(Cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin)
Published and © by Marvel, Sep. 1980
“The Fate of the Phoenix!”
Synopsis: Amid lunar ruins, the X-Men duel the Shi’ar Imperial Guard to determine the fate of the Phoenix.
Writer/co-plotter: Chris Claremont
Penciler/co-plotter: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Review: For young comic-book fans in 1980, X-Men #137 was a life-changing event. The entire Chris Claremont/John Byrne run had been addictive, but this double-size issue brought a whole different level of high. Claremont’s skills are on full display, with a well-crafted story, good pacing, and strong characterization. Byrne’s pencils offer a perfect mix of grace and power, all beautifully inked by Terry Austin. Then-Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter deserves some credit, too, for insisting on the gut-wrenching ending that still cuts deep today. The best superhero comic of the Bronze Age. And one of the best, period, of any genre or era.
Second opinion: Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition).
Cool factor: Everything. This one’s that good.
Notable: The (first) death of Jean Grey. … No. 3 (and top Bronze Age book) on Marvel’s Greatest Marvels of All Time list (see Bronze Age Award Winners page). … Double-size issue. … The original ending to this issue was eventually printed in 1984’s Phoenix #1 (check out Comics Bronze Age’s review).
Character quotable: “The X-Men do not realize it — they may never realize, or accept it — but this day they have won perhaps the greatest victory of their young lives.” — Uatu, the Watcher.
A word from the editor-in-chief: “I felt the way the story was originally designed to end, it did not have enough consequences for what happened — it wasn’t an ending.” — Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter, from “The Dark Phoenix Tapes” in Phoenix #1, Apr. 1984.