Table of Contents
Before I get into the topic at hand, I want to say “thank you” for the opportunity I have been given to start this new series of articles that go a little beyond the game itself. Our content on Marvel Snap Zone talks about strategy, in-game economics, and new content releases, but today I’m starting this new section, and we will certainly continue posting it if you like it. Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments!
In “Variants and Lore”, we will talk a little more about the background of the variants and the characters who receive these alternate arts in Marvel Snap.
We will touch on topics like lore, first appearance in comics, the art and the artist in charge of the variants involved, and plenty of other facts about the cards and locations. I sincerely hope you find this entertaining and interesting. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
The Phoenix Force
The Phoenix Force is one of the oldest known cosmic entities in the Marvel Multiverse. It’s a manifestation of the prime force of life. It’s considered the spark that begins creation and the flame that consumes it. This entity perpetuates the cycle of life without neglecting its inevitable end in death and subsequent rebirth.
Its power is channeled through hosts with whom The Phoenix Force bonds. When this happens, just as it can create, it can also destroy, something that has generated multiple stories in Marvel comics that are very fascinating.
In this season of the game, various variants related to hosts of The Phoenix Force have been released, and many of them are pretty and flashy (how many of you bought Jean Grey to maximize the chance of opening a Jean Grey variant?). Some of them are related to important moments of the lore that I will gladly summarize so that we can all learn a little more about our cards and their variants (as well as our favorite characters).
- The Phoenix Force first appearance: X-Men #101 – 1976
Jean Grey is considered an Omega-level mutant, which means that she is one superlative level above other mutants as one of the strongest telepaths, telekinetics, and psions in the Marvel Multiverse.
The Phoenix Force was called to Earth (for the 2nd time) when it felt the mind of a human transcend the physical realm. Jean Grey connected her mind with her dying friend Annie Richardson to keep Annie’s soul from moving to the afterlife. In doing so, Jean’s mind was dragged along with Annie’s soul. The Phoenix Force lent its energy to break the connection and “save” Jean, and then it kept a close watch on her as it felt a sort of kinship with the mutant.
Years later, Jean Grey was dying on a space shuttle and her mind called out for help. The Phoenix Force answered and saved her again. It appeared before Jean Grey and shaped its form and consciousness after her own. At that time, what Jean wanted most was to save the lives of the X-Men and herself. She held The Phoenix Force‘s arm and fell into a coma-like state, and The Phoenix Force took on the full form, memory, and personality of Jean Grey.
The Phoenix Force used its powers to ensure the X-Men’s survival, putting Jean Grey in a cocoon-like construction (where she rested for years at the bottom of Jamaica Bay) while her injuries healed completely. Once she was healed, The Phoenix Force fulfilled its pledge to Jean.
During this time, The Phoenix Force acted as if it were Jean Grey; however, a part of Jean’s consciousness remained in connection with The Phoenix Force, triggering a series of very captivating stories from which multiple states and forms of The Phoenix Force hosted by Jean emanated.
The Phoenix Force greatly increases its host’s powers. In the case of Jean Grey, this effect was maximized because The Phoenix Force felt that Jean was its true house and host. These powers included interstellar travel, cosmic pyrokinesis, immortality, and existence mastery (she could control the entirety of existence).
As the “true host” of The Phoenix Force, Jean was even capable of forcibly ripping the cosmic power out of another host and forcing its status upon herself. There was a period where the two completely merged and became The White Phoenix of the Crown, thus allowing her to access the full capabilities of the cosmic entity.
- Jean Grey first appearance: X-Men #1 – 1963
- The Phoenix Force saves Jean Grey: X-Men #101 – 1976
- The Phoenix Force takes Jean’s form and consciousness: Fantastic Four #286 – 1986
- The Phoenix Force‘s kinship: Classic X-Men #8 – 1987
We can point to multiple hosts of The Phoenix Force that are certainly attention-grabbing stories, such as Professor X (who received an infusion of residual energy from The Phoenix Force) or the recently released Echo (who participated in a tournament organized by The Phoenix Force to choose its new host). But, of all the known hosts in comics, alternate histories, movies, etc, one group stands above the rest.
Almost all members of The Phoenix Five received variants this season. Currently, we have been able to get Phoenix Five variants of Magik, Colossus, and Namor (which does not represent his version from the Phoenix Five but a more recent event called “Enter the Phoenix Force”).
The Cyclops variant is in the game data but remains unreleased. What calls my attention is that Emma Frost, AKA White Queen, did not receive a variant, and nothing about one has appeared in the game data. This makes me think that eventually some variant will come out and it will probably be something special (maybe a bundle with Cyclops?).
As for lore matters, during 2012’s Avengers vs X-Men story line, The Phoenix Force began approaching Earth to claim its next host. Fearing this event would cause greater problems, Iron Man and Giant Man prepared a weapon to kill The Phoenix Force.
Instead of killing the entity, this weapon split it into five fragments that forcefully bonded with the five aforementioned X-Men. These characters tried to use this power with greater responsibility, but, in the end, they ended up losing their minds and killing Professor X in the process.
Using their new powers, The Phoenix Five united to make the world a better place by crafting a grand new Utopia. The Avengers, distrustful of The Phoenix Force and The Phoenix Five, invaded the Utopia, and an amazing battle between the two parties ensued.
Namor was the first to lose his fragment after being defeated by The Avengers and Scarlet Witch at the cost of the great destruction of Wakanda. Next, Magik and Colossus were tricked into defeating each other. Finally, Emma Frost’s fragment was stolen by Cyclops to increase his power during the final encounter.
