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X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Comic Books

X-Men Monday #258 – Stephanie Phillips Talks ‘Phoenix’

Plus, an eXclusive look at ‘Phoenix’ #1!

Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!

In case you forgot, Jean Grey performed quite well in the 2023 X-Men Monday end-of-year survey, with 54.9% of X-Fans naming Jean their favorite X-character. Clearly, the first X-Woman has a pretty devoted fanbase, so an ongoing solo series is long overdue. Fortunately, Marvel’s “From the Ashes” era is delivering with Phoenix #1 — written by Stephanie Phillips and illustrated by Alessandro Miracolo — set to go on sale July 17, 2024.

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In X-Men Monday’s recent Blood Hunt edition, Stephanie talked a bit about writing a Phoenix-powered Jean Grey. But of course, such a highly anticipated series deserves its own edition of X-Men Monday. Fortunately, Stephanie agreed and has returned to give readers a sense of what adventures await Phoenix in Marvel’s cosmos. Let’s see what she has to say.

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Stephanie! This has to be one of the most-requested editions of X-Men Monday to date — Jean Grey’s fans are psyched! But let’s start by going back to the beginning. How did the opportunity to write Phoenix in Tom Brevoort’s revamped X-line come about?

Stephanie Phillips: I was asked to write Jean by Annalise Bissa, who is a fantastic editor and I’ve had the privilege of working with her in the past. An editor is such an important part of a book, and Annalise has a really good ability to help shape stories. I would have said yes to working with Annalise on probably a number of different characters, but she really thought Jean was the right fit for me to be working with, and I agree. Jean and I have fit together very well. 

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: That’s good to hear. This week’s first X-Fan question comes from @Jean_RED_Grey, who wanted to know two things about your time writing Jean so far: First, what has surprised you most about writing her? And second, what has been the most rewarding part of getting to write Jean?

Stephanie: Whenever you write a new character, you learn that character in ways you didn’t know as a fan/reader. It’s like forming a really intimate bond with someone, but it’s a weird dance because the person you’re bonding with isn’t tangibly real. I can say I love Jean and have enjoyed her stories, but it’s a whole different thing to fall in love with Jean and let her lead the stories… taking us to places I wasn’t sure the book was going, but that’s where Jean wanted to go.

Developing that bond is the most rewarding part… what has surprised me is that I can admit this without fearing that you all will think I’m hearing voices or something. I have a feeling Jean fans will get what I’m saying here. <3

AIPT: X-Fan Jean’s Multiverse was wondering what you find most compelling about the powers and mythology of the Phoenix.

Stephanie: I really like the juxtaposition of her being one of the most powerful characters in the universe, but having all the wonderful and complicated elements of humanity, including flaws. She’s such a real, human character, just imbued with cosmic abilities. She is reigniting dying stars while missing her husband. #relatable 

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Oh, we’ll get to her husband in a bit. But for now, X-Fan Onsipin said Tom Brevoort and Marvel have referred to Phoenix as a “cosmic” book. What exactly does “cosmic” mean as it relates to this series for readers like Onsipin who are not privy to this terminology?

Stephanie: Cosmic means that the story is taking place in space and around Marvel’s vast cosmic universe. That gives us a ton of cool stuff to play with because Marvel’s cosmic characters are so developed and interesting, but with room to invent new facets of the universe as we tell Jean’s story. 

AIPT: Related — X-Fan Omega_DCD asked if Jean will have any kind of home base or perhaps a dimensional shunt to call home in between her cosmic adventures.

Stephanie: Yes. As the Phoenix, Jean doesn’t technically need any of that, but Scott has helped her create a kind of HQ in the stars to adjust to her new living situation. To be revealed in issue 1… 

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Such a supportive husband! Next, X-Fan Needing Answers was curious to learn how Jean sees her role in the universe as the Phoenix.

Stephanie: A large element of our story is Jean trying to figure this part of it out. Jean wants to see herself as a hero and a beacon for good in the universe, but that is obviously complicated by her past.

AIPT: Well, speaking of her infamous past, I’m curious — is it possible we’ll get a sense of how the inhabitants of the wider Marvel Universe view the Phoenix during Jean’s travels?

Stephanie: I would assume not every civilization is a fan. Yeah, Jean isn’t going to be immediately welcomed by everyone. What the Dark Phoenix did has a lasting impact across the entire universe. Even civilizations not directly impacted have heard the stories… like a myth that has been told over and over — changed in different ways as it has spread across the galaxy and beyond. That’s something Jean needs to deal with both literally and emotionally.

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

How can she save people who, at many points, are terrified of her and see her as the villain? Can she change their minds? Does it even matter if she changes their mind? She needs to grapple with all of these questions and come to terms with how she feels about her bond with the Phoenix Force throughout it all.

But this is one of the central elements of the story we’re telling and the new character we’re introducing will be the literal embodiment of the fear that people have for Jean in the universe. 

AIPT: Intriguing. OK, now we can circle back to Cyclops. X-Fan xmen5ever said that in a recent CBR interview, you talked about Jean’s humanity and mentioned she’s “still a woman missing her husband.” Does this mean Phoenix will delve a bit into Jean and Scott’s relationship even if just in the background?

Stephanie: Jean is a married woman who loves her husband, so Cyclops is absolutely a part of her story whether he’s always present or not. We do spend time developing a bit more of their psychic connection, which I really like. I think anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship knows that there are struggles, but also real advantages to the creativity that is needed to maintain intimacy from a distance. Now, take that long-distance mentality and just apply it to Alaska and space. If someone can calculate what that time difference is, please let me know. 

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics and CBR

AIPT: As we wrap up, we know Phoenix will feature several guest stars. X-Fan Iron asked how these different and unique characters present an opportunity to not just explore the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe but also Jean Grey’s role in it.

Stephanie: When you move into a new neighborhood, you try to meet the neighbors (unless you’re me and you don’t like ever leaving the house, haha). It’s important that Jean is interacting with the universe — meeting the neighbors — and that includes heroes, villains, and all different civilizations. These interactions are what makes everything more interesting. There are people who need her help, people who don’t want her there, people who Jean DOES want to see, like Carol. It’s all a part of Jean getting a better understanding of who she is as the Phoenix and how to best define her role in the universe. 

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: And finally, X-Fan Steven T wanted to know how it’s been working alongside artist Alessandro Miracolo to craft this series.

Stephanie: Wonderful. Alessandro is such a good collaborator and he brings Jean to life beautifully. One thing I’ll specifically note is that Alessandro has such a good design sense. We have a new character named Adani who makes her first appearance in issue 1, and Alessandro took this concept I gave him and just made Adani this very real part of Jean’s universe. Adani gets multiple different looks over the series as well, and they’re all so unique and interesting. I hope you all fall in love with Alessandro’s work the way I have. It feels special every time I see one of his pages in my inbox. 

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics and CBR

AIPT: And we’re about to share a few of those pages. But on that note, thanks for stopping by X-Men Monday, Stephanie!

And remember, X-Fans, Phoenix #1 goes on sale July 17, 2024. I know — that’s still so far off. So, for this week’s X-Men Monday eXclusive, how about an eXtra early look at the first issue’s lettered preview?

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Gorgeous pages! Thanks, as always, to our friends at Marvel.

In the next edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT: Writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing will discuss their new NYX series. Click here to submit questions to Collin and Jackson by July 3, 2024. 

X-Men Monday #258 - Stephanie Phillips Talks 'Phoenix'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

No new edition of X-Men Monday next week, so see you on July 15.

Until then, X-Fans, stay exceptional and have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

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