For many Marvel-ites The Phoenix Saga is one of the high points of their Marvel fandom, even if it did seem to trigger the propagation of the idea that a certain red-head could be killed and brought back numerous times. Regardless of the circular existence of Jean Grey her fall and rise and fall and rise again hasn’t seemed to dilute her popularity. Now, the “out of time” Jean has her own book, written by female superhero re-booter extraordinaire, Spider-Woman writer Dennis Hopeless.
The first issue is a pretty much come as you are affair, with a quick nod to the various Jean’s of the past. The Wrecking Crew are on a bit of a rampages and luckily Jean is on hand to make matters worse…… wait, I mean to make things better, by making things worse! I mean, multiple property damage, scaring kids and causing migraines is all well and good if you catch the bad guy, right? So, what if the world hates Mutants; it’s not like Jean has done anything to make people scared of her in here, right? Then there is the voice; the inner echo of future days gone past.
I absolutely love the Spider-Woman book. When it comes to female books, Marvel can get a book so right it is unbelievable. Spider-Woman and the cancelled yet up for Eisner nomination, Mockingbird are two prime examples. With all this in mind I was really looking forward to this book, which of course has left in me in bit of a quandary.
Dennis Hopeless writes Jessica extremely well, her down to earth existence fitting with a positive outlook for someone who carries a world-weariness of sorts due to her own convoluted history. With Jean, the same sort of style doesn’t quite work, yet. Jean is younger than Jessica and despite our knowledge of her future, Jean hasn’t lived or died through it yet. Hopeless does show how Jean’s youth affects her decision-making and it is refreshing to see a hero not automatically default to the right choice. The fight scene is well choreographed with the level of humour you would expect from Hopeless. What may need attention however, is the rest of the X-gang, who in this book, sound like Muppet Babies rather than Mutant Babies.
Victor Ibanez provides the artwork for the book, which I can only describe as serviceable Marvel style. Early on there are a couple of nice panels highlighting Jean’s past even going as far to mimic previous styles. From there however, there is nothing that really makes the art stand out. Don’t get me wrong, Ibanez tries really hard to make the art work; the humour in some elements of the fight scenes is well realized as is some of the figure work in the panels when they feature a single character. That said, the faces, Jean’s in particular could do with being more consistent. The colors by Jay David Ramos are bold and loud in a four-color way, at least giving the impression that the X-books have maybe moved away from their darker than dark world of yesteryear.
I have only picked up a few X books over the last couple of years. To date, there is nothing that makes me miss the gold old Claremont days. Still, with Dennis Hopeless on this book, the latest of Jean Grey’s life stories has more than a fair chance of success.
Writing – 3.5 Stars
Art – 3.5 – Stars
Colors – 3.5 Stars
(W) Dennis Hopeless (A) Victor Ibanez (CA) David Yardin