He was the last to fall to the corrupting influence of The Phoenix Force and became The Dark Phoenix after hosting all five fragments. Jean Grey‘s essence, still connected to the cosmic entity, convinced him to let The Phoenix Force leave his body as he gets attacked by Hope Summers and the Scarlet Witch. He hosts The Phoenix Force one more time during the clash of Earth 616 and Earth 1610, but he eventually loses it when he is killed by Doctor Doom.
- Split of The Phoenix Force: Avengers vs X-Men #5 – 2012
- Utopia invasion: Avengers vs X-Men #6 – 2012
- Scarlet Witch defeats Namor and great destruction of Wakanda: Avengers vs X-Men #8 – 2012
- Colossus vs Magik, tricked by Spider-Man: Avengers vs X-Men #9 – 2012
- Cyclops becomes The Dark Phoenix: Avengers vs X-Men #11 – 2012
- Doctor Doom kills Cyclops: Secret Wars #3 – 2015
Enter the Phoenix
In Enter The Phoenix Force, the entity returns to Earth to select a new champion. The Avengers and many other heroes and villains get caught in the middle of the conflict and have to fight for The Phoenix Force‘s power in a tournament held by the cosmic entity where it empowers each of the contestants with a portion of its power before pitting them against each other.
Thanks to some variant covers of this event and the pages in those volumes, we can see some characters from the Marvel Multiverse carrying this power.
It’s from this event that the variants we have in the game of Captain America and Shang-Chi emerge. Now, even though Black Panther also participates in this event, his variant does not refer to it, which I will explain below.
This is where the aforementioned Namor vs Echo fight happens. Namor overpowered Echo and left her dying on the ocean floor, but The Phoenix Force was drawn to Echo‘s suffering and her ability to adapt and wield its power in different ways. In the final round of the contest, Echo reemerged from the bottom of the ocean and proceeded to interrupt all the different fights, absorbing the fragments of The Phoenix Force from the remaining contestants — an act that made her fully merge with The Phoenix Force.
- Avengers Vol. 8, issues 38-44 – 2021
As is common in the comics industry, the same volume and issue may have different covers. This allows the work of various artists and their different styles and approaches to the characters and events to be presented to the public.
It’s known that many of the customers of comics are also collectors (just like the players of Marvel Snap that want all the variants of certain characters…). Many buy all the copies in which a certain character appears, all the covers of a specific artist, or simply all the different covers of a specific issue. This makes the idea of many different covers very profitable for Marvel while still enjoyable for the customers.
All these factors, among others, allow us to enjoy incredible artistic works that, as in these cases, represent characters in an aspect that they could never have obtained otherwise (not forgetting that Black Panther has been the bearer of a Phoenix Force fragment in the canonical event mentioned above).
I could not even find a moment where he possessed a fragment of the entity per se, which makes this variant something quite special. I think it was designed for this season in the game, and the way it represents The Phoenix Force with a chain is very symbolic. Even if he never was a host, Mister Sinister interacts with this entity in three very important moments.
1) Mister Sinister observed children and young mutants in an orphanage called “State Home for Foundlings” where Scott Summers (Cyclops) lived. He had studied the Summers family tree and DNA and discovered that if Scott conceived a child with his girlfriend, Jean Grey, that child would be so strong that it could eliminate Apocalypse and free Mister Sinister from his command.
When he believed that Jean Grey died at the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga, he made a clone of her who he named Madelyne Pryor that did not present any of his powers. He thought that all his efforts had been a waste until The Phoenix Force appeared and took Madelyne as its host.
Mister Sinister implanted false memories in her and put her in the path of Cyclops so that he falls in love with her. They have a son whom they call Nathan Christopher Charles Summers and, from there, a long series of events unleashes where Madelyne’s soul gets corrupted, Mister Sinister fights against the X-Men, Madelyne has a tragic ending, and Mister Sinister is defeated.
2) In the second moment, Mister Sinister merges with a Celestial and turns all the inhabitants of San Francisco into his clones. He is defeated, but not before building his city in the underground tunnels. It’s at this moment that he foresees a new arrival of The Phoenix Force to possess Hope Summers (the first mutant born after the events of House of M), and that the mutant child would later look for him. He creates clones of Madelyne and enters a war against the cosmic entity.
3) Finally, the third moment is where Siniestro, during the events I described above with The Phoenix Five, gets briefly captured and restrained by Mister Sinister. With the help of his technology and six clones of Madelyne, he manages to contain the group; however, the White Queen (Emma Frost) enters the mind of one of these clones, speaks to The Phoenix Force in them, and informs it that Mister Sinister was misusing it and would lock her up for eternity. The Phoenix Force responds by removing all of its essence from Madelyne’s clones and returning to its five mutant hosts, destroying Mister Sinister in the process.
- Mister Sinister implants memories in Madelyne: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #168 – 1983
- Birth of Nathan Christoper Charles Summers: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) – #1986
- Mister Sinister in San Francisco: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 2) #1-3 – 2011
- Mister Sinister against The Phoenix Five: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 2) #15-17 – 2012
It has been very fun and interesting for me to work on this article!
Although I already knew a few things about The Phoenix Force and the characters that had been its hosts, revisiting this topic made me discover some very interesting details — not only from the lore, but also from where the variants we have in the game came from.
I hope that this information and work have been to your liking. If so, I ask you with great affection to let us know on our Marvel Snap Community Discord, on my Twitter, or in the comments section of this article. If there’s enough support, I’ll continue to work on more articles like this!
See you soon with a new article, dear readers! And, as always, don’t forget to smile; it certainly makes a difference.
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