In celebration of the beginning of Matthew Rosenberg’s PHOENIX RESURRECTION #1, ComicsVerse looks back on the most recent depictions of our favorite telepath — Jean Grey by exploring Dennis Hopeless’s eponymous JEAN GREY series.
In 2013, readers were introduced to a time-displaced Jean Grey living in the “modern” world. This younger version of Jean Grey featured a fresh perspective on an original X-Men character we love.
Inevitably, JEAN GREY revolves around Jean’s relationship to the all-powerful and cosmic Phoenix Force! Dennis Hopeless’s JEAN GREY explores the connections between the time-displaced teenage Jean Grey through the lens of a series of team-ups with other well-known Marvel characters including Doctor Strange, Psylocke, Thor, Scarlet Witch, and Emma Frost. From the series’ humor to its epic moments featuring Jean’s total and utter badassery, Dennis Hopeless presents a fun and poignant take with an ending that will certainly live on as a classic Marvel moment for years to come.
So, without further ado, allow me to present ComicsVerse’s thoughts on “Teen Jean” as well as the impact she will leave behind in Marvel’s PHOENIX RESURRECTION!
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Transcription of the podcast can be found below:
Justin Alba: So I never thought I would say this, but thanks to everybody for listening to the 99th episode of the ComicsVerse podcast! We’re almost at 100, which is so exciting. Joining me today is Kat Vendetti and Maite- Maite I’ve never pronounced your name out loud. I’m afraid I’m not Spanish enough, am I Spanish enough to even say it?
Maite Molina-Muniz: I mean, I think so.
JA: You should go, ’cause I feel like I’ll get the wrong accent.
MM: It’s Maite Molina.
JA: Oh, that’s it?
JA: Oh yeah, okay.
MM: That’s pretty easy. Rolled off the tongue.
JA: At any rate, today we’re gonna be talking about Jean Grey and PHOENIX RESURRECTION, sort of to celebrate the resurrection of Jean Grey into the Marvel Universe, which is kind of exciting. As a reminder to everybody, you can find us on comicsverse.com and check out our videos, podcasts, and articles, of course, and you know, we have a ton of Jean Grey stuff on there for everybody listening and I know that there’s a ton of really huge Jean Grey fans. But yeah, so anyway, Kat, thank you so much for being here and for doing this.
Kat Vendetti: Yeah, you’re welcome. I’m always happy to be here.
JA: So I know you aren’t a huge Jean Grey fan maybe when you started, so how do you feel now about doing this?
KV: It’s really funny because most of my exposure to Jean Grey was always the real Jean Grey, but it was always when she was with the Phoenix. I just thought it was so boring, ’cause that was the only Jean Grey I ever saw, so when the younger Jean Grey, the time-displaced Jean Grey came along, it was just a completely fresh take on the character that I was really able to appreciate a whole lot more. So I’ve really, really come to love Jean Grey a lot. Particularly through her younger iteration.
JA: So did the younger Jean Grey make you love the older Jean Grey more?
KV: I think I will come to find that out when the real Jean Grey comes back. Because just whenever I re-read old stuff, and I see Jean Grey, and it’s like, “oh here’s Jean, oh there’s the Phoenix, yawn.” So but when X-MEN RED comes around and we see the conclusion to RESURRECTION I think I’ll have a brand-new appreciation for the OG Jean Grey.
JA: Have you ever read X-MEN comics while Jean Grey was alive?
KV: No, actually. I started reading X-MEN comics like, in the mid-2000s, but it was just re-reading like, UNCANNY X-MEN, like all Claremont-era stuff. And when I started reading regularly, it was like 2010, so she was long-dead.
JA: Maite, when did you first get introduced to Jean Grey and what were your kind of first impressions of her?
MM: My first exposure to Jean Grey and the Phoenix was DARK PHOENIX SAGA. It was when I was younger, and I hadn’t really got into X-Men yet. I was like a super-huge Batman fan and I’m like, hold up, let me diversify my options. I picked up DARK PHOENIX SAGA ’cause like, I heard it was one of the most iconic stories. So when I first read it, I’m like, damn, this is a really tragic story, you know? Coming across a Jean Grey solo series, I thought it was really nice to get a more light-hearted version of the Jean Grey came to know in previous years when she was alive. So I enjoyed it at first. You get kind of thrown off by the tone, ’cause I thought it was really- it’s not a light-hearted depiction. I ended up really enjoying it in the long run.
JA: What do you think is the biggest difference, other than tone, in the Jean Grey in DARK PHOENIX SAGA and the one we read in the comic? In the JEAN GREY comic by Dennis Hopeless that we’re talking about.
MM: Yeah, I mean, in her solo series I feel, and I said this a lot in my reviews, you get a much more naive Jean Grey. Just ’cause she’s not as experienced, and obviously she doesn’t- she’s not as familiarized with the Phoenix as she was in like DARK PHOENIX SAGA, other storylines. So her characterization was really different, but I enjoyed it, I enjoyed getting a different facet of Jean and even a Jean that had a lot more humor. That made the series a lot more entertaining, too. You had these really funny moments that you wouldn’t really get in previous incarnations.
JA: I love the interaction between a younger Jean and older Jean. I thought it was hysterical. What do you think is the biggest difference in her personality, and this goes for everyone, between the older Jean that we read in the Claremont era and the younger Jean. I found them to be so different. I guess I was curious what you all thought. Just in terms of who she is as a person, not even an X-Man.
