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Comic Book / Rachel Summers

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"I'm not my mother. I'm not Phoenix. I'm my own woman... and before I'm done... they'll wish I were the Phoenix."
Rachel Summers, Uncanny X-Men #468

Rachel Anne "Ray" Summers, or Rachel Grey, and also known with the alias Phoenix, Marvel Girl and Prestige, is a Marvel Comics mutant superheroine who is associated with the X-Men. She debuted in X-Men #141 (January 1981), as part of the Days of Future Past storyline. Her first appearance in the main Marvel Universe would come three years later in New Mutants #18. She was created by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and John Romita, Jr..

Rachel is the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey from an alternate dystopian future timeline where Senator Robert Kelly was assassinated, and as a result, the Sentinels were allowed to take over the world. Rachel used her telepathy to send Katherine Pryde's mind to the past so she could save Senator Kelly. Katherine succeeded but their timeline remained unchanged, so Rachel used the Phoenix Force to go back in time and find out what had gone wrong. Rachel discovered she was stuck into an alternate timeline where her mother was dead and her father married to Madelyne Pryor. She'd join the X-Men and later Excalibur.


Rachel remained with the team until her parents' wedding in X-Men #30. Then she travelled to another far-flung remote future where the Earth was a desert world ruled by Apocalypse. Rachel founded the Askani in order to oppose him, and brought Scott and Jean to the future to raise Cable.

However, the events of The Twelve changed the timeline, and Rachel was kidnapped by a cyborg soldier called Gaunt. She was rescued and brought back to the present by her brother Cable, and attempted to lead a normal life until circumstances forced her to join the X-Men again.

Rachel was Marvel's first (of many) "child from the future" characters, one of the best known, and one of the very few who stuck around. In addition to her mother's telepathy and telekinesis, Rachel can also send her astral form through time and across realities. She doesn't do this often though, since outside her stint with Excalibur - who were frequently involved in multiversal shenanigans - the rules of time travel make it largely ineffective.


