Jean Grey was consistently one of my favorite titles coming out each month. It met an untimely end, as did many of the lesser publicized RessurXion titles, but it was fresh and fun while it lasted. Volume 2 of the series moves away from the team up aspect that dominated the first volume. This series moves into an arc mostly centered around young Jean dealing with her older counterparts’ convoluted history as the Phoenix Force finally makes its arrival. It’s a bit of a lopsided read because it’s obviously tying into the events of Phoenix Resurrection but doesn’t actually reference older Jean’s return at all until the end.
The parts where Jean tries to infiltrate Emma’s mind were great and did good job a recontextualizing the events of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men to serve this series’ trajectory. It was only a matter of time until older Emma made an appearance in this series, and Hopeless wrote her the best she’s been written since 2010. Kind of sucks that this is the case, but Inhumans vs. X-Men, Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men, and Secret Empire all really did a number on Emma’s characterization, so it was nice to see her be the haughty bitch with a heart of gold we know and love.
The parts that centered around a Phoenix Force career retrospective hit the mark less so than the Emma bits and got kind of old really quickly. I actually really liked New X-Men Jean’s manifestation and how that can be viewed after reading Phoenix Resurrection. However, Hound Rachel and Phoenix Five Illyana were just pointless appearances that didn’t do anything to further the story except add a few fight scenes. I did love all the former Phoenix hosts making a reappearance after issue #2, and becoming more intrinsically tied to young Jean’s story.
The art in this volume flips between Victor Ibanez and Alberto Alburquerque very rapidly. Their art styles aren’t dramatically different, so I didn’t really understand why one or the other couldn’t just illustrate the entire thing or even an entire issue. That being said, they both did a great job capturing the spirit of this series and at least trying to make the transitions smooth within the issues. I love Ibanez’s art so much; something about the way he draws women’s faces is just immensely appealing to me. He also draws fire really wonderfully which is really important for a Jean Grey series. Alburquerque’s art is a bit more cartoony but the same cannot be said for his rendering of fire. Lots of great flame action in this volume.
Jean Grey was a series that was never long for this world, but I’m glad I was here to experience it. I wish I had more time with this capable, fiery, and passionate young Jean who was still figuring out how to overcome her older counterparts’ legacy, and less with the annoying, whiny and incapable-of-controlling-her-powers version of her that Bendis and Lemire wrote. I know it’s not the series’ fault, but this abrupt ending kind of puts a damper on how good this volume was. This series will probably be forgotten in a few years, but it will always hold a special place in my heart for taking a character whom I could not stand and making her one of my favorites.