X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Stuart Moore

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Last month I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the latest novel of the Marvel Universe, The Dark Phoenix Saga. It was published on 14th May ahead of the release of the film earlier this month. Dark Phoenix is a book that is something a little different for me, as whilst I am a fan of fantasy and of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is actually the first time I have read a Marvel novel.

I was excited about reading this book, which is adapted from the original graphic novel by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and John Byrne which was published in 1980. I was interested to read that this was one of the most famous stories within the Marvel Universe, with the original graphic novel considered to be something of a classic. With this in mind, whilst I haven’t read the original, I was interested in seeing how Stuart Moore would adapt this story for a new audience, updating this well loved tale for the 21st century. The focus of this story is Jean Gray, who makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the X-Men whilst piloting a doomed shuttle through a solar flare. That is until a miracle occurs, and Jean finds herself reborn, as a literal phoenix reborn from the ashes. However, Jean’s transformation into the Phoenix is just the start of her journey, and we see the impact that it has on her having become one of the universes most powerful beings. Alongside the X-Men, she sets out to defeat an organisation known as the Hellfire Club, but complications ensue when her powers become difficult to contain, and her life takes a surprising, dark turn.

I found The Dark Phoenix Saga to be an entertaining read, and one which I sped through fairly quickly. I do think that readers familiar with the details of the original graphic novel would perhaps enjoy this even more than me and take more from it in terms of comparing the character and plot development between the two stories told decades apart, particularly its portrayal of female power. That said, as a newcomer to this particular narrative I found this to be an enjoyable story with plenty of action packed moments as we see Jean’s life spiral out of control, and how this has an effect on those around her, including those she holds dear. This is the third Marvel novel from Stuart Moore who has worked on a large array of comics and graphic novels and I thought that the writing captured the universe really well as the plot builds up to an exciting conclusion in which we see if Jean Gray and the X-Men have what it takes to save the day as the fate of our world hangs in the balance.

 X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga was an interesting reading experience for me as a newcomer to fiction adapted from a graphic novel. I would be interested in picking up other novels based around the Marvel Universe, particularly any featuring the Avengers which I am a big fan of! But this is certainly a book that is well worth picking up for fans of the 1980’s original.

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga was published on 14th May 2019 by Titan Books, with thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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