In a world where teenage girls get insulted endlessly for their music choice, their taste in movies, and their hobbies, we need Jean Grey. Specifically, we need JEAN GREY #1, her new solo run written by Dennis Hopeless. In this comic, Jean is an unapologetic teenage girl. A silly, pretty, emotional, selfie-taking teenage girl. And that’s what makes her wonderful. Too often we see female superheroes stripping themselves of their identity to fit the mold of what a superhero should be. Maybe they wear completely ineffective armor. Or perhaps they’re essentially a male character with boobs. Maybe they try to be cold and distant and masculine so that they’re really just another testosterone bump to the already male team.

READ: Wondering why diversity is so important in comics? Read our CEO’s open letter to Marvel!

Jean Grey is anything but these stereotypes. In JEAN GREY #1, she’s our narrator. We see into her deepest hopes and fears through her eyes. It opens up a world of intimate, nuanced thoughts that come from being a teenage girl. I know — I’ve been one. Though not everyone is plagued by nightmares of becoming a genocidal maniac, her perspective brings us so much. Everyone struggles with what people expect them to become, or who they’re afraid to be. But seeing it through the eyes of Jean, a girl so real she could be one of my friends, makes me feel it deep in my heart.

I especially liked that the writer, Dennis Hopeless, acknowledged that Jean needs some time to herself. As the comic reminds us, she’s the only girl on an all-male team. She’s also the leader. Talk about exhausting. So, in JEAN GREY #1, we start by catching up with our heroine as she’s in Japan for some alone time.

Plagued by Visions of Her Past

jean grey #1
Image from JEAN GREY #1, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

JEAN GREY #1 centers superficially on a battle Jean has with a B-grade group of villains. The “Wrecking Crew” is no match for her, of course, so it’s more a subplot. The real story is Jean herself. This is the first Jean-focused issue of the all-new Jean, displaced from time. In a cute quip, she says she has “time displacement emotional trauma.” However, being in a different time is the one thing she’s adapted to pretty well. An adorable shot of her smartphone with a group shot of her team will squeeze your heart. Because this is the Jean we’ve seen get beaten down over and over. This is the Jean that had to sacrifice everything. And now she’s able to have a second chance.

READ: Wonder what Jean is doing when she’s not in Japan? Check out our review of X-MEN BLUE #1!

And in this second chance, it’s wonderful to see her have fun, regardless of what she’s going through. At one point, Jean tries to breach the language barrier and communicate with a Japanese woman. Jean is trying to get her to leave the building for her own safety. So, she projects rainbows and unicorns into the woman’s head to show that Jean means her no harm. As it would seem, when you hallucinate rainbows and sunshine, it doesn’t work out well. I was laughing out loud one moment during this comic and gasping during the next. (If you read it, you’ll see why).

Potential to Be “The Happy Jean”

jean grey #1
Image from JEAN GREY #1, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Our star is also drawn beautifully, with captivating artwork by Victor Ibáñez and Jay David Ramos. Jean has always been beautiful. Here she’s drawn as such without needless sexualization. This is such a refreshing portrayal of a growing woman in so many ways. I’d like to thank Marvel for having Jean’s outfits and hairstyles consistently on point lately. Jean’s flaming red hair stands out in every panel. What’s more, her facial expressions seem so real and communicative.

Besides our titular character, the colors and lines are fantastic. The backgrounds of Japan are stunning, as you can see in a few of the panels above. The depictions of original Jean are truly radiant, with fluid lines and colors drawing an iconic character. Everything is dynamic from start to finish in true comic book style. There is also a dramatic reveal at the end, which I won’t mention due to spoilers, and these artists render it so beautifully. I would love to have that specific page as an art print. These artists add a remarkable layer to what is already a great issue, cementing the excellence of the comic.

JEAN GREY #1 ends in a crazy cliff-hanger, which I believe is how all first episodes should end. However, it’ll definitely be divisive. Some might see it as weak storytelling relying on previous Jean-related drama. But I thought it was a natural way to go and a good way to make sure readers want to continue reading. I’ll definitely keep up with this, even if it’s just to keep a character I love close to my heart. Jean Grey deserved better, and now here she is, getting it.

Jean Grey #1 by Dennis Hopeless, Victor Ibáñez and Jay David Ramos
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
This is a faithful, heartwarming rendition of teenage Jean Grey. The art is gorgeous, the writing is sincere, and I can't wait for more.
95 %
What Jean Grey Deserves

3 Comments

  1. Gabi Rain

    May 5, 2017 at 10:14 am

    I actually kind of like her haircut. It’s a little awkward, but to me that’s what makes it cute, especially since it seems she’s starting fresh in this comic. Haha it reminds me of one of my friends who has a similar cut.

    Reply

  2. Justin Gilbert Alba

    May 3, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Hi, Pam! I am a HUGE Jean Grey fan and take umbrage with the same stuff you do. I had a weird epiphany while reading this issue. The Jean Grey you and I know and love is sadly still dead. What I learned reading this issue is that I had to forget everything I knew about Jean Grey and say, “OK, let’s get reacquainted!” It’s going to be a process, but I decided to give this Jean a chance. That being said, I recently wrote this article on the Jean you and I know, I hope you’ll take a look. https://comicsverse.com/dark-phoenix-saga/

    Reply

  3. Pam Hermano

    May 3, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Marvel has done Jean Grey so dirty in the past I’m so reluctant to trust them moving forward. I mean, they had her husband cheat on her with her biggest rival, then kill her off in the laziest way possible, then have said husband make out with her biggest rival over her grave… and hey, let’s all add insult to injury and just kill off her entire family! And I wish they’d change her hair cut… I get she’s a teenager and they didn’t want to sexualize her, but they didn’t have to make it look like she’s a mom.

    Reply

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