JA: I guess to get it started, I mean this Jean Grey is a lot cooler than the other Jean Grey, she’s a lot less, I mean and I’m partial to the old one, just to be clear, ’cause I know you guys are probably partial to the younger Jean Grey. She’s a lot less, I think they described her as uppity in the- they described older Jean Grey as uppity in the Grant Morrison run of NEW X-MEN. And here they kind of, you know, she’s much more like, I don’t know, she just seems like such a product of today versus a product of the ’60s like the original Jean Grey did.
KV: Yeah, I think so, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she is a teenager and she hasn’t, of course, gone through all the experiences that the older Jean Grey has. But one of the things that I really love about the time-displaced Jean Grey, is that the most formative years of her developing her powers is without Charles Xavier. And I don’t know if it’s explicitly said or just implied, but he definitely had some control over her powers. He like inhibited them because she was so powerful.
KV: So now this is a Jean who’s growing up without that influence over her powers and it’s a Jean who’s being trained by Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost, so it’s just a totally different take on her powers. And she’s seen her future, she’s seen what happens to the real Jean Grey, being corrupted by the Phoenix and all these horrible things that happen to mutants. So it’s kind of like, I think her personality is a mix of like, being a kid, pretty much knowing what’s gonna happen to her in life and just kind of battling with being more in control of her destiny and definitely more in control of her powers.
JA: I would also add that Magneto and Polaris were two of her teachers, too, which I think really affected who she is. And also I think they refer to it as the mental blocks that Xavier put in way back when, when she was younger. So her telepathy didn’t get as powerful as it could after the Phoenix accident that happened when they were coming down, was it from the moon or something? And she landed in Jamaica Bay. Maite, what do you think about that? About how she changed?
MM: I thought Kat had a really good point about how the time-displaced Jean Grey, the solo series really tries to make her character distinct from what we knew of her in the past. I mean the first issue alone there’s I think multiple instances where she’s like, that wasn’t me. All the damage the Phoenix caused, that’s not who I was. Even though that is her eventual future, I think the series did a good job of really developing this character that made an effort to change her future in a way. I thought that was really cool. Like, distinct from her experience with Professor X and her past with Cyclops, I really like this new development of a character that we thought we knew really well, but it was an innovative take on that.
JA: Is there something that we learned in the series, seeing Jean Grey as a time-displaced teenager, that kind of informed us about who she is, in really both her incarnations. Or did you feel that this was kind of like a different take and it took the character in a totally different direction, which I think is a totally valid answer, too. I guess, for me, I learned how malleable Jean is, and these things that happened to her when she was younger really made her into who she is. Her circumstances really influenced her more than I thought. They influenced her to the core, when she was younger, more than I thought. And that was something that I learned.
KV: I’ve learned that Jean Grey is a total badass. She is way more powerful than anybody gave her credit for. I feel we see a lot of the time-displaced Jean Grey, of like the older, even among her peers, I think, like a lot of the older X-Men just kind of not giving her credit for what she’s capable of. And I think she takes that to heart. I don’t if that’s because she knows what lies ahead in her future, maybe it’s just my own bias of seeing, you know, the one token female character amongst the sea of male characters in the ’60s. But she’s like the most powerful among her peers, and I don’t think- I think she feels that she doesn’t get recognized enough for that.
MM: Yeah, I agree with that. I also think the solo series kind of addressed a lot of her- lot of conflicts that maybe weren’t alluded to in earlier incarnations, especially, I think again in the first issue, she’s kind of going off on a rant about how she’s the only girl on a team full of men, and she doesn’t really know what her role is.
MM: She knows that she’s powerful, she knows that she has all these developing abilities and she doesn’t really know how to balance. That kind of makes her feel like an outsider, ’cause she almost feels like her teammates don’t really understand what that, I think, what was it, “The Trial of Jean Grey,” the Guardians of the Galaxy crossover where she’s on trial for events that have yet to happen. So it’s like all these, I think the time-displaced Jean Grey, her story alluded to questions and conflicts we may not have totally understood in previous years. And I like that a lot, because it kind of creates a lot of parallels between the past and the future Jean Greys.
JA: How can the original X-Men relate to her, the other time-displaced X-Men relate to her, when she is the only female, when they are sort of from this other era, and when she is so powerful, and when she does have this huge future? She is the only one of them who knows her, the future of the other Jean Grey. Are they even able to connect with her on the same level that they’re able to connect with each other? In a sense, is she really an outsider because of who she is, both being a woman on the team, and also being so powerful? On those two levels.
KV: Aside from the fact that they all have being time-displaced X-Men in common, I think they really care about her a lot. One of the big differences I think I see from, you know, Claremont-era X-MEN and older stories, with the original Jean Grey, is that she was sometimes, I think, played as a damsel and sometimes seen as a love interest, but here she’s really seen as an equal, and I can tell that the X-Men really, really care about her, but I don’t think they can relate to her on her power level, especially because of all those times where you see her telepathy going out of control, and her not being able to control that stuff, and they do get visibly upset with her.
KV: But I think they try, and what I really like about this group of the younger X-Men is that they just seem like they’re all best friends. They really care about each other. So I think they try to understand her, but I don’t- and I think she feels that they never will be able to.
