Following on from Marvel Comics’ classic Dark Phoenix Saga storyline (with its climactic showdown in Uncanny X-Men #137) the plan was to publish a sequel in the pages of X-Men.
OH. SO WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED?
In 1998 writer Steve Seagle planned to follow up the Dark Phoenix Saga by writing a sequel that would see Jean Grey (you know, the red head who dies a lot) regain her Phoenix abilities. The return of her powers would have been slight at first, but eventually Jean would have regained them in full, which would have been triggered by a mission where Cyclops was injured. With the Phoenix back on Earth, an alien armada (that had been keeping a close watch on the planet) would have then showed up, to make sure that the Phoenix would never threaten anyone ever again!
BUT WHAT DID HAPPEN?
Shortly before the story was to go ahead Marvel editors Bob Harras and Mark Powers canned the story and instead decided to replace it with a tale about X-Men villain, Magneto. They told Seagle and X-Men writer Joe Kelley to remove Jean Grey from their books and instead replace her with Gambit, despite the fact that certain elements of the story (including Jean’s appearance in the Phoenix costume) had already been introduced into the comics. To smooth over this bump in the situation, the story was altered to focus on the alien shape shifters the Skrulls and some mind games between Jean and Charles Xavier. As a result of being told to can the story both Steve Seagle and Joe Kelley quit the X-Men books.
WAS THIS SUCH A BAD THING?
The Dark Phoenix Saga was great; amazing in fact, but continually returning to the same ideas time and time again was not something readers really wanted to see. It was a shame that Seagle and Kelley quit the X-Men books, but at the end of the day another Phoenix related story would have probably pushed even the most loyal X-Men fan over the edge!
BUT WHAT IF?
If Kelley and Seagle had remained on the X-Men books and the Phoenix sequel had been published then long running fans of the X-Men would have given up reading their beloved comics in protest at the same stories being recycled. With no one reading X-Men, Marvel would have found this a huge financial strain and the company would have quickly imploded. With Marvel out of the way DC Comics would have become the biggest comics company in the world and soon Aquaman comics would have appeared everywhere. It truly would have been a dark chapter in the history of the Earth.