Jean Grey #3
Written by Dennis Hopeless
Penciler Victor Ibanez
Cover Artist: David Yardin
Variant Cover Artist: Russell Dauterman
Inker: Dono Sanchez Almara & Jay David Ramos
What You Need to Know: The Phoenix force is looking for its favorite host and Jean Grey is terrified that her fate will be the same as her older counterpart. Desperate to avoid a predestined fate of fire and death, young Jean is calling on prior Phoenix hosts in an attempt to gain insight, answers, and a plan to stop the unstoppable. After consulting with Prestige, Quentin Quire, Hope Summers, Magik, and Colossus, discovering each of them are deeply affected by their contact, her only hope lies in finding the one host who seems to be unscathed.
What You’ll Find Out: Jean travels to Atlantis in search of Namor the Sub-Mariner. By all appearances, Namor is the sole host who after hosting the cosmic entity does not show any detrimental signs from the experience. The two converse while being hunted by a enormous sea dragon, an appropriate parallel considering what’s hunting the young Ms. Grey.
At first, Namor is every bit of the man he has always been. Famed for his arrogance, indifference, and above all cutting nature, Jean discovers not all is as it seems. Namor has meticulously concealed profound trauma and pain. In an unexpected and rare display of empathy and kindness, the King of Oceans permits Marvel Girl to enter his mind. Inside, Jean sees a shocking revelation. The Phoenix never left Namor. Or at least not emotionally. The Phoenix maintains constant torment upon a ruler pinned to a doomed throne.
Outside of Namor’s mind, the sub-mariner lies paralyzed from toxins inflicted by a what at first seemed to be an innocuous wound. As the giant beast launches a final attack, Namor seems to surrender to his fate perhaps in an effort to find release from his prison of fire. Refusing to let the tormented man die, Jean Grey launches a solo assault. Affirming her status as a fighter and refusing to yield to fate, she impales the beast with the king’s own trident. Jean sought Namor for salvation but in the end becomes the savior.
What Just Happened? Dennis Hopeless upsets all expectations that a solo book featuring Jean Grey’s younger second incarnation would be all but doomed and instead turns out to be one of Marvel’s best solo titles. Granted there are cameos aplenty but there is never a moment in which they outshine Grey herself. It’s in this series that we finally get to see a Jean Grey break the gross preconceived characterizations her older counterpart could never do. Instead of standing alongside others in constant need of strength and support, young Red doesn’t just stand in front, she stands alone and on her own. This Jean Grey doesn’t apologize.
Hopeless has a great talent for changing old perceptions. Outside of Jean’s development, Namor is often written in the most superficial manner and used for purposes in which conflict and internal tension is needed as cursory subtext. Instead of resting on old laurels, Namor reveals a rare display of sympathy and even more poignantly, a distinct vulnerability. Namor has always represented the stereotypical male archetypes of masculinity, strength, and sexuality. Jean notes the appeal of his brooding demeanor but the symbolic model of Namor is shattered and the reader is provided an atypical look at the sea king in one of his weakest moments.
Even though the Phoenix has become a little trampy these days and is making the rounds through a number of books and questionable storylines, I don’t mind it being used here as a vehicle of purpose giving Jean’s story a sense of urgency. The inclusion of the cosmic force here is certainly more organic than in books with Norse Gods or mad Titans with daddy issues. This series has a great combination of narrative, interaction, and action. The interior art provided by Victor Ibanez impressively adds to the story and gives tremendous energy that enhances the narrative and gives you each action in real tangible detail.
Final thought: If you didn’t like the Jean Grey of old, there is no reason to harbor those same convictions with teen Jean. Hopeless takes cue from her already independent persona and capitalizes on her certain independence, strength, and unyielding spirit.