Every Generation’s Got Its Own Disease: Phoenix Returns

About a week and a half ago, we reported on a postcard that Marvel sent to comic book retailers like my local comic store owner, who knows me by name and asks me not to unbuckle my belt and tell him to “check out my back issue”, that simply read: “It’s Coming.” Following the right URL to Marvel’s Website brought you to a page containing a placeholder for their liveblog of Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada’s Cup ‘O Joe panel at the New York Comic Con.

Well, that panel took place yesterday. Tell us what’s coming, Marvel blogger UltimateKidNova!

The teaser “It’s Coming” was shown once more before being morphed into what seems to hint heavily at the return of a certain character named for a mythical flaming bird.

“Flaming bird,” huh? Can you be a little more specific? RuPaul? Devine? Beiber?

Yeah, even I’m not that hung over. Marvel’s bringing back Phoenix. Eventually. Marvel’s promo art they showed at the panel is after the jump.

Whoops! It's Sorry. This Never Happens To It. It Must Be Tired. Give It Half An Hour For A Nap and It Will Be Ready To Try Again.

For those keeping count, this will be the second time Phoenix has been resurrected. After she was initially killed in the Dark Phoenix saga in the early 80’s, Roger Stern, Bob Layton and John Byrne brought Jean Grey back in 1986 to star in the original X-Factor,  which began its life as a showcase for Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s original five X-Men before becoming Peter David’s black sheep of the X titles noir / detective book and becoming totally fucking awesome.

Then Grant Morrison killed her again as part of the climax to his New X-Men run in 2002 or so, clearly showing Jean as being killed by Magneto and being, you know, dead. Finished. Kaput. An ex-Phoenix. To the point where even as recently as fourteen months ago, one of the Marvel editors flat-out told a fan at SDCC who asked when Jean was coming back that, “She’s dead.”

But look at the names on that promo picture: Jason Aaron. Brian Michael Bendis. Ed Brubaker. Matt Fraction. Jonathan Hickman. These names all have two things in common:

  1. They are currently powerhouses at Marvel – their “architects,” and:
  2. They either didn’t start, or weren’t big, at Marvel the last time Jean Grey was killed.

If you’re a younger comics reader, this idea that a new group of writers can come in and blow away everything you’ve known about your favorite characters might seem like heresy. But we at Crisis On Infinite Midlives have been around the block enough to know that this is how comics go. Kids grow up reading and loving characters. Some of those characters are killed. And some of those readers grow up to write comics, and they want to play in the sandbox that they read about as kids. This is a good thing.

It’s the new ideas about old characters and the constant change that keeps comics exciting. It’s what gives us people like Geoff Johns, who grew up writing fan letters with story ideas to The Flash and Superboy, who then enter comics and do a complete reboot that make DC Comics as exciting as they’ve been since the original Crisis. And it’s giving us guys like the Marvel Architects, who also want to blow things up like the death of Phoenix in the interest of doing their own reboot.

(But Marvel doesn’t reboot! Because Marvel doesn’t need to reboot! But if Marvel doesn’t let us play with Jean Grey, Jason Aaron will hold his breath until his beard falls out! And Matt Fraction will buy another stupid fucking porkpie hat!)

This story breaks sometime in 2012.

(Phoenix promo picture via Comic Vine)