It’s a good week to be Chris Claremont. The legendary X-Men scribe may not be writing any of Marvel’s mutant titles at the moment, but his influence is felt in the second issues of both X-Men: Grand Design and Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey–both on sale today. In Phoenix Resurrection, specifically, there’s even a mention of Jean’s former teacher, the fictional “Mr. Claremont.”
But, this isn’t a Claremont book–this is very much writer Matthew Rosenberg’s X-Men. And with Phoenix Resurrection #2, I’m doubling down on my plea to Marvel from my review of issue #1: Give this man an ongoing X-Men series! Intrigue, comedy, action–this book has it all. And the art, by Carlos Pacheco… Marvel, when you give Rosenberg that ongoing X-book, please pair him with Mr. Pacheco.
In this week’s installment of Phoenix Resurrection (isn’t it great this is a weekly series?), we get to spend a little more time with Jean, our favorite small-town waitress. If you read this miniseries’ first issue, you know that with the reappearance of the Phoenix has come the resurrection of many familiar faces (both mutant and human). There was also that internet-shattering final page last week… maybe you heard about it?
Well, it’s more of the same this issue. Some of these reanimated characters have been dead for a long time, so keep your eyes peeled. Also more of the same: the X-Men’s approach to understanding just what the heck is going on in the world. Once again, they split up into squads in search of answers. Despite the repeated story beats, I assure you, we’re getting somewhere. The plot is advancing, but if you open this issue looking for concrete answers, keep reading because Rosenberg isn’t showing all his cards just yet. In fact, we encounter a character early on in the story who only raises more questions by its cliffhanger ending.
Bringing it back to the X-Men for a second–what I love most about them in this series is how rag-tag they feel. In the afterword Rosenberg penned for Phoenix Resurrection #1, he wrote, “The X-Men have gone on without [Jean], but nothing has ever been quite the same.” I can’t help but see this perspective bleeding through in the team’s interactions with one another. The X-Men are on edge, from Old Man Logan’s short tone to Kitty and Beast’s secrets, this is a group that’s seen better days. They need Jean; they need the heart and soul of the X-Men.
Despite the tension within the X-Men, there are still humorous moments, with many coming from Iceman. Damn, Rosenberg sure knows how to write a funny adult Bobby. Zingers abound–you will laugh out loud.
From a visual standpoint, I have to admit I’m biased as Pacheco has always been one of my favorite X-artists. I remember loving his work on X-Men back in the late ’90s, circa “Operation Zero Tolerance.” His style has gotten a lot smoother since then, and he’s penciled our favorite mutants here and there of late, but I’d love to see him on a series for an extended run. It’s hard to criticize his art as it just feels right for these characters. You see his Jean, his Bobby, his Storm and you go, “Yep, this is the X-Men.” Just look at this classic spread he’s responsible for:
Also, bonus points go to Rosenberg for addressing my one complaint from last issue: Where is Teen Jean? The answers lie inside this comic. So yeah, in addition to really having zero complaints about this issue, I guess I have to take back my criticism of the previous installment.
I mean, sure, I would have liked to see a little more of that surprise character from the end of last issue, but it’d be unfair of me to take off points for that, as I’m a die-hard fan of you-know-who (not spoiling it for all those who still haven’t read Phoenix Resurrection #1, because I’m a gentleman).
So, you win this round, Marvel. And that’s by no means a bad thing–please keep putting out great comics!