Now, despite the unfortunate cover to the issue, Jean Grey #9 from Marvel Comics by Dennis Hopeless, Victor Ibáñez, Jay David Ramos, and Travis Lanham is a really great entry into this young series, even if it does feel like it is hurtling towards a conclusion. I'm not saying the cover is bad — in fact, cover artist David Yardin does a wonderful job as ever with what he's illustrating, it's just in the surreal landscape he's conveying he's kind of accidentally displayed what looks like a statue of young Jean Grey having her breast grabbed and pulled by a Phoenix claw.
Naturally, unintended, but once pointed out to me it is all I can see whenever looking at it.
The issue follows on after the psychic heist in Emma Frost's Grant Morrison-era-fuelled mind, where young Jean managed to unlock a spark of the Phoenix Force that she'd clung onto. Of course, that goes about as well as one might expect.
This leaves Emma to discuss matters with the ghost of the adult Jean Grey, while they try and save the latter's younger self from being burned alive by the small fraction of the Phoenix she's touched.
What unfolds is an interesting and emotionally layered interaction between Emma and the adult Jean — one which we never really got much of as they had little interaction after the revelation of Emma and Scott Summers' affair, exacerbated by the fact Jean kind of, you know, died.
It's the most complex presentation of Emma Frost we've seen in a while, and the character feels the most in-character than she has been in a long, long time. She's cold, calculating, and condescending rather than just cruel, and all of which is to mask a secret emotional layer of vulnerability. She's a study in moral greyness and more than the straight-up villain the character has been portrayed as for a while again. It is a welcome return, though we will see how long it lasts or if it carries over to other books.
The story also feels like it's beginning to draw together its disparate threads, making it feel as though we are hurtling headlong to a conclusion not only to this story arc, but the whole series — which may make sense given the upcoming Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey.
The artwork from Ibáñez and Ramos is stunning and well acted, as the emotions of each of the players is well conveyed through the art itself. Given the psychic nature of the whole of the cast in this issue, it makes for a great use to play these scenarios out clearly in the visuals.
Jean Grey #9 gives us a return to a character's greatness (and not the titular lead), and a fun, emotionally complex build to what may be the conclusion to the series but certainly the conclusion to this arc. If nothing else, for those who've been missing the "real" Emma Frost, this is a great issue to pick up.