MM: Yeah, I agree, I think they do try to relate to her, and try to understand her, but they don’t necessarily go about it the right way. So again, obviously all her teammates have good intentions, but it’s definitely a hard situation where you can’t really, I feel like it’s hard for them to ultimately identify with her, even though she has this feature that no one can really amount to and these powers that no one else will ever comprehend. Like Kat said, her teammates definitely care about her, but I don’t know if there’s really a solution to relating to her due to her capacity.
JA: What about how she relates to herself? I mean that’s really gotta affect somebody, knowing the future of their alternate self, right? In the same timeline. How do you think that affects her? As I think about it, I get really sad, ’cause it is really terrifying when you think about it, and it really is a great impetus to start the JEAN series.
JA: Because I would wanna know all that stuff, too. I’d wanna talk to everyone who dealt with this Phoenix thing. I would wanna talk to everyone who lived through it. I would wanna talk to everyone who was connected to it, or who knew anything about it. And I kind of love that she went out on her own and did it. We also really got to see how it affected her, but like I said, I wanted to hear from you both what you thought about how it did and how it might’ve, maybe off the page, maybe the stuff that alluded to how she felt, kind of what you were both talking about before.
MM: Yeah, I think that’s the most tragic aspect of the solo series, is how Jean struggles to truly relate to herself. And I think she’s trying to differentiate herself from her past incarnations, but then, I think by JEAN GREY #9 or 10, she’s kind of like, the Phoenix and I are tied, our destinies are intertwined. We can’t really do anything about it. So I think it’s so epic when she kind of goes forth and takes on the Phoenix by herself. I think that’s the moment where she kind of accepted her fate and her identity. And I thought that was an awesome moment. Again, it’s tragic, obviously. But at the same time it was super, superheroic and badass.
KV: Yeah, I was gonna say it must be terrifying to know what your destiny is and what your future holds for you. And then it raises that question of can you change your destiny? Is that even real? So it must be scary knowing- she knows the entire time what’s gonna happen to her. I mean she’s very different from her future self. You can see that. It’s evident when the ghost of Jean Grey comes and they’re constantly bickering. But yeah, I think the younger Jean Grey, she is in a constant battle with herself and with her future. But she never runs away from it. She never hides from it. She kind of takes it head-on. I think that’s really cool.
JA: It is really cool. If you think about it, she’s in a much tougher position because by just being time-displaced, already the other four X-Men are completely different and will have completely different lives. Yet, her life is still predetermined in so many ways. When even after jumping time and coming into, you know, I guess where we are now. Can I even say Earth 616 anymore?
KV: I don’t think we can anymore.
JA: I think it’s like Earth 2197454 or something times pi. I don’t know. Whatever it is, we’re calling it now, so. Is there anything that you guys felt made it difficult to connect with her within the diegesis of the story? For me, I’m still kind of, every time I’m like, man, I really wanna love her. But I still have that moment when she outed Bobby Drake that kind of freaks me out. So was there anything for you like that that was like man, this is kinda in the way of me totally falling in love with this character?
KV: I think in the beginning when- like we had mentioned a couple times earlier that there’s a lot of instances of her learning how to use this new-found power level that she has. I think that plays into when she outed Bobby. ‘Cause she didn’t mean to listen into his thoughts, she just does it. I think that’s one thing that was a little bit frustrating, is when she’s constantly invading people’s minds. But I really love her in the JEAN GREY solo run.
MM: Yeah I definitely loved her in the solo series. I was re-reading some of the ALL-NEW X-MEN issues a few days ago and I came across, I think it was ALL-NEW X-MEN #9 when she manipulates Angel’s admissions to change his mind and make him stay in the timeline. You’re kinda like, “oh no.” Like that was very problematic. Again, I think she kinda grew from that in the JEAN GREY solo series. So I ended up really loving her character. But definitely rereading some of those first issues where the time-displaced Jean makes an appearance, you definitely have to stick with it and grow with her character in order to really get an understanding and adoration for her.
JA: I do feel that in there exists a piece of connective tissue for the younger Jean Grey and the older Jean Grey. Because the older Jean Grey never did out anyone for their sexuality, but she did out Storm in that issue- I don’t know if you guys read that classic X-Men issue when Storm wanted to leave the apartment nude because she never had to wear clothes before, and a pickpocket took Jean’s purse and ran into the subway and Ororo got scared.
JA: So Jean comes out screaming at her and being like, “what the hell, you left me alone out there. And I didn’t use my powers correctly and I accidentally, you know, linked minds with everyone on the subway versus the person who stole my thing, I could’ve used you.” And then she goes into Ororo’s mind by accident. She’s like, “oh my god, I’m so sorry. Your parents died in the Suez Canal crisis.” And then Storm like flips out and starts a frickin’ storm and everything. And she’s like, “you had no right to pry into my mind!” And Jean Grey’s like, “I know, it’s really hard for me, too, because I’m always getting inside everyone’s mind.” I’m like “Jean, stop doing this!”
JA: And again, it happened in this one issue that we read for Marius’ Ethics in Comics podcast where Jean connected with a dying dog and then made the whole thing about her. It was one of my favorite Jean Grey moments. And people get really mad when people say- people get really mad when you kind of insist that Jean Grey can be a little bit self-involved. But I think that’s what makes her likable. I think it’s that that makes her- that quality makes her more approachable and relatable, personally.