Notable Comic Books Appearances

Notable Storylines

Animated Series

Video Games


  • Alternate Timeline: The universe she is from, Earth-811, was originally one of the possible Bad Futures of Earth-616, but was later retconned into being a completely Alternate Universe that paralleled Earth-616 (except for a few details revolving Jean Grey's relationship to the Phoenix Force) up to Senator Kelly's assassination.
  • Alternate Self: Averted; In an otherdimensional space where inhabitants' alternate selves can be manifested, Rachel can only summon aspects of her past, meaning she is apparently wholly unique in the multiverse. This saddens her, as this means her tragic life is the only one in which she could exist.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Another Claremont character, see her "special friendship" with Kitty. The ambiguity comes from Claremont refusing to outright say it, and every other writer ignoring it in favour of having both dating guys exclusively.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Phoenix, when she was Phoenix Force Avatar.
  • Anti-Hero: Of the Knight in Sour Armor variety, although she started as a Pragmatic Hero or Unscrupulous Hero.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: To her mother, Jean Grey.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: During one of Excalibur's stops on the Cross-Time Caper, Rachel temporarily burns out her powers (causing the team to be temporarily stranded, since her powers are what allowed them to jump between universes). In the meantime, she's able to fight instead by copying Kitty Pryde's ninja skills. Kitty never taught Rachel any of those skills, she was simply able to duplicate them by watching Kitty use them. Once.
  • Badass Longcoat: Her costume from Schism to ResurrXion sported a long red trenchcoat with many tails, resembling the tailfeathers of a bird.
  • Bad Future: Rachel escaped from, pretty much, the ultimate Crapsack World. One of her driving motivations is preventing it from coming about, or at least preparing her students to face it.
  • Betty and Veronica: In Excalibur she was the Veronica, Shadowcat was the Betty, and Alistaire Stuart was the Archie.
  • Big Sister Instinct: For young Nathan Summers, before he became Cable. When Nathan was still young and had to be sent to an alternate future after he was infected by Apocalypse's Techno-Organic Virus, Rachel mentally took Scott and Jean to have a honeymoon to the future so that they could raise young Nathan properly.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: In House of M reality, she becomes bodyguard for Psylocke, who is an Action Girl herself.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: She has a tendency to get mind-controlled into being a Hound or turning against the X-Men. 2018 alone saw her brainwashed at least three times. note 
  • Break the Cutie: Put simply, near every event in her life has served this purpose in some way or another.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Just slightly before War of Kings, the fragments of Phoenix power she still had in her unceremoniously up and left mid-fight. This still left Rach with her Omega-level telekinetic powers.
  • Celibate Hero: Rachel had a relationship with a grown-up Franklin Richards in her own timeline, who was killed before her eyes. After that, she wasn't interested in romance for a long time.
  • Chew Toy: Rachel is one of those characters who goes through a hell of a lot of misery with very little positive gain. Over and over and over again.
  • Civvie Spandex: Danskins and leg warmers, before becoming Phoenix.
  • Clothing Damage: Her green outfit from her X.S.E. days got shredded during her time in outer-space, and without the necessary resources to rebuild, she was forced to improvise with what she had.
  • Comic Book Death: In the 90s, she got shunted off to Cable's future, where she lived out her life and died of old age. This got undone when that future stopped existing, and Rach managed to come back to her early 20s.
  • Dangerously Short Skirt: After she took up her mother's mantle as Marvel Girl. She wore a version of her mother's green miniskirt costume (slightly modified to fit current fashions, since the dress didn't age well from the 60's).
  • Dark Feminine Light Feminine: With Shadowcat, in terms of fashion sense (and perhaps backstory) if nothing else. Her personality, however, isn't especially dark.
  • Depending on the Artist: The size and shape of her Hound markings and her eyes, which, though usually green, are sometimes coloured blue - which would be just about the only feature she inherited from her father (whose eyes are blue behind the optic blasts).
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Galactus. Though technically, Rachel's own consciousness was in a coma while the Phoenix took him on. Just before that, however, she'd gone toe to toe with Necrom, the Anti-Phoenix, who hurled planets at her, reignited stars to try and destroy her, and was condensing the multiverse into a singularity to feed off and allow him to ascend to godhood. She won, albeit barely.
  • Divine Parentage: According to her creator, Chris Claremont, Rachel's father isn't Scott Summers, but the Phoenix Force itself. This is quietly ignored by everyone else.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: To an extent as a teacher at the Jean Grey School during Wolverine and the X-Men to the point of being being noticeably grumpier than usual. Then again, if you had to teach Kid Gladiator and keep Omega class teenage rebel and generalised irritating little twit Quentin Quire in check, you'd wind up more than a little annoyed. When Logan asks her about this, she explains that she feels like the Bad Future that she came from is coming for them, and they have to be prepared.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Subverted in Excalibur. She eventually ditches her original spiked red bodysuit (which was based on her Hound costume) and settles for the blood-red ensemble of Dark Phoenix. But she's not pulling a Face–Heel Turn; she just prefers these colours over "Light" Phoenix's costume. "[Dark Phoenix] might have been a threat to the universe... but she had great taste in clothes!"
  • Facial Markings: Her Hound marks are almost always tattoos but sometimes scars, depending on the writer/artist - their shape, number, and coverage also depend (recently, they've usually been depicted as two reddish triangular tattoos pointing inward on her cheerks). A Phoenix emblem flared up over her left eye during her Marvel Girl years when she used her powers, even when she didn't have the Phoenix Force fragment. Her Hound marks are concealed telepathically, but she drops the illusion when she wants to be more intimidating. Or when she's too pissed off to concentrate on it.
