Chronicle the history of Jean Grey ahead of Phoenix Resurrection!

From smoke and ashes, a phoenix rises.

On December 27, Jean Grey’s enigmatic connection with the Phoenix Force rears its ugly head once again in PHOENIX RESURRECTION: THE RETURN OF JEAN GREY #1, by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Leinil Yu.

Having covered Jean’s introduction and backstory in Part One of this two-part retrospective, we now burst into flame as she finally comes face to face with…

The Phoenix Force

One of the oldest cosmic entities in existence, The Phoenix Force represents life not yet born. Acting as the nexus of all psionic energy that does, has, and could exist in all realities of the Omniverse, the Force is known as the Guardian of Creation and a guardian of the M’Kraan Crystal—which houses a gateway to another plane of existence known as the White Hot Room.

The Phoenix Force destroys all that does not work or has become stagnant in the universe—and regrows a better, healthier version as a replacement. To intervene in worlds that voluntarily become stagnant and ease them to the way of progress, The Phoenix Force can utilize host bodies…with its most famous—and powerful—connection being to Jean Grey.

When the Force felt her mind transcend the physical realm when her powers first awoke, the cosmic entity felt a kindred bond with Jean, and used its power to save her from the brink of death. Years later, as the young mutant sacrificed herself to save her X-Men teammates by piloting a radioactive space shuttle back to Earth, the Phoenix appeared to her in a form and consciousness that resembled Jean herself. The Phoenix Force absorbed a piece of her consciousness and cast the mutant into a healing cocoon. The cocoon, with the real hero inside, sat at the bottom of Jamaica Bay for years while the Phoenix manifestation of Grey took her place on the X-Men. This version possessed all of her original memories and beliefs…though in the back of her mind rested the power and fury of the Force.

When Mastermind and the Hellfire Club attacked this Jean in an attempt to alter her psionic personality, the dormant Phoenix’s sanity broke. In UNCANNY X-MEN #134, driven mad by Mastermind’s psionic tampering, the Dark Phoenix was born. This new being devoured a star in issue #135, killing five billion people on one of its planets in the process. In a moment of lucidity, during which Grey’s consciousness realizes the destruction she’s caused, she chooses to kill herself—and the Dark Phoenix—to save her loved ones from what unspeakable horrors she might do in such a state. Scott Summers, having believed this to be the real Jean Grey, was devastated.

The Phoenix Force, now untethered from its Earthly host, recalled its nature as an ancient power, but still retained Jean’s personality and memories. Utilizing its shared consciousness with Grey, the Force used this connection in a bid to try and rouse her from her cocoon. Jean refused to awaken, however, repelled by the memories of the Dark Phoenix. Though she resisted the Phoenix’s urges, FANTASTIC FOUR #286 saw the Avengers and the FF discover her healing pod in the storyline “Like a Phoenix!”

Pulling Herselves Together

After Jean finally rose from her quasi-hibernation, her friends react with shock and confusion at the reemergence of a teammate they thought to be dead. The mutant hero chose to then keep the name “Phoenix,” even though she no longer had the powers of the fiery being.

Later, when Wolverine chose to kill Grey in a story arc crossing NEW X-MEN #146#150, The Phoenix Force sensed her death and revived her again. After this encounter, Jean experimented with the Phoenix, trusting its powers despite her better judgment. She finally allowed the Force to possess her fully, assuming control of its cosmic might. Though, in retribution, she was soon killed by a Xorn-induced aneurism.

The next resurrection of Jean Grey took place in X-MEN: PHOENIX – ENDSONG, when The Phoenix Force made its way back to reanimate the hero from her grave, despite her protests. As the Phoenix began to take on its dark energy, Jean—now an unwilling host—asked that Wolverine kill her as a measure to stop the cosmic entity. The Force, however, made her temporarily immortal, halting the potential death. At her wit’s end, Grey dove into the icy depths of the Arctic Ocean to prevent Force from getting to her, killing herself again in the process.

Enraged by the rejection, the despondent Phoenix Force turned itself into another manifestation of Jean Grey in a vengeful attempt to win Cyclops’ love. When Scott rebuffed the Phoenix Jean, the Force merged with Emma Frost instead. The real Grey, having been raised from the dead once more, drove the flaming essence out of Emma and made peace with her permanent Phoenix union—now able to harness the power of the Phoenix even as it inhabited another host. The act of the two uniting once again nearly pushed the hero’s mind into insanity, but Frost returned to psychically link Jean (and the Force inside her) to all the people who love them, lending the strength necessary to regain her sanity. This storyline proved to be the final time that readers saw the adult Jean Grey, aside from her recent time-displaced appearance in GENERATIONS: PHOENIX AND JEAN GREY #1.

Finally, later this month, Jean Grey will face the latest twist in her long and difficult history as PHOENIX RESURRECTION: THE RETURN OF JEAN GREY begins.

