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“Are you going to fight the sun for me?”

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
      By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
      Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss,
      The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
      And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
      Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
      The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
      Some sell and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
      And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
      Yet each man does not die.
Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Oh, New X-Men: Planet X is the most beautiful and wondrous thing. As you probably guessed from The Ballad of Reading Gaol there, I want to concentrate on Jean and Logan tonight. We can guess which poem Grant Morrison had by his side as he wrote issue #148. “The kindest use a knife, because / The dead so soon grow cold.”

So terrible and beautiful, these scenes on Asteroid M. Jean and Logan have been trapped by Magneto, their vessel is hurtling through space and will reach the sun in 24 hours. There’s not much they can do to save themselves, so they have time to talk. They talk about the Phoenix, which is coming to judge and to disinfect, and has given Jean the power to move molecules with precision but has not made her immortal—she may still die. And of course she may, that’s what the Phoenix does. Will the Phoenix let Jean die before it can judge? Maybe it’s here to judge Jean… They talk about Logan’s discovery of his past in the Weapon Plus files. Were the files lies? Weapon Plus turned Logan into a sentinel, a killing machine—”…they chose me because I liked to kill, Jeannie… all I’m good for’s killing. If you knew what I was you’d hate me.” This is what the superhero life has gotten them: Jean is a dying disinfector of worlds and Logan is a murderous animal. Everything’s going wrong.

And then Jean is dying and the sun is there. She asks Logan, “Are you going to fight the sun for me?” Almost, Jean… This is the X-Men: it’s all the epic Romanticism and desperate hope and love, culminating here in Logan’s final act of killing Jean and carrying her into the sun “in a blaze of glory.” This is where the X-Men have their power, in this desperate will to superheroic self-sacrifice. It’s there in the old “Protecting a world that hates and fears them” line, in Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s original Dark Phoenix Saga, and now Morrison and Phil Jimenez give it to us in Logan’s final act of love.

Did Logan know what would happen next? I’m not sure… but it doesn’t matter. They love each other and they die, but they don’t die. The Phoenix returns. As Jean says, “You did it, Logan… you released the Phoenix Consciousness. […] I had to die to come back, Logan. But I don’t know how long they’ll let me stay.”


  1. Lauren says:

    I actually cried, it was that poetic.
    This is probably an old post, but the new Phoenix: Endsong has got me all nostalgic.
    Very insightful, and I appreciate the Oscar Wilde. He is always unbelievably excellent.

    — 20 January 2005 at 5:24 am (Permalink)