weblog tour: fictional character

Here’s this week’s weblog tour question:


Clearly I should pick someone from my own book, right, to promote it? And all I can say is, if you’re in my Seven Archangels universe, you want to be one of the Cherubim, because they annoy everyone other than other Cherubim, but you do not want to be Gabriel, because he gets too many of the conflicts thrown his way.

But that would be too much shameless self-promotion even for me, so clearly I need to think of an actual answer.

When I was in high school, I came across a graphic novel copy of the entire Phoenix Saga from the X-Men. I read that book a hundred times, maybe more. I’d re-read sections over and over, just getting the whole angsty tragedy of it down deep into my heart. I loved the Phoenix. I wanted to be the Phoenix. 

What was there not to love? She fulfilled everything a misfit fifteen/sixteen year old thought made a worthwhile life. As the Phoenix, Jean Grey had a cool name. She was beautiful. She was insanely powerful, but she also used it for Goodness. She was a telepath, and I always thought telepathy would be the best power: to be able to get into the heads and hearts of other people and really know what they loved, what they felt. Also, she could fly. I would love to be able to fly.

Even more, Jean Grey was surrounded by people who loved her and knew her and trusted her implicitly. She had, although a mutant and a misfit, managed to form a family for herself and find a place she belonged and a way to make her differences benefit the world around her. Although she could pass for “normal” when she needed to. 

As for the story itself, she had a darkness inside her, an evil self hungering for power and which she kept under a control so tight that no one else knew about it. And yet, once it escaped, it exploded from her. It destroyed first her enemies, then threatened to destroy her world.

Finally, although her friends and teammates were willing to sacrifice themselves because they believed in her, she realized she needed to make The Ultimate Sacrifice in order to save the universe. And so, alone with the man she loved, she died.

Overall, there’s nothing in there not to love if you happen to be a dramatic, overly-emotional teenage misfit. I used to draw pictures of the Phoenix. I would run through the story in my head sometimes, and occasionally I would write a story that mimicked the entire Phoenix Saga, only with my own characters.

I’ve outgrown that obsession, but I still have a lingering love for the Phoenix. I know Jean Grey has been resurrected and died again fifty times in the intervening years, and for all I know she may be alive in some incarnation of the X-Men right now, but really, I’d prefer to leave her the way she died: having reached the pinnacle of her inner strength at the moment she realized her own powerlessness against the evil inside her heart.

Other weblogs participating in the tour:

http://meganeileen2005.typepad.com/  twinkletoes
http://thatsloanegirl.blogspot.com/   CathyF
http://wryexchange.com/   Wry Exchange
http://www.absentmindedhousewife.com/  beckygoesape
http://verycontrary.wordpress.com/  Contrary
http://amandagorby.blogspot.com/  amanda_tg                 
http://whatsmylife.blogspot.com/ grinningcomb
http://nolechica.livejournal.com  nolechica
http://addierambles.blogspot.com  andra
http://la-eme.livejournal.com   MsMoonbunny
http://mischief0617.wordpress.com/  CrowGirl
http://www.housewife2000.blogspot.com   housewife2k
http://fatgirlartist.blogspot.com/  Amy Rose
http://lulupop.wordpress.com  Lulupop
http://chrisnada.livejournal.com/  Cnada
http://robandkrista.blogspot.com/  CelticGemini
http://anime-coroner.livejournal.com/. AllyKat
http://www.drunkenhousewife.com/ The Drunken Housewife
http://ladyj3000.blogspot.com/   LadyJ3000
http://heartstart.livejournal.com  Heartstar1
http://hijinksshenanigans.blogspot.com/  Hijinks’s Shenanigans
http://deltatangosgbs.blogspot.com/  afbluebelle
http://sarahesperanza.wordpress.com/ SquishyMooMoo
http://www.dutifuldanielle.blogspot.com/ dpbenson
http://sinkingtent.blogspot.com/ ladiedeathe


  1. xdpaul

    Your perception is absolutely correct: Pheonix died a noble death.

    That was her only one. My first ever X-Men comic was the monthly issue right after the Pheonix saga had concluded. I felt its impact for years before finally reading the original storyline.

    Yikes. I wasn’t expecting this post.

