The X-Men, having just dealt with the Dark Phoenix, find themselves teleported onto the cargo deck of the Shi’ar Imperial flagship. Empress Lilandra has ordered the destruction of the Phoenix for the galactic crimes held against her: destruction of the D’Bari star system as well as a Shi’ar warship that fought the Phoenix. To save Jean’s life, Professor Xavier challenges the Shi’ar to a “duel of honour”. After consulting with her allies, Lilandra accepts Xavier’s challenge. The X-Men are given a day to rest and prepare for battle.
In her room, Jean reflects on the great power that corrupted the Phoenix. And for the battle, she had requested a special garment, her old green and gold X-Men uniform.
The X-Men each prepare for the day ahead. Jean finds Cyclops on one of the ship’s window decks gazing at the Earth. He ponders about the possible death of one or all of them in battle, or the cruel possibility that the Phoenix might not be eradicated from Jean should she live from this ordeal. Cyclops is surprised to find Jean in her old uniform.
Cyclops: “You’re dressed as Marvel Girl! Why?!”
Jean: “I’m not sure -- nostalgia? Pride? I started as Marvel Girl, and that’s how I’ll finish. Scott, am I worth it? I destroyed a world -- in my mind, I can still hear the screams of the dying -- and it felt...good! I don’t want that feeling ever again. And yet -- I do!”
Cyclops: “I know. But to give up -- that’ll be like saying that Dark Phoenix has won. That you are evil. You’re not! Jean, whatever happens, know that I love you. And I’ll stand by you.”
Jean: ”And I, you, Scott -- with all my heart!”
The two share a tender kiss.
Later that day, the X-Men are beamed down to the “Blue Area of the Moon” where the battle will take place. The X-Men take a minute to survey the place, before they spot their opponents beam down in a distance. Without thinking, Angel takes flight to check on their opponents, and the X-Men nearly lose a team mate to light gravity and lack of air, as Angel is sent into space out of the safe vacuum zone, before the battle has started. They split up into pairs to take on their opponents, but are struck down one by one, until only Cyclops and Jean are left to defend themselves.
Seeing as how their chances of winning are slim, Jean takes Cyclops aside for a brief moment before charging out to put up a final stand.
Cyclops: “There'’s so much I want to say to you -- so much that I feel. I...Don’t have the words.”
Jean: ”Where I’m concerned, it’s the thought that counts. And yours -- like you -- are beautiful. You’re a special man, Scott Summers.”
Cyclops: “No more special that the woman I love. Ready?”
Cyclops: “Then...let’s go!”
As Cyclops and Jean are about to lose the fight, the Phoenix is once again unleashed. Lilandra, as well as Xavier’s, worse fears are realised and Xavier understands why Lilandra commanded that the Phoenix be killed. He summons his X-Men to rise to confront and stop the Phoenix. But it is Jean herself who took her own life in the end.
(Classic X-Men #43 is a reprint of Uncanny X-Men (Vol 1) #137.)