One of the first things Dennis Hopeless wrote for Marvel was the X-Men: Season One graphic novel, a retelling of the X-Men’s origin story. Overall, he did a great job with that retelling – better than most of the Season One graphic novels. Considering how mediocre the source material was, it makes his work on X-Men Season One all the more impressive. As such, he seemed like a good fit to write All-New X-Men after Bendis left. That said, the best part of Hopeless’s graphic novel was his characterization of Jean Grey. Unfortunately, Jean Grey was snatched from the All-New X-Men and put on the Extraordinary X-Men instead. With Hopeless writing this new Jean Grey ongoing solo series, that problem seems to be rectified.
Jean Grey 1 is a good start to the series. The comic’s opening is narrated by Jean Grey’s thoughts, describing the basic differences between her teenage, time displaced self and her adult counterpart. These thoughts do a great job on exploring how she feels about being the only girl on the team now that it’s back to the original five and her general mood. It doesn’t take long for her to run into three members of the Wrecking Crew in a small Japanese town, leading to a great fight scene.
This fight scene balances between Jean Grey’s immense power and her limitations very well. She finds it hard to focus on too many things at once, and both civilians in danger and random thoughts distract her further at times. Even so, the wrecking crew is right to be afraid of her in this scene, and it’s nice to see Jean use her powers in creative ways. There is one minor, but noticeable continuity hiccup. Pickles, one of Nightcrawler’s bamfs, is how Jean got to the Japanese town in the first place, yet apparently he disappeared somewhere from X-Men Blue. This doesn’t bother me, but it might bug some people.
The art by Victor Ibanez is great. It’s a mostly simple look, making great use of facial expressions to convey Jean’s emotions throughout the comic. In the opening pages while she’s eating noodles in said Japanese town, she looks relatively calm and reflective, as the close-ups on her face are intercut with various points in adult Jean’s life, and one moment where she glances at a picture of her team on her phone. It’s a great picture of a group of friends that shows a touch of each of their personalities. The most detailed part of the comic is easily the fight. It’s complete with cars being thrown around with varying levels of damage, backgrounds full of decorated buildings, civilians looking on and appropriate levels of debris. There’s also great use of motion blurs and Jean’s hair flowing with her movements. The colouring by Jay David Ramos is also great. The comic is bright and colourful, with good use of greying out buildings further away and flashback panels with blank backgrounds that resemble the original comics they’re based on.
There isn’t anything particularly special about this issue, but it’s a strong start that shows a lot of potential. It features a very capable main character who still has growing up to do, both with the use of her powers and in her personal life. The issue ending teaser, which most people following comic news will know about already, also gives the series a clear direction moving forward. Some people might not look forward to this direction, but I like it. There is a lot to like about this comic for those who like Jean Grey’s character, and I look forward to seeing where this series will go from here.