Review: Jean Grey Goes Up in Flames in ‘X-Men The Dark Phoenix Saga’ by Stuart Moore


The majority of Marvel fans are familiar with the X-Men and the origin story of The Dark Phoenix. We have seen the story told in movies, TV, and comic books. It was released recently as a novel, as well as an audiobook. Nerds and Beyond were fortunate enough to get an audiobook version of X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Stuart Moore through NetGalley to review.

Moore is an accomplished editor and writer of books and comics. He has written comics on Civil War, Justice League, Wolverine, Batman, Redwall, Cloak and Dagger, Deadpool, and many, many more. The X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga book originally was released in 2019 to coincide with the film’s release. It was released as an audiobook narrated by Nancy Wu on September 29, 2020.

This book is based on the graphic novel/comic book written by Chris Claremont with art by John Byrne. Moore doesn’t change the origin story; he can add more with the novel format. There are more details in scenes, additional conversations since there is more room than what is available in the comic form, and there is a secondary origin story added. Fans also get a glimpse at Katherine Anne Pryde, also known as Kitty Pryde and Shadowcat, backstory, starting from discovering she has abilities. But of course, the central premise is that of Jean Grey.

GIF courtesy of Marvel/Disney +

For those who are not familiar, Jean Grey is one of the founding members of the X-Men. Along with her boyfriend Cyclops, who leads the team, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Wolverine, and of course, Charles Xavier all appear. It begins with the team returning from a mission in space, and Jean is exposed to radiation from a solar flare. The effects of that result in her absorbing the Phoenix Force and becoming the Phoenix and later Dark Phoenix. Her story takes off from there with storylines involving The Hellfire Club, Shi’ar, X-Men, and more.

I am a fan of origin stories. So, I was excited to learn Stuart Moore was tackling the story of Jean Grey’s passing and the rise of The Phoenix. While readers do not have to have full knowledge about the X-Men, being familiar with the characters does help. It did take a little bit to get used to and drawn into the audiobook. Nancy Wu narrated it. She did a decent job of differentiating the characters by adding accents familiar to them, but it was hard to decipher between the narrator and Jean Grey.

I liked the modern updates on the story. For example, when Kitty referred to Hogwarts and The Hellfire Club not having the 80s slang. If you are not a fan of time and story jumps, this may not be for you. It was not hard to follow as the structure was done really well, but it does jump a bit. Overall, I enjoyed it. It was nice to have a more in-depth version where it wasn’t rushed, or certain things were not omitted because of it being a movie or TV series.

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Stuart Moore is available now.

As a Ravenclaw and introverted tattooed cat, Sarah enjoys reading, writing, and watching hockey (Go Leafs Go). You can follow Sarah on Twitter at @WyldeFandom

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