Marvel; June 1977
Cover by Dave Cockrum

Title: “Phoenix Unleashed!”
Synopsis: The X-Men face off with Eric the Red and Firelord with perhaps the fate of the universe in the balance.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Bob Layton

Review: Dangling plot threads collide: The secret of Eric the Red! The coming of Lilandra! The power of Phoenix! Yet much of the dramatic payoff is undermined by a convenient story coincidence: Hey, Firelord, former herald of Galactus, what are you doing flying by Eric the Red’s secret lair at the perfect moment? The addition of Firelord provides an appropriate foil to establish Jean Grey’s new power level, but his perfectly timed flyby strains credulity. But, once again, above-average characterization along with strong art from Dave Cockrum keeps this issue’s grade from sinking too far.

Grade: B

Second opinion: “A fun potboiler.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men” (2016). “The most convoluted issue to date.” – Jim Johnson, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents, 2003)

Cool factor: The X-Men getting blown out of the sky yet again is a fun in-joke for regular readers.
Not-so-cool factor: “Hey, Star Trek, mind if we steal your vocabulary wholesale? Thanks!” – The Shi’ar

Notable: Cameo appearance by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 35¢ variant of this issue. According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jewelers variant.

Character quotable: “My power – it’s hitting me like a drug. I’ve never felt such… ecstasy!” – Phoenix, with an internal monologue hinting at a dark road ahead

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