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Jean Grey, the Omega-level telepathic member of the X-Men, has met death. Again. This time, her killer is the anti-mutant group known as Orchis, which slew her and many other mutants on the island of Krakoa during this year’s Hellfire Gala. However, as the current Jean Grey miniseries is showing, not all is lost for the hero, as while she still yet lives—at least her mind does, in any event.
This new disembodied predicament has given Jean—and readers—the opportunity to play a game of “what if” as she explores her past and evaluating her choices to pinpoint “where [she] went wrong,” as is her common refrain. And in this week’s Jean Grey #2 by writer Louise Simonson, artist Bernard Chang, letterer Ariana Maher, colorist Marcelo Maiolo, and cover artist Amy Reeder, Jean turns her eyes to a monumental moment in her life: her first meeting with The Phoenix Force.
Jean and the X-Men’s encounter with The Phoenix would impact their lives all the way to the present day, acting as a force of destruction and resurrection, time and again, for good and for ill. As Jean goes on her magical mystery tour of her past, she questions whether it was her bond with the cosmic entity that led her life—and possibly the X-Men’s lives—astray. We see her decisions lead to others being possessed by The Phoenix, teammates with whom she has a more intimate bond.
While the results are to be expected—if in outcome, at least—that’s not at the heart of the issue. Where the creative team really shines is showing how Jean loves the X-Men Cyclops and Wolverine, but in different ways and for different reasons. This romantic triangle has been explored many times over the years and looked at with new lenses, most recently during the Krakoan Age and a hint at a possible throuple with the three. But Jean Grey #2 is one of those rare explorations of those relationships that truly centers on Jean: her wants, her needs. While we see Cyclops and Wolverine profess their love for her, this installment gives Jean more of a voice—of remorse, of regret, of empathy and love.
Simonson shows again that she has one of the best handles on Jean as a character of any creator that has tackle the X-Men member. Chang’s lines and Maiolo’s hues marry beautifully, whether the scene calls for a tender kiss to a chaotic slaughter. And Maher really shines here, especially in the more tender and heartbreaking moments, particularly one where Wolverine comes to a crossroads toward the book’s end. (And the use of Wolverine’s signature “snikt” here is ingenious.)
Jean Grey #2 shows that while the Krakoan Age might be winding down and going to the “Fall of X“—and who knows what’s to come on that front?—there is still room for quiet, introspective tales amidst the bombast. While we’re talking regrets, Jean, mine is that this is only a miniseries and not a full-fledged series.
Jean Grey #2 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.
From the official issue description:
THE DARKEST PERIOD IN JEAN GREY’S HISTORY! The Dark Phoenix has haunted Jean Grey since it emerged from Jamaica Bay. But what if the Phoenix had chosen…someone else? The love story of Cyclops and Jean Grey is one of the most beloved in Marvel Comics’ history. Now witness a legendary creator break their hearts – and their minds. But this is no “what if.” Jean Grey is not where she is meant to be…and neither is the rest of mutantkind.