Jean Grey Is Not Going to Stay Dead
For years, it’s become a bit of a Marvel cliché that founding X-Man Jean Grey dies and comes back with the regularity of Old Faithful. Her most recent death back in 2004 actually stuck, though, and the character has remained dead all this time (alternate timeline versions not withstanding).
But now, Marvel has revealed that Jean Grey will finally be back, in an all-new series starting in December. You can read the solicitation text for the new series below:
PHOENIX RESURRECTION RETURN JEAN GREY #1
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg. Art: Leinil Francis Yu
She will return, like a Phoenix from the ashes. Years ago, Jean Grey died and the X-Men mourned her. Since then, the world has changed, her teammates have lived without her and died without her. And now, when strange events start happening all over the world, those teammates can only come to one conclusion – the one true Jean Grey is back!
The X-Men universe has changed a lot in the past 13 years, and the world Jean will return to will be in many ways unrecognizable to her, which could provide substance for an interesting series. In her absence, the mutant race was decimated by the Scarlet Witch, only to be rebirthed again by the returning Phoenix force, who bonded with young Hope Summers.
Jean’s husband Cyclops became a militant jerk, and recently died. Also dead is the other man in her life, Wolverine. Her mentor Xavier? Dead too. The X-Men had a war with the Inhumans, and the original five teenage X-Men are in the present, including a version of young Jean, who has her own ongoing title. With the recent “back to basics” approach in X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue proving popular, will Jean use her cosmic power to hit the “reset button” for the team, in terms of Cyclops, Wolverine and Xavier? The changes to Cyclops were particularly unpopular; Jean could be the X-Men’s savior this time.
The Many Deaths and Rebirths of Jean Grey (Were They Really That Many?)
Jean first "died" in the final pages of Uncanny X-Men #100 back in 1976, saving her teammates as they crashed into the Hudson in a falling space shuttle. Of course, she was resurrected in the very next issue as the all-powerful cosmic entity Phoenix. As her power grew, so did her dark side, and she was finally consumed by it in the classic Dark Phoenix Saga in 1980. After consuming a star and killing the populace of a nearby world, she famously took her own life in Uncanny X-Men #137. At the time, it was one of the most seminal deaths in comics, and put the X-Men on the map as comics’ biggest title.
Five years would pass before Jean would return, as the original X-Men reunited for the first time in over a decade as X-Factor. It was revealed that the Jean who became Phoenix was only an aspect of Jean's consciousness in a new powerful form, while the "real" Jean slept at the bottom of the ocean. But during this time there was another Jean running around, sort of. Madelyne Pryor, who was married to Cyclops, was revealed to be a clone of Jean created by Mr. Sinister.
Eventually, the Madelyne version of Jean also went all dark n' crazy, as Jean Greys are wont to do. She died too, but before she did the real Jean absorbed the memories of both Madelyne and the Phoenix, essentially making Jean Grey the "ultimate" Jean. This Jean would later rejoin the X-Men and marry Cyclops, and did die again briefly during a Sentinel attack, before revealing that she had downloaded her consciousness into a comatose Emma Frost.
Jean eventually bonded with the Phoenix force for real, and was growing ever more powerful, in the pages of Grant Morrison's New X-Men. In Morrison's final story arc in 2004, Jean was killed by Magneto (or someone posing as him - long story), and aside from a brief resurrection in Phoenix: Endsong in 2005, has basically stayed dead all these years.
So Jean has has really only died for any length of time twice, but that’s enough to develop a reputation. Marvel maintained that this last time, Jean was DEAD dead, and it's remained that way for 13 years. But this is comics, and we really should all know better at this point, right?