Jean Grey #1 is here, and she’ll forcefully tell you herself, it is not THAT Jean Grey. Is it good?
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Victor Ibáñez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
When a twisted, seemingly inescapable fate hangs over your head, sometimes a girl has just got to get away. Bamfs are good for that.
But they are apparently no help when battling perennial punching bag supervillains! Jean and her time-displaced teammates have spent so much time worried about the hating and the fearing that they haven’t done much of the hero-ing, and it shows. All alone with some bruisers, she’ll have to ignore that nagging itch in the back of her head to harness the proper powers, protect the bystanders and bring down the bad guys.
Thankfully, she fails at that last one! Seriously, the Wrecking Crew have become the go-to chumps for the beginning of every hero’s arc, when they need to show what they can do. In Jean Grey #1, writer Dennis Hopeless deftly displays the title character’s telepathic and telekinetic abilities, but pedestrian traffic and an unwelcome visit from a certain psionic firebird keep her from sealing the deal. Good. A victory for the Wrecking Crew is a victory for us all.
This wouldn’t have happened to the old Jean Grey, of course, but this is not her, as the inner monologue in Jean Grey #1 continually reminds us. Unless you’re too caught up in the nostalgia wave of ResurrXion, that’s also a good thing. Jean’s fate is set out before her, but she’s determined to not recapitulate it, saving herself from predestination and the reader from reruns. Of course the Phoenix (and some old basement-dwellers) will always try to shove her back into a box. It’ll be interesting to see how she tries to resist.
Artist Victor Ibáñez has a clean yet fuzzy style, if that makes any sense, that you don’t see very often. Imagine Stuart Immonen crossed with Frazer Irving. His depictions of motion aren’t always the best, save for some nice shots of flung cars, but his facial expressions are good enough to convey emotions and injury. Colorist Jay David Ramos hits all the right notes, making things bright yet grounded, and capably adding texture to an otherwise homogeneous Phoenix Force.
You can usually tell when Hopeless has his working boots on. The emotional weight and attention to detail in dialogue were dead giveaways that Spider-Woman was coming from his heart, whereas the lack of all that in All-New X-Men made it seem like that one was just clock-punching for him. It’s therefore natural to feel some trepidation when Hopeless carries on with one of those characters in a solo, ongoing series.
Jean Grey #1 will placate those fears somewhat, but likely won’t eradicate them. Hopeless does a fairly good job of getting into the kid’s head, both literally and figuratively, but the character work doesn’t quite reach the heights he’s proven capable of in his Jessica Drew masterwork, or his breakout Avengers Arena. Still, this is a promising start to what could be a nice study in preemptive redemption, if the best Dennis Hopeless shows up and wants it to be so.