JA: Because it’s like, “oh wow, this is me sometimes, or this is like this friend that I have or something.” And that’s what I kind of like about her. But there are definitely some problematic moments in Jean’s past, both adult and young Jean. That’s what I loved about the series, ’cause it really kind of went into that a little bit. It went into the whole thing with Emma, when she went into her mind and showed her the dead students in Grant Morrison’s run. And it kinda dealt with that. We were talking about all these awesome issues, single issues, where she was dealing with Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange and Psylocke was teaching her. What were some of your favorite team-ups that she had in the JEAN GREY series. What do you think her character gained from some of these team-ups?
KV: Probably my favorite team up was with Scarlet Witch.
JA: That was mine too, it was so funny!
KV: I loved it. I loved how Scarlet Witch was like, “when you’re the baddest witch in every room, you have to take care of yourself.” And I think that really taught Jean Grey how to chill out. She had a total mental health day. She learned how to relax. I think she needed that.
MM: I really liked her team up with Thor. I know the previous issue, she had teamed up with Namor. He told her she was a natural-born warrior. I thought that was really awesome. Then for her to like, hang out with Thor. The whole setting was kind of funny, I just thought it was a really humorous issue. They were literally sitting in a bar and fighting off all these orcs I think? And Thor’s like getting drunk, it was just a totally, very unique issue. I really enjoyed it. It was very light-hearted, considering the gravity of what was gonna come in future issues. I think it also kinda showed off Jean’s badassery, which I always love to see. So personally, that was one of my favorite issues in that series.
KV: I love how she learns something different from everybody. I love those ones you mentioned, too, so much. I loved when she teamed up with Psylocke and learned how to use her psychic weapons. She picked up fast on that.
JA: That was so cool. I also really love the Doctor Strange one, too.
MM: Yeah, that was, the beginning was really funny.When she’s like, “yeah, something weird’s happening, but I’m just gonna go with it and just, you know, see what happens.”
JA: Aside from Jean Grey, so many other characters that we saw in these kinds of team-ups were so different than we normally see them in their solo comics. Who do you think really had their moment to shine? I definitely would say Scarlet Witch. I thought that was hysterical, and the way old Jean Grey was, as a ghost, reacting to her.
KV: I like in her team up with Namor that he was incapacitated pretty much the whole time.
MM: I like how Scarlet Witch had her moment to shine. I also, yeah, I also liked Namor’s presence, or lack thereof. I haven’t read a lot of Namor. So that was, I guess, cool to see. I also kinda liked Doctor Strange’s presence, though, where he was kind of guiding her through her own history. It was kinda creepy. But it was kinda cool at the same time. Then you know at the end of the issue, you finally see the ghost version of Jean Grey. So that was pretty cool.
JA: I thought it was cool. What did you think about them bringing the older Jean Grey back in this way? As a ghost.
MM: At first, that’s not what I was expecting. ‘Cause, you know, she has this voice in her head, and you’re like, I don’t know, I don’t even know what I was expecting it to be, it was definitely not the older version of Jean Grey. So at first when I saw it, when that reveal happened, I was kinda like, “oh, like, really?” But then I really enjoyed her interaction with Emma Frost in I think it as JEAN GREY #10- 9 or 10. They had this moment where they were talking about their own experiences with the Phoenix and you see Emma Frost is kind of thinking of it in a much more idealistic way than the older version of Jean Grey. So at that point, I definitely kind of enjoyed her presence more than I initially did.
KV: I definitely wasn’t expecting it at all, but I really love it because throughout that series, she’s meeting up with all these different people who have had experience with the Phoenix. And what better person to help her than the ghost of Jean Grey? And I love their dynamic together and how the two of them together- it also raises more questions about the ethical dilemmas of Jean Grey’s powers. Because they kind of break into Emma’s apartment, knock her out, invade her mind, and Emma’s like, “what the f*ck? Not cool, Jean.”
JA: I love their interactions, too. I love that there was this rivalry between them, but in the end they still had this mutual respect for each other. Which I thought was pretty amazing considering one slept with the other one’s husband.
KV: The more and more I hear about Jean Grey, the worse I feel for Emma. I feel so bad for Emma Frost.
JA: It’s so weird, when I first used to read the Grant Morrison run, I would feel really bad for Jean. I would be like, “yo, you slept with someone’s man, you have to deal with whatever the consequences are.” But then there’s that one panel, I read it a few more times with Rachel and Chowder, and that one panel where she shows the dead student- Emma’s dead students. the Hellions from when Trevor Fitzroy killed them all. It was so traumatic and so harsh. It just makes you feel for Emma so much.
KV: Right? Yeah, like there’s no question that the things that Emma did were horrible, but, the aftermath, I just feel so bad for her, too.
JA: But what Jean did was horrible as well.
KV: Yeah, exactly!
JA: I guess it’s a wash. You slept with my husband, I will go in your mind and make you depressed for a few days. That kinda seems fair.
KV: Yeah, you get what’s coming.
JA: Yeah, I don’t know. Now I feel bad for saying that, ’cause I do feel bad. I don’t know, I’m so torn. That’s why that series is so good and that’s why this series is so good for continuing that. Do you think it built on the relationship between Jean and Emma much? ‘Cause I definitely thought it did.