  • Fanservice Pack: By the time Excalibur was formed, she was insanely hot (but that's Alan Davis for you).
  • Fiery Redhead: Not only does she fit the personality trope, but she also happened to manifest her powers in the form of giant birds made of fire when she was Phoenix Force Avatar. She still displays a non-Phoenix fiery aura these days.
  • Genocide Survivor: Rachel is a survivor of an anti-mutant genocide that happened in the timeline she came from.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: And glowing tattoos, come to that.
  • Hot Wings: Starting with taking on the Phoenix mantle, and in later comics depicted as blue flames instead of yellow.
  • Hunter Of Her Own Kind: In the future, when she was a Hound.
  • Identical Grandson: Zizagged. She does look incredibly like Jean, and is often drawn as such, to the point where the only differing features are her usually short hair, Hound markings (which are often concealed), and Depending on the Artist, blue eyes (like her father), though she's usually drawn with green eyes. However, she's also sometimes drawn looking utterly dissimilar.
  • I Have Many Names: Rachel Grey, Marvel Girl, Phoenix, Mother Askani, R'chell, Revenant, Prestige.
  • I Have No Son!: Inflicted on her by her own grandmother, just before the other woman was horribly killed by the Shi'ar Death Commandos.
  • In-Series Nickname: Ray.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: While some of her costumes were dodgy, there have been worse. However, her buzzcut and her mullet are close competitors for the title of 'worst hairstyle in comics'. Thankfully, she has a much nicer bob cut these days.
  • Kid from the Future: She's the daughter of Scott Summers and Jean Grey in the "Days of Future Past" timeline's future, who goes back in time and joins various X-Teams. Quite possibly the Trope Codifier for it.
  • Lady-in-Waiting: In House of M reality, she becomes lady-in-waiting for Psylocke, princess of British Empire.
  • Last of Her Kind: She's one of the last of the Grey family line after most of her family were brutally murdered by Shi'ar Death Commandos. The only currently extant other examples are Cable, Nate Grey, and Jean herself after her resurrection - and also possibly Maddie Pryor, though no one's seen her around recently.
  • Legacy Character: She has taken on both of her mother's identities, as Phoenix and Marvel Girl.
  • Made a Slave: Her childhood and adolescence were spent as a Hound, a brainwashed and tortured slave of an oppressive government.
    • And again, after she came back from the dead, courtesy of Elias Bogan. Mind Rape was also involved. The X-Men at least managed to save her that time, though it did alter the look of Rachel's powers.
  • Mindlink Mates: Siblings example. She created a psi-bond with Cable shortly after his birth. It is unknown if that link still exists, however.
    • Of a sort with Korvus - she absorbed the power of his Phoenix Blade and it led to a mental connection and them dating, as well as influencing her personality for the darker. In the end, Rachel recognised this and broke up with him, presumably breaking the link too (though her mother taking back the Phoenix fragment she absorbed might also have been behind it), though they remained on good terms.
  • Mind Rape: Unusually susceptible to this, especially considering her powers and their scale - though, in fairness, the perpetrators are usually enormously powerful beings like Selene, Elias Bogan, Maddie Pryor, and Emma Frost (who noted that the only reason she could do it was because Rachel was all raw power and no skill). Her background and conditioning as a Hound might have something to do with it. It has also diminished considerably as she got telepathic lessons from Emma Frost.
    • She's also more than capable of dishing this out, as Quentin Quire found out when he tried to taunt her by bringing up her memories of her horrific childhood. The result was Quire getting a Psychic Nosebleed and keeling over about two seconds later.
  • Most Common Superpower: Originally averted: in her first appearances, Rachel was skinny, flat-chested and rather unattractive, since she came from a concentration camp, being explicitly compared to a Holocaust victim by Wolverine (who, having served in WWII, would know). Of course, she filled out eventually (which, considering that her mother's vast power-set includes the Most Common Superpower, is not exactly surprising) - something helped by her visit to the Mojoverse's Body Shoppe.
  • Ms. Fanservice: When she disappeared in Uncanny X-Men, Rachel was a stick-thin tomboy who usually wore gym clothes. When she reappeared in Excalibur, she had a much more developed "movie-star" figure (as she had spent time in the Mojo Universe) and wore a skintight, stiletto-heeled, spike-studded, red leather catsuit when on duty, and as little as possible off duty. This was followed by a Dangerously Short Skirt during her Marvel Girl days. She's toned it down since she came back from space, but she still looks like a younger (or older, around Teen Jean, who Rachel dubbed 'Baby Momma') version of her famously drop dead gorgeous mother and still has a tendency towards tight clothing.
    • Lampshaded at one point during Excalibur when she and Kitty go shopping, dissatisfied with the conservative suit and pumps Kitty picks out for her she uses her powers to re-arrange Kitty's outfit to resemble something Rachel normally wears. Kitty immediately thinks that she looks like a hooker.
    • Later, also during Excalibur, she ends up disguising herself as Rachel, right down to costume, and grumbles at how Rachel possibly fits into something so ludicrously tight.
  • Nom de Mom: After Cyclops hooked up with Emma Frost after Jean's death, she started using her biological mother's last name to voice her disgust, and has kept it ever since.
  • Not So Different: The Phoenix, while possessing her comatose body, gets one of these from Galactus in Excalibur after she attacked him in a misguided attempt to protect a world, since overextending her Phoenix powers shortens the lifespan of the universe. Unusually for this trope it actually does give her a new perspective on Gally.
    "Who is the greater evil, Starchilde? I, the devourer of life that has run its course... or you, who denies existence to future generations?"
  • Noodle Incident: Her transformation into a reptile-humanoid thing is either treated as this, or quietly ignored these days.
