Title- X-Men (Volume 1) #105
Release Date- June 1977
Writer- Chris Claremont
Artist- Dave Cockrum
Features Fire Lord
The Phoenix Unleashed
The X-Men return to the mansion only to find that Erik the Red is present. Quickly the team attack the villain and get the upper hand but before they can defeat him they are attacked by a being called Fire Lord who is the former herald of the planet consumer Galactus. With the power that he wields he is easily able to overpower the X-Men before he flies down to see if Erik the Red is alright. The villain seems to be thankful that Fire Lord has defeated the X-Men and states that they would have killed him.
Erik is lying though and his mind flashes back to how he met Fire Lord. He had discovered that the X-Men had escaped Magneto he thought that his plans were doomed but at that moment Fire Lord flies past his command base. Erik decides to sacrifice Havok and Polaris so that he can gain an even more powerful foe. He sets his two minions to attack Fire Lord and as planned they are defeated by the powerful being. Havok and Polaris act as if they intend to kill Erik but with them defeated Erik reveals to Fire Lord that they are part of the X-Men who wish to conquer the world. At first Fire Lord is not entirely convinced but after seeing how the X-Men attacked Erik his mind is made up. But Fire Lord knows that Xavier is still out there and must be killed in order to what he thinks is to save the world.
In space Lilandra’s ship is close to entering the Earth’s atmosphere but is being tracked by an imperial cruiser. The captain on board was Lilandra’s top captain he has been ordered by the Emperor to destroy her. They plan to move in closer but after scans reveal that the planet has fended off Galactus four times they decide that it is too dangerous to get any closer and fire torpedoes Lilandra’s ship. Lilandra herself is able to use the ship’s on board teleporter to move away but her ship is destroyed.
Meanwhile on Earth Jean Grey is visiting her parents’ home along with Professor Xavier and Misty Knight. Suddenly Lilandra teleports into the room catching everyone completely by surprise. Xavier recognises her from his dreams but when she removes her helmet she speaks an alien language before falling unconscious.
Quickly Lilandra is taken to a bed so that she can recover but before they can figure out what is happening Fire Lord breaks through the walls intent on killing both Lilandra and Xavier. Enraged with the fact that Fire Lord has attacked her home and threatened her loved ones causes her to transform into the Phoenix and engages in battle with Fire Lord. He is surprised that there is someone on Earth who can match his power and their battle takes them across New York. On the ground below Erik does watch the fight and fears that the Phoenix might be too powerful for Fire Lord.
In Jean’s parents’ home the occupants are powerless to help her. Lilandra regains consciousness and thanks to Xavier’s telepathy begins to speak English but at that moment Erik The Red comes into the fray and knocks out everyone in the room.
Ten minutes later on top of the building Erik the Red is constructing a star gate but the X-Men arrive. This has not gone unnoticed by the villain who blasts their jet causing it to fall from the sky. Banshee and Storm fly off while the others jump off before the jet itself explodes.
In the sky Jean unleashes a great attack that sends Fire Lord flying twelve miles over the horizon but before she can go to finish him off she receives a telepathic message from Xavier and he commands her to return to him and help him and Lilandra. But as Jean flies towards the building she realises that her new powers are like a drug and she fears what she is becoming.
But at that time Storm and Banshee are able to save Wolverine, Colossus and Cyclops from hitting the ground. But Nightcrawler is able to use his acrobatic skills to save himself since he didn’t get a good enough look at the roof to teleport there. The team soon regroup on the roof itself but Erik The Red with Lilandra escapes through the star gate before any one can stop him. Xavier is enraged that they have escaped and he barely notices Jean fly onto the scene.
Jean’s parents are confused with what is happening and why these costumed individuals are here. Jean tells them that she will explain later but Xavier states that they have all the time in the world since they are helpless to save Lilandra. But all is not lost as Jean is able to use her Phoenix abilities to power up the star gate. Quickly she and the other X-Men travel through the gate in hopes of finding Erik and saving Lilandra.
The others are left behind as Xavier realises that he has some explaining to do about the X-Men to Jean’s parents. But before he can start Fire Lord once again comes onto the scene demanding that his battle continues with Phoenix or else he will destroy the world. But Xavier states that even if he does destroy the world today that tomorrow the universe would cease to exist if the X-Men fail.
Another great issue by the partnership of Chris Claremont and the late Dave Cockrum (Who even briefly appear in the issue itself). There have been many great partnerships in the X-Men’s history like Whedon and Cassaday or Grant and Quitely but Claremont and Cockrum will always be fondly remembered by fans (As well as Claremont’s run with John Byrne). It is such a shame that it is something that we will never see again.
Back to the issue at hand. Once again a good story and it shows the ruthlessness of Erik The Red as he doesn’t bat an eyelid in the fact that he sacrifices two loyal pawns so that he can attain a more powerful ally. It shows that he is willing to go to almost any lengths and sacrifice anyone to get what he wants and that makes him extremely dangerous.
The issue was a great highlight for Jean Grey who fully shows her Phoenix powers in this issue. Her fight with Fire Lord was definitely a great battle and one that will be remembered by fans for years to come. It was amazing to think that she could actually go toe to toe with someone who easily defeated the X-Men and actually win. It just shows that she is becoming more powerful than anyone could of imagined and her thoughts towards the end of the fight I feel is a little inkling towards the future Dark Phoenix Saga.
It also seems that Jean’s parents had no idea that their daughter was part of the X-Men. I can understand them not really knowing but I thought that at some point Jean might have told them. But it is still going with the idea that practically all heroes (Except for the Fantastic Four) have to have a secret identity. I just want to get to the point where the X-Men no longer hide and their identities are known to the public.
I was a little hesitant in reading the X-Men being defeated in the matter that they were but it just shows that the team still have some way to go in becoming the superpower that they will eventually become. Maybe the fact that Fire Lord had also taken them by surprise was also a factor for their defeat but I guess that cosmic beings had not been thought as a training exercise in the Danger Room.
One thing that isn’t stated in this issue is whether Havok and Polaris survived their encounter with Fire Lord. Although we know now that they are alive but in this issue the reader is left wondering whether Erik’s two unwilling henchmen actually survived or if they were burned alive by the cosmic power of Fire Lord.
In conclusion I’m giving this issue a 9 out of 10. A great set up for the next big battle and really showed readers the first indication of the Phoenix’s raw power that could even destroy a star.
X-Men (Volume 1) #106