KV: Yes, and what I love so much is the dynamic between Emma and the time-displaced Jean Grey. Because obviously they have so much history between each other, Emma and the original Jean Grey. But here she is taking care of the young Jean Grey and helping her sort through all her problems with the Phoenix. You know when the young Jean almost dies at the end of her solo run, Emma’s the first one there to take care of her.
MM: I love how Emma takes up a new role that we haven’t really seen her take before. This role as a mentor to someone who she’s had a tumultuous relationship with in the past. But again, because of that, you kind of get a new-found respect for Emma Frost that you never really thought you’d develop before. So I really loved her relationship with the young Jean Grey.
JA: So in terms of young Jean Grey and older Jean Grey, what do you think worked about the ghost concept and what do you think didn’t work about it?
MM: Well like Kat said, I mean who else, you know, who else would be fit for the job of helping the time-displaced Jean Grey cope with, or you know, prepare for the Phoenix Force than, you know, the older Jean Grey herself? So in that aspect I think it was really good for the story, you know? Also you have all these great moments between the older Jean Grey and the younger Jean Grey and the older Jean Grey and Emma Frost. So I mean narrative-wise I thought that was great. You know, but again like when I first got that reveal I was kinda disappointed and thought, you know, like how is that gonna work into it? But again, as the story went on I found more positives than negatives about it. Can’t really think about what I didn’t like about it right now.
KV: I like that they were constantly bickering. Because you know, I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a metaphor for like this is Jean Grey’s inner battle with herself. Or maybe I’m just being ridiculous. But I like that, you know, these two sides of her personality were just like in conflict with each other. I’m really curious to see how it’s gonna tie into PHOENIX RESURRECTION, to be honest. And I think it’s curious the way the first issue of PHOENIX RESURRECTION ended. I mean I have so many questions about it. I’m really expecting to see- just the way Jean Grey’s solo series ended. There’re so many things up in the air right now. I just wonder how they’re all gonna come into play with each other.
MM: Yeah, I have a lot of questions on PHOENIX RESURRECTION. I really hope that they get answered in future issues. Hopefully they tie into the solo series because I don’t want the events of the solo series just to be kind of brushed under the rug now that, you know, a new series has begun. But yeah, I have a lot of questions.
JA: What are the biggest questions you both have?
KV: Oh gosh, well you know, we’ve both read the first issue of PHOENIX RESURRECTION. I just wanna know what the hell is going on in that ending? Is this, you know, another pocket of the universe? Or does this have anything to do with the conclusions of the last issue of Jean Grey’s solo run? My big question is what the hell happened to young Jean Grey and is her ghost still around? You know, I feel like all these pieces are gonna come together in some like crazy way that I’m gonna love.
MM: Yeah, I mean the last we saw of the young Jean Grey, she was burned alive. So I’m very curious to see if again, if she’ll come back in a ghost version, but also yeah, like what the hell was that ending where you have like Jean working at a diner and Scott showing up at her door with flowers? I was just like, “oh, okay, is this how the issue ends? Um, okay, I’ll move on.”
JA: I definitely, and I’m sure you guys picked up on this too, but I really picked up on the fact that Annie Richards was still alive, the girl who died that caused Jean’s powers to manifest when she was six.
KV: I totally didn’t get that at first. Then, Maite, I read your review and I was like, “oh, okay cool.”
MM: Yeah, I was reading it, I had to like reread that page a few times. Like wait, that’s Annie, right? And I’m like, Justin, you like mentioned that in the chat one day. I’m like “okay good, like I didn’t just make that up, like she’s alive, right?”
KV: I was like “who the f*ck is Annie?” And then I read your review of the issue and I was like, now I get it.
MM: I like the beginning of this, I thought it was really creepy and I kinda liked it. Like where this like young girl shows up and like has like this-
KV: “We were better off dead.”
MM: Yeah, I’m like “oh god.”
KV: So creepy. You know, in some of the news that’s come out about PHOENIX RESURRECTION, I’ve read some press releases and things like that, you know, promo videos, that Matt Rosenberg, the writer, said it’s gonna be sort of a horror story and super creepy, and I’m totally about that. I’m really intrigued by it.
JA: Me too, I think it’s something different. Which is really great. And it follows in the direction that the New Mutants film is gonna go in.
JA: And I think that’s a really exciting place for superhero comics to go.
KV: It is, it makes a difference. It breaks from the formula, and this is totally irrelevant, but I have a friend who’s really into soap operas. And she’ll tell me about all her soap operas and I’ll tell her about all my comics. And she was like, “Kat, you would love soap operas.” And I’m like, “probably.”
JA: That’s a bigger leap, as someone who’s watched some.
KV: I know.
JA: Yeah, I wish I could-
KV: Like there’s so much drama I’m telling her about, like, “guess who came back from the dead,” and she’s like, “this is so dramatic, you would love Days of Our Lives.” I don’t know.
MM: The whole telepathic affair between Emma and Cyclops is pretty soap.
KV: Yeah, right?
JA: It’s very soap. I think the biggest difference, though, is that on a soap, like the characters coming and going depends on like when the actor gets like a movie gig or something. So like they kill them off and then like suddenly bring them back. Like I’ve seen characters on soap operas who have been like had their heads chopped off and shit, been brought back to life. And it’s a little crazy. But then we’ve seen that in comics too. But I don’t know, it has more of a supernatural element, I think. Lends itself to resurrections a little bit easier.
