#8 Phoenix: Top Ten Hardest Hitting Female Heroes of All Time


Continuing our (countup?) on the Hardest Hitting Female Heroes,  votes were in from our panel and Phoenix (Jean Grey) came in eighth. She first appeared as Marvel Girl in  X-men #1, September 1963 and as Phoenix in X-men #101, . Famke Janssen first portrayed Jean Grey  in the X-men movie trilogy in 2000, 2003, 2006 as well as Wolverine and X-men: Days of Future Past in 2014. Sophie Turner will portray Jean Grey in the upcoming movie X-men: Apocolypse.

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Phoenix facing off against Wolverine, art by Greg Land

We’re not the only panel that thinks she’s something special. From Wikipedia:

In 2006, IGN rated Jean Grey #6 on their list of Top 25 X-Men from the past forty years,[1] and in 2011, IGN ranked her 13th in the Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.[2] Her Dark Phoenix persona was ranked 9th in IGN’s “Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time” list.

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Jean Grey reborn as the Phoenix
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Beautifully painted cover by Dean White from Dave Cockrum’s original cover to X-men 101

Though she first appeared after she “died” in X-men #101, my first glimpse of our Cosmic Queen was from a few months later in #105 when she took on the Firelord in one of my favorite comics of all time.

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After Firelord easily beats the rest of the X-men roster, Phoenix makes quick work of him

From the first moment I saw her, I knew she was unlike any other female hero I’d ever seen. Firelord was a former herald of Galactus that hung around guys like the Silver Surfer, Thor and Hercules, taking on some of the toughest characters around. Phoenix gave him an old-fashioned butt-kicking.

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Phoenix would make a good bouncer
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Firelord gets tossed from Manhattan to New Jersey by a Phoenix blast

 

Dave Cockrum came up with the original design for her and Chris Claremont made her character come to life. When John Byrne came on the book a few issues later, she was drawn more beautiful than ever. Byrne also portrayed her powers as only he could. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to enjoy the character as much as Cockrum and Claremont. Phoenix was sidelined several times over the next two years before the start of the Dark Phoenix Saga. When he involved her in the story, she was truly magnificent.

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I love how majestic the Byrne Phoenix looked. Great Phoenix firebird effect!
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John Byrne drew Phoenix more powerful and beautiful than any other artist

This was a very original storyline at the time: our hero is seduced by a malevolent manipulator of illusions and, in this case, emotions. Mastermind became the fantasy character Jason Wyngarde in Jean Grey’s mind. Like something out of an old Harlequin Romance novel, they had outings on horseback and English tea socials. In the end, she progressed to the villainess role of the Black Queen in the Hellfire Club and then to the cosmic menace of Dark Phoenix.

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Jean Grey transforms from Phoenix to the Black Queen
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The Dark Phoenix. Art by Rick Leonardi

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When she destroyed a sun and killed 7 billion humanoids, she became wanted for crimes against the civilized universe, as enforced by the Shi’ar. In the end, she killed herself rather than become that destroyer of worlds. They don’t come any tougher than Phoenix, maybe even beating out Fantomah for the most powerful female hero ever.

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Jean Grey destroys herself before the Dark Phoenix can consume her once more
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Sophie Turner portrays a younger Jean Grey in the upcoming X-men: Apocolypse film

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