With Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey on the horizon, I guess in hindsight it makes sense that writer Dennis Hopeless’s Jean Grey solo series began with the phoenix story arc. I still would have liked to see a bit of a Jean solo series without the phoenix force, but this has been a good run so far anyway. And it appears that the Phoenix Force story is about to wrap up, or at least flow directly into Phoenix Resurrection.
The previous issue ended with the spirit of the original Jean taking a Phoenix Force fragment out of Emma Frost’s mind and planting it into teenaged Jean, which caused her to go into some sort of medical event. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it, except for saying it resembles a coma, Jean’s heart rate is unstable and she’s so hot that she’s frying whatever medical equipment is anywhere close to her. This issue is mostly comprised of Emma Frost and Adult Jean’s spirit trying to help Teen Jean recover.
This is a fairly intense issue, with Adult Jean and Emma Frost scrambling to save Teen Jean’s life. After a while, several previous hosts of the phoenix force join in, like the Stepford Cuckoos, Quentin Quire and eventually Hope Summers. Each of these characters provide a touch of humour in their own way to help lighten the mood. The Cuckoos argue with Emma a bit, even though they help without hesitation. Quentin Quire then shows up and comes up with a surprisingly simple solution. It’s a great moment that shows that while Quire is incredibly arrogant and sometimes insufferably rebellious, he is very useful when he wants to be. And then Hope Summers drops in and completely steals the show for a few pages, with another character throwing in a great joke about Cable being a father.
Without spoilers, the issue ends in a very intense fashion, promising that the next issue will be epic. At this point I think I know where this is heading, and that it’ll lead directly into Phoenix Resurrection. However, that doesn’t mean that the next issue won’t be worth reading. Judging by the rest of this series, it will be. Dennis Hopeless commented on twitter that this series will continue after Phoenix Resurrection – I hope that he’ll have room to explore Jean away from the phoenix force, so we can see her grow as a person instead of just preparing for the incoming cosmic force or dealing with the aftermath of a cosmic event.
Victor Ibanez’s art is great. The style feels very similar to Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run with the general look of the characters, with a lot of detail in the backgrounds. There’s an appropriate amount of medical equipment in the hospital. When Jean spontaneously lights on fire, everyone in the emergency room, even the patients, are clearly terrified. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying emotion, like Hope Summers’s very stern look when she’s monitoring for cosmic disturbances, Quentin Quire’s smug calmness when he readies his solution while eating a sandwich at the same time, and the remorse Adult Jean’s spirit shows when she realizes that giving Teen Jean a portion of the phoenix force really didn’t help things. Also, the fire looks quite good. Jay David Ramos’s colouring is also good. There’s a fantastic glare around the ambulance lights on the very first panel, the entire hospital glows orange when Jean’s body combusts, and there’s always a bit of a blue hue around Adult Jean’s spirit.
Despite this being the most intense issue in Hopeless’s Jean Grey run so far, it still remains an entertaining comic with some great character development. The frequent snarky comments between Adult Jean’s spirit and Emma Frost is always entertaining. It’s also nice to see Emma Frost acting like her normal self, instead of what feels like a forced villain role in a lot of the bigger X-Men titles right now. This is well worth picking up for Jean Grey fans, whether you enjoy Teenaged Jean Grey or you’re looking forward to Adult Jean Grey’s return.