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X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong
Review by James W. Powell

Story
Review: Phoenix - Endsong cover

X-Men: Phoenix Endsong


Story
Greg Pak
 
Pencils
Greg Land
 
Inks
Matt Ryan
 
Colors
Justin Ponser
 
Letters
Clem Robins

Publisher
Marvel Comics
 
Format
Hardcover Collection
 
Publish Date
June 29, 2005
 
Cover Price
$19.99
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What? Another Phoenix/Jean Grey back from the dead story? Again? Can't Marvel come up with something original for a change? These were the thoughts bustling through my head as I cracked open X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong (is it possible to have more punctuation in a title?), but luckily, writer Greg Pak breathes new life (no pun intended) to a rather dull, overly used idea.

Review: Phoenix - Endsong interior imageThis time around, Jean Grey doesn't return from the dead. Well, not exactly. Or does she? It's not really made clear. But that's beside the point. The real fun of this story is watching the X-Men deal with their need to kill what could be one of their dear friends. After the Shi'ar release the Phoenix energy in an effort to destroy it once and for all, it escapes and begins hunting for...something. It's not sure. Is it love? Energy? Whatever it is, it's bound to find it in or around the X-Men.

Phoenix - Endsong is basically a love story. There are many paralleling themes here, and love is in them all: Scott's love for Emma, Scott's love for Jean, Quentin Quire's supposed love for Sophie. Pak explores them all and more, looking into the hearts of the X-Men to find true love and false. And the end is beautifully designed to be a solid climax to the action and also a wonderful tribute to the essence that is Jean Grey.

But before you get out that box of tissue and share this story with your significant other on Valentine's day, be aware that the love story is packaged rather nicely in an action-oriented storyline that's fast paced and exciting. There are plenty of exciting battles between the X-Men and the force that is the Phoenix. Sure, these sequences aren't particularly tense because we know the inevitable outcome, but they certainly are a joy to experience. I really liked the humor that Kitty Pryde brings to the table, too. Her character offers some great one-liners that balance the more serious tone of the book.

Despite being a rather entertaining read, Phoenix - Endsong doesn't really push the boundaries of the format. I don't think this one would fit into the decompressed category, but in the end, there's really not a whole lot here. There might be some character growth, but the events captured here are still just a brief moment in the life of these mutant heroes. Tomorrow will just bring another enemy, another battle. Still, even without lasting effects, Phoenix - Endsong is definitely fun while it lasts.

Art

In a word, beautiful. Greg Land's images are really a magnificent sight. And in Phoenix - Endsong, Land proves that he's more than a cover artist. Don't get me wrong, his covers are some of the best in the business, but he manages that same high quality in his interior pages as well.

Everyone who's been a comic fan for awhile realizes that Land is an expert when it comes to sexy women in sexy poses. But here, he proves that he's also adept at drawing the physical strength of superheroes, too. Not only that, but he shows some subtlety with very precise, very telling facial expressions. He particularly knows how to create warmth and humor with a smile or laughter.

Review: Phoenix - Endsong interior image 2

If there's any drawback to Land's images it's that there's no real consistency for character recognition. If it weren't for the colors by Justin Ponser — which are brilliant and vivid and truly bring this story to life — it'd be difficult to tell the female characters apart. That's not to say that every female has the same facial shapes, it's just that each character's facial features change slightly from panel to panel. Although this is a minor annoyance at most, it does become a factor later in the story when the Phoenix begins to take on the different shapes of various X-Men.

Bonus Features
Aside from the reprinted covers that act as chapter breaks, you get a look at the variant/2nd print versions of the covers. On top of that, you get behind the scenes peak of 5 uncolored, uninked pages by Greg Land.
Final Words

A solid story combined with solid art. Sounds like a great mix. However, I doubt Phoenix - Endsong will have a lasting effect on me. Sure, it's a great read, but it won't stay with me. I highly recommend this to fans of the X-Men or of any of the book's creators. For everyone else, I suggest holding out for the paperback version.

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James has written for such fine web sites as DVDtalk, Broken Frontier, and Paperback Reader. He lives in Denver with his lovely wife and two cats who wake him up at 3 a.m.
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