Open the next chapter in PHOENIX RESURRECTION: THE RETURN OF JEAN GREY #1, by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Leinil Yu, on December 27!

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Prepare for Phoenix Resurrection with a look at the history of Jean Grey!

Like a phoenix from the ashes.

In the newest twist of her long and complex history, Jean Grey’s fiery alias makes its comeback on December 27 in PHOENIX RESURRECTION: THE RETURN OF JEAN GREY #1, by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Leinil Yu.

In preparation for this major event, the time seemed right for a comprehensive, two-part retrospective on the life and times of one of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s greatest creations.

Time to light the flame…

Recent History

This August, writer Cullen Bunn and artist R.B. Silva presented GENERATIONS: PHOENIX & JEAN GREY #1, a tie-in to Earth-shaking events of Secret Empire. In this book, a version of the Phoenix Force Jean Grey not seen since the 1970s visited a time-displaced Marvel Girl, from Dennis Hopeless’ run on JEAN GREY. From the clues the book gave us, as well as the cameo appearance of Jason Wyngarde—A.K.A. Mastermind—it seemed as though The Phoenix seen in this issue came from a point between “The Phoenix Saga” (in UNCANNY X-MEN #101#108) and the events of “The Dark Phoenix Saga” (UNCANNY X-MEN #129#138), during a time when Phoenix and Beast believed the other X-Men to be dead.

Readers witnessed several Jean Greys running around in that issue—and even more versions of the character exist aside from those! The story of the Phoenix has seen so many twists and turns, it can be difficult to keep track of all that’s occurred with dear Jean. So let’s go back to the beginning…

Meet Jean Grey

Born to Professor John Grey and his wife Elaine, Jean Grey first appeared in 1963’s X-MEN #1. 18 years later, 1981’s BIZARRE ADVENTURES #27 revealed that the girl first received her powers when, at the age of 10, she watched her best friend Annie Richardson get hit by a car and die, acting as the emotional catalyst necessary to awaken her vast telepathic and psionic powers. During this formative event, Jean first experienced an empathetic interpersonal link that saw her visit the land of the dead alongside her loved one. Jean would have perished in the accident as well, but The Phoenix Force sensed the young mutant’s powers and rescued her from a potential demise. This—the first time Jean was resurrected by The Phoenix Force—forged a strong connection between the two that took years of experience for either to fully understand or accept. As Death would later confess to The Phoenix Force manifestation of Jean in X-MEN: PHOENIX – ENDSONG #5, her “spirit” is “most closely carved” from the power of The Phoenix Force.

Jean emerged from this scarring origin event a psychological mess. Unable to be around others without getting telepathically overwhelmed, she spent most of her time trapped inside her own mind. As seen in X-MEN ORIGINS: JEAN GREY #1, Charles Xavier himself attempted to help his future pupil harness her debilitating powers to allow her to cope. Despite this, she lost control again and had visions of The Phoenix Force as it tried to communicate with her again. A power untapped at the time, Jean would later be revealed as an Omega-level mutant, capable of immortality, telepathy and telekinesis, reality warping, manipulation of matter, energy, time, space, energy projection, and the ability to travel beyond the known universe to higher planes of existence. Though as her raw abilities had yet to be tamed, Xavier stemmed her telepathy with a temporary mental block.

In the years after they met, Professor X provided guidance and stability to Jean, who would put her difficult past behind her to flourish socially (falling in love with Scott Summers, A.K.A. Cyclops) at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters as well as professionally, becoming the first woman to join the X-Men, using the moniker Marvel Girl. As her confidence grew, Xavier decided to unlock her full telepathic powers by removing her mental blocks. Years later, in X-MEN #101, Jean sacrificed herself to save her teammates during an emergency mission to space when she insisted on piloting a shuttle back to Earth despite the cockpit’s exposure to lethal levels of radiation.

She again would have died had The Phoenix Force not heard her thoughts and rescued her from the brink of destruction. In the aftermath, a Jean Grey scrambled from the wreckage of the downed craft and called herself The Phoenix—though this proved not to be the original Jean Grey at all, but rather an energy-based copy comprised of Phoenix energy. Though this projection called itself Phoenix instead of Marvel Girl, it proved to be effectively the same person as the original as it possessed all of Jean’s memories and feelings. As readers would later discover in 1986’s FANTASTIC FOUR #286, the Phoenix Force stowed the real Grey away in a restorative cocoon until she recovered enough to emerge fully healed from her injuries.

While the original Jean recovered in the cocoon, the Phoenix Force Jean took her place on the team. Accordingly, it took up where Jean left off with her love, Cyclops, and the pair eventually got engaged. Unfortunately, sinister events began to influence those around Jean as “The Dark Phoenix Saga” began to unfold…

Stay tuned for Part Two of our history of Jean Grey and the Phoenix! And grab a copy of PHOENIX RESURRECTION: THE RETURN OF JEAN GREY #1, by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Leinil Yu, on December 27!

