As part of imprint’s “Legacy” exploration Marvel (literally) resurrects one of its most enduring and endearing characters. The time has come to welcome back the X-Men’s Jean Grey!
In issue #135 of The Uncanny X-Men originally published by Marvel Comics in 1980 all hell literally broke lose and for longtime fans of the book the fate of one its most beloved characters was about to written! Series writer Chris Claremont and his co-conspirator John Byrne had spun a tale so powerful and emotionally wrought that when “The Dark Phoenix Saga” finally ran its course, it would forever alter the way audiences read comics! The stakes had suddenly been raised and many realized that nothing lasts forever!
Certainly in a world where men walk among gods, individuals blessed with superpowers the consequences of which could be lost on most mere mortals. In the world of the X-Men it all became painfully real, as original X-Men Jean Grey evolved from the telekinetically gifted Marvel Girl and into the world-devouring Phoenix — a creature of such great potential that its power had become feared throughout the cosmos. That power, as power often does, eventually consumed Jean and turned her into the Dark Phoenix the ultimate personification of pure force!
Her teammates are forced to engage the Dark Phoenix in combat until inevitably, Jean is considered to great a threat to the universe and is served a death sentence — a trial by combat — between the X-Men and the galactic member nations of the known galaxy itself. In the end, before she once again could succumb to the fury of her dark side, Jean in a final act of mercy, sacrifices herself so that her friends to do not have to pay the ultimate price for her mistakes. The Dark Phoenix may no longer have been a threat, but the X-Men lost Jean Grey…or so it seemed.
The X-Factor of it All!
The Uncanny X-Men had become a phenomenon much to the credit of its writer Claremont, who continued to write the series and even introduced its first spin-off The New Mutants which featured the next generation of mutant heroes. The demand for mutant-based books was high! In 1986 the original X-Men would be once again reunited and among their ranks we’d find Jean Grey, much like her namesake, had risen from the ashes for the inaugural run of the new mutant team book X-Factor. Jean’s return would be considered quite controversial.
Over the course of the character’s development, it would be greatly debated as to wether Jean had been replaced by the Phoenix “entity” and placed in hibernation for an undefinable period of time, but in all eventualities she would eventually find herself inevitably connected to the powers granted to her by the Phoenix. Jean Grey would “die” several more times, and come back from the dead just as many, but in recent history Jean had finally merged with the power of the Phoenix and moved on from this plane of existence — “dying” again — though not forgotten!
Like a mercurial specter, the Phoenix has remained a constant in the world of the X-Men, invariably connected to Jean Grey as its primary host and the only individual worthy of wielding its cosmic might. It was only a matter of time before she would be reintegrated into the modern mythology, and as Marvel explores many of its most favored heroes and villains with the recent publishing-wide “Legacy” arc, it seemed fitting and appropriate to bring the X-Men’s most formidable presence back into the fold in Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey limited series.
The timing of which hasn’t escaped anyone that the next blockbuster feature film in the franchise X-Men: Dark Phoenix will bring Jean’s story to the big screen! The limited series written by Matthew Rosenberg begins with the appearance of what might be a large flaming bird, as psychics begin to disappear around the planet, and somewhere in an unassuming small town, a young woman is finding her world is unraveling before her eyes — a woman named Jean Grey! The X-Men are scattered across the planet following a trail…but to what?
Without a doubt the Marvel Universe without Jean Grey, one of the imprint’s original heroines, is just not the same — and the X-Men haven’t enjoyed the popularity that they once relished, not since their counterparts in the Avengers became Hollywood sensations (though arguably the X-Men film franchise did launch before the introduction of the extended cinematic Marvel Universe). As the tale continues to take shape, exactly what the fate of the Phoenix will be is still unknown. Who is this new Jean Grey and is she in fact the latest resurrected form of the Phoenix?
And if that’s the case, is the Phoenix back to save us from ourselves, or burn the house down? The story continues to evolve in Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey issues #1 through #3 are on sale now!