The time-displaced, teen Jean Grey still awaits her fiery fate of the Phoenix, but this time, she’s not just getting advice from other hosts — she’s gone straight to the source. When she comes face to face with her adult, cosmically-possessed self in Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1, what will she learn?
Young Jean is used to being unstuck in time, so she knows to be careful when ending up in unfamiliar surroundings. But just a little power flex will tell her that, somehow or another, she’s wound up just where she might be able to get the answers she’s been searching for.
So being a teenager, and a frightened person just as inquisitive as her adult self, when the two do meet, the younger can’t help but unleash a barrage of questions to the being that describes itself as “life incarnate.” But grown up Jean is dealing with her own shit, and despite near-omnipotence, is not as put-together as one might expect. That’s pretty scary.
Telling gives way to showing as the Phoenix blasts off with Jean to galactic parts unknown for a major display of force. Why are you afraid of a protective power like this, kid? Oh, if you only knew. So why don’t you tell her? Will you? The choice Jean makes here will surely CHANGE THE MARVEL UNIVERSE FOREVER!
Okay, maybe not, but it should surely change Jean’s outlook on things going forward, so much so that this Generations one-shot seems like it ought to be part of the character’s regular series by Dennis Hopeless. That’s probably a good thing, as Cullen Bunn (who also handles Jean’s adventures over in X-Men: Blue) is able to nail what Hopeless has been developing and expose a larger audience to that building tale. Still, it’s a little jarring to see such important things happen elsewhere.
Thank goodness Bunn and company nail it so well! He can’t quite match the Hopeless dialogue, but the overwhelming concern Jean shows for her future is spot-on, and even taken a bit further when she must decide if saving herself is worth potential disaster for the timestream. The litany of questions she has for her old (yet somehow older) self is a nice nod to her overall curious nature, as shown in adult Jean, too, who we find reading a genetics book on the beach.
Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1 really does feel like more of an old-style X-Men book than other recent attempts, and not just because there’s a green and yellow firebird costume. The drama here is very personal, and the decisions made have high stakes. There’s even a throwback to the old days when the uses of a character’s powers were highly detailed, as young Jean must take care when entering this new environment not to arouse psychic suspicion, and keep her mental defenses sharp so that the the possessed Jean doesn’t learn the awful truth.
Matching the standout performance of Bunn is artist R.B. Silva who, if there’s any justice in this fire-filled universe, you’ll be seeing a lot more of soon. His facial expressions are evocative, but his real expertise in Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1 is in the creative, but more importantly, story-dictated panel layouts. The non-traditional transitions are not here just because they look cool, but they add personality and depict movement and grandeur much more exquisitely than something more standard would.
Rain Beredo puts the finishing touches on with his colors, giving flashback scenes a grainier texture. The Phoenix’s fight with another cosmic entity jumps off the page in part because of the contrast between hot fire and cold consumption.
Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1 does a great job of bringing Dennis Hopeless’ story of Teen Jean facing her fate to a broader audience, without sacrificing Cullen Bunn’s own voice to accomplish it. Through his work on the X-Men books, Bunn has cemented himself as dependably rock-solid, and a pillar of Marvel Comics going forward. The art by Silva and Beredo should be a coming out party for them, making their names as Bunn strengthens his own. Jean Grey’s future is bright, and not just because it’s filled with blinding fire.