In this week's Jean Grey #10, the Phoenix Force arrived on Earth. In a shocking twist, we learned that it hasn't come seeking out Jean as a host (again). Instead, it wants her dead.
The specter of the Phoenix Force has hovered over young Jean Grey ever since she arrived in the present day. Dennis Hopeless's latest ongoing Jean Grey series has seen the time-lost mutant haunted by visions of doom. She believes the Phoenix is coming for her, and she's launched a desperate quest to gain the knowledge to protect herself. All that's come to a head in Jean Grey #10. Jean's gathered a small group of allies around herself, all former Phoenix hosts. Together, they battle against the cosmic firebird, desperately attempting to drive it off.
It's only as the issue comes to a close that we realize Hopeless has played a curve ball. The Phoenix has not come seeking Jean as a host. Rather, it has some sort of plan in mind. If that plan is to be successful, young Jean Grey must be killed. What's more, the issue even suggests that the Phoenix orchestrated Jean's entire quest. It planted these visions within her mind, knowing she would seek out help. Now, it's been able to neutralize almost all those with prior knowledge and experience of the Phoenix in one fell swoop.
This portrays the Phoenix Force as a far more conscious, analytical being than we've ever seen before. Previous comics have treated it a cosmic force of death and rebirth, with motivations beyond our understanding. This time round though, the Phoenix is launching a complex plan. No doubt that will ultimately be revealed in Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey, which releases at the end of the month.
The last time the Phoenix came to Earth in full power was back in 2012's Avengers vs. X-Men event. There, we got a sense of just how many people had an understanding of this primeval force of nature. The Avengers were actually able to take a shot at the Phoenix, shattering it into five segments, each of which found a different host. It's clear that the firebird won't allow a repeat of this. Its first shot has taken out all those who had a chance of understanding its plans. Tony Stark, who designed the weapon that harmed it back in 2012, is currently off the grid. As for the time-lost Jean Grey...
Let's just say things don't end well for poor Jean. It's too soon to tell whether or not this sticks — Jean has a reputation for death and rebirth herself — but this will be a tough one to walk away from.
But what is the Phoenix planning? No doubt we'll learn the answer to that in the upcoming Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey. It's become clear that Hopeless's Jean Grey series is essentially an extended prologue to that event. The last few issues have seen Jean unwittingly summon the psychic presence of the original Jean Grey, the one who's about to return to life. In a fascinating twist, this Jean seems completely opposed to the Phoenix. Jean Grey #10 ends with future Jean's "ghost" grieving in the ashes of her past self.
Significantly, there's only one former Phoenix Host who hasn't been taken off the grid at this stage. Jean Grey #3 reminded us that Namor, the Sub-Mariner, was one of the five who hosted the cosmic force back in 2012. What's more, we know that Namor is about to return to the ranks of the X-Men. In the aftermath of Phoenix Resurrection, Marvel plan to launch a new series called X-Men Red. This will feature the resurrected Jean and a group of allies, including Namor. We can safely assume the Sub-Mariner will wind up allying with the X-Men during the events of Phoenix Resurrection. He'll then stick around.
If you haven't been reading Dennis Hopeless's Jean Grey series, then you really might want to pick up this issue — and probably some back-issues too. We now know that this series is all about setting the scene for the real Jean Grey's return. But can she possible save the All-New X-Men Jean in the process?
Jean Grey #10 is out now. Phoenix Resurrection #1 will release on December 27th, 2017, kicking off the next X-Men event.