JA: But that’s just me. No insults to Days of Our Lives. I just wanna say that I have friends who have acted on soap operas and they say it was the hardest thing they ever did. And a lot of the actors that we know really well now who are super famous started there. So no insult to soap operas, just about the resurrection trope that they have. Before we get into talking about PHOENIX RESURRECTION, we should talk about how young Jean Grey died, spoiler alert, at the end of the series.
KV: Or did she?
KV: Probably, I don’t know.
JA: I think she’s, I mean that’s definitely a death. I would say.
KV: And yeah, I think so. And I think it raises a question of the fate of the time-displaced original five X-Men. Is there gonna be room for them now that the real Jean Grey is coming back?
JA: I hope not. I hope so.
KV: I really enjoy them.
JA: I enjoy young Iceman.
KV: Oh yeah, hell yeah. There sure are five X-Men around.
JA: There are, yeah. I mean I don’t know, look, I think it’s just ’cause I’m older, but I just much prefer the older X-Men. I think it would be more interesting to explore them at this point. ‘Cause we know, we just had five years, or four years with these younger people. It was fun. They overstayed their welcome. And I have to say, I’m gonna be in the minority, but the way that they killed young Jean Grey was so cathartic for an old Jean Grey fan that it made me like young Jean Grey. And the only reason why I didn’t like her was the exact same reason the Phoenix didn’t.
JA: For the first time, what I thought was completely aligned with what the Phoenix thought, in the history of X-Men comics. I was like, “sh*t, that’s not the real Jean Grey.” And the Phoenix was like, “that’s not the real Jean Grey.” And we were both on the same page. And I think that that makes me into a horrible person if I’m on the same side as the Phoenix. But I don’t know, I think I’m okay with that.
JA: What did you guys think about her death? I mean I thought it was really triumphant. I thought it was really beautifully done. And I loved, ’cause I did think it was a little bit flippant, the way that Jean Grey kinda started in as a ghost. But whoa, that ending, it really made it- it really tied everything in together. It made it all work for me. So I wanted to get your kinda thoughts on how she died and what you thought about it.
MM: Yeah, I thought it was really, really bold. I personally wasn’t expecting that ending. Particularly when the series kinda had more of a light tone. I think the final issues definitely kinda got more serious and darker. But yeah, her death scene, I thought it was, A, beautifully illustrated. B, it was a very heroic moment for Jean. You know, despite the fact that it meant her demise. So I thought it, like you said, it kinda tied up the series in a way that we may not have expected it to. With that I am curious to see how it will segue into PHOENIX RESURRECTION. Especially after the first issue that’s raised a lot of eyebrows. So yeah, we’ll see what happens. I think she’s definitely done, though. Like, I think she’s a skeleton. I think so.
KV: I agree with most of that. I think it was a fitting conclusion, more or less. Whether there’s, you know, to see what comes of it. But I think it was a fitting end to what we’ve seen so far of her series, because you know, her whole goal was to confront the Phoenix, which she did. And I think it was necessary in order to segue into PHOENIX RESURRECTION, you know? How are you gonna have all these different iterations of Jean Grey running around?
KV: And I think all the elements really are going to be what brings the real Jean Grey back. I’m less convinced that she’s definitely dead, just because comics and the nature of the Phoenix, you know? I don’t know, I think, like my guess is that- I don’t know, the young Jean Grey had to die so that, you know, the real Jean Grey could be birthed? I don’t f*cking know, I’m making this up as I go.
JA: No, I think that sounds good.
MM: Very big possibility. Like you never know.
KV: Yeah, I’m really interested. But yeah, no I think that’s the way her series had to go. It would have been lame if it was like, “Oh, Jean Grey survived Phoenix when she’s 16.” No, it made sense to me. I liked it.
JA: What emotions did the ending conjure up for both of you? For me, I felt super sad when I read it. And I think I read it three or four times. I just thought it was so incredibly heartbreaking that this woman died in the way she was most terrified to die. And I just thought that was utterly heartbreaking and really quite beautiful and poetic.
JA: The words at the end in the boxes were written so well. And I’m getting a little bit of chills thinking about it ’cause it was just, like Maite said, it was so bold. It was so unexpected. And I mean I wanna say that the poetry of it is beautiful in that it’s said, but it kind of is. Because it’s just a piece of artwork, you know what I’m saying?
KV: I think Jean Grey is so brave. And you know, you can be scared and be brave at the same time. I know she was terrified. But she never ran away. She was always running straight towards the Phoenix. And she essentially sacrificed herself. And that’s what she’s been the most afraid of the whole time she came to this timeline is that she knew how it was gonna end. She kind of embraced it, I think.
MM: Yeah, I just pulled up my review and I had put it in a panel when she says, “I’m not the girl I was when this thing started.” And I mean yeah, like it really hits you in the feels, doesn’t it? And like I also mention how she definitely expresses her fear. At the same time she doesn’t let that stop her. But at the same time like that makes her more human. LIke obviously you’d be afraid to take that on.
