Jean Grey #2 review


September 27, 2023

Jean Grey might be the X-Men character most removed from the current action of the Fall of X, but Jean Grey #2 reminds us why this series is one of the most interesting books in this line-wide event. Once again leading the audience through Jean’s meditative reflection on her life are Louise Simonson, Bernard Chang, Marcelo Maiolo, VC’s Ariana Maher, and Sarah Brunstad. The previous issue found Jean posthumously investigating her original era of superheroics as Marvel Girl, but now her attention has turned to her first rebirth as Phoenix.

Issue #1 found Jean musing on what might have been if the original 5 teen X-Men had not had the memories of their time-traveling adventures blocked until the present. The effects of trying to force some of her most recent adventures with some of her oldest took teen Jean down a maddening road: one that highlighted her own self-righteous and self-loathing aspects. As if in response to that, this week’s issue allows Jean to contemplate if she had chosen differently in one of her most famous moments of self-righteous sacrifice.

Again, Simonson’s mastery of Jean Grey’s character is the foundation of what makes this book so engaging. Purely from the standpoint of plot, this issue follows Jean’s hypothetical as Wolverine and later Cyclops host the Phoenix in the wake of that fateful crash into Jamaica Bay. But deeper than that, it is an exploration of why Jean loves both Scott and Logan, as well as why control is such an essential theme for all three characters in that era.

Both men need control: Wolverine over his berserker rages, and Cyclops over his own eyes at all times. Jean’s psionic abilities give her the power to act as a safety net for Logan and Scott, alleviating both men of the anxiety that comes with their burdens. The original Phoenix arc disrupts this tentative balance between them as Jean’s own sense of control is slowly chipped away at, and the refractive lens Jean puts on that saga in Jean Grey #2 shows each man destroying themselves when the power of the Phoenix pushes them beyond Jean’s ability to control.

Lies on his lips, I lick it UNIQUECredit: Marvel Comics

In the end, neither Cyclops nor Wolverine were truly capable of hosting the boundless passion of the Phoenix as well or as long as Jean did in her first time as host, but the consequences were far less destructive than Jean’s own acts as Dark Phoenix. Still, Jean leaves this meditation affirming the choice she originally made all those years ago. It’s a sentiment echoed by many readers who argue that Jean alone, with the exceptions of her daughter Askani and adoptive granddaughter Hope, is the one true host of the Phoenix.

Simonson is due her praise on this issue, but Chang and Maiolo’s work on it is what makes Jean Grey #2 truly sing. Chang’s vision of Jean is beautiful with a face that is haunted by the horrors around her. Just as well, his covert ops redesign for Cyclops and Marvel Girl’s costumes on their mission to the Weapon X facility are sleek and have a similar resonance to his redesigned uniforms for the O5 in issue #1. Throughout this issue, Maiolo’s colors put passion into the Phoenix’s flames for both Scott and Logan.

The Phoenix is so central to the plot of this issue, but it also leads us to a minor lost opportunity. It may not be fair to compare it to the gold that Dave Cockrum struck with his design for the Phoenix costume, but Cyclops and Wolverine’s Phoenix costumes as designed by Chang are not very special. Of course, the point of the issue is not how cool either man would look with the Phoenix, but recent years have given us more interesting designs for Phoenix Wolverine and Phoenix Cyclops.

As Jean Grey once said, “I’m the only ‘me‘ that ever was.” Jean Grey #2 reminds audiences why she’s the best she is at what Phoenix does. Simonson, Chang, and Maiolo knock it out of the park again, and if they continue to do so, this series is set to be essential reading for any fan of Jean Grey or the X-Men.

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 When it comes to the Phoenix, Jean is one of one. She’s number one, she’s the only one.  Read More