I ragged on Jean Grey #2 pretty hard for its overload of guest stars, among whom were Rachel Summers, Hope Summers, Colossus, and Kid Omega. There were a lot, to say the least, and they seemed to overwhelm the narrative beyond any real reason. It reflected a self-consciousness; the story seemed afraid that its character could not bear the weight of the title on her own.
I was apprehensive at the idea that we were getting yet another one in Namor, the Sub-Mariner. I thought that this was beginning to resemble a Marvel Team-Up title more than one about Jean Grey. I'm still a bit wary of the amount of guest stars this book has lined up, as the Odinson has already been promised for next issue.
That being said, Jean Grey #3 surprised me with how much better it is at spotlighting its nominal star by using the ever-arrogant, ever-aggressive Namor as a foil to her.
Jean Grey #3 has Jean Grey seeking out Namor due to his past experience with the Phoenix Force during Avengers vs. X-Men. This search lands Jean in the path of a massive sea-beast before finally finding the Sub-Mariner. The two must battle the creature while Jean continues her search for a way to fight the oncoming Phoenix Force.
This is an odd team-up, and I found that immediately charming. This Jean Grey is a strong leader, but she's still young, optimistic, and eager to prove herself to the world while pursuing Charles Xavier's dream. Namor is an incurable cynic with an ego that challenges the likes of Victor von Doom and Helmut Zemo. On top of that, Jean is a young X-Man, and Namor is an Atlantean Emperor who, though he spent some time with the X-Men, is more known for his fraternization with the FF, Avengers, Defenders, and Dr. Doom than his allegiance with Marvel's first team of mutants.
Point being: this is an odd combination.
Their repertoire is quite charming, though. Namor treats her like an oddly placed insect and barely of note, while Jean is trying to hold his attention long enough to get her answers.
The fight with the sea monster is actually treated like a threat this time, as opposed to the barely-of-note Reavers of the previous issue. It almost manages to kill Namor, and this forces Jean to take the lead in the conflict. This allows her to prove her worth and might to the lovably pompous sea lord, and he is more willing to admit that she may have a chance at fighting off the Phoenix.
This allows for the narrative to feel a lot more tighter and focused, as the life-threatening conflict is connected to the overarching plot of Jean hunting for answers on the Phoenix Force.
We get a moment inside Namor's head, courtesy of Jean's telepathy. Like the previous issue, this is one of the more memorable moments of Jean Grey #3. We are presented with a macabre image of a chamber full of dead and bleeding Atlanteans with Namor on a solitary throne across from the Phoenix Force.
It also has the Sub-Mariner delivering a fantastically arrogant speech, saying how he is nothing like the others who have been possessed by the entity — even if it is apparent that he has been just as scarred by the experience as any of them. I enjoy pompous antiheroes and villains who can deliver a good self-aggrandizing speech.
The action is fun and imaginative. It's cool seeing Jean unleashing the full power of her telekinesis against the sea monster. It's brought to life by the talented Victor Ibanez, who is quite skilled at showing expression, detail, and motion. It's sequenced quite well by the Al Barrionuevo's layouts, as well. And Jay David Ramos and Dono Sanchez-Almara's colors help convey the aquatic beauty of Namor's undersea realm.
Jean Grey #3 was a fun comic. It improves upon the last issue and promises a good series ahead. Check this one out — it's a very enjoyable read.