Sophie Turner's Jean Grey showed real promise in X-Men: Apocalypse, and looks set to be standing front-and-center in the seventh X-Men movie, tentatively titled 'Supernova' and 'Teen Spirit' — which seems set to return to the classic Dark Phoenix Saga! But with the X-Men universe once again orbiting around Jean Grey, it's time to cast our eyes to the character's greatest comic book moments. Here are my five favorite scenes where the power and personality of this indomitable character truly shine through.
5. Memory Flash
When one of Marvel's top writers, Brian Bendis, was assigned to the #XMen, he decided to use a plot that had been bouncing around the X-offices for some time. He brought the original X-Men from the past, and had them confront the present day. I doubt even Bendis expected All-New X-Men to be the runaway success it became, and in part that success was due to his portrayal of Jean Grey.
The first arc sets up everything that Bendis would strive to achieve. It comes to a climax in All-New X-Men #5, with the present-day Beast close to death. Unwisely, he gives Jean a glimpse of all that her future would bring. The art, by Stuart Immomen, is absolutely outstanding. Similar memory-panels have since become a mainstay in superhero books.
4. Just Jean Grey
The Scott Lobdell era is often overlooked by X-Men fans, but one thing's for sure; he was a huge fan of Jean Grey! Uncanny X-Men #300 was an anniversary issue, in which the X-Men went head-to-head against the ruthless and brutal Acolytes. It featured a lot of cameos, teasers on future plots involving Professor X and Magneto, and some of the coolest X-Men action I've ever seen.
One of the standout moments is a confrontation between Jean Grey and Seamus Melloncamp: a monstrous mutant whose power is simply that he's indestructible. Jean has an unusual opportunity to cut loose, and her telekinetic blast tosses him across half a continent. John Romita's Jr.'s art is at its best here, but what truly makes the scene work is the dialogue Lobdell scripts. In it, he expresses so much about Jean Grey's troubled character — and gives us fresh insight into one of the most powerful of the X-Men.
3. "You're a firecracker, Creed — and I'm an atom bomb!"
During the mid-1990s, there was a strange period where Sabretooth was held as a prisoner at Xavier's School. He came to Xavier for help, and Xavier — hoping that even an animal like Sabretooth could be redeemed — granted him sanctuary. It led to some of the most fascinating and intense X-Men comics of all time, and X-Men #28 is a personal favorite. The issue begins with Jubilee experiencing a nightmare of Sabretooth loose, slaughtering the X-Men, and finally attacking her. As the issue progresses, we realize just how divided the X-Men are over Sabretooth's presence, and he continues to push the boundaries.
Jean Grey pushes back. Bringing him his food, she lets herself into his cell, and proceeds to demonstrate just how weak and feeble he truly is compared to an Omega-level telekinetic. It's a powerful scene, with Jean leaving Sabretooth humbled and shamed. Later, when Jubilee brings his next meal, there's this moment:
2. The Death of Jean Grey
Uncanny X-Men #137 is perhaps one of the most important superhero comics of all time. It's the culmination of everything Chris Claremont had worked towards since Uncanny X-Men #100, and the climax of the famous "Dark Phoenix Saga". In it, Jean Grey — whose out-of-control Dark Phoenix persona has actually consumed an entire star system - is in deadly danger. The X-Men strive to protect her from the Shi'ar, who are convinced they can't take the risk of such a powerful being going out of control once again. Ultimately, Jean agrees, and commits suicide.
It could have been very different. Claremont's original plan was simply to strip Jean of her powers, but editor Jim Shooter felt that wasn't enough of a punishment for the crime of genocide (Dark Phoenix's actions had destroyed an inhabited star system). The final plot was the result of a lot of bitter arguments; but, undoubtedly, the right decision was made. Fans were left dismayed by the portrayal of this iconic storyline in X-Men: The Last Stand — hopefully, the seventh X-Men movie will tackle this iconic narrative, and this time, do it justice.
1. "I am PHOENIX!"
Uncanny X-Men #101 is, in my view, one of the best comic books of all time. Writer Chris Claremont has already penned some classic issues; the previous issue began with Jean consciously choosing to sacrifice her life in order to save the X-Men. She pilots a space shuttle through cosmic energy, and seems to be burning alive. #101 opens with a beautiful page of the shuttle plunging from the heavens, with Jean's fiery face as a backdrop. The shuttle crashes into water — and from the waters emerges a Jean Grey transformed!
Of course, this scene is as heavily-retconned as the last one I mentioned, but the fact remains that this was intended to be Jean Grey. This was a moment when the X-Men comics were forever changed; Claremont added a character who could take the team on cosmic adventures, and he had great fun exploiting Phoenix to her full potential. It's a classic moment, and, to me, Jean's best!
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So there you have it - my top five moments for Jean Grey! As X-Men: Apocalypse ably demonstrates, Jean is one mutant you really don't want to mess around with. Whether as a Phoenix or just plain old Jean Grey, she's one of the most powerful mutants on the planet - and one of the greatest X-Men of all time.!
What's your favorite Jean Grey moment? Let me know in the comments!