By Dennis Hopeless, Victor Ibanez, Jay David Ramos, and Travis Lanham
Welcome to the first ever Jean Grey solo run from Marvel, from writer Dennis Hopeless (Spider-Woman) and artist Victor Ibanez (Extraordinary X-Men). It is hard to believe that Ms. Grey has never had her own series prior to 2017, even though she has been the focus of quite a few X-Men titles and arcs. Jean Grey #1 does a lot in this first effort to prove that Jean is deserving of this book with a nice balance of action and character advancement. This series has all the promise to give Jean Grey more fleshing out as a character beyond the Phoenix Force. If anyone can do it, certainly Hopeless and Ibanez are qualified candidates.
First, let’s get this straight: this is the time displaced Jean Grey, the one who was part of the original X-Men team that got transported to the future and is now stuck herein the present. So, that means we have young Jean Grey, Cyclops, Angel, Beast, and Iceman all together in the current timeline before all the life happened to them. The artwork of Ibanez is a great complement to the story from Hopeless; the character feels young and still hopeful, despite her many reasons to not be. The book has a nice balance of action to character, and we get to see so many cool uses and illustrations of Jean’s powers in a more intimate way. Ibanez gives details to her dulling out migraines and using her telekinetic abilities with cool details.
With that in mind, imagine being Jean and learning about what happens to you. She nearly lived that out, and has all those expectations put upon her to be as powerful, talented, and capable as the Jean Grey everyone knows. That feeling of anxiety from high expectations, feeling misunderstood and lonely really come across in this issue from Hopeless. We get to see young Jean Grey acting like a teenager with superpowers, like feeling insecure as she battles bad guys and struggling to appear as a “superhero” to the people she is trying to save. These little things are often taken for granted, but Hopeless makes this story hit home with super relatable moment from Jean like when she tries to soothe a citizen with projected visions, but instead scares them even more.
Before, readers have a concept of Jean in their brains as part of a group and this issue starts right off with Jean by herself, taking on some bad guys. Jean takes off from her team to Kyoto for brunch with Pickles the Bamf (one of Nightcrawler’s teleporting demon things). She thinks she is getting a nice quiet meal to herself, but is mistaken as The Wrecking Crew make a special guest appearance. Jean is then tasked with taking on three bad guys while waiting for her teammates to arrive. Her insecurities are made even more relevant with her constant worrying about turning out like the other Jean Grey; she wants her own life and a chance to be happy. Artwork from Ibanez really brings her young person’s emotions to the forefront of the book. Her facial expressions stand out on each page, from her befuddled look of ‘what it is it to be a Space God’ to her ‘determined to not get bested by Thunderball’ face.
As the gorgeous cover art from David Yardin indicates, this issue is centered around Jean Grey and her ultimately unstoppable connection to the Phoenix Force. The story and artwork are constantly teasing it throughout the early pages, and we become invested in this poor girl’s preparation by the end of the issue. If she struggles with The Wrecking Crew, what chance does she have against a Space God? Her mentioning of finally having a chance to be the ‘happy Jean’ rings through your mind as you read the last few pages.
X-Men fans and newcomers to all X-Men related history will find something to love about Jean Grey #1. This book has a lot of factors that can reach across a wide readership, with a new fresh story of a strong female lead for newbies and enthrall the harden comic fans with the promise of more Phoenix. This book also has a great nostalgia vibe to it because it gives the readers a new chance to fall in love with X-Men characters all over again. We get familiar heroes, all free of past story burdens and washed away of any past unfavorable storyline, free to be molded all over again by new creators. This book is the start of that process and it is definitely worth your attention.