X-Men: Apocalypse is out, and one thing’s an open secret: Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey shows real promise! But how could she not? She’s based on one of the greatest superheroes of all time, the telepathic and telekinetic mutant known as Jean Grey. Here are my top five moments where Jean’s power – and personality – shines through!
5. Memory flash!
When Brian Bendis, one of Marvel’s top writers, was assigned to the X-Men 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 faced them with 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 #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 best bits 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’d come 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 planet). The final plot was the result of a lot of bitter arguments; but undoubtedly the right decision was made.
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’s 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, the best!
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. If you’re looking for more of the same, don’t miss my fellow Creator Mark’s post on !
Do you agree with my pick? Let me know in the comments!