In the last few years, the X-Men comics have been in decline. While some view it as orders from Disney, due to them not holding the full rights, and wanting to spotlight other characters in their place, such as the Inhumans. The image of the X-Men has been in decline at Marvel since Avengers Vs. X-Men (2012), and Death of X (2016). However, in the past year, Marvel seems to be trying to reinvigorate the X-Men titles, with their ‘Ressurxion’ line of books. Brining us all new X-Men team books, such as X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue, as well as solo titles for Iceman, and surprisingly Jean Grey.
The tale of Jean Grey is one most comic fans have come to know. Thanks to the films, it’s one a lot of none comic readers have at least heard of. The story of Jean Grey and the Phoenix force. The two things are so synonymous, that it’s hard to think that Jean Grey could ever have a solo series that doesn’t feature the Phoenix. However, this can be a fresh start, a new adventure for the young mutant. The Jean grey staring in the comics today, is the young teenager introduced in the original X-Men #1 from 1963. Brought to the present day with her teammates, Cyclops, Beast, Ice-Man and Angel, back in All-New X-Men #1 (2013), after the events of Avengers Vs. X-Men. This Jean Grey is unburdened from the sins and mistakes of the past Jean, something she makes note of in the beginning of the first issue.
“I’m Jean Grey. Yeah. No. Not That Jean Grey. No Phoenix Force Here. I Never Got possessed by an intergalactic firebird. Or received the associated space god power-up. Which means I never went all crazy Dark Phoenix. Never destroyed a planet. Never tried to murder my friends. Also means I’ve never dies in the love of my life’s stupid arms. A genocidal madwoman corpse, all decked out in her burgundy bad-guy clothes. Pretty okay with not being that Jean Grey, frankly. Nope, not me either. That other Jean. Grown-up badass, seen and done it all Jean. She’s my nightmare. Her Life – The life I should have led – wakes me up a couple nights a week. All cold sweat-y. Her Shadow will probably always stretch further than mine. But maybe that’s cool. Maybe I can learn from her mistakes. Maybe I can be the happy Jean.”
Giving this Jean her own series, allows us to explore a girl out of time. Dealing with life, roommates, freshly developed psychic powers and telekinesis. Learning to be a strong leader, and avoiding the mistakes their predecessor made. The opening issue deals with this well, giving us a solo Jean in the streets of Japan, dealing with street level thugs, and trying to solve little problems along the way. Up until the issues last few pages, when the spirit of the Phoenix appears before Jean. Screeching that she may think she can escape, but to trust it that there is never an escape from the Phoenix. It seems that just as Jean can’t escape it, neither can we stop hearing about it. However, even with this predictable start, the series so far depicts a story that is far more about the journey, than the destination. In issues 2 and 3, Jean decides to visit previous hosts of the Phoenix, to find a way to escape her fate. What she finds, is the scarred and tortured mindsets each previous host has been left with, and the notion that the Phoenix never really leaves you. The lessons Jean learns through the first 4 issues of this series, set out a story of a young woman learning to become stronger, dealing with demons that have effected many, and if she does not learn to control, will lead to more destruction.
The writing in the first issue does come off as a failed attempt to understand a younger generations style of speech. However, this is dropped rather quickly, and from issue 2, the dialogue feels much more natural and flows seamlessly between the characters. The art vibrant and expressive throughout. With plenty of dynamic imagery, as well as subtler, more character driven moments, that work together nicely, to create a very striking, and lively book.
Written by Dennis Hopeless, and with art by Victor Ramos, Jean Grey’s first solo series is shaping up to be something with great potential. While it may be best to wait for the first trade edition, those curious will find an interesting set up in just the first 4 issues.