Rumor Mill: Jean Grey’s Possible Return

With less than two weeks until San Diego Comic Con, the rumor mill is running at full tilt. With it comes teases of what we could look forward to in the next coming months (with the juiciest details saved for SDCC’s panels). This morning EW’s Pop Watch  pushed things up to an eleven with a piece of art by Joe Quesada and the statement that Jean Grey is coming back to the Marvelverse in the flesh and as part of the mainstream continuity to boot.  The details are missing (flashback anyone?) but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a little room for some rampant speculation while we’re waiting.

With a rumor like this flying around, we here at GRCT can’t help but add in a few thoughts of our own. Keep reading to see how Angel and Lina feel about even the possibility of a Jean return and what it could mean to the rest of the ‘verse.

Just two days ago, a coworker and I were having one of our weekly comic book discussions, and the topic of AvX came up. Since this whole thing kicked off, just knowing that the Phoenix Force was going to be a factor was cause for rampant speculation about Jean, and we were convinced that there was a big chance that she’d end up having something to do with it. (Our current theory that will hopefully never come to fruition is that somehow Hope IS Jean. Oy.) It turned into quite the discussion about whether or not we wanted Jean to come back from the dead, and what the implications of that would be. Personally, I’m firmly on the “Jean Grey should stay dead” side of the fence.

It’s not that I don’t like Jean Grey. I do. I enjoy Jean  quite a bit. But at this point, I think that bringing her back is a bad idea. It feels a lot like a retread, and to me, like it has the potential to make Jean’s death less significant. I hesitate to say that the X-Men have completely moved on (Cyclops and Wolverine’s heated exchange during Schism is proof of that), but there’s been growth that I think something like this has the potential to set back.

Take Scott for example. I know that a lot of people aren’t fans of the way he’s become Magneto 2.0 in recent days (I personally love it, but that’s another issue for another day), but Scott is a different person now. He’s not the clean-cut hero that he was when Jean was around. And I know that Jean coming back doesn’t automatically mean that she and Scott get back together, but ultimately, the question will come up. Whether Scott picks Jean or Emma could become a Thing, and I think this is something that we’ve already moved past. Scott is in love with Emma. Scott used to be in love with Jean. Jean as a fond memory is the way that it should stay.

I’m reminded of a Matt Fraction quote that I read in a Chicks Dig Comics article by Seanan McGuire:

“Jean was the great love of Scott’s youth. Emma is the love of his life. She brings out the best in him and he brings out the best in her.”

I really hate to define Jean in terms of Scott, but I think that’s where this whole thing will go if she’s brought back. It has the potential to turn into one big Scott/Emma/Jean/Wolverine will they/won’t they story and I think we’ve had enough of that.

That’s not to say that I don’t think this has the potential to be something good. I don’t believe it will turn out well if it happens, and that this potential will ultimately go unrealized. If we somehow got a young Jean from the past (as the EW picture could lead us to believe), it makes the Scott and Jean question a moot point and could be really awesome (Jean attending a school named after her, maybe?). But I can’t shake this fear that we’re heading toward a horrible cop-out where Jean comes back, subdues the Phoenix Force and then heals the schism between Cyclops and Wolverine.

This is actually kind of funny. I was telling Angel back when AvX first started that I could totally see this crossover ending with a return by Jean Grey. Ever since she vacated the canvas in the mainstream (back in 2005’s Phoenix: Endsong) there have been rumors every couple of years that she would be making a return. It hasn’t happened. However given the similarities drawn between Jean and Hope, especially when it comes to the returned Phoenix Force, I could see them returning Jean Grey to us. I was just hoping that it would be by her sweeping in and taking the Phoenix Force with her before going off to continue her mission. I absolutely, positively, do not want AvX to end with Hope becoming Jean or anything like that. Just no. Not only would that be a waste of some serious character development, it would feel like a bit of a cop out and feel like a cheap gimmick that Hope wasn’t her own person, but had merely been a memory-free doppleJean. It would be hitting all of my buttons in one go.

Let me state this outright: I am a fan of Jean Grey. I think she’s a great character and she’s consistently been one of my favourites since I first started reading comics.  I love Ultimate Jean and cartoon Jean and enjoyed Famke Janssen’s version. Which is to say that I am a little invested in the direction that they might go. When they first killed Jean off back in 1980 at the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga, it changed the game. It set the core X-Men and a lot of others off on a different course. It was hailed as a great arc, a pivotal moment for comics as storytelling. Then they brought her back. Yikes. By the time they killed Jean most recently, she had become a joke (she’s “died a million times”). I was kind of glad to see her go, for while I loved her I didn’t want her to become a cliché. Having her come back as anything other than a flashback or a trip to the past seems like Marvel is walking headfirst into cliché territory. It’s dangerous ground. If done poorly it can drive a lot of people away from the X-Men, damage any credibility Marvel might have left when it comes to continuous storytelling and character development and just be kind of gross. If done well, it could go the way as the return of other characters I’ve loved who were seemingly lost (Kitty Pryde and Wanda Maximoff among them). Which means that it will be weird and cause me to grit my teeth and roll my eyes, but I’ll ultimately come to love it.

While not an unusual to return dead fan favourites to life, I can’t help but feel a little cheated. It’s okay to miss them, but bringing them back isn’t going to make me continue to like them. All of this could just end up driving me (and possibly others) far, far away. I’m on tenterhooks, so waiting and seeing is all I’ve got.

So what do you guys think? Do you think the rumors are true? Do you hope they are? Sound off in the comments section!

About Lina

A university graduate with three too many degrees and an urge to just keep moving. Not too keen to stay on the beaten path, moving is all that she feels like doing. Pieced together from a little bit of everywhere (culturally speaking) she has a love of pop culture and learning that is kind of out of control. Sometimes she acts a little bit like an insane old British lady or an eight year old on speed. Let's not get her started on the books (or soap operas or her affection for making up drinking games). Then we'd be here all day.
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