  2. philangelus

    I began reading the X-Men a few years after the Phoenix saga, and I picked up back issues at Forbidden Planet whenever I had extra lunch money (or whenever I had no impulse control and didn’t mind eating nothing for lunch all week.)

    You weren’t expecting me to admire a creature that casually killed millions of aliens when she devoured their sun for a snack?

    It occurred to me after I wrote the post that Jean became the Phoenix when she sacrificed herself to pilot their shuttle back to Earth. She really “died” twice that way, therefore; the first time simply didn’t succeed.

  3. xdpaul

    What’s not to like in a sun-eater? No, what surprised me is to see someone who actually “got” Phoenix to the point of realizing that, despite Marvel’s later riffs on the story, that Jean Grey is dead and always will be.

    It is sort of funny: everyone knows that Highlander 2 never happened and that Alien3 is still bogged down in pre-production, and will probably never make it to theaters, but mention Phoenix and you’ll get all sorts of references to apocryphal jazz.

    Funny that.

  4. Jason Block

    I will answer the question very easily. 🙂 The character: James Bond. Bond was tough, classy, suave and had the greatest adventures. And the cars, gadgets and women weren’t bad either 🙂


  5. philangelus

    Why doesn’t that surprise me, Jason? Except I’d have guessed you’d put the “gadgets” part first.

    XDPaul, I did read X-Factor for a while, where Jean was there again in her “resurrected” form–the first resurrection–and I was glad to see her once more. But over time I’m realizing it’s really better that when someone makes the ultimate sacrifice, it remains ultimate. I promised myself that any of my characters who die will, in fact, remain dead.

    Actually, Condor Joe should have remained dead too. They brought him back for the sake of the fans in Gatchaman II and Gatchaman Fighter, but he never was quite the same rugged, high-intensity soul he was in Gatchaman.

  6. CricketB

    Miri Robertson yos’Phelium, from the Liaden universe. Intelligent, capable, brave, fast-thinker, dedicated, survived difficult childhood with sense of honour intact, inspires loyalty (mostly by being loyal), beautiful enough for the beholder, and her husband? Swoon.

    Or maybe Anthora or Nova, from the same universe. Very different characters, but also intelligent, brave, powerful (in their own ways) and capable. Anthora’s husband is still worth swooning over, even if he’s not as swoon-worthy as Miri’s. Nova’s love of her life is still to come (unless he’s still lurking in hardcover), but she’s enough self-respect to only attract a good one.

  7. xdpaul

    Oh, as for fictional character, I would pick Gollum. You know. For the wardrobe and raw fish.

  8. philangelus

    Raw and *wriggling.* You can’t forget the wriggling. That’s the best part.

  9. ivyreisner

    I’d love to be Magik. She’s pretty. She’s fun. She gets to boss demons around. If someone pisses her off she can condemn them to Limbo, which is close enough to Hell for me. And she can teleport. I mean, shopping in Tokyo and a movie in England. How can you beat that for an afternoon?

    And yes, Jean Grey is alive and well in the Ultimate universe. Marvel relaunched a variety of their titles (X-Men, Spiderman, Avengers, Iron Man, and more) in an alternate universe more geared towards kids, and the she’s running around there. She’s also alive in the X-Men: First Class series, which is a revisiting of the original X-Men. They haven’t touched the Phoenix saga yet in that storyline, and I don’t know if they will. In 616, the main Marvel universe, she’s dead at the moment. Her daughter, Rachel, carries on the Phoenix power, and the name Marvel Girl.

    Marvel characters never stay dead. That’s why no one buys it that Steve Rogers isn’t coming back. I’m of two minds on that. On the one hand, it’s cheesy and cheap and on the other hand this is total literary fluff. I just want a fun ride, and the constant death and return helps drive that.

    Oh, Genkai from Yu Yu Hakusho would be fun. She’s smart, sassy, and talented. She can lay both a serious hurting and a serious healing on whomever she chooses. I like that balance.

  10. philangelus

    I loved Majik too, but really, it’s the SAME DARNED STORY as the Phoenix saga (minus the willing sacrifice in the beginning.)

    Majik got all the good lines. In fact, I still use some of them today. 🙂

    In the Marvel universe, coffins come with a 90-day money-back guarantee, and graves have a springboard at the bottom. It kind of robs death and self-sacrifice of its meaning when the same guy dies and comes back eight times.

