Welcome to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly column that answers the question: "What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?" This week there are five X-Books on the stands, which will cost you a total of $21 to buy and, thanks to modern decompression techniques, take roughly ten minutes to read. If that seems like a waste of time and money, you can keep your money by reading our recaps for free. We make no promises about the use of your time, however.
This week we've got Phoenix Resurrection #5, All-New Wolverine #30, Despicable Deadpool #293, Old Man Logan #34, and Jean Grey #11. Let's wrap up the week, saving the (hopefully) best for last with Jean Grey #11!
Jean Grey #11
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artists: Victor Ibanaz and Alberto Albuquerque
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Letterer: Travis Lanham
This is it! The finale of Jean Grey, as the book is being canceled due to the original Jean Grey coming back in Phoenix Resurrection and getting her own core X-book, X-Men Red. As for teen Jean, we know from the X-Men Blue Annual that she's headed into space for the Poison X crossover with Venom, and that she and the rest of the original five X-Men will become lost there, according to upcoming X-Men Blue solicitations, making way for a new team. Jean Grey #11 is a tie-in to Phoenix Resurrection. It's important to note the recap page, which says the events of the comic take place *after* the final issue of Phoenix Resurrection, which we recapped earlier this week.
The issue begins with Jean in Hell, surrounded by demons doing their best to claw her to shreds. Or is it Limbo? Or Twitter? Hard to tell these days. In any case, Jean finds that her powers still work and uses them to blast the demons and escape, only to run into a demonic Illyana. As they swordfight, Jean questions the situation. If she's dead, why did she go to hell? What did she do wrong? What is Illyana doing in Hell instead of Limbo anyway?
But it doesn't matter. Jean may not have done anything wrong. Her book is good, but the old Jean Grey is coming back, which means it has to be canceled and she has to become "lost in space."
We don't understand either, Jean. After Magik "kills" Jean, Jean wakes up in a new afterlife. This time, she's been transported into an overhyped, throwaway story from the Marvel Legacy one-shot, truly a hellish punishment, where she encounters the Phoenix of 1,000,000 BC. That goes about as well as the Magik thing.
Loincloth Phoenix tries to drown Jean in a body of water, but Jean knees her in the groin to escape. When she surfaces, however, she's in one of the X-Men's various post-apocalyptic future timelines, the one that Rachel Grey came from. Jean is chased by sentinels, and then Rachel, in hound form, attacks Jean. Jean tries to reason with her, but it's no use. Rachel punches Jean into another dimension.
It's the Shi'ar Civil War, Jean surmises, and she's immediately attacked by Rook'shir, an evil Shi'ar Phoenix host from hundreds of years ago. Jean is getting bored with all this, but Rook'shir is very angry and he crushes Jean's head with his boot, causing her eyes to glow with Phoenix fire. The entire planet explodes in half, and Jean isn't sure whether she did it, or Rook'shir did. She fades out in space, only to wake up again back in her bedroom at the Xavier school, back in her home era.
Jean isn't in the mood for her fellow X-Men at the moment. She's had enough of this, and she wants to confront the entity that's been messing with her. Professor X's giant psychic head appears, and Jean yells at it, then blasts it with her powers. She demands answers, and The Phoenix Force finally relents. She's in the White Hot Room, a nexus of eternal flame blah blah blah where all the past Phoenix hosts exist simultaneously.
The Phoenix reiterates its complaints. Teen Jean is an imperfect host, but regular Jean is the perfect Phoenix host. The Phoenix needed to get rid of Teen Jean so it could bring the other Jean back in Phoenix Resurrection and merge with her. Jean and the Phoenix have it out. Jean is upset that the Phoenix murdered her. The Phoenix says it created a new, better Jean from her ashes. That's kind of its thing. Jean realizes that she's in control and it's time to go home. However, the Phoenix notes:
Which is interesting, because as we learned at the beginning, these events take place after the events of Phoenix Resurrection #5. And in Phoenix Resurrection #5, Jean Grey rejected the Phoenix and sent it away. So how could the Phoenix's plan have succeeded? Is this an editorial error, or is the Phoenix not finished with Jean Grey just yet?
In any case, Jean makes the Phoenix bring her back to life, and she makes her way back to Madripoor to rejoin the X-Men. The X-Men are happy to see Jean, but Jean just wants to rest. She makes her way to her room and "flmmps" down on her bed, ready for a nap. But she's got company…
So that's it for this fun 11 issue maxi-series. The adventures of young Jean Grey, along with the other original five X-Men, will continue for a bit in X-Men Blue before the team becomes lost in space. The adventures of original Jean Grey will continue in X-Men Red. This series will make a really nice hardcover, and its tour of Phoenix-related Marvel characters should endow it with decent re-read value. We're sad to see it go, but that's the way of X-Books in the modern era, unfortunately. All Marvel books, actually.
Next week: X-Men Red #1, Astonishing X-Men #7, Iceman #10, Rogue and Gambit #2, X-Men Gold #21, and probably an issue of Venom as part of the Poison X crossover. See you next week!