Jean Grey is suffering from a haunting by, well, Jean Grey. Her older self has come back to pester young Jean until she finds a solution for the Phoenix issue. On the brink of losing her mind, Jean is found by Wanda Maximoff, AKA the Scarlet Witch of the Avengers.
Wanda thinks some fun to unwind would be good for young Jean, but her older ghost isn’t having any of it. Older Jean may just go to some extreme measures to get her younger self to pay attention.
You know, Jean Grey existed for about a decade before the Phoenix Force first appeared in Marvel Comics. Since then, there have been plenty of X-Men stories which focused more on Jean Grey that didn’t revolve around the fact that she is “destined” to be possessed by the Phoenix. Now that we are seven issues in to Jean Grey and every issue has been, more or less, about her relationship with the Phoenix, I’m pretty damn tired of the stupid fire bird.
There is more to this character than the Phoenix. There are stories you can tell about her which do not involve the Phoenix. She is really charming in this comic, and I enjoy her personality. But it keeps getting sidetracked by the Phoenix narrative.
Worse yet, the ghost of her older self is depicted as an unbearable, pressuring buzzkill. She is constantly pestering her younger self, and she says some pretty hateful things about Scarlet Witch, whom, for all her flaws, is depicted as a really kind and helpful person in this issue. The vignettes of Wanda and young Jean spending time together are a lot of fun and could have taken up the bulk of the comic without old ghost Jean being a bit of a jerk.
There is even a weird sequence wherein Wanda and Jean go to a subterranean monster city and attend a monster meat cooking class. Questions of monster cannibalism aside, this is a really charming and funny scene that gets sidetracked by old ghost Jean having a meltdown of her own.
This also brings me back to the fact that this is essentially a Jean Grey team-up book for all the guest stars and the inability to tell a story just about Jean. This problem is more apparent when, with the ending being what it is, Scarlet Witch doesn’t really add anything to the story. There could have been an interesting moment where the two women bond over the distrust caused by their powers running away from them. They approach that subject, but its derailed by old ghost buzzkill Jean Grey once again.
You could have had a bonding issue with Scarlet Witch and old Jean Grey where the former teaches the latter that it’s okay to unwind sometimes. Or, you can have an issue about the older Jean teaching her younger self to take the Phoenix issue more seriously. You can’t have both, because the narratives run against each other and the outcome is muddled and confused. That’s what this issue is, unfortunately.
The art isn’t great either, as characters are drawn a bit too lankily, and the outlines are oddly thick and distracting. The color palette is similarly self-conflicting in many parts, as heavy colors fight for the attention of the eye.
This isn’t a train wreck of a comic, but it’s far from functional. The narrative is confused, the art isn’t particularly good, and old Jean Grey is borderline unbearable. Give this one a pass.
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