MM: Like you know, it’s this force that you’ve heard about, you know, since you’ve been in this timeline. And it’s scary. At the same time it just, and it’s even more tragic but also makes you respect her even more. I mean she’s a young 16-year-old girl dealing with this ginormous entity. So I love the way that, you know, she met her end. I thought it was very well done. Very respectfully done.
JA: What is the life lesson out of the JEAN GREY comic? To me it was, you can’t avoid this, whatever it is. Go into it being as brave as possible and give it the biggest fight you can. And do it gracefully.
MM: I love that, that’s, yeah, for sure.
KV: I don’t know, I have like a personal like indecision on whether you know, your fate or your destiny is like a real thing. So part of me wants to say, you know, this is the way it’s going to end. I completely 100% agree with your conclusion, Justin, that, you know, if this is the way it’s going to end, you can go in brave and gracefully. But I think, I don’t know, it’s interesting. Because I think initially she fights so hard against that destiny and she wants to kind of chisel out her own path in life. She says, you know, I’m not that Jean Grey, I’m this Jean Grey. That doesn’t have to be my end. But it still kind of is. So I’m a little bit conflicted, a little bit torn about what I want the lesson to be.
JA: It’s so sad too, right?
KV: It is.
MM: I mean I also think there’s a commentary on fear. Oftentimes we find fear as being like I’m fearless. Like I go into this 100% brave. But like you know, this time we have a very, a young girl who is afraid. At the same time, that doesn’t make her any less heroic or capable of overcoming this fear, you know? So I think it was also a commentary on, you know, it’s okay to be afraid sometimes. Sometimes you need to be afraid. ‘Cause if you’re not then that means you’re not, you know, challenging yourself enough. Or you’re not really accepting the reality of a situation. So I thought that was also a very good inclusion in the story.
JA: Absolutely, I think the commentary on fear, for me, it very loosely kind of established an historical parallel for me personally in that I was thinking of Anne Boleyn. When she was gonna be executed- she knew she was gonna be executed, right, she was like in that tower that Henry VIII put her in. She knew she was innocent of all these charges. Yet when she went up to get her- oh, I don’t know, is there a kind word for getting dismembered? I don’t know. But when she went up to accept her fate, she did it with like such grace.
JA: She made the person, the executioner, laugh. And he felt so bad for having to do it that he told her to go look at something else so that she wouldn’t know when the ax was gonna hit so that she wouldn’t expect it so that she wouldn’t feel any pain is what he was trying to do. I don’t know if that physically happened, I mean who knows? But it made me think of that, because it was like, okay, at this point, and I totally get what you’re saying, Kat, and I think that that for me is part of the heartbreak, because you don’t really want this for her when it happens, right?
JA: You want her life not to be predetermined. But when it comes down to the point that it absolutely is in like those last few issues, the grace in which she just deals with that is amazing. And man, I just have this image of that fight she has with the Phoenix when she takes it down. She’s still standing after. She starts making the weapons, the telekinetic weapons that Psylocke taught her. She’s just like beaten but she’s still gonna fight and give it all she has. It was really beautiful, I thought.
KV: It was beautiful. I think she accepted that this was the way it was gonna end for her. She fought every minute the whole way. And she never ran away. She did everything she could to be ready for that end.
MM: That was a beautiful, you know? Part of the series is how you really truly saw her prepare every step of the way for that very moment. So it was, A, like very very satisfying to see that happen. Then again, also admirable.
KV: I think in a way she really took control of it. Regardless of the conclusion. She was trying to avoid that fate. Ultimately she knew it was gonna be her fate. And I think she kind of put herself more in control of it. She kind of took the power away from the Phoenix and gave it to herself. And I think she knew that was the way it was gonna end for her but I feel like the cards were in her hand.
JA: What aspects of the story do you hope informs PHOENIX RESURRECTION? What do you really hope to see and get out of PHOENIX RESURRECTION as a reader?
KV: I hope all of the young time-displaced Jean Grey’s actions don’t go unrecognized. I would hate for her to be forgotten so quickly. She accomplished a lot. She was a leader. And she was so powerful at such a young age. She fought the Phoenix every step of the way. I just hope that people remember all of her efforts.
MM: Yeah, that’s my main concern is that the story will kind of move on very quickly from the solo series. So I hope that doesn’t happen. Yeah, at the same time I hope that- I just hope that the series doesn’t rush anything. Especially after this first issue, I have a lot of questions and I just hope they don’t really try to cram all these answers in too fast. Again I hope they, you know, maintain some aspects of their previous solo series and, I mean again, we can always see what happens. But like Kat said, I hope they don’t totally forget everything that’s happened after that, you know, ten-issue run where we really get to see young Jean Grey grow into her own. I hope that’s not forgotten either.
JA: So I never watched Sopranos, but I know that there’s an episode of it where it goes into Tony Soprano’s life and his family life if he never went into the Mafia. And there was this great episode of the show Nip Tuck, a Ryan Murphy show, and Ryan Murphy’s like super popular now with American Horror Story and American Crime Story and all that, and Scream Queens and all that stuff. There’s an episode of Nip Tuck in which the character Julia, who is the wife of one of the main plastic surgeons on the show. It sorta goes into what would have happened if she married the other man who she was in love with.
