- Jean Grey #2 explores an alternate timeline where Wolverine becomes the Phoenix, resulting in disastrous consequences for him and the X-Men.
- Wolverine’s healing factor allows him to survive the cosmic radiation that comes with the Phoenix’s powers, but the mix of the Phoenix and Jean Grey’s telepathy overwhelms him.
- Becoming the Phoenix too early in Wolverine’s character development would have prevented him from becoming a mentor to other mutants and a major member of the Avengers.
The following contains spoilers for Jean Grey #2, now on sale from Marvel Comics.
The Marvel multiverse is a fascinating place, full of timelines where every possibility exists. In some cases, the world’s greatest heroes were completely reimgained into other figures, highlighting what new abilities or altered histories could result in. Sometimes, these take positive turns — and in others, classic heroes can prove incapable of surviving truly massive changes.
Jean Grey #2 (by Louise Simonson, Bernard Chang, Marcelo Maiolo, and VC’s Ariana Maher) explores a potential timeline where it was Wolverine who became Phoenix instead of Jean Grey, and it doomed him and other major members of the X-Men. Notably, other timelines have revealed how Logan could have become a heroic avatar of the Phoenix Force. But there’s one important aspect of Logan that needs to be in place for him to not lose control of those cosmic powers.
What Would Have Happened To Wolverine If He Became A Phoenix
Jean Grey has seen the titular Omega-Level mutant confronting her past choices and reflecting on how different decisions could have helped change the universe for the better. Keeping her time-displaced memories of the future would have led to a grim future for the X-Men and mutants as a whole, but Jean’s curiosity now extends to the original Phoenix Sage. X-Men #100 (by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, Bonnie Wilford, and Annette Kawecki) saw the team trying to return to Earth from a space station via a damaged ship. Although some mutants like Polaris could have just solved the problem on their own, the X-Men at the time were forced to rely on Jean’s abilities to help guide them back to Earth. But in Jean Grey #2, Wolverine is able to convince her that his healing factor gives him the best chance of survival.
In the original story, Logan’s impressive healing abilities hadn’t been fully established yet — but in the new world Jean imagines, Wolverine is able to tank the resulting bombardment of cosmic radiation. However, the mix of the Phoenix’s cosmic potential and Jean’s Omega-Level telepathy unlocked Logan’s memories fully. Realizing the full depths of the Weapon X program all at once before his full character development allowed him to process a more steady discovery of truths proved too much for Wolverine. Hunting down the Weapon X program and unleashing his fury against them, Wolverine quickly slaughters everyone there. Although Jean and Cyclops are able to briefly strip him of the cosmic power, it instead fuses to Cyclops — and a reptant Wolverine slays him to keep the world safe from the Phoenix’s corrupting influence. Doing so also kills him, leaving a heartbroken Jean to recognize the cost of someone else becoming the Phoenix.
Why Becoming The Phoenix Would Have Doomed Wolverine
Jean Grey #2 quietly addresses a number of minor plot holes that have plagued the Phoenix-centric storylines of the X-Men’s past. At the time of the original “Phoenix Saga,” Wolverine’s endurance and healing factor had been teased but were nowhere near where they’d be in modern stories. In “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” Wolverine even admitted that enough gunshots from the Hellfire Club soldiers could potentially slay him — the kind of injury that Logan literally walks off in the present-day. X-Men #100 featured the first confirmation that Logan’s claws were actually housed in his body instead of being gloved weapons. It would only be in later decades and future stories like “Weapon X” that his true potential would be exposed. As a result, Wolverine’s ability to potentially survive the flight from space wasn’t raised in the original “The Phoenix Saga,” but makes more sense now.
However, Jean Grey #2 highlights why that would have ultimately been a flawed plan, as the cosmic force fusing with Wolverine could have backfired in a truly disastrous way. Wolverine’s tenure with the X-Men helped turn him into a more restrained and heroic figure. In the core-Marvel Universe, his steady discovery of his past came as he grew as a hero, allowing him to process the discoveries and get vengeance without losing himself in the process. The Phoenix Wolverine proved to be a far more destructive force, a being capable of slaying numerous people with little warning and vicious brutality. It would have cost Wolverine any chance he would have had of becoming a mentor to other mutants or a major member of the Avengers.
How Wolverine Could Have Become A Heroic Phoenix
Jean Grey #2 isn’t the only time “Wolverine becoming the Phoenix” has occurred across the multiverse, either. In fact, it created one of Marvel’s most powerful variants of either character in the form of Old Man Phoenix. Introduced in Marvel Legacy #1 (by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribić), Old Man Phoenix is the variant of Logan from Earth-14412, home of King Thor. In that timeline, humanity has been largely wiped out in the distant future, with Earth left a cosmic Graveyard after Loki’s schemes took a grim turn. Only a handful of people survived by embracing cosmic forces, such as Thor accepting his place as Asgard’s King and Doctor Doom claiming the powers of forces like the Starbrand and Iron Fist.
Logan was chosen by the Phoenix Force as an Immortal host, capable of surviving for eons even just with his own natural powers. But by the time he became the Phoenix, this Logan had become so heroic that he was able to redirect the Phoenix’s energies to a more heroic form. This version of Wolverine became something truly heroic, a figure who could risk his existence to protect his timeline and even take part in a multiversal war for the future of Avengers across all universes. Wolverine is one of the few people who can become a truly heroic Phoenix — but if he did it too early, he’d have doomed himself and Cyclops along the way.
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