Marvel’s “Generations” weekly series promises to have classic characters meet their newer selves. This week its Phoenix time and with the current bird of flame being the driving force in the current book, it makes sense to overview both books, albeit from the differing perceptions.
Starting with Generations, young Jean Grey finds herself some where/when/plane else sharing a beach with the Jean Grey who, although possessing the Phoenix force, is currently in a state of ignorance created bliss, with the believed loss of the X-Men barely causing any grief and the challenges of Mastermind just around the corner. Still the meeting of the future Jean from the past and the Jean who is not as past as present Jean (man, my head hurts!), is well dialogued by Cullen Bunn who is carving himself something of a reputation and following for fans of all things “X”. Bunn uses young Jean’s fear as the pivot for the meeting, with Phoenix Jean assuming that a show of power will calm her younger self’s doubts. Nothing could be further from the truth as the pair take on Terrax and Galactus, with Jean even more concerned of the corrupting nature of the universal life force.
The fears of the Phoenix are rampant throughout Jean Grey #5, where our heroine is again joined by another X-telepath in the shape of Betsy Braddock. For a while Jean has been on a quest, going from Phoenix host to host trying to get an understanding on how to maybe escape her dark future. That track feels like it has been well worn; Dennis Hopeless also seems to have had enough of groundwork laying and is now looking to move Jean more into the fray in a more active role, rather than the passively frightened mouse she has been so far. Hopeless also has his humour back, with Betsy getting the best of the lines.
Bunn’s partner in crime on Generations is R. B. Silva who seems to be trying to recapture the art stylings of Victor Ibanez who has produced art for the regular book. In some panels, the art is great, expansive with the difference between the pair obvious. For all the pop the art has, I can’t help but think that Phoenix Jean seems a tad too old in both physical and mental stature. Remember, back in the day, this Jean had been de-powered to an extent and still carried the weight of the world on her shoulders.
I have not been a big fan of the art in regular book since it’s inception. With this issue, Anthony Piper steps up into the books “house style”. I can understand the idea of having a particular look and I can also appreciate how jarring a change in art can be, especially on a book where Hopeless is playing the long game. Piper does well not to alienate fans, yet possesses enough of his own style, as evidenced in his other Marvel books, to give the art a bit of an edge. Again, his Betsy has a charm that may well have been lacking in the character for some time.
Both books feature Jean on her ongoing quest. Sooner or later the Phoenix is going to catch up with Jean, which some may well feel should happen rather than later. I would be wary voicing that particular opinion; remember all those “will they / won’t they” elements that make certain story work? Remember what happen when “they finally do”? It is a fine wire to tread as Hopeless and those who get to play in his corner of the X-universe seem, at least for now, to be on the same page – something has to give; something has to happen. Otherwise, regardless of the writing and artistic talent on show, we will continue to circle the drain.
Generations – The Phoenix #1 Jean Grey #5
Writing – 3.5 Stars Writing – 3.5 Stars
Art – 3.5 Stars Art – 3.5 Stars
Overall (Both) – 3.5 Stars
Generations – The Phoenix #1: (W) Aaron A (A) R. B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto (CA) Stephanie Hans
Jean Grey #5 : (W) Dennis Hopeless (A) Anthony Piper (CA) David Yardin