closer of Alex Summers (Havok), Scott's younger brother, who has just lost his wife Polaris (she's not dead, but possessed by an enemy). A devil (formerly known from the magic kingdom ruled by Colossus' little sister Illyana, who I'd like to tell you the story, but this will have to wait another day) starts appearing in her nightmares and on the computer screens... Madelyne in Genosha : looks like a familiar face...
The Genosha incident : this island has decided to treat mutants as a natural resource, exploiting them as slaves and modifying their genes depending on their needs. Capturing Madelyne with some runaways, they are unable to figure out if she's human, mutant... or something else (the effect of Roma's spell, or something else?...) They try to question her through a telepath : in her mind, he encounters a little girl (Maddie's inner self), who sensing the threat, turns into a bird of fire, destroying her inner world - and the real room. She's then imprisoned and treated as a mutant, but manages to get away later (never got how) just before the X-Men arrive and rescue her with other prisoners.
The questioning : "Before you light a match in the dark, make sure you're not sitting on explosives..."
And the "healed" little girl, who else than the Phoenix could it be?
Lesson 3 : don't mess with a woman (especially if she's got psychic powers and is prone to schizophrenia )
It becomes obvious that Madelyne has made a deal with a demon, N'astirh. It's as the Goblyn Queen that she faces Sinister. Sinister reveals that she is actually a clone of Jean Grey, that he created when Jean became Pr. Xavier's student.
Yet in the beginning, the clone was nothing but an empty shell. Until, in a flash of fire, she woke up crying Scott's name (in the same moment where, on the moon, Phoenix died). It would appear later that the Phoenix entity tried to give back Jean Grey the part of her that she had stolen, but Jean rejected it because it bore the memory of its crimes. So Phoenix found Madelyne and gave it to her instead (yeah yeah. And what about Rachel now?).
Then Sinister built her a fake identity and personality that would seduce Scott, to make her breed with him, expecting a very powerful child from them. Madelyne doesn't accept those revelations quite well, and having inherited a part of Phoenix's power along with its faded memories, she gets Sinister away and gets back her son. She then returns to New York that she turns into a pandemonium - it's the Inferno Saga, that will have some consequences of different Marvel series at the time. The X-men are also contaminated by the "demonization" of the town.
Madelyne as the Goblyn Queen facing Sinister
Lesson 4 : it's never over
X-Men and X-Factor finally meet. Under Madelyne's influence, the X-Men attack their old friends, before finally joining their strength to fight her. She eventually dies, which stops Inferno, and they defeat Sinister. Jean accepts the missing part of her that the Phoenix had given to Madelyne, which will later owe her some schizophrenic troubles, dealing with memories and influences of Madelyne and the Phoenix. During all this, in the X-Calibur series, alerted by a mental call from her brother Nathan with whom she'd created a mental bond, Rachel also met Madelyne, who badly kicked her ass. In that series, Inferno will mostly affect the metamorph Meggan, who will briefly become a very nice... uh, a very impressive princess demon.
What about the baby?
It's easy to forget, but the whole thing started when Sinister (following Apocalypse's advice), tried to get a child having Scott and Jean's genes (djins djins). After Madelyne's death, it's Scott who takes care of him. But the baby won't remain with X-Factor for long. Apocalypse sends people after him, and he's contaminated with a techno-virus, that transforms him into a cyborg and might kill him. A redhead warrior lady, who can dematerialize in energy, coming from a distant future (reminds you of someone?) and calling herself Askani [see the picture on the right], steps in to help X-Factor. She offers to take Nathan with her in the future, where (when...) they will be able to stop the virus. It's from that future that will later come back Cable (who will become the New Mutants' leader), as well as Stryfe (another villain). Now it gets very complicated : Cable really is Nathan Summers, but uses his bionic arms and heavy guns more often than any mutant power, for all his (reportedly huge) personal power is focused on keeping in control the techno-virus infecting his cells. Stryfe is a clone of him, sane of body but with a perverted mind, since he has been raised by Apocalypse to become his new "host" : Apo' needs bodies to settle his energy, but he "consumes" them quite fast. The child of Scott and Jean should have been powerful enough to be a permanent, undamaged host, but that would never happen. Okay, now I really let it all down, because the "strong guy with a big gun" Cable had no interest for me, neither than the growing "boobs and guns" aspect of comics. I remember a time when there was some writing and psychology in there, I tell you... But the "creatives" left to create Image Comics, which started as an innovative alternative to comics, but ended up being a factory of Jim Lee's clones with CG coloring. The problem is, CG coloring doesn't make a bad picture better, it's just make-up... And it certainly doesn't add anything to the plot. So if you want something fresh and new now, take a look to Japan (sure it's full of stereotypes too, but since they are not the ones we're used to, it takes some years to get bored with it), or elsewhere.
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