  • The Phoenix: She kept the motif even after ditching the actual cosmic critter itself. Rachel's connection with the Phoenix isn't in a constant state of retcon like her mother's; she and the Phoenix were merged for years, then separated via a fairly complicated (though simple by Summers/Grey family standards) Time Travel storyline. She also never went Dark Phoenix like Jean, despite generally being more the hot-tempered of the two, but she came close to it a couple of times.
  • Progressively Prettier: As mentioned above, originally, Rachel, in both actual art and in spoken dialogue concerning her is shown to be borderline emaciated, with a very unflattering buzz-cut. These end up being removed later on.
  • Psychic Powers: Telepathy and telekinesis.
  • Scaled Up: An infamous heroic example; during a 2005 trip to the Savage Land, she was brainwashed by a telepathic member of a race of lizard people into believing herself to be one of them. Because of the strength and fine-control of her telekinesis, her body started gradually morphing into a lizard-woman. Once she snapped out of it, she reversed the change in the space of a single issue. Aside from occasional jokes, it has been quietly ignored ever since.
  • Sensor Character: When she was a Hound, she was forced to use her psionic abilities to detect and hunt down mutants in a dystopic alternate future. She's regularly called on by other characters to employ those skills, and eventually reconciles herself to using them for that.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: She came from a future where mutants were outlawed, hunted down by the military or locked into concentration camps. She was drugged, brainwashed and forced to use her telepathic abilities to track down mutants. Wolverine once compared her to Holocaust survivors.
  • She's Got Legs: A lot of comments were made by other characters about her legs - which went on forever (thank/blame Alan Davis) - during her time with Excalibur, wherein she usually wore a skintight red leather costume.
  • Ship Tease:
    • A metric ton's worth with Kitty Pryde. One issue has her being heartbroken over Kitty being... together with a just-back-from-the-dead Colossus. Chris Claremont, creator of both characters, enthusiastically fanned the flames by saying that Rachel was actually the love of Kitty's life. It is possible that he meant this in a Platonic Life-Partners sense, but considering that this is the same man who codified the Mystique/Destiny relationship and tried to reveal Nightcrawler as their son, with Mystique having transformed into a man to impregnate Destiny, it seems unlikely.
    • One issue has a brief moment between her and Nightcrawler... which didn't get mentioned again or go anywhere for 12 years. Letters to the editor have noted that their recent romance seemed to come out of nowhere.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Like her mother, she has red hair and green eyes (though, Depending on the Artist, they can come out blue).
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Rachel was almost killed because of the crimes her mother had committed as Dark Phoenix. Of the entire rest of her mother's family, however, she is the Sole Survivor.
  • Sole Survivor: From a technical point of view, of the Grey family line, who were all murdered by the Shi'ar Death Commandos on the belief it would prevent the Phoenix taking any of them as hosts.
  • So Proud of You: Rachel has been on the receiving end of several of these:
    • In the third issue of "Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix", after discovering Rachel is still mind-linked to Nathan, struggling to protect her brother despite being in a coma herself, Scott stays beside her bed and states he's proud of being her father:
      Scott: Sorry... I never treated you much like a daughter when I had the chance. I just wanted you to know... How very proud I am to have been your father.
    • When they meet again after Grant Morrison's run, Cyclops reiterates she makes Jean and him proud.
      Scott: I'm glad you kept Jean's name. You make us both very proud.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Originally, Rachel's Hound uniform was depicted as black with metal studs around the neck and wrists, down her front, and along the outside of her arms and legs. Her Excalibur catsuit was an adaptation of this: red with spikes instead of studs, and none on the legs. Alan Davis consistently drew the black studded uniform in flashbacks, but other artists instead put Rachel in the very same red. The outfit mix-up may have started with Days of the Future Present, where Rachel refers to her costume as her "Hound uniform" even though it's really a variation.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Looks exactly like Jean, only with shorter hair.
  • Superpower Lottery: Like her mother, Rachel has telekinesis and telepathy so powerful, it's almost limitless even when she's not Phoenix.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: She inherits her mother's psychic powers.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: During periods when Jean Grey has been rendered temporarily dead or otherwise unusable, she has been substituted numerous times, most notably by Rachel.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Obviously.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: A recurring theme with her, surprisingly.
    • During her return to the Days of Future Past reality, she spares Ahab, largely on these grounds, being content with the Sentinels having been reprogrammed to preserve life.
    • During War of Kings, she gets the chance to head-splode the Shi'ar Death Commando who led the extermination of her family. She doesn't enjoy it, and promptly breaks down in tears.
    • During her time on the all-female X-Men, she saves the life of the Shi'ar official who suggested the 'exterminate the Grey family' plan in order to prevent another Phoenix host arising... though, granted, after being conflicted over the point. Instead, her ultimate response is to telepathically force him to feel how she feels, to make him understand, and leaves it at that.
  • The Worf Effect: Like all incredibly powerful psychics, whenever the plots needs it, Ray tends to be taken out of action. In fact, X-Men: Gold, X-Men: Red, and Extermination saw her get brainwashed no less three times in the span of a few months (though, granted, in the latter two cases it was by a hideously powerful telepath - Cassandra Nova - and a man who dedicated a lifetime to brainwashing mutants, especially Rachel - Ahab).
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: When she's brainwashed anthropomorphic dinosaurs in the Savage Land into believing she's one of them she starts to telekinetically rewrite her own DNA and make it true.


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