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Writer Matthew Rosenberg opens up about bringing back Jean Grey!

Resurrection has always been the essence of the Phoenix. The mystical bird bursts into flames and returns reborn, stronger than ever.

So too, it seems, it will be for Jean Grey.

After years gone from the Marvel Universe—dead and buried in the minds of her friends, family, teammates, and enemies—she will complete that transformation from ash to stronger than ever once more.

The creative team of Matthew Rosenberg and Leinil Yu have come aboard in PHOENIX RESURRECTION this fall to help her on her way from the grave to flying above the Earth once more. We found Rosenberg getting fitted for an asbestos suit and he graciously answered our questions as the tailor took his measurements. How does it feel to be the one tasked with bringing back the adult Jean Grey? Did you advocate for the role or did Marvel come to you?

Matthew Rosenberg: Crazy. It feels crazy. [UNCANNY X-MEN] is the book I learned to read with. I have been a fan my whole life. And Jean…Jean is the heart of the team. She ties everything together. For her to have been gone so long, it always felt like an open wound. Getting the chance to maybe heal that, it’s an honor I don’t take lightly.

Marvel came to me with this, I didn’t advocate for it. I mean, I did in the sense that I talk about the X-Men all the time to anyone who will listen. But I didn’t specifically fight for this book. [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] Axel Alonso and [X-Men Senior Editor] Mark Paniccia brought it to me and asked if I had any ideas. I casually said what I would do to bring her back and they both looked real surprised. To be honest, I thought I’d just lost the gig. But finally they told me that was not at all what they had in mind, but they liked it. And from that point on it’s just been a whirlwind. What creative challenges does writing this book present for you? What opportunities?

Matthew Rosenberg: The biggest challenge is obviously doing it justice. People love Jean. I love Jean. Some people desperately want to see her back because they miss her, and I want to do right by them. But others feel really strongly that her death was monumental and we should respect that. And I get that 100%. I’m hoping we can tell a story that makes those people understand why we brought her back. We actually have something to say, it means something. And I think all of that, trying to please everyone, is the real trick.

As for opportunities, for me it’s two things. Getting to use the X-Men, all of them, is a huge one. Getting to explore her relationships with them, showing how they react to certain things, what things mean to them, is a real blessing because these characters have ties to her that long time readers will understand. There is an emotional shorthand to Beast or Bobby or Logan or Storm seeing her again. It’s heavy. And the other great storytelling opportunity we have is how powerful Jean and Phoenix are. They can create worlds and rearrange minds. That is something we go into a bit and I think it will keep readers on their toes. What is essential to writing Jean “right” in your opinion? How similar or different is this Jean than the one we knew before she died?

Matthew Rosenberg: One of the big keys to getting Jean is to actually study her progression as a character. From the meek and quiet student, to the bad ass team member, to the goddess, to death, and back again. She has had these changes; the Marvel Girl of old is not the same as Phoenix, or Jean in X-FACTOR, or the Jean that raises Cable in the future, or the Jean that fights Emma for the heart of Scott. All of these are evolutions of who she is. And our book, it does something a bit different. This isn’t an evolution. It’s a resurrection. But I can’t say much more than that. What’s the tone and setting of the book? How does Leinil Yu hope you achieve the look and feel of the book you are looking for?

Matthew Rosenberg: Our tone and setting change as things go. It’s a bit of a mystery, a bit of [an] epic super hero book, and a bit of an emotional character study. We travel all over the world in the series and it sort of just becomes this race to answer some questions nobody wants to ask.

As for what Leinil brings? Everything. He is a titan in storytelling, character, action—you name it. And he brings all of that. There are some genuinely creepy moments in the book and he knocks it out of the park on those. But there are also some real tender moments and those hit just as hard. I know this sounds crazy, but more than once I have actually been a little sad that I’m writing this book because I want so badly to just be able to read a PHOENIX RESURRECTION book with Leinil on art as a fan. I want to pick it up off shelves and not know what was going to happen. And seeing his work now, I know I’d be blown away. It’s gorgeous as always. Who else can readers expect might be popping up in the book?

Matthew Rosenberg: If there is an X-Man you like, there’s a strong chance they pop up. We’re doing a lot of fan favorites, a lot of deep cuts, and everything in between. Not everyone is going to get the screen time they deserve. But this is all hands on deck for the X-Teams. How does Jean’s return echo through the lives of others? Any insight into how it might affect the Marvel Universe at large?

Matthew Rosenberg: For the X-Men it will have an immediate effect. This will hit all of them. It’s going to be huge for the X-Men with a ton of ramifications across the board. As for the larger Marvel U…you’ll have to wait and see.

The wait continues later this fall with PHOENIX RESURRECTION from Matthew Rosenberg and Leinil Yu!

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