Review: X-Men #136

X-Men #136 cover
Cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin

X-Men #136
Published and © by Marvel, August 1980

Title: “Child of Light and Darkness”
Synopsis: Phoenix returns to Earth for a family visit and a rematch against the X-Men – with Professor X joining the fray.

Writer (plot): Chris Claremont and John Byrne
Writer (script): Claremont
Penciler: Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin

Review: This otherwise excellent issue is undermined by an unanswered question: Why does Dark Phoenix decide to come back to Earth? There are several hints that Jean Grey is still fighting the Phoenix force, grasping to reconnect with family and friends. In many ways, this issue reflects the addict’s journey, damaging and redamaging one’s relationships and community standing. But the reason for her return is never made explicit. The climactic battle scene also takes serious suspension of disbelief; even with Jean’s help, it’s hard to see Professor X defeating an entity who just ate a star and murdered five billion beings.

Grade: A

Second opinion: “A solid installment overall, Uncanny X-Men #136 becomes transcendent in its final sequence, beginning on page 13.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “Claremont’s grip on characterization, emotion, and suspense has never been stronger. … This issue is  the defining moment of the Phoenix saga.” – Jim Johnson, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003 … Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: The final panel suggests “The Dark Phoenix Saga” is about to level up – again!
Not-so-cool factor: Why are the X-Men sitting around the X-mansion mopping instead of pursuing their now-murderous friend across the galaxy?

Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 15p British variant of this issue, as well as a Marvel Legends reprint. … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jewelers variant.

Character quotable: “I am what was, what is, what will be – the black angel, chaos-bringer! I – AM – POWER!” – Dark Phoenix, making a statement

Editor’s note: This review was written Oct. 12, 2022.

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