  11. ivyreisner

    How so?

    Illyana was kidnapped by the demon lord Belasco and raised in Limbo.
    Jean was raised by her parents in upstate New York.

    Illyana rose to power, overthrew Belasco, and became mistress of that dark realm.
    Jean was taken to a private university by Charles Xavier, where she joined the X-Men, fell in love, and learned to use her powers to help people and fight for a day when humans and mutants could live together in peace.

    Illyana’s soul became increasingly corrupted by her connection to Limbo, but her free will remained intact, and to the end of her time with her powers, she remained mankind’s protector.
    Jean was possessed by a hedonistic Phoenix Force, lost control of her own will, and killed billions.

    Illyana was reverted to a child (and purged of her Darkchilde abilities) in the Inferno saga. Ultimately she died of the Legacy virus.
    Jean faced trial by combat in the Shiar empire, won the day through the help of her friends, and ultimately she destroyed herself on the moon so to save humanity.

    The main tragedy in Jean’s life was that she lost control to the Phoenix force. If anything defined Illyana, it was her indomitable will and her ability to seize control, first of magic, then of Limbo, then of her soul sword, and then of the Darkchilde powers.

  12. philangelus

    Illyana and Jean both became recipients of tremendous power, which initially they used for goodness and which, over time, began to corrupt them.

    There’s a huge earth-shattering battle, and then ultimately they both have to face the fact that they cannot control nor contain their power and renounce it by such extreme means that they are, effectively, no longer the persons they were before. Illyana is reverted to childhood (and thus loses all her personality and memories that she had before, since she needs to grow up again) and Jean dies (at least until she returns from suspended animation, since apparently she never WAS the Phoenix in the first place. or something.)

    Jean and Illyana both lost control of themselves to their powers, and in the end, both of them made a choice that divested them of those powers. They both lost their free will at some point and then regained it enough to make that renunciation.

    Close enough for me to call that the same character archive. The differences you’re citing (location of growing up, circumstances, etc) are incidentals. The arc is the same.

  13. ivyreisner

    I think they took different paths precisely because of how they grew up. Jean chose to die on the moon. Illyana could only survive by fighting, so when it came to it. she never gave up fighting to live. Illyana never lost control, never attacked her friends, and never acted in a way that wasn’t innate to her nature.

  14. philangelus

    My issues are packed up right now, but I’m pretty sure when she opened that vortex over Manhattan and all the demons started invading the Earth, that counts as losing control and attacking her friends. The soul armor was completely covering her at that point and IIRC, didn’t she have to stab herself with that sword in order to cut through the armor (effectively, killing herself) in order to let out The Child Within?

  15. ivyreisner

    You know, there are scenes where they make great character foils for each other.

    In a key scene, Jean kills billions of people and her friends rally to support and defend her. Whereas in a pivotal moment for Illyana, she’s in Limbo trying to heal Mirage, who has been mortally wounded, and Rayne attacks her for facing the wrong side of her pentagram (Rahne thinks this means she’s using black magic). I don’t think they ever met, but it would be fun if they did. The Colossus of the Ultimate Universe mentions having a kid sister once, but we haven’t seen her yet.

  16. philangelus

    Rahne never felt totally comfortable with Majik, IIRC. But I think in some ways that reflects how Illyana never felt entirely comfortable with herself. Whereas Jean felt comfortable with the Phoenix powers right from the start.

  17. ivyreisner

    IIRC, she wasn’t the one who released the demons; that was Sym. Now I have to go dig out Inferno. I’m pretty sure I have it in trade. I’ll check tonight.

  18. philangelus

    Zowie! There’s a trade of Inferno?!? I need to go over to Amazon when my Patient Husband stops pointing out parts of the house that still need to be cleaned. :#)

  19. ivyreisner

    I checked last night. One of Sym’s minions opened the gateway. During the battle, Illyana opened a stepping disk to pull in all of her power from Limbo. She then channeled that power into her soul sword, and launched it skyward, destroying the demons from Limbo. This took all of her powers and she fainted. It didn’t seem as if she thought this might kill her, just exhaust her. At that point her armor was intact. Colossus ripped it open, revealing the younger Illyana, now purged of the dark powers and reverted to her proper age.

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