Since her alter-ego, the Phoenix, loves rising from the ashes, it’s no surprise that Marvel is bringing the original Jean Grey back to life. One of Professor Xavier’s first students, Jean Grey (a.k.a. Marvel Girl) appeared in X-Men #1 (1963). She and her team, including Scott Summers (Cyclops), Hank McCoy (Beast), Robert Drake (Iceman), and Warren Worthington III (Angel) kept Earth and the cosmos relatively safe for humans and mutants until tragedy struck. Jean was “killed” and reborn as the Phoenix. She did her best to control it but was eventually consumed by its primal power, thanks to the corrupting influence of villain Mastermind.
Her most recent “death” occurred in New X-Men #150 (2004), making her one of the longest-deceased X-Men in recent years. Of course, death is rarely permanent in the Marvel Universe. In the meantime, a time-displaced version of her is currently running around. Younger Jean realizes the cosmic force is headed back to Earth and tries to prepare as best she can. Fortunately, it looks as though she’ll have some help… from herself.
Marvel’s latest initiative, Legacy, returns their comics to the classic numbering system. It also promises to resurrect several fan-favorite characters, including Wolverine, Bruce Banner’s Incredible Hulk, and perhaps even their first family, the Fantastic Four among others. But the X-Men’s world wouldn’t be incomplete without the first iteration of Jean Grey. Marvel recently gave fans a look at the covers from the forthcoming saga, Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey.
The five-part miniseries kicks off this January and features words from Matthew Rosenberg and a rotating group of superstar artists, including 3D covers from Leinil Francis Yu. The first issue will be drawn by Yu, who’s followed by Carlos Pacheco, Joe Bennett, Ramon Rosanas, and Khoi Pham. The series will also cross over with Jean Grey’s solo book, written by Dennis Hopeless with art by Victor Ibanez and Alberto Albuquerque, and will explore the Phoenix visions the time-displaced Jean is also dealing with.
The only trouble is, what kind of Phoenix will rise from the ashes? During the classic story arcs, the cosmic firebrand was seen as a force for destruction. Several prior X-Men series depicted it as a corrupting influence or one which is easily corrupted by negative influence, something that caused Jean to lose her mind and destroy an entire star system – although it was later retconned to where she wasn’t a part of the Phoenix at the time. Its influence even provoked Cyclops to kill Professor X.
In recent years, the Phoenix has undergone something of a rebranding. Currently, it’s seen as more of a neutral force, which can work for good or evil depending upon the bearer’s intentions. Its fire seemed missing from the universe until recently, when Thanos’ son Thane hatched a Phoenix egg to banish his father. It next possessed Quentin Quire but seems to have abandoned him for unknown reasons. Marvel Legacy #1 even depicted a feminized Phoenix fighting alongside Odin, Star-brand, and primordial versions of Black Panther, Ghost Rider, Iron Fist, and the Sorcerer Supreme, to save the Earth and the cosmos.
The Phoenix’s true intentions are unknown at present. One way or another, it’s headed back to Earth and back into Jean Grey’s life. And, while having two Jeans around might be confusing, the planet might just need both of them to contain or at least tame its fury.
Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey arrives in January of 2018.