JA: And I think PHOENIX RESURRECTION is sort of what Jean would have wanted for her life. In a way it’s, right, it’s the simplicity that Jean Grey always wanted. Her friend Annie is alive, so she never had the experience of dying herself, right? Which is what traumatized her and what put her in quote-unquote an insane asylum as a kid. And for me, I thought, man, is this the life that Jean Grey always wanted? Just to have a really simple one working in a diner, having a boyfriend, her friend Annie with her who she grew up with. Did you guys think about that, or were you like no?
KV: No, that never occurred to me. That’s so interesting to think about, you know, which life is better? The life where she was heroic and she saved the world and you know, died multiple times? Or the world where she works in a diner and doesn’t do anything special? Like which life would she have preferred?
JA: Well I would argue that maybe what you and I consider special, I mean, this Jean could do too, right? I mean it just wouldn’t be as heroic and on the scale of being a superhero. It doesn’t mean she can’t be a good person.
KV: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, and you know, I think about this a lot, I think about you know what, if I could go back in time and change things, would life be any better, any worse, or would it be the same? Would I just be happy in different ways? And I think that’s kind of the same deal that PHOENIX RESURRECTION kind of approached at the end of the first issue.
MM: Yeah, I honestly didn’t even think about that until you literally just mentioned it. So that kinda brings up a curious thought. But I definitely think, yeah, RESURRECTION will explore that. At the same, I think the solo series explored that already in a different way perhaps. I think, you know, the young Jean Grey wants it to create- like, redesign her own future and make it simple, but again, she can’t escape that. So I think RESURRECTION might parallel that.
MM: You know, it’s- sorry, you can go ahead.
KV: No, I was gonna say, that’s such an excellent point, that, you know, the end of PHOENIX RESURRECTION was Jean Grey if her life ended up differently. Well, the time-displaced Jean Grey is the same exact thing, it’s Jean Grey with kind of a new lease on life before the Phoenix, you know, with all these different elements in her life. But ultimately it ended the same exact way, with the Phoenix. So is this version of Jean Grey at the end of PHOENIX RESURRECTION #1 ultimately lead up to the Phoenix as well? Like is that just an inevitability in Jean Grey’s life no matter what path she takes?
MM: I mean I think so, so that’s what I’m calling it now. We’ll see what happens.
KV: Cool, I like it.
JA: No, I think so too. I’m really excited to see what the series explores. And you know, we heard from some people who work at Marvel that it’s gonna be really awesome and that X-MEN RED is really awesome. So I’m like super excited. And I know in X-MEN RED we see Jean using her like purple-pink telepathy powers which are not connected to the Phoenix. So I’m kind of excited to see where that goes.
KV: I’m excited to see a Jean Grey that is separated from the Phoenix in some level. And I mentioned this earlier, that most of my exposure to the original Jean Grey was through the Phoenix. And of course we’re getting that, because, you know, of the way the solo run ended, and you know, PHOENIX RESURRECTION obviously has ties to the Phoenix.
KV: But like you said, Justin, there is imagery of Jean not using her Phoenix-controlled powers. I’m really interested in exploring that side of Jean that is separate from the Phoenix, just because personally I haven’t experienced that enough. All of the past stories I’ve read with Jean did concern the Phoenix. So I’m hoping that with, you know, Jean Grey in her future appearances are less about the Phoenix and more about, you know, who else Jean Grey is.
MM: Yeah, I agree with that. I mean, like I said earlier, my first exposure to Jean Grey was DARK PHOENIX SAGA. So a lot of the things I read about Jean have been tied heavily with Phoenix Force. You know, even the solo run was heavily tied with the Phoenix Force. So it’ll be refreshing to see a new incarnation of Jean Grey that we haven’t been familiarized to in recent years.
JA: I will say I love that NEW MUTANTS kind of made a comeback in recent years ’cause of the movie and people are going back and looking at it and rereading it ’cause it was so good. But a series that does not get a lot of credit is the original X-FACTOR Series. Which is when Jean Grey had one of her first resurrection, her main, what I consider to be her main resurrection up until now. And the series followed her, Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, and Beast. And it’s when Angel became Archangel, it’s when they first showed who Apocalypse was. They had Frenzy in there. The Freedom Force with Mystique leading it.
JA: And it’s a comic series that I hope gets more attention, because I’ve actually, you know, we saw Polaris and Havok take over the team once the X-Men absorbed the original five members again. But we really got to see Jean without the Phoenix the entire series. And it was really cool to see who she was and what she was like without that. And I hope that people start going back and looking at that series similarly to how people are going back and looking at NEW MUTANTS. ‘Cause it is pretty cool, and I just wanted to give that like a shout-out. Alrighty, so yeah, I think that’s gonna do it for it for this episode, yeah?
JA: Alright, coolio.
JA: Alright, so remember you can find more podcasts like this, interviews, articles, especially Maite’s article on PHOENIX RESURRECTION #1, the review, which is doing so kick ass. So definitely go check it out on comicsverse.com. Thanks Kat and Maite so much for talking about Jean Grey, it’s one of my favorite things to talk about.
KV: Thank you for having us, it was fun.
MM: Thank you.
JA: Yeah, and now Episode 99 is over, I don’t know what we’re gonna do for Episode 100, man.
KV: Wow, yeah we have to do something huge.
MM: More Jean Grey, question mark?
JA: I mean that’s always- the answer to that question is always yes. You can never have enough Jean Grey. Again, thanks everybody for listening. We’ll see you soon.
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