By JV Tanjuatco
On June 5, X-Men: Dark Phoenix invades theaters and many are expecting this to be the swan song for the Fox version of our merry mutants. It will be emotional for fans that have been following this series since the first X-Men flick back in 2000. Which is fitting since the popularity of the X-Men comic book series is built on many stunning moments and no one did it better than longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont. Claremont had a gift for crafting high stakes melodrama with a relatable level of humanity and many fans considered these scenes as the benchmarks that modern comics need to exceed today. Here are a few emotional stunners from the comics, so get your tissues ready:
1. Colossus’ lost innocence (Uncanny X-Men #128) – Out of all the second generation X-Men, Piotr Rasputin was always the most sheltered. In his early years as the metal-clad Colossus, he discovers how the outside world can be so cruel though he has no idea that the worse is yet to come. In pitch battle with Proteus, a powerful evil mutant who manipulates reality, the X-Men fight a losing battle against him. When Proteus is on the verge of killing his own mother, Colossus is forced to kill him (Proteus’ sole weakness is metal). While he felt that he had no choice, it’s a decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
2. Wolverine… Alone! (Uncanny X-Men #133) – Wolverine has never exactly been a team player. Brash. Arrogant. And always spoiling for a fight. Logan would tussle with his teammates as much as his enemies. But when X-Men foes, the Hellfire Club catch the X-Men sneaking into their headquarters, Wolverine proves he’s got the X-Men’s back when they need him the most. Assumed to have drowned in the sewers, the rest of the team is captured. The Hellfire Club revel in their victory while unbeknownst to them, Wolverine emerges from the waters, ready to take them all down!
3. Phoenix commits suicide (Uncanny X-Men #137) – Absolute power corrupts absolutely. That quote perfectly encapsulates long-time X-Man Jean Grey’s turn to the dark side. After obtaining the cosmic powers of the Phoenix, Jean’s psychic and telekinetic abilities reach god-like levels, making her the team’s heavy hitter. However, the powers unleash her psychotic side, making her attack the X-Men and decimate an entire race of aliens. Distraught over all the atrocities she’s committed, she kills herself in a moment of clarity as her lover Cyclops looks on in shock. Readers were stunned as well. During a time when deaths were rare in the Marvel Universe, Jean’s death resonated for years.
4. The X-Men’s last stand (Uncanny X-Men #142) – In the near future, the mutant-hunting robots, the Sentinels take over the United States, eliminating and capturing all the mutants and super heroes in the country. The surviving X-Men send Kitty Pryde into the past so she can avert this bleak future from ever happening. To distract the Sentinels, Wolverine, Storm, and Colossus stage a desperate assault on the Sentinel home base. Invading the inner sanctum, they see a lone Sentinel at the controls. Colossus tosses Wolverine at the robot who sees him and incinerates him, leaving only his adamantium skeleton behind. Storm and Colossus die valiantly not knowing that their sacrifices help change their future for the better.
5. Logan proves his worthiness (Wolverine Vol. 1 #4) – Wolverine’s berserker rages and savagery may be an advantage in a fight but not so much when it comes to love. When Logan discovers that Mariko, the woman heloves is unwillingly married to another man, he comes to Japan to end the marriage. It turns out, Mariko’s crime lord father Shingen had orchestrated the marriage to strengthen his ties with the Japanese underworld. Shingen uses Logan’s anger against him, calmly defeating him with a pair of wooden sticks and humiliating him in front of Mariko. Logan falls into despair but recovers when he remembers his humanity. He surgically destroys Shingen’s criminal empire and in the final showdown, he asks, “Shingen, am I worthy now?”
6. Cyclops lets go (X-Factor Vol.1 #68)– Cyclops’ infant son Nathan Christopher Summers had already been through a lot before he was reunited with his dad – thought dead, captured, and groomed to be a sacrifice to open a portal to Hell (long story). The reunion however, was short and sweet when the baby was captured by Apocalypse, one of the X-Men’s worst foes. After a hard-earned victory against him, Cyclops discovers that Apocalypse had infected Nathan with an unknown virus. A time-traveller named Askani offers to take the child to the future where she has the technology to save him but she tells Cyclops that he will never see his son ever again. Cyclops makes the heartbreaking choice to let him go.
About the author:
JV Tanjuatco, comic book writer/editor/publisher, founded Comic Book Lab that publishes the comic book titles Mythopolis and War of Whispers (co-created and co-written by him). Comic Book Lab’s most recent project was the graphic novel anthology Stay: 21 Comic Stories authored by Palanca Award winner Angelo R. Lacuesta and illustrated by a stellar line-up of artists including Trese’s Kajo Baldisimo. He has also written articles/reviews for Spot.ph and Ain’t It Cool.