Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Penciler: R.B. Silva
Cover Artist: Stephanie Hans
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
It started off with good intentions. In what would be a doomed attempt to appeal to a wayward Cyclops, present day Beast rips Young Jean Grey from the past. Unable to return home, Grey is stranded in a world where everything in her life has already happened and the option of choice alludes her. Her powers grow rapidly surpassing her older incarnations natural evolution and gains the attention of the Phoenix. With her horrific fate all but certain, Jean Grey desperately chases even the smallest of possibilities in an effort to break the inevitable cycle of both destiny and legacy.
What You’ll Find Out:
Disoriented and confused, Jean Grey emerges on a remote beach and is shocked as she happens upon her older incarnation. Young Grey levels a barrage of questions to her alter about the nature of the Phoenix. Older Jean evades by redirecting her attention and proceeds to cart her from one location after another. Finally after her youthful version makes it clear that her persistence will not subside or be avoided further, Phoenix decides to show her its true nature.
The two race into the deepest uncharted regions of space and eventually arrive on a planet in which is about to be consumed by the cosmic entity, Galactus. Terrax, the god’s herald attempts to intervene but serves only as a distraction allowing Galactus to launch his own assault. Realizing that while Phoenix is all powerful, the host is not only vulnerable but in mortal danger. Without her intervention, not only will the Phoenix die, but so too will be her lot. Young Grey taps into the immense psychic energy from all of those present and unleashes an onslaught upon an unsuspecting Galactus, bringing him to the ground. Galactus is unwilling to continue the conflict and withdraws leaving the world under the protection of the Phoenix.
Young Jean rejects her older versions assertion that Phoenix is a guardian of life and a force of good, nearly causing an inevitable confrontation which is halted by the Watcher. The ancient being provides the teenager with insight and reveals though he will not intervene, her choice to reveal the truth will cause a pivotal and monumental shift in the natural order of time. Grey understands that though she is desperate to find a means to escape her fate as an avatar, any alteration will result in limitless possible outcomes for the future and the risk is too great. Rooted in her decision to keep her secret, young Grey vanishes while her older counterpart is certain their paths will cross again.
What Just Happened?
This version of Jean Grey is jolted through space and time so often that you would think she would be accustomed rather than shocked. My sole criticism is that the sudden catalyst responsible for young Jean’s shift into the same period as her older version and subsequently out of it again was intentionally left unexplained. Perhaps there is a greater purpose that will be capitalized on in later events but I found it a little cloying and would have preferred at least some hint or clue. As such the story in of itself feels solitary even in the company of the Jean Grey monthly solo title and events.
I did find moments of intrigue, in particular with reference to older Jean’s reflection on the loss of the other X-Men which sent me on my own quest through the internet to place the story line during that period of X-Men history. The best I could do was to surmise the occurrence happens prior to Deadly Genesis and Giant Size X-Men #1.
The formula combining the creative flair of fan favorite author Cullen Bunn and acclaimed artist R.B. Silva gives the significant enjoyment to any Jean Grey fan even if this is a standalone installment. Both are veterans in their field of expertise and fashion a story that is both mentally engaging and visually stunning. I was especially thrilled to see the boundless limits of young Jean’s potential and her powers as she figuratively backhands Galactus and sends him sailing to the ground.
Final Thought: Was Generations: Phoenix and Jean Grey fan service? Sure. But that’s pretty much what the Generations line was intended for. Beyond that, it also serves as the standout moment for the character. Grey’s persistent internal examinations combined with the central question, “What is the Phoenix?” is a larger analogy for the humanity’s age-old question “What is the mean of life?” and search for understanding regarding our own individual and greater purpose. Not to mention, the was one hell of a fun book!
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