JEAN GREY #8
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Penciller: Victor Ibanez
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 10/25/17
Emma Frost holds a missing piece to the Phoenix puzzle. But Jean Grey must fight Emma’s mind in order to retrieve it.
Plot: Much to young Jean Grey’s dismay, she’s forced to fight her way through Emma Frost’s mind since she holds a key to the Phoenix. Worse yet, she is left on her own since older Jean Grey has no insight into this time in Emma’s life. The endeavor ends up much more dangerous than hoped for as Emma fights back with help from some of the X-Men.
Story: Positioned as part of “Psych Wars” for Marvel’s Legacy, Jean Grey #8 feels more like a one-shot for the beginning half as it takes the story out of the present day and into the past. Hopeless does a great job pulling in favorites like Wolverine to add some color to this tale (though these are all Emma’s memories, not the real characters). The time gap gives Hopeless plenty of room to exercise his skill at writing young Jean’s sass. His ability to capture her simultaneous toughness and vulnerability manifested as sarcasm is one of my favorite parts of this book.
The issue also brings in Scott Summers and his affair with Emma Frost, which gives readers a look into what older Jean Grey’s life was like. However, not too much time is spent on what this time was like for her other than saying she was out of the country, and it feels like a missed opportunity to give the ghost character some depth.
I would also note that while the start of new arcs are generally a good place for new readers to start out on, this issue takes a good bit of background knowledge of the current series as well as past X-Men stories (ex. Magneto as Xorn) to completely grasp. The obscure references are great rewards for long-time readers, but readers without that knowledge will be just as confused by the events happening in the memory as young Jean (or at least I was).
Art: Because it’s being set in a different time, there are a lot of homages paid to older X-Men runs with character styles and more subtle details like the graffiti written on the walls. Xorn’s character design is ridiculous, but Victor Ibanez allows the absurdity to work in favor of the dream-like environment. Sotomayor’s colors look a little washed out, kind of like an older cartoon might look which works nicely for the time jump. A lot of this issue felt like reading an older X-Men comic.
In addition to all the clever easter eggs in the art, there are still big action sequences and Ibanez has a knack for drawing psychic powers and especially the Phoenix fire. For an event labeled the “Psych Wars” I was hoping to see even more psychic action, but it’s safe to say there will be more to come.
There is surprisingly little ghost Jean in this issue compared to the last, but Ibanez does bring her in for some interesting moments. One of my favorite panels shows Jean looking at the ghost of her older self as a reflection. This panel captures the haunting reality of Jean’s battle against the inevitable as you see the sadness in older Jean’s face. Jean Grey is an emotionally complex character because of her inner demons, and showing that in the art is just as important as writing it in the story.
Verdict: While the relationship between young Jean Grey and older Jean Grey has become a central part of this book, this issue doesn’t use it to that advantage. Instead, the reader ends up just as lost and confused as Jean on this journey through Emma’s mind. The issue should be judged for what it is, a set-up for the promised “Psychic Wars,” an event that holds a lot of promise. Hopeless also wins points for his ample humor in this book and the art is consistent and high quality.